Thursday, September 23, 2021

Chico closed airport ‘resting place’

The city of Chico is closing the gates of its official “resting place” for homeless people near the airport.

According to news released from the city on Monday morning, the site will be closed on Friday, with notifications being sent to people there this morning.

The airport site, which has been criticized by homeless advocates from the beginning for its location and lack of many facilities, has been open since June 25. Several RVs and trailers were parked there with a few tents – more than 0 cars were seen there on Friday afternoon – but a huge majority of the 571 spaces were not occupied.

The city chose the site in response to a lawsuit filed by eight homeless people who said their rights were being violated under the Martin v. Boyce lawsuit, which says a jurisdiction cannot prevent people from camping on public property if not. There are adequate shelters.

Senior District Judge Morrison England of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California said the site did not pass a “direct face test” as a shelter when it issued a preliminary injunction on behalf of the defendants. He ordered Chico and the plaintiff to execute an agreement through a magistrate judge, which is an ongoing effort.

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A press release issued on Monday morning spoke of that effort.

“Through a hearing with a federal magistrate, Judge Kendall J. Newman, on the preliminary injunction, it has become clear that the TRC (temporary rest center) is not considered a place of refuge,” the statement said. “Therefore, and with the approval of Magistrate Newman, the TRC will close on September 17 and City staff will continue to work towards a settlement agreement.”

The press release did not say what would happen to the airport’s restrooms or shade shelters, which cost the city 35 35,000 per month. The airport site did not even give directions where people could go.

England imposed a temporary ban on evictions in April, shortly before the city began removing campers from the Comanche Creek Greenway location – following steps taken at Bidwell Park and other public lands in Chico. At the time, England told the city that what it was doing was “unconstitutional” and “it looks like you’re trying to impose an ordinance to please the public. You’re not enforcing an ordinance related to the law.”

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This is a developing story and will be updated.

Chico closed airport 'resting place'
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