Current List of Santa Cruz Police Officers

For Santa Cruzans and visitors who wish to identify police officers, here’s the most current list.  These cops are the individuals most directly involved with surveilling, harassing, citing, and arresting homeless people who’s only crime is sleeping or being present in a public place (such as a “closed” area).

Updated List of Santa Cruz Police Department Personnel
by SCPD (posted by Norse) ( rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com )
Monday Jul 21st, 2014 12:18 PM

I received this updated list of SCPD personnel–buffed up considerably from the earlier posting (referenced below). For those involved in copwatching or using the police in any capacity, this is a list of badge numbers matched up with employees.

 

Badge ID List for SCPD

Since police are not held accountable by City Council, the City Manager, or the Police Chief, nor the “Police Auditor”, I encourage the community use its video and audio capabilities to record and post incidents to both encourage citizen pushback against police abuse as well as press authorities to respond to incidents such as the Officer Vasquez takedown of Richard Hardy (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/23/18735710.php ), and the “gun in your back” behavior of Officer Hernandez [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/11/29/18746999.php ].

A previous listing of police numbers from a year ago is at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/11/01/18745758.php .

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“Liberal” L.A. and Scrooge-heavy Santa Cruz?

Notes by Norse:  One story does not make a saga and the LAPD are not known for a kindler gentler treatment of homeless people there.  Whether the L.A. Times is doing damage control for the LAPD after its recent court losses is unclear to me.  But they’re certainly ahead of Santa Cruz with its fencing off of under-the-bridges sanctuaries, stay-away orders from parks, & ongoing attacks on homeless survival sleepers.

In L.A., we have seen recent court victories by the ACLU, attorney Carol Sobel, and homeless activists throwing out the City’s anti-homeless “no living in a vehicle” law.  In Santa Cruz, vehicle-dwelling Kate Wenzell (“the scarf lady) was mercilessly pursued by Officer “Bumbasher” Barnett and other SCPD sleepsnatchers–with charges finally being dismissed many months later after a campaign of intimidation.

The Desertrain decision is currently going to an en banc panel for review at the behest of a reactionary judge.  It does not directly overturn Santa Cruz’s “sleep after 11 in your vehicle, get a $157 citation; do it three times, face a year in jail and $1000 fine” law–MC 6.36.010a.

Unhoused Santa Cruz’s under assault by the SCPD and Parks and Recreation continue to report ongoing ticketing, “move on to nowhere” harassment, and property seizure.  A local ACLU proposal for a moratorium on all camping and sleeping citations at night hasn’t even gotten to City Council here due to more stalling from ACLU’s anti-homeless chair Peter Geldblum and the timidity of the Pleich majority on the Board.  

City and county bureaucrats running the “Downtown Accountability Project” DAP (or Downtowners Against the Poor, as I call it) have yet to respond to Public Records Act requests.  These seek specific information on the particular “offenses” being targeted under the “100 Chronic Offenders” program.  This program is backed up by heightened security guard intimidation, “friendly fascism” from the ever-smiling “Hosts”, and back-up by packs of armed police officers who cluster quickly to deal with a yelling rebel,  but reportedly  decline to take complaints from homeless people.   

The DAP program with a phony compassionate funding and zero money for long-term housing is being used to clear downtown Santa Cruz of homeless-looking people caught in the tripwire of anti-homeless laws and enforcement practices while easing the conscience of those wondering what happened to the old Santa Cruz.

Can L.A. be more “progressive” than Santa Cruz?  Or have attorneys there with guts grabbed the city’s bigots by the balls knowing their “hearts and minds” will shortly follow?

Homeless activists and victims have begun appearing at City Council’s 5 PM “Oral Communications” period with video cameras, cell phones, and strong testimony.  At the last such protest, armed SCPD mediamasher John Bush confiscated four tape recorders and stopped an audible recording of the meeting under orders apparently from Mayor Lynn “Run em Out” Robinson.

Another such protest is slated for Tuesday July 22nd at 4:30 PM (809 Center St.).  Bring your friends.

L.A. leaders are crafting new plan to help homeless on skid row

Skid row homelessness

In their latest census, Los Angeles police counted more than 1,700 people living in tents and cardboard boxes in the 50-block skid row area. Above, people sit and walk on South San Pedro Street. (Jabin Botsford / Los Angeles Times)

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4:30 PM Speak-Out and Protest Against Sleeping Ban at Santa Cruz City Council 7-8

Title: Homeless Take ACLU Sleeping Ban Suspension Resolution to City Council
START DATE: Tuesday July 08
TIME: 4:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Location Details:
809 Center St. Santa Cruz City Hall Courtyard
Event Type: Meeting
Contact Name Robert Norse
Email Address rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Phone Number 831-423-4833
Address 309 Cedar St. #14B Santa Cruz 95060
Speak-Out Before and At Santa Cruz City Council Celebrating a Homeless Rights Victory at the local ACLU Board of Directors on June 30th.

