SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Voters will see a measure on their ballot this November about Sacramento’s unhoused population.
The Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 to advance the Emergency Shelter and Enforcement Act of 2022 in a special meeting Tuesday night. If passed by voters, the measure would allow city officials to provide more shelters for unhoused residents, but at the same time allow officials to clear more homeless encampments.
To make the ballot measure valid, city and county officials agree to have certain roles to address homelessness in their jurisdictions.
If voters approve the measure, it would go into effect only if Sacramento County leaders agree to their part in providing certain services for the unhouse population such as mental health and substance abuse services, clinical outreach and case management, child welfare, and domestic violence services.
In a 5-0 vote Wednesday night, the Sacramento Board of Supervisors approved two ordinances to prohibit camping on the entire stretch of the American River and Dry Creek Parkways.
What will be considered “emergency shelter space” be?
The Emergency and Enforcement Act initiative was first approved by the council in April and was revamped in the latest vote. One of the latest changes in the measure is how many shelters the city can provide.
The city will be required to identify up to about 600 more homeless shelter beds or sanctioned camping spaces. Currently, the city has about 1,100 shelter beds and spaces.
According to a city council report, “Emergency Shelter Space” includes the following:
- An enclosed or partially enclosed space of at least 70 square feet with a bed and roof that provides protection from the sun and rain in which a person may sleep
- A space of at least 100 square feet in which a person may camp. The city may provide the camp paraphernalia, or the person may bring their own camp paraphernalia, according to rules for that location. The city may permit the person to sleep in the space during designated nighttime hours and require them to vacate the space during the day, so long as each person is provided reasonable space for storage of property and possession during the time the person is required to vacate the space
- A space of at least 150 square feet in which a person may park a vehicle in which they can sleep temporarily
How emergency shelter would be identified and provided
The city manager will identify and authorize at least the number of new emergency shelter spaces that equals 20% of the minimum threshold within 90 days if voters approve the measure, according to the city council report.
Any month thereafter, if the utilization rate is greater than 60%, within 30 days, the city manager is allowed to identify and authorize an additional number of emergency shelter spaces that equal to 20% of the minimum threshold.
However, the city manager is not required to identify and authorize emergency shelter spaces that exceed the minimum threshold. The city manager may allow emergency shelter spaces to accommodate people with physical disabilities, partners, and pets, though pets may be kenneled.
The city manager may include emergency shelter spaces within the city that are:
- On any public property, except for city streets, sidewalks, or neighborhood parks, locations within 1,000 feet of a K-12 school, public library, licensed daycare or preschool facility, or playground, or locations within 500 feet of a stream of the river
- Provided by nonprofit organizations if such space is adequate and reasonably available
- Established by contract with an owner of private property, or local, state, or federal government
What is an “unlawful encampment”?
According to the council report, unlawful encampments are located on public or private property including:
- Camp, occupy camp facilities, or use camp paraphernalia
- Accumulate or fail to properly dispose of waste including, but not limited to, hazardous waste, human waste, garbage, debris, and used needles
What is the public saying about the measure?
Some community members asked the city council to dissolve the measure at Tuesday’s meeting. They argued the ordinance would be against people’s rights and that it will shuffle people around, rather than establish more permanent assistance.
Homeless advocates argued that homeless camps should not be removed until there is enough housing.