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Court Ruling Allows Homeless To Sleep On Public Property Without Citation

SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) — Camping out in public is no longer illegal, according to a court ruling that passed just a few weeks ago.

The ruling came down from San Francisco's Ninth Circuit of Appeals. It states law enforcement cannot cite or arrest a homeless person for sleeping on public property if the city or county doesn't have enough shelter beds.

"Now I scout every inch of the grass before I sit down on it and even then I smell it," said Seth Redlich.

Redlich recently moved to California from the East Coast and says the littering associated with homelessness is a new concept to him. Redlich is for homeless rights but says the pollution it's causing makes him a little uncomfortable.

"I've never concerned myself with human waste until I came to California, not once in my life," Redlich said.

A federal ruling passed on September 4th now states it's "unconstitutional" for law enforcement to cite or arrest homeless people sleeping on public property.

RELATED: Court Ruling Has Sacramento County Backing Off No-Camping Ordinance

"Since the beginning of 2018, there have been more than 2,000 illegal camping citations issued by the park rangers," said Sacramento County Spokeswoman Kim Nava.

Now rangers have stopped enforcing the "anti-camping ordinance," under the new federal ruling.

"They are still citing for illegal campfires, dogs off-leash, possession of shopping carts, anything like that," Nava added.

She said the new ruling hasn't stopped the city from cleaning up parkways, especially around the American River, in addition to providing services to the homeless.

The ruling is a victory for homeless activist Jaymes "Faygo" Clark. He says the majority of homeless people he's encountered want to be off the streets.
Clark added that constantly being kicked out of homeless camps makes it tough to connect with county resources.

RELATED: Federal Court: Cities Can’t Prosecute People For Sleeping On Streets

"I think we can see a major shift in the way not only people in the streets are acting, but how quickly we are getting them to transition back into housing," Clark said.

The county's mission to get public property and local parkways cleaned up is still a priority, even if it now means making a few tweaks.

District 1 Supervisor Phil Serna tells CBS13 "...despite the court's ruling we will do everything we can to capitalize on the progress we've made."

The county says it has been able to re-house more than 100 homeless people since last year. Supervisor Serna is now calling for a public hearing in October, to discuss new ways to get homeless people off the streets.

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