April 1, 2022
To protect public health and safety, a cleanup this week removed 62,000 pounds of trash from a homeless encampment on private property owned by the Santa Maria Valley Railroad. The area of sixth-tenths of a mile borders neighborhoods from West Depot Street to Blosser Road. Three people were reconnected with their families for housing; the rest declined offers for shelter.
The City, nonprofit partners, several businesses, two apartment complexes, a cleanup company, and the railroad jointly undertook the project. More than 24 truckloads of trash went to the Santa Maria Regional Landfill. The City paid the approximately $16,000 cleanup expense using American Rescue Act Plan (ARPA) funds. The railroad, businesses, and apartment properties are making their own property improvements to dissuade further encampments and trash, and to improve safety. Apartment owners removed overgrown ivy used as cover from a block wall along the railroad tracks.
The railroad company discourages encampments, and also asked the City for assistance. This project became a priority for the City when it received many complaints about noise, fires, vandalism, theft, digging, and trash odors. Since January, the City issued dozens of citations for trespassing along that stretch of property.
The area was posted at least 72 hours in advance, per the law, with “notice to vacate” signs; the reverse side of the signs provided those in the area with resources about where to find shelter, food, and counseling.
The City recognizes the scope of homelessness situation and has a three-fold approach: education/support, enforcement, and partnering with other agencies and nonprofit organizations such as CityNet and the Salvation Army, to support those experiencing homelessness by connecting them to resources, shelter and assistance here in Santa Maria.
Questions may be directed to the City Manager’s Office at (805) 925-0951 extension 2372.
Department: City Manager’s Office
Contact Person: Mark van de Kamp, Public Information Manager
Telephone Number: (805) 925-0951 ext. 2372 or cell (805) 720-4038
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org