Sacramento City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood on Sept. 18 provided a formal response to Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho’s most recent letter to the City regarding the homelessness crisis.
Ho’s letter, also dated Sept. 18, responded to Alcala Wood’s Sept. 6 letter.
The City Attorney’s letter can be read below:
September 18, 2023
Sacramento County District Attorney
901 G Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: City’s Formal Response to your September 18, 2023, letter to the City of Sacramento
Dear District Attorney Ho:
In my timely response letter dated September 6, I emphasized the great need by our two offices to collaborate and work together to resolve the significant homeless crisis that affects, not only the City of Sacramento, but also the County and region that you serve. In your most recent response, you set forth a number of mischaracterizations of the City’s response to the homeless crisis through a comprehensive and holistic approach. I encourage you to re-read my September letter to better understand the City’s broad efforts and our request to work collaboratively, rather than confrontationally.
You mistakenly claim that the City has enacted provisions to protect City Hall from nuisance behaviors and that the City has not afforded such protections to other constituencies. That is a misunderstanding of our critical infrastructure ordinance, as the ordinance applies to City and non-City government facilities, including the courthouse, the district attorney’s office (and at your request), and to many city-wide sensitive sites such as water treatment facilities, schools (owned by the school districts), and levies (owned by reclamation districts). You attack the City’s recently adopted Homeless Protocols that are intended to provide a holistic approach to responding to homeless encampments that begin with outreach and end with enforcement. You assert that because they don’t include the word “enforcement” as a priority the protocols are “flawed.” That misunderstanding of the protocols reveals an unnecessarily narrow focus on criminalization of homelessness.
You have taken the bold (and erroneous) position that I claim “ignorance” of the locations of encampments in the City of Sacramento. Clearly, I am well aware of the encampments within the city. My request was to encourage you to identify the location of the 16 specific camps you referenced. It is important that we communicate the locations of your specific concerns in light of your threats to take legal action as a result of them. You also question why we consider a person’s housing status when reviewing a case for criminal filing, thereby intimating that we treat homeless individuals differently in violation of the 14th Amendment. This statement is bewildering coming from an experienced prosecutor such as yourself. You have consistently stated that you have alternative courts where you divert not only persons addicted to drugs, but also the unhoused with mental health issues. To put blinders on and simply ignore a person’s struggles in the name of “objectivity” does nothing to advance substantial justice in our criminal courts.
As your district attorney colleague from Orange County rightly observed in a recent op-ed piece, collaboration – not provocation – is the best path towards success. So, I again ask you to re-read my recent letter and consider finding solutions together.
SUSANA ALCALA WOOD