East Bay

Caltrans Clears Homeless Camp at Concord Park and Ride Lot

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A park and ride in Concord has been turned into a homeless encampment, and commuters and a nearby business owner say it's spiraling out of control.

The park and ride just off Willow Pass Road on Highway 242 is an ideal spot for commuters who want to drop off their car and carpool to work. But in the past several months, it’s become a last resort for homeless people who can’t find another place to pitch their tent.

It’s a struggle for Jalil Hamidi when he shows up for work at the nearby Mazda dealership, whee he's the general manager. Does he lend a helping hand to the homeless?

"I have a lot of sympathy for them," Hamidi said. "Every night, before I lock up, if I see them, I give them coffee, hot water."

But the drawbacks are there too; like the time his backlot area was trashed.

"Stains from using the restroom just there on the cardboard, leaving food, needles," Hamidi said. "That’s when I said this can’t be going on, you gotta go."

Just across Hamidi’s dealership is the park and ride lot, with about 30 spaces. That’s where people like Antwuan Collins have been camping out.

"I thought this was public," Collins said. "Come to find out it’s not public."

A crew from Caltrans, which operates the lot, arrived Monday to cart off bags full of trash.

"They just throw everything away. Don’t even care," Collins said. "But that’s their job. Come clean up. To them, it’s all trash."

Hamidi said the cleanup should have been done a lot sooner.

Menawhile, Ricardo Mueller, who parks his car in the lot so he can hop on his roofing company’s truck, said he had to fight off a man with a bat who tried to break into his car.

"They're concerned about their stuff. I understand that," Collins said. "Cars get broken into. Stuff gets stolen. Businesses lose money."

Collins’ New Year’s Resolution is to find a job that will allow him to afford a roof over his head.

"I gotta have first and last month. I can’t get it," he said. "I still gotta live."

The city of Concord says their police department has been working with Caltrans to address the homeless camp. The city has assigned more than $250,000 to fund services for the homeless.

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