San Jose city councilman calls on Caltrans to remove homeless camp

A San Jose city councilman is calling on Caltrans to remove a homeless encampment he believes is a danger. 

In the last week, there have been two fires at the homeless encampment off Storey Road.

They have charred trees and terrified neighbors who live nearby.

A mobile home park sits on the other side of this retaining wall. Its residents stay up all night to call 911.

Trami Huynh, a resident of the mobile home park says, "I say come on help me out right now because it's going to burn my house. And I'll have no place to live with my kids."

And that's not all, Leticia Bracamontes, who lives with her ailing mother, children, and grandchildren, says she's found syringes in her backyard, and spotted men climbing over the wall.

Bracamontes, "They need to be removed out of here. Because I don't know, we are in danger. We're scared. I don't sleep in the night just thinking... when I smell fire I just go in the backyard panicking, looking at the trees."

And so today, San Jose City Council member Tam Nguyen held a news conference. The encampment sits on Caltrans land and he's calling on them to act.

Nguyen says, "To remedy the situation and also prevent more tragic thing may happen."

But Caltrans says there is no easy remedy. They regularly remove camps in that area, only to see them pop up nearby.

Victor Gauthier with Caltrans says, "It only takes a few days and people are occupying that particular area again."

In fact, it was February when Caltrans cleared an encampment under the 101/280 interchange here.
The people moved to Felipe Road, got cleared out again, then moved here.

Homeless advocate Scott Wagers says authorities need to do better.

Wagers, of CHAM Deliverance Ministries, "Everybody's trying to say look at what we're doing... have a news conference. But yet nothing's really being done except the homeless are being moved from one place to another."

Still the homeless say they understand their neighbor's concerns.The fire is a very real threat.

Angel Zamudio, who is homeless says, "Yes and I don't blame that. I would be mad too. I don't like the fact that we're right here. It doesn't look good. But there's nowhere else to go."

The residents of this mobile home park wish that would change.

Huynh says she wants, "Safety for them also. I do love them. I'm poor. They're poor also."

The city has been looking at options to help the homeless including safe parking areas and a tiny homes projects. In fact, one possible site for that project is nearby.