CHICO, Calif. - The Chico City Council quickly went to work after swearing in the new mayor and vice mayor on Dec. 8, and adopted an emergency ordinance allowing for the enforcement of rules within city parks.
In a press release, the city said this will be enforced by misdemeanors or infractions in Bidwell Park, as well as other city parks and playgrounds.
City officials say this new ordinance allows for the heightened enforcement of illegal behaviors in the public spaces and amplifying the level of accountability and public expectation of safety and cleanliness.
The council voted 5-2 to implement the ordinance beginning Dec. 9, the following day.
When it comes to the enforcement itself, the city says it will be carried out by park rangers, code enforcement officers, the Chico Police Department and other various city employees with enforcement powers.
Councilmember Sean Morgan said starting Dec. 9, the homeless will have 72 hours to leave the park before receiving a citation.
"Giving people citations, which wasn't even happening, isn't going to have a lot of an effect," explained Morgan. "So now if you are an habitual offender, you move from one park to the next and just keep degrading it and ruining it, you are actually going to be arrested or cited as a misdemeanor. I don't think this is likely to happen very often but it should tone down the abuses that we are seeing."
What are some of the enforceable rules?
- Possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Destruction of public property
- Unauthorized fires
- Disposition of garbage outside of established receptacles
- Overnight camping
- Excessive noise