City to evict homeless at Kelley Park in San Jose

(KGO)
July 16, 2012 9:33:30 PM PDT
Notices are being posted warning the homeless to clear out of a notorious area of San Jose. They hang-out and live in Kelley Park in San Jose and, authorities say, all sorts of problems come as a result.

The homeless themselves have a name for the network of clandestine campsites in Kelley Park, they call it the "Jungle."

"You go down here, it's like a living facility," Shannon Ayberg, who has been part of the "Jungle" for two weeks, said. "People have, like, their own showers and baths, they've made it their own living facility for a very long time."

The city says pollution and environmental threats are prompting action. Late Monday, notices started going up. About two dozen homeless campers in about a half dozen camps are being warned to clean up and clear out.

"The concern is manifold. There are environmental issues, pollution, there are safety issues, there are the concerns of our neighbors," San Jose Director of Communications David Vossbrink said.

If you ask the park's neighbors, cooking out in the open and the use of matches around dry brush is what worries them.

"Yes, it is scary for us; there has been three fires," nearby homeowner Elise Lopez said.

There were four fires in Kelley Park last week, some getting dangerously close to a condo complex. The city is not pointing fingers at the homeless. In fact the campers have their own theories.

"It was somebody, either kid trying to get knocks off, or somebody trying cause problems for people down here," Ayberg said.

Regardless of who is to blame for recent brush fires, many welcome the Kelley Park sweep.

"We don't want anything going on back there unsafe and we trust the people in charge to take care of those problems," park visitor Erick Welsh said.

Ayberg says the city workers are trying to connect "Jungle" residents with social services. She says she appreciates the help and hopes her fellow campers will help with the clean up.

"You get the community in housing, which is really good, you community cleaned up; win-win for everybody," she said.

The campers near the creek have until Thursday morning to pack up and leave.

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