Two-mile homeless camp takes over in California’s posh Marin County — and tax dollars help fund itDetroit City Limits 3 weeks ago 0
A two-mile strip of road in posh Marin County, California – which George Lucas, Tony Bennett and Robin Williams have all called home – has been overrun by a vagrant camp that has brought drugs and devastation to the area.
Binford Road in the city of Novato has devolved into a makeshift neighborhood of “tweakers” with hordes of people living apparently rent-free in a shabby collection of broken-down RVs and trailers parked at the side of the street.
The Post counted 71 vehicles during a recent visit, where locals blamed local authorities for encouraging the encampment in the area — and where homes cost a $1.3 million median price.
Kathy, who has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years, said: “I can’t park and move into a city street. Why are they letting them do that?”
“It appears to us this is just the easy way out – and California is making it really easy for them and very hard on us, the people who live here.”
The camp has also proven to harbor crime. Authorities investigating a convicted sex offender who lived along Binford Road in March instead discovered the dead body of a man who had overdosed on fentanyl, according to a report from MarinLocalNews.com.
Agents with the Marin County Specialized Investigative Unit discovered that Daniel Worthen was allegedly with the unidentified man when he overdosed on the lethal drug.
The victim was discovered dead in his own trailer stationed along Binford Road, according to the report.
Investigators executed a search warrant on Worthen’s trailer and his other vehicles and recovered a ghost gun and large amounts of methamphetamine, fentanyl and marijuana, the report alleged. Worthen was also allegedly found with stolen property.
While at Binford Road, The Post spoke to a man who said he was a van dweller but chose not to live at the camp.
“I don’t like staying here because of all the tweakers that are here. Too many people that I’ve talked to have had their s–t stolen,” said Louis Yuvan, 56, using a slang term to refer to people who are strung out from excessive drug use.
Another longtime Novato resident, 78-year-old Karen, said she disagrees with the RV campers’ takeover of the public property “at no cost to them, as far as I know,” while the average home in her town sells for just over $1 million, according to Zillow.
“I don’t want to be another San Francisco,” the 78-year-old told The Post. “We won’t go to San Francisco anymore.”
Those calling Binford Road home are barely paying a cent. One Binford Road camper told The Post he did not pay to rent the space along Binford Road, but did cough up a regular $75 fee to have the sewage pumped from his RV, one of the facilities provided to the street’s residents, alongside free groceries and medical assistance.
Porta-potties and overflowing trash bins, also provided by the local authorities were stationed along the road. One million dollars in state and county funds have been given to the area to address the homeless problem, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
However, the facilities are apparently not enough for the RV campers.
“Mark 1 anywhere if you think we need mobile showers??” someone wrote in marker on the front of a bathroom station, with 1’s added throughout.
Meanwhile, a sign posted along the strip warned residents about the gradual installation of cement barriers – but reassured them they would not be forced to relocate.
“This is being done to prevent illegal parking that obstructs the safe use of Binford Road,” states the letter, signed by Marin County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Thompson.
“If your vehicle is currently parked on Binford Road, you WILL NOT be required to move or leave,” it adds.
Residents of Binford Road are said to include groups of people who have been pushed out of other homes due to the rising cost of living in the area.
Those who call it home spoke highly of their makeshift neighborhood and the authorities who allow them to remain.
“My life here … it’s OK to me. It’s really relaxing. There’s no harassment,” Shelly G. told the Post.
Shelly, 53, moved to Binford Road from Petaluma at the beginning of April to join her friend Terry.
Shelly was seated under a covered area behind a green vehicle and held her small dog, Bailey, as she talked to the Post.
“This right here, this is heaven,” she went on.
“We have a view of the geese, everything right here. To me, it’s relaxing. It’s serenity to me.”
Terry, who also would not give his last name, told The Post he has lived along Binford Road for nearly a year. He also moved from Petaluma and said he was living along the strip – despite the lack of water or power – while he tried to save money for his own home.
Terry said they signed up for affordable housing and had been receiving regular visits from outside workers who came to the camp with clothes, food and other goods.
Terry and Shelly both described how police in Petaluma urged them to move to the Binford Road RV camp, from other areas.
“They said, ‘Why don’t you go to Binford Road?’ Terry recalled.
Shelly said it was the first time she had ever heard the name.
And it appears they have every intention to stay. When asked what it would take for her to leave the RV camp, Shelly quipped: “Al Pacino.”
Sgt. Adam Schermerhorn, a spokesperson for the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, told the Post his department receives multiple 911 calls and reports each day from the public about Binford Road, but they are typically not related to violence and denied the camp poses a risk to the public.
“We get on social media, a lot of complaints or questions about how the sheriff’s office is handling it, and how we’ve been working with the board of supervisors in order to try to find a solution.
“But I think that’s another issue that the public oftentimes forgets, or chooses to overlook, is the only way that you’re going to help these people is if you get them to a spot where they’re willing to accept help.”