Homeless Exclusion Districts

September  18, 2018


Paula Lomazzi, Executive Director, Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee
916-862-8649 Ÿ shoc_1@yahoo.com Ÿ  SHOC
Paul Boden, Executive Director, Western Regional Advocacy Project
415-621-2533 Ÿ pboden@wraphome.org
What: UC Berkeley Report Release

Where: Sacramento City Hall, 915 I St.  Sacramento, CA

When: September 18, 2018 at 4:30pm


The Policy Advocacy Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law conducted a study for the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) to understand the effects Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have on houseless communities in California.

Patrolling and controlling our public spaces, sidewalks, streets, and parks, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are privatizing our downtowns and main thoroughfares.  Our public spaces are becoming corridors and shopping centers that are welcoming consumers with open arms and excluding everyone else.  Most particularly impacted by this emerging trend are the houseless communities that see areas to rest and sleep, free from harassment and criminalization, shrinking.

A BID is a special, legal subdivision of the city, with the legal authority to create their own districts, effectively claiming ownership over neighborhoods. The city collects assessments (taxes) from property owners, including city property and public spaces within the district, and then distributes that money to the BID.  The BIDs can use those funds however they see fit to serve businesses within the district with little to no public oversight.

This study “Homeless Exclusion Districts: How California Business Improvement Districts Use Policy Advocacy and Policing Practices to Exclude Homeless People from Public Space,” is the first of its kind and contains groundbreaking research on how BIDs impacts our local communities and reflect the impacts of BIDs across the country.  The report analyses the several ways in which current BID policy and policing practices violate California law and infringe on the legal rights of homeless people. The UC BerkeleyLaw Policy Advocacy Clinic surveyed approximately 189 BIDS in 69 of California’s largest cities to study the relationship between BIDs and houseless people. Clinic student Shelby Nacino states “Our research shows that BIDs have been successful in pressing state and local lawmakers to criminalize homelessness.The growing number of BIDs since the legislature gave them greater authority and autonomy in 1994 correlates strongly with a striking increase in anti-homeless laws.  

The study found that “BIDs violate California law when they spend property assessment revenue on policy advocacy… BIDs may violate additional state laws when they spend assessment revenue collected from public properties within their districts on policy advocacy…. BIDs and their agents may violate state, federal, and international law through their policing practices, including the infringing on the legal rights of homeless people.”

BIDs have been at the forefront of the criminalization of homelessness, gentrification, and displacement of poor people across the country. In the Bay Area, we see and experience the backlash of BIDs’ influence on public policy, privatization of public spaces and policing every day. Unfortunately, the repercussions of BIDs are visible not just in the Bay Area. Benjamin Dunning from Denver Homeless Out Loud stated that business districts in Denver started to take sections of sidewalk away. “This was public space, and they were offering it up to private business… The business improvement district made environmental changes to make it more difficult for homeless people to exist in that area.”  BIDs are privatizing public space across the country and with privatization comes policing, criminalization and displacement of the houseless, buskers, street vendors and the local poor.

“BIDs will go Block by Block to ensure that every sidewalk, street, and park serve to benefit the businesses that are in the district.  Public Space has become nothing more than the hallways of a shopping mall and if you are in that hallways you better be there to shop, or someone might chase you out.” says Paul Boden of WRAP.

Paula Lomazzi of SHOC says “In Sacramento BIDs have opposed facilities and programs that would help houseless people already living in their districts. The City Council listens to them and acts accordingly. That’s not how it should work.”

With the release of this study “Homeless Exclusion Districts: How California Business Improvement Districts Use Policy Advocacy and Policing Practices to Exclude Homeless People from Public Space,” we hope to bring greater awareness to how our shiny new shopping spaces are created, and what goes into their creation–mainly our tax dollars and our freedom.