Presentation of Petitions and Demands to City Council to Overturn the City’s Anti-Homeless Sleeping Ban.

We’ll meet to prepare a presentation at 4:30 with coffee and snacks outside City Council and then go in to speak at Oral Communications around 5 PM inside Council Chambers

LETTER TO MAYOR LYNN ROBINSON
I sent an earlier version of the folloowing letter to Mayor Robinson at the beginning of the week:

From: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
To: lrobinson [at] cityofsantacruz.com
CC: jyork [at] santacruzsentinel.com; jpierce [at] santacruzweekly.com
Subject: ACLU Action Urging A Moratorium on the Sleeping and Camping Laws
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2014 14:55:39 -0700

Lynn:

On June 30th, the local ACLU passed the following resolution:

“Statement of Principle: The Santa Cruz County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union supports in principle a limited time moratorium on enforcement of camping ban laws and ordinances within the City and County of Santa Cruz on the grounds that such laws and ordinances selectively criminalize the homeless community.”

“While the chapter is mindful that such a moratorium raises practical problems within the community at large, we believe that the benefits of such an approach in terms of the opportunity for civic leaders, policy makers and stakeholders to reassess the efficacy of these laws and ordinances outweighs any temporary adverse impact.”

I, other HUFF activists, and homeless victims of the City’s Sleeping Ban will be coming to Oral Communications tomorrow to support this statement and ask that the Council take immediate action to implement it.

There is a clear lack of shelter space. There are the safety problems created by the criminalization of the homeless–more for the homeless themselves than for those who fear or blame them. Lawsuits in other jurisdictions have been successful in overturning anti-homeless laws.

I encourage you and your fellow Council members to act swiftly to restore basic civil and human rights to the homeless community here.

One of the most basic, of course, is to be able to sleep at night and to be secure in one’s property. If one is in danger of having it confiscated because sleeping is “illegal” after 11 PM, then one has no such security.

As a Free Radio Santa Cruz reporter, I will be audioing the meeting for broadcast. I assure you this will be done in a non-disruptive manner as has been the case without exception in the past.

I encourage you to respect the rights of the media, even those critical of your positions on various issues, to audibly make their own record of the meeting, as guaranteed by state law and the Constitution.

Robert Norse
(423-4833)

Earlier story on the historic homeless victory forcing an ACLU Bo to protect the homeless right to sleep in Santa Cruz: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/07/01/18758158.php

Earlier story on Mayor Robinson’s false arrest for “unattended audio recording at City Council” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/05/03/18755258.php .

Street Spirit story by Steve Pleich describing one version of his proposed moratorium on Sleeping Bans in Santa Cruz: http://www.thestreetspirit.org/santa-cruz-activists-call-for-moratorium-on-laws-that-criminalize-camping-and-sleeping/

Added to the calendar on Monday Jul 7th, 2014 10:46 PM

iCal Import this event into your personal calendar.

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by Robert Norse Monday Jul 7th, 2014 10:46 PM

 

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Palo Alto and L.A. Victory; Santa Cruz Struggle Still to Be Won

By William Safford
Picture 1

http://acjusticeproject.org/2014/07/06/sleepless-in-palo-alto-challenging-the-criminalization-of-being-homeless/#more-2779

On June 19, 2014, a federal court of appeals struck down a Los Angeles city ordinance which criminalized vehicle dwelling.  The court held that the law, which banned the use of a vehicle as “living quarters”, was unconstitutionally vague and subject to arbitrary, discriminatory enforcement.  This may seem like a Los Angeles problem, but to those immersed in Peninsula politics, it sounds eerily familiar.

Unconstitutional vagueness is a funny concept.  It sounds like a linguistic problem – tighten up the language and the law will be fine.  Yet, this decision recognizes that laws cannot be fundamentally unclear.  If you and I cannot tell what is illegal, and neither can the police, then how can enforcement ever be reasonable?  The answer, said the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, is that it cannot.  If the police arbitrarily decide who to enforce against, then there is no equality of justice, and the law becomes reminiscent of “English feudal poor laws designed to prevent the physical movement and economic ascension of the lower class.”

Why is this a Palo Alto issue?  Because the Palo Alto vehicle habitation ordinance (VHO) is identical in every important way.  Both laws criminalize living in a car, but leave important questions wide open.  The Palo Alto law attempts to define “human habitation” as “the use of a vehicle for a dwelling place, including but not limited to, sleeping, eating or resting”, but if anything, this just makes things less clear.

