Public works employees on Wednesday used a large vacuum truck at Northpoint Corporate Center in southwest Santa Rosa, CA, flushing and suctioning clean about a dozen or more city storm drains, reported the Press Democrat.
Along with the usual leaves, small rocks and debris, the city public works crew extracted a duffel bag, makeup, parking signs, human waste and drug syringes — byproducts of a homeless encampment that sprung out of a large number of RVs, campers, cars and trucks parked in recent months along several streets of the business park.
A half-dozen RVs and other vehicles first showed up at the business park back in January, but around late spring the number of vehicles grew exponentially to as many as 57 RVs as well as 15 or more tents. Property and business owners are sympathetic to the plight of those who are forced to live in their vehicles but having such a large number without the property facilities, such as toilets and garbage receptacles, has led to environmental concerns.
Police officials have set a tentative target of mid-September to begin strict enforcement of laws that prohibit living in vehicles on the street such as health and safety code violations, including a city ordinance that requires vehicles parked on the street to be moved at least every 72 hours.
Santa Rosa housing and community services staff are working with Catholic Charities to connect the RVers with services, shelters, family support and permanent or temporary housing, including in RV parks and campgrounds.
“Of course people aren’t supposed to be living on the streets in their RVs, but homeless people have shelter in these RVs. And there’s not a lot where they can park and be safe,” Adrienne Lauby, a member of the advocacy group Homeless Action said. “If they had that lot, there could be trash pickup, porta-potties and the other basics of human life.”