Paso Robles removing homeless from riverbed

March 4, 2016

HomelessSweep-campFollowing the lead of Morro Bay and Grover Beach, the city of Paso Robles is kicking the homeless out of creek encampments. Paso Robles officials say the homeless must be evacuated from the Salinas Riverbed prior to an upcoming El Nino storm. [Paso Robles Daily News]

Paso Robles city employees are in the process of booting 70 to 90 homeless individuals from their encampments. The homeless have been been camped in a flood plain, according to the city.

Assistant City Manager Meg Williamson said the primary concern is preventing loss of life and reducing exposure of citizens and emergency responders to the possibility of rapidly rising water and flooding in the river.

There were more than 40 different homeless camps in the riverbed, Stormwater Manager David LaCaro said. Some of the some camps had outdoor showers, canopies and other infrastructure.

With heavy rain forecasted for this weekend, the Paso Robles City Council voted on Tuesday to approve a plan to evacuate the riverbed and attempt to provide the homeless with shelter. The council allocated $69,000 toward evacuation work, a temporary warming shelter and an event designed to connect the homeless with service providers.

In December, Morro Bay officials kicked the homeless out of a city creek, citing possible flooding caused by El Nino. Grover Beach officials follow suit earlier this year, booting the homeless from an encampment for a variety of reasons, including a planned expansion of the nearby train station.

Shortly thereafter, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors declared a homeless shelter crisis and allocated $10,000 toward addressing the problem. The board of supervisors asked cities in the county to also declare a crisis.

Some cities, including Paso Robles, have since done so. A resulting increase in funding for homeless services, has led local nonprofits and charities to jockey for funds.

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Aside from the humanitarian reasons society might want to move people out of a rainstorm, it is also a good idea for public health and wellbeing. People down in stagnant water is a Petrie dish for disease– disease(s) that can be spread to ANYONE.

It costs less money and is more humane to move people and their “stuff” for a period of time to warm and dry areas while they AND the land dry out.