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RE: Eureka's Camping Ordinance

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"Two Different Ways of Camping," Terry Torgerson's Dec. 3 cartoon showed desired campers in expensive motor homes and our neighbors with no place to live except make shift tents. People also live in campers. This is illegal under Eureka's current camping ordinance and under the proposed ordinance likely to be on the council's Jan. 19 agenda.

The "Camping Permitted Only in Specifically Designated Areas" code allowed then Police Chief Andrew Mills to designate an area near the Bayshore Mall. Council designated parking lots for Betty' Blue Angel Village and the short-lived sleeping site program. EPD was charged with managing all except the Betty's. None used normal tenancy rules.

This proposed ordinance takes the opposite approach, designating certain commercial areas, most of the waterfront, all city parks and within 75 feet of the center line of any recreational trail as no camping areas. Sleeping on other public property during daylight hours, plus 15 minutes before/after sunset/sunrise is allowed. Besides a few Eureka owned vacant properties, are public properties owned by Cal Trans, the school district and the county. EPD has been called in the past to clear people from these properties.

To do this the Martin v Boise court case is quoted. However, the staff reports fail to quote this important sentence: "We hold only that 'so long as there is a greater number of homeless individuals in [a jurisdiction] than the number of available beds [in shelters]," the jurisdiction cannot prosecute homeless individuals for 'involuntarily sitting, lying and sleeping in public.'" That is, as long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter."

Please encourage the Eureka City Council to use what they have. Send notes to cityclerk@ci.eureka.ca.gov.

Janelle Egger, Fortuna


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