Property owners in Encinitas will begin dismantling a sprawling migrant camp Monday that has been the source of numerous complaints by local residents and county officials, who say it constitutes a health hazard.
The camp, which is called Valle Verde (Green Valley) by its residents, lies in the foothills west of El Camino Real near Olivenhain Road. The camp has been there for at least a decade, and during the summer was inhabited by as many as 200 men, women and children from Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Many of the residents arrived in the United States as illegal aliens but applied for the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s amnesty program and are in the process of legalizing their status. They survive by doing day labor and live in hooches built of plastic and scrap wood that have been constructed on the hillsides.
Carlsbad Partners, Ltd., owner of the property, has been ordered by the county Department of Health Services to dismantle the camp by Jan. 1. The firm was cited by the county for several Health Code violations.
Valle Verde is perhaps the most sophisticated and self-sustaining of the dozens of such camps that dot North County. At one point it was serviced by two open air restaurants operated under primitive conditions by two Mexican couples. The restaurants were on the route of a tortilla salesman from Los Angeles County who delivered dozens of corn tortillas three times a week.
A single outside shower and spigot for drinking water and washing were used by all camp residents. The water was provided by Frank Wright, an excavation contractor who leased part of the property and provided a trailer where migrants who qualified for amnesty could take English lessons.
However, water from the shower and spigot drained into a nearby flower field, combining with the lack of other facilities to create what county officials called a major health problem.
According to officials, the county will relocate camp residents in low-cost housing, but they did not say if the migrants would be placed in North County, where housing costs are among the county’s highest, or someplace else.
Camp residents told The Times during the summer that their meager incomes and the high North County rents made it impossible for them to live in conventional housing.
The migrants were informed of the impending destruction of the camp last week in notices that were posted at the camp and flyers--both written in Spanish--that were distributed to them.