Latest on Sacramento Homeless Issue

Good update from Sacramento News & Review, public leadership still bumbling along.

In our area, a strategy helping the homeless (and local residents and business who suffer the impacts) needs to be developed that is capable of safely sheltering up to 2 or 3 thousand homeless folks a night and we have long suggested basing it on San Antonio’s Haven for Hope program  especially the courtyard strategy they use for safe rapid shelter for large numbers, see our news release of October 26, 2018 on our News Page

 An excerpt from the SN&R article.

With critics forming on two fronts, Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s homeless shelter plan is off and running.

On March 26, the Sacramento City Council authorized staff to move forward with a 100-bed Sprung shelter on a Cal Expo-owned lot on Ethan Way. This month, Steinberg hopes to approve three additional sites: one adjacent to Highway 99 between X Street and Broadway, another on a Caltrans-owned parking lot near the Florin light-rail station and a yet-to-be-announced one in Councilman Steve Hansen’s district, which covers downtown, Midtown and Land Park.

With foot-dragging from some on the council, some local homeless residents and advocates are also questioning the transitional triage shelter strategy.

Tracie Rice-Bailey, who lives in her car, would like to see the city repeal its anti-camping ordinance and sanction self-governed homeless encampments akin to those in Portland and Oakland.

“Why can’t we just be left alone here?” Rice-Bailey asked as she stood in front of a few dozen tents near North B and Ahern streets. “Open a parking lot for us to camp in, somewhere to sleep in our cars. Give us a Porta Potty and a shower. I’m not getting kenneled into a shelter and I’m not alone.”

Assembly Bill 891, authored by Democratic Assemblywoman Autumn Burke of Inglewood, would require large cities and each county by June 2022 to establish safe parking locations with on-site bathroom facilities and security for individuals and families living in their vehicles.

Last month, one of Sacramento’s most visible homeless camps—on the concrete cliffs adjacent to the 12th Street overpass—was cleared. Under a revised city ordinance, the temporary encampments encircling City Hall will soon be cleared as well—at least during the day.

In February, council members prohibited weekday camping or sleeping outside City Hall between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. In exchange, the council granted those rights between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. The rules took effect March 27.

Reluctant council members have cited the shelters’ high operating costs paired with a lack of permanent housing.

At the March 26 meeting, Councilman Larry Carr expressed concerns regarding costs—citing the city’s $400,000 per month bill for the North Sacramento triage shelter—and a desire to diversify strategies through rent relief, transportation assistance and job training. Under the mayor’s recommended plan, the city would spend $40.5 million of public and private funds to create 781 shelter beds for two years.

While encouraged by the investment, Cathleen Williams of the Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee says too little of the money goes toward the problem the city is ultimately trying to solve: Giving homeless folks a place to live.

“Twenty million dollars a year is insane when it’s only going to help a few hundred people, and we’re not even talking about permanent or affordable housing,” Williams said. “Shelters play an important role, but it’s hard for me to get behind a plan that provides millions to police officers and not a single home. … We welcome the shelters, but one strategy won’t solve homelessness.”

It isn’t intended to do so, says the mayor’s spokeswoman.

Mary Lynne Vellinga said Steinberg wants to use the shelters as an entry point, where people can get off the street in the short term and receive services and, eventually, permanent housing, that will keep them indoors long term.

“We are not talking about a bed and food; we are talking about wrap-around services, everything from obtaining the IDs needed to rent an apartment and get a job to health care and mental health services,” Vellinga wrote in an email. “Shelter guests also receive assistance finding permanent housing. Baked into our shelter plan is the assumption that we will provide up to six months of rental assistance for people moving into permanent housing.”

Retrieved April 11, 2019 from

Posted in Government, Homelessness

Important News on the Homeless Camping Ban Case

From the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation’s Blog, Crime & Consequence.

Will SCOTUS Decide Homeless Camping Ban?  In a ruling announced last week the Ninth Circuit denied rehearing en banc of its holding last September which prohibits enforcement of local laws banning the homeless from camping on public property.  As reported by Matt Tinoco from Laist, in Martin v. City of Boise the court said “As long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property…”  With reconsideration by the Ninth Circuit off the table, the only avenue left to the plaintiffs is an appeal to the Supreme Court, which the City of Boise hinted to in a statement released after the ruling last week, “[Monday’s] ruling does not mean the city ordinances are (unconstitutional). It simply has the effect of forcing the matter to be litigated further. Therefore, the city’s camping and disorderly conduct ordinances remain in effect until further clarification can be obtained from the courts; the ruling will not cause us to change our procedures.”

