San Diego

OB Residents Clean Up Homeless Encampments, Hoping to Stop Pollution to Ocean and Hep A Spread

Local residents hope their efforts will also stop the spread of hepatitis A, a highly contagious virus spreading throughout San Diego County

People in Ocean Beach are taking matters into their own hands after finding homeless encampments just steps away from the water along Ocean Beach's iconic Sunset Cliffs. 

The area along Sunset Cliffs is a special spot for many, and a popular tourist attraction. 

Ocean Beach resident Jeff Jaszcak, who surfs in the area near Orchard Avenue nearly every day, said the place has been important to him for many years. 

"It's just a special spot that calls out to me. All this area along Sunset Cliffs is really good surf," Jaszcak said.

But, lately, he's seen homeless encampments growing with each visit. When it rains, trash and waste dump into the ocean.

The problem was so bad that Jaszcak and his wife decided to change the ocean's fate. They started cleaning out one of two encampments. They found food, trash, meth pipes and needles.

All that, and then one item they weren't ready for.

"A lot of feces. I scooped up probably 25-30 pounds," Jaszcak said.

Jaszcak hopes their efforts will also stop the spread of hepatitis A, a highly contagious virus spreading throughout San Diego County. The County is currently battling the worst Hepatitis A outbreak ever

The homeless population is the most at risk. The deadly virus can be passed from person to person through human waste and needles. 

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by a virus that is highly contagious. The Hepatitis A virus can be contracted by touching objects or eating food that someone with the Hepatitis A infection has handled or by having sex with someone who has an HAV infection.

At last count, there have been at least 421 cases of hepatitis A reported in San Diego’s outbreak. Of those cases, 16 people have died, and 292 have been hospitalized.

Jaszcak took precautions during the cleanup: he wore gloves and multiple layers. In all the brochures for San Diego, he said, nothing like this is ever mentioned. 

"This is America's greatest city, but I never see that stuff on the brochures," he said. 

Jaszcak told NBC7 the encampments have been popping up in that area all summer. He has gone down a few times to clean them up.

This time, though, was the worst he had ever seen it.

City officials say if people see human feces in public areas, to call or email the city and they will send out crews. 

Members of the public with these types of concerns can contact their councilmember’s office directly, the dispatch center at 619-527-7500 or make a report online by clicking here.

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