Homeless encampments abound around Hwy. 99

Homeless encampments abound around Hwy. 99 »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Crews cleaning Highway 99 have noticed homeless encampments popping up around Bakersfield.

John Enriquez is the chairman of the Keeping Bakersfield Beautiful group, but the camps are keeping him from his goal.

"We just have all kinds of debris and trash and clothes, anything you can think of, and, unfortunately, we have people that live in these conditions," Enriquez said.

Caltrans officials said they consider the camps illegal. If one is found, the California Highway Patrol is notified. Then, there's a 72-hour notice before the encampments are cleared out.

The encampments are considered potentially dangerous, and, if you spot one, Caltrans has advice: stay away.

But, the true trouble is the trash.

"That just adds on to the litter problem we see across the state," said Jose Camera of Caltrans.

Tim Calahan, of the Bakersfield Rescue Mission, said some homeless people would rather have no rules and no roof rather than the alternative.

"A lot of times, it's by their own choice to live that way," Calahan said.

Enriquez said he's seen encampments around the Kern River and at least three near Hwy. 99.

"Its out there. It's reality, and hopefully we can get them some help and relocate them," Enriquez said. "Bakersfield's a caring community. I'm sure we can help them one way or another."