Arrests, camp clearings and citations for other behaviors that lawyers and advocates say unfairly target the homeless have skyrocketed along the American River Parkway in recent months, even as temporary shelters and permanent homes for them in Sacramento County remain insufficient.
The enforcement shift raises questions among some about how Sacramento County rangers and officials can increase efforts to clean, preserve and protect the American River Parkway – buoyed by new funding and an expanded staff – without violating the spirit of the Martin v. City of Boise court decision.
“The best we can do is continue to be creative in how we address the impacts” of camping on the parkway, Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna told the board last month, and “simultaneously focus on providing shelter and wrap-around services for those that feel like their only option is to camp.”
Mounting trash, needles and human waste along the American River Parkway led the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to approve a $5 million plan to boost the county’s regional parks department to address issues related to the homeless in August 2017.
“As someone that’s grown up here, that enjoys all kinds of recreational amenities associated with the parkway in his youth and would like to do so as he grows old,” Serna told the board last month, “it really is a shame that – like so many of my constituents – I don’t necessarily feel safe, I don’t necessarily appreciate the deteriorating aesthetic.”
Want to know more about the homeless crisis in Sacramento County? Find full coverage here.
Sacramento Bee reporter Michael Finch II contributed to this report.