Lompoc City Council to Discuss Homeless Camps in Riverbed
By edhat staff
The Lompoc City Council is set to discuss the cleanup and management of homeless encampments in the riverbed during Tuesday evening's meeting.
City Manager Jim Throop sent an agenda item to discuss the current status of the Santa Ynez Riverbed clean-up, homeless encampments, and ongoing maintenance and security required to defray re- encampment and littering.
In the Fall of 2018, the Lompoc Police Department identified 60-75 encampments and 60-80 individuals illegally camping in the riverbed. The individuals were relocated to a 30-day triage center to receive services and be placed either in homeless shelters, substance abuse residential programs, reunified with family, housing, and in some cases, they refused services and moved on while vacating the Riverbed. In many cases, law enforcement action was necessary to remove individuals from the Riverbed encampments, according to Throop's agenda item.
From September 2018 to January 2019 the cost of the clean-up effort totaled $488,613. The cost for the 30-day triage center had been estimated at $35,000, however, from September 10, 2018 to October 11, 2018 the Triage Center costs totaled $70,000.
"Since the evictions, relocation, and clean-up that concluded in October 2018, the Riverbed became a place where recreation, walking, biking, trail walking and scenic enjoyment could occur again. The City received many compliments from residents and business owners regarding the safety of the Riverbed and surrounding area following the clean-up," wrote Throop.
However, due to a lack of investment in enforcement, the Riverbed has been re-inhabited with illegal campsites. In January 2020, there were approximately 10-15 camps with 10 actively inhabited with approximately 20 homeless persons illegally residing there. Since January 2019, there have been 15 fires, 5 smoke/odor investigations, and 6 medical responses.
It's estimated the cost for clean-up for the current Riverbed status is $128,820, but it does not include a triage center as previously utilized in the 2018 clean-up. An estimated $300,000 would also be required for ongoing maintenance and patrol from the Lompoc Police Department.
Throop stated there are many moving parts involved in the cleanup, ongoing maintenance, and prevention, but the benefits of watershed and drinking water source protection, reduction in fire hazard from, assistance to law enforcement and increased public safety outweigh those costs.