Keep it moving, homeless motorists

And now for a bit more on homeless people trying to find safe places to see out the day.

If you read this week’s news beats, you’ll find a little write-up I did on the underpass where 3rd Street crosses the freeways that delineate the southern border of the central-city grid (pictured above).

The gist of the piece is that the police department last winter asked the city to put up 2-hour parking signs on this stretch so that they could force the homeless folks who’d set up residence in their vehicles down there to clear out during the daytime. According to the request, this was largely for safety reasons. It reads (ital. mine):

Issue: Currently, parking along the section of 3rd Street between W and X Streets (See Exhibit A) is unregulated, and vehicles park there for extended periods of time. The Sacramento Police Department has received multiple complaints of homeless subjects living in their vehicles and creating an unsafe environment.


Regulating parking on this section of 3rd Street with “Two Hour Parking, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Excluding Sundays” will open up parking in the area and decrease the number of homeless subjects parking their vehicles for long periods of time.

It passed in January, with surprisingly no pushback from homeless advocates in the city council chamber.

Recently, however, a few folks have taken notice, and are now following the paper trail to gauge the legitimacy of the police department’s claims of safety concerns. Retired lawyer/housing advocate Ron Javor tells me he’s got a hold of the complaints cited, and that he hopes to sit down with the police department soon to sift through them together.

I went down to the underpass this morning to get an idea of the block in question, and found only two vehicles (both showing signs of people living in them) parked down there at a quarter to 9:00 a.m.–which suggests that the police department’s request was successful in getting homeless people out of there during the day, but also that daytime parking isn’t at high demand in a two-block-long underpass shaded by the freeway.

I spoke with one man who worked in the area, as well as one who lived in his van below the highway. Both of them told me that they’ve always considered the area safe, homeless folks or none.

They also confirmed my suspicion that the people who spend their evenings in the underpass just move their cars a half block south on 3rd Street or east on X Street–outside of the two-hour parking zone–each morning, and sit there until they can return to the underpass at 4:00 p.m.

This whole setup sounds strangely familiar…

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