Saturday, February 12, 2011

Homeless Camping In Parkway, Parts I & II

Part I

As a follow-up to the recent decision to remove the large, illegal homeless camp in the Parkway, this story from Thursday in the Sacramento Bee, sadly, reflects a sense of entitlement to occupy the illegal campground, which, again, sadly, local leadership has done little to discourage over the past decade.

It is illegal to camp in the American River Parkway, and allowing it has created a public safety crisis that precludes the adjacent community, and other users, from safely using their part of the Parkway.

An excerpt.

“Sacramento County Regional Parks rangers distributed notices Wednesday to homeless men and women living along the downtown stretch of the American River Parkway, giving them 48 hours to pick up and leave their campsites.

“The notice specified that the homeless were to vacate the Woodlake area along the north side of the American River, east of Highway 160, where tent clusters have long frustrated local residents.

“Personal property still in the area after the 48-hour period, which expires Friday afternoon, will be seized and those refusing to move will be cited, said ranger supervisor John Haricon.

“The notice also provides people a list of 12 area shelters and programs that may be able to help with the relocation. Rangers distributed notices to more than 100 tents, Haricon said.

“But members of Safe Ground Sacramento, a 64-resident encampment, argued that many of those shelters already have long waiting lists or criteria for admittance that some Safe Ground members don't meet.

“Residents of the Safe Ground encampment — the largest in the area, with about 55 tents – said they would stay put overnight and discuss their next move at a meeting this morning.

"We're not here to be a problem," said Paul Stevens, 52. "But on the other side, there's been no solution offered.”

Part II

As these stories in the Sacramento Bee report, unfortunately, the operating paradigm by public leadership is backwards—finding a place for the homeless to go—rather than providing a safe Parkway for the families who live in the adjacent homes.

While commending those in public leadership—Supervisor Phil Serna in particular—for taking a stand for public safety, we hope public safety will become the operational mantra for all public leaders with management control over the Parkway.

Traditionally, public safety is the primary function of public leadership.

As of today, the illegal campers have move from the large campground, but according to Bob Slobe, have not moved far, setting up a new village of 30 or so camps about a half mile up in a draw and built a privy there; and continuing for a mile or so upriver there are about 10 different sites composed of 3 to 4 camps each.

We remain hopeful that the proposed sweep this Monday is applied to all of the illegal campers in that part of the Parkway, for the sake of the families who have been waiting to safely recreate in the Parkway for many years now.

An excerpt.

“The 48-hour window given to homeless men and women to leave their campsites along the American River Parkway closed Friday afternoon with some campers moving elsewhere on the parkway, some staying put and a few checking in to local shelters.

“A notice distributed by Sacramento County park rangers Wednesday said campers risked citation and seizure of their property if they did not move from the area south of Woodlake, north of the American River and east of Highway 160.

“Rangers, however, did not return to the area Friday. An official sweep will be conducted Monday morning, said Sacramento County Chief Ranger Steve Flannery.

“Officials for Safe Ground Sacramento, the largest encampment on the parkway, asked to use the weekend to finish moving, Flannery said. Monday also was the earliest that a crew could be assembled to clean the area, he said.

“Meanwhile, rangers have been reminding campers that they must relocate by Monday.

"We will hopefully not have to ask anybody to leave their camp at that time," Flannery said. "We do want to get the area cleaned up."

“Multicolored tents could still be spotted along the parkway late Friday afternoon, although in lesser numbers.”