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Homeless beach camps cleaned up prior to expected ocean swells later this week

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - An urgent cleanup has taken place to remove homeless camps from an area vulnerable to strong ocean waves, expected later this week on the Santa Barbara-Montecito coastline.

The camps were below the Clark Estate and the Santa Barbara Cemetery near East Beach.

The Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department and Santa Barbara Police Department were both on scene Tuesday morning. The area is right on the line between the city and the county.

Heal the Ocean and outreach workers from City Net previously notified those living in the camps to remove their belongings from the area for safety reasons and also the danger of having the upcoming waves wash everything out into the ocean.

"We are here in the middle, Heal the Ocean, to deal with City Net and their efforts and with the city and county efforts and we talk to these people," said  Harry Rabin with Heal the Ocean.

Marborg was called in with a crew that picked up trash, old food products, plastics, foam, bedding, lighter fluid, tarps and similar items.

72 hour warning notices were issues prior to the cleanup.

Rabin looked over a scattered homeless camp and said, "that was a tent and living quarters with an old garbage area and unfortunately the high tide came in and took it all out before we could get here. So we are trying to get the rest of it before the next tide and the wave surge."

One triple camp site was combined and those living there were give some extra time to move out. "We are being pretty thoughtful by putting all of their stuff  in one location and giving them an opportunity to get their belongings out of here," said Rabin.

Besides being an environmental concern, the camps have also been areas where several illegal fires have taken place. Some have spread into nearby vegetation and threatened properties nearby. 

One camp with three tents, got extra time after the people said they would leave. "We are being pretty thoughtful by putting all of their stuff  in one location and giving them an opportunity to get their belongings out of here," said Rabin.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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