SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In South Sacramento, south of Meadowview Road and just east of I-5, there’s 102 acres of land that the city of Sacramento is planning to use for a large Safe Site where unhoused Sacramentans can park.
Officials made the call to buy the land from federal government for around $12.3 million, but the remaining decisions on how to use the land remain up in the air.
Amber and Carlton Brown live just north of the planned development. They were not happy to hear about plans for the homeless.
“I do believe that anybody in this area, who have fought year after year about not putting developments back there, was afraid of something like this happening,” said Amber Brown.
Carlton Brown agreed, saying the area and its residents have been through a lot in the recent past.
“They’re already battling the things that went on here in this community, and it’s getting better and you want to bring that in? That’s a major issue,” Carlton Brown said.
He has a message for community leaders.
“Listen to the community. Listen to the community. Have a vote before you do that. Don’t just throw something on us that we didn’t ask for,” he said.
The 102 acres of land is in Councilmember Mai Vang’s district, and she was instrumental in its purchase. She said she and the city’s leaders will be listening.
“In the following months ahead, I’m going to be hosting a series of listening sessions to co-create and dream big, a vision that will actually guide the development of this property. Right now, it is a blank canvas. But I want to make sure that the community has an opportunity to chime in and to help co-develop what that’s going to look like,” Vang said.
She emphasized the land was just purchased last week, and plans are in the beginning phase.
“For the short term, we definitely have to make sure we provide relief for our unhoused neighbors. But we need to make sure that there’s a solid plan to bring investment into South Sacramento. We also know that we have a housing crisis. And by law, because we purchased this property from the federal government, 25% of it has to be for affordable housing. I would like to see more of it be more affordable housing,” Vang said.
Vang responded to concerns like those voiced by Amber and Carlton Brown.
“South Sacramento, We are caring. We are loving. We have neighbors right here, right now on our streets that need help. And this is a moral imperative,” Vang said.
Bob Erlenbush is the executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness. He reacted to the news of the Meadowview purchase.
“It’s an important down payment to begin to find permanent solutions for the crisis,” Erlenbush said.
He hopes it’s a sign of things to come.
“I hope that this is a sign that the city is going to start being more proactive and not a one-time investment,” Erlenbush said.
He said that, despite people not wanting the homeless resources nearby their home, the unhoused are already there.
“I don’t even call them NIMBY anymore. I call it 'BANANA' – Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything,” he said.