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Homeless camp found inside Highway 65

Bedding, cooking supplies among items there
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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A homeless camp found inside of the Highway 65 bypass was cleaned out July 12 by CalTrans workers, according to Lincoln Police Chief Doug Lee.

And he and Lincoln Public Services supervisor Scott Boynton found a remote “man-cave” July 13 along the Auburn Ravine, behind Flocchini Circle, according to Lee.

Lee and his officers were clearing a homeless camp July 6 along the Auburn Ravine, according to Lee, when he saw a homemade ramp leading to the domicile inside the freeway. A grate had been removed to allow access to the area inside Highway 65 near Moore Road. CalTrans posted a 72-hour notice to vacate when the campsite was found.

A known, local homeless man was living “inside the freeway apartment,” Lee said. The “apartment” had separate rooms containing bedding, cooking supplies and 30 yards of trash, according to Lee. Included among the garbage was rotting food, jugs of presumed urine and syringes.

“The first day we were out there, he was in the area and he ran off to chase his dog. We didn’t have a reason at the time to chase him,” Lee said. “I had no idea there was empty space inside of the freeway.”

Lee said CalTrans workers secured access July 12 to the area to keep people out.

“The homeless camps are usually along the Auburn Ravine. There could be others I don’t know about,” Lee said. “The homeless population in Lincoln is about 40 to 45 that we are aware of; most have ties to Lincoln, either they grew up here or have family or friends here. If they disappear for a few days, it is usually to spend a few nights with friends or family on a couch or in a garage.”

Lee said each time a homeless camp is cleared, the 72-hour notice is posted along with a list of available services.

“We post the notice so they can get their stuff out,” Lee said. “If anything looks of value, we hold on to it for 30 days. We’re not here to harass them.”

The remote man-cave Lee and Boynton found July 13 was a lean-to made of plywood, mud, sticks and branches and a tarp.

“We likely walked right past it before,” Lee said. “It was quite a cave.”

Boynton said he noticed what looked like a beaver den and knew there were no beavers in the area.

“It was one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was incredible,” Boynton said. “When I saw the tarp, I called out if anybody was there and the guy said ‘Yes.’”

Boynton said the man-made cave had a 2-foot by 2-foot door and steps that went down five feet to a 10-foot by 10-foot room with a cot, shelving and an opening that led to another section. The man-made cave also had a hinged and locked gate.

Boynton said the man – who was arrested for warrants – may have been living there for as long as three months. Boynton added that it was good working with Lee.

“At no point has any other police chief gone down to the creek and the camps before,” Boynton said.