Electricity for the homeless at Fresno's Fulton Mall ends
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The city's electrical outlets on the Fulton Mall are a place for the homeless to plug in a computer, or charge a cell phone.
For the homeless on parole, city outlets are a place to re-charge electronic ankle monitors they are required to wear, and charge twice a day. But, the City of Fresno wants them all to move on.
Downtown Revitalization Manager Elliot Balch tells Action News, "We have reports and complaints from people who are walking to their office in the morning."
The city plans to replace the standard outlets with a different and less common type. A special adapter will be required to plug in.
Balch explained, "City electricians have actually come up with this device and this plug which they will be changing out the plugs that are on the mall."
Those adapters will be issued to vendors and others authorized to use the electricity on the mall.
"That's not fair to the people who are homeless."
A woman, who didn't want to be identified told us her homeless friends need the electricity.
"They do their job searches from their laptops, you take that away, what independence are you giving them. Nothing."
But restaurant manager Alex Munoz would be glad to see the group that charges their ankle monitors in front of his place every morning, move on.
"I think it's a good thing, you know, because they interrupt the progress around business," said Munoz. "It's not a good atmosphere."
For the city, reviving the Fulton Mall is a priority and Balch says that means, improving the atmosphere.
Balch said, "There haven't to my knowledge been any incidents but we want to make sure that people who are coming to shop and coming to work at their office feel safe don't feel intimidated when they are coming and going."
The State Parole office has a few outlets available for those on ankle monitors inside the building, during business hours. And the homeless shelters offer some electrical access. But with about five-thousand homeless on the street, the demand for access to power isn't going away.
The woman at the mall told us, "They should have like one little community place where they can all plug in."
But right now nobody seems to be eager to provide a community electrical station for the homeless.
Most of the registered sex offenders with ankle monitors who were homeless have been moved into a shelter. Only about 15 remain on the street looking for plug ins. The state is working on a new design for ankle monitors that don't have to be charged as often.
The outlets on the Fulton Mall are expected to be changed within the next month or so, and who knows where those who need electricity will find it.
fresno, fresno county, fresno downtown, homeless, local, gene haagenson
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