By Len Ramirez

CAMPBELL (KPIX 5) — Frustrated residents in a Campbell neighborhood are speaking out over a growing homeless camp and an increase of street crime.

Neighbors say that they have tried to coexist with the growing encampment wedged in between a Kohl’s back parking lot and a Highway 17 soundwall near Almarida Drive.

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But lately, they are drawing a line because there’s been an increase in break-ins, car burglaries and trash dumping, and they no longer feel safe. Residents also say their cries for help from the city and state are going unanswered.

Mo Fada has lived in the Almerida Apartments for 11 years and said his car was one of at least five that were broken into early Sunday morning.

“It’s getting worse, it’s getting worse. I mean, five cars, in the same night?” said Fada. “They broke in and it cost me 300 bucks. It’s a
bad neighborhood. Now it’s like a Campbell soup.”

Campbell has enjoyed the reputation of being one of the more affluent parts of Santa Clara County. But it has its share of urban problems.
Neighbors estimate about 20 to 30 people now live in the growing homeless encampment. While no one can say if they are responsible for the car break-ins, neighbors have seen them come into their yards and start fires.

“About a month ago, about four of them came over the fence in the middle of the night, said resident Roy Pollex, who lives right next to the camp. “They burned my fence down once.”

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Caltrans suspended the clearing of homeless encampments adjacent to state highways because of the pandemic. Campbell Police say they have responded to numerous enforcement actions.

“The city of Campbell will do nothing,” said Pollex. “With Caltrans, they say we’ll put you on the list, that’s the best we can do.”

Campbell Police Capt. Ian White did commit to increasing the police presence in the area to watch for and deter crime.

“We will put more patrols out there.  Yeah, I have no problem saying that we will and our guys probably already have.”

One neighborhood activist who’s called on the city repeatedly for more police patrols says he’ll be watching.

“The city of Campbell needs to address this problem. It affects the businesses, the residents and the general stature of the city,” said Vince Navarra, President of the Hamann Park Neighborhood Association.

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San Jose emergency response team members recently met with some of the residents of the homeless camp and said they refused offers of shelter and services.