Transient Population Sparks Debate Among Chico Residents

Mar 27, 2013 9:04 PM

It's a change former Chico resident Thomas Villa calls impossible to miss. "It's been extremely noticeable to me, the change that's taken place. Literally on every street corner." The transient population in Down Town Chico certainly make their presence known according to Chico Police Captain Lori McPhail. "Aggressive pan-handling, or people laying around down town. Just things that make the quality of cleanliness, and safety a concern."

Residents who spoke at a City Council meeting Tuesday Night say the concern is still growing, and those we caught up with Wednesday agree. Stephen Tranberg told our crews "often times they're sleeping in open area's, and defecating."

One concern shared by many at the council meeting Tuesday night is camping, or sleeping in public sidewalks. While Cpt. McPhail says they can do something about those who sleep in the parks, there's not much they can do about public property. "Those sections, municipal codes do not include the people that are congregating on the corners of 3rd and Main, sitting around, talking."

The rising number of those calling the streets their home has some wondering if enough is being done to help them, but others believe there are enough services offered, and the abondance of resources in the area is part of the problem. "From what I'm hearing, they're drawing in transients from all over Northern California. I don't know if that's factual or not, but I've heard it from several people," according to Villa.

Some have gone as far as to suggest that authorities sweep through the down town area, and push transients out, but Captain McPhail says that's not even an option. "That would be unconstitutional. There's nothing illegal about being homeless, so we can't go sweep homeless people because it's just bothering somebody."


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