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Volunteers Clean Up Large San Diego Homeless Camp

San Diego city councilman Scott Sherman surveys the garbage left
behind by p...

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: San Diego city councilman Scott Sherman surveys the garbage left behind by people who were living in this Mission valley location April 24, 2017.

Volunteers struggled on Wednesday to remove thousands of pounds of garbage from a massive homeless camp in Mission Valley. The transient community was located near the Home Depot on Fairmont Avenue.

"The habitat down there is being destroyed," said Scott Sherman a San Diego City council member. "If you look. There are piles and piles of garbage right up to the water's edge."

Sherman inspected the area last week, with law enforcement and state officials. They estimate a couple dozen people lived here. Several were taken into custody on arrest warrants. One woman was enrolled in a drug treatment program. Sherman called the area a disaster.

Volunteers worked Wednesday to clean up a homeless camp in Mission Valley next to the San Diego River that was occupied by several dozen people.

"We've already seen other cities in the state where Fish and Wildlife is suing those cities for not taking care of the water quality controls along the river. And this is all part of that problem that we have to deal with," Sherman said.

A trail connected a series of small encampments. Some were quite elaborate. All of the material used to build the makeshift homes was removed by volunteers who estimate they cleared out about 50 tons of trash.

There was so much stuff trash at the camp next to the San Diego River that parts of the landscape looked more like a garbage dump than anything else.

Photo by Erik Anderson

The remains of a homeless camps located in Mission valley near the San Diego River, April 26, 2017.

In one area, bike frames were piled on each other. They had been stripped for parts and salvaged.

Rob Hutzel, the executive director of the San Diego River Park Foundation, welcomes the clean-up, but is disappointed that it is needed.

"This is a state of California ecological reserve. It's an area that's been set aside for wildlife. Think about that," Hutsel said. "And if we can't care for that area, that part of nature, where it supposed to be an area protected for wildlife, we've got a tough job for the rest of the river."

Anything that ends up in the river flows downstream, according to Hutzel. Human waste, drugs and garbage can all reach the ocean.

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