City shuts down Spit camping area

The city on Jan. 1 shut down a winter camping site next to the Seafarers Memorial on the Homer Spit, but as of Tuesday some motorhomes, trailers and truck campers remained at the parking lot across from Fish Dock Road.

The Homer Police on Dec. 15 issued eviction notices to the small compound of campers. That area is now closed to camping, and to camp on the Spit in the winter, people will have to move to a 16-spot site now open for camping next to the Pier One Theatre.

Camping at the Seafarers Memorial had been free. Now, as in the summer, campers will pay a $15 

per day fee for motorhomes and trailers at the Pier One campground. Also, as of Jan. 1, there is an increased fee of $10-a-day for tents, with a 14-day limit. The previous fee was $8. Campers must leave for two weeks before returning.

Under Homer City Code, City Manager Katie Koester has the authority to open campgrounds outside of the regular camping season of April 1-Oct. 30 — for example, for events like the March Winter King Salmon Tournament. 

The city’s code also allowed winter camping at the Seafarers Memorial, but with an alternate site open, camping there is now closed, said Homer Police Chief Mark Robl.

Robl, Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins and Koester made the decision after discussions regarding an increase in use at the Seafarers Memorial camping area. Since early November, about a dozen trailers, truck campers and motorhomes have been parked near the memorial. Some are in good condition while others have blue-tarp roofs or Tyvek siding.

“It’s a combination of old camper trailers and broken-down RVs,” Robl said. “It’s definitely more than usual. We did have some citizen complaints about how it looked and how they were taking over the parking lot.” 

At the Dec. 7 Homer City Council Committee of the Whole meeting, Scott Adams, a volunteer caretaker for the Seafarers Memorial, said some of the campers plugged into electrical outlets at the memorial. 

“It’s not a campground. It’s not designated for camping,” Adams said. “There also should be a fee collected.”

Robl also said police got a complaint in mid-December about a motorhome plugging into outlets at the Ramp 2 public restrooms. Police haven’t been able to catch any campers pinching power, Robl said.

Police reports show some thefts at the harbor, but Robl said he didn’t know if there is an association between the camping and thefts. Police made two felony arrests last month of two people staying at the Seafarers Memorial campsite.

In an incident on Dec. 3, police arrested Joshua Lathrop, 37, at his trailer at the Seafarers Memorial camping area. Police alleged that Lathrop had threatened a man with a shotgun in the man’s East End Road home across from Paul Banks Elementary School. Police said Lathrop also scuffled with the man, injuring him, and firing a handgun during the fight. The bullet hit the ground and missed the man.

On Dec. 16, police arrested Max Cragun, 48, after finding his car in the ditch on Mullikin Street near Soundview Avenue. Cragun had a warrant for failure to appear for an arraignment on a charge of driving while license cancelled, suspended, revoked or limited. Robl said Cragun lived at the Seafarers Memorial camping area. 

Police also charged Cragun with second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance after finding two cigarette packs on the floor next to where he sat in a patrol car. The packs had small baggies containing heroin, methamphetamine, Oxycodone and other prescription drugs. Police also said Cragun had a small digital scale on him.

Friends of Lathrop moved his trailer, Robl said. As of Jan. 1, other campers should move. 

“For the ones that don’t move, we’ll follow our city ordinance procedures. They’ll be noticed and eventually impounded,” Robl said.

An employee with the city parks department will collect camping fees at the Pier One winter camping area.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at