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Sentinel staff report–
The Citrus Heights City Council this month will consider allocating $875,000 in federal COVID recovery funding to go toward a proposed “Beautification Crew,” which would be tasked with cleaning up the city as part of the new city manager’s four-prong plan to improve the city over the next two years.
The Beautification Crew is proposed to be a two-person team who would provide expedited response to cleanup of debris and blight around the city and assist with “active enforcement of encampments and nuisance situations” that impede access in public areas, according to City Manager Ashley Feeney.
“There’s just too much trash in our beautiful city right now,” said Feeney, describing the proposal to the council last month. “We’re looking to have this Beautification Crew really kind of double down on those efforts to clean things up.”
Feeney said the crew would ideally “be there in some cases in 10 minutes or an hour, if they’re nearby, but at least that day.” Currently, he said police response to enforcement situations often results in officers just “tagging” an issue, with cleanup potentially occurring a week later.
The Beautification Crew is part of a larger priority goal to improve the city’s image. Other proposed action items focus on addressing homelessness and blight abatement, including future development of a shopping cart ordinance to require carts to be retrofitted with lockable wheel devices to reduce the number of abandoned carts around the city.
Plans also include proactively working with commercial property owners to ensure abatement of nuisance issues, along with securing standing approval from owners for police to serve trespass notices at properties with a history of issues. The city also plans to coordinate with regional agencies like Caltrans or jurisdictions sharing borders with Citrus Heights to help crack down on enforcement and cleanup.
The plan to improve community image also includes more aggressive tackling of homeless issues, including a community prosecutor program to “collaboratively solve problems relating to homelessness and blighted properties.” A conservatorship program to get homeless persons with severe mental illness or addiction into treatment is also listed.
The city also plans to develop a “signage and marketing campaign reinforcing shared goals of community cleanliness and pride themed around anti-littering and beautification of neighborhoods, commercial corridors and the local environment,” according to a 19-page plan made public last month.
The city manager’s plan was widely praised by the City Council when it was unveiled last month during a May 26 council meeting.
“Citrus Heights is about to make a dramatic change,” said Councilman Bret Daniels, crediting Feeney and staff for developing the plan. “It’s a very exciting time and you’re going to see a different Citrus Heights.”
Funding for the Beautification Crew would come out of the $15.6 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding allocated to Citrus Heights, pending a vote from the council during the upcoming June 23 council meeting. Original guidelines from the U.S. Treasury had greater restrictions on the use of funds to be more directly related to pandemic relief, but new federal guidelines allow for broad discretionary use of up to $10 million.
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