Home>Articles>Sacramento Mayor, City Council Gives City Manager Authority to Open Homeless Camp Sites

Homeless sleeping on running trail in Wm. Land Park, Sacramento. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

Sacramento Mayor, City Council Gives City Manager Authority to Open Homeless Camp Sites

At $30K per tent, this is another government sanctioned grift

By Katy Grimes, August 3, 2023 8:59 am

Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho announced about 10 days ago 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 an inquiry 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 camping and loitering at the courthouse, and imploring the Mayor for help.

So what does the Sacramento City Council do in response? Tuesday evening the Mayor and five members of the city council voted on an ordinance to give unfettered power to City Manager Howard Chan to unilaterally decide where the city’s homeless camps will be – no council approval needed.

“I’m asking you to trust the city manager with these difficult siting decisions,” Mayor Steinberg implored the other council members ahead of the vote. “In my view, he has earned that trust.”

Sacramento’s homeless has even surpassed San Francisco’s under Mayor Steinberg’s guardianship.

California has spent $23 BILLION over the last five years on the homeless population only to see the drug-addicted, mentally-ill homeless population in California explode to more than 172,000. Despite spending the $23 billion on California’s homeless housing, homelessness continues to grow in California, According to the Public Policy Institute of California, “nationally, California has topped the list for the state with the largest homeless population for more than a decade. As of 2022, 30% of all people in the United States experiencing homelessness resided in California, including half of all unsheltered people (115,491 in California; 233,832 in the US).”‘

The Sacramento City Council just approved another $5 million for City Manager Chan to spend on the homeless flourishing in Sacramento.

“We need heroic efforts from everybody here and I think tonight was a really good step,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg following the approval of the ordinance, KCRA news reported. “The success of this will be dependent on him finding the intersection between moving fast and making sure that there is some form of geographic diversity.”

“Geographic diversity?” Does that mean sharing the love by spreading all of the city’s homeless around the city equally so all citizens can equally share in the crime, assaults, drug deals, break-ins, and terrorized residents?

That geographic diversity is what worries City Councilman Sean Lololee, of District 2. He said District 2 has historically stepped up to help the homeless, and that while he has confidence in the city manager, he is concerned the sites will be disproportionately put in some districts over others, including in District 2.

Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela even suggested the camps be “self-governing,” similar to Chaz, Seattle’s autonomous zone police-free neighborhood? This is the enlightenment coming from Sacramento’s elected officials.

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

“To authorize the city manager to be able to make these siting decisions is controversial, it’s difficult, but in my view, under this system, it’s the only way to make real progress,” Steinberg said. “We must find alternatives for people. There are too many tent encampments throughout our entire city.”

Mayor Steinberg essentially created the problem through the nonsensical policies and laws he supports (Propositions 47 & 57, “housing first” for homeless), and now admits that it is out of his control, so he punts the problem to the unelected city manager, and gave him a large budget.

Other people’s money…

A friend who attended the 6-hour council meeting, ran the numbers. At the council meeting, City Manager Chan speculated that 100 tents at a Safe Grounds site would cost $3 million – that’s $30,000 per tent. He estimated 4,444 “unhoused homeless” (what happened to the actual 11,000 homeless in Sacramento?), times $30,000, and the total cost is $133 million – not the $5 million the council allocated for this half-witted plan.

Steinberg said the City Attorney, City Manager Chan, and the Homeless Attorney Mark Merin are negotiating on what services should be at a Safe Grounds site to assure that the homeless have “dignity,” my friend reported. Because maintaining the “dignity” of people who live on the streets, urinate and poop on public sidewalks, masturbate in front of children, perform sex acts publicly and openly use drugs, is the priority? Dignity means “greatness,” “respectability,” “prestige” and “honor.” Substitute “dignity” with “analysis,” “medical care” and “treatment.”

The tail is wagging the dog – and the Mayor is dodging responsibility.

Mayor Steinberg and the City Council have approved various and very expensive plans to “house” the homeless. They’ve spent the money – millions of dollars (maybe billions) – yet we have no idea where that money has gone and to whom it was paid – NGOs, non-profits, contractors, developers? When those plans don’t work and the money is gone, no one is the wiser, and the Mayor shifts to yet another multi-million dollar plan.

This is a government sanctioned grift.

And it’s a mole game.

The grift

In March, the Globe reportedComing to Sacramento: 350 Tiny Homes for 11,000+ Homeless:” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced the state will purchase and install 350 tiny homes in Sacramento “as part of a statewide push to assist California communities in addressing the crisis of unsheltered homelessness.”

In February, the Globe reported Mayor Steinberg announced 17 brand new travel trailers (RV quality) for Sacramento’s Homeless drug-addicted transients to live in, replacing 60 tents. These are located in Sacramento’s former public park, Miller Park.

The Mayor and city gave the public park on the Sacramento River, next to a boat ramp, away to the homeless transients, first filled with tents. The homeless have rendered the once lovely park unsafe, noxious, toxic and unusable for the city residents who pay taxes to sustain it.

So far, nothing the Mayor has done has made an appreciable difference in reducing Sacramento’s homeless population, and in fact has helped grow it – again, because of the “housing first” con.

Sacramento homeless camp on city sidewalk. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

“Council members Sean Loloee, Lisa Kaplan, Karina Talamantes and Mai Vang voted against the item, raising concerns that the sites would be concentrated in underserved neighborhoods of Sacramento’s north and south neighborhoods, Sacbee.com reported. “My district right now, we are at a tipping point,” said Loloee, who represents North Sacramento, where the city likely has the highest number of usable vacant lots, a previous city siting plan found. “I don’t want all the weight to fall to the districts that are oversaturated and disadvantaged.”

