Valley legislators push for funds to clean-up homeless camps on highways

Valley legislators are demanding Gov. Gavin Newsom beef up the budget for the local CalTrans outpost in an effort to cleanup homeless encampments and litter in the Fresno metropolitan area.

A letter sent by local leaders and regional state lawmakers asked Newsom for resources to counteract “dramatic increases in the amount of waste and homeless encampments littered along highways” in the Fresno area.

In August, during a briefing with Fresno City Council members, CalTrans District 6 personnel provided an insight into the struggles they face in keeping state roadways clear.

Local deputy director John Liu told council members that his agency had 20 staffers designated to keep 1,100 acres of roads spread across four highways.

CalTrans, he noted, has suffered a loss in prison labor due to reduced sentencing laws such as Proposition 47. Meanwhile, Fresno County ceased referring probationers to clean-up highways with CalTrans crews due to spiraling worker’s compensation costs.

The letter to Newsom was signed by State Sens. Andreas Borgeas (R–Fresno), Anna Caballero (D–Salinas), and Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger); Asms. Joaquin Arambula (D–Fresno), Frank Bigelow (R–O’Neals), and Jim Patterson (R–Fresno); local leaders included Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, Clovis Mayor Drew Bessinger, Fresno County Supervisors Chairman Nathan Magsig, and Fresno City Council President Paul Caprioglio.

Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.