For months, the parking lots at Roberts Lake in Seaside were consistently lined with RVs, SUVs, sedans and trucks. The vehicles belong to about 40 homeless residents who’ve called the location home since the start of the pandemic, when Seaside officials designated the area as a place they could shelter-in-place, opting to suspend enforcement of the city’s no-camping ordinance.
On the morning of July 14, some had started cleaning the property, located at Canyon Del Rey and Highway 1, and organizing their belongings in preparation of a possible move.
The cleanup came after the city issued an eviction notice, noting that SIP restrictions had lifted, and the site was not meant as a long-term encampment. The original eviction date of July 13 was held after people living there asked for alternatives, and City Council weighed their request on July 16.
“I can’t in good conscience kick people out without a place for them to go,” Councilmember Jason Campbell said. “If we make a law, we should be giving a reasonable alternative.”
He proposed resuming enforcement at Roberts Lake, and offering up a location on the former Fort Ord instead, where the Campus Town project is slated to be built. Council voted 3-1 to proceed with resuming enforcement at Roberts Lake – effective Friday, July 24 – and to suspend enforcement of the no-camping ordinance at the Campus Town site starting July 22.
“We should be giving a reasonable alternative.”
“We have hundreds of acres of paved lots out in former Fort Ord. The idea that this hasn’t been done sooner is just beyond me,” Campbell says.
About a dozen people spoke out in opposition to the move, noting the Fort Ord site’s relative distance from commerce and the many new homeless-serving volunteer efforts that have sprung up during the pandemic. “If we’re spread out, they’re not going to know where to find us,” Mandy Dodson says.
Anton Hunter, who has been acting as a representative for the community living at Roberts Lake, is disappointed that the move is happening, and particularly worried about the handful of people from Roberts Lake that have not been permitted to move because they don’t have a vehicle they’re living in.
Hunter has been watching as other regions deal with SIP for homeless residents, and he notes a recent ruling in Sacramento County Superior Court against the city of Sacramento, finding that city violated its county health officer’s order by sweeping and clearing encampments. Hunter is considering suing Seaside over the move.
Bathrooms, hand-washing stations and dumpsters will be provided at the new Fort Ord location, and the city will cover the cost of towing vehicles that are not operational.