FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: WHO CAN I CALL WITH AN INQUIRY OR COMPLAINT REGARDING ENCAMPMENTS ESTABLISHED BY PERSONS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS?

A: Generally, in the City of Sacramento (City), inquiries or complaints regarding an encampment occupied by persons experiencing homelessness should be directed to 311. Such encampments include those located on City-owned property, including parks, as well as occupied vehicles on City streets. Individuals in need of services, including, but not limited to, shelter support or COVID-19 resources, should direct requests to 211.

Reports of criminal activity (which does not include the act of camping on public property) should be directed to the Sacramento Police Department at (916) 808-5471. Reports of an emergency should be directed to 911.

  • Inquiries or complaints regarding encampments located in Sacramento County parks should be directed to the Sacramento County Park Rangers at (916) 875-PARK (7275).

  • Inquiries or complaints regarding encampments located on California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) property should be directed to CalTrans.

  • Inquiries or complaints regarding encampments located on Regional Transit (RT) property should be directed to RT at (916) 556-0275.

  • Inquiries or complaints regarding encampments located on Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) property should be directed to UPRR police at (888) 877-7267.

 

Q: I SUBMITTED AN INQUIRY OR COMPLAINT REGARDING AN ENCAMPMENT ESTABLISHED BY PERSONS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS TO 311.

WHY HASN’T A SACRAMENTO POLICE OFFICER ARRESTED THE OCCUPANTS? WHY HASN’T THE ENCAMPMENT BEEN REMOVED OR RELOCATED?

A: In general terms, under federal law, cities may not criminalize the act of sitting, sleeping, or lying on all public property when no alternative sleeping space is available. Thus, with limited exceptions, a person experiencing homelessness may not be arrested for camping on public property unless that person is first offered unrestricted shelter. Federal law also restricts the removal of life necessities from persons experiencing homelessness.

Additionally, following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City received direction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Sacramento County Public Health Department, which, among other things, advises against the displacement of persons experiencing homelessness unless shelter and transportation to the shelter are provided and prohibits the issuance of citations for the act of sheltering in a vehicle or trailer. The City may remove or relocate encampments that adversely impact critical infrastructure, such as levees, or that pose a public safety hazard, such as those completely obstructing public rights-of-way.

Once an inquiry or complaint has been received via 311, the City will determine whether, under the laws and orders discussed above, any action can be taken and by whom. If the City determines that action can be taken, the appropriate personnel will respond consistent with best practices. In most circumstances, Sacramento police officers will not be among the City personnel to respond.  When City staff respond, Sacramento police officers will accompany them only when necessary to provide safety to those involved.

 

Q: CAN PERSONS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS START A FIRE TO COOK FOOD OR STAY WARM?

A: In general terms, state and local law prohibits starting a fire in an undesignated area of a public park, on a public street or sidewalk, and anywhere else in a reckless manner. The Sacramento Fire Department is best qualified to determine the safety of such fires. Inquiries or complaints regarding cooking and warming fires should be directed to (916) 228-3035. Reports of an emergency should be directed to 911.

 

Q: I SEE A PERSON EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS USING DRUGS OR DRINKING IN PUBLIC. WHAT CAN BE DONE?

A: In most instances, the possession and use of narcotics, and the consumption of alcohol, in public, are unlawful and should be reported to the Sacramento Police Department at 916-808-5471.

 

Q: I SEE USED SYRINGES ON A PUBLIC STREET OR SIDEWALK. CAN THE CITY PICK THEM UP?

A: Yes. The City can dispatch a contractor to remove used syringes from public property. Reports of used syringes on public property should be directed to 311.

 

Q: A PERSON EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS IS CAMPING ON MY PRIVATE PROPERTY. CAN I HAVE THAT PERSON REMOVED?

A: Yes. In general terms, a person entering or remaining upon your private property is trespassing in violation of state and local law. Reports of someone trespassing on your property and refusing to leave should be directed to the Sacramento Police Department at 916-808-5471. However, reports of someone trespassing on the private property of another should be directed to 311.

 

Q: A PERSON EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS WAS TRESPASSING ON MY PRIVATE PROPERTY AND LEFT TRASH BEHIND. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR REMOVING THE TRASH?

A: Owners of private property are responsible for maintaining their property free of junk and debris. Property owners must arrange for trash removal and secure their properties from trespassers.