It continues to be a serious problem for the Parkway, but rangers are citing people and that is having an impact, as this article from Sacramento News & Review reports.
Is enforcement of the city’s anti-camping ordinance out of control?
That’s what many homelessness activists are saying this week at City Hall. And they’re armed with numbers.
Last year, for instance, city police and park rangers cited 1,030 homeless individuals for “illegal camping,” a misdemeanor that comes with a $230 fine. So far this year, there were 108 citations in January, only 18 in February, and another 56 as of March 12. This in addition to fines for light-rail, bike and pedestrian infractions.
While the truth behind these numbers remains uncertain, their magnitude is turning heads.
“It’s an ugly policy for dealing with homeless people. And it’s costing the city money,” argued Delphine Brody, an activist and regular speaker at Tuesday city council meetings.
The city’s anti-camping law makes it illegal for an individual to camp or possess “camp paraphernalia” on public or private property. (Your kids are still allowed to camp out on a summer night in your backyard—but for one night only.)
Activists were scheduled to petition city council this past Tuesday night to repeal the anti-camping ordinance, or at least put a moratorium on enforcement. That’s not going to happen, however, and city leaders hope to redirect these activists’ focus from enforcement and onto solutions.
“My goal is that this group of individuals will become partners” in the effort to end homelessness, said Councilman Jay Schenirer, the city’s de facto leader on poverty issues.
A worthy goal, and perhaps even one that is mutual. But although both sides probably have more in common than they realize, they remain at odds.
The anti-camping ordinance works like this: If law enforcement encounters an individual camping—this could be sleeping in a park, as per the ordinance’s language—they’re cited under City Code 12.52.030. It’s not an infraction, which could result in a fine, but a misdemeanor, which could result in criminal jail time.
Mark Merin, who has sued the city over the anti-camping ordinance and is currently working on an appeal, says that police cite so many homeless people that the courts and district attorney physically “can’t prosecute all the people that are cited.”
Retrieved April 9, 2015 from https://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/no-silver-bullets/content?oid=16698177