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'It’s a horrible situation for everybody' | Homeless encampment grows along Magnolia Avenue

The encampment has grown drastically over the past couple of months from a handful of tents at first to about 30 tents.

EL CAJON, Calif. — Dozens of tents line the street with a growing number of homeless people along the 1200 block of North Magnolia Ave near the Greenfield Drive bridge.

“It’s a horrible situation for everybody,” said Michelle Metschel, District 2 city Councilmember for El Cajon. “When it’s two and three tents deep, it becomes a health and safety issue.”

The encampment has grown drastically over the past couple of months, from a handful of tents at first to about 30 tents now. Several organizations have been out to the location trying to help and offer services.

“These people have to get shelter but they also have to do part of it themselves,” said Metschel.

“People are upset,” said Mayor Bill Wells of El Cajon. “They think this is in the City of El Cajon and I want to tell people that this is not in our jurisdiction. We can’t stop this.”

Mayor Wells has received a number of complaints from people who assume the area is part of the City of El Cajon.

“If you notice, there are no tents on our side, but as soon as you cross over the county line, we get this massive, Bangladesh-style homeless encampment,” said Mayor Wells. 

He points to the East County Transitional Living Center as an example of how people can get off the streets if they want to.

“Most everyone you see on the street has been approached a dozen times, being offered opportunities to get off the street,” said Mayor Wells. “They’re choosing to live this way as a lifestyle choice and I don’t think that’s good for the community and I don’t think that’s good for them.”

CBS 8 reached out to County Supervisor Joel Anderson’s office, whose district includes the area. He declined to comment but referred CBS 8 to the county’s Office of Homeless Solutions.

“So many mentally ill are living on the street and that shouldn’t be happening. It’s not fair to them,” said Councilmember Metschel. “But it’s also not fair to the taxpayers that are pouring money into taxes and nothing happens. We just shuffle them from one city to the next, from one area to the next.”

WATCH RELATED: City resumes enforcement on homeless encampments in Midway area (Feb 2022).

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