Best laid plans

As part of part of the City Council’s 2021 $100 million Comprehensive Siting Plan to Address Homelessness, the Council unanimously adopted a plan in August 2021 to create “more than 5,000 beds, roofs and safe camping spaces to mount a comprehensive response to the growing crisis of homelessness.”

“The plan is the product of more than six months of intensive outreach and work by the Mayor’s Office, City Council members and City staff. Now that Council has approved the list of sites and strategies, it will be the job of City staff to carry them out,” the City brags on its website.

The Miller Park “Safe Grounds” with trailers already costs $60,000 annually. The latest $5 million authorized for Chan to spend without Council approval might move 166 homeless off the streets.

And the additional $8.5 million Steinberg says the city will receive from the state might move 283 homeless off the streets.

However, if Steinberg’s track record is any indication of the lack of seriousness in eliminating homelessness in the Capitol City, don’t count on anything other than the Mayor pushing for higher taxes to “house” more homeless in the near future.

What Sacramento really needs is a full audit of homeless spending since 2014 – and new leadership.

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11 thoughts on “Sacramento Mayor, City Council Gives City Manager Authority to Open Homeless Camp Sites

  1. Just incredible. That Darrell Steinberg is a piece of work, isn’t he. Worse than we thought with every appearance, and that is REALLY saying something. Where is it written that he can just hand homeless decision-making over to his (obvious) buddy City Manager, Howard Chan? Nowhere, that’s where. Steinberg and the council majority vote can FIRE the City Manager, but the mayor can’t just hand over unilateral homeless decision-making power to him.
    It should be obvious to all by now that no one in power is interested in shutting down this HUGE money-making scam. It will only grow and grow and grow and GROW, and this latest action insures more growth. Oh, how these people need to be taught a lesson and pay for what they have done. D.A. Ho, can you rack your brain, consult colleagues and staff, do ANYTHING at all about this? Can Sacramento Police receive the backing they need if they were to simply ENFORCE THE LAWS on the books? You see how this situation has only worsened with every mayor/council action, every new slush fund created, every lofty word salad bloviated by “leadership.”

  2. Sacramento natives are fed up with Democrat Mayor Steinberg and the five Democrats on the Sacramento City Council who abdicated their responsibility for dealing with Sacramento’s ever increasing homeless problem. Since Mayor and five members of the city council voted to give unfettered power to City Manager Howard Chan to unilaterally decide where the city’s homeless camps will be with no council approval needed, we urge City Manager Chan to establish the homeless camps in front of the residence of Mayor Steinberg and the residences of Democrat Council members Eric Guerra, Rick Jennings, Caity Maple and Katie Valenzuela. Since the obnoxious District 4 City Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela thinks that the camps be should be “self-governing,” City Manager Chan should grant her wish and make sure that the homeless camp in front of Katie Valenzuela’s residence will be self governing with no law enforcement interference!

    1. What happened to that recall effort to recall Katie Valenzuela who has been a complete failure on the City Council? She’s a nasty horrible human being and there is no way that she legitimately won the election?

  3. Heroic efforts, huh!

    I would consider heroic efforts to be police and military efforts saving lives.
    This charade of “doing something” is not heroic, especially when it side steps representation.
    Our city manager was a true grifter and embezzled money right under the nose of our self obsessed mayor! Watch out Sacramento, trust should not be considered as part of the deal. Scrutiny and demanding transparency should always be part of the so called deal when it comes to our tax dollars and well being!

  4. Another democrat “success story” !!! Simultaneously, 100’s of thousands of existing California residents and businesses leave the state ………. no mystery why.

  5. It used to be a 7.5 hour drive from Sacramento to see how a third world country survives, now democrats save you the time as you can go to any major city on the west coast and see it up close.

  6. Weekend before last, I took a trip just across the border to Nevada. I visited the historic mining town of Virginia City and stayed in Carson City, Nevada’s state capital. Granted, Carson City is a tenth the size of Sacramento but the contrast was quite stark. I didn’t see any homeless encampments and the streets were relatively clean and safe. Imagine that! As Elvis would sing, “a little less conversation, a little more action, please.”

  7. KTLA interviewed a homeless single mom with 3 children living in an unincorporated area of LA last night who couldn’t afford her rent and is now living on the street. What is going on! What happened to the billions of dollars being spent on the homeless. Solving this mom and children’s homelessness seems like a slam dunk.

    1. How convenient that the lefty LA Times-affiliated KTLA somehow managed to find the rare single mom with three kids to boost the sympathy factor for their audience and thus their agenda to keep the L.A. City homeless cash cow going. As you know, single-mom-three-kids can’t-afford-the-rent is not the typical profile of those who are on the street in L.A. or anywhere else in CA.

      (By the way the other agenda item ticked off here is via the LA Times/KTLA taking shots at the supposed ending of L.A. City’s Covid-rent moratorium by crying crocodile tears over it. “See what happens when the mean city ends the RENT MORATORIUM! How cruel and heartless!” Uh, how many years is it now that renters in L.A. have not had to pay a dime in rent but instead —- rumor has it —- that some have used that money to go on European vacations while subletting their free apartments or buying new expensive cars and whatever? Leaving landlords holding the bag and impoverishing them?)

      As you noted, the city has no idea how to address a “slam dunk” like this anyway, even if they wanted to, which is doubtful. Instead, this single-mom-three-kids should be pointed ASAP in the direction of the L.A. Union Rescue Mission. They know exactly how to help those who actually WANT to get off the street and will make breathtakingly quick work of it.

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