Balancing limited shelter options for the homeless with a clean and safe Parkway

We’ve been hearing from many constituents in South Natomas and neighborhoods near the Garden Highway expressing frustration with the growing number of homeless camps and debris accumulating in and along the Garden Highway, American RiverSupervisor Serna speaks about the current condition of the Garden Highway and the American River Parkway - March 12, 2019 Parkway, bike trails and waterways.  On March 12,  2019 the Board of Supervisors received an update from staff on the current state of the Garden Highway and ARP related to the impact of recent rains and ongoing clean-up efforts.  Please watch the meeting online (scroll to Agenda Item #30).  
Complaints/concerns can be submitted directly to Regional Parks by calling 916-875-PARK (7275) or completing an Incident Report electronically; or call 3-1-1 where your report will be directed to the appropriate agency.

Message from Supervisor Serna:

Each winter the American River rises with the expected inclement weather that feeds local tributaries and Folsom Lake. When this occurs, those experiencing homelessness who feel their only option is to engage in unsanctioned camping within the Parkway, find themselves congregated along adjacent levee tops. This is the case now along that part of our local flood control system near the Garden Highway and adjacent to the South Natomas neighborhood.

When this circumstance becomes dire, the County of Sacramento does its very best to simultaneously address with compassion the needs of the people living in the elements while also attempting to mitigate the impacts associated with unsanctioned camping. Of course, the ultimate objective is to find people the shelter and wrap-around services they need and deserve, but it’s not always that simple.

For a variety of reasons, many of my unsheltered constituents remain averse to help or are otherwise fearful of institutional, government assistance. It is a complicated matter that is not easily resolved, but regardless it is my responsibility to balance the needs of people in distress due to limited shelter opportunities, and neighborhood residents’ rightful expectations about a trash-free Parkway.

While I understand firsthand the frustration of the situation (I’ve walked the levee myself to speak with my unsheltered constituents, and I’ve taken the time to establish a dialogue with concerned residents), I will continue to do all I can to find a balanced, compassionate and effective means of achieving what we all want: a clean and safe American River Parkway and compassionate care for those most in need.   

Please contact me or my staff if you have questions, comments or suggestions by email at or call (916) 874-5485.

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