New Court Decision Impacts Illegal Camping

According to this news article from Sacramento County, unbelievable!

The article.

Appeals Case Impacts Illegal Camping Ordinance

9/18/2018  

A federal court decision has ruled that illegal camping ordinances are unconstitutional and that local governments cannot cite or arrest anyone sleeping on public property.

On Sept. 4, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the case Robert Martin v. City of Boise, stating that enforcing anti-camping ordinances when adequate shelter beds are unavailable is unconstitutional.

Because of that ruling, the Sacramento County Department of Parks stopped enforcing the City of Sacramento’s anti-camping ordinance and the County ordinance prohibiting camping without a permit.

Since January 2018, Sacramento County rangers have issued 1,834 citations for unlawful camping under the County ordinance, and 224 citations for unlawful camping under the City of Sacramento ordinance.

The County is currently evaluating enforcement options under existing laws and regulations and will provide information to the Board on next steps.

Sacramento County Rangers will continue to enforce ordinances including but not limited to campfires, littering, dogs off leash, possession of a shopping cart and environmental degradation.

“As soon as I found out about the ruling, I suggested our board meet to discuss its implications, especially for my constituents who rightfully demand a clean and safe Parkway,” said First District Supervisor Phil Serna, who represents the lower reach of the American River Parkway.

“I have many questions, including why County Counsel advised that park rangers not enforce the illegal camping ordinance without notifying or coordinating with board members,” he continued.

Retrieved September 18, 2018 from http://www.saccounty.net/news/latest-news/Pages/Court-of-Appeals-Case-Impacts-Illegal-Camping-Ordinance.aspx

Here is the Sacramento Bee’s take

An excerpt.

After aggressively clearing homeless camps on the American River Parkway this year, Sacramento County park rangers have suddenly stopped issuing citations altogether after a federal court ruling this month.

The decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals may also force Sacramento police to reconsider their practice of ticketing homeless people who sleep outdoors.

The court ruled in a case brought by homeless plaintiffs in Boise, Idaho, that cities cannot punish homeless people for sleeping outside if no shelter beds are available to them. Doing so, said the Ninth Circuit, would be a form of cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

The Ninth Circuit is based in San Francisco and includes the western portion of the country, including all of California.

The ruling, issued earlier this month, is being hailed by homeless advocates who have long challenged cities that have ordinances banning camping in public and private spaces for extended periods of time. They have said such ordinances are targeted at homeless people and are discriminatory.

“I think this means we will not see camping citations issued in the future,” said Sacramento civil rights attorney Mark Merin, who frequently has represented homeless clients. “If they are issued, I don’t think we’ll see the District Attorney prosecuting them.”

Both the city and the county of Sacramento have ordinances that bar prolonged camping without a permit.

Since January, county park rangers have issued 1,834 citations for unlawful camping under the county’s ordinance, and another 224 for the same violation under a city regulation, said a county spokesperson.

The county has stopped enforcing anti-camping regulations in light of the court ruling and is “currently evaluating enforcement options under existing laws and regulations,” said spokeswoman Kim Nava.

Sgt. Vance Chandler, a spokesman for the Sacramento Police Department, said he did not have accurate numbers for anti-camping citations issued by officers this year. He said the city is aware of the recent court case and is “discussing our plan moving forward.”

Merin wasn’t confident that the ruling would stop officers from moving homeless people from their sleeping spots. In the absence of enforcing anti-camping measures, he said the city and county could find other avenues, such as citing them for illegally possessing a shopping cart or illegal dumping.

Sacramento’s ordinances, which make it a misdemeanor to camp in undesignated areas for more than one night at a time, have spurred prolonged legal fights. Most recently, a Sacramento Superior Court jury last year decided that the city did not treat transients unfairly by enforcing its longtime ordinance prohibiting outdoor camping. Homeless plaintiffs had hoped to prove that the city was violating their constitutional right to equal protection under the law.

Retrieved September 19, 2018 from https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/homeless/article218605025.html

Posted in Homelessness

It’s Dangerous out There

This article from the Los Angeles Times offers more evidence for why we need to improve our local homeless service situation.

