Video of Homeless Camps

An absolute must see, from the Sacramento Bee, the homeless camps from a river view; horrible what is happening.


Posted in Homelessness

New Dams?

Could be, as this article from Mercury News reports.

An excerpt.

During the drought, Californians often asked why the state wasn’t building more reservoirs. On Tuesday, the state finally began taking a major step toward that goal, unveiling a list of 12 huge new water projects — from massive new dams in the north to expanded groundwater banks in the south — that will compete for $2.7 billion in state bond funding for new water storage projects.

The money comes from Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water bond overwhelmingly passed by voters in November 2014 during the depths of the state’s historic 2011-2016 drought.

Monday was the deadline for water agencies to submit applications for storage projects to the California Water Commission, an agency in Sacramento run by a nine-member board appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The commission will decide by June 2018 which projects receive bond funding, as well as how much, if any, each will receive, after rating them on their public benefits.

“We’re excited about the projects that have applied,” said Chris Orrock, a spokesman for the commission. “They are providing benefits to the people of California, and that’s what this program is aimed at funding.”

As expected, there is more demand than money. All 12 projects would cost roughly $13.1 billion to construct — five times as much money as is available under the bond. That means some won’t get built, and others will need to find the bulk of their funding from federal or local sources — which could include raising water rates or taxes, which local voters may or may not approve.

The list of applicants includes many ideas that have been around for years. Among them:

  • Sites Reservoir: A proposed $5 billion reservoir in Colusa County, roughly 100 miles north of Napa, the reservoir would be built “off stream” in a valley and would divert water from the Sacramento River, holding 1.8 million acre feet. That’s enough water for the needs of 9 million people a year. It would rank Sites as the seventh largest reservoir in the state, roughly the size of San Luis between Gilroy and Los Banos.
  • Los Vaqueros: The Contra Costa Water District is proposing to raise the earthen dam at Los Vaqueros reservoir by 55 feet, increasing the reservoir’s storage capacity from 160,000 acre feet to 275,000-acre feet, enough water to meet the annual needs of 1.4 million people. The $914 million project has a dozen Bay Area partners that would put up some of the money and receive some of the water as drought insurance. Among them are the Santa Clara Valley Water District, East Bay Municipal Utility District and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The project was endorsed Monday by a coalition of six prominent environmental groups — including the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society and Planning and Conservation League — because some of the water would go to Central Valley wetland refuges for ducks, geese and other wildlife, in addition to people and farms.
  • Pacheco Pass: The Santa Clara Valley Water District is hoping to build a new reservoir in southern Santa Clara County near Pacheco Pass, along with a dam up to 300 feet high. The reservoir, which would cost roughly $900 million, would hold 130,000 acre-feet of water — enough to meet the water needs of 650,000 people for a year. The project would replace an existing small reservoir of 6,000 acre-feet that is used to recharge farmers’ groundwater.
  • Temperance Flat: The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has proposed building a 665-foot-high dam on the San Joaquin River in the Sierra foothills in Fresno County. The $3 billion project, which would construct the second-tallest dam in California, behind Oroville Dam, would create a reservoir of 1.3 million acre-feet, enough water for 6.5 million people a year.
  • Semitropic: The groundwater district near Bakersfield, which stores water for agencies from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, has proposed an expansion.
  • Kern Fan: The Irvine Ranch Water District in Irvine, which serves 380,000 residents of Orange County, is proposing to build a $171 million groundwater storage project at the south end of the Kern River.
  • San Diego: The city of San Diego, which wants to produce one-third of its water by 2035 from recycled wastewater, is planning a $1.2 billion project to purify it and deliver it to Miramar Reservoir.
  • Centennial Reservoir: The Nevada Irrigation District in Grass Valley is proposing building a 275-foot-tall dam and 110,000 acre-foot reservoir on the Bear River near Colfax in Placer County.
Posted in Shasta Auburn Dam

Ohman Cartoon

Excellent pictorial, which is both tragic and funny, on what to do in the Parkway, from the Sacramento Bee.

Posted in Homelessness, Parks

Parkway Crime Rises

A story in the Sacramento Bee today confirms what we, and others close to the situation, know; that Parkway violent crime is increasing under the ineffective management of Sacramento County—where the head County parks ranger, as noted in this article “has expressed ambivalence about enforcing camping restrictions”— and that is a terrible shame.

As we have long suggested, a better option is to have the Parkway managed by a nonprofit organization, outlined in our 2007 research report.

An excerpt from the Sacramento Bee article.

On a morning commute to his downtown Sacramento job, Jim Holland slowed his bike when he saw a man on foot “yelling and cursing” ahead of him on the trail. Holland was too close to escape when he realized it was the same man who had attacked his friend in the same area several months before.

