SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — In the South Bay, long planned flood prevention work along Coyote Creek in San Jose kicked off on Monday. The work is expected to continue for months, forcing many unhoused people who live along the creek to leave.

Back in 2017, flooding along Coyote Creek forced thousands of people to flee. Since then, the city and the Santa Clara Valley Water District have been working on a plan to do flood prevention along the creek.  As that work kicked off on the ground today, many people who live along the creek will have to find somewhere else to go.

The four-mile stretch of Coyote Creek the city began clearing Monday runs from Oakland Road to Interstate 280. It’s part of an ongoing effort to improve flood control along the creek.

As a result, a large number of homeless camps and debris will be removed. The city has told those living here that anyone found staying along the creek after May 15 will be trespassing.

This is moving people living her out with no place to go.

Francesca Paist is a homeless advocate. She’s concerned that not enough effort has been put into making sure the people forced to leave Coyote Creek have somewhere to go. She says some people have been living here for years.

“This is just perfect insanity,” said Paist. “You’re moving human beings. You’re retraumatizing them.  You’re taking away what they have lived in for three or more years here.” 

“We don’t have anywhere for people to go,” she added.

On Monday afternoon, San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan conceded that many of those who are being forced from Coyote Creek may not be able to find shelter. He says the city needs to prioritize creating temporary housing for just that reason.

“It’s the very lack of places to go that has me so concerned,” Mahan said. “To the extent that we can’t offer them an alternative, it’s because we don’t have more sites like this.”

Once the work is completed along the creek, the Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to build flood walls and take other flood prevention measures. That work could begin this summer.