Benchlands clears out, River Street camp almost full

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - The San Lorenzo Benchlands in Santa Cruz has been cleared of all tents and campers. This comes as the new River Street camp is almost filled up.

No tents and no campers is not a site that people walking through the San Lorenzo Park are used to seeing now a days.

“I have sympathy for that situation I know there's some folks there that are mentally imbalance and some folks that just can’t afford a place to stay," says Robert, one park goer.

Robert lives near by and says while he sympathizes with those who are having a hard time, the camp brought some unwanted side effects.

“It just gets carried away with drugs and vandalism and crime so I am glad there moved to hopefully a better place for them and a better place for the residents around here.”

Some that were camping in the Benchlands found that place at the new River Street Camp.

Program director Chris Monteith says while the camp has only been open a few days, it is running very smoothly.

"Most of the people I’ve talked to have come to me and are really having a positive experience. We’re really excited about finally starting after all the preparation.”

Monteith says there were only a few spaces left, but that can change if people double up on tents or leave, "we probably have about five more spots open, but those numbers will change."

He says while it's positive for the most part some people do leave, "some people are packing up now because it's just not for them, but we wish them the best."

They are still working on outreach and are starting a waiting list for those who still want to get into the camp. "We'll be at the Santa Cruz Library Saturday and Sunday from 4pm-5pm doing outreach and creating a waitlist for people who have not been able to get in yet."

Crews are working to pick up any left over trash and letting the grass fully grow back before opening it to the public next Friday. There are gates blocking access to the park and you could face a fine if you go inside before March 3rd.

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