Bee Editorial on Illegal Camping Conflicted

As with all too many members of Sacramento’s public leadership, today’s Sacramento Bee editorial essentially cancels itself out by repeating the do-nothing gambit (but where will they go?) regarding the homeless illegally camping in the Parkway and causing substantial fire damage, as the Bee notes: “While it’s true that county officials don’t know for sure that illegal camping is to blame for every fire – they think an arsonist is at work, too – it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who is setting most of them.”

This leadership conflict is exactly why we continue to advocate for nonprofit management of the Parkway—removing it from County management while retaining County ownership—which would provide dedicated management who would not worry as much about where the homeless will go, just get them out of illegal camps in the Parkway.

An excerpt from the Bee editorial.

The blackened patches of what used to be trees and grass don’t take long to find along the American River Parkway. Not this year. Not after dozens of wildfires have sent smoke billowing into the air and nearby residents running for cover.

It’s also not hard to find liquor bottles, tattered clothing and melted electronics seared into the still smoldering ground, evidence of the illegal camping that’s been going on deep in the brush.

For years, this has been allowed to continue. But not anymore, officials say.

This week, Sacramento County supervisors finally approved an ordinance banning grills and other “incendiary devices” in regional county parks, except in designated picnic areas. Park rangers can confiscate these items on sight, circumventing previous rules that required them to wait 48 hours. People who violate the ordinance also will face a misdemeanor instead of just getting a ticket.

This is sure to put a dent in the number of homeless people camping on the parkway, lighting fires to cook and keep warm. Some might call it “criminalization of the homeless.” We call it common sense. …

At best, supervisors are playing whack-a-mole. When homeless campers are pushed out of the parkway, where will they go? Parks in midtown?

Merely moving homeless people around is not a solution. We need a comprehensive plan to get people housing and services, so they can get off the street and stay off the street. For county officials to lose sight of that would be the real crime against the homeless.

Read more here:

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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