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Sacramento mayor open to homeless camps

Jan. 23, 2009 at 5:02 PM

SACRAMENTO, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says he is willing to listen to proposals for legal campsites for the homeless including portable toilets and running water.

Johnson told the Sacramento Bee he was open to the idea, which has gained the support of community activists, local lawmakers and Sacramento police who say the current system of rousting transients from illegal campsites is effective.

"I don't know if it's something every city should do," said Johnson, "but it's certainly something our city should be looking at."

Johnson, who played basketball for the NBA Phoenix Suns, has spoken favorably of a homeless camp operating in the Arizona city in which residents police themselves and do not allow, fighting, stealing or drug use.

The Bee said the campsite issue arose from a lawsuit filed in 2007 against the city and Sacramento County by advocates who contend the practice of ticketing the homeless for illegal camping is unconstitutional.

The idea is expected to be opposed by property owners, although the newspaper said the sites being considered are already frequently used as camps by homeless people.

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