Board Approves Two Ordinances to Prohibit Camping

Update: August 24, 2022 – At the Aug. 23 Board of Supervisors meeting the Board voted unanimously to adopt both ordinances. Both ordinances will officially go into effect in 30 days (Sept. 23). 

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8/11/2022 Up​date: ​​​​

The Board of Supervisors yesterday approved two ordinances addressing camping and encampments near critical infrastructure such as levees and government buildings, wildfire and flood risk areas during severe weather, near shelters for persons experiencing homelessness, youth-serving facilities and a separate ordinance prohibiting camping on the entire stretch of the American River and Dry Creek Parkways. The Board will formally adopt the two approved ordinances on August 23 and they will go into effect 30 days later.

As was mentioned several times by staff, county counsel and supervisors, these ordinances going into effect will not result in the wide-scale clearing of encampments. The County has both a legal and moral obligation to identify the highest priority camps, identify the needs of the campers and offer services and shelter as appropriate. The County is committed to applying a thoughtful approach in order to balance the needs of both the campers and the impacted community surrounding encampments. 

”These ordinances provide another tool for County staff and our outreach partners to engage with folks experiencing homelessness camping illegally, assess their needs and determine the best course of action to move them away from critical infrastructure,” said Board Chair Don Nottoli. “The time has come to balance the needs of our unsheltered population with the impacts that our communities and environment have been facing for years.”

The ordinances provide law enforcement officials with the authority to specifically address the activities in these particular locations because of public health, safety and welfare concerns. 

The critical infrastructure ordinance adds Chapter 9.120 to the Sacramento County Code to prohibit camping and encampments in the following priority areas:

  • In, on or within 25 feet of critical infrastructure or the entrance/exit of critical infrastructure; 
  • Up to 1,000 feet of a location providing year-round overnight shelter to people experiencing homelessness and the entrance/exit to such locations;
  • Inside of, or within 30 feet of wildfire and flood risk areas during severe weather; and
  • Within 25 feet of a youth-serving facility, defined as public or private primary or secondary schools and public libraries. 

Violations would first be subject to verbal and written warnings and any person who violates the ordinance would be guilty of a misdemeanor. This also authorizes the County Executive or designee to promulgate rules, protocols and procedures for the implementation of the ordinance.

To read the full definitions of each identified priority area, read the full ordinance

The Board also approved a separate ordinance that addresses the Dry Creek and American River Parkway specifically.
“The American River Parkway is our region’s most treasured recreational and ecological asset” said First District Supervisor Phil Serna. “As the stewards responsible for its protection, we are obligated to see that it is a clean and safe place for everyone to enjoy while ensuring those who feel their only option is to reside on the Parkway, have housing opportunities and access to services elsewhere in the county.”

The following are key provisions of the ordinance:

  • Prohibition on camping or constructing, maintaining or inhabiting any structure or camping facility in the American River Parkway or Dry Creek Parkway, except with written permission from the Director.
  • Prohibition on modifying the parklands (e.g. dirt, landscaping) or accumulating furniture, household goods, or other items in order to create a structure.
  • Bans the use or maintenance of a container with flammable or combustible liquid or a generator, except when issued a permit by the Regional Parks Director.

The intent of the proposed ordinance is to provide the County with an additional enforcement tool to address camping and the proliferation of unpermitted structures used as makeshift shelters in the Parkways and reduce public safety concerns relating to the use of flammable or combustible liquids and generators in parks. However, the ability to enforce the proposed ordinance, like the existing Code provisions, is dependent on law enforcement capacity and prioritization as well as availability of shelter, as outlined in the proposed Park Rangers’ Action Plan. In addition, the Action Plan describes the County’s commitment to conduct outreach efforts to offer alternative shelter and other services to individuals camping in the Parkways.

Read the full ordinance to learn more about Parkway-specific rules.

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