Friday, August 15, 2008

Homelessness & the River

1) The issues are directly connected as the lower part of the American River Parkway, North Sacramento, Cal Expo and Midtown have experienced varying degrees of illegal camping in their areas of the Parkway by the chronic homeless—the subject of today’s editorial in the Sacramento Bee—making it a difficult and often unsafe venture into the Parkway for residents of the adjacent communities.

We have supported the most effective measure developed to address chronic homelessness—the Housing First approach—but still appreciate the concern it might be taking a bulk of the resources other homeless folks could use.

And while that is true, it is also the result of a well thought out strategy to attack the problem at its most resistive point in the hopes that further down the line others will also benefit.

In that sense it is similar to the broken-windows concept of policing or the three-strikes concept of judicial sentencing in the criminal justice system, both strategies focusing huge resources on the perceived worst area of the problem and both have worked wonderfully in the jurisdictions where they have been utilized.

2) As the two rivers become more embraced by our communities and more of us are able to live on or close to them, the need for increased resources directed towards their upkeep and enhancement becomes much greater, and the current method of just using taxes to accomplish that is a method leaving a lot to be desired.

It is important to remember that the Parkway is falling behind about $1.1 million annually just in maintenance, according to the American River Parkway Financial Needs Study Update 2006 (p. vii).

The solution we have proposed for stabilizing funding for the American River Parkway is to establish a nonprofit organization to contract with a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) of local government entities, to manage the Parkway and provide a supplemental fund raising capability through philanthropy, which you can read more about on our website’s news page in our press release from January 18, 2008.

This is the model being used by the Central Park Conservancy to manage Central Park in New York—and the Conservancy raise’s 85% of funding needed by Central Park—and the Sacramento Zoological Society to manage the Sacramento Zoo, which they have wholly done since 1997 under contract with the City of Sacramento.

An excerpt from the article about living on the river.

“Livin' on the river beats rollin' on the river any day – even if the lifestyle includes mosquito invasions, septic systems and a four-minute walk to bring in groceries from the car.

“John Gomez and Genny Sowards schlep their purchases to their boat from the Riverbank Marina parking lot, yet these two "live-aboards" don't mind the trek to their dockside retreat off Garden Highway.

“The Genny Lynn, their 45-foot Chris-Craft Commander, was the most unusual abode encountered on a recent trip down the Sacramento River, but not the most unexpected.

“That honor goes to Bob and Sue Danelz's cozy mobile home on the American River, which features a yard lush with zinnias and petunias, oodles of green ferns and multitiered views of the river.”

"The sunsets are incredible, the animals (including a flock of peacocks) amazing, the lifestyle perfect," Sue Danelz says.