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Sacramento County homeless camping ban now in effect

Sacramento County officials say there won't be mass sweeps of encampments just because the ordinance is now in place.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Sacramento County's new ordinance banning homeless encampments in certain areas along the American River Parkway is now in effect.

The county says there will not be mass sweeps of encampments just because the ordinance is in place.

Sacramento County says its main reason for the camping ban is safety concerns along the American River Parkway from acts of violence to wildfire dangers.

“Not only the increase in campers but the increase in violence, the increase in fires that are both damaging to the parkway and dangerous to those living on the parkway, people who have homes along the parkway as well as the animal life on the parkway,” said Janna Haynes with Sacramento County.

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District told ABC10 this summer sometimes crews will respond to multiple fires a day at the American River Parkway. The fires are tough to access, putting crews and residents at risk.

Homeless advocates are concerned about the lack of resources available at this time.

Joseph Smith, advocacy director for Loaves and Fishes, explained the people around the parkway have been there for a long time, so it’s the only home they know.

“They made it as safe and as livable as possible, and if they’re uprooted without anywhere specifically to go, they’re coming into the neighborhoods, they’re coming into the streets,” Smith said.

The new ban makes it possible for law enforcement to arrest campers and charge them with a misdemeanor for not complying.

The Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento County Sheriff's Office both said when these ordinances were passed they would prefer voluntary compliance and charges would be the last resort.

It’s estimated by homeless advocates this will displace 2,000 people along the parkway.

The county is working to provide alternative shelter if residents will accept their assistance. Back in June, the Board of Supervisors approved a $5 million budget for a new American River Parkway Homeless Shelter, but the timeline for the project remains unclear.

Watch more on ABC10: American River Parkway gets $25M revamp from Sacramento budget

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