California Highway Patrol ride-along highlights 'tent city' problem areas

SAN DIEGO - The California Highway Patrol invited 10News on a ride-along Friday after several "tent cities" popped up along near some of San Diego's busiest freeways. 

Within the first five minutes of the drive, several tents were spotted.

"It's just approximately 3 feet off the right shoulder," said CHP Officer Jake Sanchez. "They're just trying to find a place to go and you know, it's dangerous for them and it's dangerous for motorists."

He waited for backup to arrive and then checked out the tent. Someone was living there but gone. A few feet up the road, there were more tents.

"Any place with a lot of vegetation is usually a good place for them to stay because now they have some shelter, built-in shelter by the foliage," said Sanchez.

The CHP said this is all about safety. 10News first reported on this story two weeks ago. 

10News alerted Caltrans after viewers told 10News a "tent city" was becoming a distraction to drivers on state Route 94 and Interstate 5. 

One week later, 10News followed up when Caltrans and the CHP cleaned out the area, all in an effort to keep the homeless people and the passing drivers safe.

Marriessa Badgley called the area home.

"There's been a couple times that they blame us for people getting hit right there, and we're just like, 'You know what, it's not our fault,'" said Badgley.

The CHP said people are also at risk because many cross the freeway. That is one reason they will issue a citation. The second is if they post a warning for people to leave an area and they are still there after 36 hours. 

According to the CHP, 30 people have been killed crossing freeways since 2010, and 55 have been injured.

"I would say the majority of the people that are struck are transient or homeless," said Sanchez.

The CHP will also tell people about local services available to them, hoping to find a solution to the problem before it gets worse.

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