Still no safe ground

What the duck?!

What the duck?!

An initiative by Safe Ground Sacramento to find a permanent site to shelter homeless has so far not yielded any possibilities.

“It’s been politically tough,” explained Stephen Watters, Safe Ground’s executive director.

His group looked at 1,900 city-owned sites but—for political, environmental and other reasons—the locations have not worked.

“Some of the sites have vernal pools and creeks running through them that could lead to flooding,” Watters explained. “Other sites, it isn’t clear if the [city] plans for the parcel are for immediately or for 10 years from now.”

Ideally, Safe Ground would like to build a permanent center for the homeless, which would accommodate up to 100 individuals, and include sleeping cabins and social services. Watters also stressed the facility would not be near any major residential areas.

For now, many homeless scattered around Sacramento—particularly those near the Highway 160 bridge over the American River—have to deal with an anti-camping ordinance, a regulation that makes it illegal to permanently camp.

“The normal process is for law enforcement to give homeless 48 hours to move,” Watters said, “but the other day they came [back] and gave them tickets after 24 hours.”

Safe Ground hopes first find a temporary site for the next 18 months while it continues its search. (Hugh Biggar)

Adopt a park

There’s not always enough room in the city’s budget to deal with ducks—and their poop.

The droppings of McKinley Park’s notoriously messy, webbed-foot residents certainly make a mark around the pond area of the East Sacramento attraction. Of course, the bird debris at McKinley is but one cleanup need of the many at parks throughout Sacramento.

Reductions in budget and staffing for the city’s parks have meant a drop-off in the level of maintenance and upkeep for Sacramento’s roughly 220 parks. But thanks to the city’s Adopt a Park program, volunteers can assist in addressing the parks’ needs.

“The level of maintenance that we are able to provide is not the same as it was before we lost a number of staff,” explained Julie Mier, parks and recreation volunteer program coordinator.

Opting to pitch in rather than simply complain, one volunteer group, Friends of East Sacramento, has been working with the city since October 2010 to provide services and maintenance at McKinley. This past Saturday, a group of 30 to 40 volunteers focused on aerating and creating mulch berms around more than 50 trees.

“I think it’s important. I think our parks are beautiful and the city is struggling,” said Patty Wait, a Friends of East Sacramento organizer. “If we didn’t do it, the parks get into disrepair and places you used to be able to use are fenced or taped off.”

Wait says the alternative would be to pay higher taxes; she’d rather volunteer.

The group’s aim in May is to repair divots in the jogging track that wraps around McKinley Park.

And the duck poop and pond scum?

“It’s on our list,” Wait said. (Jimmy Spencer)