‘When homeowners believe that our politicians either don’t know what to do, ignore our complaints, or show us statistics about how good things are, their last resort is to leave.’
When you ask residents of Land Park in Sacramento why they chose to buy a home here, many times sacrificing square footage, yard space and modern amenities, you will hear responses such as wanting to walk to nearby restaurants and shops, and to the incredible 100-year old park which is home to the Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Town and Funderland. But most of all, you will hear that it is to raise a family in what has been the safest neighborhood in Sacramento for decades.
However, since the passage of Proposition 47, The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act which decriminalized serial theft and drug possession, the community lovingly referred to as “the Central Park of Sacramento” is now riddled with drug dealing and use, dirty needles, human feces, burglaries, car break-ins, violent encounters and angry residents who no longer feel safe.
Gina Fippin, an 18-year resident of Land Park, believes the Sacramento elected officials are neglecting its taxpaying citizens and more importantly their safety. She and her family have had their vehicles broken into, and while with her children in tow, she has witnessed drug use and vomiting in the parking lot at Target. She was verbally threatened by a transient in front of Dad’s Kitchen restaurant, and has seen drug dealing and public defecating at the Tower Cafe, Dimple Records and Planet Gymnastics parking lots.
Her family and friends in the neighborhood have also experienced similar incidents. “My neighbor had her double stroller stolen off her front porch, my in-laws have had their car windows smashed so many times they now just leave their car doors unlocked as it turns out to be a cheaper, less destructive approach. Two friends had their purses stolen at the Holy Spirit school in a smash and grab while picking up their children, and friends who have had their cars broken into have seen their stolen items at pop-up sidewalk sales.”
Fippin continues, “My husband and I love this neighborhood, but we have had to seriously consider leaving. Along with a security system for our home, we have spent thousands of dollars upgrading our video surveillance just to have a better sense of security in what was once a very safe neighborhood. We are at a loss on how to explain these unsafe, violent and disturbing incidents to our young children.”
Fippin says the residents in this neighborhood feel completely ignored, villainized and desperate. “The City of Sacramento has failed on its core public safety functions. The vulnerable homeless are not getting the assistance they need from government programs and the drug addicts and criminals have no accountability for their actions.”
Andrea Michon says the downward spiral they have seen in this area in the past few years is staggering. “I used to walk my children when they were babies to Starbucks, Walgreens and Target on the Broadway corridor almost daily. Now, we avoid those stores due to the high amount of crime and drug addicts either passed out in their own vomit and urine or screaming at customers as they walk by.”
‘The City of Sacramento has failed on its core public safety functions.’
“I have walked out of my front door to find drug-addicted transients passed out on the sidewalk,” Michon said. “I have been accosted in the Target parking lot more times than I can count and have walked into their bathroom with my children only to find people passed out in the stalls. I no longer feel safe to shop there with my kids.”
Michon and her family have given an enormous amount of support to organizations such as the Mustard Seed School, St. Johns Shelter, WEAVE, and the Children’s Receiving Home. “We want to help those who want to help themselves, but we cannot absorb the problems of people who are coming from other states and committing crimes such as drug use, theft and assault. Our police department is one of the most depleted in the country, and every one of the propositions declassifying crimes only ties their hands more. Many residents have had to hire private security firms to patrol the neighborhoods because there simply isn’t enough law enforcement. Our men and women in uniform work tirelessly, but they are spread too thin. Sacramento is turning into San Francisco from lack of planning, organization and leadership. Plain and simple.”
Michelle Freire said during a five-day visit from her family, they saw a man screaming at people at the midtown farmer’s market and another man sitting on a curb poking himself in the eyeball with a toothpick, to which police said nothing could be done since he wasn’t a threat to himself or anyone else. They also witnessed people sitting in front of houses and businesses in Land Park, injecting drugs and passing out and found used needles while visiting the duck pond in the park. While using an ATM on two different occasions, they were approached by aggressive panhandlers who became antagonistic when they refused to give them money.
Freire, who is handicapped and has had to walk into the streets because her walker couldn’t make it over the trash spread out on sidewalks by the transients, says, “I’ve handed out water and talked to some of the homeless people along the underpasses and most have similar stories of being in the state for less than six months, are long-term drug addicts and have no desire to get into a shelter or change their behavior to become ‘house-able.’ So when I hear politicians talk about people being homeless due to the shortage of affordable homes, I have to wonder where they get their statistics from and what the intentions and integrity are of the people doing the research.”
Freire continues, “I know business owners who see no point in reporting a shoplifter because they won’t be arrested. There are almost no consequences to criminals and quite a lot of consequences to their victims. When did people who break the law begin to have more rights than people who go to work every day, pay taxes and try to raise their children to be responsible adults?”
Brent Shultz and his family have lived in Land Park for over 20 years, and said that talk has gone from traffic and an occasional home burglary to armed robberies, packages theft, security camera footage of criminals breaking into vehicles, transients sleeping and defecating in people’s yards and confrontations with drug addicts and mentally ill individuals in shopping centers.
Shultz has had his vehicle windows shot out with a pellet gun, dents to his vehicles from objects being thrown at them, items stolen from his vehicle while going in and out of the house to unload their luggage from vacation, multiple stolen packages from his porch, his son’s bicycle stolen and their contractor’s tools being stolen while working on their home and standing only thirty feet away. He has also had confrontations with drug-addicted transients on his neighbor’s front porch and in the street when an individual was damaging residents’ cars.
But as bad as those incidents were, they’ve caught a man peering through their living room window while their young daughter was watching television, an intoxicated transient banged on their door in the middle of the night, and they were awakened by individuals running out of their neighbor’s backyard.
Shultz says, “As a result of this, we have bought home security systems and cameras, we report all criminal activity to the police, we have formed neighborhood watch groups, and social media groups in an attempt to be informed and combat the increase in criminal activity. However, it is my observation that our police department has changed its approach from proactive to reactive, which is not a recipe for success. A consistent, proactive, visible police presence is what is needed to deter and make an impact on criminal activity. Those of us who are paying the taxes are frustrated and are asking that our elected officials make the security of our community a priority.”
Former law enforcement officer, Ken Kaestner, says the quality of life in this area has become progressively worse with each passing week and is now at a point where he no longer feels safe taking his dogs for a walk or going to local restaurants. He and his wife have witnessed drug use on multiple occasions, dirty needles on the sidewalks, aggressive panhandlers, transients defecating in public, items stolen from their porch and people coming to their home all hours of the night. “It is very clear to me and my neighbors that the drug-using transient population has taken a stronghold on this neighborhood. I am so appreciative of the hard work our police officers are doing—without them this area would truly be overrun—but they cannot do it alone.”
Jim Jeffers, who has been a real estate agent for 35 years in Land Park, says clients are deciding to sell their homes because of the rampant crime. “Their cars are being broken into, drug addicts are hiding in their bushes and they’re being screamed at on the street and in restaurants. When homeowners believe that our politicians either don’t know what to do, ignore our complaints or show us statistics about how good things are, their last resort is to leave.”
Jeffers added, “I’m all for trying to help someone who wants help, but you have to also make sure that the ones that do not want help do not encroach on others. All you have to do is go to San Francisco to see where we are headed.”
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