Roseville Moving Homeless from Park

The tendency for many governments to allow the feeding of the homeless next to business and residential neighborhoods impacts both in a negative way.

In Sacramento, by allowing the location of so many homeless services in the North 12th Street/Richard Blvd. area, between downtown and the American River Parkway, government has encouraged a concentration of panhandling in the former and illegal camping in the latter; both very detrimental to the adjacent businesses and homes.

A better way is to locate services far enough away to not encourage illegal camping and panhandling, but allow more direct programmatic help getting people out of homelessness rather than encouraging it, a proposal that will meet with resistance, but tough love is required, as this article in the Sacramento Bee notes.

An excerpt.

Shane Brand, a homeless veteran, knew the late Joseph “Joey” Graven as Googly Eyes. It was a nickname bestowed for Graven’s gentle spirit and good humor, even as he anxiously kept a knife close for protection.

Graven was a regular at Roseville’s Saugstad Park, where the brethren of the street gather three mornings a week. There, just beyond the baseball diamonds, dog run and picnic and play areas, volunteers for a faith-based charity, What Would Jesus Do?, park a van on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday mornings. They give out doughnuts, breakfast pastries, hot chocolate, ramen noodles, fruit, canned goods and other staples.

In April, police say Graven, 35, was beaten to death by four other homeless people said to be waiting for the food van. And it’s no coincidence that the city now wants the homeless – and What Would Jesus Do? – out of the park.

Officials are offering to allow the charity to operate on a city-owned lot nearly 2 miles away, tucked behind the Union Pacific railyard and a few blocks from the vast grounds of the Denio’s Market and Swap Meet. In a letter to What Would Jesus Do? Inc., the city of Roseville said the program is simply no longer welcome at its current site.

The city’s Aug. 11 letter cited mounting community complaints about “litter in the neighborhood, increased camping, intimidation of residents and an overall negative effect on usability and safety” of Saugstad Park, nearby Royer Park and adjacent neighborhoods. Both parks stretch alongside Dry Creek, long a lure for homeless campers.

“We’ve gotten complaints about that location for a long time,” said Roseville public affairs director Megan MacPherson. “They became intensified with the homicide.”

WWJD has served the homeless at Saugstad Park for two decades, albeit without a city permit. It proposed moving its feeding van to several other locations in the city, including the parking lot of the Police Department.

The city found none of those proposals workable. But to entice the group out of the park, Roseville officials offered to spend $30,000 in city funds for paving and other site improvements at the proposed north Roseville feeding location. The dusty roadside spot at Denio Loop and Atkinson Street is bordered by a small oak tree-studded marsh and shadowed by the Foothills Boulevard overpass.

Homeless people say the alternative site for the food distribution is just too far away from Saugstad Park and where people in need congregate. WWJD says the city’s suggested location is unacceptable – and that neither the homeless nor their charitable providers will move there.

Retrieved August 30, 2014 from

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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