We don't have to tell you all about the extent and complexity of homelessness in our region. As we have said before, we know it is a difficult issue that involves real people - families and individuals of all ages - with real needs. It's not a law enforcement issue, nor is it "someone else's problem". Unless, of course, your name is Councilman Jeff Harris of the City of Sacramento. Mr. Harris' district, you see, includes the northeastern part of Downtown Sacramento, where Loaves and Fishes is Ground Zero for delivery of services to the homeless. Loaves and Fishes does indeed shoulder key responsibilities for our region. But it doesn't provide housing. So when the City of Sacramento decided it was up to each of its city council members to come up with sites where homeless people could live safely and securely, Mr. Harris had to do something. To Mr. Harris, apparently, Loaves and Fishes meant his district had done more than its fair share. His solution was to let Cal Expo provide the housing. Conveniently for Mr. Harris, Cal Expo is located across the river from his preferred voters in East Sacramento. Cal Expo is public land with space and parking lots available that could reasonably be expected to provide for safe housing - camping, car camping, tent shelters or whatever - with bathrooms and showers available. But it is also sited far away from Loaves and Fishes or the many other places where homeless people go for services, like churches, emergency rooms, schools and County offices. As a result, it is clear that our community will bear the bulk of the impacts. The Cal Expo Board was deluged with input from concerned businesses and residents of Arden Arcade when Mr. Harris' proposal came before them in 2019. The plan was shelved.
According to a Sacramento Bee article ("Council members consider almost 50 sites for homeless shelters, camps, tiny homes", May 23, 2021), Mr. Harris has taken the plan off the shelf again. Along with some small sites (Northgate at I-80, a parcel by the tracks off Elvas, and the old NY Bagel Boys on Folsom Blvd near 65th) that might be used for tiny homes, he wants Cal Expo to provide for camping and car camping using the spacious Lots A, P and Z. Lot A is the dirt lot at the Arden exit off Business 80. Lots P and Z flank Cal Expo's RV Park at the end of Ethan south of Hurley. In July, the City of Sacramento hopes to adopt its master plan for homeless housing - including Mr. Harris' proposal to have Arden Arcade handle things so he won't have to. And, like before, it will be up to the Cal Expo Board to give approval. Naturally, no one who lives, works, or has a business here was consulted. As Yogi Berra once famously said, "It's deja vu all over again."