Last year Sacramento County developed an excellent strategy to stop illegal camping in the Parkway and restore public safety for legal Parkway users, which was outlined in a column by Marcos Breton we posted on.
We also posted on the Bee’s past article about homeless feedings on the Parkway.
The County strategy—of which the homeless feeding proposal written about in this article from the Sacramento Bee is merely one aspect—needs to be supported rather than fought.
“A proposal that events involving 50 or more people in the American River Parkway be required to have county permits has homeless advocates – including church groups – up in arms.
“They are worried the new requirement would stop them from regularly feeding the homeless.
“Among the critics are members of Real Life Church in Natomas, which feeds the homeless every week at Discovery Park. About 20 members of the church attended a hearing on the proposal before the Recreation and Park Commission last week.
“I really oppose anything that puts a restraint on generosity,” said Pastor Scott Hagan.
“Sacramento County has long struggled with problems arising from the many homeless encampments along the parkway, and recently started patrols to remove illegal campers. Residents who live near the parkway complain about trash and safety, while homeless advocates object to what they call violations of the rights of the homeless.
“Complaints by homeless advocates and environmentalists led the county’s regional parks director, Jeff Leatherman, to reconsider the permit proposal at last week’s meeting. He said he will bring it back to the commission in the next month or two.
“As it stands, the proposal would require a permit for activities with 50 or more people at county parks. An activity with 50 to 99 people would need a permit costing $100. An event with 1,000 or more people would cost $1,250.
“The county has an ordinance allowing permits for activities, but it doesn’t define what events need permits. Leatherman said he wants to clean up the language in his proposal to address concerns from homeless advocates and environmentalists.
“Environmental groups, such as the Save the American River Association, objected to the permits, saying they would allow new activities that would cause damage to the parkway. Leatherman said he’s not considering new activities, just adding language so existing ones can be permitted.
“The proposal that might prove most difficult for homeless advocates is the one that would limit groups to four permits a year. Leatherman said the limit is intended to prevent groups from monopolizing the parkway and other areas.
“He said, however, that such groups could use picnic areas without a limit on permits.
“The county needs better definitions for permits so it can recoup costs and better manage events, Leatherman said.
“Leatherman said feeding events for the homeless affect the parkway, including DiscoveryPark. Nonprofit groups and churches feed the homeless weekly on the parkway, bringing anywhere from several people to several hundred people and creating a lot of garbage, he said.”