'Tent City' off freeways near downtown San Diego returns

SAN DIEGO - Frustration is growing again as a major distraction to drivers on two busy San Diego freeways makes its return.

It's a story 10News has been following for eight months. And some say we may not see the last of the tents along roadways.

Earlier this year, 10News reported a "tent city" located on a lot of land between Interstate 5 and state Route 95 near downtown San Diego.

"Part of the purpose of a right-of-way along the highway is to keep the areas clear of pedestrians; it's not for pedestrians," said Caltrans spokeswoman Cathryne Bruce-Johnson.

Even after the area is cleared out, 10News learned some keep coming back.

"When people are in need, they always find the best place for safety," said Father Joe Carroll of Father Joe's Villages.

Neighbors who did not want to go on camera called 10News after tents popped up again.

Father Joe told 10News the little piece of property located between the two busy freeways is exactly what some people are looking for.

"It's dangerous because of traffic, but they also know there won't be people walking by stealing their stuff, there won't be interference by the police, so they fell like they found a safe place," said Father Joe.

Caltrans clears the brush to make it more visible, and since 10News' first report, they are now visiting the area twice a month.

Caltrans said fences won't work because they are vandalized and require additional expenses to maintain and repair. Caltrans crews also need to have direct access to the areas.

Caltrans has once again posted notices letting the people know they have 72 hours to vacate. Crews will go in next week with the California Highway Patrol and San Diego police to clear the area and tell the people about local programs available to them.

However, Father Joe said that may not work.

"They want to be standalones; they want to be free and so they risk their lives," he said.

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