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Convicted pastor can keep open camp for homeless

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A pastor convicted of zoning violations for housing the homeless can keep his church encampment open for the holidays until Jan. 5, a judge ruled Monday.

Chilly, rainy weather has pushed to about 80 the number of people who sleep on an enclosed patio and in cars parked at First Southern Baptist Church, the Rev. Wiley Drake said after a hearing in Municipal Court.In July, when Drake was convicted, he housed about 70 homeless people at his church near Disneyland. He was placed on three years probation after claiming religious persecution.

Judge Gregg L. Prickett told Drake in August to work with city authorities, who said they prosecuted out of exasperation with his repeated failure to get permits and meet compliance deadlines.

The deadline means a worry-free Christmas, Drake said.

"Oh, we're going to have a big party on the Saturday before Christmas," Drake said.