Parkway’s Skid Row

Everyone who lives adjacent to it knows that the Parkway from Discovery Park to Cal Expo is the Parkway’s Skid Row, and this article from the Sacramento News & Review notes the reality, in the final paragraph of the excerpt.

An excerpt.

Julia Richardson pulled her car into a parking lot, hoping to save the life of a man convulsing in her back seat.

He wasn’t a stranger: Nikolai had been homeless in South Natomas for months and often talked to her at the store. On this night, February 17, Richardson spotted Nikolai standing in a cold, hammering rain—the kind of downpour that recently set the stage for three people dying on the streets of Sacramento. Richardson decided to drive Nikolai to one of the city’s warming centers. Yet as soon as he climbed in the back with his dog, Nikolai started having full-body seizures. His head flung back. His eyes rolled white. His limbs shook with tremors.

“I thought he was dying,” Richardson recalled.

Richardson is a disabled senior, but that didn’t stop her from taking action. She delivered Nikolai into the hands of firefighters, collected his possessions and then found a place to board his dog. Two days later, after Nikolai was out of the hospital, Richardson tracked him down, returning his belongings and Chihuahua.

Richardson is among a handful of South Natomas residents who have been getting to know the homeless in their neighborhood. The trend started after people living in Sacramento’s greenbelts were driven out by flooding and pushed onto suburban streets and public avenues. Longtime resident Rowland Reeves acknowledged that when the people of South Natomas first began holding community meetings about the influx, the sentiment was mostly anger about widespread trash, human waste and dog droppings accumulating in their parks. However, as some residents engaged with the homeless one-on-one, their priorities gradually shifted. They learned firsthand about the city’s lack of resources and outreach services. They also noticed that the filth and debris on display in South Natomas’ public space was miniscule compared to the pollution seeping through Steelhead Creek and the Sacramento River from camps on the edge of the water.

These revelations have led some from the community meetings to be in full support of Councilman Allen Warren’s proposal to create a safe, sanitary, outreach-oriented tent encampment in his North Sacramento district, a place that would be an alternative to hiding in the trees.

“When the city and county say they’re not sure if they can have a tent city, the truth is they already have an unofficial one,” Reeves said, “and that’s our parkway, meaning all the trash and waste goes into the river. The same city leaders bill that parkway as the ’jewel of Sacramento,’ but right now it’s the garbage dump and open sewer.”

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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