Homeless cited for camping near prominent Palm Springs street corner

Crew begins cleaning up vacant land

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - According to people who live in the area, a piece of land at a prominent corner in Palm Springs has for some time now been a homeless encampment.

City records show the property is owned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

After receiving complaints, the Palm Springs Police Department cleared the encampment on Thursday while at the same time a crew began cleaning up the property.

"I get up this morning to do my recycling, and I see this, they're clearing us out."

Fifty-eight-year-old Clarise Aguiar-Kuinus was referring to how she was greeted by a demolition crew clearing two vacant 4-acre parcels at the corner of Sunrise Way and Tahquitz Canyon Way.

Aguiar-Kuinus says she and her husband have been homeless for two years and admits for the last year they've been living with other homeless people on the property.

The problem -- they've been camping on the property illegally.

"We confirmed that individuals were there unlawfully," said Palm Springs Police Sgt. Harvey Reed.  "They did not have permission from the landowner to be there and do not have a permit from the office of the chief of police to be there."

While Aguiar-Kuinus didn't indicate she had been cited, the police department says it cited three of the people it found living on the property for violation of municipal code, but only after they refused to pull up stakes and get their belongings off the property.

"One of those individuals left on their own accord, which is the way we like to approach these complaints --  to get voluntary compliance," said Reed.  "If the person refuses to leave, then the officer will take enforcement action."
Michael Smith lives right across the street from where the demolition crew was at work.  Although he says he feels sorry for people who don't have a roof over their head, he's happy to see the homeless encampment go.

"There's no health facilities, no sanitation -- so it becomes an issue not only for them and their well-being, but for people who are here, because we do get blowing bags and things like that," said Smith.

Aguiar-Kuinus says she realizes the law is the law, yet at the same time it's not easy not knowing where you're going to spend the night.

"We have nowhere to go.  We need a place to stay, a place that we can all a little home -- a camp."

After we reached out to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians to see if they own the land, tribal spokeswoman Kate Anderson released this statement to News Channel 3 -- CBS Local 2.  "The land is held in trust for an individual allotted tribal member and the activity taking place there now is being done under the auspices of the BIA on behalf of the allottee."



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