HUFF's Five Top Issues
Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom lists its most pressing issues
- The Sleeping Ban -- our perennial top issue. It severely impacts the ability of homeless people to survive & exhibit mental clarity. Its paired punishment is the Blanket Ban which ensures a homeless person can-not shiver thru the night under a warm blanket without risking a criminal citation.
- The Fifteen Minute Parking Lot Panic Law -- Anyone who remains in a Public Santa Cruz parking lot for longer than fifteen minutes, regardless if you have a car or bike on premises is in violation of the new Parking Lot Trespass law and is guilty of trespassing, punishable as an infraction with a fine ranging from $100-$200.
This means no napping or reading in your car, no resting while your other half shops, no sleeping off too much to drink. No associating with others on land we all collectively own. This stifles free speech and assembly rights and is unconstitutional in nature.
These types of laws lead to "No speech zones" with small inadequate "Free Speech Zones" nearby -- in a Country where Free Speech is supposed to be a basic right human right we all equally share.
- The Move-Along Law -- this law, which is only used on activists, musicians, and homeless people, is an affront to our rights to peaceably assemble, to redress govt. grievances, to practice freedom of speech, and interact with members of our community in public spaces. It is clearly unconstitutional (1st amendment rights can't be limited to 1 hour out of 24) & selectively enforced.
- Change Machines & Benches downtown -- HUFF has documented the number of new change machines installed on Pacific Ave. coupled with one of the most punitive ATM laws in the state prohibiting sitting or begging withing FIFTY FEET of any machine that dispense change other than a newspaper stand. City officials have placed machines everywhere where young people gather to cleanse the sidewalk of these people. We urge the machines be removed other than at the Metro Bus Station where placement facilitates public use. We urge that benches removed from the downtown area be returned. Even the bus benches in front of the Vets Hall, where veterans must wait for the bus to the hospital in Palo Alto to pick them up, have been removed.
- Stay Away orders from Pacific Ave. -- the city has a pattern & practise of using stay-away orders from Pacific Ave. on those they deem "undesirables." While an individual TRO restraining an individual from a specific business where there has been a problem are acceptable, banishment from the entire downtown or from Pacific Ave. is medieval. Santa Cruz is an inclusive community, and these banishment orders have no place in civilized society.
Other issues include: increasing the minimum wage, photo id cards at the armory, police harassment of homeless people, restrictive anti-homeless parking measures, towing of homeless vehicles, need for more substance abuse treatment openings, bias against homeless medical marijuana users, restrictive sitting laws, selective enforcement, infraction vs misdemeanor shenanagins in the courtrooms, California freed slave "anti-lodging" ordinance, passed in the 1880's (Cal PC 647J) prosecutions now being used against homeless people.
HUFF calls for an end to policies which treat young people, counter-culture people, people of color, poor people, activists, bubble blowers, magicians, musicians, hopscotchers, and hacky-sack players as somehow not belonging to our diverse community, led by a business-interests only city council.