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Guest Opinion - Del Paso Park Deserves Responsible Stewardship

Ron Jellison is a community leader, teacher, environmentalist, and a long-time resident of the Arden/Carmichael area. He shares his thoughts here about the City of Sacramento's systemic management failures at Del Paso Regional Park.

The Unincorporated County Neighborhoods surrounding the City of Sacramento's Del Paso Regional Park have endured nearly a half-century of city apathy and outright abandonment of their duties to provide a safe, well-maintained and environmentally friendly park site in our community. Because the park is almost exclusively used by county residents, Del Paso Regional Park issues are assigned a very low priority by Sacramento City Services.

Lack of funds for maintenance and inability to enforce park rules have been the norm for a very long time. Over the years gangs, drug dealers, prostitution rings, and theft rings have found a home in Del Paso Regional Park and of course this illegal activity spills regularly into our county neighborhoods. Again this has been happening, not for a day or a week, but nearly a half-century.

On top of this, we have the Mayor of the City of Sacramento looking to displace his “Homeless Problem” and realizing the mess the City of Sacramento has already created in Del Paso Regional Park, seeing no issues with  placing his “Homeless Shelter” in the middle of the park. He sees nothing wrong with moving the City's problem to County Neighborhoods. The presence of this facility is very attractive to individuals that habitate the park, not as a place to find a pathway out of homelessness, but a meet-up place for nefarious activities.

I heard one neighbor describing people pushing shopping carts along the trails of Arcade Creek as looking a lot like the 101 in Los Angeles. Now, with the influx of this population, along with all the illegal/illicit activities going on in the park, we are experiencing an avalanche of trash along with human and medical waste.

May contain: garbage
Trash from a typical homeless encampment in the designated Natural Habitat of Del Paso Regional Park

Volunteers, like the River City Waterway Alliance (RCWA), have cleaned 68,742 lbs of trash in the short distance between Auburn Boulevard and the Capitol City Freeway August 2021 to July 2023. In this nearly 2 year period the above amount of trash required 72 cleanups involving 1,571 volunteer hours.

It is important to note: after RCWA finally had this one mile of creek running through the park all clean back in September 2022-  29,300 more lbs of trash were removed, resulting in the above cumulative totals.

This does not include the pick-up loads by individual neighbors, shopping cart returns, plastic bags filled by people walking the park, Forensiclean, or the weekly trash pick-up, when you realize, that there is more of other people's trash in the barrel than your own.

We applaud these efforts as admirable, but this is not sustainable. Just a few years ago, after the spring floods, groups/neighbors would get together in events like Creek Week and spend a Saturday/Sunday removing trash from Arcade Creek that runs through Del Paso Regional Park. Now, the new recruitment of trash and waste has changed from an occasional flood to a constant 24/7 activity.

Today, our County Neighborhoods are experiencing a decline in the standard of living and at the same time the environmentally sensitive infrastructure that supports those neighborhoods is being destroyed. By it's actions/in-actions the City of Sacramento has made it abundantly clear that County Neighborhoods are of little concern and are expendable.

It is time for a change. We propose that the City of Sacramento relinquish ownership and control of that portion of Del Paso Regional Park East of Watt Avenue to the County of Sacramento, if for no other reason, County Residents should have a say/vote in how a park within their community is maintained and supervised.

Our goals:

In the last two decades, the City of Sacramento has entered into contracts to sell to private individuals/companies over 50 acres of Del Paso Regional Park and were successful in transferring about half that amount. With County takeover, our goal would be preservation of what is left of the park in it's entirety for future generations.

A large portion of Del Paso Regional Park East of Watt Avenue, is designated as Natural Habitat, under County control, we would push to have this area expanded to include all property within the FEMA identified floodplain, or at a minimum maintain the current designated status.

In addition, we see no changes to the trails, relationship with the Children's Receiving Home, or rules regarding access to the park or natural habitat. We do envision positive substantial improvements in maintenance, supervision and safety.

Ron Jellison

     Friends of Del Paso Park

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