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Constituent letter about the  problems at Howe & El Camino

We have written previously about sidewalk vendors, homelessness and litter in our community. Yet we have been told on occasion that those aren't "real" problems, aren't worth worrying about, and we should show compassion for the unfortunate among us. OK, we get it. No one is bombing our apartments, our homes weren't destroyed in a wildfire, etc. Still, we can't help feeling totally, completely understanding of the plight of residents and property owners who try to cooperate with the County by using the 311Connect system, calling the Sheriff's non-emergency number, or contacting County Code Enforcement but who don't get any kind of worthwhile response. Case in point: Howe and El Camino, a kind of dream world for drifters at the expense of the local neighborhoods. Here's a letter a constituent sent yesterday to our Supervisor, Rich Desmond - published verbatim with her consent.

"Dear Supervisor Desmond,

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The north side of El Camino from Moretti to Howe has become an open-air strip mall and transient campground

If you drive by the Howe Ave, El Camino corner, you surely can't miss the street vendors with their blankets & stuff, and the growing amount of homeless camps along El Camino. On the other side (in front of the .99 cent store), there are the 3-5 phone vendors blocking the complete sidewalk every day, leaving trash on the strip of grass and forcing people to either walk on the street or on the parking lot.

If one of the businesses that is in the strip puts out a sign on the sidewalk, they get fined. Our poor neighbors whose houses are on the El Camino side constantly have to deal with trash and dumping.

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The sidewalk on the south side of El Camino is blocked by vendors

Every time I report these issues on the 311 app, the case is closed quickly, but nothing is being done. They say they will send out a business license team, but that does not seem to be the case. No one is going to rent the old Rite Aide retail space when they see this mess, and it swaps into our neighborhoods.

The people who lived on the wall to the parking lot finally gave up after many years of dumping, homeless in their yard sleeping, drug parafernalia in their yard, etc. They sold their house, and it is now being rented.  I will attach of photo pulled from 311 this morning, as someone reported "illegal dumping". A big bag of trash, dumped right in their front yard, again.

When I bought my house in this neighborhood in 1997, there was a grocery store where the .99 cent store is, and Rite Aid next to it. These stores, with the longstanding liquor store, gas station, and Beto's, served the neighborhood. Ask the old businesses about the things they deal with every day. It is unacceptable.

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Trash dumped over the wall east of Betos has driven the homeowners away.

I have sent in so many reports about the vendors blocking the sidewalk every day. No one cares. They leave their mess. And why are they allowed to block the sidewalk completely? Across the street, they have been setting up their flea market daily, with blankets & product spilling out in the street. They don't even bother picking up their "rugs" at night, since they will be back the next day. Because no one cares, we now have a growing amount of cars & homeless vans parking there, with all their trash spewing out all over El Camino Ave.

The fact that this area is constantly being overlooked is terrible. Mind you, if a neighbor dares to park a car on the lawn, or their driveway does not hold the extra car, the County Warnings and tickets are swift.

Please tell me what we can do about this, as 311 is not helping.

Thank you for your consideration.


Heike Boehnke-Sharp"


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