Retrieved April 9, 2019 from

Posted in Homelessness

Parkway Rangers Doing the Job

It requires some adaptations but the Parkway Rangers are still doing their best to protect the Parkway and help the homeless—which is great news—according to this excellent article from the Sacramento Bee.

An excerpt.

Marietta Watson wonders why being homeless is cause for a ticket.

She reached into her small purse and pulled out the pink citation slip with the offense “CART ON PKWY” that she received from an American River Parkway ranger last week. It is exhausting enough being homeless, she said. This was like salt in the wound.

“I should be helped as a homeless person,” said Watson, 53, who is disabled from leg and back injuries. “Not stopped for having my cart and my belongings.”

Over the years, the deterioration of the region’s beloved 23-mile recreational park has become a symbol of Sacramento County’s ongoing struggle to solve the homeless crisis.

But after federal appeals court ruled in September that cities cannot punish people for resting in public if they have no other options, park rangers no longer issue citations for unlawful camping unless there are available beds, which is rare.

Instead, arrests, camp clearings and citations for other behaviors that lawyers and advocates say unfairly target the homeless have skyrocketed along the American River Parkway, even as temporary shelters and permanent homes for them in Sacramento County remain insufficient.

The enforcement shift raises questions among some about how Sacramento County rangers and officials can increase efforts to clean, preserve and protect the American River Parkway – buoyed by new funding and an expanded staff – without violating the spirit of the Martin v. City of Boise court decision.

“The best we can do is continue to be creative in how we address the impacts” of camping on the parkway, Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna told the board last month, and “simultaneously focus on providing shelter and wrap-around services for those that feel like their only option is to camp.”

Increased enforcement

After the Martin decision, between September 2018 and February 2019, the average number of citations issued for infractions related to shopping carts on the parkway, littering and building structures or typing ropes to trees jumped to about 304 per month compared to 24 per month in the same period the previous year, according to ranger activity reports.

Rangers have issued only one citation for illegal camping since the decision, a case of a camper rejecting an available shelter spot, said Sacramento County Chief Ranger Michael Doane. In the same period last year, rangers gave out 1,219 citations for illegal camping.

Each citation may cost anywhere from $50 to $480 depending on the violation, though many homeless people perform community service work in lieu of the fee.

Arrests along the parkway have also more than doubled compared to the same period last year, an average of about 115 per month post-Martin, compared to about 49 per month previously.

And rangers are clearing four times as many camps a month as they did last year: About 767 camps per month, compared to about 177. Camps are cleared only if rangers or maintenance workers determine they have been abandoned.

“They’re being very petty, since camping is now no longer illegal, they have to do their jobs,” said Liz Williams, who is homeless and was recently cited for leaving her bike while on a bike trails.

But Doane said the increase in activity is the result not only of adjusting to the court decision, but also of hiring several new rangers to fully staff the department.

Mounting trash, needles and human waste along the American River Parkway led the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to approve a $5 million plan to boost the county’s regional parks department to address issues related to the homeless in August 2017.

“As someone that’s grown up here, that enjoys all kinds of recreational amenities associated with the parkway in his youth and would like to do so as he grows old,” Serna told the board last month, “it really is a shame that – like so many of my constituents – I don’t necessarily feel safe, I don’t necessarily appreciate the deteriorating aesthetic.”

Retrieved April 7, 2019 from

Posted in Homelessness

Where College Graduates Live, Suburbs Mostly

Great breakdown from New Geography.

An excerpt.

The nation’s high-density central business districts of the major metropolitan areas have the largest shares of adults over the age of 25 with bachelor’s degrees or higher, which is consistent with popular perception. At the same time, because such a small percentage of people live in the central business districts, by far the most bachelors degree and higher adults live in the suburbs.

This article examines educational attainment within the 53 major metropolitan areas (over 1,000,000 population) using the City Sector Model. The City Sector Model, which classifies small areas in US metropolitan areas based upon their function as urban cores, suburbs, or exurbs (Figure 9 and Note).

Overall data for the above 25 aged population is included as well as data for the four largest ethnicities, White Not Hispanic or Latino, African American, Asian and Hispanic or Latino. The data is the annual average for the five years of 2013 through 2017, which is from the American Community Survey 5-year data, which provides a statistically valid sample of the population for the nation at the small area level.


