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New proposal to clear homeless camps along river valleys

The Sweetwater River Valley is home to tent after tent - little communities just a few feet away from hiking trails and paved bike paths.

BONITA, Calif. — A new proposal in the California legislature aims to clear homeless encampments along California river valleys.

CBS 8 flew a drone over the Sweetwater River Valley, along Interstate 805 at Bonita. You can see tent after tent; little communities just a few feet away from hiking trails and paved bike paths.

CBS 8 went to the trails to ask hikers if there are fears among those passing through.

Marco Rivera lives in Bonita Creek and bikes to work every day. 

"To a degree, a little bit. Never had an issue; I certainly keep an eye on them to make sure they don't rush me or anything 'cause I've heard of that happening before but it's never happened to me. Never had an issue," said Rivera.

Dre Hardin is a hiker who lives in Paradise Hills. "Personally I haven't had any problem walking through here but at night, for obvious reasons, it could get a little sketchy," said Hardin.  

Signs posted along the area get right to the point: Closed to the public, No access, no dumping, no trespassing, no vandalism, and no loitering.

Robert Salcedo lost his job as a house painter. He's one of the many experiencing homelessness that live in the river valley.

"You could say that. yeah, I live like around over there, on the corner," said Salcedo.  

The Special Parkland legislation, he thinks, is wrong. "People live around here, it's the only home they've got and I think that's not fair," said Salcedo.  

There is sympathy for those living in homeless encampments. Hardin said he hopes for relocation. “If we don't have someplace to put them, the obvious answer is to beef up police patrols," said Hardin.  

It was the rape and murder of a Rancho Cordova woman that triggered the proposed legislation; her bound body was found in a secluded tent along the American River, and a homeless man is facing charges.

Salcedo agrees that danger exists. "You could say it's 50-50 'cause everywhere you go there's always gonna be danger, but we try to maintain and still be walking," said Salcedo.  

The bill is a long way from becoming law; the first committee hearing begins in late April.

WATCH RELATED: Efforts to help downtown homeless ahead of Padres home opener (April 2022).


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