Fresno mayor Lee Brand announces city-wide cleanup campaign

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In his state of the city address, Mayor Lee Brand unveiled a program to clean up Fresno.

"We have a new initiative, keep Fresno beautiful, it's going to tackle what everybody sees all the time, trash in the streets, the highways, the parks," he said.

Residents in a Southwest Fresno neighborhood wonder if the initiative will include the nearby homeless camps made up of junked RV's.

"We have dozens of people in the back of this property living in broken down RV's and cars and they have also set a series of fires threatening the neighbors next to them," said Councilmember Miguel Arias.

It's been there for more than a year, and neighbors like Roy Miguel are fed up.

"Too much is too much, and it's just a bunch of illegal activity going on," he said.

The encampment is right next to an illegal RV junkyard, on a property that was owned by Fresno's redevelopment agency but sold to a supposed developer.

"What we have here is a 4-acre property that was initially sold to the city of Fresno to Phil Carter for the purpose of building residential housing," councilmember Arias said. "This area is zoned for residential housing. Instead, Mr. Carter converted it to a junkyard."

Arias says homeless also live in the junkyard, but the owner's attorney Javiar Alabart denies it. He says the property owner has nothing to do with the adjacent homeless RV camp.

Alabart says the owner intended to fix up the RV's and provide them to homeless victims of northern California fires. But he acknowledges the RV junkyard violates city codes and will be cleaned up.

"It's just one of those things that happened, and it's being resolved," he said.

The owner has 60 days to move all of the vehicles. So, what happens to the people?"

"I'm all for helping people, but I just hope they can move them somewhere else," Miguel said.

Mayor Brand says help for the city's homeless population is coming. The city will spend more than $3 million in state funds to provide shelters throughout the city.

"We got the money we will be rolling out the programs in the next 60 days," Brand said.

And what if the old RV's aren't moved? "If he fails to do so the city will clear it out and send him the bill," Arias said.

The city will inventory each of the vehicles and legally move them to another location. The homeless have 30 days to relocate.
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