Sacramento Lawmakers Want to Make It Easier to Clean Up Homeless Encampments

Sacramento-area lawmakers have introduced a bill that would allow removal of homeless encampments at designated “special parklands” like Sacramento’s American River Parkway.

“This bill would authorize the board of supervisors of a county or any other governing body of parkland or open space to order the removal of illegal campers or clearing of illegal campsites from its special parklands, as defined, to protect and preserve sensitive natural habitat, critical wildlife, flood infrastructure, recreational activities, public facilities, public safety, and the adjacent community from significant environmental degradation,” AB 2633 (Cooley) reads.

The bill defines special parklands as “parklands, open spaces, and natural preserves that have a heightened risk of damage from wildfire or other significant environmental degradation due to the unique and valuable environmental, agricultural, scientific, educational, and recreational resources located therein.”

Assemblymen Ken Cooley, Kevin McCarty and Jim Cooper urged support for AB 2633 at the American River Parkway’s El Manto Access Point on Friday. They were joined by Sacramento County Supervisor Rich Desmond. The lawmakers spoke about the increase in crime and the recent murder of 20-year-old Emma Roark, a woman with special needs. A transient from the area has been arrested for her rape and murder.

McCarty noted that many cities have been hesitant to enforce anti-camping laws ever since the 2018 Boise decision. In that case, the Ninth Circuit ruled that governments could not enforce anti-camping laws unless they have adequate shelter for the unhoused.

“We need to draw a line in the sand,” said McCarty, as quoted by KCRA. “We certainly have a homeless crisis in our city, but there are certain places you can't camp.”