“Is there a concerted effort by the Mayor and by City Hall to stop law enforcement from enforcing the law?” Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho asks.
Absolutely, says DA Ho – the City of Sacramento is not enforcing its own ordinances.
DA Thien Ho announced in July that his office is gathering evidence and assessing whether or not the city violated laws pertaining to the growing homeless encampments within the city.
The Globe reported July 20th that DA Ho sent District 4 City Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela a letter following 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 around the courthouse. Judge Bowman implored the Mayor for help.
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 at a press conference this week, Mayor Darrell Steinberg stated “the City Attorney does not have the authority to prosecute misdemeanor offenses. That is a fact.”
“When it comes to city codes and city ordinances and the misdemeanors those offenses constitute, the only entity that has the jurisdiction and the power to prosecute those is the City Attorney,” DA Ho said. “My office has jurisdiction over state misdemeanors and state felonies.”
“We wouldn’t be in the situation we are now if the city had actually engaged in compliance enforcement.”
“I sent the letter to the city 6 weeks ago, and the Mayor said ‘the District Attorney and the Presiding Judge are right. We are going to fix this in 2 weeks.’ That was 6 weeks ago, and things have only gotten worse.”
Ho said last week a man on the corner of H Street and 9th Street was masturbating. An intern from his office was assaulted. “It’s only gotten worse.”
DA Ho said that the Judge’s order last summer and this prohibited the city from moving the encampments. However, Ho said it did not prevent them from enforcing other ordinances – public storage, starting fires, obstructing the sidewalks… He said individuals who are handicapped can’t use the sidewalks. The Judge’s order did not prohibit the city from enforcing those codes violations. “And what did the city do?” DA Ho asks – “The city did nothing.”
You can watch District Attorney Thien Ho’s interview above.
Important to note is in DA Ho’s letter he dispels how Martin v. City of Boise has been incorrectly used by city officials to do nothing with homeless. DA Ho explains:
“When these issues in the downtown area have been raised by members of the public, some in elected positions point the finger of responsibility to others or misinterpret legal precedent by citing Martin v. City of Boise, 902 F.3d 1031 (9th Cir. 2018), as an excuse not to enforce the law or delay enforcement of city ordinances and codes while waiting for increased shelter beds. However, Martin 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.”
“Just this year, a Court in Arizona ruled the City of Phoenix “created, maintained, and/or failed to abate a public nuisance” in an area called “The Zone” for refusing to enforce laws prohibiting loitering, obstruction of streets and sidewalks to remove homeless encampments that had taken over several city blocks in the downtown area. (Freddy Brown, et al. v. City ofPhoenix (2023) Under Advisement Ruling filed March 27, 2023).Additionally, just this month, the City of Portland reached a tentative settlement brought by people with disabilities who argued homeless tents and encampments prevented them from accessing the city sidewalks. The Plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in federal court and argued the City violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to “maintain its sidewalks clear of debris and tent encampments.” (Tozer v. City ofPortland, 3:22-CV-01336 (U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon)).”
Is the Mayor waiting for another brutal murder to happen before he acts?
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