Council approves ‘compassionate compromise’ for people sheltering at City Hall

In a move that has been called a “compassionate compromise,” the Sacramento City Council on Tuesday amended an ordinance prohibiting people from sheltering outside City Hall at night.

Under the revised ordinance, which goes into effect in late March, people can stay on City Hall grounds from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.  However, if they would like to sit or lie down there during the day, they need to do so on one of the installed benches.

City Hall belongs to all residents of Sacramento, said Assistant City Manager Chris Conlin, and the City had been looking for a way to balance the needs of everyone who uses it, including residents, City employees and elected officials.

“City Hall is the public’s building,” Conlin said.

The new ordinance allows people to effectively conduct business during work hours and shelter at night, Conlin said.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg had asked City staff to analyze the ordinance in January after several people experiencing homelessness were asked to leave spots under the awning at night and remove their belongings, including tents.

In recent weeks, the City has temporarily allowed unrestricted access for those seeking shelter around the exterior of City Hall. During this time, City Hall has seen significant increases in garbage and hazardous materials including human waste.

Those increases in garbage and waste have forced cleanings at City Hall to go from two hours a day to eight hours. Power washes have gone from once a week to once a day.  Monthly costs for the cleanings around City Hall has increased from $2,529 to $8,382.

City Hall hosts numerous community events throughout the year in its plaza, including youth job fairs.

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