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'I'm sick of it': Sacramento mayor upset over warming centers being closed during storm

Sacramento Bee logoSacramento Bee 1/27/2021 Theresa Clift, The Sacramento Bee

Jan. 27—Temperatures in the capital city at 10 p.m. reached 42 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. However, with the strong winds buffeting the region, the temperature with wind chill has reached 32 degrees, or freezing.

While temperatures are expected to continue to drop and winds will continue to remain strong through the night, Sacramento's warming centers for the homeless were closed.

The lack of warming centers upset Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who spoke out during Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

"There's a huge storm out here. People are gonna die tonight," he said by video. "We can't get a goddamn warming center open for more than one night because the county has rules? I'm sick of it."

A shelter was opened at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria on Monday night as temperatures dipped below freezing, but officials did not open them Tuesday. The city and county previously only opened warming centers when temperatures hit freezing for three nights in a row. Last month, Steinberg announced the city would open them whenever temperatures hit 32 degrees, even if just for one night. The criteria does not take into account wind chill, wind or rain.

The mayor's comments followed staff presentations on a homeless camp along Alhambra Boulevard near the W-X freeway being cleared earlier this month.

The cleanup gained notoriety after a private contractor showed a knife on video and was subsequently fired. Earlier Tuesday, the Sacramento Police Department released videos of the incident, which activists complained was one-sided.

Daniel Bowers, the city's director of emergency management, told The Sacramento Bee there was a concern with allowing warming centers to open too often this winter because over concerns over spreading COVID-19 among the homeless population, which Sacramento has largely avoided.

Bad weather is expected to continue in the Sacramento region through Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

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