Monday, September 26, 2005

American River Parkway, Lower Reach Report

The Lower Reach of the American River Parkway is crime-ridden, trash-strewn, and virtually unusable by the adjacent communities with any degree of safety and pleasure in the natural sanctuary of the Parkway so familiar to upriver communities.

The Parkway can lay no claim to being the crown jewel as long as the conditions in the Lower Reach are allowed to continue.

It is our hope that our report will stimulate policy and program discussions that will soon restore the luster to the deeply tarnished jewel that is our Parkway.

The Executive Summary is posted here and for the full report, go to our website, on the News page.

I would also direct you to the other two links on the website News page, both of which offer additional news and information about conditions in the Lower Reach.

Executive Summary


The adjacent communities of the Lower Reach of the American River Parkway have been asking the Department of Regional Parks, Recreation and Open Space, County of Sacramento (County Parks) and Parkway advocacy organizations for help with the problems associated with illegal camping by the homeless for years, with virtually no response.

Planning for the formation of the American River Parkway Preservation Society (ARPPS) began in 2002 by a group aware of the growing problems facing the Parkway and in September of 2003 ARPPS was incorporated as a 501 c (3) nonprofit corporation.

ARPPS, understanding that the degradation of the Lower Reach affects the entire Parkway, addressed the issue in its founding guiding principles.

The Problem

The American River Parkway has long suffered from:

· ineffective management,
· lack of dedicated funding,
· degradation of natural resources, and,
· erosion of public safety.

The Strategy

The Lower Reach, representing the most visible evidence of these problems on the Parkway, is the focus of our report.

Our first guiding principle is: “Preserving the Parkway is not an option, it’s a necessity.”
Will Rogers, the President of the Trust for Public Lands said:

“The emergence of America as an urban nation was anticipated by Fredrick Law Olmstead and other 19th century park visionaries, who gave us New York’s Central Park, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and similar grand parks in cities across the nation. They were gardeners and designers—but also preachers for the power of parks, fired from within by the understanding that they were shaping the quality of American Lives for generations to come.

In the view of these park visionaries, parks were not “amenities.” They were necessities, providing recreation, inspiration, and essential respite from the city’s blare and bustle. And the visionaries were particularly concerned that parks be available to all of a city’s residents—especially those who did not have the resources to escape to the countryside.”

Why America Needs More City Parks and Open Space: Parks for People (2003)
Will Rogers, President, Trust for Public Lands.

The optimal strategy for our Parkway to be managed in this spirit is:

The Solution

Management by a nonprofit 501 c (3) organization, the American River Parkway Conservancy, whose sole mission would be preserving, protecting, and strengthening the Parkway.

This will create management of singular purpose and the dedication public necessity demands, with the primary responsibility being public safety.

Public Safety Strategy

Though homelessness is presented as the issue underlying illegal camping and that perception will be addressed, the primary issue for the community suffering the effects of illegal camping is public safety.

Greatly enlarge ranger patrols, use horse mounted patrols, and establish a public crime reporting website.

Institute a safety with compassion program to address the chronic homeless and service resistant illegal campers in the Lower Reach.