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Trash, hypodermic needles and pornographic magazines litter a two-mile stretch of the American River Parkway in North Sacramento, and longtime advocate for the area Bob Slobe has seen enough.
“If you saw the devastation in the park, you’d go, ‘I can’t believe someone would let this happen,’ ” Slobe said.
He said the problem is due to illegal homeless camping in the area.
Slobe’s family owned the portion of the park, which stretches from Del Paso Boulevard and Northgate to Cal Expo, through its company, the North Sacramento Land Company, from 1910 - 1989.
As a park, he said it should be a place where families can go for recreation, but it’s no place he would envision taking kids.
“It’s just a cesspool,” he said. “You’re not going to go out walking with your kids and your dog here. This is the poorest part of the city. This should be where they come to recreate – to fish and walk. It’s just not fair. It’s not right.”
Slobe has been irked by the situation for decades, saying it was a trash pit by mid-1989, shortly after Sacramento County and The California Department of Fish and Game took over the property’s management.
Walking through the area on Monday, Slobe said he noticed that the camping has become more formalized, as wood chips have been laid down over bare ground.
“There’s roughly 200 tents out there, which means there are more than 200 people, and they have everything but toilets,” he said. “They’ve cleared the ground and put down wood chips.”
He added that the nightly campfires are fueled by trees that should be protected habitat spaces.
“Whatever I say, it doesn’t matter much,” Slobe said, “but the pictures say it all. The county has been calling this a jewel since the 1970s, but this is no jewel.”
To solve the problem, Slobe advocates that the existing laws that prevent camping be enforced.
“If you enforce the law, it forces municipalities to go back and find a real solution,” Slobe said. “This hiding our troubled world in the bushes is not a solution. It is not a temporary solution, and it is not a long-term solution. It’s no solution.”
All photos by Bob Slobe.
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