Overall, 35.6 percent of the population over 25 years of age has a four year degree or higher level of education (referred to as “college graduates” in this article). The balance of 64.4 percent have lower educational attainment (Figure 1). The City Sector Model Urban Core – Central Business District has the highest education attainment, with 66.1 percent of the population being college graduates. The Central Business Districts also have by far the highest population densities in the major metropolitan areas (Figure 2), more than double that of the Inner Ring and from nine to 17 times the densities of the Earlier and Later Suburbs. The Exurbs, which are overwhelmingly not urban (that is rural) have an even lower density.

The balance of the urban core (Inner Ring) has a college education rate at about the national average, at 36.0 percent. The Earlier Suburbs have a rate of 34.1 percent, the Later Suburbs 40.2 percent and the Exurbs are the lowest, at 28.1 percent.

However, the Central Business Districts have only 2.7 percent of the major metropolitan area college graduates, by far the lowest percentage of any city sector. By far the most college graduates live in the suburbs, more than 25 times as many as in the CBDs. The Inner Ring college graduate share was 13.4 percent, five times that of the CBD, while the Exurban share nearly as high, at 12.9 percent (Figure 3). Among the five sectors, the highest number of college graduates was in the Earlier Suburbs.

The distribution of college graduates among the four largest ethnicities is similar.

White Not Hispanic

The CBD’s had the highest share of White Not Hispanic college graduates, at 80.6 percent. The Inner Ring had the second highest share, at 54.9 percent, while the suburbs and exurbs had lower percentages (Table). As with the overall data, about 25 times as many college graduates live in the suburbs (70.1 percent) as in the CBDs. (2.8 percent). Exurbs had more graduates than the Inner Ring (Figure 4). Among the five sectors, the largest number of White Not Hispanic college graduates was in the Earlier Suburbs.

African American

The only ethnic group to have its highest college graduate share outside the CBDs was African Americans, with 32.2 percent of those living in the Later Suburbs. This compares to the 29.3 percent of CBD residents with college degrees (Table). The largest number of college graduates among African Americans lived in the Earlier Suburbs (36.2 percent) and Later Suburbs (33.5 percent). The two suburban sectors (Figure 5) together had nearly 50 times as many (69.7 percent) African American college graduates as the CBDs (1.4 percent).


The Asian college graduate shares were the most constant across the metropolitan sectors. CBD residents had a 63.8 percent graduate rate, which was the highest. This compares to the lowest, in the Inner Ring, at 46.1 percent. As a result, Asians have the highest college graduation rate, at 54.7 percent (Table), more than one-third above that of White Not Hispanics. The suburbs had 20 times as many (75.4 percent) Asian college graduates as the CBDs (3.3 percent). The highest number of Asian college graduates (Figure 6) were in the Earlier Suburbs (42.2 percent).

Hispanic or Latino

As in all but one other ethnicity, Hispanic or Latino residents in the CBD’s had the highest college education rates, at 35.4 percent. Only in the Later Suburbs were the rates within one-half of the CBD percentage (Table). However, the number of Hispanic or Latino college graduates (Figure 7) in the suburbs were nearly 30 times that of the CBDs (2.5 percent).

Suburban Concentration

As Figure 8 shows, the total number of college graduates living in the suburbs from three to five times as high as in both of the urban core sectors (CBD and Inner Ring). Overall, the college graduate figure in the Exurbs is nearly as high as the urban core, and is higher among White Not Hispanics. The popular narrative of college graduates living in urban cores, especially the CBDs, surrounded by materially less well educated suburbs and exurbs is misleading. They may be more concentrated in the core, but the overwhelming majority lives in the suburbs and exurbs.

Retrieved April 5, 2019 from

Posted in demographics

California’s Water System, a Global Wonder

We too often forget how wonderful the work done by our ancestors—unfortunately not kept up or improved since—did to bring water to the entire state, store it for dry years, and control it to protect from floods, but this story from the Oakdale Leader reminds us.

An excerpt.

California — without a doubt — has the most intricate and massive water storage and transfer system man has ever created.

It is the largest, most productive, and most controversial water system in the world that harnesses nature using man’s ingenuity.

At its northernmost reaches it captures the snow run-off of the Modoc Plateau — volcanic highlands in northeast California and southeast Oregon — that is drained by the Pit River.

