Last July 2022 the Globe reported that a 24-hour homeless respite center on the outermost fringe of the City of Sacramento was going to be turned into a 50-bed homeless shelter – right next door to the Sacramento Children’s Receiving Home, Renfree Baseball Park, and Del Paso Regional Park – and a residential neighborhood.
And what was serving only as a respite center, with the begrudging approval of the nearby neighborhoods, would become an actual shelter, and without the approval of City Council members or the nearby neighborhood groups.
Thursday, attorneys representing a group of those homeowners and concerned citizens in the Del Paso Park neighborhood of Sacramento, filed a lawsuit against the City of Sacramento for failing to enforce Measure O – a measure put on the ballot by the City Council and passed by voters in 2022 – that prohibits the city from establishing and maintaining a homeless shelter within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, and other key places.
According to a press statement Thursday afternoon by the neighbors:
“The city is in clear violation of its own ordinance by permitting a homeless shelter to operate at 3615 Auburn Boulevard in Sacramento, which is located next to the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento, which operates a preschool for young children, less than 500 feet from Arcade Creek, and less than 1,000 feet east of a children’s playground.”
“The placement of a homeless shelter at this location is a blatant violation of the provisions of Measure O. We have made every effort to work with the City of Sacramento to relocate this homeless shelter and have, unfortunately, made no progress. Our ask is simple – we would like the city to abide by its own voter-approved ordinance,” said Ron Jellison, a retired schoolteacher and Del Paso Park homeowner.
Last year the Globe spoke with Mr. Jellison, who said turning the respite center into a full blown homeless shelter was not the original deal according to neighbors. The former Discovery Museum Science & Space Center, first opened in 1967, was closed by the City in 2020, to be turned into an administration building for the city, as well as a 24-hour respite center for the homeless to cool off in the summer heat, or warm up in the winter.
Sacramento Children’s Receiving Home is a home for children and young adults who have suffered abuse and neglect. Harry Renfree Field, created in 1967, was Sacramento’s first ballpark with outdoor electric lights.
Mr. Jelison, a third generation resident of the Sacramento neighborhood. Jelison grew up on his family’s ranch located behind the science center.
Complicating the issue has also been an ongoing jurisdiction fight – the area is part city, part county and part state.
Jelison said the City has long ignored the area, but now find it convenient for locating homeless because it is so far away from City Hall and from the residents of the city. Jelison said for decades, the people of Arden and Carmichael have fought over a peculiar piece of land – often called “The Peninsula” or “The Thorn.” This land, while part of the City of Sacramento, doesn’t contain any city residents. “It’s a park too far… city boundaries touch the edge of the park,” Jelison said. “The city never designated the property as a park, and instead treated it as a real estate investment.” Jelison said the city has sold off some parcels of the park.
Jelison also said there is no allowance for background checks on the homeless showing up. They could be recently released from state prison or jail, be on parole, or a homeless drug addict.
Measure O –
“The City is violating its own ordinance by permitting a homeless shelter to operate at 3615 Auburn Boulevard,” the lawsuit says.
The press statement details Measure O:
On November 8, 2022, voters in the City of Sacramento passed Measure O (officially, the Emergency Shelter and Enforcement Act of 2022) by a margin of more than 5,000 votes.
Measure O requires the City of Sacramento to identify and authorize emergency shelter spaces to house currently homeless persons. Before Measure O, the city had no such requirement.
“The city has shown no interest or desire in correcting its ongoing violations and are simply choosing to ignore the provisions of Measure O,” said Juliette Porro, a concerned Del Paso Park homeowner. “What was once an enjoyable park has now turned into a dangerous nuisance. We are hopeful for immediate action to resolve these violations and restore security to the neighboring community.”
Ironically, “the City Council put Measure O on the ballot of its own volition.”
The residents are asking the court for “a writ of mandate commanding the City to terminate its ongoing contractual relationship with Hope Cooperative, or at a minimum not renew its contract with Hope Cooperative at the time of their next renewal late this year 2023,” because “evidence will show the shelter operated at 3615 Auburn Boulevard is within 1,000 feet of one or more of the following: a k-12 school, a public library, a licensed daycare or preschool facility, or playground, and/or within 500 feet of a stream.”
Why did it come to this? According to the neighbors, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg did a bait-and-switch on them after an agreement struck between County Supervisors and the Sacramento City Manager.
Jellison told the Globe last year no one is addressing the toxic waste, mountains of trash and pollution the homeless leave behind in the area. He said there is a homeless guy living under the bridge at Arcade Creek. “He cooks meth. We’ve tried to get him to accept help,” Jelison said. But the guy doesn’t want it. “The meth leeches into the creek.”
Jelison and the neighbors do 3 to 4 cleanups of the area every week. “We take out tons of trash every week. We picked up 1,000 dirty needles recently,” he said. “What’s left is disintegrating into the soil – needles, condoms, tampons – and rains leech this into the soil and runoff to the creek.”
“Our group was instrumental in removing 30 to 35 campers on the nearby Caltrans property,” Jelison said. “We’d been trying to get them moved. There was a hole in the fence, and we saw tents and some very young girls in them. We couldn’t get anyone to do anything because the property touches all three jurisdictions: City, County and Caltrans (state). It took Caltrans getting sued to get the camps moved out.”
“Our volunteers spent three weekends cleaning the area up.”
Perhaps the lawsuit will set a precedence for other Sacramento neighborhoods overrun with drug addicts and mentally ill lawless homeless vagrants.
Together with this lawsuit and Sacramento District Attorney Thien Ho’s office gathering evidence and assessing whether or not the city violated laws pertaining to the growing homeless encampments within the city, something’s got to give. Residents, taxpayers and voters are done with the chaos, violence, filth, dangerous conditions and threats to a civil society brought on by feckless and incompetent politicians.081723 ALLEN - Complaint + Exh A (s)
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