Police evict homeless who have been living at Santa Rosa business park

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Santa Rosa police on Wednesday notified the remaining homeless people living in travel trailers and motor homes at the Northpoint Corporate Center that their time has run out.

Police distributed a two-page notice ordering homeless campers to immediately remove all property and debris from the southwest Santa Rosa business park or the city will haul it away.

The action comes after police last month began towing large RVs, pop-up campers and other vehicles from the makeshift homeless encampment that started there in January.

In the past three weeks, seven RVs, vehicles and several tents have been removed, as well as about 200 cubic yards of trash and debris, officials said.

The eviction notice reinforces the message police have been telling homeless residents at the business park, Sgt. Jonathan Wolf said.

That message is that camping is not allowed on city streets and the streets can’t be used as an RV park, Wolf said.

The ongoing effort to remove the trailers and RVs is being conducted through the city’s vehicle abatement program, which started in late August.

The homeless encampment at the business park began with about a half-dozen RVs and other vehicles parking along Apollo, Mercury and Challenger ways. By late spring or early summer, the number of homeless there had swelled, particularly after the spring evictions of the Roseland Village encampment and the subsequent breakup of tent villages that had popped up along the Joe Rodota Trail.

At one point, there were as many as 100 vehicles in various states of disrepair, but many have left the Northpoint business park area.

City housing officials said Wednesday that in the past few weeks 115 people living at the camp were contacted by Catholic Charities homeless outreach workers, with the goal of directing them to temporary or permanent housing.

According to the city’s housing and community services agency, 26 of those people were sent to local shelters and one person was placed in long-term housing.

Those still remaining at the camp said they have nowhere to go.

“The whole thing is sad and disturbing and it triggers PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” said Karen Durment, whose pickup truck was among those tagged for removal.

On Wednesday, Santa Rosa attorney Victoria Yanez met with Durment in her 27-foot Skyline travel trailer, which was parked on the north side of Mercury Way, near Apollo Way.

Durment recalled how last week’s enforcement operation left many homeless people in shock after their property was hauled away.

“I was here for the aftermath,” she said. “People were standing in the street like not knowing what to do. A lot of them were in shock.”

Frederick Williams, 37, said the 1997 Winnabego he bought for $3,000 was towed last week. He said the keys were recently stolen so he couldn’t move it before the tow truck took it away.

Williams, who refers to himself as “Living Man,” said he doesn’t intend to retrieve the Winnabego.

“I don’t have the money. If I had that kind of money — and by the time I do — I’ll just get another vehicle,” he said.

Yanez, the attorney, called the city’s homeless outreach efforts a ruse. “It’s a process that they go through to say they did it,” she said.

For property and business owners at the Northpoint business park, the progress made since spring on the eviction of the homeless and their dozens of travel trailers, tents and vehicles is a positive development.

“There’s been significant progress made on the cleanup effort, for which we are grateful,” said Keith Woods, president of the Northpoint Corporate Center Owner’s Association. “We’ve been encouraging them to accelerate the pace of the cleanup and they‘ve done so.”

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @renofish.

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