‘Horrendous’: Street camping in Salt Lake City industrial area leads to garbage pileup

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – While many Utahns will be camping for recreation this holiday weekend, some are doing it out of desperation. ABC4 News found an area of Salt Lake City where dozens of people are living in RVs, cars, and tents right on public streets.

Dozens of cars and motorhomes line Milestone Drive and Decade Drive near 3200 W. on the Capital City’s west side, some with generators, water tanks, and barbecue grills, telltale signs that people have been staying here for days or weeks.

Artist Cliff Anderson says he has been living in his van here since he was evicted from his Magna apartment. I asked him where these men, women, and children came from.

“They just end up here. They hear about it and come down here and go park,” Anderson said. “Might be here for a month, might be here for two days.”

Anderson says Salt Lake City Police officers occasionally stop by, but don’t make anyone leave. Employees at nearby businesses are fed up.  

“It’s a real mess,” Jason Snedaker said. “The garbage is just all over. It’s horrendous…It tears at your heart to see people who are in that type of a situation. There’s no doubt. At the same time, it’s also frustrating because of all of the garbage that piles up. It tends to be just a ton of garbage pickup and drug use as well.”

“It’s gettin’ trashier,” Anderson told ABC4. “When I first come down here, it was clean and some of these people, I don’t know why, they’re creating their own dumps.”

Section 9.64.170 of the Salt Lake City Code prohibits dumping trash in public and Section 12.56.525 prohibits parking motorhomes on city streets for longer than 48 hours. One business owner tells ABC4 he’s called the city daily to complain about this growing encampment.

ABC4 asked: Is the city doing enough?

“I really don’t think so,” Snedaker replied. “I really don’t know what the answers are but we’ve been calling the city for the last three or four weeks and they’re saying ‘It’s being taken care of,’ but as you can see, nothing’s been done.”

Salt Lake City’s newly appointed director of homelessness policy and outreach Andrew Johnston says that the city is aware of the situation and they are working with parking enforcement and the county health department to clean up the area.

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