River Homeless Camps: City says its done its part to clean up pr - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

River Homeless Camps: City says its done its part to clean up problem

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — San Diego is one step closer to a cleaner city thanks to progress being made along the San Diego River.

The clean-up is part of Mayor Kevin Faulconer's Clean SD initiative which aims to clear out trash and debris from public areas.

Mayor Faulconer got a first-hand look at the progress of the cleanup along the San Diego River bed on Tuesday.

"The goal is very simple: get it cleaned and keep it cleaned," said Faulconer. "This is a national treasure.... and this is something that has been long overdue. [The] city should have done this decades ago."

The mayor also said Tuesday that all city-owned property along the San Diego River has been cleaned at least once.

The city owns nearly 1/3 of riverfront property, and crews have cleared close to 100 tons of debris from 32 locations since last September.

"We're sending a very strong message, which is 'It's not ok to dump things,'" said Faulconer.

The work takes heavy lifting from the city and volunteers from the San Diego River Park Foundation.

"I've been doing this for 17 years - cleaning up the river - and this is the first integrated approach that we really had to get it done," said Rob Hutsel, CEO of the San Diego River Park Foundation.

Hutsel says there are dozens of homeless encampments along the river including one inhabited by an elderly woman with several stray cats.

"With those 40 encampments, that are here today, those are going to be the hardest [places] to reach people," said Hutsel. "They're going to need one-on-one attention to really find solutions for them."

The mayor says the ball is now in private property owners' court to keep the area clean.

"We said the City of San Diego will come out over one time and clean it up entirely for free, but after that we're going to insist that you keep it clean," said Faulconer.

The city has sent letters offering cleanup assistance to 33 private property owners, who altogether own 1/3 of the land along the river.

So far, only eight property owners have taken advantage of the offer.

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