A cleanup of the Santa Maria Riverbed is underway.
The City of Santa Maria says it’s working with several agencies to remove abandoned property from homeless encampments for the safety of the residents there and in the surrounding community.
The City says signs to vacate the area were posted for the approximately 35 people illegally living in the area at least 72 hours prior to the start of Thursday’s cleanup, adding that resources have been offered to those living there and information was included on the back of the notices to vacate.
By the end of the cleanup on Friday, an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 pound of material will have been removed from the riverbed.
The City says it recognizes the scope of the homelessness situation in the riverbed. “The City has a three-fold approach: education/support, enforcement, and partnering with other agencies and nonprofit organizations to support those experiencing homelessness by connecting them to resources, shelter and assistance here in Santa Maria,” the city said in a press release.
Funding for the cleanup, which cost about $10,000, was provided by United by Blue.
City of Santa Maria officials say most of the riverbed is outside city limits and located in San Luis Obispo County.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office says members of its CAT Team are in regular contact with those living in the riverbed, but they say many of the people receive help and services across county lines in Santa Maria.
Santa Maria is expecting to begin vegetation maintenance, which includes brush trimming along nature trails, sign maintenance and removal of abandoned property, for its portion of the riverbed, which is approximately 240 acres located to the east of the Santa Maria River Bridge.