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Neighbors say out-of-control drug use at Sacramento park's homeless encampments is dangerous, frightening

Drugs found left behind on baby changing table in Sacramento park bathroom
Drugs found left behind on baby changing table in Sacramento park bathroom 02:49

SACRAMENTO -- Neighbors say problems in and around homeless encampments only continue to grow at a Sacramento park. 

More than 100 unhoused people live in tents paralleling Stanford Park at 27th and C streets.

In one of the park's three public bathrooms, a shocking find: used needles and drug paraphernalia littering the floor and a baby's changing table. 

Obtained by CBS13: Stanford Park bathroom 

"To think a little kid who might not know could pick up that needle and stab themselves inadvertently, that's very frightening," said neighbor and community advocate Amy Gardner.

Neighbors told CBS13 the park bathrooms are cleaned about once a week, but within hours, they are unusable and now dangerous.

It's hardly the first time or the only place needles have been found at Stanford Park.

Gardner keeps a container for sharps in her car and says she picks them up constantly.

"You can say, 'Why isn't someone doing anything about this?' Or you can say, 'Well let me see what I can do about it,' " said Gardner.

The proof of public drug use is evident on the park's sidewalks and in the grass -- near kids and soccer practice.

Parents say their children can't use the restroom and at times have to dodge needles while playing.

"For them to stop the game in order to remove a needle is disgusting," said neighbor John Frias Morales.

Morales lives nearby in McKinley Village, within walking distance of the park. He says the shocking bathroom find should be the city's wake-up call.

"There's lawlessness in the neighborhood. And people feel very unsafe," said Morales.

He said crime like theft, break-ins and vandalism spills over to his home. Two recent home surveillance videos provided to CBS13 show the unhoused on the front door steps of Morales' neighbors.

He said his entire McKinley Village neighborhood echoes the same sentiment: enough is enough.

"Drug addiction, alcohol addiction, metal health. If we can't start working on those nothing is going to happen," said Gardner.

The City of Sacramento said it responds to Stanford Park and the surrounding homeless encampment weekly to provide resources to the unhoused, but cannot force those living on the streets to leave.

From March through early May, Sacramento's Department of Community Response removed at least 135 needles from Stanford Park. Citywide, DCR reported in June it had collected more than 24,500 year-to-date.

"This is not one person's problem. This is not one community's problem. This is city-wide and county-wide," said Gardner.

Stanford Park neighbors report these issues to 311 every single day; that's Sacramento's hub for reporting community problems.

Sacramento police say they were not made aware of those needles found in the park's bathroom, adding if it is a matter of public safety, neighbors are encouraged to give them a call and report it.

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