PETALUMA – On Wednesday April 22, the Petaluma Police Department (PPD) issued a News Release detailing their ongoing enforcement efforts in the midst of a burgeoning homelessness problem.
On Tuesday, April 21, the department teamed with local outreach services to address the illegal encampments, and the issues that they pose to public health and the safety of the community. Between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm the team targeted areas in the vicinity of the Petaluma River, Lynch Creek, Washington Creek and Willow Brook Creek.
A recent survey of these and other areas around the city located 34 active illegal encampments. This number does not include those encampments which have not yet been identified, nor does it include the locations that have been previously cleaned up, which number over one hundred sites.
The encampments are havens for illegal activities and dumping. Violations for narcotics, alcohol, weapons, stolen property, sexual assaults, theft and vandalism are all too common. The resulting human waste and garbage from the camps end up in local creeks and streams, and pose significant health hazards for humans and wildlife. Such activity also directly threatens the efforts of the United Anglers of Casa Grande High School. The group has been working to save the endangered steelhead trout native to Petaluma waters.
The Petaluma PD has been working with drug and alcohol abuse counselors, mental health professionals, and the Mary Isaac Center to provide resources to those in need, prior to their enforcement action. Some pursue a path with assistance to get out of the encampments, however many refuse help and continue to live in illegal settlements, which are found on both private and public properties.
This most recent sweep resulted two new camps being posted for trespassing and illegal camping. 13 offenders had been contacted and referred to outreach services, and 8 arrests were made.
Steven Alves, a 32-year-old man from Petaluma, had set up another large encampment that will again require heavy equipment and dumpsters to clean out, at the Willow Brook Creek area near Old Redwood Highway. He was arrested and transported to county jail on charges of illegally occupying lands, illegal dumping near a waterway, and a violation of probation. Alves have been arrested on April 4 of last year for a probation violation, disorderly conduct lodging in a location without permission, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He claimed a residence on McGregor Aveune in Petaluma at the time, but was arrested in the area of Industrial Avenue near the Petaluma River.
A man and a woman, both from Petaluma, were found at a camp in Lynch Creek near North McDowell Blvd. Tobias Burleson, a 42-year-old man and Kaily Land, a 27-year-old woman, were arrested for illegally occupying land and dumping waste near a waterway. Records show that Burleson had been arrested on January 8 this year for providing alcohol to a minor. He was caught in a Petaluma Police minor decoy sting at the 711 store on Petaluma Blvd.
Donnal Ball, a 55-year old woman from Petaluma was cited at Lakeville and Jefferson streets for taking a shopping cart. Richard Allen, age 40, Martin Rivas, age 56, and Harley Hubbard, age 18, were arrested for trespassing and violations of probation on the Pomeroy Lot on Hopper Street.
Jonathan Rollstin, a 38-year-old man from Petaluma, was contacted on the SMART Railroad Right-of-Way at Shasta Avenue. He was arrested for possession of 7 grams of methamphetamine and violation of probation. Rollstin, according to records, was arrested on January 25 for possession of a controlled substance, and a blackjack or billy club type weapon, along with a probation violation.
Officers also located a high-end stolen bicycle and are trying to locate the owner. The department’s release says that these sweeps will continue and residents and businesses are encouraged to call Petaluma PD if they see trespassing or an illegal camp being set-up.