Residents who live south of downtown Fresno know the homeless problem in their neighborhood won't be solved right away. But they think the piles of trash that come from the homeless are an easy fix.
Members of the Golden Westside Planning Committee and residents who live in tidy houses near Ventura Avenue and E Street held a news conference Wednesday to urge city officials to clean up their neighborhood.
Late Wednesday, city officials said they're working on a solution.
The group gathered in front of a small alley on Ventura Avenue, between E and F streets, where trash had accumulated over the last four months.
Capri Sun juice packets, restaurant takeout boxes, clothes, blankets, hangers, soup cans and more were scattered on the ground.
The trash "carries feces, it carries roaches, it carries rats, it carries all kinds of things as our children walk through the neighborhood," said Debbie Darden, the group's chairwoman. "It's an ongoing problem. We feel it's the responsibility of the city of Fresno to act on it quickly and on a regular basis to get it cleaned up."
The trash is what you would see in Third-World countries like Pakistan and Nigeria, said Kevin Hamilton, deputy chief of programs for Clinica Sierra Vista.
"When you have piles of trash sitting around for months, it gets wet, the elements start to work on it and it becomes a place where bacteria live," Hamilton said. "This is truly a health hazard to our community."
The committee and resident Jeff Tapscott said calls to Council Member Oliver Baines, who represents the area, the mayor and city manager since January have not resulted in a cleanup yet.
"The trash never seems to leave," said Tapscott, who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years. "I pick up what I can pick up."
Their suggestion: put Dumpsters in the alleys and on the streets.
When contacted on Wednesday, city spokesman Mike Lukens said in a written statement that the city will put trash bins in the neighborhood.
"The city will cooperate with residents in the neighborhood and place trash bins there, but we're also working on an overall cleanup of the area," Lukens said.
Baines said residents should expect to see the trash cleaned up within a month.
"I share their frustration," Baines said. "They're right. It's an issue that needs to be taken care of."
But the process takes time, Baines said. The city has to figure out whether the property that needs cleaning is publicly or privately owned. Then there are the lawsuits.
The city has been sued by homeless advocates twice before for destruction of property after cleaning up homeless encampments.
"It really slows the process down and almost stops the process all together," Baines said. "That has been a big hinderance. Just when we get the momentum going we get hit with the lawsuit and we have to of course work through all that."
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