Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide

Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide title=
Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide
23 Comments
Reads 4513

By Heal The Ocean

An abandoned homeless camp surrounded by trash, bicycle parts, car batteries, flooded tents, and other offal became an eyesore on the “Graveyards” beach in Montecito, at the base of the cliff below the Santa Barbara Cemetery. Heal the Ocean got a call about it from a concerned citizen, on Thursday, January 7, 2020. It took all day Friday to figure out how we could legally do anything about it – one cannot remove a homeless camp in use.

Then we learned a King Tide, the highest and lowest tides of the year, would arrive along with high surf warnings on Monday morning(today, as this bulletin is being written) and Tuesday (January 11-12, 2020).  The King Tide is about a foot or two higher than average tide levels. Knowing that everything in this camp would soon be swept to sea, HTO Advisory Board member Harry Rabin alerted HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser, on Saturday, that something must be done about it.

Being Saturday, it was difficult, if not impossible, to reach any official for permission to clear out the wreckage. While Harry made calls to fire and sheriff officers for help, Hillary got on the phone to find a cleaning crew or junk hauler that could help to carry the stuff away, just in case we were able to act.

Harry Rabin is the real hero in this case – he refused to give up. (By 2 p.m. Saturday, Hillary despaired of getting help from anybody). Finally, Harry got the help of two County sheriffs, who came to meet Harry at the site, to inspect the camp, verify that it was abandoned, give the OK and then open the gate into the Clark Estate field for truck access to the camp.

By then Hillary had engaged Big Green to come with trucks and workers to do the bagging and hauling. (Big Green is under contract with the City of Santa Barbara to do beach cleanup work in this area, but the camp was on the County side of the coastline, and the County does not have such a program, nor the funding for such cleanups.) The workers at Big Green had been working all day, and some had even gone home for the evening. But they reversed gear and arrived en masse to the site and jumped into action. By sunset, the mess had been loaded into trucks and driven away – less than 48 hours before the high tide hit on Monday morning.

Abandoned debris included a flooded tent, bicycle parts, buckets, tarps, and miscellaneous materials. Big Green employees packed and hauled away the polluting materials. Photos by Hillary Hauser. 

Hillary and Harry have joined a working-group organized by Santa Barbara City and County fire chiefs to work on the problem of homeless encampments in problematic and sensitive areas. For the fire chiefs, the big worry is about these camps starting fires that can become instantly threatening to the Santa Barbara community – city and county. HTO’s concern is that homeless camps – which have no sanitary facilities - should not be parked on beaches or near storm drains, in creeks, or other watersheds as they pose a risk to water quality and environmental safety.

Big Green employees haul the abandoned material away. Photos by Harry Rabin/On the Wave Productions.

East Beach homeless site 35 minutes after high tide on Monday.  Photo by Harry Rabin/On the Wave Productions.

Heal the Ocean gives big thanks to Mark Walker, the citizen who called us about the situation, and to the County Sheriff department as well as Big Green, for helping on such short notice. 

Login to add Comments

23 Comments

Show Comments
bosco Jan 12, 2021 10:03 AM
Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide

Thank you Team Heal the ocean. Also, thanks for showing how ineffective our city/county is a getting things done. Kudos to HTO. Shame on our tax payer funded city officials for their inability to do this themselves. It shouldn't have to take a non-profit working through the weekend to get this done.

SBTownie Jan 12, 2021 10:24 AM
Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide

Crazy to see all of these hardworking people having to play housekeeper for drug addicted vagrants. I applaud all of them. Let's do something to stop this from happening in the first place.

fitz Jan 12, 2021 11:13 AM
Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide

Thank you for doing this work. Maybe if volunteers picked a site each weekend and did the same thing, we could rid community of these homeless camps and force these people into shelters.

JB86 Jan 12, 2021 09:51 PM
Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide

Boscoe and SBtownie hit the nail on the head. Government agencies should be consistently cracking down on these illegal and dangerous 'encampments' . Using the Governor's orders to prevent abatement is a cop-out. They are a public health and safety risk we should not have to abide. I'd like to see a little spine in our local officials, but won't hold my breath.

Watcher237 Jan 13, 2021 08:14 AM
Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide

Ditto:

Boscoe and SBtownie hit the nail on the head. Government agencies should be consistently cracking down on these illegal and dangerous 'encampments' . Using the Governor's orders to prevent abatement is a cop-out. They are a public health and safety risk we should not have to abide. I'd like to see a little spine in our local officials, but won't hold my breath.

a-1610560544 Jan 13, 2021 09:55 AM
Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide

Anybody missing a bike? Bike theft ring is not only evident but screaming-in-your-face obvious in these encampments. Our family was a victim of bike theft near the East Beach parking lot in 2018. Vagrants had already taken over. Current issues are a continuation (this has nothing to do with COVID). 2018: Vagrants in a dome tent in the sand near the bike path with a stack of wheels and bike frames on a tarp in front, and shady vagrants looming about near the bike path. A police report was filed and nothing has been done. They're still at it!

a-1610560735 Jan 13, 2021 09:58 AM
Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide

Re. Bike theft ring. Forgot to mention their associates in vans in the parking lot. One of these guys offered us a bike after seeing how upset I was! (and that I had started taking pictures of his van). These same criminals can be found on Soledad between Franklin School and the Eastside Neighborhood Park. Go take a look!

OWLworks Jan 13, 2021 10:35 AM
Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide

Three cheers for Hillary Hauser and our Sheriffs who finally took the time, maybe their own time to deal with this issues of highly risk lifestyle being "tolerated" instead of remedied. Our oceans cannot be next as I have seen in other countries where trash is simply tossed into the sea with tides. Our whale community (Gray) stir up oceans to dsitribute nutrients to themselves, other fish and birds.
These folks need a well managed tent /yurt city so we can stop real pollution, crime, and assault at our beaches. "Homeless do not harm.." This is a myth--look at fire damage and wasted law enforcement. Lots of empty buildings now--and people needing work. Some of these are homeless people too with good conduct.
Bless you Hillary for keeping the light on this dark difficult area of community life. Let's solve the right problem.

biguglystick Jan 13, 2021 12:48 PM
Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide

A BIG thank you to all of those that volunteered and worked to clean this up before the ocean claimed it. The last thing we need is more trash in the ocean. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

dukemunson Jan 13, 2021 12:53 PM
Abandoned Homeless Beach Camp Cleaned Before High Tide

It's absolutely insane that the city and county isn't doing anything about this. Big thanks to Heal the Ocean and the Sherrif's office for stepping up...now it's time for our elected to officials to start stepping up as this is their RESPONSIBILITY!!!!!!

Please Login or Register to comment on this.