Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho is threatening criminal charges against the City of Sacramento and Sacramento Attorney Mark Merin over the city sanctioned homeless camp “Camp Resolution”as a “safe parking shelter” in north Sacramento, alleging the city-leased site is contaminated. DA Ho called the former vehicle maintenance yard “the Sacramento’s version of Camp Lejeune,” referencing the contaminated Marine Corps base in North Carolina, KCRA reported. “The city, its leaders, its attorney and the nonprofit tasked with protecting our unhoused continue to ‘look the other way’ and shift blame,” Ho said in a letter.
In March, the city of Sacramento leased the property at 2225 Colfax St. to the homeless advocate nonprofit organization Safe Ground Sacramento leased by attorney Merin. “The lease agreement is the first of its kind for the City. It was brokered by Councilmember Sean Loloee, who represents the district; Sacramento City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood; Mark Merin, executive director for Safe Ground Sacramento; and Anthony Prince, an attorney for the Sacramento Homeless Union who represents the residents at the site known as ‘Camp Resolution,’” the City’s announcement of the arrangement said.
Sacramento’s homeless drug-addicted, mentally-ill, criminal vagrant population have clearly shown they can’t govern or take care of themselves. They have been allowed to camp, squat and roam unrestrained in the Sacramento region. They are disrupting daily business life in Sacramento’s downtown, as well as the residential neighborhoods in and around the city. And city officials and the mayor have done little to prevent and stop this.
This led Sacramento District Attorney Thien Ho to file a lawsuit against the City of Sacramento in September for failing to abate the homeless crisis in the Capitol city. DA Ho said Sacramento’s homeless crisis has exploded by more than 250% in just 7 years – the length of time Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg has been mayor.
Ho said in the letter that per the agreement, RVs parked on the property must be elevated off the ground to prevent the buildup of cancer-causing chemicals, and there shouldn’t be any tents on the ground or anyone living on unpaved dirt areas.
“As of last week, there are still tents sitting on the ground at Sacramento’s version of Camp Lejeune,” Ho said, in reference to the Marine Corps base in North Carolina that experienced decades of water contamination. “The city, its leaders, its attorney and the nonprofit tasked with protecting our unhoused continue to ‘look the other way’ and shift blame.”
Ho said in a statement to KCRA 3 that he is an advocate for “safe ground” shelter space.
But he called it “dangerous and shameful to knowingly expose the unhoused to cancer-causing chemicals on a toxic dumpsite under the guise of ‘housing’ them.”
Predictably, the Sacramento Homeless Union accused Ho of feigning a “phony concern for the homeless.”
“The advocacy group said the letter distorted claims about the chemicals at the site, saying that in one case a byproduct of gas emissions was detected in ambient air unrelated to subsurface soil vapor, while other chemicals cited by Ho were not detected in outdoor air samples,” KCRA reported.
“For decades the city the property as a vehicle maintenance yard which included underground tanks that stored diesel and gasoline. Petroleum from the storage tanks seeped into the soil, polluting the air with toxic vapors, and contaminating the groundwater with benzene, trichloroethene (TCE), and tetrachloroethene (PCE),” toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects and long term debilitating health conditions.
DA Ho outlines the “scheme” the Sacramento Homeless Union had with an Oakland homeless group which traveled to Sacramento in 2022 and stormed the gates of the Colfax property, set up came and designated it a “self-governing zone” where the rule of law does not apply. Neighbors called the police, but when SacPD showed up, the occupiers claimed the Mayor (Steinberg) knew of their occupation – as if it was sanctioned – and the police allowed them to stay. Despite numerous complaints over the next months from neighbors, it took an Engineering Biologist who warned of the toxic vapors trapped by the tents to facilitate change. However, as DA Ho says, City officials halted enforcement action, allowing the homeless occupiers to remain on the contaminated property, as Ho’s letter explains:
On its Facebook page, the Sacramento Homeless Union said:
Only cowards use vulnerable people in the crossfire for their political gain. If you are seeking public safety for real there are 20,000 people that could use real advocacy to fight to get them off the street……if it wasn’t political and the unhoused truly mattered the county would be included not just the City you are trying to shove in the corner and blackmail. Open your listen: YOU WILL NOT USE UNHOUSED PEOPLE AS A PAWN IN YOUR POLITICAL GAMES.
The Facebook page says “The National Union of the Homeless is an organization of homeless leaders committed to ending the opp.”
The National Union of the Homeless was a national union of local activist organizations that fought for housing rights and economic justice in the United States. It went “into decline in the early 1990s,” but was resurrected in 2019 shifting its focus from housing to homeless.
In a letter response to the DA, the Sacramento Homeless Union claims:
Homeless Union Responds to D.A. Thien Ho’s Lies About Camp Resolution and Threats of “Criminal Liability”
“The D.A. is panic peddling with his sensationalist, distorted and insincere ‘concerns’ about hazards.”
“The Union and the City have been working for weeks on issues that Mr. Ho now seeks to exploit only to advance his political career.
They allege DA Ho’s letter is “replete with distortions and false statements, including, for example, that Camp residents are being exposed to trichloroethene (TCE) and tetrachlorethene (PCE). In fact, however, in a letter dated January 13, 2023 to the City of Sacramento, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, its laboratory ‘did not detect TCE and PCE in outdoor air samples.’”
It is notable that the Sacramento Homeless Union filed a complaint against District Attorney Ho with the California Bar Association in September claiming Ho has “abused and misused his position as Sacramento District Attorney and violated the Rules of Professional responsibility.”
These are the tactics of unaccountable goons who claim to care for the homeless, yet demand they remain on the streets.
District Attorney Ho described the City of Sacramento as collapsing into chaos and says Sacramento’s homeless crisis has become an “erosion of every day life.”
DA Ho said at a press conference in September that in the last year his office has prosecuted 11,000 misdemeanor cases, including many city code violations. “We are just asking the city to enforce the law,” Ho said.
“Do laws apply to some of us or none of us?” DA Ho asked. “The city instead chose to enforce some of the laws some of the time against some of the people,” DA Ho says in the lawsuit. He said it’s also a rare opportunity to affect meaningful means of getting homeless off the streets and into treatment.
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