Closure of the homeless camp on the Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz Sentinel highway
SANTA CRUZ – The clean-up of several adjacent homeless settlements spread out along the city’s largest highway junction began early Monday morning, displacing many who had lived there for months.
Dozens of law enforcement officials from the Santa Cruz Police Department and the California Highway Patrol were greeted with a few latecomers shortly after 8 a.m. in a ravine tucked away at the corner of Highways 1 and 9, while a Caltrans contracted cleaning crew hovered, waiting, on it. The cleanup of apparently peaceful state property, which is expected to last all week, was overseen by Caltrans, but implemented at the behest of Santa Cruz city officials seeking to initiate a project to expand the intersections and traffic improvement.
Michael Barbosa, 32, was carrying containers full of goods, both his own and those of an incarcerated pal, under the watchful eye of a line of Santa Cruz police officers. On a nearby embankment, others received offers of help from community police officers, and traffic towards the town began to back up behind a closed turn lane closed for l ‘effort.
Barbosa said he was aware of the 72-hour move mandate, but was battling the effects of a spider bite and did not feel ready to move until the deadline for the move. morning. Barbosa, like others, said police told her that morning to take whatever she could take out of the camp and move around. Barbosa said he has heard from other people that he may be able to move to a new city-sanctioned homeless settlement in the Benchlands of San Lorenzo Park to sleep safely. With a child in the area and without a vehicle, he said it was important for him to go where he could, “wherever I can open more time”. The rent, he said, was unaffordable.
“If I had done it and they wanted to, I would have to choose from that – basically my clothes, my transport, my bike or two, my blanket to stay warm,” Barbosa said, highlighting her priority goods. among a pile of neatly packed personal effects. “I’m not the type of person who falls in love with everything, but if no one says anything and I see that I can get away with it, I’m going to push to take it all with me.”
Across Highway 9, local nonprofit organizers such as Brent Adams with Footbridge Services and Denise Elerick with Harm Reduction Coalition from Santa Cruz County helped others who were not yet parties to sort and move their belongings. Homelessness activist Abbi Samuels filmed video footage of interactions with officers. Similar outreach efforts were visible in the region throughout the weekend.
“Some of these people have been here since the pandemic, for a year,” Samuels said. “It’s the business of their lives and can you imagine having three days to move out?” It’s also intimidating to have 20 cops watching you go.
Adams, as he piled up other people’s possessions on a bus, said he was participating in the camp’s resettlement efforts – but not necessarily in spaces he helped cultivate, such as the “camp of the deal ”over the past six months at Harvey West Park. There, around thirty people created a self-organized community with basic equipment. City officials are also asking occupants of that camp to move to the benches at San Lorenzo Park within the next week or two, Adams said. Adams noted that he believes this latest camp closure will only serve to push more homeless people into city neighborhoods.
Michael Alberta, who said he spent more than five years living on the streets and now has a place to stay indoors, challenged continued efforts to close homeless settlements on Monday. Homeless people are often driven there by economic realities and not just drug and crime issues, he said.
“It’s ‘how do we push these people out of where they are,’ because they know we don’t have a place to go,” Alberta said. “So they’re ready to harass and stop to get people out of here. Where are we supposed to go?