Home>Articles>Did City of Sacramento Break Laws on Homeless Encampments?

Sacramento homeless guy passed out near Sacramento City College and a restaurant. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

Did City of Sacramento Break Laws on Homeless Encampments?

Sacramento DA Thien Ho investigating, following up on unsafe conditions at the county courthouse

By Katy Grimes, July 20, 2023 4:53 pm

Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho announced that his office is gathering evidence and assessing whether or not the city violated laws pertaining to the growing homeless encampments within the city.

Earlier this month, the Globe reported that DA Ho sent District 4 City Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela a letter following Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman sending a letter to Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg outlining the growing unsafe conditions at the county courthouse because of so many homeless vagrants around the courthouse, and imploring the Mayor for help.

Sacramento DA Thien Ho. (Photo: thienhoforda.com)

The County courthouse is in Valenzuela’s district.

Sacramento has provided all sorts of housing options under Mayor Steinberg’s “Housing First” plan, including travel trailers (RV quality) for Sacramento’s Homeless drug-addicted transients to live in, tiny homes, “safe” camping areas, and renovated motels, but the population has only grown.

In the heart of downtown where the courthouse is, even the metered parking places have been taken over by homeless camping attaching tents to the meters. Metered parking places are revenue for the city.

Sidewalks at the courthouse and around the entire Tsakopoulos Library are often wall-to-wall drug addled homeless vagrants, urinating, defecating, performing sex acts, wandering around in a drug haze, and “camping.”

DA Ho explained the seriousness of the homeless at the courthouse:

“In the past 12 months, my office documented 86 incidents in and around the District Attorney’s Office often involving unhoused individuals. For example: while walking back from court, a young deputy district attorney was accosted and struck in the head by an unhoused individual; while returning from a court run to file documents, a female D.A. employee received threats and hateful racial slurs from an unhoused man regarding the Hijab she wore; a fire was recently set in a nearby alleyway; a man exposed his genitalia across the street from the office; a rock was thrown through the window of the G Street Cafe; a man entered the lobby of the D.A.’s Office with a hammer; and encampments are growing in and near the area parking lots. These incidents do not include our daily exposure to feces, urine, broken furniture and trash littering the area. Some sidewalks are inaccessible as rows of tents and other items make walking impossible, thus forcing pedestrians into our busy streets. It is a sad state of affairs when citizens choose to step out into the street over the dangers lurking on our city sidewalks.”

Notably, DA Ho has explained numerous times publicly and told the Councilwoman that the Martin v. Boise case “does not suggest that unsheltered individuals are immunized from law enforcement in any capacity, nor does it allow for the City to ignore the problems in a way that creates a public nuisance.”

“As the representative of District 4, I respectfully request your immediate assistance to address critical public safety concerns surrounding the Gordon D. Schaber Courthouse by formally requesting the consistent enforcement of city code and ordinance violations,” DA Ho wrote. “Unfortunately, significant public safety concerns are affecting the public, District Attorney employees, jurors called to fulfill their civic duty, defendants appearing on their cases, and victims of crime seeking justice.”

Tuesday, DA Ho spent the hour talking about this with former Sacramento Sheriff and talk show host John McGinnis on KFBK. Ho said his office identified 16 different problematic homeless camps, and posted a survey on the DA’s website for residents to respond to issues with the homeless encampments, confrontations with homeless, and the like. On Tuesday he said they already had more than 1,000 responses.

Ho said he’d prefer to avoid litigation with the city, but allowing the homeless to live and die on the streets is not compassion. He wants city officials to create more “safe” camping locations for the homeless to temporarily camp while services are organized for each safe location.

Ho noted that City Hall allows homeless to camp overnight, but must vacate during the day. He said he’s also asking for camping at night but not during the daytime at various locations noting that restrictions can be imposed.

Unsurprisingly, the Sacramento Bee editorial board has a big problem with District Attorney Ho, and apparently prefer that Sacramento’s homeless drug addicts be allowed to loiter, live and die on the city streets.

In an editorial titled, Sacramento’s DA dangerously politicizes homelessness at the worst possible time,” they accuse DA Ho of being on a “crusade,” “creating this cloud of suspicion over the city’s elected officials,” and imply he is not capable of addressing “a tenuous partnership between the city and county.”

