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Business owners frustrated by growing encampment, but County asks them to be patient

County leaders know it’s there, but aren’t forcing the people out – saying that will only move the problem, not solve it.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A homeless encampment along N. Magnolia in Unincorporated El Cajon continues to grow, with more and more tents going up every week. 

County leaders know it’s there, but aren’t forcing the people out – saying that will only move the problem, not solve it.

Over the past two days, CBS 8 crews have seen workers in hazardous materials suits out there, cleaning up the trash and a bathroom has been provided. 

County Supervisor Joel Anderson, who is representing this area, knows that's not popular with many of his constituents, but he makes no apologies. 

“I'm choosing to take a compassionate approach,” Anderson said. “I don't believe that anybody should live like an animal on the streets.”

Anderson says he's not going to move anyone until there's place for them to go, and right now residents are fighting an emergency shelter in the area. 

“When people say I don't want them on the street, but then I don't want to shelter - well then - what do you want?” Anderson asked. “We're not going to jail them and nor should we.”

CBS 8 spoke to multiple business owners in the area and all of them tell the same story - burglaries and vandalism up significantly since the tents arrived. 

They all declined to talk on camera fearing they would be targeted for more trouble. Anderson understands their frustration and says he's pushing to provide long term solutions. 

“We've got to create the services and provide the shelter necessary to give us the leverage to push people into doing the right thing,” he said.

There are a number of people living out there who desperately want help, including Mari Gordon-Rayborn. 

“I lost my son in 2001 at the Santana High School shooting,” she said with pain in her heart. 

Mari never imagined she'd be living on the streets, but after her son, Randy, was killed in a school shooting, her life fell apart. 

Now, she needs a roof over her head and mental health counseling. 

“I'm just scared all the time. I don't have anybody to help me or anybody for backup.”

She's hoping Anderson has a plan for people like her, but for Anderson, that's part of the problem - no two issues out there are the same. 

“You can't just address one item, you have to address all of it and I'm pretty proud of my record for 13 months,” he said asking for time. “It's not like I've been doing this for 10 years.”

WATCH RELATED: Homeless encampment grows along Magnolia Avenue (March 2022)

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