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Homeless encampment in unincorporated El Cajon getting cleared out

The County plans to convert the area into a safe parking lot, where people can sleep in their vehicles and access services.

EL CAJON, Calif. — A homeless encampment in unincorporated El Cajon is getting cleared out to make way for a construction project.

For months, dozens of tents have lined Magnolia Avenue. Neighbors have complained about the encampment, calling it a health and safety issue.

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On Thursday, the County served a notice to vacate, giving people until May 26th to leave so workers can prepare for maintenance and construction.

Any belongings left behind will be held for 90 days.

The plan is to add fences and convert the area into a safe parking lot, where people can sleep overnight in their vehicles and have access to facilities and counseling.

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“It really is again about keeping safety in mind. On the direction of our Board of Supervisors, we are consistently and constantly looking for opportunities for compassionate solutions,” said Barbara Jimenez, with San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency.

As for where people will go in the meantime, representatives from various County organizations have been at the encampment handing out hotel vouchers, and offering people access to various homeless services.

"We want them to be safe. Maybe get a better understanding what is it that they need? Restating what the options are and what the opportunities are. Just really trying to engage them," said Jimenez.

A County spokesperson told CBS8 as of Friday, 71 people had accepted housing vouchers.

On Monday, there were about a dozen people left.

The move comes after County Supervisor Joel Anderson vowed to clean up the area.

In a May 6th memo, Anderson said the Sheriff's Department needed to act on the community's behalf.

"It is imperative that the county now take the additional steps necessary to restore this location to one that is safe for all community members," wrote Anderson.

Once complete, the safe parking lot will accommodate about 12-to-16 cars.

No ground or tent camping will be allowed.

It's expected to be ready in about three months.

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