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South Natomas group seeks an answer

written by Tom Armstrong
posted 4/16/17
A group called “Nextdoor” made up of citizens from South Natomas has a video they posted to YouTube that shows a lot of garbage and waste and needles and human misery in the southern part of the north section of Sacramento.
The video was posted a while ago -- on April 1 -- but because of the ongoing rainy weather we’ve been having, doubtless most of what can be seen in the video is much like conditions are, today, for many homeless folk.
The video shows abandoned campsites and garbage that drifted to the side of the river.

Nextdoor has a five-point list of things it would like to see happen to protect American River Parkway, protect their neighborhoods and to make life better for the many homeless people in the area who do not now have a place in the world. It's this ...
1.       Homeless cannot be allowed to remain camping in neighborhoods, along streets, or in the River Parkway.
2.       Homeless are not going to disappear.
3.       Designated tent city location holding no more than 50 people each must be set up around the county and city.
4.       There should be no initial barriers to enter so they have a place to go instead of our neighborhoods. (Example: Drug tests should not be an initial requirement to enter.)
5.       Tent cities should be equipped with toilets, showers, security and social services for those who want them.
The list is both commonsensical and more-than-a-bit ignorant as hell. The group and charity Safe Ground came into being about eight years ago and was supposed to set up a campground – much like what Nextdoor calls for -- and the campers were going to act like adults and make everything work beautifully. The homeless people involved with Safe Ground signed these covenants – where they swore absolutely to behave properly and make things work. Safe Ground, then, immediately fell on its face, over and over and over again and again and again. The initial groups were tiny, but they made big messes; could have started a massive fire, at one point; made life miserable for a couple in a home nearby; drank and smoked and attracted the ready attention of drug dealers.
In theory, I applaud what Nextdoor is wanting the city and county to do. What Nextdoor suggests is the sensible thing to do, plotted out in a commonsensical manner. The problem, though, is that old bugaboo REALITY.
I love homeless people. I want the world for them. I want them to be happy and healthy and to have a speedy pathway to a life more ordinary. It is just that they SCREW UP the camping thing BIG TIME, over and over and over and over again. How can you keep the “SCREW UP” thing from continuing to happen? I don’t know.
The Nextdoor group suggests that campgrounds have no more than fifty people in each.
The Hindenburg disaster.
I think that -- because of the history -- a couple of dozen-person campgrounds should serve as a starting place. Yes, the need is urgent. And helping 50 is significant, whereas helping a dozen is a pittance. But this REALITY thing, the size of the Hindenburg, hovers over me and I hear the word BEWARE playing in my ear from loudspeakers. And I envision Natomas aflame.

I'm just sayin'.

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