FOLSOM (CBS13) — Homeless encampments that become safety hazards are an issue all over the state, but it’s not often that a community is able to take action.
The city of Folsom found a unique way to start a major clean up at a homeless campsite that is more than just a nuisance.
Folsom City Council Member Roger Gaylord visited an encampment in Folsom’s Willow Creek area where he said he was shocked by what he found: needles, feces and wires everywhere. He said he knew right then and there something had to be done.
Within just two weeks, signs were up telling people to remove their belongings.
“It’s the condition it’s in, it’s the environmental impact. Even for the folks that stay here, it’s just not safe,” he said.
Initially, there was a problem, but the area is not city property, it’s owned by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. That presented some roadblocks.
“Learning that back and forth dialogue wasn’t getting anywhere, I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to put this is in the residents’ hands,” Gaylord said.
Gaylord used social media to spread the word. A Facebook post about the issue resulted in hundreds of people emailing the state about this. Within days, leaders at the Department of Fish and Wildlife were meeting with the city.
Gaylord said the environmental issues were obvious: propane tanks, chemicals in a nearby creek, and pits full of feces.
“There’s no facilities out here so literally it’s a free for all,” he said.
The people living in the encampments are blocking recreational trails that neighbors nearby would like to use.
“It would be nice to walk out on the train tracks out there but sometimes you don’t want to because you get scared of what’s around you,” said Samantha Hayes, who lives at an apartment complex nearby.
Signs telling people to clean up their belongings is just the first step.
Who will do the actual clean up? Gaylord said that still needs to be sorted out. He said the Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking the lead but may not have the resources, so Folsom City code enforcement might take over.
“Realistically it’s not about getting anyone out of here at this point, it’s about changing the environmental impact and the safety impact,” Gaylord said.