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Central San Diego workers 'terrorized' by vagrants

Posted at 2:31 PM, Jun 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 21:17:59-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A known homeless encampment was cleared this week after employees who work nearby said they were terrorized.

The encampment on Federal Boulevard near the 805 overpass was cleared of the usual campers, RVs, stuffed cars, tents and debris commuters often saw driving by.

Cal Trans said it did a clean up of the area and California Highway Patrol issued a notice to vacate 72 hours before Monday morning.

Nearby, employees who didn't want to reveal where they worked for fear of retaliation said homeless people caused hundreds of dollars in damage.

"Windows have been smashed, a mirror was smashed," Jim Withrow said. He described an incident in which an employee coming into work heard a woman scream in the bushes, and was rattled as she rushed to the front door.

Another Central San Diego worker said a homeless man jumped the fence and walked toward the front door as an employee was trying to get in. The employee entered and the homeless man shook the door trying to open it. Another employee opened the door and found out he wanted water. She said he didn't seem to be 'all there.'

Withrow said the past few months have become more intense; "people who didn't seem to have all their facilities screaming and screaming at people going by."

The company went to San Diego Police for help and started putting on pressure.

Withrow said he saw the change instantly. "I came around the corner off of 47th and onto Federal and wow, there's no one there."

Another employee said it took months to get to this point.

San Diego Police told 10News they've been educating the vagrants, and issuing warnings.

Along the street, new signs are posted every few yards reading "No littering or dumping."

"It feels good, I feel safer. I feel safer because my employees feel safer," Withrow said.

As for where the vagrants went, 10News went to the newest Safe Parking lot, run by Jewish Family Services, and it appeared vacant.

The last time the Webster street was cleared out was December 2018. The huge undertaking took three days, and was short-lived.

"They did come right back," Withrow said.

This time employees nearby hope the extra signage and police awareness will make a difference. "Hopefully the signs keep us safe out here but there's gotta be other things to do to help the people who are hurting too," he said.

A new San Diego ordinance passed in May restricts people from living in their vehicles anywhere within 500 feet of a school or residence. It also places an overnight ban between from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. anywhere in the city, with the exception of approved lots.