Boulders placed in Tacoma area to keep people out

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Tacoma city officials say the city placed large boulders at an encampment near downtown as a last resort to discourage people from gathering there.

The News Tribune says city officials are briefing the City Council Tuesday about efforts to "harden" homeless encampments with fences, signs or boulders to keep them clear of activity.

The boulders installed in a parking strip near the main Tacoma library have prompted criticism.

City officials say workers cleared the area twice of trash and hypodermic needles before adding boulders. Trees will be planted in the fall.

Tacoma homeless services manager Colin DeForrest says the city tries to connect homeless people to housing, mental health and other services.

But it has identified hotspots for homeless encampments and come up with plans to monitor, clean them up and prevent future encampment activity.