All locations hosting Report Release events:

What:  UC Berkeley Report Release

Where: 10:30am @ San Francisco City Hall. 1 Carlton B Goodlett Pl, San Francisco, CA

Where: 12:00pm @ 5th and Spring St.  Downtown Los Angeles, CA

Where: 12:00pm @ Skyline Park. 16th St & Arapahoe St. Denver, CO

Where:  4:30pm @ Sacramento City Hall, 915 I St.  Sacramento, CA

Where:  4:00pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW 6th Ave. Portland, OR

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Homeward is in Chico!

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SafeGround StakeDown 2018

Activities Schedule!

Thursday Day 1 
10:30am Gates Open
11am- Know Your Rights Training with National Lawyers Guild Sacramento Chapter
12:45pm- Lunch break
2pm- People’s Assembly
4:30pm- Street ArtReach – Tye Dye and Clay Tables w/ The Creation DistrictTracie Leah Rice-Bailey, and Diana Monroy
6pm- Dinner break
7pm- Open Mic w/ Speak Out Sacramento‘s Grace Loescher
10pm- Gates Close

Friday Day 2
9:45am- Gates Open
10am- Stitch and Bitch w/ Suzanne Hastings and Zinemaking w/ Tee Fansofa
11:15am,- Community Health with Harm Reduction Services
12:45pm- Lunch break
1:30pm- Storytelling and Messaging w/ Organize Sacramento
3pm- Street Theater w/ Your Sacramento Art and Revolution
5:30pm- Dinner break
6:30pm- Closing

Join us for two days of art and action to uplift the voices of people experiencing homelessness in our region! We are calling for an end to the criminalization of survival, community, and property and for the right to dignified access to shelter and housing. If you’d like to donate supplies or financial support, text or call (916)862-8649

In recent years we have seen the number of our neighbors living outside continue to grow and though thousands are forced to live outside each night, there continues to be no legal, safe place for people to sleep or keep their personal belongings in our city. As this crisis expands, we see it coupled with a housing crisis that has been exacerbated by corporate landlords, contagious rent hikes, evictions and tenancy terminations. Working class, poor families and families of color are losing ground in Sacramento. But we are fighting back; against the stigmatization of our lives, the criminalization of our survival, and the normalization of this crisis in our community.

Facebook Event Page

A very special thank you to Mark Merin and Cathleen Williams!

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Solicitation Lawsuit

SHOC joined this Lawsuit along with Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness  (SRCEH) and James (Faygo) Clark.


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Moral Monday

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Poor People’s Campaign


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Panhandling ordinance goes to vote

Free Speech in Jeopardy

A panhandling ordinance will be brought forward at this Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Previously we’ve had an ordinance forbidding aggressive panhandling. If passed this new version will make it illegal to panhandle within 30 feet from an ATM, bank doorway, transit center, bus stop, and other place restrictions. Even if the person solicited isn’t using an ATM or at the bus stop.

When you pace out 30 feet, that length could take you across a two lane road plus parking space, a pretty long distance away to be considered intimidating. Panhandlers shouldn’t approach someone using an ATM, but everyone should be able to say “Spare change?” or “Can we bring about change?” anywhere else to anyone else in a non-threatening manner.

Let our city council know you want them to protect our constitutional right to free speech. Come to the City Council meeting Tuesday, 11/14/17, 5pm, email and/or call your councilmember and the mayor.

Copy of proposed ordinance

Articles: Sacramento City Council considers panhandling ordinance
Sacramento Panhandling Ban Could Go Into Effect Next Month

Mayor Steinberg  mayorsteinberg@cityofsacramento.org (916) 808-5300
Dist 1 – Councilmember Angelique Ashby aashby@cityofsacramento.org (916) 808-7001
Dist 2 – Councilmember Allen Warren  awarren@cityofsacramento.org (916) 808-7002
Dist 3 – Councilmember Jeff Harris  jsharris@cityofsacramento.org (916) 808-7003
Dist 4 – Councilmember Steve Hansen  shansen@cityofsacramento.org (916) 808-7004
Dist 5 – Councilmember Jay Schenirer  jschenirer@cityofsacramento.org (916) 808-7005
Dist 6 – Councilmember Eric Guerra  eguerra@cityofsacramento.org (916) 808-7006
Dist 7 – Councilmember Rick Jennings  rjennings@cityofsacramento.org (916) 808-7007
Dist 8 – Councilmember Larry Carr  lcarr@cityofsacramento.org (916) 808-7008

