Cars come within several feet of the homeless encampment at Highways 1 and 9.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Latest News

Highway 1 and 9 homeless encampment begins clearing out to make way for construction project

It appeared that the hundreds of campers in coming days will need to find open spaces in city and county shelters or managed encampments in which to stay — or find some other place to sleep. Homeless advocates had begun going to the intersection Friday to try to begin finding places for the displaced campers to relocate.

People living in a large homeless encampment at the intersection of Highways 1 and 9 finally will have to pack up their belongings and leave the area this weekend to make way for a major construction project.

Caltrans, the state’s transportation agency, posted notices Friday morning at the busy intersection with help from California Highway Patrol. The notices alerted people living near the intersection that they have 72 hours to move.

Cleanup will start after the 72-hour notice period ends on Monday morning, Caltrans spokesperson Kevin Drabinski told Lookout.

One of the notices "to vacate illegal campsite" that went up at Highways 1 and 9 on Friday.
One of the notices “to vacate illegal campsite” that went up at Highways 1 and 9 on Friday.
(Courtesy Kayla Kumar

)

Although the intersection is in the city limits, the highways and adjacent areas in which homeless campers live are on state property.

For months, city, county and state officials have had discussions about breaking up the highway camp, which must be dismantled before a grant-funded highway expansion project can begin. The road widening project has to begin by June or the funding for it will lapse, city officials have said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office had to sign off on sweeping the encampment before transportation officials could proceed.

City officials have asked Caltrans for months to identify state property for the displaced campers to move to, but state officials had not designated a relocation site as of Friday morning.

Said Caltrans’ Drabinski: “We will continue to work with the city and county of Santa Cruz to move people into safer situations as available.”

It appeared that the hundreds of campers in coming days will need to find open spaces in city and county shelters or managed encampments in which to stay — or find some other place to sleep. Homeless advocates had begun going to the intersection Friday to try to begin finding places for the displaced campers to relocate.

“We continue housing more than 800 persons in COVID and regular shelters,” county spokesperson Jason Hoppin said. “Openings are limited. We have enrolled individuals from both the 1/9 and San Lorenzo Park encampments based on medical need (i.e., those at highest risk should they be exposed to/contract COVID-19). We still have many hundreds on waiting lists to get into that system.”

Stay connected & support local journalism
We’re all about Santa Cruz County, from north to south and in-between. Members have unlimited access to our 24/7 local news coverage.