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Temporary housing extension considered in Butte County, deadline for dry camping fast approaches

Butte County Supervisors have unanimously voted to look into extending temporary housing for Camp Fire survivors for up to a year. While dry camping is still up in the air.

Posted: Oct 17, 2021 9:40 AM
Updated: Nov 8, 2021 10:28 AM

MAGALIA, Calif. - Butte County Supervisors have unanimously voted to look into extending temporary housing for Camp Fire survivors for up to a year. While dry camping is still up in the air.

Both temporary housing and dry camping are part of the Camp Fire Disaster Recovery Ordinance Chapter 53, which expires on Dec. 31. Supervisors decided on Oct. 12, to give direction to staff to extend the temporary housing part of the ordinance to a year, and bring back a discussion of the dry camping portion of it in a future meeting.

This applies to people living in the unincorporated parts of Butte County. 

This comes as Butte County is looking to kick out dry campers not interested in transitioning to temporary housing.

"We cannot let this mess continue it only gets worse every day," said Merle Loomis, a Magalia resident.

Loomis says some dry campers are disrespecting her Magalia neighborhood.

"Well interestingly I'm sort of dry camping I've been this way since the fire but I'm progressing. As you see I have a portapotty and things are not easy up here."

But Loomis says some other campers who live near here have not been progressing like her. She says most of them don't accept help when it's offered.

"Just recently one of them had towed a broken down awful car, from their run-down property and put it on mine. Someone left 10, 12 bags of garbage with needles in them for me," Loomis said.

Butte County Supervisors are looking into this issue.

Right now, 13 people are permitted to dry camp - meaning they can live in their RV without having to connect to power, water and sewage - as long as they can prove the burned property is theirs.

Dozens of other dry campers don't have that proof.

"Code enforcement only works through a civil process. We are citing the individual for the fact they're not supposed to be on the property but it takes time to get those convicted situations through the court system so they're not moving off the property," said Paula Daneluk, director of Development Services.

As it stands Chapter 53 of the Camp Fire Disaster Recovery Ordinance will expire at the end of the year - banning dry camping.

That means if you are attempting to hook up to services you can stay but if you're not - you have to be gone by Dec. 31, 2021.

"I wanted to have staff reach out to folks that may have the ability to help fund folks that are dry camping and get them hooked up so they can move into the temporary housing category and we can end dry camping," said Doug Teeter, supervisor for District 5.

That help could come from a non-profit - Code Enforcement could issue citations to the individuals dry camping for not being permitted on a daily basis. Three citations equal a misdemeanor.

"They're not doing anything more than bringing junk on their properties. I've talked to a few of them and they don't seem to have the wherewithal," Loomis said.

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