CITRUS HEIGHTS -- A Citrus Heights family is looking for help dealing with a homeless camp directly behind their home, which they say has caused several issues making them feel unsafe.
Because of where the camp is located, however, law enforcement is unable to take serious steps to curb the problem.
Just beyond the fence near Jennifer Spurr's backyard, underneath the Highway 80 overpass at Antelope Road in Citrus Heights, lie sleeping bags, clothes and some trash left behind. They’re all signs of a homeless camp that she says has been there for five years.
"I don't have any issues against people that need help, but when you go into people's property and you threaten people and people don't feel safe, that's where that line gets crossed,” Spurr said.
Spurr says some of the homeless campers have come into her yard over the years, adding they’ve stolen property, set fires and even threatened her family.
"We told them hey this is Caltrans property you need to leave. They came at my husband, threatening," she said.
Spurr won’t let her own 14-year-old daughter go unaccompanied into the family's backyard.
The family’s tried to get help, but all they’ve ever gotten is the runaround.
"We were told to call CHP because it's Caltrans property. CHP told us to call the Citrus Heights Police Department,” said Spurr.
"If there's a danger to the families, obviously we'll have to step in," said Officer James Garing
with the Citrus Heights Police Department.
This only applies if the danger is immediate however.
Because the campground is located underneath the highway, technically it falls within Caltrans’ jurisdiction, not the city’s. All his officers can do is ask the campers to leave within 72 hours, then notify Caltrans.
Spurr's made more than 20 appeals dating back about six months to Caltrans asking them to remove the camp, but today it still stands.
"It's a never-ending battle. Well go out and clean up the encampment, but if they come back we'll have to go through the process again,” said Gilbert Mohtes-Chan, a spokesperson for Caltrans.
"Citrus Heights and Caltrans are kind of fighting over who's actually going to solve the problem. Meanwhile, we're at home threatened by these people, and we feel like there's no recourse. What do we do?” said Spurr.
In the meantime, the family's trying to live at peace with neighbors whom they say have worn out their welcome.