In response to this ambiguity, many have asked me what conduct is prohibited by Palo Alto’s new ordinance.  The problem is, nobody knows.  If Grandma and Grandpa take a trip from Seattle down to San Diego, and they pass through Palo Alto, they are dwelling in their RV.  Are they violating the law?  If I grab a burger from a drive through, and consume it in my car, am I “dwelling” in my vehicle?

The answer is “yes” to both questions, but wait!  Are we really going to arrest Grandma and Grandpa, with the possibility of up to six months in jail, for driving through the City in a mobile home?  Of course not.  And therein lies the problem.  My clients, who have been driven out of house and home, are using their vehicles as a last place of refuge.  And they will be prosecuted.

As I read the court’s decision, I was struck by the similarities between the Los Angeles plaintiffs and my own clients.  Catastrophic medical problems or sudden income disruption are common causes of homelessness.  Yet, when the citizens of Palo Alto asked their Council for a solution, they did not call for a better safety net or more shelter beds, but instead for prosecution of the unhoused.

This is exactly what Los Angeles tried, and the federal court invalidated the law.  Palo Alto can expect the same result if it begins enforcement, because I can personally guarantee that the law will be challenged, and not only for vagueness.  The Council might even try to write a better version of the law, and eliminate ambiguity.  However, the law is unconstitutional on other grounds.  The courts have long recognized that laws criminalizing basic human necessities, such as eating and sleeping, are fundamentally unfair.  Since someone who owns no private property cannot be expected to sleep and eat in a private place, we cannot punish them for doing so in public.  The Los Angeles plaintiffs picked one potential challenge to their ordinance, but there are others.

In the end, though, this is not a legal problem, but a moral one.  If we continue to look for ways to end homelessness by outlawing it, then we will continue to punish people for being unhoused, instead of addressing the root causes of poverty.  These are not nameless, faceless vagrants, worthy of our contempt.  They are our neighbors, our fellow citizens, and my clients – and I will not allow them to be punished for their status or run out of town as undesirable.


William Safford is a criminal defense lawyer in Palo Alto and founder of Homeless Criminal Defense.  The full text of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Desertrain v. City of Los Angeles and other information can be found at http://www.HomelessCD.com.  Enforcement of the Palo Alto law has been temporarily suspended, but the City Attorney’s office has stated that it will be advising the Council of the meaning of Desertrain before the end of the year.
If you are unhoused, and you need help with a criminal charge or a ticket related to your status, visit www.HomelessCD.com and click on “Contact”.  It may not be possible to provide representation in every case, but if your case is accepted, representation will be pro bono (free of charge). Continue reading

Speak-Out Leads to Historic Shift in Local ACLU Avoidance of Homeless Civil Rights Issues

by Robert Norse
Tuesday Jul 1st, 2014 9:12 PM

A crowd of homeless supporters showed up at last night’s ACLU meeting (outnumbering the Board by nearly 2-1 at one point). In a series of speeches (to be rebroadcast on Free Radio Thursday night), they urged the local ACLU to issue a policy statement against the Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban and other anti-homeless laws. It was the largest such homeless crowd ever to hit an ACLU Board meeting in my experience. In the hour and a half before the meeting more than twice that number signed petitions demanding action. Folks got there under their own steam without prior organizing after an announcement and flyering at the Red Church a scant hour earlier. Perhaps because it’s end of the month or perhaps because some of had enough, we may be seeing a significant rise in activism.

BOARD MAJORITY FINALLY BEATS BACK OLD GUARD
The ultimate 5-3 vote supported Steve Pleich’s resolution to suspend camping laws in the city and county came after several decades of ACLU indifference or hostility to this most basic of human rights. It was a marked change in policy for the Board, long dominated by the notorious Sleeping Ban Supporter former Mayor Mike Rotkin. Even if the change is only symbolic and unsupported by legal action or public lobbying. There is much toxic propaganda about “homeless crime” and the need to “curb our compassion” This breath of sanity is welcome and long overdue.

Voting in favor of the resolution were Pleich, Jay Campbell, Mithrell Bowerman, Daniel Etler, and Ron Pomerantz. Voting against were Mike Rotkin, Peter Geldblum and Keith Lezar.

SLEEP IS NOT A CRIME RESOLUTION
The resolution reads:
“Statement of Principle: The Santa Cruz County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union supports in principle a limited time moratorium on enforcement of camping ban laws and ordinances within the City and County of Santa Cruz on the grounds that such laws and ordinances selectively criminalize the homeless community. While the chapter is mindful that such a moratorium raises practical problems within the community at large, we believe that the benefits of such an approach in terms of the opportunity for civic leaders, policy makers and stakeholders to reassess the efficacy of these laws and ordinances outweighs any temporary adverse impact.”

