Cleanup under the bridge:

County departments partner with Golden Era Productions to clean up homeless encampment

Photo by Captain Leonard Purvis
Supervising Code Enforcement Officer Marr Christian, Deputy Damon Lewis, and Captain Leonard Purvis at the State Street Bridge “Clean Up Project” in Gilman Hot Springs on June 17.

■ By Kyle Selby / Reporter

Riverside County Code Enforcement Officers assigned to the Central Region Code Office in San Jacinto collaborated this month with Riverside County Department of Waste Resources, Riverside County Transportation Department, Supervisor Chuck Washington’s office and personnel from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department-Hemet Station to clean up the area under the State Street bridge at Soboba Road, in the Gilman Hot Springs area.
The underbelly of the bridge has long been a hotbed for homeless individuals seeking shelter, and those who have created encampments there have contributed greatly in the accumulation of garbage and graffiti.
On Thursday June 8, and Friday June 9, the Department of Waste Resources and County Transportation provided the equipment and crews who picked up and removed the trash and debris that had accumulated over the years.
On Saturday, June 17, the same crew, this time with volunteers from Golden Era Productions, covered up the graffiti using paint, brushes and rollers provided by the County’s Department of Waste Resources.
Riverside County’s Supervising Code Officer Marr Christian is in charge of regulating the County’s unincorporated footprint for Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington. According to Christian, the area had already been under their radar.
“That area was brought to our attention as an area of blight,” said Christian. They received many complaints about the bridge, so they decided to partner with Riverside County Sheriff’s department to do something about it.
“We partnered with Captain [Leonard] Purvis and his resources to get the homeless out of there,” said Christian. “We coordinated for them to go through social service groups if they were interested. Many of them chose to find their own path.”
Christian said once the occupiers had left, they were able to contact Riverside County Transportation and Riverside County’s Department of Waste Resources with the help of the Sheriff’s department.

Photo courtesy of Golden Era Productions
Muriel Dufresne (middle) and her Golden Era team assisting in the efforts to paint the bridge. Each volunteer T-shirts emblazoned with Principle 12: “safeguard and improve your environment,” from L. Ron Hubbard’s “The Way to Happiness.”

“Waste Resources was the tip of the spear for the cleanup,” added Christian.
Golden Era Productions had nearly a dozen volunteers involved in community outreach to paint over the graffiti that lined the pillars and the bridge itself. Golden Era, whose studio and golf course is just after the bridge before it turns into Gilman Springs Road, was having some challenges with the homeless that were camped out underneath.
“It went really well,” said Muriel Dufresne, director of community affairs at Golden Era Productions. All of the volunteers wore T-shirts from “The Way to Happiness: A Common Sense Guide to Better Living,” a booklet by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard that contains 21 basic principles. Principle 12: “safeguard and improve your environment,” was emblazoned proudly across their shirts as they painted the vandalized structure.
Christian expressed that Code Enforcement is always interested in doing something similar in the future for the surrounding areas. This September, another community cleanup is scheduled for the Valle Vista/Hemet area, again provided by Riverside County’s Department of Waste Resources.

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