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Homeless Trial Update

Camping Ordinance Trial Results

Ashmore et al vs City of Sacramento trial was challenging the city’s camping ordinance as being selectively enforced. The case began eight years ago stemming from multiple arrests and citations of a group of homeless people that formed a Safe Ground tent community. Attorney Mark Marin and his team that was challenging the City’s camping ordinance brought forward excellent witnesses including originally homeless and supporter plaintiffs, homelessness experts, a psychiatrist, and people that camped out at well-known events such as Camp Pollock and Fairytale Town camp outs, and Black Friday. Even the City brought forward a former police officer witness that testified homeless people are often harassed by law enforcement and have no other options. The city’s camping ordinance was upheld by a jury of twelve, with only three jurors voting that the ordinance was selectively enforced.

What comes next? SHOC and allies continue to fight to end this unjust law. Historically laws that sought to criminalize people in order to exclude them from public spaces or segregate them, such as Jim Crow laws, “Ugly Laws” which excluded people with disfiguring disabilities, “Anti-Okie” laws that excluded poor people from entering California, have all been overturned and we now cannot image these laws as acceptable. Overturning those laws took sometimes decades of hard work. Likewise our fight is far from over. The future includes legal battles, legislative enactments, public education, protests, marches, and reaching enough people who will finally understand that getting rid of homeless people happens only by ending homelessness.

Links to media about the trial:

Davis Vanguard Historic Homeless Trial Begins – Opposing Sides Tell Different Tales (Cres Vellucci) Sacramento News & Review Left in limbo – Homelessness on trial:  – Separate and unequal – Motions sickness  Sacramento Bee Jury sides with Sacramento – Does Sacramento unfairly apply its camping ordinance – I’ve watched people die outside – Homeless campers suing the city of Sacramento  ABC Jury: City of Sacramento didn’t enforce anti-camping ordinance only on homeless – A timeline – Lawsuit against Sacramento – What are the details?  KCRA Jury: Sacramento didn’t discriminate – Homeless advocates sue  Fox Jury Rules in City’s Favor – Trial Over   CBS Lawsuit Against Sacramento  Capital Public Radio Jury Sides With City

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Currently aggressive panhandling and soliciting for donations from a median or off-ramp of a freeway is against the law. Their proposed changes would make it against the law to panhandle within 30 feet of an ATM, financial institution door, transit center, bus stop, driveway to a business, or directly from someone sitting in an outdoor café.

SHOC (Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee) has been attending community meetings, City Council and Law & Legislation meetings trying to convince them that these new additions infringe on protected free speech, to no avail.

If you pace out 30 feet, it’ll take you across a two lane street including car parking. The ordinance would make it against the law to ask anyone within 30 feet from an ATM, even if that person is not planning to use the ATM machine. 30 feet equals 60 feet up and down the sidewalk with the starting point at the center. Can you imagine trying to intimidate a pedestrian from 30 feet away? Having to shout out “HELLO, OVER THERE! YES YOU! GIVE ME MONEY….PLEASE!!!” “What?” “I SAID….”

At the same time it does not make it against the law to ask a stranger what time it is, or comment how you like their shoes within 30 feet. You can still legally approach someone at the ATM machine and say, “Did you watch the game last night?” Just don’t say you are poor and in need of some spare change.

These changes have been approved by the Law & Leg Committee and will go soon to Sacramento City Council for a vote.

