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City Officials Worry Homeless Campers are Weakening Sacramento’s Levees

Data pix.

SACRAMENTO -- Homeless camps along the Sacramento and American rivers are creating a potential problem that could affect thousands.

Denise Plescia, who lives nearby, often sees the homeless camps all along the rivers.

"They find places to hide, like that bush right there," she told FOX40.

Now, some of the campers may be putting Plescia’s home at risk by compromising the structural integrity of the levees themselves.

Tim Kerr, general manager of the American River Flood Control District, gave FOX40 a tour Monday of some of the problem areas along the American River bike path just north of downtown Sacramento.

He explained that some of the campers have been digging on the levee slope in order to get a flat surface for their tents. But when the river levels rise in the winter that damage could cause serious problems.

"You can have wind and wave action battering into the cut and that could weaken the soil and cause chunks of the levee to slip away," Kerr said.

"In one spot a guy had actually cut into the levee enough like a cave," said Sacramento City Councilman Jeff Harris. "That could cause a breach. There’s no doubt about it, this is dangerous."

Harris said he’s asked the American River Flood Control District and Reclamation District 1000, which manages the levees on the Sacramento River, for the location of the most problematic camps. He hopes to have law enforcement go out and educate those causing the problem.

"When they realize that they’re being displaced because they’re causing harm to our levees the word will get out," Harris told FOX40.

On Friday, the Reclamation District 1000 board also voted to send letters to several law enforcement agencies asking for their help solving the problem.

FOX40 was told the Sacramento City Council will be hearing a report about the problem from the levee districts in the next few weeks.

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