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Camping Ordinance Approved For City

A camping – or, more appropriately – a ‘no camping’ ordinance will now be on the books in Escalon.

Seeking to avoid a situation where transients could settle in for a possible extended stay in the community, council members on Monday night moved to enact the ordinance prohibiting camping on public property.

There can be some exceptions, such as with groups putting on an event in the city and looking to set up for a set, short period of time. Councilman Walt Murken cited a case in point, with the Escalon Scottish Heritage Association planning an upcoming event at the Community Center and hoping to be able to stay there during the weekend. That type of use could be allowed as an exemption, Murken was told.

There is also an exception for those who are ‘involuntarily homeless’ – as in they have no money to stay anywhere and no shelter nearby. In that case, the person cannot be prosecuted for camping but they could also be transported to a nearby community that does have shelter space available.

The ordinance was introduced at the meeting and the first reading of the ordinance was waived; then it was put to a public hearing. No one took the podium to speak for or against the proposal.

Police Chief Mike Borges said officers would be aware of the ordinance and could seek to assist transients in determining whether they could pay to stay locally or would need assistance in finding a shelter in a neighboring city, such as Modesto or Stockton.

Council members said they generally saw the proposed ordinance as being proactive, looking to head off potential problems. Councilman Murken made a move to approve the ordinance with a second by councilman Danny Fox, with 5-0 approval.