Watch footage here



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Angels of the Fields Scholarship

Angels of the Fields’ Scholarship Recipient
From Orchards to a Different Field
by Sally Ooms

In a trailer, tucked between a Sacramento River levee and Bartlett pear orchards, Gabriela Leon Cerriteno talks about her 19 years of life to date.

She will embark upon a college career in four days. She’ll drive at least 45 minutes from this spot, her family home, to Cosumnes Community College classes that start at 7:30 a.m. She will work toward her hoped-for degree in psychology. While she would never demean her parents’ professions as farm workers, like so many rural kids, she wants to take a different path.

Her last semester up river at Clarksburg’s Delta High School, she did a project for her English professor and met professionals in the field of psychology. They piqued her interest. “Psychology is so broad, I could use the degree for anything. But I am leaning toward clinical psychology,” she says.

Gabby received a scholarship through Angels of the Fields, a Delta-based volunteer group that helps farmworkers, their relatives and their children with a variety of basic needs—from finding adequate and safe shelter and nutritious food to providing transportation, especially to medical facilities. There are no health clinics in the Delta.

In addition, Angels of the Fields hosts several special events for farmworkers. Their biggest is a free Christmas party with carnival-style game booths, presents for all, a visit with Santa and lots of food. All gift toys and clothing are new items, and are sometimes the only things the kids will receive for the holidays.

Gabby knows the event well. “We always signed up to go there,” she remembers. “In my sophomore year, I started volunteering and worked the carnival. I volunteered for three years, at a booth or handing out snacks.”

Gabby first lived in Locke, an old Chinese community 7 miles down river from their Courtland location. But when the family of two adults and three children grew by one, the house there was too small and they moved. All the children have helped their father in turn with various aspects of trimming trees and harvesting fruit. “December is the season to trim trees, but when I was little my Dad didn’t trust me with the scissors, so I picked up sticks and branches and lined them up for the tractor,” Gabby says. “This last year, I got a job with a local food truck. I worked there from Monday through Saturday, 10 to 6 every day. I don’t like asking my parents for money. Except, they will be feeding me still,” she laughs.

Gabby’s father works for nearby Amistad Ranch where he does irrigation and pruning. She knows a lot of the workers at Amistad because they were so close. “In the summers, we would go for lunch break and hang out, or bring water. We were their little angels. And we helped them out in the winter season too.”

She sees her father now taking on what she calls “double work” because he has had to train to do a lot of new technology. He also is responsible for training others. “Pipes break down. He has to show them how to repair them.” Her mother started working outside the house about four years ago picking fruit. “She goes from place to place. You never know where she’ll be working—with my brother to pick pears, or grapes, kiwis. She picks cherries. We have green tomatoes and avocado trees here. That’s her job at home.

“Sometimes she switches to pear tree pruning. My brother and I would work with the two

Gabriela Leon Cerriteno

of them and we brought my younger brother and sister, just to show them that it was not easy. I used to have longer hair. One day it got stuck in this huge spider web. (She swirls her hands around her head). I said, ‘I’m done.’ I told them: ‘I’ll clean the house. I’ll make it sparkle. I will do my homework, but no more pruning.’ Then, when they were leaving to prune, they would tell me, ‘You do well in school or we’ll take you.’”

Gabby was born a year after her mother came to the United States from Mexico. “I was unexpected. They were not prepared,” she lets on. “I am their experiment here.”

Gabby says she was not too outgoing in high school. She has friends but none of them really come from a farm life like she has. “I liked Latino Club. I was in that for three years. I really liked helping out, but we never went on any trips.”

In May, she went on her own to visit her parents’ hometown in the state of Michoacán for two weeks. “I saw relatives I’d never met. All the family. There are barely any here (in the U.S.). My cousins are very young and I was the only girl. Lots of boys.”

Now she hopes to travel far and wide. “I want to travel the world, make a difference, especially in small communities.” But first Gabby plans to finish her bachelors at the University of the Pacific, and then pursue her dream of a doctorate in psychology.

Angels of the Fields contact information: AOTF02@gmail.com


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