The City of Lompoc is moving forward with plans to remove homeless residents from the Santa Ynez Riverbed.
This includes issuing eviction notices and setting up a triage center in River Park.
On Friday, those in the riverbed will have 30 days to get out. On September 10, a portion of River Park will be fenced off and converted into a triage center to provide services and temporary shelter for the homeless.
“They’re making their own way of life and pretty much not paying any taxes per say,” said Officer Mauricio Calderon of the Lompoc Police Department. “They’re living a lawlessness type of life.”
The City of Lompoc will evict people from the 60 to 75 encampments in the riverbed.
“They have a real good knowledge of how to building something. It’s not your typical tent,” Officer Calderon says who also serves as the homeless liaison.
He pointed out that some of the encampments even have electricity and water.
“This is exactly why we need to address it because it’s getting way out of control. They bring this stuff here which is what we’re looking for, what I talk about the criminal aspect, this is not bought, they actually stole it,” Officer Calderon said as he showed us a portable faucet.
On Tuesday, the city council unanimously approved a plan it says will solve the homeless problem that’s been plaguing the city for decades.
“We’ve heard anything from rapes, assault with deadly weapons, human trafficking,” Officer Caulderon explained.
City leaders say though it’s never done something of this magnitude at the riverbed, it’s ready.
“We’ve actually been preparing for quite some time,” said Laura Dubbels, Lompoc Deputy City Manager.
This includes spending more than $21,000 for police to move them out.
“The cleanliness issues, the violence, the problems that are going on is a bad deal,” explained Chief of Police, Pat Walsh. “So we’re approaching (them): here’s services, do you need to to be reconnected with family?”
We spoke with one woman who has lived in the riverbed for a year. She said she didn’t want to go on camera but said she’s not too worried about having to move out.
“It doesn’t make me nervous because I’ve had a couple of conservations and meetings with them but I understand where the nervousness comes from, from people.”
But she wants people to know losing a home can happen to anyone.
“”Bad things can happen to people and it can happen to anybody. I worked three jobs. I loved working. I had a future house. I had money. I had a car and boom within a matter of days, I lost it all.”
Six officers will hit every camp on Friday to let them know what’s going on.
If they don’t leave by day 30, they will be fined for trespassing.
The triage center will only be up and running for 30 days starting on September 10.
The city says it’s in need of donations for that center. If you’re interested in donating, you can make a tax deductible donation to the Chase Bank in Lompoc.