Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lower Reach Report, Homeless Follow Up, Part Two

We hope that the ban on shopping carts this article (click on post title for complete article, excerpt below) in today's Bee discusses, is approved by the county.

The communities adjacent to the Lower Reach (Discovery Park, Woodlake and Cal Expo) of the Parkway, have been struggling for years with the trash of illegal campers, largely being hauled in by stolen shopping carts.

County may ban carts in parkway
Some say it's needed for safety; others fault lack of housing for the homeless.
By Bill Lindelof -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PST Thursday, December 8, 2005

County officials and bicycle advocates say banning shopping carts on the American River Parkway will prevent accidents and cut down on trash.

But advocates for the homeless say the answer is affordable housing - not more enforcement.
"It's putting the cart before the house," said Tim Brown, executive director of Loaves & Fishes, which offers free meals to homeless people at its North C Street complex near the parkway.

County officials paint a sobering picture of trash left in the riparian parkway by the homeless - a good deal of it carried in using shopping carts. In 2004, county parks workers hauled about 40 tons of trash from unlawful campsites.

And bike advocates say that homeless people dangerously crowd the paved trail with carts. Lea Brooks, president of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, said carts are slow, often pushed two abreast and are difficult to see in early morning or evening light.

Brooks told of several incidents involving homeless people and their shopping carts impeding bicyclists, including one particularly odd incident:
"One morning last winter, an illegal camper was sleeping in a cart in the middle of the bike trail," Brooks said. "It was dark and foggy near the Howe Avenue Bridge."

The bicycling Brooks could barely see the sleeping man and his cart blocking the bike trail.
Many homeless people are mentally ill and need help, she said. For their own health, it does not make sense to allow them to camp on the bike trail, she said.

Brooks said banning carts, along with the prohibition against camping, might trigger a desire in homeless campers to obtain help.

The County Recreation and Park Commission approved the cart ban by a 4-0 vote Nov. 17. It was scheduled to go before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.