Caught between complaints about increased crime, drug use and public drunkenness and community concern for what appears to be a steadily growing homeless population, Walnut Creek police are preparing to clear out “the people under the bridge” today.
Dozens of homeless people who roam the city during the day and who sleep under its overpasses and bridges at night will be uprooted as city officials, merchants, and police seek a better, more humane way to house people who – in many cases – simply do not want to be confined in a traditional housing situation.
UPDATE: 10 a.m. Tuesday – Camp residents who initially left the area of the bridge as city public works staff came through advising of the cleanup have returned to the area. Police have been advised.
What has grown into a major encampment under the S. California Street bridge near Trader Joe’s is scheduled to be cleared by police today, Tuesday. A month ago, during a visit by News24-680 reporters, the camp was littered with garbage bags containing clothes and other belongings. Residents there and at other encampments around town said they were being unfairly targeted and that while some of their number sometimes “acted out” and came into contact with wary civilians and police – most merely wanted to be left alone.
“We’re not hurting anyone,” insisted one man who said he’d recently arrived in the area from Santa Cruz and who asked that we call him “Archer.” When asked about what has become the almost daily occurrence of fistfights, theft, and public urination – and worse – as campers move “above ground” in search of drugs or alcohol and a place to wash, Archer shrugged.
“The few always ruin it for the rest,” he said.
But today at least it seems that something is going to be done as Chief Thomas Chaplin’s officers and city workers move in – gently – to move along those who have not already moved elsewhere in advance of the stated evictions, and like a hundred other communities Walnut Creek seeks ways to provide help to a mobile segment of the community that doesn’t always want it.