SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — In response to a story that aired Thursday night on CBS13, the City of Sacramento is now responding and creating a task force to combat a growing public safety concern.
Homeless campers are carving into levees that protect Sacramento from flooding, a break in the levee could be devastating.READ MORE: 'I Saw The Suffering In People's Faces: Sacramento Man Finds Strollers For War-Torn Refugees
“We can’t have our levee compromised,” said City Council Member Jeff Harris.
Harris represents the area along the Garden Highway where homeless people have dug holes in the levee up to 4-feet deep so they’ll have flat ground for their tents.
“A levee breach anywhere in Sacramento would be catastrophic for life and property our economy would not recover probably for decades,” he said.
Many people are questioning why city police don’t clear the camps.
Last week, the sheriff’s department conducted a raid on large scale homeless encampment along Stockton Boulevard, but so far city police haven’t made any similar sweeps.READ MORE: City To Vote On Project That Would Add Speed Bumps To More Sacramento Neighborhoods
So we asked why there appear to be different policies.
“In the county, we enjoy that the sheriff is an elected official which I think gives him a very broad power,” said Sgt. Tess Deterding with the Sacramento County Sheriff Department. “The city doesn’t operate the same. They have a chief that is appointed and beholden to a City Council.”
City police say homeless enforcement efforts have been curtailed by a recent federal court ruling because Sacramento lacks shelter space.
Meanwhile, levee engineers say the current tents and debris make it impossible to inspect for damage and are asking the city for immediate help clearing the camps.
“We just need some immediate help to get there to do our job to protect the community,” said Kevin Kind, general manager for Reclamation District 1000 who says there needs to be an agency that has authority. “An authority that can come in and physically remove the encampments that are preventing us from monitoring and maintaining the levee.”
Council member Harris says the camps are clearly a public safety threat and says the city must now form a task force to remove campers from the levees.
“It’s going to take a collaboration between the city and the county and the reclamation district to work out this problem,” Harris said.MORE NEWS: Massive Outdoor Recreation Area Nears Opening In Elk Grove
The city announced a task force that would involve the city, county, mental health support, and levee districts to help solve this problem, but when the cleanup will begin hasn’t been decided.