Yuba and Sutter counties enforce anti-camping rules near levees

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YUBA COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) -- Anti-camping rules near hiking trails and parks in Yuba and Sutter counties are being softly enforced, using outreach teams to contact campers.

The rules took effect at the end of November resulting from concern over potential damage to levees and the safety of campers during the flood season.

"We're letting them know that hey this is going to be enforced. You have an opportunity now to relocate your encampment to a safer location," said Yuba County Code Enforcement Mgr. Jeremy Strang.

That's a relief for homeless advocates.

"We're on the same page. We're trying to find a viable answer," said Homeless Union's Bryan Brown.

Brown has lived along the river for years. He said his Homeless Union cooperated when officials wanted campers to move away from the levee, but they were allowed to camp in areas where they were previously evicted.

Along 2nd Street outside Yuba City, concrete barriers prevent homeless people from creating paths that can damage the face of the renovated levee.

There are also fewer RVs, but not because of evictions.

As campers find other places to live often through county services, their RVs are removed and replaced with concrete barriers so no one can take their place.

But this passive approach may soon change.

"Within the next couple of weeks we can move toward a harder enforcement," said Strang.

That will initially target camps that most threaten the integrity of levees, but may also expand.

"I'm a little reserved about what might happen next out here for sure," said Brown.

Groups of the chronically homeless have organized and their concerns are being listened to by county officials.

"The more people we have the better choices we have, the better ideas we have," said Brown

Despite numerous setbacks over several years, the homeless people in Sutter and Yuba counties have reason for optimism.

That includes a possible permanent encampment that is safe and clean.

One proposal called the Phoenix Nest would help Camp Fire victims as well as the homeless in three counties.

"All we need is a piece of land and I do believe the Phoenix Nest will rise above the ashes and above all of it, I really do," said homeless advocate Raelynn Butcher.

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