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Public weighs in on Beard Brook homeless at Modesto City Council meeting

Hear Modesto residents discuss Beard Brook Park at City Council

There are more than 400 homeless people living in Beard Brook Park. Resident concerns surfaced during the public comment period of the Modesto City Council meeting on Nov. 27, 2018.
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There are more than 400 homeless people living in Beard Brook Park. Resident concerns surfaced during the public comment period of the Modesto City Council meeting on Nov. 27, 2018.

Beard Brook Park and the more than 400 homeless people who live there were the focus of most of the discussion during the public comment period at the Modesto City Council meeting.

The city opened the park to homeless campers Sept. 18 after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — whose jurisdiction includes California — ruled Sept. 4 that prosecuting people for sleeping on public property because there are not enough shelter beds or other alternatives amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

More than two months later, advocates say the boundaries established for the homeless encampment at the park are filled “wall-to-wall” with tents. Those living there worry about the rainy season as water pools around small but sloping hills where the tents are. Some asked for more space at the park, which has about 260 tents, and the capability for portable showers.

The encampment at the park always was intended to be a temporary solution as city officials look for a more permanent shelter for homeless people. Stanislaus County officials also continue to look for a spot to create a low-barrier shelter for about 60 homeless people and offer them assistance.

Modesto City Manager Joe Lopez said at Tuesday’s meeting that they continue looking for a new place for the homeless people at Beard Brook Park. He said his team assigned to the task meets daily, and they are vetting one location. But he declined to say which location.

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