They must feel this way because the city has done such a bang-up job of doubling the city’s homeless population, putting city residents in harms way with the unpredictable, violent drug addicts. They conclude DA Ho’s “crusade” is “a waste of time and an unfortunate distraction,” and say “if Ho wants to truly help, he could support Safe Ground, even near his neighborhood, as an important step toward improving overall public safety.”

“Even near his neighborhood…” what a cheap shot.

And then the Sacramento Bee editorial board tells DA Ho and the rest of the city’s residents to get used to living with the homeless: “The public needs to get comfortable with this step in managing homelessness.”


DA Ho’s  Neighborhood Nuisance Abatement Questionnaire is available at sacda.org. He encourages anyone who lives in the city or has to work in the city to complete the questionnaire.

Miller Park “Safe Ground” with illegal tent camps of homeless. (Photo: Art Taylor for California Globe)
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11 thoughts on “Did City of Sacramento Break Laws on Homeless Encampments?

  1. D.A. Ho is a God send! I hope he succeeds in getting these encampments to be declared illegal which they are!
    It’s easier to tell residents get used to it than actually combat the issue and the root causes!
    I call that an abdication of responsibility to protect and serve the citizens of their jurisdiction!

  2. It’s great to hear that Sacramento County D.A. Thien Ho is taking action to address the unacceptable homeless/vagrant nightmare that has gone on way too long and has only grown and grown during that time. The hit from the Sacramento Bee was completely out of line (of course), especially given how diplomatic D.A. Ho’s approach has been in handling this. Considering the Sacramento Bee would have likely given unfair coverage no matter what, apparently because of the threat to the homeless industrial complex, I think if I were in D.A. Ho’s position I would have been tempted to take even stronger measures and be more blunt about what has been plaguing Sacramento for a very long time now.

  3. The Sacramento Bee ceased being relevant years ago and Sacramento natives with common sense know that it just regurgitates the Democrat party line. Is that obnoxious Marcos Breton still on the Bee’s editorial board whom Katy Grimes used to refer to as the “born again Mexican?”

    1. It is very rare to find an independent newspaper that informs readers, your are correct they just push Democrat talking points and unfortunately the Bee is one of the worst, next to the S.F. Chroronicle.
      Ha, Marcos Breton, the born again Mexican. Just like Jerry Rivers aka Geraldo Rivera the born again Puerto Rican. It is an example they will do and say anything to conform to make a name for themselves.
      Identity politics is a Marxist tool.

  4. Thank you for this article, as it is a perfect example of what we are living with daily and what ‘they’ ( politicians and the people that do evil deep in their pockets ) report as ‘reality’ .
    However, The Bee actually admits to one thing there …. It is a step…. But whose step in which plan and did the citizens help to form that plan or did Gavin Newsom.
    Ps- the other day I saw a woman with a ‘ Newsom 2024 ‘ bumper sticker.
    Very triggering …lol

      1. I think you nailed it, Show, that must be why they keep voting him in.
        Can’t spell Newsom without EWww.

  5. The homeless issue isn’t just downtown Sacramento, it all over in almost every city, state, and district. Instead of city, county leaders and judicial leaders complaining and wanting to criminalize homeless people who are a product of a failed system, by the elected officials. Why don’t the highest employed honorable public figures come together and find and implement a way to include affordable low income housing investments in all districts and neighborhoods, in their fiscal budgets, like they do when making sure their salaries and job seats are secured?

  6. God bless DA Thien HO.
    With that said, he has a tight rope to walk.
    Martin vs Boise (9th circuit) Kincaid vs Fresno (2.3 million) to list a few are Civil rights law suits that have been lost. The fact that our public leaders have not done anything for so long has set a precedent.
    Kind’a like telling your 17 yr old, who had no curfew, now has to be in by 9:00 or like not enforcing immigration laws for so long.
    Civil right law suits are paid out by the jurisdiction where the filing takes place; a lose lose for the tax payers. Just look up Mark Merin.
    WE, (present company not included) have voted for these leaders for so long, that now we have painted ourselves into a corner. Support DA Ho, but understand his tool box is largely empty, but he has guts.

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