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Homeless Area Bulldozed

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Original Title:
Longtime Stockton Homeless Encampment Razed

A stand of trees and brush that served as an encampment for the homeless but was considered a crime-plagued area by others has been torn down in Stockton.

It took several years of coordination between the City of Stockton, the California Department of Transportation and Pacific Gas and Electric, but on Tuesday workers removed the vegetation in an area along Interstate 5 in south Stockton that the homeless dubbed "Jungle 1." The trees, brush and bamboo were knocked to the ground in minutes and a well-known hang-out for those without homes was gone.

Stockton police said the overgrown area protected people from the elements, but also kept criminal activity from sight. "We have a quality of life issue, near a school and homes," said Stockton Police Department spokesperson Pete Smith. "This becomes a main thoroughfare for people doing that kind of activity [crimes]."

The owner of the business closest to the encampment, Gary Alegre, is glad it's being torn down. "Two or three times a week they cut the fence and broke into our place," said Alegre. "There are drugs and prostitution going on all around here."

One homeless person News10 talked to said he prefers staying outdoors, saying it's safer than local shelters. Another homeless woman said the shelters are either full or too restrictive. "I've been waiting for more than a year now for a room," said the woman. "There's no assistance for women."

Shelter directors said they'll find ways to accommodate those needing a roof over their head for the night. It's likely more will need that assistance, because Stockton isn't done with the project. The city is going to remove even more trees thought to provide shelter for the homeless.

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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