In our area, a strategy helping the homeless (and local residents and business who suffer the impacts) needs to be developed—capable of safely sheltering up to 2 or 3 thousand homeless folks a night—and we have long suggested basing it on San Antonio’s Haven for Hope program http://www.havenforhope.org/downloads/docs/H4H%20Brochure%2010-31-2016.pdf  especially the courtyard strategy they use for safe rapid shelter for large numbers, see our news release of September 28, 2015 on our News Page  http://arpps.org/news.html

An excerpt from the Los Angeles Times article.

Three homeless men were brutally beaten with a baseball bat while they slept on downtown Los Angeles streets early Sunday morning, and authorities were warning people in homeless encampments to be on alert for a possible predator.

The attacks left all three men in critical condition at a hospital. None had regained consciousness as of Monday afternoon, said Capt. Billy Hayes of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division.

In the first incident, the attacker, who is also believed to be homeless, smashed the bat across the head and shoulders of a homeless man in his late 50s who was sleeping near 5th and Flower streets around 4 a.m., said Hayes.

About 30 minutes later, two homeless men sleeping near Flower Street and Wilshire Boulevard were beaten in the same manner, Hayes said.

The assailant rummaged through the victims’ pockets after the attacks, which were believed to be motivated by robbery, Hayes said.

“Anytime that there’s a predator walking around preying on innocent people like this we want to get them as soon as possible,” Hayes said during a news conference at the LAPD’s headquarters Monday afternoon.

Police have no witnesses to the assaults, though portions of the attacks near Wilshire Boulevard and Flower Street were caught on surveillance cameras, Hayes said. The LAPD also made public a 35-second video clip showing the suspect walking around what appeared to be a building lobby.

Retrieved September 18, 2018 from http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-homeless-beatings-20180917-story.html

Posted in Homelessness, Public Safety

Driverless Cars and the Future?

An interesting look at that from City Journal.

An excerpt.

Driverless cars and trucks—or autonomous vehicles (AV)—offer a tantalizing promise of safer and unclogged roadways. In 2017, 37,150 people died in accidents on America’s roads, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, up sharply from 32,479 in 2011, and far worse per capita than anywhere else in the Western world. And the United States has ten of the 25 most congested cities globally, according to the Inrix transportation intelligence group. Cars that drive themselves could reduce crashes to a small fraction of today’s totals, while moving people about more efficiently, in larger groups and at faster speeds.

For now, though, these positive outcomes remain speculative. Even as companies start deploying driverless cars on America’s streets, no data exist yet on whether the vehicles are consistently safer than those with human drivers and, if so, under what circumstances. The safety of driverless cars will depend in part on policies adopted by federal, state, and local officials—just as speed limits help keep human drivers from inflicting carnage.

Autonomous vehicles pose a particular challenge for dense cities like New York, which have always had an uneasy relationship with the automobile. But if cities handle the introduction of this new technology right, the potential payoff won’t just be improved street safety; it will be an improved quality of life for everyone—by car, on foot, or on bikes.

As it has done with many recent technological advances, America’s military ignited the autonomous-vehicle revolution. Back in 2000, Congress directed the Defense Department to set a goal that “by 2015, one-third of the operational ground-combat vehicles” would be unmanned. Following the directive, the Pentagon’s Defense Research Projects Agency, DARPA, began holding contests for driverless vehicles, which would be raced by their private-sector and academic sponsors across the Nevada desert for prize money.

The technology advanced so quickly that, in 2007, DARPA “made it an urban challenge,” Ryan Chin, CEO of Optimus Ride, a Cambridge, Massachusetts–based software company, recently told an Urban Land Institute New York conference. The military had AV teams compete in a mocked-up suburban environment, awarding points for their vehicles’ ability to follow California traffic rules. “Most self-driving vehicle companies around today can be traced back to the teams involved in this challenge,” Chin observed.

