N. Mpls. Residents Fear 'La Montaña' Hides Homeless, Creates Dangers
They call it "La Montaña" -- or "The Mountain."
It's a huge hill on an empty lot in North Minneapolis and nearby residents fear it's become a danger for their children. They say "the mountain" has become a hide-out for the homeless.
"Like you can see the garbage right here," said 14-year-old Fidencio Vazquez, pointing to beer cans, booze bottles, garbage galore, and much much more hidden in the deep brush that surrounds the hill. By the looks of it, "La Montaña" has become "la fiesta" and residents say no one seems to be able to stop the party.
Fidencio's cousin, 16-year-old Francisco Vazquez says, "You see condoms, beds, mattresses."
And Fidencio's 21-year-old brother Carlos adds, "There are needles, and little bags of what drug dealers sell." He says he's even seen people passed out in the deep grass. "I thought they were dead," he said.
The empty lot sits at the corner of 7th Street North and 11th Avenue North, right next door to the City View Apartments in the Heritage Park neighborhood.
The kids who live at City View say all they want to do is play soccer here. The nearest "real" field is a 15 minute walk away.
Every day they claim dozens of homeless people, and others, use La Montaña as their personal illegal playground. During the course of Wednesday afternoon, 5 Eyewitness News watched as several people wandered in and out of the brush. Some had alcohol; at least one relieved himself in plain sight.
Gabriela Vazquez, the sister of Fidencio and Carlos, said, "It's not safe because you don't know what's hiding underneath."
They residents say the homeless even often ask little kids to fetch them food, or find them money.
The hill is actually a huge pile of construction refuse that has was dumped on the lot over the course of several years. Dirt was later piled on top of it, and then the brush grew. Property records show the land is owned by Heritage Housing LLC and that it owes the city several thousand dollars in fines for uncut grass, litter, and debris.
In a perfect world, residents say they'd like to see La Montaña leveled, flattened. "Because my kids might fall off the edge," said Gabriela, pointing over a steep incline of the hill.
They also believe turning this mountain into, say, a molehill, will send a very clear message to those who don't belong on the property: "Leave this place alone, leave the kids alone," said Carlos.
Five Eyewitness News was unable to find the owner of the property for comment, but did learn the site was in the process of foreclosure. The City of Minneapolis said it has obtained access to this site for the purpose of cleaning it up and is currently organizing a team to do so.
Police say they've never received or responded to a single criminal complaint connect to "La Montaña."
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org