After months of planning, Lompoc Police moved forward with plans to evict the homeless population along the Santa Ynez Riverbed on Monday.
The City has set up a 30-day Triage Center to help the homeless evacuating the area get back on their feet.
“We have mental health, we have animal services, we have rape crisis, family services,” said Lompoc spokeswoman Samantha Scroggin.
Some Riverbed residents are also being allowed to temporarily camp at the triage center for 30 days.
But some evacuees are not happy with the situation.
“It’s not fair, it really ain’t,” said one man who goes by Jojo.
Jojo was forced to leave the place he called home for the past two years.
“We’re people. We’re not animals, we’re not cows –you can’t herd us like that,” he complained.
Jojo and his friend Mark said police showed up at 7 a.m to push everyone out.
“Being woken up by 30 officers is not exactly peaceful,” said Mark Bryant. “So there’s a lot of upset people. They’re having to sign their belongings away.”
Both men are having a difficult time understanding the City’s efforts.
“You don’t want us in your front doors, in your businesses…the Riverbed is the only thing we had. Now we don’t even have that,” Mark said.
“We struggle just like everybody else does, we’re normal people. We thought [the Riverbed] was the best place for us,” Jojo added.
Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh said the process was going smoothly, though.
“A lot of them have already moved. The ones that were still here this morning were all packed up and they have people coming and helping them move.”
Walsh said they do expect some people to return.
“We anticipate people waiting for us to go away or not look, and they’re gonna go right back to the river.”
However, the City is optimistic about the resources they’re bringing to the table.
“There’s no need to go camp in one of our parks or the streets if we have this Triage Center where there’s all these people there to help,” said Walsh.
Lompoc has approximately invested $40,000 in the 30-day Triage Center thus far.
Those who return to the Riverbed after Monday’s eviction could be subject to an arrest, but police said they’re hoping to avoid putting people in jail.
No major issues or arrests were reported on Monday.
Members of the community interested in getting involved with local organizations aiding the homeless population can visit the City of Lompoc’s website.