(The Center Square) – Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho filed a lawsuit against the City of Sacramento alleging that the city has failed to enforce existing ordinances relating to the homeless. In the lawsuit, Ho relays that the Sacramento City Attorney claims the city Police Department is “simply not issuing citations for unlawful camping, unlawful storage, sidewalk obstruction, or any Sacramento City code sections relating to homeless encampments” and that the office thus “cannot prosecute cases if no cases are sent.”
“It’s not compassionate to allow unsafe conditions to fester so badly that a 14-year old boy cannot ride his bike to school or a group of little girls can’t play soccer on a field littered with needles. It’s not compassionate when someone in a wheelchair cannot use a sidewalk blocked by tents or a small business is forced to close forever due to repeated broken windows and vandalism,” Ho said in the lawsuit. “With this Action, the People of the State of California and the Victims seek to address the unhoused crisis in a compassionate but balanced approach that requires the City of Sacramento to consistently enforce the law, keep our streets clean and safe.”
In a letter to the City of Sacramento regarding conditions around the Superior Court courthouse, Superior Court Presiding Judge Michael Bowman wrote, “Daily incidents include, but are not limited to, physical and verbal assault, public sex acts, open fires, nudity, urinating and defecating on walkways. When coming to court is a trial itself for victims, witnesses, or even jurors — access to justice is threatened.”
Over the past seven years, Sacramento’s homeless population has almost tripled, rising to 9,278.
Before filing his lawsuit, Ho sent a letter in early August to Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinbeing asking the city to take action to enforce laws, create city-managed camping sites, share real-time data on shelter bed availability, and audit homelessness spending within 30 days. In response, Steinberg said the demand letter “deflects responsibility, takes credit for programs the city initiated, lacks basic understanding of existing shelter management system and funding structures, and includes a series of demands that would cripple the city financially.”
On August 23, the City of Sacramento announced the creation of an “Incident Managment Team” to respond to the city’s homelessness crisis that consists of representatives from the City Manager’s Office, the City’s Department of Community Response, the Sacramento Police Department, the Sacramento Fire Department, Code Enforcement, Public Works, the City Attorney’s Office, the Office of Emergency Management and Animal Care. The goal of this task force is to “ensure that all available resources are being utilized and leveraged in the best manner possible for response to the homelessness crisis.”