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Sacramento County approves camping ban along American River Parkway | Update

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on two anti-camping measures that would allow the policing of some homeless encampments.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Update: 9:30 p.m.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors called up both items together during a Wednesday meeting. Both anti-camping measures passed. They'll be brought back to the Board on Aug. 23 for adoption.

Before the vote took place, Supervisor Don Nottoli voiced his support for the ordinances. 

"I don't come to it with tremendous reservations. I do have concerns though about what it means and what we're actually going to be able to accomplish. If we don't try in some respects to deal in real time with some of the problems we see, I think we just become more and more frozen in our ability to actually make some progress," Nottoli said.

Supervisor Patrick Kennedy added that the county will make meaningful engagement, to the degree possible, before pursuing enforcement.

Original Story:

Setting up camp along the American River Parkway could soon be a criminal act in Sacramento.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors are set to vote Wednesday to potentially bar anyone from being on the parkway between the first hours of sunset and sunrise starting as early as September, pending a final vote on Aug. 23.

The board is also considering a second measure to restrict camping near critical infrastructure like schools and government buildings.

“It’s ugly,” Charlie Ramirez, a Sacramento business owner, said. “It’s ugly for visitors, it’s ugly for the city, it’s ugly for businesses.”

Some in the community are hopeful this aggressive action will increase safety, prevent fires in encampments and help keep the river clean.

“The people living there leave their stuff and it gets sucked into the water and it’s doing irreparable damage to the waterway,”  said Crystal Tobias, with Sacramento Picks It Up.

However, homeless advocates say the changes go too far and will not solve the homeless crisis in Sacramento.

“What it seems to me they’re doing is they’re trying to make homelessness less visible in a certain area but the thing is it’s not going away,” Joseph Smith, Loaves & Fishes Advocacy Director, said. “It’s simply going to become visible in another area somewhere else, which is going to upset another part of the population, and in the meanwhile, they’re traumatizing these folks by making them uproot from somewhere most of them have been for quite a long time.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg agrees more housing options and resources must be made available before any enforcement occurs.

“I wish that the county would not go forward with that measure, and they would link whatever humane enforcement to actual legal obligation to provide more shelter, housing and mental health and substance abuse services,” Mayor Steinberg said.

On Tuesday, the mayor along with the Sacramento City Council voted 7 to 2 to amend a homeless measure set to appear on the November ballot that would issue a misdemeanor to any person living on city streets who reject offers for available housing. However, that is only if the city first builds thousands of shelter spaces for them to go.

He hopes to work in collaboration with the county to provide housing and mental health resources to address the area’s rise in homelessness.

“We’re far from a place of celebration because there’s too many people suffering and the community is frustrated,” Mayor Steinberg said. “But last night was a big deal, because for the first time, we’ve legally connected a city action to a to-be partnership agreement with the county, so let’s get that partnership agreement done.”

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