On this day, Sister Libby Fernandez, executive director of the homeless support group Loaves & Fishes, and attorney Cathleen Williams have convened a meeting of the tent city's leadership council. They sit on a dusty footpath under a tree and talk about the future.
Fernandez says she has to return a call back at the office. "Maria Shriver wants to know what the hell is going on," she says. "I'll tell her we need Porta-Potties."
Last week, the city announced that it could clear out the tent city in 14 days but backed off after the mayor called an emergency summit meeting among city officials, homeless advocates and leaders in the homeless population.
But after summit meeting No. 2 on Thursday, he announced various new measures, among them finding more shelter beds for the tent city's residents and studying the feasibility of a permanent encampment. But not where it is now. By April 30, he said, this one must close.
"The fact that we have all this attention, people have asked me if I think it's a negative and a stain for the city," Johnson said in a recent interview.
"Now that we have a spotlight shining . . . it allows us to fix it."
Fernandez figures that about four-fifths of the tent city's residents have been homeless for more than a year.
Many of them are people like Preston Anderson, 57, who would be happy if he never slept under a roof again. He has his dogs. He feeds stale croissants to wild birds and supports himself by scavenging cans.
"Nobody bothers me," he said. "I'm free."
The rest -- a growing number -- are recession victims, such as Boyd Zimmerman and his fiancee, Christina Hopper.
It is 4 p.m. The wind picks up and the shadows lengthen. Zimmerman is trying to help neighbors Jeffrey and Louise Staal pitch a big new tent. They are defeated by the gusts.
Zimmerman and Hopper have lived in the tent city for the last seven months. In Phoenix, he had a job driving contract laborers from one work site to another. They owned a double-wide trailer.
Then work dried up. They sold their home "for almost nothing" and headed to Sacramento, where Zimmerman grew up. He's one of the lucky ones. He got a paying job at Loaves & Fishes and is saving to rent an apartment.
"I have a AAA card," he says ruefully as the sun sinks. "I'm middle-class. . . . I have to get the heck out of here. It's not a good life."