Yet confusion remains over exactly what AV tech can do today. At a think-tank gathering held before the Washington (D.C.) Auto Show in January, Talal Al Kaissi, a representative of the United Arab Emirates, got car wonks buzzing when he announced (perhaps jokingly) that he had set his Tesla to autopilot and let the car drive him to the conference, while he wrote his presentation. Bryan Reimer, associate director of the New England University Transportation Center at MIT, is more circumspect. Autonomous vehicles won’t be street-ready in “the next 12 months,” he says, but it won’t take “a thousand years, either.” Standard and Poor’s predicts that driverless cars will make up a 2 percent to 30 percent share of vehicle sales by 2030.

Retrieved September 17, 2018 from https://www.city-journal.org/driverless-cars-16034.html

Posted in Technology, Transportation

California’s Troubles

As follow up to yesterday’s post, this article from American Thinker may reveal the reasons.

An excerpt.

With crime soaring, rampant homelessness, sanctuary state status attracting the highest illegal immigrant population in the country and its “worst state in the U.S. to do business” ranking for more than a decade, California and its expansive, debt-ridden, progressive government is devolving into a third-world country. In cities such as San Francisco, public defecation is legal, drug use is flagrant, and tent cities are designated biohazards. In once pristine San Diego, contractors have been spraying down homeless encampments with household bleach to stave off a hepatitis A epidemic. The so-called “Golden State,” which now has the highest poverty rate in the nation, is tarnished beyond recognition with such serious problems that the sublime climate and striking coastline may no longer be enough to sustain its reputation and cachet. With laws that benefit criminals and illegals, big government that endeavors to control every aspect of residents’ lives from plastic bags to straws; sanctioned street, tent, and vehicle dwelling; and an unaffordable overhyped bullet train boondoggle that will cost taxpayers almost $100 billion, California is headed for economic disaster.

Rising Crime

In the past few years, California has instituted criminal justice reform legislation and initiatives, ostensibly to reduce budget expenditures and prison overcrowding, which has led invariably to the release of more criminals into the state’s population.

  • Proposition 47, a referendum passed in 2014, reclassified certain drug possession felonies to misdemeanors and required misdemeanor sentencing for theft when the amount involved is $950 or less. Drug possession for personal use is now considered a misdemeanor.
  • Proposition 57, a statewide ballot proposition passed in 2016, changed parole policies for those convicted of nonviolent felonies. But the proposition failed to define “nonviolent crimes”. The result was that those committing “nonviolent” crimes such as rape of an unconscious or intoxicated person, assault of a police office, domestic violence, hostage taking, drive-by shootings, and human trafficking of a child became eligible for early parole based on a paper review in lieu of a parole hearing.
  • Assembly Bill 1448 and Assembly Bill 1308 allow for the early release of prisoners who are 60 years or older who have served at least 25 years of their sentence and prisoners who committed crimes at least 25 years or younger who have served at least 15 years, respectively. Both were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2017.
  • In June this year, Gov. Brown signed into law AB 1810, that gives defendants a chance to have their charges dismissed and evidence of their arrest erased from the record if they can convince a judge that they suffer from a treatable mental disorder. Such defendants could be offered a pretrial diversion of two years to undergo mental health treatment.

As may have been expected with lenient policies, violent crime and property crime rates in the state increased and will mostly likely soar in the aftermath of some of the newly implemented measures.  An FBI study of crime rates from 2014 to 2015 found that 48 California cities saw overall increases with 24 experiencing increases in the double digits for property crime, an increase directly attributable to Prop. 47, according to Marc Debbaudt, past president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys.

Homelessness

As of 2017, California had a homeless population of over 134,000, or one quarter of the nation’s homeless. UCLA researcher William Yu noted that 26% of California’s homeless are severely mentally ill, 18% are chronic drug abusers, 9% are veterans and 24% are victims of domestic abuse. Orange County Supervisor, Tod Spitzer attributes much of the problem to legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown over the past few years that markedly decreased the penalties for drug use, possession, and petty crimes, thereby reducing arrests and eliminating mandatory treatment for drug abuse and mental health treatment.

