How will Chico enforce anti-camping laws? – Chico Enterprise-Record


CHICO — The order is official: the city can begin its year-long delay of enforcing its anti-camping ordinances — homeless people will have up to 10 days to leave their camp once their site has been officially notified.

Magistrate Judge Kendall Newman issued an official order Friday settling disputed issues of the Warren v. Chico agreement and permitting the city to begin issuing notices of enforcement to areas of public property planned for anti-camp enforcement.

How it works

Before any enforcement happens, the city must notify the plaintiffs’ counsel of the exact location of public property enforcement, the number of homeless people in that area, the date the city will issue notices to campers, the number of available shelter beds and a method to confirm that number —  all at least 7 days before the enforcement process begins.

The city will work through one area of public property at a time, interim City Manager Paul Hahn said, and it plans to send the first notice to the plaintiffs’ counsel on Monday.

“Our first area of emphasis is gonna be around the city hall, the City Plaza and upwards probably around Annie’s Glen,” Hahn said. “We’ll be mapping that out between now and Monday afternoon.”

Once the plaintiffs’ counsel is notified and if the plaintiffs don’t dispute, the city can then issue a 7-day notice to people in that area to begin enforcement.

While all this is happening, the housing site’s Outreach and Engagement Team conducts individual assessments to determine if a person is fit or unfit for an appropriate shelter space — a bed either at the emergency non-congregate housing site or at the Torres Community Shelter.

If the homeless person declines the appropriate shelter space after the initial 7-day period, they are given a 72-hour notice to vacate after the initial 7-day period — a total of 10 days to decide. If the person does relocate, the person will not be cited or arrested for breaking anti-camping ordinances.

“The total is potentially up to 17 days (including the initial notice to plaintiffs’ counsel). Now folks can move into the shelter anytime during that 17 days voluntarily, but at the end of the 17 days if they’re still there, and they’ve got their third 72-hour notice on an individual basis, we can then begin the process of addressing them to move,” Hahn said.

If the person accepts the appropriate shelter space, they and their property will be relocated off the public property and provided transportation if needed.

If the person is deemed unfit for an appropriate shelter space, the city may not enforce its ordinance and instead provide at least three public property locations at least half-a-mile from public, food services where the city won’t enforce in that area for 60 days. In this circumstance, the homeless person can only be moved twice in a 12-month period.

Hahn said there is no answer yet as to how the twice-a-year limitation will affect the city’s plan to enforce anti-camping ordinances.

“This is gonna be an ongoing process. As issues arise, we’ll raise them with the plaintiffs, and we’ll raise them with the judge if we need to,” Hahn said.

Lastly, for personal property that is located on public property, the city must issue a 72-hour notice of removal. If the city removes property, it must relocate it or store it elsewhere and post a “personal property relocation notice” so that the owner may retrieve their items.

Hahn said after the city is done with enforcement around City Plaza, it will move on to lower Bidwell Park.

After enforcement and people no longer occupy an area, Chico Public Works will clear debris from greenways and try to restore damages to the environment.

“We’ll asses the sites as we need and take whatever measures we can to get it back into shape. In some cases, it could involve where some damages were done to the environment, we might have to block it off for a little while to allow some restoration,” Hahn said. “Our intent is to absolutely clean it up and get it back to the condition it’s supposed to be in.”


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