Today, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California sent a letter to the Chico City Council expressing concern for the City’s treatment of unhoused people and recent violations of the Brown Act, a law that requires advance notice of Council meetings, follows a set agenda, and provides for public comment.
The City has failed to address the needs of its unhoused population while simultaneously passing ordinances that criminalize everyday behavior unhoused people undertake to survive. Examples include sitting or resting on public sidewalks, placing personal items and property in public places, and entering parks, greenways, or open spaces at night.
“The Council’s conduct is undemocratic and disrespects the constituents they have been elected to serve. They have held secret meetings about Chico’s shelter crisis and taken official action without notifying the public,” said ACLU of Northern California Racial and Economic Justice Director, Brandon Greene.
Rather than expand shelter capacity and services, Chico City Council is actively working to dismantle existing resources and thwarting efforts to create new ones. Further, police forces in Chico engage in sweeps, seizing critical personal property unhoused people rely on to maintain their health and safety.
The crisis that unhoused people face due to lack of sufficient shelter and services impacts the entire community. Addressing this crisis must not be done behind closed doors. Chico’s City Council must stop snubbing the law. They must open meetings, and provide the public with meaningful opportunities to comment.