MODESTO (CBS13) — A grand opening for a Modesto dog park has been canceled because of the city’s homeless crisis.
The City of Modesto has decided that Beard Brook Park, which currently houses the new dog park, will now also serve as the site of a city-sanctioned homeless encampment.
The dog park was slated for a ribbon cutting event next week, but Modesto city leaders designated the area as a legal homeless encampment following a federal court ruling stating cities cannot cite someone for unlawful camping, if there aren’t available beds in a shelter.
“All of a sudden, now we’ve got a homeless crisis beyond what we had considered previously,” City of Modesto spokesperson Thomas Reeves said.
Modesto is working to bring in porta-potties to the area, and decided a ribbon-cutting for people’s pets at the same location — would create a bad public perception.
“And we didn’t think it was appropriate,” Reeves said. “I think our city leadership wants to focus on this crisis now, put all our time and energy and resources into this crisis, at that park.”
Modesto may still decide to open the dog park next to the new encampment — but without the balloons and back-slapping.
The City of Modesto says the sanctioned homeless encampment is temporary. It will move when the city finds a building that can serve as a shelter.