Jan 7, 2013 9:49 PM by Keli Moore, KSBY News

San Luis Obispo Police crack down on homeless camps

San Luis Obsipo Police said Monday they are cracking down on homeless camps, but it's not an easy task. Last month they cleaned up the area under the bridge on Santa Rosa Street between Marsh and Pacific streets, but Monday morning it was a mess.

"It's always been an issue but never this bad," said Lt. Bill Proll, San Luis Obispo Police Department. He said there are camps like this all over the city.

"Last year we hauled away 23 tons of garbage," he explained. The trash was from abandoned camps throughout the city.

So why is there an influx in homelessness? Police said it's the same reason we've been hearing for months.

"People are coming here because of the services, but they are not taking advantage of the services and then they are sleeping in places like this making a mess and a health hazard for everybody," said Proll.

To qualify for local homeless programs sobriety is a must.

"We found five hypodermic needles laying here in this debris," said Proll.

He said this camp has been the home to six people in their 20s who are not from California and claim being homeless is hip.

The mess will be cleaned up "at the taxpayers' expense. This will be cleaned up again and we will keep monitoring it," said Proll. "Believe it or not, we can't just come down here and throw everything away."

A sign will soon be posted under the bridge and the people who have been living here will have a few days to get their stuff. What's left behind will get thrown out.

"This is an example of just one issue that some transients cause us," said Proll.

Police said four people were cited Monday for living under the bridge, one was been arrested for drugs and having hypodermic needles.

San Luis Obispo Police will soon have two officers who are dedicated to working on the homeless problem. They'll work with other stakeholders in the city to address the issue.

According to the Five Cities Homeless Coalition, there are about 3,500 people who are homeless in San Luis Obispo County and nearly half are in the city of San Luis Obispo.

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