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Chico City Council revisits homeless ordinance and city laws

Chico City Council will continue a major homeless discussion they held at their last meeting: amending certain city ordinances regarding camping and storage of personal property in public spaces.

Posted: Sep 6, 2021 11:19 PM
Updated: Sep 7, 2021 9:11 AM

CHICO, Calif. - It has been a month since Chico City Council last met, but they are continuing a major homeless discussion they had at their last meeting: amending certain city ordinances.

The ordinances revolve around regulating camping and storage of personal property in public places.

In a 5-2 vote in their last meeting on Aug. 3, the council approved the first reading of the ordinance to amend certain titles within the city’s municipal code.

What would have been an urgent ordinance was changed after Councilmember Sean Morgan requested to make it a regular ordinance.

Action News Now spoke with Mayor Andrew Coolidge and asked about this change.

“It was really because we can’t enforce it at this point in time so there wasn’t really any need to move back towards that,” Mayor Coolidge explained.

RELATED: City of Chico in settlement conference this week regarding homeless shelter compromise

But this Tuesday evening, the council will officially decide whether to adopt these ordinances, which, as Mayor Andrew Coolidge says, is the next step needed for the city’s lawsuit.

The judge said the current ordinances violate the law and he wanted to see legal cleanup.

Action News Now asked Mayor Coolidge about how these changes might impact the lawsuit.

“All it does is, if in fact we are released from the injunction, that we will be able to go right back into enforcement in the parks and waterways which is what we are really looking at,” he said.

Regardless of opinion on these definitions and changes, Mayor Coolidge says what matters most is having definitions that work under the law.

“It’s his definition in the end that matters and hopefully it’ll be a definition which will be realistic because we certainly can’t expect every city in California, or throughout the Ninth District, to be actually able to house people in buildings,” he said. “It would bankrupt half of the cities in the Ninth District for sure.”

Even if these changes are adopted, this does not mean enforcement starts immediately and the city still must be released from the injunction.

“Regardless of what side of the issue you are on, regardless of how you want us to solve the problem, I think everybody in Chico, including myself, wants to get back to clean parks and clean waterways and deal with some of these issues and problems we have,” Mayor Coolidge said.

The city attorney, city staff, the opposing side and the magistrate are all scheduled to meet for a settlement conference this Friday.

The City Council meeting will be held at the City Chambers Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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