Snow blanketing the hills of the Modoc Plateau today will melt in the coming weeks and start a long journey in the form of water. The journey’s end for water — that makes it that far — are faucets and water taps in San Diego less than a mile from the border of Mexico.

That journey that approaches 900 miles is not all natural. Water is pumped up out of its natural basins a number of times with the most laborious being the scaling of the Tehachapi Mountains where water flows uphill to reach an elevation gain of 1,926 feet — nearly twice the height of the 1,009-foot summit on Altamont Pass via Interstate 580 — before flowing downhill to serve as a lifeblood of the Los Angeles Basin. The LA Basin is home to 19 million people of which arguably a 20th of that population would not be able to live there if it wasn’t for water imported from other water basins that serve the north state, the valleys of the Eastern Sierra, and the Colorado River watershed.

The backbones of state’s water system

The backbone of California’s major water storage and conveyance system are the Central Valley Project conceived in the 1930s and the State Water Project built in the 1960s and 1970s. There are other major parts to the puzzle such as the diversion of the Colorado River, the sucking of water from the Owens Valley and Mono Basin, and the original “tunnel” that bypasses the Delta to take water to the Bay Area from a system of reservoirs centered around O’Shaughnessy Dam that sacrificed Hetch Hetchy Valley by flooding a portion of Yosemite National Park to fuel San Francisco Bay Area growth that could not be supported by local water supplies.

You can visit the most impressive man-made components as well as natural features of the part of the engineered water system that sends water essentially from the rugged and sparse volcanic landscape of desolate northeast California to the faucets of $1.4 million McMansion-style tract homes in San Diego where it is used to create lush yard landscaping.

While the Pit River contributes 80 percent of the water that flows into the massive lake behind Shasta Dam, you might want to start your journey at the headwaters of the mighty 445-mile long Sacramento River whose watershed that includes the Pit River among others captures 31 percent of the state’s surface water.

The river that has been known to cause extensive flooding in cities like Marysville is harmless where it comes to life. Clear, cold, and drinkable water bubbles up from a spring in a municipal park in Mt. Shasta City serves as the headwaters. There are low-key walking paths surrounding the springs that you can be within 200 feet.

Shasta Lake is largest reservoir in California

Water from there will make its way to behind the eighth highest dam in the United States. At 602 feet in height the gravity arch dam holds the largest reservoir of water in California with a storage capacity of 4.5 million acre feet or almost twice the size of the 2.4 million acre foot capacity of the New Melones Reservoir on the Stanislaus River watershed.

Like the New Melones Reservoir, Shasta is part of the federal Central Valley Project and is overseen by the Bureau of Reclamation.

Retrieved April 3, 2019 from

Posted in History, Shasta Auburn Dam, Water

Rains Good for Salmon

And how, as this story from the San Francisco Examiner reports.

An excerpt.

The relentless rain soaking the state is great news for salmon. In previous years, drought and water diversions significantly lowered California’s rivers and contributed to dramatic drops in fish populations. For example, in the Tuolumne River, San Francisco’s primary source of drinking water, Chinook salmon estimates have ranged from a high of 45,900 fish in 1959 to only 77 in 1991. In 2011, there were an estimated 893 fish.

The high and low numbers generally correspond with wet and dry years. This year’s winter storms have filled the river and inundated the surrounding flood plain, which may increase the survival rate of young salmon.

“We’re really excited,” Peter Drekmeier, policy director with the environmental nonprofit, the Tuolumne River Trust, told me. “Flood plains are great habitat for juvenile salmon because there’s more food and they’re shielded from predators.”

The Tuolumne River Trust and other environmental and fishing organizations also found some hope last week in a unanimous resolution passed by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). The resolution requires staff to submit its salmon management proposal to independent scientific review. When the review is complete, it may put to rest a remarkable confrontation that has pitted San Francisco officials against environmentalists and fishing industries.

This controversy began a decade ago when the State Water Board announced its plan to address a collapsing San Francisco Bay Delta Watershed aquatic ecosystem. Water pollution, dams, droughts and diversions have decimated fish populations in the area and contributed to widespread starvation among marine mammals and birds. It’s also hurt the region’s once vibrant fishing industry.

“This is not just about ecosystem health,” Barry Nelson of the Golden Gate Salmon Association said at the hearing. “It’s also about people’s lives.”

