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City Still Battling Homeless Camps
0326 Encampment 2
Police Chief Lester Jenkins posts an encampment with No Trespassing advisements notifying persons to leave the area. Police plan to return in a few days to see if the notices were complied with. RICHARD PALOMA/The Leader

Acting on complaints from residents, Oakdale Police recently dismantled three transient encampments on the banks of the Stanislaus River near Valley View Park.

After contacting the subjects that claimed to be living in makeshift camps scattered with trash consisting of discarded food containers, mattresses, soiled clothing and bike parts, creating blight at an otherwise tranquil riverside locale, officers ordered the people to take their belongings under threat of trespass arrest.

Camping and trespassing in the areas is banned under Oakdale City Ordinance 20-12.

A Public Works crew, complete with a dump truck, was called in to haul away what was left behind after the “eviction.”

“They’re real good at bringing trash and stuff down,” said Oakdale Police Chief Lester Jenkins about the items scattered along the trails and riverside, “just not so good on bringing it back up.”

Earlier this month, code enforcement personnel received multiple complaints about the trash and litter along the south corridor along Albers Road to the city limits. Because of the location and risk of high speed traffic, the need for control and experienced staff was prevalent according to Oakdale Code Enforcement Manager Brian Odom.

A public works task force team was planned out and included personnel from police, public works, and code enforcement to deal with the encampments.

“It’s nice to see the different divisions within the city interacting and cooperating together in such good harmony and stepping up in these hard times,” said Odom.

Homeless camps and squatting on public lands have been an issue with city parks overrun with transients. Citizens have complained with stories of drunken fights, cussing, and other anti-social behavior such as public urination, and drug usage in both the parks and areas of the encampments.

After the river area near Valley View Park was dealt with, police went to Oakdale Shopping Center and posted ‘No Trespassing’ notices at three unattended sites discovered along the river by the Yosemite Avenue bridge.

Chief Jenkins stated that both the property owners of the shopping center and River Paradise Estates mobile home park on the east side of Yosemite Avenue have been working with the department in combatting the problem and given police authority to remove and arrest trespassers with letters on file at the department. The property owners subsequently have to sign an official complaint after an arrest is made and forwarded to the district attorney’s office.

“Today’s river cleanup was a combined effort with folks from different divisions within the city,” said Odom of the most recent ‘eviction’ proceedings. “Because of the transients present, police were instrumental in securing the area so our crews could go in. With reduced staffing levels, we gathered folks from Public Works; Water, Streets, Parks, Building, Code Enforcement and Police. We cleared three campsites and hauled two trucks of garbage and trash out. We also had the cooperation of a local property owner that allowed us better access to the area.”