Illegal Camping in Parkway is De Facto Safe Ground

What was sadly revealed in the searing August 19, 2015 column in the Sacramento Bee by Marcos Breton is that the North Sacramento area of the Parkway has become, in fact, the homeless community’s long hoped for Safe Ground; which is, unfortunately, historically congruent as Safe Ground was founded by the leaders of the Tent City in the Parkway in 2008-2009, as noted on their website at http://www.safegroundsac.org/ .

Here is the relevant section of Breton’s column:

“In 2009, the county entered into an agreement with homeless advocates that changed how officers police illegal campers on the parkway. It prevents officers from seizing any property in a homeless encampment on the American River – or anywhere else – without first posting written notice on the encampment that gives the owner of the property 48 hours notice to move his or her stuff.

“Because of this settlement – part of a lawsuit filed against the county and several other entities by lawyer Mark Merin – county officials say keeping the parkway safe has become particularly vexing. Once county officials post their 48-hour notices, many camps are simply moved to another part of the parkway and the process begins again.”

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/marcos-breton/article31494002.html#storylink=cpy

I attended a meeting August 18, 2015 about this issue involving local public leadership and while many good ideas were offered, it was clear that the dual responsibilities of public leadership—solving illegal camping in the Parkway and the larger homeless problem—created a disincentive to become too vigorous in protecting the Parkway.

This is why we have called for nonprofit management of the Parkway, where a Joint Powers Authority of Sacramento County, the City of Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, & Folsom is the governing body but contracts with an existing nonprofit or creates a new one, to provide daily management and fundraising.

This type of public/private partnership is not a new idea and is being done by several parks around the nation.

Nonprofits running parks:

New York City, Central Park Conservancy, http://www.centralparknyc.org

Boston’s Emerald Necklace, http://www.emeraldnecklace.org

Forest Park in Portland, http://www.forestparkconservancy.org/,

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, https://www.pittsburghparks.org/theconservancy ,

San Joaquin River Parkway, http://www.riverparkway.org

Cosumnes River Preserve, http://www.cosumnes.org

Sacramento Valley Conservancy, http://www.sacramentovalleyconservancy.org/index1.asp

This one in San Diego is managed by a Joint Powers Authority, http://www.sdrp.org

Local example of a nonprofit contracting with the city to run the Sacramento Zoo, http://www.saczoo.org

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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