Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Parkway Tent City to Be Removed

As reported by the Sacramento Bee, removal of the tent city is a very positive sign that public safety in the Parkway remains a central focus of public leadership, but as can be seen in the posts here, here, and here, of earlier Sacramento Bee articles from as far back as 2001, the issue remains a difficult one.

Sacramento has allowed the creation of a country-wide magnet for homeless—as one example, note the final paragraphs of the post—partially due to nice weather, but largely due to the easy access to domestic homeless services provided by the conglomeration of programs in the Richards Blvd/12th Street area within walking distance of the camping areas in the Parkway.

Based on strategies that have worked elsewhere, we proposed solutions in our 2005 report: The American River Parkway Lower Reach Area: A Corroded Crown Jewel, Restoring the Luster, (pages 25-42)

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“The sea of nylon tents and plastic tarps dotting the downtown stretch of the American River Parkway will be cleared out by Monday and the homeless men and women camping there forced to find shelter elsewhere, said Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna.

“In the last week, Serna helped secure more than $35,000 worth of funding – mainly donations from business associations and corporations – so those affected will have places to go.

“There will be 32 beds at the Salvation Army opened up for 60 days, and the winter sanctuary program, in which churches and other houses of worship provide shelter and meals, will be funded through March 31, Serna said.

"I knew there were two ways we could do this. We could move people with little notice and without any regard for their personal circumstances, or we could think carefully about how to maximize options for them and do it humanely," Serna said.

“Park rangers from Sacramento County will pass out fliers today informing campers – including those settled in the 55-tent, 64-resident and four-dog encampment Safe Ground Sacramento – that sheriff's work crews will move in to clean up next week.

“Residents in North Sacramento have long complained about the camps that have materialized among the oak and ash trees, mainly along the north side of the American River between Highway 160 and the train trestle.

“Bicycle commuters also have voiced concerns about the streaming crowds of homeless clogging the bike trail in the mornings as they head across the foot bridge for social services….

“But indoors isn't where Tim Buckley wants to end up.

“Buckley, 58, grew up in Massachusetts and traded in his 45 potted plants, 600 records and 1,200 books last year when his jobs as a newspaper delivery route trainer and home health care worker dried up, he said.

“He took a train to Sacramento and spent a couple of nights in a shelter before turning outside.

“He carries a scrub brush in the pocket of his denim jacket so he can do laundry in the river, takes waste from the communal porta-potty at Safe Ground to Loaves & Fishes daily, and gets around on a heavy-duty mountain bike he calls his '56 Buick.

"It's very beautiful out here; it's a wondrous place," he said. "There's mistletoe in the trees and delicious boysenberries down yonder."