Fencing goes up in Santa Barbara freeway areas where homeless camps and fires have been a problem
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - New fencing has been going up in areas where homeless camps have been problematic throughout the Santa Barbara corridor of Highway 101.
The locations have also been sites where fires have broken out multiple times.
Crews have installed the fencing along on and off ramps at Milpas St., Carrillo St., Castillo St., and Garden Street.
Prior to that, there was a clean up project of belongings from encampments. Outreach workers also went in to help those who were transient to utilize local services.
Camping is not allowed in these ramp areas and specialized signs have been posted banning trespassing there.
During COVID, efforts to move the homeless were scaled back and camps were left in place. That policy has changed.
Outreach workers including Heike Hyson with AmeriCorps said they have helped out in many areas and prior to the arrival of the Caltrans crews "because they (the homeless) really have no other place to go." To send them down the road, "that doesn't solve anybody's problem. They need to be hooked up with case work with one of the agencies here in town."
In her initial contact she asks, "where they are from? How long they have been here and what their needs are? And we see how we can help them."
Caltrans District 5 Public Information Officer Alexa Bertola told us in a statement:
"Caltrans has put up temporary fencing in several locations so the department can perform vegetation management to mitigate fire hazards."
Now that COVID rules have changed there are more options for the homeless. Hyson said,
"here there are more resources in Santa Barbara. So it is more of a community kind of a atmosphere."
Those who are still sleeping outside, at time are using the county administration building downtown but are out by 6 a.m. "There's security 24/7 so many many of our clients go there at night and they feel safe there, men and women."