CHICO, Calif. - A new federal court ruling allows the homeless to sleep on public property, which is causing some Chico residents to lose sleep.
Doug Doyg and his girlfriend Kathy have been living at their Chico Mobile Home Park for five years, but over the past year, they have dealt with a homeless encampment problem.
Kathy has been on the phone with Chico police multiple times to report incidents with no avail.
"They're camping there, going to the bathroom all over the place," she said. "I've got flies in my yard."
A majority of the encampments are found on the other side of a wall that runs next to their property, where they've seen backpacks, trash and even crack pipes which have been thrown over the wall and into their own backyards.
However, recent rulings have made it hard for police to stop the homeless from sleeping in public areas.
"You can't criminalize someone who doesn't have a place to go," said Commander Billy Aldridge of the Chico Police Department.
Chico Police cite a recent ruling by the 9th circuit court of appeals - Martin V. The City of Boise. The ruling says that cities can't prosecute homeless for sleeping outside on public property.
"He said if the whole population of homeless people wanted to camp on this bike path that they could and there's nothing they could do," Kathy said.
Laws in Chico ban camping in Bidwell Park and other areas in the city as well.
Police are in touch with the city attorney to figure out how to navigate city rules and enforce federal law.
"We hope at the end of the day we can come to some sort of game plan as to how we as a city can manage these issues we're facing," Aldridge said.
With no clear solution in sight, the Chico couple might be forced to move.
"They won't move them, so apparently we have to move," Kathy said. "That's sad, and it's an everyday occurrence that's not getting any better."
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