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Mixed thoughts surround proposal making sidewalk camps a misdemeanor in Sacramento

Sacramento City Council is set to discuss the new proposal which involves a new ordinance relating to sidewalk obstructions.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On Tuesday, the Sacramento City Council will start debating whether camping on the sidewalk should be a misdemeanor.

Some say this mostly impacts people who live on the streets.

"People are afraid to dine out... because of their safety, and sometimes we're concerned about our employee safety," said one of the owners of Crest Cafe in downtown Sacramento. 

The owner didn't want to share his identity on camera, but he says safety is his top priority when running his downtown business. He says he's lost a lot of business in the past because of the people camping outside nearby. 

The ordinance being discussed by city council would make it a misdemeanor to obstruct any sidewalk. 

"I'm all for it - whatever it takes to clean up the city of Sacramento as a whole. It's impacting all of us, and everywhere we go, we see encampments on the freeway, on major avenues and streets. That leaves a negative image to the city of Sacramento" said the owner of Crest Cafe. 

The owner feels it could stop the issue of people living on the sidewalks. 

However, Berry Accius, a community advocate and founder of Voice of the Youth, feels it wouldn't be in the right direction. 

"I think that we're doing more harm than good. I think that what's happening. What I'm seeing, we're criminalizing our unsheltered folks more than we're finding a solution to help solve the homelessness (issue)," Accius said. 

He says the new ordinance would push people further from getting off the streets. 

"Who wants to sleep on the sidewalk? If a person is sleeping on the sidewalk, what money or what access do they have? What resources do they have to pay for fines? So now a person is down and out on their luck. You're now going to criminalize them," Accius said. 

He believes there are better options that need to be discussed. 

The city council plans to review the new proposal during Tuesday's session. 

"If they charge them with a misdemeanor if it's gonna help, I think that's the way it should go because it's been going for too long to clean the city," said the owner of Crest Cafe. 

Accius questioned whether the city is doing the things they need to do to address the issue.

"In reality, are we truly doing the things that we need to do? Investing the money in a proper way? Are we creating housing for our unsheltered people that are living on the sidewalks?" Accius said. 

Sacramento City Council will discuss the proposal Tuesday afternoon with a plan to consider it on Aug. 16.

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