“I was unable to avoid being punched in the jaw,” Holland said of the May 4 incident. “He took issue with me just being there.”

Such attacks have increased on the American River Parkway and the Sacramento Northern Bikeway that connects to downtown, creating anxiety for regular trail users such as bike commuters who rely on the trail to get to work. The attacks have also brutalized homeless campers on the trail.

From Jan. 1 through June 16, 25 violent crimes were reported on or near the trails, a 25 percent increase over the 20 violent crimes reported in the same period in 2016, according to records from Sacramento County Regional Parks and the Sacramento Police Department. All of the reported crimes this year were assaults except for two robberies, a child molestation and a rape.

The parkway has some of the region’s highest concentrations of chronically homeless people, who camp along the American River and other wooded areas on the parkway. Of the 25 reported crimes, at least 16 involved a homeless person, either as a victim, a suspect or both, officials say.

“The majority of the crimes we deal with on the parkway involve the homeless,” said Sacramento County Chief Ranger Michael Doane.

On May 9, a homeless woman reported that she was stabbed in her tent by an unknown assailant. A homeless woman told police she was raped April 30 by a man she did not know and whom officials believe is homeless.

Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna said the increase in parkway crime is further evidence that the county needs to hire more rangers and other county employees to address homelessness on the parkway. He has proposed spending an additional $5 million a year to hire 32 employees to address illegal camping and associated problems such as garbage removal, wildfires and loose dogs.

Earlier this year, Serna failed to win support from fellow supervisors for such hiring. But a majority recently indicated they would support funding for more enforcement along the parkway and elsewhere in the county when they take up the issue again Aug. 23…

Though Doane has expressed ambivalence about enforcing camping restrictions, he said hiring more rangers would allow him to more effectively respond to crime.

Posted in Government, Homelessness

Downtown Job Growth

An excellent article from City Lab about it with some resonance for Sacramento.

An excerpt.

For downtowns in major American cities, these are boom times. The urban centers of New York and Chicago boast record high employment. In San Francisco and Seattle, there’s an explosion of residential construction, dining, and entertainment options, as well as a commercial rebirth in high-end, white-collar employment.

But in many smaller cities, the downtown renaissance doesn’t rest on such solid ground. Look to downtown Cincinnati or St. Louis and you’ll see large growth in residential and entertainment offerings, and major investment in civic spaces and buildings. What you won’t see is the same level of success in becoming growing centers of commerce.

For decades, jobs have been leaving downtowns and heading to the suburbs. In 2015, a City Observatory report suggested this might be turning around based on 2007-2011 data, but many downtowns were still losing jobs in that time, including Kansas City, Minneapolis, and San Antonio. A 2015 analysis by Wendell Cox found that just six cities were responsible for about three-fourths of all major-city downtown employment growth from 2010 to 2013: New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and Houston. This shows the disparity between the major business and tech hubs and all the rest.

Traditional downtown employers like banks, utilities, and department stores have shrunk or closed. Many central business districts have become more dependent on public sector and quasi-public sector employers like eds and meds for growth. Providence, Rhode Island, for example, is powered by its high-quality hospitals and educational institutions like Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. City Observatory’s report found that eds and meds accounted for more than 100 percent of downtown job growth in the U.S. between 2007 and 2011. That is, without it downtowns would have lost jobs during that period.

Civic centers, government hubs, tourism and entertainment districts, and educational and medical clusters are all great things; they’re an important part of what makes downtowns tick. But commerce—true private sector commerce—is the beating heart of a downtown.

Because economies are dynamic, cities can’t simply rely on legacy employers to fill this role. They must always be creating new industries and new firms. After making great progress rebuilding the architectural, cultural, touristic, entertainment, and residential life of these downtowns, this is the next challenge for these smaller cities.

Indianapolis is an interesting case study here. Indy achieved early recognition for its downtown revitalization based on its claim to be the “amateur sports capital of the world.” This was a tourism- and entertainment-led strategy similar to other cities, one that continues today. There have been 119 new restaurants in downtown Indy since 2012. Downtown is now home to 18 microbreweries, certainly more than enough for almost anyone.

This helped fuel demand for downtown living, along with more bustling streets, improvements to bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and new transportation options like Uber and an all-electric car-share system. As in similar cities, new buildings with thousands of apartments and new residents have physically transformed downtown. The growth rates in downtown housing and population are comparable to higher-growth suburbs: The city expects as many as 30,000 people to call downtown home by 2020, up over 10 percent from today.

