Nevada City police chief James Wickham has come up with an unusual way of managing the growing homeless population in the city. The chief has asked council members to pass a no-camping ordinance, which essentially bans people from being homeless unless they hold a proper permit.
Speaking to CBS, Wickham clarified his proposals: "The goal is to start managing the homeless population within our city," he said. "It just basically means you can’t set up a tent. You can’t live in your vehicle. You can’t live in the woods in Nevada City."
The law will make only a few exceptions and give out a small number of permits that allow public sleeping. The ordinance aims to reduce the crime and trouble supposedly caused by the swelling homeless population. The police chief is to give out about 6 to 10 permits initially, and will look to review the program in 6 months to check whether it is working. Wickham has identified at least 60 homeless people in the immediate community and up to 500 countywide. Any homeless person found sleeping in public without a permit will be arrested.
Wickham claims the solution is ‘one-of-a-kind’ even though Colorado’s Denver City Council passed a similar “no camping” ordinance back in 2010. The ACLU opposed Denver's move at the time deeming it “unnecessary, mean-spirited and potentially unconstitutional.”