At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Turlock Mayor John Lazar made one thing very clear.
He wants to bring attention to Denair Park.
In recent years, Denair Park, along with other downtown parks like Crane and Central Park, has reportedly become a hotspot for the city’s rising homeless populations, which is now estimated at around 400-500 members.
“It’s unsightly, and brings down the quality of life here in town,” said Lazar. “If the people truly are homeless, then we can work to provide them with services.”
Lazar stated that although he understands some homeless community members use the parks as an area to rest, others have more malicious intents, which result in increased incidents of crime and a decreased quality of life for the neighboring residents. Lazar said he has personally received calls complaining about vagrants and witnessed intoxicated individuals crossing the streets.
According to the Turlock Police Department Activity Report, there were almost a dozen reported cases of public intoxication in the month of August alone.
Along with the possibility of crime, increased homeless presence also comes with more mobile hoarding and the property of those resting in the parks.
Local business owner Eva Costa said the hoarding issue is gradually getting worse and has the potential to affect downtown businesses. Her business, Adventure Travel Agency, is located on Main Street, half a mile from Denair Park.
“It just seems like in the last few years the constant stream of piles of junk is getting worse and worse and we call the police, but nothing seems to happen,” said Costa. “The city says they want to support downtown business, but if I was a new business why would I come here with all of that going on?”
Lazar stated that although he doesn't expect the council to take action, he would like to figure out what exactly is causing this spike in public loitering.
“I’m just trying to understand what is going on there,” said Lazar. “We’ve seen the same pattern at Central and Broadway and now it's found its way down to Denair Park.”
However, not everyone agrees with the Mayor.
Roy Rich, a Turlock resident who visits the park frequently, stated that he doesn’t think loitering is that big of an issue.
“I really don’t think it is a nuisance,” said Rich. “People just come here to rest, and I don't think it’s a problem to the extent where people have to take action.”
The issue is expected to be added to the City Council agenda sometime next month for formal consideration.