Local citizens, business owners, public service providers, and law enforcement officials have expressed concern regarding increasing criminal activity in transient encampments located in the Santa Clara Riverbed. There is also a growing concern over the environmental impact caused by illegal transient encampments.
The transient population in this area has been an ongoing concern for an extended period of time. For the past several months, numerous agencies were brought together to create a task force which would address homeless issues in the Santa Clarita Valley. Agencies such as the Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Veteran’s Affairs, Volunteers of America, Behavioral Health Services, Bridge to Home, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have joined forces with City of Santa Clarita staff members in an effort to help resolve these quality of life issues for all parties involved.
On Monday, February 9, 2015 deputies assigned to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station coordinated an effort with city and county social services, as well as deputies from the Special Operations Bureau (formerly COPS Bureau), Parks Bureau and reserve deputies to conduct an illegal camp enforcement operation of the Santa Clara Riverbed area.
The Feb. 9 enforcement day was the culmination of several months of focused outreach efforts and frequent advisories at the camp locations, letting the individuals living there know that it is illegal, and that individuals would be arrested if they did not seek out social services options that were available to them or work toward changing their current living situation. Many transients contacted took advantage of services offered; however, a large percentage of the transient population in this area repeatedly refuse assistance.
On Friday, February 6, 2015, City staff posted a 72-hour notice of evacuation at the camp locations, and contracted with a construction crew for a one-time cost of nearly $10,000 to clear out the camps, as well as some of the brush that was used to support the illegal dwellings.
During the Monday morning operation, personnel found many of the areas were replete with trash, debris, human waste, personal property, and drug paraphernalia. Personnel also discovered alleged stolen property and weapons within many of the encampments.
The enforcement event resulted in at least eight trespassing citations. One male adult was arrested on an outstanding felony “no-bail” warrant. At least 12 separate transient encampments were cleaned of all trash and debris. Some personal property was collected from the riverbed area and will be stored for 90 days in compliance with state law, in order to provide the owners an opportunity to retrieve their property at a later date.
There will be several more operations like this in the future as camping/living in the Santa Clara Riverbed area is no longer an option. No further information is available at this time.