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Homeless return to park after being ordered to leave

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SPRING VALLEY, Calif. -- In a race to beat the sun, LaKisha Keller helped drive in the stakes, pitch the tents and drape the tarps Monday at Lamar County Park in Spring Valley.

“I can do it quick,” Keller said of her own personal setup. “Some of the others take three or four hours.”

For the past several months, dozens of people have been camping out at the park. By law, San Diego County officials can’t move them since there’s not enough homeless resources in the area. However, once every two months, they can mandate a park cleanup. With a week’s notice, sheriff’s deputies showed up Monday morning to move the people out. Six hours later, after the cleanup was done, they came back. Neighbors were less than thrilled.

“What’s shameful is the way people treat us,” Keller said of neighbors and people passing by in their cars. “They yell at us as they drive by, ‘get a job!’ Well, then hire me! Help the solution, don’t just talk about it.”

“That’s not what they want,” said a community activist named Dorothy.

Dorothy spends time and about $500 of her own money every month to help feed the homeless. She was at the park Monday morning helping them move their supplies out and then back in at the end of the day.

“The sad thing is the housing prices just went up and they cannot afford to live in San Diego,” she said.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob maintains she’s looking for a longterm solution, the county recognizing different people have different needs to get off the streets. They’re hopeful to come up with something to address mental and financial needs.

“I don’t think it’s a simple answer,” Dorothy said.

“I see a lot of empty lots,” Keller said. “If they can’t figure it out, why don’t they just let us stay on those empty lots and give people that own the lots tax write-offs?"

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