City Removes Benches From K Street, Says it’s Not to Target Those Experiencing Homelessness

Update: On Monday, the City of Sacramento reported the 10 benches will be reinstalled in the coming days.

SACRAMENTO –  It's something you may not have paid much attention to at all but Friday night along the K Street corridor in downtown Sacramento plenty of people is upset over what was quietly removed -- benches that have been used mostly by the homeless.

The city says the benches were moved as part of a maintenance project, hoping to improve the area for everyone. They say this is just a step in their plan to revitalize and not meant to target the homeless.

But advocates were not buying it.

A small bench on K Street has served as Jessica Hurd’s bed for weeks.

“It was kind of comfortable actually. It beats the ground,” Hurd said.

The city removed 10 benches along a popular area in downtown Sacramento earlier this week.

“The idea would be, 'Gee, if we could just remove all those park benches maybe all those homeless people would move onto another part of town.’ That’s not going to happen. It just made life more difficult,” said Bob Erlenbusch.

Erlenbusch is executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness. He sees removing the benches as an effort to keep homeless people from the area.

“It makes it very uncomfortable or increasingly uncomfortable to be downtown and to be on this street when there’s nowhere to sit down. So that feels like it’s targeting people experiencing homelessness,” Erlenbusch said.

But the city says that’s not its intention.

The City Manager’s Office declined an on-camera interview but sent FOX40 a statement, saying in part:

“In October, as part of a general maintenance project, the City identified several improvements on K Street that included repainting crosswalks, repaving streets, removing hard-to-maintain planter boxes, trimming trees and removing some street furniture and inoperable equipment. The removal of the benches was part of the maintenance project.”

But regardless of the motive, Hurd says not having a place to sit or rest does make her reconsider staying along K Street, but she doesn’t know where else she’d go.

“People should be more considerate of us homeless people,” Hurd said.

FOX40 spoke with several business owners in the area who did not want to go on camera. They all seemed happy about the decision to remove the benches, saying it will hopefully keep homeless people away who leave trash and cause problems for their businesses.