Letters: Fires in riverbed related to homeless encampments?
Letters submitted by readers:
–The most recent fire (started Saturday, June 29th, in the Salinas Riverbed was the second in the month but either the fourth or fifth over the last couple of months. And with the amount of dry vegetation and dead trees therein, it is a veritable firestorm waiting to happen.
I am blessed to live in Paso Robles in the Traditions Community – literally right on the hillside above part of the riverbed – and it was a fright for all of us to smell and watch the smoke Saturday night and realize that the brave firefighters were not only batting the fire but had to also be aware there are many homeless in the riverbed – any of whom could have started the fire – purely by accident – as we see nightly small fires from our hilltop – no doubt the result of cooking and/or by the people who live there.
I realize they have nowhere to go and they now represent a threat to all if they continue to light fires – plus they are polluting the environment to an unparalleled degree with their living situation. It’s time we figure out a way that the entire city is not at risk…as it currently is.
–This letter is regarding the fire in our neighborhood on Saturday, June 29. I see where it is stated that the cause of the fire is still under investigation. The growing number of homeless that now reside up and over the riverbed here in Paso probably started the fire. I live just above River Road and the smoke from the fire went over my backyard. I have been riding my bicycle along River Road north and south for a few years now. I have seen more and more homeless. They are not transients, transients come and go and these individuals are not leaving. Walk under 13th street bridge and you will find two large tents, a few tables and an inflatable mattress. The Paso Police say they are “monitoring” them. The quote was “we know where they are.” Maybe Paso Police does but they will not do anything about it. I was riding my bike the day the riverbed fire behind Kohl’s a few weeks back, went up in smoke. The fire started within feet of a homeless camp. The police told me it was state property and the homeless could not be removed. So why could Lompoc remove their homeless from the river bed? To me it is a matter of will and not skill by the Paso police.
If the good folks of Paso knew that our homeless population was growing, trash is piling up, shopping carts and in some cases seriously unstable people living along the river, I think this was be a much bigger issues and concern. Don’t get me wrong these folks need help; they are not going to get it living in the woods by the river. There will be more fires I am sure, God forbid someone gets hurt or their house goes ablaze. Maybe then Paso Police may act.
Robert Early, a concerned citizen of Paso Robles