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Facing Removal From Mineta-SJ Airport, Homeless Campers Moving To Land Owned By Apple

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- With less than four weeks to go before the City of San Jose must submit its plans to remove hundreds of homeless encampments near Mineta San Jose Airport, some of the airport inhabitants have begun moving to an even larger site nearby, owned by Apple.

"Everybody knows there's homeless people, they just don't wanna have to look at them, I think," said Lynn Shipman, who now resides at the sprawling Apple property in north San Jose.

Airport officials have until July 31 to inform the FAA of its plan to remove the encampments that have been erected in a 40-acre parcel that lies directly in the flight path of jets on final approach to the runway. The city said there were as many 200 people, but official counts place the number between 400 to 500. The FAA has threatened to withhold millions of dollars in funding if the city did not comply.

As the city began "enhanced cleanup" at the airport last week, some inhabitants have begun moving from the airport to the Apple property, about 3 miles away. The Apple-owned parcels, bordered by Trimble Road, Orchard Parkway, Component Drive, North 1st Street, Charcot Avenue, and Highway 101, totals about 55 acres.

There are at least 30 people at the Apple encampments according to Shipman, many with sprawling amounts of trash, debris, RVs, tents, and vehicles.

"And Apple, they're not doing anything with this land right now. Why not let people stay until they do?" said Shipman.

Robert Carlson, who also lives at Apple encampment, says "haters" who come into the site and cause trouble by setting fires and destroying property are "shunned". Carlson is hesitant to move into low-income housing, given restrictions on property storage.

"The issue is you can't bring anything with you. Most of the time, you can't bring nothing with you. Cars clothes and that's it. A lot of own RVs and everything else. It takes a long time to get an RV. And when we do, we don't want to let it go," said Carlson.

Carlson, who spends his days gathering recycling for income, reflected on Apple, the world's most valuable company, owning the land.

"I tell you what, if they're such a wealthy company, they could be helping to put all of us, to make this place better. Instead of trying to kick us out here, if the company is so big, show that they even care," said Carlson.

Local activist Shaunn Cartwright, did not comment on the Apple encampment, but said empty parcels like the former Orchard Supply Hardware store site on Bird Avenue, are examples of how tech companies can ease the homelessness crisis.

"There's no plausible defense to sit there and say 'I'm going to keep this land empty' and not step up as a good neighbor, and provide safe parking to these people who are so desperately in need. We need tech to be a good neighbor, we need them to allow safe parking for a year or two on this land, until housing is built for these people," said Cartwright.

KPIX has requested a comment from Apple. A representative said the company is formulating a response.

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