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'They Just Took Everything': Caltrans Crews Clean Out Sacramento Homeless Camp Near X Street Bridge

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) -- The homeless debate, playing out on city streets in Midtown Sacramento.

Safe ground camping sites and homeless shelters are at capacity.

Now, the homeless camps are spreading into nearby neighborhoods. This week, Caltrans moved in - telling some of the city's homeless to get out.

Neighbors filed formal complaints of finding needles, human waste and trash off W and 9th just below the X Street bridge.

Caltrans calls it a public safety issue, but now the homeless are taking their stuff and moving it right across the street.

"They just took everything," said Michelle as she looked through what's left of belongings from the campsite on W Street that housed dozens of her friends.

"Not all homeless litter, not all homeless steal," she said.

Caltrans bulldozers moved in, wiping out everything and moving everyone on site.

"It's horrible, even an eviction you get 30-60-90 days," said Andrew, who stays nearby.

City Councilmember Katie Valenzuela says her office never got notified the sweep was happening.

"Caltrans had no strategy for where those camps would go," she said.

Valenzuela says, with the nearby safe ground camping sites and shelters are at full capacity, people moved right across the street in front of residential homes.

"Just moving folks without having a place for them to go isn't a solution," said Valenzuela.

The law says agencies can't move homeless camps unless the city provides alternative housing. So why is this an exception?

Caltrans cites an infrastructure law that states if the site poses an immediate threat to public health and safety Caltrans can hold a clean-up.

Neighbors have watched W Street change drastically over the last year - seeing trash, needles and waste. Some residents say they have even gotten their water stolen.

"We have people come up on our porch every once in a while and I can't keep an ashtray out there without it being stolen," said neighbor Tarren.

"There are some like egregious extracurricular activities that go on," said Joshua, another neighbor.

In a statement, Caltrans says they assessed the site after formal complaints were sent in and found it to be a public safety risk.

Protocol is to post a notice about the sweep within 72 hours. Though some say they were surprised, CBS13 found A sign from last Friday that warnedpeople to vacate by Wednesday.

Caltrans also says they reached out to the city to ask for assistance for resources for the homeless community, but ultimately they are not responsible for providing those resources - the city is.

Sweeps started on W Street on Wednesday. Another sweep for a camp along W and 29th Street is planned on Monday.

In a statement, a CalTrans Representative said, "Caltrans identified the encampment under U.S. Highway 50 along the W/X between 6th and 10th Streets in Sacramento as a priority for a Sept. 29 removal due to the safety hazard created by the excessive amount of trash and debris at the site that includes human waste and used needles. The department needs to clear the entire encampment for the safety of all in the area to conduct the cleanup. Caltrans provided the encampment occupants a 72-hour notice on September 24, and has been working with the City of Sacramento since August to offer those living at the encampment with resources and services for better living situations."

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