Paso Robles police arrest homeless at river encampment
March 10, 2016
Paso Robles police have begun arresting homeless individuals who are not complying with the city’s order to evacuate their encampments along the Salinas River. On Tuesday, officers arrested five homeless people for camping and another one for having an outstanding warrant.
Last week, Paso Robles city employees began kicking the homeless out of riverbed encampments in preparation for heavy rain that arrived over the weekend. Officials say it is too dangerous for the homeless to be living in the area, and the city has a zero-tolerance stance on riverbed encampments.
City workers identified 46 river encampments last week, 24 of which were occupied, according to a city press release. Paso Robles employees made contacts with at least one resident in each of the active encampments.
Since then, some of the homeless have complied with the city’s evacuation notice while others have been resistant. The city set a deadline of Thursday for the homeless to remove their property from the encampments.
Police officers are continuing to speak with the riverbed residents. In addition to making six arrests on Tuesday, officers also issued five citations for delays in evacuating.
Paso Robles City Manager Tom Frutchey released a statement defending the city’s decision to arrest the homeless.
“To some, this may not appear to be a compassionate approach,” Frutchey said. “It is, however, the best mix of enticements and pressure for achieving success. We need to do everything possible to both encourage and pressure riverbed campers to, first, understand the critical nature of the situation, and second, make the right decisions.”
Police Lieutenant Ty Lewis said it is unfortunate police must resort to making arrests. But, the city is left with few options because some of the homeless remain intent on camping in the riverbed despite being repeatedly warned of the dangers, Lewis said.
The city is working with local homeless services providers in attempt to resolve the homeless “crisis” that exists in the city. The city council, like several other local governments, recently declared a homeless shelter crisis.