A problem that has festered for decades will not be solved in a few months, but the work by Sacramento County continues to restore the North Sacramento area of the American River Parkway.
It may be haltingly done, and many illegal campers and the debris and environmental damage accompanying them still remain, but the restoration work is steadily proceeding and the results are obvious, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.
“Sacramento’s homeless issue is back in the spotlight after volunteers on Saturday struggled to clean up the American River Parkway.
“Ninety-nine percent of the trash and debris is generated by the illegal camps,” said Will Safford, a Sacramento County parks ranger. “It’s an ongoing problem.”
“Dozens of bags of trash and eight hypodermic needles were collected by volunteers in the cleanup effort organized by the American River Parkway Foundation.
“More than 100 volunteers hiked around the trails and riverfront with garbage bags and litter pickers, getting rid of cigarette butts, tents and even a couch.
“Dan Hall, president of the foundation’s board, stressed that volunteers were not there to “enforce a camping ban” but rather “to preserve the parkway through cleanup.”
“The effort targeted the stretch of the parkway around Northgate and Del Paso boulevards, an area that has become ground zero for the city’s homeless population.
“Officials say the recent drive-by feedings by religious groups have exacerbated the problem, providing homeless people an incentive to camp in the park.
“Homeless advocate Steve Watters characterized enforcement efforts as “extremely harsh.”
“You can’t criminalize homelessness,” said Watters, director of Safe Ground Sacramento. “Our shelters are overflowing. There’s nowhere else to go.”
“Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna acknowledged the homeless issue but said camping in the parkway is not a solution.
“My constituents tell me they don’t feel safe,” Serna said. “You have folks pushing shopping carts and dogs off leash.”…
“Serna said the cleanup and enforcement efforts seem to be working.
“This is the cleanest I’ve seen the parkway,” he said.