Executive Director Dianna Poggetto and Board Member Karen Doron discuss the Parkway Foundation’s support for the County’s recent illegal camping ordinances on the caveat that the County continue to make finding shelter for the unhoused a priority. Poggetto discusses recent actions from the Parkway Foundation to address illegal camping. Doron urges the community to keep their minds open when it comes to shelter proposals.
Driving Solutions to Issues Impacting the Parkway
The American River Parkway Foundation is constantly searching for solutions to issues that are impacting the American River Parkway. There are currently three issues we are focused on working with local leaders and stakeholders to solve.
There are an estimated 2,000-3,000 illegal campers along the full 23-mile stretch of the Parkway. The lack of action from our local leaders to address this issue drove the Parkway Foundation to submit a Demand Letter to the County of Sacramento and City of Sacramento in January 2022 pressing for coordination and action on finding solutions. Since the submission of our letter, we have connected with local leaders, business leaders, other Parkway advocates, advocates for the unhoused and media. We also held a clean-up for local leaders so they could get a firsthand perspective of the destruction that’s taking place on the Parkway and discuss solutions.
Through our discussions, this is what we’ve learned:
- The County of Sacramento and City of Sacramento signed an agreement solidifying roles and responsibilities for addressing the homelessness crisis, especially within city limits. Read more
- $25 million has been allocated in the California budget specifically to address illegal camping on the Parkway. Read more
- The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved $23 million to purchase a shelter in North Highlands. Read more
- The Sacramento City Council approved $35 million to fund 820 new affordable housing units in six new developments. At least 80 of those will be specifically for unhoused individuals. Read more
- Sacramento County released an explanation for why it pulled out of a potential shelter project with the City of Sacramento. Read more
- The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved two illegal camping ordinances: one focused on critical infrastructure and the other focused specifically on the Parkway. Read more
- The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved a ballot measure for the November ballot that would establish a tax on cannabis and hemp business activities in the unincorporated area of the County. This money would be used to fund homelessness. It needs 2/3 approval from Sacramento County residents to pass. Read more
- The 2022 Point in Time Count counted more than 9,200 unhoused individuals in Sacramento, but estimated that number could easily exceed 16,000. In the small stretch of the Parkway that was included (less than 5 miles), 594 people were counted, meaning the estimates of 2,000+ on the Parkway are easily imaginable. Read more
- The Sacramento Bee covered the plight of the Parkway, how it is being impacted by illegal camping and what local leaders are trying to do to address the issue. Read more
- The City of Sacramento established a safe site for the unhoused at Miller Park and is working with Sacramento Regional Transit on a safe parking space at the Roseville Road Regional Transit light rail station parking lot (Read more).
- The County of Sacramento allocated the second round of ARPA funding. $35,500,000 was earmarked for housing and homelessness services. Read more
- The County of Sacramento declared a shelter emergency on Feb. 16, allowing the County to streamline the establishment of new shelters. Several sites are under discussion throughout the County. Read more
- The County is developing a tiny home village off of Florin Road that will contain 100 units. Construction has begun. Read more A second village was approved for the parking lot of the County Department of Health Services building on East Parkway. This village will contain 45 units. Read more
- The County is also committing $2.5 million to fund 60 beds at the Salvation Army in Sacramento for one year. Read more
- The City, County and local organizations need a single coordinated entry system they can work through to track touchpoints with unhoused individuals. Both the County and the City have committed funding toward this effort as has Sacramento Steps Forward.
- The Sacramento City Council passed a referendum that placed a measure on the November ballot. The measure would open the city to lawsuits from residents if leaders don’t take action to establish shelter beds or Safe Ground camping spaces for 60% of the city’s homeless population. Read more
- The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors is considering a similar ordinance or ballot measure. This will be discussed further at upcoming Board of Supervisor meetings.
- A bill introduced by state legislators from local districts (AB 2633) aims to provide more authority to the Board of Supervisors to remove illegal campers from the Parkway. Since being introduced, the bill has been amended to focus only on the Parkway and include more protections for illegal campers. It was recently pulled by the bill’s authors and is dead.
- The Washington Post covered the homelessness issue in Sacramento and the different proposals to address it. The Parkway is included in the narrative. Read more
- The County of Sacramento released an update on investment in homelessness services in the current fiscal year. This includes funding for outreach teams and beds.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that would establish the CARE Court system. Read more
The conversations continue and we have exciting news that will come soon.
In 2021, more than 200 fires burned over 15% of the Parkway. Most of those fires were human caused.
To highlight the devastation, the Parkway Foundation developed the Parkway in Peril video, which was released during a panel discussion about solutions to solving this issue.
The Parkway Foundation also formed the American River Parkway Fire Safe Council, a group of 60 organizations focused on implementing fire mitigation solutions outlined in a 2015 study that was commissioned by the County of Sacramento.
- CBS13 and KCRA 3 both covered the increase in vegetation fires and the correlation with the rise in illegal camps.
Open Space Management
Portions of the Parkway not in any of the 11 established recreation areas (i.e. Discovery Park, River Bend Park, Rossmoor Bar) are considered open space. The Parkway Foundation is attempting to work with the County to assume responsibility of vegetation management of the open space so that the County can continue to focus on established recreation areas as the priority.
This was also included in our Demand Letter.
How You Can Get Involved
We rely on the community to help us drive solutions, which is why we formed our Voice of the Parkway Coalition. This is a coalition of concerned Parkway users, local businesses, organizations and corporations focused on solutions that support the conservation of the Parkway.
More News and Resources
Voice of the Parkway Coalition
The Parkway is in crisis and we need your help. Learn more about our coalition and how you can play a role in protecting Sacramento’s greatest natural resource.
Parkway in Peril
Conversations around the issues impacting the Parkway need to happen, which is why we produced Parkway in Peril video.
American River Parkway Fire Safe Council
The American River Parkway Foundation is leading a group of more than 60 organizations in fire mitigation efforts on the Parkway.
Parkway Foundation Brings Local Leaders Together for Clean-Up
Local leaders joined Parkway Foundation volunteers, board members and staff on March 12, 2022 for a clean-up near the Northgate River Access that allowed them to get a firsthand perspective at the destruction that’s taking place on the Parkway and discuss solutions.