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Here's how California is trying to clear homeless from under state-owned property

California takes emergency response to clear homeless from under state-owned property
California takes emergency response to clear homeless from under state-owned property 02:56

SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is issuing an emergency response to permanently clear homeless encampments under state-owned property.

Caltrans is now laying down jagged rocks at the intersection of H Street and 30th Street, under Business 80, in east Sacramento.

CBS13 was there for the dump truck delivery. Caltrans unloaded thousands of rocks and spread them out at a freeway off-ramp.

The work is part of an emergency slope repair to deter homeless encampments, which have been a problem for nearby businesses.

Dr. Jennifer Olson owns an acupuncture practice across the street from where the rocks are being laid. Her business has suffered broken windows from vandalism that has cost her bottom line since encampments popped up here. She's lost clients.

"It got worse and worse over the last couple of years," Olson said. "It's been an issue and I think, sometimes, it doesn't represent my space very well from the outside when I have boarded up windows."

Caltrans is also prepping to put the jagged rocks under an area of Business 80 at N and 30th streets, where remnants of dug-up holes and bonfires can be seen.

Last year, a fire under Interstate 10 led to a state of emergency in Los Angeles County, forcing the main roadway to close for a week. Investigators determined arson was the cause.

Caltrans' annual budget now includes"homeless encampment coordinators at a cost of $4.5 million a year. There are 30 positions statewide.

Sacramento homeless advocate and attorney Mark Merin calls this Caltrans encampment solution bad business.

"Well, the use of jagged rocks to make encampments uninhabitable is just another method to exclude homeless people from public places," Merin said. "This is no solution at all. It's another form of nimbyism, and it just drives the problem somewhere else."

Caltrans issued a statement that reads, in part: "This rock landscaping also helps prevent weed growth and reduces the need for watering."

They plan to add some vegetation to the location as well.

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