It’s a fact of life in Chico these days that one will encounter transients.  In fact, this is nothing new.  For at least a decade it’s been this author’s experience that the homeless find Chico a particularly habitable locale, and whether it’s that word is traveling about Chico’s “chillness” or some other intangible, it’s clear more have been coming and have no plan to leave.

The increased population of transients has many Chicoans talking.  Many locals say transients have always been a part of life here, but the breed of transient as well as the amount has changed.  The general sentiment in days past around Chico regarding transients was one of pity and understanding.  Not so much anymore.  The Chico PD has reportedly pushed the homeless population out of downtown and under the bridges they used to call home.  They have ended up being displaced to the outskirts of downtown where many locals live.  At the same time, Chico is expanding and new businesses are starting to populate the outskirts of downtown, there has been a saturation of the area by homeless.  And not the down and out homeless people locals remember, but violent, recidivist, drug-addicted people who come from out-of-town to exploit what Chico has to offer.

Local business on the outskirts of downtown has been negatively impacted by the situation.  It’s hard to get paying customers in the door when they fear walking through the parking lot because of the grungy, shopping cart pushing man drinking a “40” they don’t want to walk their children past.  Law enforcement has apparently chosen to not enforce municipal codes enacted to stop loitering by homeless.  In addition, trespassing, littering, and even assault complaints fall on deaf ears when reported to local law enforcement.

Quite frankly, law enforcement probably has good reason to avoid doing their job when it comes to the homeless.  If they cite the person, is that person going to show up in court?  Are they going to pay the fine?  Are we really going to use our resources to arrest them on a warrant?  If they arrest them, will they “learn their lesson” and stop breaking the law?  Are we going to have to feed them when they’re in jail?  Are we going to have to supervise them, provide medical attention, manage their detox, provide psychological evaluation and possibly counseling?  You get the picture.

However, the cost of allowing them to stay on the streets may be equally high.  Between the frequent calls for paramedics and the fire department when someone is passed out unresponsive from binge drinking all night on a business’s doorstep and the subsequent medical attention required from doctors and nurses, the cost of cleaning up feces, urine, bottles and drug remnants, and the economic loss to tax paying businesses because of the resultant decrease in patronage, the loss to Butte County is evident.


*This article does not constitute legal advice.  The information contained in this article should not be relied upon in any legal action, and any law contained herein applies in California state courts only.  It is not a substitute for legal advice and the accuracy of the information may have changed since its publication.  If you have a pending legal case, you should contact a lawyer to address any questions you may have about your case, the internet is not a substitute for professional service.

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