San Diego

North Park Neighbors Fed Up With Homeless Problem, Clean Up Encampment

Neighbors clean up trash in homeless encampment in North Park

A group of neighbors in North Park are fed up with homeless encampments popping up in their community.

On Friday, a small group cleaned up nearly ten bags of trash at one of the encampments in the Switzer Creek.

Alan Bennett is one of the organizers of the clean-up. He told NBC 7 the area is a wilderness preserve full of San Diego's native plants. But over the last several years, the area has turned into a camp for the homeless – full of syringes, trash, empty alcohol bottles and cigarette butts.

“I really want to help them but housing veterans in parks is not the answer,” said Bennett.

There are a number of encampments in the Florida Canyon. Sometimes during warmer seasons, there can be up to 20 encampments, said Bennett. A fire sparked at an encampment seven years ago burned an acre.

Three years later, there was another fire. Since then, Bennett and his neighbors have been working to get the city’s help to fix the problem.

“It’s a dedicated and designated native plant preserve. People are allowed on the trails. They are not allowed to camp, period,” said Bennett.

He reached out to the city multiple times throughout the year about the homeless encampments in North Park but has never heard back.

On Friday, the city wrote NBC 7 about their response to the problem.

Rangers in the area have been cleaning up trash and leaving notices for personal items, noting that the items will be thrown away if not claimed within 72 hours, said a city spokesperson.

The public was encouraged to call 619-235-1122 and report encampments to the city.

Bennett and his neighbors hope to make a difference in their community, one trash bag at a time.

“If my grand kids are going to be able to enjoy this area, and my neighbors, we have to start respecting this area,” said Bennett.

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