Lower Parkway Overrun by Homeless

While this is not news to the adjacent communities in the Lower Reach of the Parkway—from Discovery Park to Cal Expo—it needs reminding for those fortunate not to have their part of the Parkway so overrun.

Sacramento City Councilmember Steve Cohn in this Sacramento Bee article clearly stated the tragedy that has been burdening the Parkway and adjacent neighborhoods for many years: “I’m very concerned that the stretch of the American River Parkway on both sides, from the confluence all the way into midtown, is pretty much dominated by homeless and transients.”

An excerpt.

“For nearly three years, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has sought to create a city-sanctioned encampment for a small but vocal band of the homeless.

“And yet there they were last week, two dozen homeless people, cleaning their tents and tending to stoves at an illegal campground tucked between a row of warehouses and the American River north of downtown.

“The creation of a homeless “safe ground” has stymied Johnson more than any other issue he has supported since taking office three years ago. Johnson regularly expresses frustration over the lack of progress, and until recently he was the only elected official at City Hall who supported the idea….

“City code prohibits overnight camping in the city, the key roadblock to an encampment.

“Most city elected officials, as well as many businesses and neighborhood groups, are wary of supporting a camp, worried that it might attract more homeless people to Sacramento. There is also a perception that some involved in Safe Ground – the group of homeless people and advocates pushing for a legal encampment – simply want to camp and are not interested in permanent shelter.

“Other critics just don’t want a tent city sprouting up on their street.

“The latest unsanctioned encampment includes about 140 tents staked at the end of North 10th Street in the city’s River District.

“Safe Grounders represent a small portion of the campers. They have been joined by dozens of others forced out of the American Parkway thickets by rangers. Those affiliated with the Safe Ground movement take pains to show they’re different than the larger, unorganized group of people sleeping on the parkway….

“Establishing a camp on either of the proposed sites would take time, maybe years, as zoning and permitting issues are addressed.

“One of the proposed sites is off Del Paso Boulevard, near Northgate Boulevard and the American River Parkway. Safe Ground said it is interested in leasing a 1.25-acre plot there.

“Councilman Steve Cohn, whose district includes that area, said he would meet with the group, but is not inclined to support a homeless settlement. He said a camp for fewer than 100 people would serve as a distraction to the efforts being made to help the hundreds of other homeless people in the city.

“I’m very concerned that the stretch of the American River Parkway on both sides, from the confluence all the way into midtown, is pretty much dominated by homeless and transients,” he added.”


About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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