RECENT HISTORY OF ESCALATING HARASSMENT
Homeless folks have faced a steep escalation in destruction of their camps, seizure of the property, “move along” harassment as well as citations and arrests in the last few years as the economy continues to tank. New programs designed to paint lipstick on the endless goal of “cheaply” eliminating homeless people from the downtown and city generally by eliminating their civil rights.

These include the “100 Chronic Offenders” program, the Downtown Acountability Program, the “Real Change” Red Starve-Out-the-Panhandler meters, the outrageous constriction of public spaces for performers and the public on the sidewalks of all business districts, the prosecution of those unable or unwilling to deal with to their “no sleep” and “no sitting” tickets with misdemeanor charges, and the escalating Drug War under Take-Back-Santa-Cruz orchestrated Needle Hysteria.

Well-intended incremental legal efforts by Brent Adams’ Sanctuary Village group have been repeatedly rebuffed by city bureaucrats. Thuggish First Alarm Security guards have been promoted to positions as CSO’s on the SDPD (“Big John” being the example I’ve noticed). The “Happy Hosts” continue to retain an unmarked inaccessible office in the downtown area (if you can find it and determine when it’s actually open, please let us know!). Illegal commercial signs retain immunity from legal scrutiny but homeless backpacks and survival gear are fair game for seizure and harassment.

PRIOR ACLU SILENCE
The local ACLU has said nothing about any of these issues in spite of being repeatedly approached on them. [See “Expose the Local ACLU: No Help for Homeless Rights ” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/12/01/18747111.php

Steve Pleich, who founded the “Homeless Legal Assistance Project” and is running for City Council for the 3rd time has been on the ACLU board for 3 years, and Vice-Chair for 2. Until last night he has not demanded any resolutions on these issues come up for a vote, in spite of having a host of allies appointed to the Board.

NUMBERS AND VOLUME MATTER
It is far too early to see if this is any kind of a turning point in either Pleich’s politick approach or ACLU timidity, but it seems clear that as Pleich himself agrees, having a significant number of people demanding change makes a difference.

In the presence of such numbers, previously timid and/or silent members of the Board may have gathered courage. The verbal commentary given by the angry and eloquent speakers will be on Free Radio Santa Cruz (101.3 FM, streams at http://audio.str3am.com:5110/listen.pls, archives at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb140703.mp3 .

At one point Chair Geldblum seemed to have ordered the issue closed without a vote and demanded that the public leave. Though there was no objection by Pleich and the rest of the Board to this behind-closed-doors process, the word was passed down later that a vote was held and the resolution passed. .I’ve asked for more specific details from those permitted to remain and when more info, I’ll pass it on. ,

§Flyer Distributed June 30th

by Robert Norse Tuesday Jul 1st, 2014 9:12 PM

 

Petition and Flyer Which Prompted the Largest Homeless Presence at the ACLU Meeting in Years

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Real Sidewalk Clutter–Illegal Merchant Signage on Pacific Avenue

by Pat Colby and Robert Norse ( rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com )
Sunday Jun 29th, 2014 11:37 PM

Last September the City Council cut back already severely-limited public space on the sidewalk to even less. I estimate less than 2% of the original Pacific Avenue sidewalk is now available for sitting, sparechanging, performing with a cup, vending, and/or political tabling. In an attempt to justify this strangulation of space, Councilmember Pamela Comstock made a comment characterizing what she saw on the downtown sidewalks as “sidewalk clutter”. In response to this and to show the extent of selective enforcement of the sidewalk laws–favoring merchants and penalizing street people–Pat Colby created a video showing what she considered real clutter–commercial sidewalk sandwich board signs–all of which are illegal under the Municipal code (zoning ordinance section 24.12.320.3). Pat played her power point presentation last Tuesday (6-24) at City Council.

COLBY’S SAGA OF ILLEGAL SIGNS
Colby’s presentation speaks for itself and can be found on line at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHPpOLOG0-k .

City Council’s own “imbedded” video groupie Community TV also documented the presentation at http://sire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=561&doctype=AGENDA , where it can be found 2 hours 28 minutes and 20 seconds into video accompanying the on-line archive.

I contacted Eric Marlatt, Principal City Planner, the week before the Council meeting. He advised me that ALL free-standing commercial signs (such as you find at regular intervals on Pacific Avenue and its sidestreets) are illegal–at least on Pacific Avenue. He also advised me that there had been no complaints or enforcement against these illegal signs for the last year.

