SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento City Council is set to vote on a homeless ordinance Tuesday that if passed, would allow law enforcement to move homeless encampments blocking the entrance of businesses and sidewalk access.
It comes at a time when many residents are raising safety concerns about these spaces.
“It’s just become a difficult area to live in,” Jenny Reiken, a Midtown Sacramento resident, said.
Neighbor Lauren Wesche added that the homeless crisis in Sacramento needs more attention.
“I found two individuals shooting up in front of my kitchen window,” Wesche said.
They told ABC10 it has become more than a public nuisance in what was once a peaceful neighborhood, and it remains a safety concern.
“We’re finding drugs in our yard,” Reiken said. “Most of us have dogs, so in the morning, we have to make sure our yards are clean and safe before we let the dogs out. We find a lot of people passed out along our fence line. Needles, drugs are on our property.”
It’s feedback like this from the community that has Sacramento City Council taking action. Leaders are set to vote Tuesday on an ordinance to bar some homeless encampments. Under the ordinance, the city must provide alternative shelter options and store the person’s belongings in a safe location.
“We want people to feel good about their experiences,” Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, said. “We want people to be able to get into their businesses.”
Ault said the sidewalk ban would give police more tools to help.
“We know the human side of what’s taking place,” he said. “Absolutely, we need more resources. We need the city and county to come together to help bring more services to help provide opportunities but the basic core issue of opening the sidewalks, getting the community back, being able to let businesses run their business should be a core priority.”
However, homeless advocates like Bob Erlenbusch said people living on the street have no where else to go.
“We have 10,000 homeless people in our community. 7,000 who are outside through no fault of their own. Some people are going to be on the sidewalk,” Erlenbusch, with the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, said. “Why criminalize people who are experiencing homelessness because of your failure, i.e. you being the city council and board of supervisors for failing to create enough shelter and affordable housing.”
Those who violate the ordinance could face a misdemeanor charge with up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.
“You’re going to fine people who have no money? This is counter-productive,” Erlenbusch said.
If approved, the sidewalk ordinance would take effect by the end of September.