The homeless are a problem in rural areas of San Joaquin County and not just in the cities.
They trespass on private property, set up illegal encampments, use orchards as toilets, and leave trash behind.
The most egregious examples are when they take over “out buildings” — sheds and other structures that have seasonal uses or aren’t accessed every day.
It is why at least one vineyard owner along Austin Road is looking forward to the 797-home Yosemite Square project the City Council gave their blessing to earlier this month.
He’s hopeful development will reduce the prevalence of destructive property crimes, many of which are committed by vagrants that are essentially homeless people.
The property-owner shared with the City Council during the hearing on Yosemite Square that he was in the process of securing a demolition permit to remove a fairly good-sized farm shed.
He has grown tired of his encounters with the homeless that break into the shed.
They have used the shed for all sorts of purposes including using it as a toilet. The outside corrugated metal siding has been repeatedly marred with graffiti.
On one occasion when he went to order trespassers to leave a woman screamed at him and told him to get off of her property.
His experience underscores a growing — and longstanding problem — of farmers in the Manteca and Ripon area that deal with homeless essentially squatting on their land.
There are some city residents that advocate moving the homeless to the country.
But in reality, there is a larger percentage of rural property that is private than public. Anyway, you cut it, the homeless setting up shop in an orchard or in a field is no different than them doing so in someone’s yard in the city or else on property that is part of a business.
It’s more than just a nuisance problem.
Over the years, farms have cited a number of cases where homeless have been known to interfere with irrigation and general farm operations. And given farming requires applying chemicals to control pests as well as fertilizers creates the potential for health problems.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org