In an effort to deal with a burgeoning unhoused inhabitants and rising fireplace danger, the Riverside Metropolis Council has permitted a ban on tenting or sleeping in areas the place undeveloped vegetation runs up in opposition to properties, together with the Santa Ana River backside.
The ordinance makes it unlawful to “sit, lie, sleep, or retailer, use, preserve, or place any cumbersome merchandise or private property” within the so-called wildland-urban interface. Earlier than the 6-1 vote Tuesday evening, metropolis officers cited an anticamping ordinance handed final 12 months by the Los Angeles Metropolis Council designating sure areas off-limits to encampments; the legislation has drawn criticism from activists who say it criminalizes homelessness.
Councilmember Clarissa Cervantes was the lone no vote, citing considerations that there is not going to be sufficient shelter for everybody residing within the river backside.
Exacerbated by excessive drought, possible “human-caused” fires have ignited within the river backside through the years, prompting officers to suggest the anticamping ordinance. Within the final 5 years, the Riverside Fireplace Division has responded to 163 requires vegetation fires within the Santa Ana River backside, 66% of which had been attributable to people, based on a metropolis report.
Riverside has struggled with homelessness for years, allotting $33.5 million of its metropolis finances in 2021-22 to create inexpensive housing and deal with the disaster.
In June, the Metropolis Council permitted a five-year plan to cut back homelessness that features assembling a “Wildlands Public Security Engagement Staff” comprising the Riverside Police Division, outreach employees from Metropolis Web and code enforcement officers to attempt to interact with folks residing within the Santa Ana River backside.
As soon as shelter and housing are made obtainable, the group will conduct anticamping enforcement and camp clean-up.
Officers stated they are going to abide by a federal courtroom ruling that forbids cities from implementing prohibitive tenting ordinances when various housing isn’t obtainable.
The county this 12 months has recognized 3,316 homeless folks, 59.71% of whom don’t have shelter. As extra folks have resided within the Santa Ana River backside and distant canyon areas, fireplace danger has elevated.
Throughout Tuesday’s assembly, officers additionally highlighted the Riverside County Partnership for the Homeless Outreach Medicine and Schooling program, another prison sentencing program for these experiencing homelessness or on the verge of homelessness.
To be able to qualify for this system, which promotes a treatment-based strategy to sentencing, moderately than incarceration or fines, the individual should be charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor and be evaluated by the courtroom, attorneys and Riverside College Well being System-Behavioral Well being.