Poor people crackdown: Sacramento County spends big to raid homeless camps seven days a week

$5 million plan will empower park rangers, law enforcement to increase parkway raids

This is an extended version of a story that appeared in the August 31, 2017, issue.

Edsel Griffin and Melanie Jones sat on a shaded sidewalk curb in North Sacramento, thousands of miles from home. Five days earlier, the couple arrived on a Greyhound Express bus from Cocoa Beach, Fla.—something to do with Griffin’s mother, Jones mentions—but it didn’t take long for them to discover that Sacramento was inhospitable to struggling folks like them.

After being rousted from a park the night before, turned away from public restrooms and not liking their odds of finding jobs that could pay the rising rent, the two say they’ve decided to boomerang back to Florida.

“We’re just better off,” Griffin said.

“Florida is set up for the homeless a lot better than here,” Jones added.

Welcome to Sacramento, which makes the oft-satirized Florida look compassionate by comparison.

In a split decision, the county Board of Supervisors last week approved a multimillion-dollar proposal to increase the frequency of raids targeting homeless camps along the 23-mile American River Parkway.

The increased enforcement is estimated to cost as much as $5 million and would empower Regional Parks and Sheriff’s Department officials to scour the parkways, unincorporated neighborhoods and retail areas for illegal campsites seven days a week.

The August 23 vote split supervisors 3-2 in favor, with the board’s conservative faction voting against the measures due to sticker-shock concerns, and the three center-left supervisors lining up in support.