The day after proclaiming in the Sacramento Bee that a new approach was to be implemented regarding the illegal camping in the American River Parkway, the front page story in today’s Bee reports it is beginning.
“Sacramento County park rangers launched night patrols in the American River Parkway in an intensified effort Wednesday to root out and evict scores of homeless people camping illegally.
“Responding to complaints from businesses and residents near the parkway’s troublesome west end, officials say they will send out two rangers nightly for the foreseeable future, accompanied by a county social worker, to order campers out of the park after sunset. The rangers will patrol until sometime after 10 p.m.
“We’re informing people the park is closed from dusk to dawn, and they have to leave,” county parks chief Jeff Leatherman said.
“Wednesday turned out to be a day of dueling statements in Sacramento about how to attack the city’s long-festering homeless problem.
“As rangers beat the bushes on riverside trails, homeless advocates, led by the Safe Ground group, held a news gathering across from City Hall in Cesar Chavez Plaza. They unveiled a $5,200 prototype for a cabin design they say could serve as transitional housing for hundreds of homeless people each year – as long as they can come up with suitable places in the region to locate homeless cabin communities.
“Homeless advocates estimate 1,000 people sleep outside every night in Sacramento County. Officials guess as many as 200 of them hunker down in the brush along the American River north of downtown between Discovery Park and the BushyLake area behind Cal Expo.
“Previously, the county employed a two-person ranger team, four days a week, to patrol the lower parkway during the day, evicting and sometimes citing campers. That has proved to be insufficient, county officials said.
“With stepped-up patrols, parks officials say they hope to wrest back the lower parkway, cleaning it up and making it attractive again for hikers, bikers and other recreational users.”