Paso Robles city leaders want a few more eyes on a three-mile stretch of trails along the Salinas River after receiving some public complaints about vandalism and poor security there.
Much of the concern is with public safety because of the trails’ remote locations near homeless encampments along paths stretching from the 13th Street Bridge along the river, under the Niblick Bridge and through Larry Moore Park to the Charolais Trail.
To help, the City Council recently authorized the city to fix vandalized fixtures such as broken lights and benches, and appointed a committee to seek out volunteers to adopt the trails for clean ups and monitoring.
City staff wanted to get a closer look at what types of calls police have received from trail users and detailed their findings in a report for the council’s Nov. 5 meeting. The report showed that from Jan. 1 through Nov. 5, police received nine calls about the river trails.
About half were reports related to safety and property damage, such as a group of eight juveniles found drinking and doing drugs, vandalism, graffiti and a verbal argument in a riverbed camp. Other calls included a mountain lion sighting and someone reporting they found $20. There haven’t been reported assaults on pedestrians on the trails since the pathways opened several years ago, the staff study showed.
Police believe loitering teens are likely responsible for the vandalism and that more public use of the trails could help since youths would not have much time alone for mischief.
The city cut back on maintenance and police patrols during the recession. As the city recovers financially, possible fixes the council could consider in the future are installing a security camera and motion lights along the trails, and reinstating the police department’s traffic officer position, with that officer patrolling the paved trail areas a couple times a day, according to the report.
Costs for such fixes haven’t been estimated yet, according to the city.