.Bridge Street Homeless Encampment Cleared Out

WATSONVILLE—Watsonville Public Works employees teamed up with Watsonville police and fire departments Tuesday to dismantle a camp that homeless advocates set up on Dec. 12 in a city-owned parking lot adjacent to the Buddhist Temple on Bridge Street.

With signage posted about the small encampment stating “Parking Lot Temporarily Closed,” workers gloved up, stationed several dumpsters at the site and carried away debris.

Camp residents, meanwhile, loaded up their belongings in several vehicles, including a U-Haul truck, and left. 

Carlos Landaverry, housing manager for the city, said he and his crew handed out 30 vouchers to camp residents for a free, five-night stay at a nearby motel.

“We also are working with them to help connect them to local services, to get proper meals and health care,” he said. “This is a full-service health care team.”

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Last week, the homeless union staying at the camp and city officials hammered out an agreement to leave the lot open to campers until Jan. 3 or whenever replacement shelter was provided.

On Tuesday the entire camp was cleared out.

“Our community deserves more,” said Monike Tone, a camp resident and president of the Pajaro/Watsonville Homeless Union. “After these five days, then what? I will say that the community around Bridge Street has been very supportive; Some brought us blankets, others brought food; one person even brought us a gas stove. These things really help.”

The campers moved to the lot after they were evicted from the Monterey County side of the Pajaro River levee. Seeking refuge from the atmospheric river that hit the Central Coast the group left the levee and set up camp in the parking lot.

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Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.
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