Monday at 8 a.m. the Los Banos Police Department removed between 15 and 20 homeless people from an encampment on G Street designated to become the new home for the city's courthouse.
The homeless have lived at the site for months following the demolition of a melon shed many of them used for shelter on G Street near Seventh Street.
Cmdr. Jason Hedden said the current encampment, near the G Street and Mercey Springs Road intersection, has become a health hazard and the department asked the property owner to post no trespassing signs and fence off the area to prevent homeless from congregating.
Hedden said the owner of the property, who police refused to name Monday, signed a "citizens arrest type of" complaint, allowing the removal.
Edward Barron, a homeless man who was gathering his belongings and preparing to leave the encampment, said he and other homeless will likely take up residence on public property such as parks and former railroad sites throughout town.
Barron said the city offered to connect the homeless with service agencies in Merced, but he does not know of one fellow homeless person planning to leave town.
A small protest of about 15 community activists and church members briefly formed in front of City Hall. Protesters said the city should have services and a shelter for the homeless instead of telling them to relocate on the other side of the county.
There are 88 homeless in Los Banos, according to a Continuum of Care count conducted in January.
More information on this story will appear in Friday's Enterprise.