Is anyone monitoring homeless camping?

Red Phone

Hi, I am calling about the vacant lot between Alexander Street and the railroad tracks on 10th Street. The same lot that once was occupied by Nob Hill Foods and Indian Motorcycles. I realize that a growing number of homeless have relocated to Gilroy in desperate need of assistance. But, what I don’t understand is why these citizens have been allowed to destroy the property by cutting through a chain link fence on a main thoroughfare giving them full access to the property for the construction of a tent city made out of cardboard. Each day it grows bigger and bigger and nothing has been done to stop it. How is it that a city that opposes the use of flags and banners for small businesses think that this is okay? Thank you.

Red Phone:

Thank you, good caller, for bringing this situation to the attention of Red Phone. Fortunately for you and the good citizens of Gilroy, good things are beginning to happen. Red Phone contacted Sgt. Jason Smith of the Gilroy Police Department, who is the liaison with the South County Homeless Outreach Task Force, and asked about this property. The Gilroy Police Department is a member of the task force, which meets monthly to discuss homeless issues and solutions.

Sgt. Smith said, “For years, the lot’s empty buildings and secluded access has attracted drug users, vandals, and wanted criminals to the area. Fortunately, the property is currently undergoing a major renovation and there is no longer a “tent city.”

Sgt. Smith explained, “Construction started earlier this month on the Alexander Station Apartments. The old buildings have already been demolished and the ground is being readied for new foundations. I spoke with the site superintendent, Daren Lynch, from Pacific West Builders about the project. Mr. Lynch said the project will take about 2 years to complete and will result in a 300-unit, state-of-the-art apartment complex. Mr. Lynch said he personally met with the residents of the homeless encampment on their property and they agreed to peacefully move along. Mr. Lynch also said by the end of the month, they will clean the area between the chain link fence and the sidewalk on East 10th Street, which is littered with garbage and debris left over from vacated encampments.”

When asked about code enforcement regarding illegal encampments, Sgt. Smith said, “The police department has the authority to enforce any applicable laws such as trespassing and illegal lodging. As a general rule, officers try to educate homeless individuals about the law violation prior to an enforcement action. Officers routinely provide information about local homeless services and resources.”

Sgt. Smith added, “While the Gilroy Police Department is empathetic to the plight of the homeless population, it is also our duty to safeguard our community’s quality of life. Officers actively enforce public nuisance violations such as alcohol/drug related offences, urinating in public, aggressive panhandling, etc.”

When asked, “What can the public do?” Sgt. Smith said the public is encouraged to call the Police Department when they suspect an illegal homeless encampment.

So, good caller, you are very welcome, but thanks should be given to the Gilroy Police Department, South County Homeless Outreach Task Force, and the new apartment developer.