Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho announced Tuesday that he filed a lawsuit against the City of Sacramento 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 DA’s lawsuit was filed in tandem with a civil lawsuit by Attorney Ognian Gavrilov, on behalf of Sacramento business owners and city residents, to “allow the people to have a voice.”
Ho described the city as collapsing into chaos and said Sacramento’s homeless crisis has become an “erosion of every day life.”
DA Thien Ho announced in July that his office was gathering evidence and assessing whether or not the city violated laws pertaining to the growing homeless encampments within the city, following Presiding Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman’s letter to Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, outlining the growing unsafe conditions at the county courthouse because of so many homeless vagrants living/camping around the courthouse. Judge Bowman implored the Mayor for help, the Globe reported.
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.”
DA Ho said he received an email from the City Attorney telling him that the Sacramento Police Department is not issuing citations for unlawful camping, unlawful storage or obstruction of sidewalks or any code violations for homeless encampments.
The City Attorney goes on to say “our data indicates we receive zero citations and reports for prosecution; we can’t prosecute these cases if they aren’t sent to us.’”
The DA says “800 Sac PD officers, and there is not a single citation of these ordinance violations?”
“There are 37 city attorneys and not a single prosecution?”
DA Ho said 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.
At the press conference Del Paso resident Stephen Walton described how despite thousands of 311 calls to report homeless camps, drug deals, drug use, prostitution, sex trafficking, dangerous threats to neighbors, and the takeover of the bike trail and nearby park by the homeless, he and his neighbors in Del Paso and Old North Sacramento have been told by the city “there’s nothing they can do,” and their “hands are tied.” But the bottom line is Walton’s neighbors and neighborhood aren’t getting the public safety resources they need to protect their community.
He described the treatment by the city as “egregious” and “willful neglect,” and said they are being treated like second class citizens.
Emily lives on W. Street with her husband and two teen children, one of which has special needs. Emily described a homeless camp right in front of their home. The homeless do drugs, illegally dump trash, defecate, toss used needles everywhere, and threaten her family. Her 14-year old can’t even ride his bike to school. She said a woman moved into the camp, and her belongings blocked Emily’s driveway preventing her family fro using it. Emily and her husband have called 311, written to Mayor Steinberg and Councilwoman Valenzuela, to no avail. Emily said they “are losing sleep and exhausted.”
DA Ho said this is why he is suing.” He said it’s also a rare opportunity to affect meaningful means of getting homeless off the streets and into treatment.
The long term solution will impact the chronically homeless – mentally ill and seriously drug addicted. Ho said Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ballot initiative to update the state’s Mental Health Services Act, build psychiatric treatment units, and expand the conservatorship laws will help greatly in the long term.
The midterm goal is to create a Haven For Hope style treatment facility.
And the short term goal will be met through compliance of the laws on the books.
Be sure to watch the Sac DA’s Drone encampment video.
Video of Full Press Conference: Watch on YouTube
Copy of Complaint: Download
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