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Alameda Co. Slaps Homeowners With $20K Bill To Clean Up Homeless Encampment

CASTRO VALLEY (KPIX) - Homeowners in one Alameda County community say they shouldn't be responsible for the cost of cleaning up an abandoned homeless encampment.

It will cost more than $20,000 dollars to clean up the trash and hazardous waste. The question now is who is ultimately going to pay the bill.

The encampment is a creek area below the homes in Lakewood, a small subdivision of 75 houses in Castro Valley.

The property management company assessed each home owner a cleanup fee of $300, but some home owners say they shouldn't be the one ones footing the bill. 

"We didn't even know it was part of our HOA," said Cece Adams.

She has lived in the Lakewood community in Castro Valley for 16 years and now she says she's stuck with a bill to clean up what's left of a homeless encampment.

"No one knew it was their responsibility. I think everyone assumed it was county's responsibility," says Adams.

The encampment was first reported in October of 2017, but no one knew if the land belonged to Alameda County, East Bay Regional Parks, or the Lakewood Home Owners Association.

"There are no fences and such that would mark where the property line ended, so we were kind of hoping that it was someone else's responsibility," says Ed Walsh, who owns Walsh Property Management – the company that oversees the HOA.

Walsh said Alameda County told the HOA the encampment was in fact on their property in August of 2019, almost two years after the encampment first appeared.

The county also said the HOA is responsible to pay for the $20,000 cleanup.

"Unfortunately this one happened to be on the association's property," says Walsh.

Homeowners say the delay over property lines caused more waste to pile up, making it more expensive - so the county or Walsh Property Management should pay the bill.

"They should have known that this was our property, and they should have taken care of it a long time ago," says Adams.
Walsh says the county isn't responsible for cleaning up trash or overgrown weeds in someone's backyard, so the county shouldn't have to pay to clean up an encampment that's basically in the backyard of the HOA.

The cleanup is expected to be done by mid-February and Alameda County Sheriff's Deputies are going to be going through the area once a week to make sure another encampment doesn't pop up.

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