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UPDATE: Judge Halts Comanche Creek Encampment Sweep After Homeless Residents Sue City of Chico

Courtesy of Larry Halstead
Real World Media

Update, Sunday, April 11: A U.S. District Court judge in Sacramento granted a temporary restraining order Sunday restraining the city of Chico and the Chico Police Department from enforcing 72-hour "Illegal Encampment Notifications" given to unhoused people at Comanche Creek Greenway in south Chico.

The order by Judge Morrison C. England, Jr., further restrains the city from issuing or enforcing any other 72-hour notices given to unhoused people on public property in the city.

"This order is based, in part, on a finding that there are not enough available emergency shelter beds or other emergency shelter for the number of unhoused persons in Chico, California," the judge's signed order reads.

England set an April 23 hearing on plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction.

Read the order HERE.

The city of Chico is being sued by a group of unhoused residents over the city’s ongoing sweeps of homeless encampments set up in parks and other public spaces.

The lawsuit alleges the Police Department is enforcing city ordinances in a manner that criminalizes homelessness.

Legal Services of Northern California filed the complaint for injunctive relief Thursday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Cory Turner told NSPR last December that his firm sent a cease-and-desist letter to the city demanding it stop enforcement of park rules against camping.

“We sent them the letter to inform them that the city has a web of ordinances that criminalize or otherwise punish the status of being unsheltered and sleeping on public property,” Turner told NSPR at the time.

The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order – as well as permanent injunction – restraining the city from enforcing local laws in a manner that “unconstitutionally punishes people for involuntary sleeping on public property when there is no and inadequate available shelter.”

A spokesperson for the city of Chico said the city does not comment on "current or anticipated litigation."

A graduate of California State University, Chico, Andre Byik is an award-winning journalist who has reported in Northern California since 2012. He joined North State Public Radio in 2020, following roles at the Chico Enterprise-Record and Chico News & Review.