All kinds of clutter up in this tree was not visible at a glance
San Diego County’s Regional Task Force on Homeless estimated in January 2016 that there were 8692 homeless people in San Diego.
And while many are living in tents and on sidewalks, Ocean Beach has some crafty homeless people that seemed to have been living in a tree at Dusty Rhodes Park at the corner of Nimitz and Sunset Cliffs boulevards.
The tree hid well the platforms, bikes, tarps....
With its fenced-in dog park, family-friendly playground, gazebo, barbecue grills, and shade trees, Dusty Rhodes Park is a magnet for homeless people.
The San Diego Police Department routinely sweeps the park in the mornings and evenings for campers but weren’t aware of the "giving tree" until several residents brought it to their attention.
Early this week it was filled with backpacks, bikes, strollers, bags of clothing, tables, shoes, tarps, blankets, furniture, tents, cabinets, and other stuff, including several wooden boards that served as platforms perhaps for sleeping.
Platforms, shoes, backpacks...
Two residents reported the issue to the City of San Diego via its Get It Done App, because according to the website, if litter is "an immediate hazard," they ask that you call it in. I was told by a Park & Rec representative that they were aware of the issue.
The following day, I went back and it appeared that more items were added overnight. So I contacted the department for a status check.
Cynthia Comacho, a Park & Rec center director, told me, "Staff will be working on removing the items from the tree. If they start putting things up there again please let me know so I can have the police look in to it also.”
The following day, December 6, the treetop camp was dismantled and the tree emptied.
"Police did not need to be notified," Comacho told me. "The items [crew removed from the tree] appeared to be someone's personal belongings. Not sure how many bags they got out of it, as it was all just put in the dumpster."