In her presentation and at other points Pat has expressed concerns that the signs as well as the numerous sidewalk cafes that encroach upon the public sidewalk may burden disabled people and could be in violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT THE REALITY,
I share with her another major concern that selective enforcement of the Downtown Ordinances against sitting, tabling, etc. downtown has been repeatedly used with a political impact (if not a political agenda) of driving away a class of people from the downtown area. Police harassment of poor people, performers, political activists, low-income travelers, and homeless folk downtown under the Downtown Ordinances escalated last year, though the departure of The Great Morgani, the colorful accordion performer, presaged a lengthy period ignoring people in “illegal spots”.

Such spots are any part of the ‘public’ sidewalk that is within 14′ of any building, street corner or intersection. kiosk, drinking fountain, public telephone, public bench,
public trash compactor, public trash can, information or directory/map sign, sculpture or artwork displayed on public property, ATM machine or other cash disbursal
machines, vending cart; or fence [See MC 5.43 at http://www.codepublishing.com/CA/SantaCruz/ ]. This amounts to 98% of the sidewalk if you include the for-profit only sidewalk cafe encroachments and the space taken by the illegal sidewalk signs.

Whether this “benign neglect” was done to forestall protests, coax back performers, save tax payer money, or simply wait until the heat could be turned up later–is anyone’s guess. However virtually every performer, panhandler, tabler, etc. is situated “illegally” given the grandiose restrictions intended to give the police a blank check to “move along” anyone they want.

WENZELL CASE SHOWS HOW QUICKLY THE HAMMER CAN FALL
The amiable tolerance can and has been quickly withdrawn–as in the case of Kate Wenzell [See "Downtown Ordinances -- A License to Harass Scarf Lady Kate Wenzell" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/02/21/18751387.php] I hope to be writing updates on Kate’s case soon.

The obvious double standard being used, allowing illegal sidewalk signs that stand there all day while human beings are required to move every hour is glaring and undeniable. She has done a significant public service in bringing this issue to public attention.

For the full “Deadly Downtown Ordinances” with scattered updates go to http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/29/18657087.php?show_comments=1#18752784 )–however to be complete you’ve got to download the more recent 1st Amendment-choking additions mentioned in the Comments sections.

POSITIVE CHANGE WITH PAINTED CAGES?
For those hopeful of a “positive change” with the proposed “painted boxes” being prepared by Assistant to the Assistant City Manager Scott Collins, get ready for disappointment. Collins’ latest e-mail to me suggests there will be same amount of space as is currently “legal”. His exact words in the e-mail were: “Council’s intention is to have a similar amount of space available for performance and tabling as currently exists, simplifying the matter with clearly delineated space.”

This, of course amounts to 2% or less of the total sidewalk space. The 2% is an approximation that comes from having measured the spaces actually legal under the current law.

BOGUS MAP, BEMUSED COUNCILMEMBERS
Scott Collins “map” of these spaces, which he presented to City Council last year is wildly inaccurate where he claims there are double the number of spaces that actually exist.

So far City Council member Posner and Vice-Mayor Lane have taken no public interest in the situation. Collins has also indicated he will not be soliciting or accepting public input on the location, number, and extent of the new “performance cages” as some fondly call the proposed painted boxes on the sidewalk–outside of which it will be illegal to busque, table, or vend (perhaps sit or sparechange).

Again, a tip of the hat to Pat Colby and the others who helped create the graphic presentation illustrating the City’s dirty double standard.

 

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Struggle for the Right to Sleep in Santa Cruz: Why Successes in Eugene?

NOTE BY NORSE:  Some weeks ago, Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp Brent Adams sent out an article discussing the success of Opportunity Village in Eugene OR–through a variety of protest, heavy lobbying, and religious leader support.  For years HUFF has focused on the first two of these tactics.  Brent has been quite critical of HUFF over the last two years for its protest activities.  He has also created a nexus of support for Santa Cruz Sanctuary Village (previously Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp).  His recommendation that we examine this Eugene article encouraged some HUFFsters who felt that if activists could come together around these issues while at the same time recognizing differences in style and tactics, ‘twould be a good thing. The  SLEEPS strategy (the successful Eugene movement) is described in the link and the excerpt below.

From: compassionman@hotmail.com
Date: Fri, 30 May 2014 13:23:09 -0700

You’ve all done so much work on homelessness in Santa Cruz and I’m surprised we still haven’t had much success at repealing the Sleeping Ban or in establishing a Safe Sleep Zone or Sanctuary Camp/Village.

