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Ban on Unlawful Camping on County Land to Take Effect Aug. 6

July 07, 2015

The Placer County Board of Supervisors took final action today to adopt an ordinance that will prohibit camping on most county-owned properties beginning Aug. 6.

The ordinance prohibits camping and the storage of personal property on a long list of county properties, including the Placer County Government Center in North Auburn. The center has been a main focus of discussion because of a homeless encampment there.

The board took the first step in the two-step approval process June 16 by introducing the ordinance on a 4-0 vote. At today’s meeting, the board took the second step: adopting the ordinance after conducting what is formally known as a second reading.

In a June 16 report, county staff emphasized that camping at county properties other than approved campgrounds creates public health and safety issues that need to be addressed. The ordinance notes that camping also interferes with the ability of the county and general public to use properties frequented by campers.

The ordinance authorizes the county Department of Facility Services and Sheriff’s Office to enforce the camping ban. They are working with the Health and Human Services Department and nonprofit agencies such as Volunteers of America on outreach to campers at the government center and the community at large.

“Now that the ordinance has passed, we will be working closely with Facility Services in taking a proactive approach to make sure everyone knows that this change is coming,” explained Sheriff’s Capt. Wayne Woo. “We will also work with Facilities to clean up the area once it’s vacated and enforce the ordinance.”

Anyone violating the ordinance after Aug. 6 could be fined, arrested on a misdemeanor charge or subject to both penalties.

Volunteers of America operates a temporary homeless shelter in a county-owned building at the government center with funding from a local nonprofit, Right Hand Auburn. The shelter opened its doors June 1 as a 90-day pilot project. The board has expressed a willingness to consider keeping the shelter open after the 90-day trial period.

Over the past week, the number of homeless individuals staying overnight has hovered near the shelter’s 47-bed capacity each night.

The county recently created work groups to consider long-term options for addressing homelessness recommended by Dr. Robert Marbut, a nationally known expert hired by the county to conduct a homeless needs assessment and action plan.
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