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Board Supports Ban on Unauthorized Camping on County-Owned Land

June 16, 2015

The Placer County Board of Supervisors acted today to prohibit unauthorized camping and storing of personal property on county properties – including the Placer County Government Center in North Auburn.

During discussion of a proposed ordinance, the main focus was a homeless encampment at the government center, a county-owned campus commonly known as the DeWitt Center.

“I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and complained about this,” said 3rd District Supervisor Jim Holmes, emphasizing that both county employees and the public at large have expressed their concerns to him.

In a report to the board, county staff emphasized that camping on county properties other than approved campgrounds creates public health and safety issues that need to be addressed.

Board members voted 4-0 to support the proposed ordinance. Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery was out of town and unable to attend today’s meeting.

The proposed ordinance will return to the board for a second reading and possible final approval on July 7. If adopted, the ordinance will go into effect on Aug. 6.

County staff emphasized they will work with nonprofit agencies such as Volunteers of America to ensure homeless individuals who camp at the government center and the community at large are aware of the proposed ordinance.

The goal is to encourage compliance before Aug. 6. Anyone violating the ordinance after that date could be subject to a fine.

Volunteers of America operates a temporary homeless shelter in a county-owned building at the government center with funding from a local nonprofit, Right Hand Auburn. The shelter opened its doors June 1 as a 90-day pilot project. The board has expressed a willingness to consider keeping the shelter open after the 90-day trial period.

Over the past week, the number of homeless individuals seeking to stay overnight has exceeded the shelter’s 47-bed capacity on some nights.

“I know that I will be talking with Right Hand Auburn about next steps that go beyond what we currently have,” said Supervisor Jack Duran.

The county is reviewing long-term recommendations from Dr. Robert Marbut, a nationally known expert on homelessness hired by the county to conduct a homeless needs assessment and action plan.

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