Man wants homeless camp clean-up put on fast track
Homeless camps are a frustration for many Anchorage residents who say clean-up isn't coming soon enough.
One of them is Russ Webb, who's been monitoring the camps along the Chester Creek trail for many months.
In addition to the garbage, Webb has taken note of what appears to be lots of stolen property, including bikes in various stages of disassembly. He's hesitant to call the people in the woods homeless and says many of them appear to be there by choice.
"What you have here are primarily young, fully capable, mentally capable people who are engaging in criminal activities to support their lifestyle," said Webb. "They don't want to live by the rules and this is a pretty free lifestyle-- if you are willing to put up with it."
Webb feels the community has been putting up with homeless camps in public places for too long.
"It's pathetic the way we have given over the green space," he said.
He wants someone to make cleaning up camps more of a priority.
John Rodda, director of Parks and Rec, said he is hiring a dozen people to clean-up camps starting on June 1, but he added there are some camps they won't venture into alone because they simply aren't safe.
"We will not address that without APD assistance," said Rodda. "We are not going to enter those areas unless APD is engaged with us because we aren't going to put people in harm's way."
Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll said police are notifying campers they have to leave in a time frame that recently changed. Last summer, campers were given 15 days to vacate a camp, this year it's 10.
Webb said the city could remove campers on the same day if there were a place to store their belongings so they could be retrieved later. But right now there's no mechanism for that in place.
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