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Salinas Riverbed cleanup resumes after delays

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Posted at 6:48 PM, Feb 07, 2022

After a brief pause, efforts are again underway to clean up the Salinas Riverbed.

This comes after staffing shortages and wet weather put a halt to that work.

Several homeless encampments on the southern part of the riverbed will be cleaned up come Tuesday.

It’s where Daniel Stainbrook has called home for the last month and a half.

“As far as where I’m going, I don't know but right now, all I’m doing is trying to get this place cleaned back up after a few setbacks,” Stainbrook said.

The police department gave notices a week ago to those living in the area.

“Kind of what will bring us to each area is if there is a fire or if there is some sort of activity there,” said Officer Josh Lewis of the Paso Robles Police Department.

At this time, Officer Lewis is the only member of the police department’s Community Action Team. This has caused a brief pause on the cleanup efforts this winter.

“With COVID and with staff shortages and whatnot, so a little lull there and as you can imagine, we come out and clean up a camp and in a few weeks there's another giant pile for us,” explained Commander Caleb Davis of Paso Robles PD.

Last year, the city says it removed roughly 250,000 pounds of trash from the Salinas Riverbed with a cost of just under $100,000 from general funds.

“Each camp can be from between 2,000 pounds and some of the camps have as much as 10,000 pounds of garbage,” Officer Lewis explained.

Cleanup efforts were initially done in conjunction with the fire department due to high fire risk but it’s since continued due to flooding concerns and the sheer amount of trash piling up.

With at least 100 people currently living in the riverbed, the police department’s Community Action Team and a psychiatric technician try to help those like Stainbrook get on the right path.

“Ultimate goal, I was going to get my car going and go back up to Idaho to my brother's house,” Stainbrook concluded.

A contractor will go in on Tuesday to remove trash from the encampment. The city says each cleanup costs roughly $1,500.

Those who live in the riverbed are able to remove their valuables and personal property before the contractor comes in. Police have also stored items if they are unable to remove them.