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Large homeless camp cleared out near Santa Barbara / Montecito train tracks

Homeless camp  Los Patos
John Palminteri
A homeless camp on the eastern end of Santa Barbara has been cleaned up near Highway 101, the train tracks and businesses. (John Palminteri/KEYT)
Homeless camp
John Palminteri/KEYT
A homeless camp on the eastern end of Santa Barbara has been cleaned up near Highway 101, the train tracks and businesses. (John Palminteri/KEYT)
Homeless camp
John Palminteri/KEYT
A homeless camp on the eastern end of Santa Barbara has been cleaned up near Highway 101, the train tracks and businesses. (John Palminteri/KEYT)

SANTA BARBARA - Hundreds of pounds of items have been hauled out, in an all day project to clean up multiple homeless camps where Santa Barbara meets Montecito.

The site has been growing in a somewhat obscured place for about five months according to those familiar with the area.

Neighboring businesses, including restaurants and fitness sites have been concerned about trespassing, drug use, vandalism, fires and nuisance crimes.

Nick Cabugos with the Santa Barbara City Public Works department coordinated the cleanup effort Monday. He used a contracted team of workers, and involved police, Union Pacific, and environmental health personnel. The area was near the fence line for Cal Trans and U.S. Highway 101.

Some of the items were hazardous and some were related to human waste and drugs. A make shift bathroom area was also in the area.

A mound of trash bags full of items was stacking up by noon as workers systematically went through the area including hideaways in bushes and trees.

Those who were living in the area had received advance notice of the cleanup and given a chance to gather their belongings.

Items left behind included numerous pieces of bicycles, clothing, old food, storage bins, and odds and ends. Some of the debris was wrapped in the tarps left behinds and bundled into a knot.

"They are not going to go to Marborg and dump the trash  or to the local center and get rid of it.  Everything they bring out here stays out here      and that is what you see, " said Cabugos.

The city says it is a dangerous situation to allow people to live in these conditions. Numerous fires have been reported in similar camps this year along the freeway and train tracks including at Milpas St., Bath Street, and Arrellaga. In nearby areas, several fires in homeless camps have been reported near the freeway at Fairview threatening businesses and commuters.

 "The drug usage and the   hypodermic needles and things of that nature can be an issue.  We are also concerned about the biohazards. It is an environmental hazard and we want to keep the city clean," said Cabugos.

It is unknown if citations were written for trespassing, or violations involving Union Pacific rules.

This corridor is also a local concern for pedestrian encounters with the passing trains, and there have been many fatalities over the years.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.