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San Jose Residents Dismayed by Growing Homeless Camp, Illegal Dumpsite on Railroad Property

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- Abandoned vehicles, old furniture and even a washer and dryer.

The homeless encampment and illegal dumpsite on Monterey Road near Bailey Avenue in San Jose has grown to the point where one resident tweeted a video and plea to city leaders to do something about how massive it has become.

"No one ever addresses the problem," said Dennis Hartman who lives near the encampment. "I told my daughter, 'Let's videotape it, put some music under it, we can put it on YouTube, maybe somebody will respond.' It's becoming like a dumping ground and I see people stopping midday and dumping stuff."

Councilman Sergio Jimenez said he learned about the encampment several weeks ago and that the property where the encampment is located belongs to Union Pacific.

"I want to let the resident know that we're very much on the case," Jimenez said. "What I do know and what I can say very publicly is that Union Pacific is very much aware of it."

He said that there are a couple of reasons why the encampment and piles of garbage haven't been cleaned up yet, including that Union Pacific is currently cleaning up encampments in other parts of San Jose and working their way south.

Jimenez and Mayor Sam Liccardo said another reason it's been so difficult to address is that the health order doesn't allow for the removal of encampments unless it's a public safety issue.

"So where normally we would go in and remove people, that's just not happening now and I think what we're seeing are the ramifications of that," Jimenez said.

"We're focused on trying to get as many people housed as we can to thin out the encampments," Mayor Liccardo added.

He said the emergency orders have been beneficial when building more housing because there is a lack of red tape. Liccardo said there are currently three projects under construction with one opening next week. What would typically take four years now takes four months, the mayor said.

But Hartman believes more needs to be done than just a cleanup.

"It's sad for the people that live there, I think they need some help," Hartman said.

A Union Pacific spokesperson said "due to its location and nature, the UP right-of-way experiences trespassing, unlawful encampments, dumping and other illegal activities from time to time, despite UP's efforts to protect against these activities."

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