It seems that there’s at least one more item to add to the Yuba-Sutter portfolio of strategies dealing with homelessness: free camping in sanctioned and maintained grounds.

Do “they” deserve such amenities? Maybe it doesn’t matter at this juncture. We need them to be in a place that is safe for them and for us and so we can more easily discourage illegal camping on public lands, where damage can be done to levees and conflagrations like the one last Thursday night don’t leave thousands of area residents without power.

Not to mention the safety concerns. And not to mention, no matter what your opinion of them is, that so many with so little lost so much.

Thank goodness no one died in that fire. It was big and it was close. It burned a swath of land along the levee in the old Hollywood Park area along Simpson Lane. There were campers staying in vehicles and camper trailers and sleeping out.

Most of us would like to help those homeless who would accept help and do something with it. (And it's unfortunate that so many of us lump transients, panhandlers, campers and homeless all into the same category, though their situations and the reasons for their situations can be so wide-ranging.)

We've seen some amazing and solid progress made in our two counties over the last few years to address the homeless situation. We're doing a lot to help people get on their feet, get counselling when needed, providing the means and pathways to finding permanent shelter.

But it's going to remain a stubborn reality that homelessness will continue. The whole continent  tilts toward the West Coast, when it comes to people on the move, people without homes looking for a temperate climate to live in.

It may be a big pill to swallow, but we may have to consider providing a sanctioned alternative to camping on public lands.

It might cost us. And it might seem unfair that it costs us. But it might be better to have a well-appointed and regulated couple of campsites where a hot catalytic converter doesn't touch off dry grass and start a wildfire.


Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.

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