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Video shows men removing Oceanside rocks meant to deter homeless; More motel vouchers offered

Posted at 5:32 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 21:00:04-04

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) - Less than a week after city crews dumped large rocks along a stretch of South Oceanside Boulevard to prevent the homeless from setting up tents, two men were seen on video trying to remove the rocks.

The owners of Natty Bella Bridal shot the video over the weekend.

They say the illegal homeless encampment has been driving customers away; at a time when their business is already struggling due to the pandemic.

"You feel bad for them, very, very bad for them, but at the same time, we are trying to bring up our business and getting better, but with this situation, it's not," said Tina Saucedo.

RELATED: Police clear much of large homeless camp in Oceanside, offer motel vouchers

Last Tuesday, Oceanside Police cleared out the homeless encampment. Twenty-eight people were offered three-week motel vouchers. Ten more rooms are expected to be available Monday.

After police cleared the area, city crews used bulldozers to dump large rocks to deter people from coming back. Homeless advocates say this is the wrong approach.

"People need help, they need services, rocks don't help, it helps people not see it, it helps business, it helps tourism, it doesn't help the individual on the street," said Chris Schirm, who used to be homeless.

Councilman Chris Rodriguez says the city's program provides mental health and social services, not just a motel room.

"We're trying to create relief to our communities and to our businesses and then compassion to the homeless population, but also accountability," said councilman Rodriguez.

RELATED: Oceanside city crews leave piles of rocks over cleared homeless encampment

Rodriguez says the city will continue sending social workers out to the site to offer the motel program.

"It's a pathway of success with accountability, there definitely has to be a voluntary effort to want to get off the street," said councilman Rodriguez.

Business owners say the city needs to open a shelter.

"You look at that in the morning, and you look at that when you leave, and you're scratching your head," said Rey Mendez.

The city is accepting proposals from potential shelter operators and hopes to select one by June.

In the meantime, homeless advocates say the city's plan is a temporary fix.

"It doesn't help individuals on the street. That's the problem that's going on. They're just going to go to a different area. It never will end," said Schirm.