SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Neighbors in Santa Barbara’s Eastside were upset with the homeless encampment under the Highway 101 overpass on Cacique Street. On Tuesday the city responded.
Elizabeth Weiss said she moved to the encampment at the start of the COVID-19 health emergency. She said, “We stayed here this time because of the virus. They said we could be here, they brought in a porta potty for us and everything.”
About two dozen people were camped under Highway 101 on Cacique Street Monday, equipped with a portable restroom and hand washing area. The Centers for Disease Control had encouraged cities to offer these resources to limit how far homeless people move during the COVID-19 health emergency. But on Tuesday there was a change of plans.
“They came here today and offered us hotel rooms if we wanted," said Weiss. "We declined. We’d rather be at the beach.”
The city passed an emergency ordinance Tuesday to open up the sidewalks on Cacique Street for people walking to grocery stores or other essential businesses. Outreach workers spoke with the people at the encampment to offer beds in a shelter or motel.
Santa Barbara Mayor, Cathy Murillo, said, “It’s call a sit lie ordinance that prevents people from sitting down and lying down on a public sidewalk. And that would be a good idea because we’re under a public health emergency, we’re in a global pandemic situation.”
The difference 24 hours makes, on Monday homeless people were sleeping and sweeping on the sidewalk. Now the city workers have moved them and are power washing the sidewalk.
“The City heard from the neighborhood that they were uncomfortable walking through here," said Mayor Murillo. "So we sent City Net outreach workers to do targeted contact with these folks and get them help.”
The new sit lie order would impact sidewalks under two Highway 101 overpasses on Cacique Street and around the corner on Milpas Street. The emergency order will last through June 22nd. During the next city council on May 12th, the city plans to introduce a permanent sit lie ordinance.