Caltrans dismantles major homeless camp in SJ

February 28, 2012 5:52:11 PM PST
A major homeless encampment in the South Bay is no more. Crews have spent the past 48 hours clearing the encampment at the Highway 87-280 Interchange in San Jose.

Up until a couple days ago, the empty grassy area was a cluttered filthy home to as many as 40 people. Caltrans said the biohazard alone was bad enough, but there were other threats to public health there as well.

Caltrans says the encampment is only one of 30 dismantled in Santa Clara County over the past two weeks. This one was in a particularly hazardous spot surrounded by freeways, on-ramps, and connectors. 57-year-old Bobby Padilla knows just how dangerous. He was once hit by a car crossing between the camp and another just across the on-ramp. "Dangerous as heck right there. The car was doing 65 when it hit me," he said.

Caltrans gave transients a 72-hour notice to vacate an illegal campsite with a list of homeless resources attached to the back. Caltrans says it will hold on to personal belongings for 30 days if anyone would like to claim it. "Our people are trained to do it in a humane and respectful manner, but again, it is a health and safety issue," said Bob Haus with Caltrans.

Padilla says he is glad mot his stuff is gone. He had lived there for 10 years and says he had collected too much junk after he left his other life behind. "I was a homeowner and all that. I worked for like 30 years and I was married 23 years. I chose this life because I didn't want all the responsibility. I'm really, usually, very, very happy," he said.

It can be very challenging to track where all the people have gone. ABC7 called some San Jose-area homeless facilities and asked if any people from the camp had showed up. They said some may have, but it is not something they would have mentioned when they checked in.


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