By a concerned Lancaster resident*
I’m writing this letter because I’m concerned about the occurrence of “tent cities” in Lancaster. I am a homeowner and business owner in the city of Lancaster.
I first noticed that there were tents on Avenue L, just east of the 14 Freeway. I figured that was a random occurrence, until I noticed on 25th Street West and Lancaster Boulevard a gathering of tents.
This particular gathering of tents has grown from one, to a full city some nights. This tent gathering is a mile down from Lancaster High School. Teenaged girls are walking past these tents day in and day out, passing whomever might live in those tents.
Are they pedophiles? Sex offenders? Drug addicts who break into our homes during the day as we work? Dangerous mentally ill? If they are mentally ill and cannot seek help for themselves, isn’t it the responsibility of our law enforcement to ensure they receive the care and help they deserve?
I find this particular problem very concerning not only for the residents of Lancaster, but also for those people living in those tents.
You see, law enforcement will not remove those people from that land. That land is deemed “private property.” A code enforcement officer has told me that they cannot do anything about these tents until the owners of the land ask them specifically to remove the trespassers from it. He also said that no judge would allow them to be prosecuted, saying that it was not “popular public opinion.”
I sent an email last week to R. Rex Parris, our city mayor, and I haven’t heard back.
I cannot see how these tents are legal considering California Penal Code 647e. Here’s how that code is worded (http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/PEN/3/1/15/2/s647):
647. Except as provided in subdivision (l), every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor:
(e) Who lodges in any building, structure, vehicle, or place, whether public or private, without the permission of the owner or person entitled to the possession or in control of it.
I do not understand why the city of Lancaster City is washing its hands of this problem. This is a grave public safety issue and can easily get out of control if something isn’t done about it soon.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The AV Times.
*Editor’s note: The AV Times has verified the identity of this author. The author wishes to remain anonymous.
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