South Bay News

Kelley Park neighbors fed up with homeless encampments

Friday, July 13, 2012

There have been a series of fires set in San Jose's Kelley Park in recent days. Firefighters speculate they are being set by homeless in the area; encampments have been growing in recent months. Nearby homeowners are fed up.

Three fires broke out in the park Tuesday night. The fire department is still investigating the cause and has not ruled anything out, but those who live nearby say they know what's happening and they want it to stop.

Thursday, Petie Walker reported yet another homeless encampment in Kelley Park. She and others in the Spring Brook community are frustrated by the rise in homeless encampments and fires in the park and what they say is the city's inaction.

"Officers have been told from, what I understand, to not go out and try to move the homeless or cite them; they take reports and that's the extent of it," Walker said.

No one from the police department returned ABC7 News' calls Thursday, but in a memo to City Council in May, the environmental services director said, "SJPD has halted all clean-up activities in order to ensure the City's procedures are complying with state requirements."

Recently, the city learned state law requires it to classify and record all items taken from a cleared encampment, which is costly and time consuming.

San Jose Communications Director David Vossbrink says solving homelessness involves several agencies and money.

Their short term plans include a massive encampment clean up scheduled for thursday of next week. Brush will be cleared along the creek to help prevent fires and the city will try to hire more park rangers from the county.

"We need regular patrols and regular enforcement; I've never seen a police car come down the fire road day or night," Brett Klynn said.

Those who live nearby say they've considered hiring private security to keep an eye out for fires and for issues with the homeless.

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Tags:
san jose, fire, homeless, south bay news, lisa amin gulezian
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