Where other states have successfully instituted welfare-to-work programs, California’s liberal government has resisted pro-work reforms and retained a system of cash disbursements with no strings attached. This has led to a state bureaucracy that continues to grow and expand its budget, staffing, and client base. Inordinately high housing prices, somewhat driven by restrictive land use and environmental regulations, have exacerbated the problem.

Civil rights organizations such as the ACLU have made the homelessness issue a difficult one to tackle. In 2003, the ACLU filed a lawsuit, Jones v. City of Los Angeles, on behalf of homeless people who were ticketed and arrested for sleeping on public sidewalks at night. In 2006, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the lawsuit by striking down the Los Angeles ordinance that made it a crime for homeless people to sleep on the streets when no shelter is available. Not only is it permissible to pitch a tent in many areas in the state but also vehicle dwelling is allowed in Los Angeles residential areas from 6:00 a.m. to 9 p.m. and in business and industrial areas from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Retrieved September 12, 2018 from https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/09/the_once_golden_state_is_badly_tarnished.html

 

Posted in demographics, Homelessness, Politics

People Leaving California

Interesting article from New Geography about this.

An excerpt.

California is the great role model for America, particularly if you read the Eastern press. Yet few boosters have yet to confront the fact that the state is continuing to hemorrhage people at a higher rate, with particular losses among the family-formation age demographic critical to California’s future.

Since the recovery began in 2010, California’s net domestic out-migration, according to the American community survey, has almost tripled to 140,000 annually. Over that time, the state has lost half a million net migrants with the bulk of that coming from the Los Angeles-Orange County area.

In contrast, during the first years of the decade the Bay Area, particularly San Francisco, enjoyed a renaissance of in-migration, something not seen since before 2000. But that is changing. A recent Redfin report suggests that the Bay Area, the focal point of California’s boom, now leads the country in outbound home searches, which could suggest a further worsening of the trend.

Who’s leaving?

One of the perennial debates about migration, particularly in California, is the nature of the outmigration. The state’s boosters, and the administration itself, like to talk as if California is simply giving itself an enema — expelling its waste — while making itself an irresistible beacon to the “best and brightest.”

The reality, however, is more complicated than that. An analysis of IRS data from 2015-16, the latest available, shows that while roughly half those leaving the state made under $50,000 annually, half made above that. Roughly one in four made over $100,000 and another quarter earned a middle-class paycheck between $50,000 and $100,000. We also lose among the wealthiest segment, the people best able to withstand California’s costs, but by much smaller percentages.

The key issue for California, however, lies with the exodus of people around child-bearing years. The largest group leaving the state — some 28 percent — is 35 to 44, the prime ages for families. Another third come from those 26 to 34 and 45 to 54, also often the age of parents.

The key: Too expensive housing, not enough high-wage jobs

Our analysis? California is in danger of pricing itself out for moderate wage earners, and particularly families. Taxes, poor educational performance, congestion and signs of slowing growth are no doubt contributing factors. But the big enchilada in California — by far the largest source of distortion in living costs — is housing. Over 90 percent of the difference in costs between California’s coastal metropolises and the country derives from housing. Coastal California is affordable for roughly 15 percent of residents, down from 30 percent in 2000 and 30 percent in the interior, from nearly 60 percent in 2000. In the country as a whole, affordability hovers at roughly 60 percent.

High housing prices hurt most young, middle-class and aspiring, often minority, working-class families. California’s prices are particularly bloated, over 161 percent higher, in comparison with national averages, in the lower-end “starter home” category. In Los Angeles and the Bay Area, a monthly mortgage takes, on average, close to 40 percent of income, compared to 15 percent nationally

Over time these factors — along with prospects of reduced immigration — will impact severely the state’s future. California is already seeing its population aged 6 to 17 decline. This reflects a continued drop in fertility in comparison to less regulated, and less costly, states such as Utah, Texas and Tennessee. These areas are generally those experiencing the biggest surge in millennial populations.

Progressive or regressive?

