Located at the southern edge of the San Gabriel Valley, Pico Rivera has a population of about 65,000. The community has over 120 acres devoted to public recreation, including nine parks and 18 athletic fields. These spaces are designed to enhance the overall livability of the community.
As is the case in other communities located in the San Gabriel Valley, parks and green spaces are attractive not only to residents of the community but also to the homeless population of Rico Rivera. Homeless people in Pico Rivera are drawn to the parks. In addition, there have been instances in which homeless encampments have risen in parks and other green spaces in Pico Rivera.
Regulating Homeless Encampments in Pico Rivera Parks
Ongoing efforts are in place to prevent homeless encampments from preventing the utilization of community parks by other residents of the Pico Rivera community. For example, the city has implemented scheduled times in which the parks are open. When people are in the parks outside of those established parameters, the Pico Rivera Sheriff’s Station is able to take legal action to remove people from the parks or even arrest these individuals.
This strategy is aiding in lessening the incidence of homeless encampments in the parks. However, it is not hampering homeless people from congregating in the parks during daylight hours.
Homeless advocates contend that even restricting access to the parks at nighttime is an effort to criminalize homelessness. The ACLU has pursued a number of cases in California in recent years making arguments based on the constitutionality of what it calls criminalizing homelessness. Thus far, the ACLU has had notable success challenging cities in regard to certain restrictions put in place that directly impact the homeless population.
City of Pico Rivera Anti-Panhandling Campaign
Pico Rivera has taken an aggressive approach to combat aggressive panhandling. Although not all panhandlers in Pico River are homeless, a considerable percentage of them are living on the street, including in homeless encampments. Four years ago, the city launched its anti-panhandling campaign. The city government describes its effort:
“A Safe and Clean Pico Rivera” focuses on enforcing existing laws as well as partnering with our residents and business community to discourage anti-social behavior within our commercial centers. Recognizing limited resources, this campaign educates the public about aggressive panhandlers and encourages the public to give to organizations which provide services to those truly in need. The campaign also encourages people to just say no when approached by someone asking for money or donations, particularly when the panhandling is aggressive.
Aggressive Panhandling Is Conduct That Includes:
- Continuing to solicit for food or donations after a person being solicited has said no.
- Use of verbal or physical threats.
- Intimidating a person being solicited, including following them closely or soliciting near an ATM or bank.
- Intentionally blocking the pathway of a person being solicited.
As part of the Pico Rivera anti-panhandling campaign, the city provides its residents (and tourists) with instructions on how to decline a panhandler:
- Walk with confidence.
- Make eye contact and acknowledge the person with a nod.
- Politely say no and engage in further dialogue.
- If they persist, say no more loudly a few more times.
- Walk away.
- If you are followed, call law enforcement at (562) 949-2421.
The city has also released information which it calls “basic facts about panhandlers.” This information includes:
- Not all panhandlers are homeless.
- Studies show that many panhandlers suffer from drug or alcohol addiction and giving them spare change only enables their addictions.
- Panhandlers most commonly target women over men.
- Panhandlers target locations where there are a lot of pedestrians and a lot of motorists, such as commercial districts, banks, off-ramps, center medians, and parking lots.
- Studies show that panhandlers can make as much as $200 to $300 per day in Pico Rivera.
If you find yourself concerned about a homeless person you encounter on the streets, you can contact PATH, a program that assists in finding resources for homeless people in Pico Rivera. PATH can be reached at (562) 373-5264.
Homeless Encampment Cleanup in Pico Rivera
The health risks associated with Pico Rivera homeless encampments can be minimized through professional intervention. Through homeless encampment cleanup in Pico Rivera, people in these camps and the public at large are protected (at least to some degree) from biohazards that include:
- Human waste
- Animal waste
- Contaminate needles
Professional homeless encampment cleanup ensures that the process of remediating these biohazards is done in a safe and thorough manner. Failing to rely on specialists can place others at risk of being exposed to dangerous pathogens, some that can even result in death in some cases.