Illegal camps

Assemblyman Eric Croft is pushing to have illegal camps in the city’s parks and greenbelts removed more quickly. More power to him, in our view.

The Assembly tonight is to take up for debate the ordinance offered by Croft in October. Co-sponsored by Assemblyman Fred Dyson, it cuts the time illegal campers – mostly homeless – must be notified to move from slightly more than two weeks to 10 days. For many who have to live near the squatters’ mess, that 10-day period is about 11 days too long.

Predictably, advocates for the homeless and members of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s administration oppose the measure, saying it will make little difference. What is really needed, they say, is increased housing options and services.

Also predictably, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska is hinting at a lawsuit.

The homeless situation in Anchorage appears to be out of hand.  A 10-person crew, for instance,  picked up 160 tons of trash left behind by campers last summer alone, the Anchorage Daily News reports. Berkowitz’s budget calls for $170,000 next year just to clean up the trash and debris left by the camps. And the Assembly is earmarking $500,000 for homelessness initiatives.

While homelessness, admittedly, is a thorny and complex problem, the camps, and panhandlers on every corner begging for money and leaving mounds of trash behind, and the crime that seems to emanate from the camps, certainly erode the quality of life in Anchorage.

While the homeless deserve due onsideration, so, too, do the people of Anchorage who pay their taxes and want to safely enjoy its parks and greenbelts.

One can only wonder what would happen if there were fewer services for the chronic homeless. Is the city, with its drive for services and housing, only worsening the problem?

Time will tell.

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