In these TakeBackSantaCruz/PublicSafetyTaskForce times it has been sometimes disheartening.  Local officials and large non-profits are following the Obama-esque Housing First model with Smart Solutions to Homelessness & 180/180 and they’ve had great success with that but we still have many hundreds of people living outside.

The Circle Church and ISSP are quite successful with their programs too.  
For me, it had seemed like tactics and strategies to repeal the Sleeping Ban, setting up protest camps and the initiative to establish a Sanctuary Pilot Camp have been at cross purposes when viewing what next steps to take.  After reading the most recent report from inside Opportunity Village,  and reading a comment from homeless activist Jean Stacey admonishing Sanctuary Village to take a different approach, we’re interested in broadening our view of things.
And please also read Jean Stacey’s comment at the bottom of this email.
Thanks everyone!!
Brent  831-234-9848
>>  Jean Stacey is a homeless activist in Eugene, OR who works with SLEEPS.
Here are here comments after reading the Goodtimes cover story about Sanctuary Camp.
Just read a great article on your hoped for project and it has lots of very valid, very important information. There are some really big pieces of the founding of Opportunity Village Eugene that are missing however…if you think this is all of the story, you will never make it happen. There were three things that made OVE happen: endless strategic protests 24/7 by SLEEPS, Occupy and Interfaith Occupy; 2)the appearance of the conestoga huts which were “cute” and far more palatable aesthetically and emotionally to the citizenry/politocs than a tent city will ever be and 3)a local minister, Dan Bryant, who spoke fearlessly, calmly and goodnaturely, with integrity and with a good natured belief in the best in all people and who had developed a strong network and respect through many years of service to the community. Without any one of these three components, coming together at just the right time, OVE would still be on the planner’s drawing table. The whole strategy was two pronged: protestors to drive the Council to DO something….and a totally separate dignified, professional, non rabble rousing group to actually do it. At first I, like Brent, tried to play both protestor and organizer….but once the village had been opened a few months, i got off the board of trustees so that my activism could become more radical. very hard to play both roles and i don’t advise it. OVE was formed as a response to a two month 24/7 SLEEPS protest in dec/jan after months of being stalled. I’d suggest stop calling your planned camp out a “raising of awareness” and quit filing for a permit. Say it is a protest in which you want to redress your grievances….you don’t have to get a permit to protest. You are in the Ninth Circuit Court. Start talking about Jones v LA and Lavan v LA. The published story I got to read is about the aftermath and result of the protests, activism and advocacy that preceded it. Without the protests, it would never have happened. Eugene has the WORST shelter ratio of any city that is not located in florida, california or hawaii….the 19th worst in the entire nation. This failure to house people was no accident….the city (hypocritically calling itsel the ‘human rights city”, has fought and fought and fought against shelter and would have continued to do so had the protests not been both educational/consciousness raising, threatening and embarrassing, and provided a focal point for all the folks who were human rights activists to rally round. I highly encourage you to launch a similar two pronged attack and would be happy to talk to you about it if you want. Just email me at contact@EugeneSLEEPS.org jean stacey”

 

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Santa Cruz Eleven Update & Wretched Mainstream Media Coverage

A Week Later The Sentinel Does Drive-By Coverage of the Santa Cruz Eleven
by Robert Norse ( rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com )
Tuesday Jun 10th, 2014 7:43 AM

Today’s Scent-Anal finally got around to covering the 6-4 hearing of the Final Four of the Santa Cruz Eleven–in a story that’s buried on-line and nearly impossible to leave comments on (you keep getting displaced by an ad). I suppose we should be grateful there’s any space given to the issue at all. I have so far unsuccessfully tried to leave the following comments on the story–which reiterate past concerns, but, I think, are still strongly relevant. The Sentinel story is by Jessica York and can be found at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/News/ci_25931032/Delays-continue-in-vandalism-trespass-case .

No mention of the $100,000 cost of the case to the taxpayers so far, plus another $100,000 for the upcoming felony trial. Nor any interest in the ongoing foreclosure fraud and crime being perpetrated by Bob Lee’s pals in the Wells Fargo rackets. Nor info about senseless prosecution was and is part of a broader repression against the Occupy movement and stopping similar protests as the war against the poor escalates.

No analysis of the fact that the D.A. And police have zero evidence of any actual vandalism committed by the four defendants. The abuse of the “aiding and abetting’ theory spins the expensive lie that simply because these four along with more than a hundred others were in the building (as I was), they are “guilty” of vandalism.

Also conveniently forgotten was the original purpose of the peaceful occupation of the now six-years vacant Wells Fargo-leased ban building: to provide a community center and/or homeless refuge for those outside—only 5% of whom have any legal place to sleep at night.