The Tuolumne River is one of the tributaries to the San Joaquin River – a key component to the San Francisco Bay Delta Watershed. Last December, the State Water Board voted to require 40 percent of the river’s natural flow to reach the San Joaquin River between February and June. While this would limit diversions, the State Water Board believes the decision balances the needs of people and wildlife.

But San Francisco officials protested anyway. Working with the Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts, the City Attorney is currently suing the State Water Board.

SFPUC staff and the irrigation districts also presented the state with an alternate proposal that would address concerns about managing water supply and the environment. The proposal envisions a more modest increase in flows on the Tuolumne River and offers $76 million in funding for habitat restoration projects, such as gravel areas for spawning beds and reducing predators. The proposal also includes a science program to oversee measures’ effectiveness.

Last week, commissioners asked staff to include specific goals in their proposal and commence an independence scientific review at the earliest opportunity.

“If it’s really going to work, why not get it reviewed,” Commissioner Francesca Vietor asked me after the hearing. “This resolution calls for a plan on how we can get healthy fish populations and meet our water supply obligations.”

The Tuolumne River Trust and the Golden Gate Salmon Association believe staff has avoided review on purpose. They point to flaws in the proposal and other studies that have determined similar projects don’t increase salmon populations.

The organizations also highlight that staff has had a decade to develop its proposal and independently verify the science. If they were so certain in the validity of their proposal, environmental and fishing groups assert, they could have submitted it to review a long time ago.

Retrieved April 3, 2019 from

Posted in Environmentalism, Hatcheries, Water

Homelessness: As Seattle Goes, So Goes Sacramento?

Interesting article from City Journal with obvious similarities to Sacramento’s homeless problem–and the related illegal camping which is desroying the Parkway–and proposed solutions.

An excerpt.

For the past five years, like many of its West Coast counterparts, Seattle has endured a steady expansion of homelessness, addiction, mental illness, crime, and street disorder. But the activist class—a political and cultural elite comprising leaders in government, nonprofits, philanthropy, and media—has enforced a strict taboo on declaring the obvious: something is terribly wrong in the Emerald City.

Last month, veteran Seattle reporter Eric Johnson of KOMO violated that taboo with a shocking, hour-long documentary called Seattle is Dying, which revealed how the city has allowed a small subset of the homeless population—drug-addicted and mentally-ill criminals—to wreak havoc. Johnson’s portrait is backed up by evidence from King County homelessness data, by city attorney candidate Scott Lindsay’s “prolific offender” report on 100 homeless individuals responsible for more than 3,500 criminal cases, and by my own reporting on the homelessness crisis.

In the past two weeks, Seattle Is Dying has garnered 38,000 shares on Facebook and nearly 2 million views on YouTube. The report has clearly resonated with anxious, fearful, and increasingly angry Seattle residents. Exhausted by a decade of rising disorder and property crime—now two-and-a-half times higher than Los Angeles’s and four times higher than New York City’s—Seattle voters may have reached the point of “compassion fatigue.” According to the Seattle Times, 53 percent of Seattle voters now support a “zero-tolerance policy” on homeless encampments; 62 percent believe that the problem is getting worse because the city “wastes money by being inefficient” and “is not accountable for how the money is spent,” and that “too many resources are spent on the wrong approaches to the problem.” The city council insists that new tax revenues are necessary, including a head tax on large employers, but only 7 percent of Seattle voters think that the city is “not spending enough to really solve the problem.” For a famously progressive city, this is a remarkable shift in public opinion.

Despite this growing consensus, the activist class is pushing back. According to leaked documents, the City of Seattle and its allies have retained a crisis-communications firm to discredit Johnson and insist, notwithstanding all evidence to the contrary, that “Seattle is making progress to end homelessness, and proven solutions are working.” It’s quite a strategy: Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan is using taxpayer resources to attack a respected local journalist and convince taxpayers that they shouldn’t trust their own experience.

The city’s nonprofit and academic partners—mainstays of the homeless-industrial complex—have also launched coordinated attacks against the critics. Timothy Harris, director of Real Change News, has argued that grassroots neighborhood groups like Speak Out Seattle and labor unions like the Iron Workers Local 86 who opposed the city’s head tax are “alt-right” white supremacists, bigots, and fascists. Catherine Hinrichsen, director of the Project on Family Homelessness at Seattle University, accused Johnson of “hate-mongering” and spreading “fear.”

Retrieved April 3, 2019 from



Posted in Government, Homelessness