But Downtown Indy’s employment levels haven’t seen the same boom. The Brookings Institution found a loss of 29,207 jobs in a three-mile radius of downtown between 2000 and 2010, a 17 percent decline. This did rebound somewhat after the recession. In the ZIP code at the heart of downtown, there have been about 4,000 jobs added since 2010, growth of just under 10 percent, but still below 2005 levels. Downtown has added very little office space in the last 20 years, and office vacancy rates were at 16 percent last year. Employment is heavily concentrated in the public and quasi-public sectors. According to Downtown Indy Inc., half of all jobs downtown are either in government or eds and meds. In short, downtown Indianapolis hasn’t made as much progress on the private sector job front as on the other parts of its downtown story.

Posted in demographics, Economy

Tiny Homes for Homeless?

This article from the Sacramento Bee shares a good idea, but only if they are located correctly, is it a good solution. Our suggestion is that they could be part of the homeless transformation campus we suggest for Sacramento which we have borrowed from the successful model in San Antonio, Haven for Hope, which we wrote about in a September 28, 2015 Press Release on our website News Page.

An excerpt.

Sacramento leaders are thinking tiny when it comes to addressing the city’s big homeless population.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg said this week that the city should aggressively pursue a “tiny home” village to shelter dozens of homeless men and women. Steinberg said the model – in which homeless individuals live in clusters of shed-like structures typically around 150 square feet in size – is a safer and more dignified alternative to the homeless tent city debated for years at City Hall.

With Sacramento in dire need of more shelter space, Steinberg said he is issuing a “call to action” to nonprofit service providers and private developers to submit proposals for the design and operation of a tiny home facility. In addition to serving the homeless, the mayor said the concept could fill a gap in the city’s inadequate stock of affordable housing.

“I am bullish on the tiny home concept because it potentially answers a lot of our challenges,” the mayor said in an interview. “Tiny homes can be built quickly, less expensively (than traditional homes) and can also potentially be used as shelter and triage (for the homeless). It’s time we start making something happen.”

The concept comes with some challenges.

Confronted by neighborhood and business concerns, advocates and city officials have struggled for years to find locations for homeless shelters, especially those with an outdoor living component. For a tiny home village of 75 cabins, the preferred site would likely need to be at least 2 acres, limiting where it could be placed within city limits.

It’s also unlikely that a tiny village would be operational in time for the cold winter weather. A survey of Sacramento County’s homeless population conducted in January found an estimated 2,052 people living outdoors – nearly double the number from 2015 – and city officials are scrambling to increase shelter options in Sacramento before the winter arrives.

Posted in ARPPS, Homelessness

Wonderful Story of Redemption

From Sacramento Steps Forward, Bravo to all involved, especially Tracey!

It also includes a reminder of how dangerous illegally camping in the Parkway is.

An excerpt.

As she looked out the window at the river bank she once called home, Tracey couldn’t hold back the tears that slowly rolled down her cheek. It was a watershed moment in her life and the emotion was simply overwhelming. But, it was only a moment. She took a deep breath, thanked God, and sat down for her job interview at Sacramento Steps Forward.

After living by the river for nearly a decade and progressing through a series of homeless service programs that saw her graduate to living on her own again, she was in good mental health, clean and sober, and ready to help others do the same.

Like everyone who is homeless, her story is unique. She grew up in a loving home with two parents. Her father was a Colonel in the Air Force. As Tracey puts it, she came from money, power, and prestige.

A work-related injury in 1992 led to self-medication and subsequent drug addiction. Her mental health, which had been manageable to that point, deteriorated. Her belongs were lost when she failed to pay rent on a storage unit. Her new life of injecting meth consumed her and her experience with homelessness began in 2000.

She ran with a very bad crowd and called some of the most dangerous places on the river her home for eight years. Violence and crime was everywhere but thanks to those around her, she remained safe – she didn’t starve – she didn’t freeze. Her life on the river became normal. It became her community.

But, after eight years on the street, she hit rock bottom. People around her were dying and she wanted to join them. She thought she was at her end.

Happily, she took a different path and visited El Hogar Community Services, Inc.’s Guest House Homeless Clinic, whose staff gained her trust over the years. With their help, she stabilized her mental health and got clean and sober.

She didn’t move indoors though, not until a severely infected cat bite, which nearly killed her, hospitalized her at UC Davis Medical Center for a month. Staff from WellSpace Health took over her care at a respite and recovery program operated by the Salvation Army Sacramento after that. Shared housing through Next Move Sacramento followed.

Tracey became an avid volunteer in the community and rejoiced as her health and life improved over the next two years. A tearful job interview welcomed her back into the workforce as a homeless street outreach navigator, where she spent two years working with people living the life she recently left.

Thanks to her infectious smile and ability to build trust with those she served, she recently joined a newly developed Mobile Crisis Support Team (MCST) with non-profit homeless service provider TLCS, Inc..

Coming full circle, Tracey is now on the Board of Directors at Guest House Homeless Clinic.

Posted in Homelessness