SACRAMENTO — Homeless encampments on sidewalks are an eyesore to some and a nuisance to others, and soon they could become misdemeanors.
When Sacramento city councilman Jeff Harris was asked if a misdemeanor was too harsh, he said, “I don’t think so. Look, what we are asking people to do is just not have barbecues, bikes, and trash all over the sidewalk.”
Harris introduced the new proposal that requires four feet of clearance for pedestrians.
Councilmember Katie Valenzuela says the city has many success stories of getting people into housing and is concerned that a misdemeanor will create a barrier to that process and lead to jail time.
“If someone is not going to move for an infraction, then their not going to move for a misdemeanor either because they’re thinking ‘who cares?’ what’s the point?’ ‘I have nowhere else to go,'” said Valenzuela.
When asked if this addresses the bigger problem at hand, Harris responded, “Of course, it’s not addressing the bigger problem, but it is a management technique until we can stand up enough shelter beds that we have enough options.”
He continued, “In the meantime, you have to have management techniques. Are you happy with the way our city looks?’ If you had to walk your child to school and couldn’t get by a homeless encampment and had to walk in the roadway, would you be OK with that? I’m not, and my constituents are not.”
The city council will discuss the proposal next week, and then it is set to go up for a vote on August 16.