Today even some of the state’s determined progressives understand that taking the “California model” national seems implausible when significant numbers of Californians are headed in large numbers to red Texas or purple Las Vegas. Californians are not fooled; a recent USC Downside/Los Angeles Times poll found that 17 percent believe the state’s current generation is doing better than previous ones. More than 50 percent thought younger Californians were doing worse.

The old folks are not the ones most alienated. A survey by the UCLA Luskin School suggests that 18-to-29-year-olds are the least satisfied with life in Los Angeles while seniors were most positive. In the Bay Area, according to ULI, 74 percent of millennials are considering an exodus. It appears paying high prices to live permanently as renters in dense, small apartments — the lifestyle most promoted by planners, the media and the state — may not be as attractive as advertised.

Retrieved September 12, 2018 from http://www.newgeography.com/content/006081-a-generation-plans-an-exodus-from-california

 

Posted in demographics

On the Ground

Woodlake and North Sacramento are—and have been for years—ground zero in the struggle against illegal camping in the Parkway and the best place to keep abreast of what they are dealing with is the Facebook page American River Parkway Woodlake Area at https://www.facebook.com/AmericanRiverParkwayWoodlakeArea/

Posted in Public Safety

Cleaning Up the Ocean

An amazing technology—pray it works—as this story from the New York Times reports.

An excerpt.

A multimillion-dollar floating boom designed to corral plastic debris littering the Pacific Ocean deployed from San Francisco Bay on Saturday as part of a larger high-stakes and ambitious undertaking.

The 2,000-foot-long unmanned structure was the product of about $20 million in funding from the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit that aims to trap up to 150,000 pounds of plastic during the boom’s first year at sea. Within five years, with the creation of dozens more booms, the organization hopes to clean half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The patch, a gyre of trash between California and Hawaii, comprises an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of scattered detritus, including at least 87,000 tons of plastic.

Over the next several days, the boom will be towed to a site where it will undergo two weeks of testing. If everything goes as planned, the boom will then be brought to the garbage patch, nearly 1,400 miles offshore, where it is expected to arrive by mid-October, said Boyan Slat, 24, the Dutch inventor and entrepreneur who founded Ocean Cleanup.

The cleanup system is supposed to work like this: After the boom detaches from the towing vessel, the current is expected to pull it into the shape of a “U.” As it drifts along, propelled by the wind and waves, it should trap plastic “like Pac-Man,” the foundation said on its website. The captured plastic would then be transported back to land, sorted and recycled.

The boom has an impenetrable skirt that hangs nearly 10 feet below to catch smaller pieces of plastic. The nonprofit said marine life would be able to pass underneath.

But the ocean can be unpredictable, and simulation models are no guarantee of future performance.

“There’s worry that you can’t remove the plastic without removing marine life at the same time,” said George Leonard, chief scientist at the Ocean Conservancy. “We know from the fishing industry if you put any sort of structure in the open ocean, it acts as a fish-aggregating device.”

Small fish, drawn to a new structure, can attract bigger fish, he added, creating an “entire ecological community.”

It is unclear how well the boom would fare on the open ocean, where it faces high winds, corrosive salt water and other environmental challenges. And then there’s the question of whether it is possible to clean half of the garbage patch in just five years.

“I think the big challenge here is not the long-term goal but the short-term goal,” Mr. Leonard said on Saturday. “Can it remove plastic at all?”

Mr. Slat, the chief executive of Ocean Cleanup, shared the same worry in a video posted on Facebook.

“And to me this is where I think my largest anxiety lies at this point in time,” he said of the system’s ability to collect and retain plastic. “First of all, it’s something that we haven’t really been able to test very well.”

But on Saturday morning, Mr. Slat was decidedly optimistic.

“I’ve definitely never been so confident about the chance of success as I am today,” he said.

Since the start of Ocean Cleanup in 2013, donors have contributed nearly $35 million, Mr. Slat said. Much of that money paid for the boom and helped underwrite research like a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, which quantified the full extent of the garbage patch. Future booms are estimated to cost about $5.8 million each.

Retrieved September 10, 2018 from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/09/science/ocean-cleanup-great-pacific-garbage-patch.html?

 

Posted in Environmentalism, Technology