|THE CHILL OF COUNCIL’S WARMING CENTER TALK
On the afternoon agenda coming up sometime between 3 and 5 PM is Item #21. It directs city staff to make available a facility for up to 10 nights this winter free if a “Warming Center Organization” agrees to find facilities and commit to 30 nights of Warming Center use. No budget is proposed until a site is “identified”.
Last month, defying the wishes of hundreds who marched there, City Council refused to consider eminent domain or other pressures to get the Seaside Company to allow the continuation of the Beach Flats Garden at its present location and size. Instead they passed their staff’s prefabricated sell-out to Canfield’s Seaside Company. Should we expect anything more from them here?
The staff’s “Warming Center” proposal lacks any committed funding or real acknowledgment of the upcoming (and ongoing) shelter emergency. It instead throws all the responsibility on private charity groups, abdicating its responsibility for City’s 1500-2000 homeless. Instead it continues to fund police and rangers harassing, citing, and arresting folks for sleeping, covering up with blankets and other survival behavior.
BAN RV PARKING AND BABBLE ABOUT EMERGENCY SHELTER
The last item on the evening agenda, Item#3–the RV Parking ordinance–would ban RV parking city-side unless vehicle owners get a permit.
Its definition of “resident” seems to exclude travelers and unhoused people. It reads: “["Resident"] shall not mean a
person who maintains an address at a post office box, mailbox drop, or who rents a room without it being the primary place of abode.”
The 10 PM to 5 AM on all RV parking is another extension of the NIMBY “no homeless vehicles allowed to park at night” signs posted in many areas throughout the signs (with the word “homeless” discreetly omitted).
It sets up “no parking” zones within 20′ of an intersection or 30′ of a traffic light. Why?
Exempted are hotel guests, government vehicles, and folks who buy 72-hour permits (only 4 periods per month, not continuous).
“Residents” as defined above, can buy permits for parking outside their residences–no sleeping or camping, of course, even in a vehicle specifically outfitted for that purpose.
Hotels who allow non-paying guests to park their vehicles will be fined; likewise if anyone sleeps in their vehicle.
THE FLUFF VS. THE STUFF
IN 45 DAYS, staff is asked to return with proposals for “safe zones for non-resident owners”. That’ll be some time in mid-January with nothing mandated for the winter. THERE IS NO PROPOSAL FOR FUNDING OR EVEN A SPECIFIC RV PROGRAM.
There is no move to eliminate the sleeping, blanket, or camping bans–as promised by Posner many months ago. Nor is there any move to decriminalize by suspending ticketing for non-crime crimes like being in a park after dark./
NEW POLICE HARASSMENT TACTICS
Indeed though the Klieg lights and “no parking” restrictions used to attack the Freedom Sleeper protests in September and October have disappeared, SCPD used a new tactic last Tuesday.
A squad of six cops descended on homeless people sitting legally in the City Hall courtyard in the daylight hours before the protest and confiscated “unattended property” which one person was watching for others. A similar sweep took place the next morning after most of the protesters had left with tickets issued both before and after but not during the protest.
Freedom Sleepers will be in front of City Hall through the night nonetheless.
IMPORTANT MEETING TUESDAY DECEMBER 1ST
We will also be inviting unhoused folks to attend a meeting Tuesday December 1st before Freedom SleepOut #21 to ask them “Do you Want the Freedom SleepOuts to Continue?” and if so, in what form?
As the weather worsens and rain descends, Freedom Sleepers is considering moving inside city buildings to establish emergency shelter (unless the proposed Warming Centers are actually available on those nights).
FREEDOM SLEEPERS INSPIRE BERKELEY CAMP-OUT
Unhoused folks in Berkeley gave hours of angry testimony against new anti-homeless laws in Berkeley (which passed in diluted form: see http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_29134875/berkeley-council-approves-sidewalk-rules-that-some-call-an-attack-on-homeless-people ).
Inspired by the Freedom Sleeper movement here and by their own First They Came for the Homeless encampment up there, Berkeley activists were still camping out at City Hall every night since the Council moved to expand criminalization there.
I’ve broadcast a discussion of the Berkeley fight against the anti-poor laws at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb151122.mp3. You can also follow the full debate on line at http://berkeley.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?publish_id=0d7d811d-8e59-11e5-8170-f04da2064c47 .
MODEST FOOD–BUT BUNDLE UP!
The ever-popular Peanut Butter ‘n Jelly sandwiches, hot coffee, and perhaps hot soup will be available at various points throughout the night.
Bundle up–it’s likely to be cold and possibly rainy. We encourage donations of food, tarps, blankets, and sleeping bags. We suggest folks bring their own gear (if it hasn’t been taken by police or thieves).
For more background go to “Fight Cold Hearts and Cold Weather: Freedom SleepOut #19 ” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/11/16/18780045.php
The opinions expressed here are mine and likely shared by many of my fellow Freedom Sleepers.