UPDATE AS OF 06/24/2021: CalTrans conducted a full abatement and cleanup of this encampment on May 17th. The site has been re-encamped.
The encampments and trash near the 85 South & North ramps at Almaden Expressway have been a longstanding issue in our community. While this site is in District 9, it remains a very visible challenge to District 10 residents as well.
Unfortunately, solutions have not been straightforward because the City does not own all of the land that the blight occupies. Pictured below is a map of the area. Gray areas include land owned by CalTrans, the California Department of Transportation; the orange area at the bottom of the map is owned by the City.
You can view this interactive map here: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=e63e756e123a468d8c7ec0a7d518fb08.
The orange area is a "Tier 3 Service Area" meaning that the City's BeautifySJ team sends outreach workers to pick up trash and refer the unhoused people to shelter every week.
The gray areas, because they are owned by CalTrans, receive outreach visits far less frequently, roughly once every 4-8 weeks. CalTrans is notoriously thinly staffed and simply does not have the resources to do more. We recommend reaching out to State Senator Dave Cortese's office to express your concerns here: https://sd15.senate.ca.gov/contact.
Councilmember Mahan discussed the CalTrans issue in more depth with Olympia Williams, lead of the BeautifySJ program, on an episode of Inside City Hall: https://youtu.be/yQfOVtbJLxU?t=1739.
In order to overcome CalTrans' lack of capacity to address the encampments and trash, the City is finalizing a Memorandum of Understanding with CalTrans. The MOU would allow the City to clean up the encampments on CalTrans' behalf. You can watch the Rules Committee meeting where this item is discussed here: OCT 28, 2020 | Rules & Open Government/Committee of the Whole
The screenshot below from the Rules Committee meeting explains where the City is at in the process of establishing the MOU. It is projected that it should be in place by mid 2021.
Please continue to reach out to the District 10 office and to Senator Cortese's office about this site, and we look forward to providing more updates as we receive them.