The continued case simply provides political cover for Bob Lee’s failed case here and the endless distraction from escalating rents, ongoing foreclosures, and increasing poverty prompted by the massive wealth in equality in the country (and in the county).

Meanwhile on-going low-intensity terrorism against protesters and the community continues with the 6 PM to 6 AM curfew all around the courts and county buildings (denying the basic right to peaceful protest there) as well as increased “public safety” exclusions and visible police-state presence downtown, around city hall, the library, and the parks. No word from the local ACLU on these blatant bites out of the Constitution. Gary Johnson served a 6 month sentence and received an additional 2 years for sleeping on a bench outside the courthouse for a handful of nights (see http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/01/06/18748816.php ).

Recently I’ve learned from Ed Frey, the attorney in Gary Johnson’s case, that there have been new positive developments in his demand to have the case reheard because only 2 of the required 3 judges were present at the appeal hearing. More on that when he posts it or I get more info. Earlier documents in the case are o Ed’s website at http://www.fullspectrumdemocracy.org/

Gary’s probation ended in March, Ed tells me, and his on-going commentary often appears at Gary’s website: http://peacecamp2010insider.blogspot.com/ .

Recent updates & comments on the June 4th hearing are posted at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/06/05/18756978.php .

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Harassing the Homeless: ID Checks, Security Gate, Downtown Dragnet

 

Item #10 on the City Council’s afternoon agenda Tuesday (5-27) funds the Consolidated Goon Squad Operation downtown of D.A.’s, cops, parole officers, & “social services” targeting “Chronic Offenders”. This latest assault is part of the Homeless Removal Program (titled the “Downtown Accountability Program”[DAP]) as part of the on-going criminalization of the outside poor making Santa Cruz “less welcoming” to high rent refugees, foreclosure victims, disabled folks outside, and low-income travellers–not to mention hippies, performers, and street vendors.

Items #11 pressures the Homeless (Lack of) Services to complete a Security Fence and Gate and ID Cards within 90 days or forfeit funding.

BUCKS FOR BULLYING THE BUMS DOWNTOWN
The staff reports, draft City and County budgets for the “DAP” and Board of Supervisors DAP program passed 5-13 can be found at http://sire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=557&doctype=AGENDA . Click on the link at Agenda Item #10. This is part of the dog-and-pony show announced by D.A. Bob Lee that provides few if any new resources for actual drug rehab and housing programs, but hires new bureaucrats and establishes new offices to “monitor” the “undesirable” element downtown. The targets: folks who have been ignoring their infraction citations because (a) they couldn’t afford to pay for them if they wanted to, (b) they’re an insult to basic human dignity frequently (“move on every hour, no holding up a “for change” sign after dark, disobeying a security thug in a park, etc.), and (c) they are essentially a response to the “get out of town” agenda of certain groups now holding sway at City Council–long entrehcned in the SCPD, Parks and Rec, and the City staff.

I suppose it’s also a backhanded acknowledgment of the value of the Housing First! idea or at least that’s how it’s being sold. But since the only housing it specifically anticipates is jail after the second “offense”, the main point is to get drunks, “crazies”, and rebels out of sight by locking them up. Job security for lawyers, courts,bureaucrats, deputies, cops, and the occasional social service person. No new meaningful resources for homeless people.

DIRTY DEAL BETWEEN THE HOMELESS LACK OF SERVICES CENTER AND RATTLESNAKE ROBINSON
The contract, agenda report, and extra SCPD/NIMBY “goodies” can be found under the link at Agenda Item #11. This $100,,000+ boondoggle is part of the Public Safety mythology which suggests the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center [HLOSC] has a huge violent crime problem. The Sentinel has been pushing this Take-Back-Santa-Cruz Crime Scare stuff for quite some time. Mayor Lynn Robinson’s “Santa Cruz Neighbors”/SCPD baby-fascist combine has been doing the same. Glorifying abusive officers like Sgt. Butchie Baker and smearing those he harrassed has become “the new wisdom”. Sleeping for the poor outside has become not only a crime but a “public safety hazard”. “Public safety” is the undocumented, unjustified, and false rationale for turning HLOSC into an even more prison-like area. It will also drive away folks anxious about police contacts for the far more frequent “crimes” of sleeping, sitting near a building, drug possession, and trespass with intend to sleep.

Will these new “unwelcoming” measures materially impact the presence of chronically or seasonally homeless folks, or stop counter-culture travelers from connecting with friends, family, etc. in Santa Cruz? Or simply create more suffering, paranoia, and hostility?

