The City of Livermore adopted an ordinance banning camping on public property and private property with a public easement without a permit during the Feb. 10 council meeting, a city official said.
"The ordinance provides the City with the tools to address the effects of camping in areas not intended for this purpose, including safety hazards and impacts on public health," Shannon O'Hare, a Communications Consultant with the City of Livermore said. "The ordinance does not make homelessness illegal or cut existing services to Livermore's homeless population."
O'Hare says, the ordinance will be effective March 12.
According to city documents, the new law would "clarify that overnight camping on public properties and private property where there is public access, is unlawful without possession of a permit which authorizes the use of the facility."
"At the direction of the City Council, the City will not issue citations until after the City holds a homelessness summit that will take place this spring," O'Hare said. "At the February 24th City Council meeting, Mayor Marchand said he did not anticipate the City using the ordinance frequently, and that the ordinance was for the most egregious, repetitive, and flagrant offenders. He said the ordinance provides the City with the authority to clean up large encampments that represent a public health and safety hazard."
Similar camping ordinances are already in place in all of the other cities in the Tri-Valley including Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon and Danville and Livermore Area and Recreation and Parks District.
During the Feb. 24 council meeting, O'Hare says Livermore Mayor John Marchand confirmed there would be a regional homelessness summit, which will be announced at a later date.
After the summit, fines may be collected when citations are issued for violations. The first violation would incur a $100 fine, while subsequent violations or multiple violations may cost as much as $300 and time in jail.
Mayor John Marchand told Patch:
The purpose of the ordinance is to give the City the authority to clean up camps that are generating complaints. If complaints are received, the area will the posted and the campers will have up to 72 hours to clear the camp. If the camp is removed, no citation will be written. Even if property is removed, it will be held by the City and the owner can retrieve it without penalty. With the City's implementation plan, complaints must be received before there is any enforcement.
Everyone agrees that camping in the arroyos is unsafe and is a public health and safety hazard. The park district (LARPD) has an even more stringent prohibition on camping in parks.
Of all of the comments I have heard, no one has offered any solutions. Homelessness is a regional problem and Livermore does not have the resources to solve it. The summit that I have proposed will, for the first time, bring together regional and national resources, such as the County and the federal Veterans Administration. The community has been effective at sustaining the homeless for years but we need to explore more resources if we are going to lift people out of homelessness. The date for the summit has not been set but is targeted for mid-April. Information will be posted to the City's website and volunteers who are interested in helping can call the City at 925-960-4020
Homeless resources in Livermore can be found through several non-profit organizations such as Tri-Valley Haven, Shepard's Gate, Abode Services and the Open Hear Kitchen.