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City plans cleanup at Broadway Park
Broadway park January 2019
Turlock’s Neighborhood Services will be enforcing the city’s municipal codes regarding the storing of personal property at Broadway Park starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday (Photo courtesy of City of Turlock).

Turlock’s Neighborhood Services will once again be paying a visit to Broadway Park to enforce the city’s municipal code in relation to the homeless camp that has been re-erected at the site.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday Neighborhood Services Code Enforcement staff posted multiple notices throughout Broadway Park and on all stored personal property within the park citing the municipal code that prohibits keeping property in a public place for more than 24 hours.

Staff will be returning to the park at 2 p.m. Wednesday to enforce the municipal code, which could include removing any of the property still at the park.

The City undertook a similar action on Nov. 27 after a homeless camp was set up in the park. The clear out was brief and since that time the neighbors around the park have reported more homeless individuals setting up camp.

Lorraine Norman addressed the Turlock City Council on Tuesday about her experiences since the homeless started camping in Broadway Park. Norman said she moved into the house adjacent to Broadway Park in 2015, and enjoyed walking her dog every day in the neighborhood and taking her grandchildren to the park. Over the past few months, however, Norman said there has been no safe place to take her grandchildren. There are individuals on or near the playground equipment all day long who are obviously under the influence of drugs, she said.

“I’m here because of my granddaughter. She asked me to come talk to you. She wants the park back,” she said.

The homeless camp has also impacted Norman’s other activities.

“I used to walk downtown all the time, I loved it. I stopped doing that because I no longer felt safe. I want to feel safe in my community again,” she said.

Norman wasn’t the only Broadway Street resident to voice concerns about the homeless camp at the park.

“We, the residents in the area, feel our park has been stolen from us,” said Ed Maze.

Maze talked about dogs running loose around the park, people yelling late at night, trash left in neighborhood yards, sidewalks being blocked by piles of personal belongings and residents feeling threatened by individuals living in the park.

“My wife has been actually extremely upset and scared. And there’s no way I can comfort her…You guys have created something that I cannot control. She doesn’t feel safe leaving the house; she doesn’t feel safe in the house,” said Maze.

Broadway resident Tracy Tigner also addressed the City Council on Tuesday, saying she’s had issue after issue with those living in the park.

“There’s drug dealing 24/7…there’s prostitution constantly,” she said.

“It used to be a good park where everybody could have fun out there. Now, it’s just not going to happen,” Tigner continued.

She said that her fence has been broken five times and her elderly neighbor had her house broken into when she was home. Tigner said she is constantly running people off her yard.

“You need to do something fast because it’s going to be 200 to 300 people soon, mabye 400 people. There’s more and more coming, it’s not stopping. We’re going to have to sue because it’s getting worse. We couldn’t move if we wanted to,” she said.

Turlock’s municipal code prohibits camping in public spaces, but enforcement of that ordinance was suspended in September when a U.S. appeals court ruled such ordinances were unconstitutional.
The city does have two other ordinances dealing with camping or residing in public areas, like parks. Individuals are not allowed to have up any sort of structure, including tents.

All unlawfully stored property removed will be stored by the City of Turlock for 90 days in accordance with the Turlock Municipal Code. Anyone wanting to reclaim personal property can contact the Turlock Fire Department’s Neighborhood Services Division located at 244 North Broadway.

— Journal editor Kristina Hacker contributed to this report.