Santa Maria - North County

Authorities clean up large homeless encampment in Santa Maria

Authorities clean up large homeless...

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A large homeless camp was cleaned up Wednesday morning near Santa Maria's Jim May Park, in a tunnel near U.S. Highway 101. 

Santa Maria Police assisted Santa Barbara County officials, California Highway Patrol and Caltrans with the cleanup.

The cleanup was prompted by a number of nearby businesses complaining about the homeless problem. 

"And we've even had some burglaries in our buildings over the past couple months," business property manager Cynthia Crawford said. 

Police say they've been dealing with this issue in recent years and have been patrolling more for it and handing out citations--sometimes arresting transients if they have unpaid tickets. 

This riverbed, underneath the 101 freeway, between the Donovan and Broadway exits was where police say homeless people have been calling home.

Several local businesses citing the eyesore and the unwanted foot traffic so Caltrans was out here cleaning up the trash, posting signs and painting the graffiti.

We spoke with a homeless man, who didn't want to be identified - about how he ended up homeless and police about this issue.

"Well my mom passed away and you try to prepare yourself for it. Eight months after that my dad got cancer and passed away..nine months after that my sister got murdered," "John" said. 

"If they're panhandling, don't give them cash, you have no idea what they're going to use this cash for," Santa Maria Police Sgt. Eligio Lara said. "So if you're really interested in helping the homeless, we have donation meters throughout the city, Salvation Army and Good Samaritan." 

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