The City of Sacramento has received multiple requests for information regarding homeless outreach efforts and the status of the City-owned property at 2225 Colfax St.
To update the public, the City is providing the following background information as well as a statement from Assistant City Manager Mario Lara.
For the past six weeks, the City of Sacramento has been working to provide outreach and support to the people experiencing homelessness who are camping at a City-owned lot at 2225 Colfax St.
This site, at the corner of Colfax and Arden Way, previously had been on the City’s Comprehensive Siting Plan to address homelessness. It had been identified as a possible location for safe parking for vehicles, but only on paved surfaces. It was never intended to support tent camping.
Due to soil contamination at the site and its potential effects on ground water, the City in June 2017 recorded a land use covenant to the deed of its property with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Soil samples from the site contained benzene, trichloroethene (TCE) and tetrachloroethene (PCE) above concentrations that may pose a human health risk.
When developing plans for potential safe parking at the site, the City in October 2021 applied for and later received a variance to the land use covenant from the state Water Board, which allowed for some safe parking but under very limited conditions.
Following the issuance of the variance, the Sacramento City Council this spring determined that the potential safe parking on Colfax Street, which would accommodate only 30-50 vehicles depending on their sizes, had become cost prohibitive and directed staff to work on other sites that had been identified to assist Sacramento’s unsheltered residents.
In late September, the Sacramento Homeless Union and a group from Oakland known as the Wood Street Encampment issued a press release stating that people were “occupying” the lot. The fencing that had secured the site had been cut, and approximately 30 people in tents and vehicles were camping inside. The state Water Board in early October notified the City that it was in violation of the variance.
Since then, the City’s Department of Community Response and its contractor Hope Cooperative have visited the site more than a dozen times. While interacting with people camping on the lot, DCR has consistently stressed the health and safety issues and offered places in more appropriate shelter settings. The City also has posted signage at the site.
In early November, the Sacramento Police Department posted notices stating that people would not be allowed to remain on the site. On Nov. 15, following discussion at the City Council meeting, it was decided that there would be further evaluation of the site.
“The soil at the lot at Colfax and Arden Way is known to be contaminated with chemicals that can pose a health risk. That is why there is a land use covenant on the property giving the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board authority over how it is used.
The people currently occupying the Colfax lot are violating the terms set by the state Water Board, and they are in potential danger from the toxic chemicals in the soil, especially people in tents. The City is liable if people are allowed to stay there in violation of the land use covenant and the variance.
The Department of Community Response and Hope Cooperative have offered services to campers at Colfax multiple times, including spaces at the Miller Park Safe Ground and Safe Parking and the Auburn Boulevard Outreach and Engagement Center. DCR is continuing to reach out to people on the Colfax lot.
The City currently operates 1,150 emergency shelter and respite spaces for people experiencing homelessness. The City Council recently allocated $35 million to build 850 more affordable housing units. The City also continues to look for additional motels that can be converted quickly into transitional housing.
The City is using all its available resources to respond to the ongoing homelessness crisis. We will continue to actively address the hardships encountered by unsheltered individuals while working to protect the health and safety of everyone who lives in Sacramento.”