The following is a press release issued by the Lakeport Police Department:
Yesterday The City of Lakeport‘s Lakeport Police Department and Lakeport Public Works Department staff removed a significant homeless encampment from public property along the shoreline of Clear Lake off the east side of the private properties of 1 First Street and 2 C Street. The persons using the encampment were trespassing across the private properties mentioned to gain access. For approximately the past two years this location has been a regular site of camps and a concern for surrounding residential and commercial property owners for numerous reasons including safety, sanitary conditions and fire danger. In fact in recent months numerous wildland fires have started in the area and caused threats for surrounding neighborhoods. Police surveyed the property and contacted the occupants numerous times over the past few months in efforts to mitigate the situation. Officers and our embedded Crisis Responder from Lake Family Resource Center worked with occupants numerous times to offer resources from the many agencies working on homelessness in Lake County. On July 6th by direction of the Chief of Police, the property was ordered vacated, with written notices posted as well as personally served on occupants giving them sufficient time to remove their belongings. Both on July 6th and yesterday we also took crisis and outreach staff from Lake County Behavioral Health with us to further offer resources for any persons remaining in the encampment. The written notices and removal times are required by federal court case law decisions.
Upon arrival at 7 AM yesterday morning, three occupants were located in the camp. The occupants were again offered and one did accept resources and transportation to a local homeless shelter. The person’s valuables which could not be transported to the shelter were secured and safeguarded. The other two declined resources and were ordered to vacate immediately or face arrest. They left the area without further incident.
A crew of 10 public works and police staff with necessary equipment proceeded to clean the camp and rehabilitate the area over the next 9 hours. This work included hauling off 75 yards of garbage totaling 22,360 pounds. It is important to note that had this trash not been removed, when the Clear Lake water levels returned to full or higher, it would have entered the lake. Today another 10 person crew is further rehabilitating the area to ensure it is safe and clean and reduce fire danger. In the future, police will be extra patrolling the area to ensure the encampment does not re-establish. The cleanup process alone, not including all of the previous outreach, is estimated to have cost the public $15,000.00. A series of photos is attached to show the garbage and conditions present at the time of the cleanup.
It is important to state that the removal of homeless camps from public property is complex and when we take this action we want to be sure that the problem will not just move down the street to the next neighborhood or business district. For this reason we are very persistent with offering resources and assistance with connecting people to programs including those for housing, medical care, behavioral health and drug and alcohol addiction. The most significant reasons we see people being in a homeless situation are behavioral health and substance abuse problems. Many of the people causing issues for neighborhoods and businesses are people who refuse our assistance because they do not want to recognize or change their conditions.
Additionally, many of our tools we used to have to deal with misdemeanor criminal behavior have been removed by voter or legislative initiatives. Much of this kind of criminal behavior is the very thing affecting the lives of the residents and business owners and generally making people feel unsafe or hesitant to use their public spaces or even being able to run their business. It is sometimes difficult for us to address this bad behavior but we want the community to know we continue to work hard every day to keep Lakeport safe. Please continue to contact us with your concerns.