SAN JOSE, Calif., June 26 (UPI) -- The Santa Clara Valley, Calif., Water District voted to fund two additional park rangers to curb creek side encampments of homeless people.
The personnel will join two existing park rangers to patrol creek areas in the city of San Jose. The areas have been the scene of encampments that have resulted, after massive cleanup efforts, in homeless people returning within hours, the San Jose Mercury News reported Wednesday.
The unanimous vote Tuesday gives the city $175,000 to employ the new park rangers.
Illegal encampments are a hot-button political issue in San Jose. Residents have complained about trash-filled camps, associated crime and the fouling of waterways, the newspaper said, noting a 2011 report that said 7,000 people are homeless in Santa Clara County, which includes San Jose, on any given night.
Ray Bramson, the city's project manager on encampment issues, estimated are about 60 encampments in the city, 10 to 20 of them with more than 50 people. They are typically situated on local waterways.
"These places simply were not meant for human habitation," said waterways manager Chris Elias. "Our creeks are wildlife corridors. Having people down there disturbs that. Also, there is a public safety element because trash buildup is a threat to blocking floodwaters."