CHICO, Calif. – The city originally distributed its first round of seven-day notices to people in the downtown Chico homeless camps on May 9. City Hall, City Plaza, Annie’s Glen and Lower Bidwell Park were all included.
All of the homeless were moved out and the rubbish cleaned up on May 23, but despite the cleanup, most people tell Action News Now they don’t see too much of a difference between before and after the cleanup.
Downtown businesses haven’t seen too much of an impact either.
Pita Pit general manager Thomas Hightower says they have seen fewer people in their store since graduation, even though people come to City Plaza and go to the Thursday night market and Friday night concerts .
“The streets are cleaner; I’m giving them that,” Hightower said. “There’s less homeless traffic downtown, but I’m still waiting for all the other traffic to increase, all the rest of the traffic.”
The city moved to the downtown homeless camps about a month ago, and Kerry Smith says she loved the change, especially to Lower Bidwell Park.
“We love going there, bringing our lunch, sitting down and enjoying it,” said Smith, who is a frequent visitor to Bidwell Park. “We went through a time when it was just overrun with tents and homeless people. It just felt dirty to me and we stopped going there.
Smith now returns there often, but most people who spoke to Action News Now today say they don’t see any tents, but they haven’t seen a big change either.
“The town has stayed pretty much the same,” said Gigi McG, who was born and raised in Chico. “I didn’t even know there were any changes in the works or if they were being implemented, but it went pretty well I would say.”
There are still several groups of homeless people in the square and in downtown Chico they now live in other campsites.
“By pushing people out of the city center, they just pushed them to other neighborhoods and housing areas, it didn’t eliminate their homelessness,” said Sophia Simmons, a student at the State of chico.
The city can prevent homeless people from sleeping in the plaza, but spending time there throughout the day is not against the law.
Many say that’s why they haven’t really noticed a significant change in the Chico City Plaza area in particular.
The city cannot force the homeless into the pallet shelters, it can only recommend it to the homeless people it encounters. The city is asking for the public’s help to ensure homeless people don’t return to areas the city has already cleared.
“We’re relying on residents to let us know if they see anything,” Chico acting city manager Paul Hahn said. “We will definitely check in from time to time just to make sure, but so far so good, we haven’t had much feedback.”
Hahn says the city has only made one arrest of a homeless man returning to the area he was evacuated from, which was more than three weeks ago.
The city will decide which homeless camp it will clean up next, at a closed meeting next week.
The city is currently clearing all trash from the Lindo Canal, from Holly Avenue to Highway 99.