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State, county & city working on addressing homeless issues
A homeless woman with her belongings; the Point In Time survey this year showed the homeless population in Stanislaus County continues to grow.

There are three initiatives that are being under taken to address local and regional homeless issues.

The Manteca City Council voted in a special closed session last week to collaborate with a coalition of California public agencies to file a statement to the Supreme Court to reconsider a lower court decision regarding homeless impacts in the community that will make it tough, it not impossible, to enforce public camping and public sleeping ordinances against the homeless.

San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti who represents Lathrop and Manteca north of Yosemite Avenue as well as part of Stockton is working to secure the five acre former Holt Union School campus as a potential site for homeless relocation and services under a plan dubbed “Tru-Care Plan” that is designed to serve the entire county.

Caltrans crews cleared out illegal homeless camps along the south side of the 120 Bypass from a point west of the Van Ryn Avenue overcrossing to Highway 99 as well as on the north side behind Spreckels Business Park.

The council is challenging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that held that enforcing public camping and public sleeping ordinances against homeless individuals when no sleeping space is “practically available” violates the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and may give rise to civil liability essentially would severely undermine efforts Manteca has in place to deal with homeless concerns that are wedded to city backed humanitarian efforts to work with homeless  to get them off the street.

A city press release notes that “although the decision specifically dealt with the City of Boise, Idaho, it is binding on federal trial courts in California as well. The City of Boise is asking the United States Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision.”

The City of Manteca will work with the Renne Public Law Group who is authorized to submit an amici curiae brief on behalf of a broad coalition of California local public agencies in support of Boise’s effort to persuade the Supreme Court to grant review in September.  To date, approximately 15 local public agencies have joined the coalition— including the City of Manteca—and many more are in the process of seeking council/board authorization to join the Coalition.”

The Coalition will provide the Supreme Court with a boots-on-the-ground perspective of the overwhelming impact the Ninth Circuit’s ruling has on local public agencies in California in an effort to persuade the Supreme Court to grant review and evaluate the merits of the Ninth Circuit’s decision.”

The Coalition will explain the proactive and creative ways in which local public agencies are helping to address the homelessness crisis despite obstacles to implementing permanent housing solutions quickly in California.”

The Coalition will highlight that the Ninth Circuit’s decision raises more questions than it answers in several respects, leaving municipalities with little room for error and increasing the risk that it could be extended to a host of public health and safety laws beyond public camping and sleeping ordinances.”  

Finally, the Coalition will emphasize that municipalities face unique challenges complying with the Ninth Circuit’s opinion while balancing public health and safety concerns regarding flood or fire mitigation, clean-up of improperly stored food, needles or human waste.”

SJ County effort

Patti is conducting a tour today of the former Holt Union School site that is eight miles west of Stockton or a 14 minute drive from Stockton’s downtown. The five acres is fenced. It has a kitchen, gym, and administrative facilities.

It is described as a turnkey operation that has been fully maintained since it was closed three years ago.

Next Thursday, Aug. 9, there will be a presentation on the Tru Care Project taking place at 9 a.m. at the Stockton Civic Auditorium, 525 N. El Dorado St., in Stockton. The project is designed to put in place a continuum of care effort aimed at helping homeless get off the street, secure needed help, and to ultimately to become self-sufficient.

Encampment clean-up

Encampments for between 30 and 40 homeless individuals have been removed.

It is illegal to camp in a freeway right-of-way. In addition there are serious fire issues due to dry vegetation as well as the fact some of the frequent accidents along the 120 Bypass have been known to send vehicles down the embankments.

Court rulings require homeless encampments to be noticed to give those camping illegally time to clear their belongings out.

Much of the area where the homeless have been camping illegally backs up to sound walls for the Tesoro, Paseo Villas, and Juniper apartment complexes.

Based on what has happened after previous clean-ups, more homeless will move to other locations throughout the city looking for abandoned or empty buildings as well as places they can hide in vegetation.

Eventually they will return to establish illegal encampments again along the 120 Bypass.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email