The Park Commission has approved camping sites for Bidwell Park. In a 5-0 vote Monday night Chico’s park commissioners approved 24 designated camping sites in both upper and lower Bidwell Park, for stays up to 30 days.
Although the camping sites will be open to anyone, the commission’s action was proposed by the Homeless Task Force (HTF) as an immediate and low cost way to provide housing for Chico’s growing homeless population.
“We’ve already had illegal camping, but by assigning designated camp sites for these travelers we can monitor the situation much better,” said Chico’s Parks and Recreation supervisor Len Wilson.
“Look this is long overdue! The police have better things to be doing than harassing homeless people who just need a place camp,” Wilson quipped prior to the commission’s vote. The Park Commission echoed Wilson’s sentiments with a motion to adopt the new camping ordinance which passed without objection.
Park Commissioner Larry Andrews said he’s investigated this idea for quite a while and studies show that tent encampments do not attract crime; they actually lower crime and provide a safe and clean environment for everyone. This is a win-win for the homeless and the citizens of Chico. Andrews said, “It’s not like these people are coming here from out of state, these are all local people who have had a run of bad luck. They are here because they are simply looking for work. We should help them until they can find a job here.”
The largest of the encampments (200 tents) is to be located South of the pool area near Caper Acres where permanent restroom facilities are already in place. The HTF would like to see showers added to the facilities this summer, but for now this will have to do. It’s anticipated the camp sites will accommodate up to 1500 campers, said Marsha Roloff, Chair person of the HTF.
To offset some of the costs to supervise the camping, surplus tents, large enough for two persons and a dog, will be available for rent at the CARD center; the cost will be on a sliding scale, from free to $3 per day. Had enough? Okay, me too…April fools. Did I get ya? lol