SAN JOSE (CBS 5) — Residents in some areas of San Jose are concerned as they say squatters have become increasingly bold. A fire at an encampment along Coyote Creek on Thursday has brought new attention to the problem.

Thursday’s fire revealed an elaborate encampment complete with a barbecue, flooring and an entry gate.

Petie Walker lives a mile downstream from Thursday’s fire, but her condo is next to Coyote Creek, where squatters have set up camp 150 feet from her front door.

A few months ago, Walker said she caught two people in her home, stealing her belongings. She has complained to multiple agencies, but has gotten nowhere.

“So we are stuck living with this, and I feel like we’re under siege. And it’s pretty horrific,” Walker said.

Neighbor David Loredo said a group of squatters use an electrical room to charge their cellphones, and fill buckets of water at a nearby faucet. Loredo pointed out to CBS 5 garages that have been broken into, allegedly by the squatters.

Walker said, “I feel stymied by all of this. I don’t see a way out, unless the city decides to do something.”

San Jose Police said clearing out encampments is not easy. It involves social services, shelters, hospitals, counselors and police, all departments with their own shrinking budgets.

“This is a problem I don’t think that will ever go away, we’ll always have to deal with this issue. The question is how empathetic can we be, how collaborative can we be in looking for long term solution,” said Sgt. Jason Dwyer.

Typically, it’s up to the landowner to clean up encampments. In this case, it’s the Santa Clara Valley Water District. They did not have an immediate reaction for this story, but did say there is a meeting about this topic on May 17.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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