[Hpn] Killing spurs crackdown on river area homeless camps

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Wed, 14 Jun 2006 04:52:20 -0400


This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

------=_NextPart_000_00AF_01C68F6E.51D07BB0
Content-Type: text/plain;
	charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

Killing spurs crackdown on river area=20
2 cities, county plan to target Santa Clara camps=20

By Tamara Koehler, tkoehler@VenturaCountyStar.com


June 14, 2006=20

Prodded in part by the recent slaying of a bridge construction worker, =
law enforcement officials are planning to clear the Santa Clara River =
bottom of homeless camps and step up patrols of the area.=20

The move comes nearly three weeks after co-workers found Steven Knapp, a =
54-year-old welding inspector working on the Highway 101 bridge =
expansion, dead at the job site. The incident was the latest in a series =
of assaults and vandalism plaguing workers on the massive $112 million =
project on the edge of north Oxnard.=20

Complaints from business owners and residents about transients camping =
in the riverbed, aggressive panhandling and public intoxication also =
have been on the rise, Oxnard Police Cmdr. Jason Benites said.=20

"There have been a lot more calls and complaints about quality of life =
in the area, so we are taking a very hard look at this," Benites said.=20

Officers from Oxnard have contacted their counterparts in the Ventura =
Police and Ventura County Sheriff's departments.=20

Sheriff's deputies will fly over the area this week and photograph any =
homeless camps in the dense growth cloaking much of the riverbed, =
Sheriff's Capt. Ron Nelson said. In the past, camps have been found =
along the dry banks down a maze of trails near Ventura Road and Highway =
101.=20

With photographs in hand, a crew of police officers from Oxnard and =
Ventura and deputies from the Sheriff's Department will scout the area =
on foot next week.=20

Benites stressed that the objective was to get people out of poor living =
conditions, not punish them. Referrals to mental health and housing =
agencies, not tickets, will be handed out to homeless campers.=20

But, he warned, "if that doesn't work, then we plan on clearing people =
out."=20

Most of the riverbed is under the sheriff's jurisdiction. Patrol of the =
area has been hindered by a too-thin force and the lack of a county =
trespassing ordinance for the river bottom, officials said.=20

"Right now, deputies can only advise people they're trespassing, and =
that's all," Nelson said.=20

The Sheriff's Department will ask county supervisors to enact an =
ordinance similar to the one in effect in the city of Ventura, which =
makes it a misdemeanor to illegally camp in the river bottom.=20

Benites also wants the county Watershed Protection Agency to clear out =
the thick weeds and brush.=20

"A lot of the problem has to do with the environmental design of the =
river bottom," Benites said. "If brush grows and flourishes, it attracts =
people who want to live there, hidden away."=20

The last time that homeless campers were removed en masse from the Santa =
Clara River was in 1997, when El Ni=F1o storms threatened to flood the =
area.




---
avast! Antivirus: Outbound message clean.
Virus Database (VPS): 0624-1, 06/13/2006
Tested on: 6/14/2006 4:52:22 AM
avast! - copyright (c) 1988-2006 ALWIL Software.
http://www.avast.com



------=_NextPart_000_00AF_01C68F6E.51D07BB0
Content-Type: text/html;
	charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<HTML><HEAD>
<META http-equiv=3DContent-Type content=3D"text/html; =
charset=3Diso-8859-1">
<META content=3D"MSHTML 6.00.2900.2873" name=3DGENERATOR>
<STYLE></STYLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY bgColor=3D#ffffff>
<DIV><SPAN class=3Dheadline1>Killing spurs crackdown on river area =
</SPAN>
<P><SPAN class=3Dsubhead>2 cities, county plan to target Santa Clara =
camps</SPAN>=20
<P><SPAN class=3Dsmalltext><B>By Tamara Koehler, <A=20
href=3D"mailto:tkoehler@VenturaCountyStar.com">tkoehler@VenturaCountyStar=
.com</A></B></SPAN></P><SPAN=20
class=3Dsmalltext><STRONG></STRONG></SPAN></DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3Dsmalltext></SPAN>
<P><BR><SPAN class=3Dsmalltext><B>June 14, 2006</B></SPAN> </P>
<P><SPAN class=3Dbodytext>Prodded in part by the recent slaying of a =
bridge=20
construction worker, law enforcement officials are planning to clear the =
Santa=20
Clara River bottom of homeless camps and step up patrols of the area.=20
<P>The move comes nearly three weeks after co-workers found Steven =
Knapp, a=20
54-year-old welding inspector working on the Highway 101 bridge =
expansion, dead=20
at the job site. The incident was the latest in a series of assaults and =

vandalism plaguing workers on the massive $112 million project on the =
edge of=20
north Oxnard.=20
<P>Complaints from business owners and residents about transients =
camping in the=20
riverbed, aggressive panhandling and public intoxication also have been =
on the=20
rise, Oxnard Police Cmdr. Jason Benites said.=20
<P>"There have been a lot more calls and complaints about quality of =
life in the=20
area, so we are taking a very hard look at this," Benites said.=20
<P>Officers from Oxnard have contacted their counterparts in the Ventura =
Police=20
and Ventura County Sheriff's departments.=20
<P>Sheriff's deputies will fly over the area this week and photograph =
any=20
homeless camps in the dense growth cloaking much of the riverbed, =
Sheriff's=20
Capt. Ron Nelson said. In the past, camps have been found along the dry =
banks=20
down a maze of trails near Ventura Road and Highway 101.=20
<P>With photographs in hand, a crew of police officers from Oxnard and =
Ventura=20
and deputies from the Sheriff's Department will scout the area on foot =
next=20
week.=20
<P>Benites stressed that the objective was to get people out of poor =
living=20
conditions, not punish them. Referrals to mental health and housing =
agencies,=20
not tickets, will be handed out to homeless campers.=20
<P>But, he warned, "if that doesn't work, then we plan on clearing =
people out."=20
<P>Most of the riverbed is under the sheriff's jurisdiction. Patrol of =
the area=20
has been hindered by a too-thin force and the lack of a county =
trespassing=20
ordinance for the river bottom, officials said.=20
<P>"Right now, deputies can only advise people they're trespassing, and =
that's=20
all," Nelson said.=20
<P>The Sheriff's Department will ask county supervisors to enact an =
ordinance=20
similar to the one in effect in the city of Ventura, which makes it a=20
misdemeanor to illegally camp in the river bottom.=20
<P>Benites also wants the county Watershed Protection Agency to clear =
out the=20
thick weeds and brush.=20
<P>"A lot of the problem has to do with the environmental design of the =
river=20
bottom," Benites said. "If brush grows and flourishes, it attracts =
people who=20
want to live there, hidden away."=20
<P>The last time that homeless campers were removed en masse from the =
Santa=20
Clara River was in 1997, when El Ni=F1o storms threatened to flood the=20
area.</P></SPAN></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>

<BR><BR>
<TABLE width=3D400><HR>
<P style=3D"FONT: 9pt/11pt verdana"><a href=3D"http://www.avast.com">avast!=
 Antivirus</a>: Outbound message clean.
<P style=3D"FONT: 8pt/11pt verdana">Virus Database (VPS): 0624-1, 06/13/200=
6<BR>Tested on: 6/14/2006 4:52:22 AM<BR><FONT color=3Dgray>avast! - copyrig=
ht (c) 1988-2006 ALWIL Software.</FONT></P>
<TBODY></TBODY></TABLE>
<BR>

</BODY></HTML>

------=_NextPart_000_00AF_01C68F6E.51D07BB0--