It’s only been a couple of weeks since I reported an illegal camp in Bidwell Park. It took the city a few days – New Year’s weekend! – to get them out and then collect up the trash. We knew that wouldn’t be the end of it, and again yesterday my husband found an illegal encampment – this time right off a main trail, right out in the open, unabashed and unafraid of detection.
When my husband was taking a picture of the tent a woman actually confronted him. He had our 10 year old diabetic dog, so I started to worry – what if one of these people had a pit bull or other killing machine type of dog? I started to question my husband’s insistence to walk the park with my old dog every morning, even though this routine has successfully kept her blood sugar down to manageable levels.
There you are folks – I don’t feel safe in Bidwell Park, and you shouldn’t either. Arm yourself and be ready to defend yourself and your children/pets.
When the woman shouted at my husband, “what are you doing?!” he responded, “what does it look like?” And he took a picture of her tent. He told her, “you know what you’re doing,” and that she had about 30 minutes to clear it all out before he’d report it to the police.
When he made he way back home with Biscuit, the tent was gone.
Yeah, the park looks like a hobo camp, why not? The city has allowed the park to sink into horrible disgrace. It’s not “natural,” it’s a manmade disaster of non-native species and septic swamp. Nothing has been done to maintain the health of the park for at least 20 years. The city turned maintenance over to “volunteers”, has brought in jail crews a few times, but has no cohesive plan for how the park should be maintained. How many millions have gone to plans for Bidwell Park? I’ve lost track.
City council voted last night to spend more money on staffing Chico PD. I will make my official prediction – the homeless problem will continue to get worse, Bidwell Park will continue to sink into disgust.
UPDATE: I will say, Mark Orme is quick to respond to my inquiries.
Thank you again for your input. I’ve cc’d the Police Chief and Public Works Director over Operations on this e-mail, as they may have additional feedback to give. I can tell you that staff is evaluating every opportunity to move forward with an effort to deal with this situation more aggressively. One potential program we are working on is furthering the bond between our public works team and the Police department. They already have a great working relationship, but we’re looking at a creative approach to securing an even smoother ability to deal with these park issues. It will roll out during the budget process. As for now, the Police Department and Public Works will continue to monitor and conduct sweeps on a regular basis…although not as often as staff would like to be able to do, simply due to resource constraints.
Have a great day, Mark
For the Beautiful City of Chico
But there’s your answer – “resource constraints”. A hundred million plus budget, and this guy is complaining about “resource constraints”?
So I had to ask him about this.
The podcast is still available, listen to it yourself. Mr. Van Rossum spoke at last night’s council meeting in favor of increasing the police budget – without talking about his “Business Support Team” or mentioning that he raised a few thousand dollars through North Valley Community Foundation Annie B’s for Chico PD. I asked Orme if it’s still true, the police spend so much time at Enloe dealing with the homeless, they need a substation?
When I asked Dorian Kitrell, a director at Butte County Behavioral Health, why the cops were spending so much time babysitting the homeless, waiting for county employees to pick them up for a ride to the facility in Oroville, he didn’t know what I was talking about.
We’ll see what Orme says. I’m getting kind of tired of hearing about “resource constraints” from a guy who sits on a $100 million-plus budget and a $200,000-plus salary.
UPDATE UPDATE: I have to hand it to Orme, he’s quicker on that send button than Donald Trump!
Yes, the business support team is an independent group, not under the City’s auspices. The person who usually speaks on their behalf is Ms. Donna Sherry. I don’t have her contact information readily available, but it may be something you can reach out to Chief O’Brien to get. As for the radio issues at Enloe, I know it has been an ongoing problem, however, one of the capital expenditures the City is evaluating this year is an upgraded radio system that would deal with this issue. Again, the Chief would be the best person to speak to that concern.
If you e-mail him on both of these matters, he is really good about getting back.
Hope this helps and gets you connected to the right folks,
So I wrote to the police chief:
Hi Mr. Obrien,
I was told by city manager Mark Orme to forward the inquiries below to you.
First, I wonder when we can expect regular patrols of Bidwell Park. My husband and I keep encountering illegal campers on morning walks with our dog, and we don’t feel safe in the park or our adjacent neighborhood anymore. We feel the park has become a haven for criminals to predate our neighborhoods. The online police reporting website does not have a button for “illegal campers” so we have made reports to the city manager and staff.
Second, I wonder if you have contact information for the Chico Police Business Support Team, Donna Sherry. I wondered about a fundraising effort made in 2015 through the Annie B’s drive, by Jack Van Rossum. He made comments on a local podcast show, Chico Currents, saying the police spend so much time at Enloe with homeless people, they need a private “substation” and special radios for communication. I wondered if this is still true and what became of the fundraising efforts.
Thank you, at your convenience, for your anticipated cooperation, Juanita Sumner
I have not had any dealings with O’Brien, we’ll see what we get.