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Transient reports investigated

The Park City Police Department said this week it is unsure whether there is at least one transient living in the hills on the southern edge of Old Town, but officers have recently seen two men who appeared as though they might not have places to live.

Transient sightings are rare in Park City, with reports sometimes occurring in the summer. Harsh winters typically discourage transients from living outdoors or in ramshackle quarters during the winter. The Police Department said officers frequently check for transient camps. It seems officers, not regular Parkites, initiated the most recent searches, the police said.

According to the Police Department, the first sighting was at 1:54 p.m. on Nov. 19 close to the runaway truck ramp off Marsac Avenue. A suspicious man was seen in the brush, police reports said. Rick Ryan, a Police Department captain, said the man told the police he was hiking. The location is close to hiking trails, but many hikers have stopped for the winter.

The second report occurred at 9:24 a.m. on Nov. 20, when officers said they were searching for a transient camp close to the first sighting. The police said a man wearing a blue coat and a white hat might be eluding officers.

It is unclear whether the same man was involved in both of the cases.

"That’d be rough, especially around here," Ryan said of a transient’s living arrangements in the winter.

Camping is not allowed in the city limits. The Police Department in the summer sometimes receives similar transient reports, including at locations off the Rail Trail and close to the runaway truck ramp. Ryan said transients prefer to set up on the fringes of neighborhoods.

Local transient camps typically have sections of roof held up by one or two walls, he said. The police did not find transient camps connected to the recent sightings.

The sightings come before significant snowfall, but temperatures have been dipping below freezing recently.

Ryan said the police want to thwart transients, saying they pose a danger. They could start fires, Ryan said, and they might start stealing to support themselves.

"It’s just really a blight on the community when you have transient shacks go up," he said.

The rental market in Park City is the tightest in Utah, with many rank-and-file workers priced out of the city. Affordable and work force housing is at a premium in Park City. Advocates have long told stories of people living in their vehicles or other places not meant to be occupied. Park City regularly also attracts a few people who want to live off the land.

The Christian Center, a group that provides assistance to people searching for housing, is aware of up to 12 people in the Park City area who do not have living quarters. Tim Dahlin, the director of the center, said they are transients and seasonal workers. They could be searching for a garage or other shelter each night, he said.

Dahlin said he’s heard of a woman who stayed in a house’s garage on Sunday night and a seasonal worked who has stayed in a tent. Dahlin said he is unsure where the person put up the tent.

"Housing is getting more and more scarce," Dahlin said.


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