SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Caltrans is moving to clean up homeless camps around South Bay freeways after trash blamed on homeless camps has blown onto the highways creating traffic problems and eyesores.
Caltrans estimates there are 20 camps just along Interstate 680 in north San Jose and more in other parts of the city. The camps are often just a few steps from traffic in the bushes along the freeways.
The mounds of garbage created by people living in these camps gets blown up and down the freeways. Not only is the garbage ugly, it makes the commute even more miserable. Last winter, debris clogged up storm drains that flooded several lanes of I-680.
The homeless have been moving onto Caltrans’ property near the freeways after the city of San Jose stepped up sweeps of homeless camps on city-managed land.
“They are off city streets and out of view from the general public, where people aren’t normally going through, are typically attractive encampment spots,” said Ray Bramson, homeless program manager for the City of San Jose. “People are looking for a place to sleep where they won’t be disturbed.”
People living near the homeless camps say garbage is just one of the problems. Resident Maria Orozco said a fire that started in one of the camps burned her fence and nearly spread to her home.
“We are upset, of course we are upset about it. But what can we do?” said Orozco, who is thankful Caltrans is cleaning up the camps but knows this is just a first step.
“I’m hopeful that it will help, but solve the problem? I don’t think so,” she said.