Yuba, Sutter counties pass urgency ordinances to restrict homeless camping. Advocates say they have nowhere else to go

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MARYSVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) -- Homeless advocates are fearing the worst after Yuba and Sutter counties passed urgency ordinances restricting camping on public property along its rivers.

Just like other communities, Yuba City and Marysville have been struggling with the growing homeless population.

Because there is so much riverfront in both cities, camping was widespread here for years. But in recent years, the homeless have been cleared out because of health, crime and fire hazards.

Now, regional governments have a coordinated approach in passing urgency ordinances restricting camping even further.

“All these people have nowhere to go,” Raelynn Butcher, who is homeless and a member of the Homeless Union, told FOX40. “They’re going to lose their stuff, their homes. Those are their homes.”

Butcher said she fears the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office will begin enforcing the ordinance on Friday. Marysville police have already begun enforcing its version of the urgency ordinance.

The problem is that an alternate space has not been identified, even though a regional homeless task force has been looking for a place.

Many of the vehicles owned by the homeless aren’t registered or can even move safely.

“These people right here, when they pull out, they’re going to be pulled over and they’re going to lose everything they have. And that’s my greatest fear right now,” Butcher said.

One of the objections is that some believe the ordinances were approved without input from those most affected.

“Because someone is homeless doesn’t mean they’re not smart or they don’t have impact or ideas on what to do,” Poor People’s Campaign spokeswoman Rev. Pamela Anderson said.

Government officials told FOX40 that having tents on the river impedes flood inspections and campers directly digging into the levees is a concern.

“Digging in? No, they’re not digging in,” Butcher said. “I think they’re using that as an excuse. I really do.”

The urgency ordinances allow local jurisdictions some flexibility in how they enforce them. Some will be concentrating on education and warnings, but homeless campers fear law enforcement will begin citing starting Friday.

Homeless advocates say the new law violates a federal court ruling that homeless people can’t be cited for camping unless they are provided with an alternative place to go.

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