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City of Chico to enforce encampment restrictions

The City of Chico is enforcing a directive requiring homeless encampments to be moved away from city waterways.

Posted: Jul 7, 2020 11:31 PM
Updated: Jul 8, 2020 8:17 AM

CHICO, Calif. - The City of Chico is enforcing a policy that will require many homeless encampments to move, but not too far.

The city approved encampments to exist throughout city parks in March after Gov. Gavin Newsom mandated a stay-at-home order.

City of Chico City Manager Mark Orme says, "the council decided that it was important folks were safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By keeping encampments together, the hope is that it would be easier to limit the spread of the virus and easier to contact trace.

But after months of complaints, the city is taking action when it comes to encampments built along waterways like those in Comanche Creek and Bidwell Park.

"There was also this reality that with doing that there was the potentiality of having some major degradation to those parklands," said Orme.

He added that what, "...the city proactively did was engage with getting some restrooms in place in a lot of these areas and getting dumpsters and trash cans in place, but still there were some issues that arose."

Encampments were required to remain 50 feet from city waterways, but it took time for the rule to be prioritized and enforced.

"One of the things you find in local government is you only have so much resources to put towards certain areas of need and this has definitely risen up and so there was a vital need and actually engage on this issue at a higher level. Having folks away from those areas will help mitigate those impacts."

City resources include Chico PD who've worked with these encampment communities in the past.

While the goal is to swiftly enforce this directive, city staff will be handing out pamphlets and homeless services to those who want it.

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