A post published earlier in the summer on the City of Santee's blog laid out the city's current homeless situation and how it's being handled:
"The city of Santee has taken a proactive approach with transients who set up illegal camp sites along the San Diego River and other greenbelt areas. While efforts are made to connect the homeless to food, shelter and social services, the city actively discourages people from living permanently in the riverbed."
The city writes that transient encampments can increase risk of wildfires, pollution, and can make the rest of the community feel unsafe.
Here are some main points from the blog:
- The Sheriff's Department makes sweeps of the riverbed every two months to find camps and tag them with eviction notices. They are given 7-10 days to move before their belongings are removed and anyone remaining is cited with illegal camping and/or trespassing.
- In the first half of 2013 there were 43 illegal camping citations issued in Santee.
- The city not only issues citations, but pursues the charges in court, oftentimes securing "stay away" orders to keep transients away from Santee's riverbed, and the city cleans the camp site.
- The annual Regional Task Force on the Homeless tally of the homeless noted 18 people living unsheltered or in their cars in Santee this year. However, another local official count puts about 30-35 illegal campers along Santee's riverbed.
- Most illegal campers have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, but not a violent criminal history.