It took four days but they are back.
Caltrans crews spent the better part of last week clearing out numerous homeless encampments that were within the 120 Bypass right-of-way as it approaches Highway 99 from the west. Two tents were pitched plus other makeshift shelters in place as of noon Tuesday in the section closest to Moffat Boulevard and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.
Homeless were moving in even as contract workers on the other end at Van Ryn Avenue were welding pipes and cyclone fencing together with a gate to block access to the area from behind Tesoro Apartments.
The primary objective by Caltrans appears to be securing the areas so the homeless can’t drive vehicles between the sound walls and the raised freeway embankment. A section of concrete K-rail was placed where the homeless had destroyed a gate connected with fencing near the railroad track end of the area. It was the same strategy involving K-rail Caltrans deployed Friday behind Paseo Villas in a bid to “homeless-proof” that area as far as homeless in vehicles go.
It is more effective behind Paseo Villas based on seeing one homeless person on a bicycle that had pulled a cart loaded up with a tent and other items to the K-rail. He had hopped over the barrier Tuesday afternoon to scope out a possible campsite.
Twenty minutes later, apparently after thinking of the inconvenience, he was bicycling away heading back toward central Manteca.
The odds are the homeless will eventually cut the fencing next to the K-rail near Moffat to get vehicles in as well as destroy the gate and fencing being Tesoro apartments as they did years ago to access the area. Perhaps after the cyclone fencing is cut up and destroyed again, Caltrans might resort to wrought iron fencing with a wrought iron gate.
Short of that the only other solution would be a controlled burn that would make an illegal encampment on the blackened and sooty terrain it would leave behind downright uncomfortable to set up home on until the cycle of posting notices as required by law before yet another Caltrans cleanup happens.
Of course the real question is where did those 30 to 40 homeless people that were illegally camping there go? The answer may be coming to a neighborhood near you.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com