No persuasive documentation of a “crime waye”, either at the HLOSC, in the surrounding Harvey West neighborhood, or downtown was presented either to City Council last year, in police reports obtained by Public Records Act action, during the NIMBY-dominated Public Safety Task Force show last summer, or anywhere else. That’s unless you consider open container, sleepcrime, sitcrime, smokingcrime, and drug use to be a serious crimes. What is really involved here is the old story, spruced up in new duds–jacketing homeless people as “needle menaces”, “lurkers”, “bad behavior problems”.

This Criminalizing Carnival is the most sickening and blatant hypocrisy, since all the “crimes” for which homeless people are being ticketed and jailed are things housed people can do freely in their homes.

The problem is not that the city (state and country) has ignored the need to build (or at least replace) low-income housing destroyed in each new upsurge of gentrification but that homeless people themselves have intractable mental, drug, moral, or alcohol problems, you see. It’s all their responsibility. Don’t blame the wealthy and the powerful.

The items are likely to appear soon after 2:30 PM when the open session of the City Council begins.

THE BANG WILL BE IN THE BUDGET
Budget hearings for the SCPD and the Water Dept. begin at 7 PM on the evening agenda.

Budget hearings resume Wednesday morning at 9 AM at a Special Session of City Council.

Though I’ve never had the patience or stomach to sit through more than a fraction of these hearings–it’s in the budget hearings that the fuel for the fires of the latest homeless Witchburnings will be appropriated.

Comments on this story can be left at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/05/26/18756293.php /
The Sentinel’s “story” on this is at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/santacruz/ci_25830031/santa-cruz-council-hear-new-approach-water-management

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Phony Reform of the Street Performer Laws Coming Up at Council 7 PM 5-13

 

Performance Pens–the “Reform” Proposal from Vice-Mayor Lane and Councilmember Comstock
by Robert Norse
Monday May 12th, 2014 11:28 PM

The evening session of City Council on Tuesday May 13 will feature as its second and final order of business, discussion of a report by Comstock and Lane on proposed modifications to the Display Device Downtown Ordinance. The current sidewalk privatization law bans sitting, performing, vending, tabling, and sparechanging on 95% of the downtown sidewalks (and 100% of sidewalks in other business districts where buildings are present). The Comstock-Lane modifications would make “a Morgani exception” but set in gleaming and glaring cement the street culture-crushing laws. Instead of restoring the Street Performers Voluntary Guidelines–which worked well for 22 years–they would set up highly-restricted designated zones, giving performers “their own space” but apparently no more than they already have–just differently arranged.

Comstock and Lane cooked up these proposals in private conversations with individuals involving no announced public hearings. Lane ignored my request for the same.

I have not spoken with any street people or performers (other than Tom Noddy) that were consulted in the formation of these dialogues. It is not clear that Homeless (Lack of) Service Center bureaucrats were consulted either (though given their willingness to put in a Security Gate and ID cards they might have eagerly jumped on board).

The full staff report can be found at http://sire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/cache/2/1kfzveexdnc1m5f01431dc55/387346905122014102408710.PDF though it may disappear and have to be accessed through the City Council website under the May 13 agenda. I present what seems to be the (heartless) heart of the proposals below with my comments:

STAFF REPORT: The “new regulatory framework” would be “simpler”.

The last time this “simplification” argument was used (in September 2013), the Comstock-Robinson majority loped off 20% of the sidewalk space for street performers reducing their share to 5% or less of the sidewalk—cramming them next to the curb.

The gentrification geniuses also reduced allowable space to 12 sq feet, required 12′ distances between performers, sparechangers, vendors, and tablers, & banned blankets and tarps as “trip and fall hazards”.

Of course, merchant signs and display devices have proliferated as benches have disappeared.

All this and Santa Cruz’s unique “Move Along Every Hour” law (including resting “too long” on a bench) too!

STAFF REPORT: The performance pens and tabling spaces would be marked with paint on the sidewalk—clarifying that the First Amendment regarding tabling and performing with a cap on the ground only applies to highly limited areas of the sidewalk.

When some of us tried to chalk out the sidewalk being stolen in the Great Sidewalk Swindle of 2002 with (erasible) chalk, we were arrested for vandalism. But the friendly merchant fascism has grown so self-confident that they can propose this with a straight face and not expect a flood of outrage from those who still remember traditional Santa Cruz values.

STAFF REPORT: Performance-oriented spaces can be delineated separately from tabling spaces.

So city bureaucrats will now dictate what fraction of the sidewalk you can register voters in, where you can play a guitar, and where you can display your artwork.

STAFF REPORT: Marked spaces will no longer require the “need” to have the 14′ setbacks.

Since everywhere else will be illegal. Unmentioned is what the need was to have the vast forbidden areas in the first place, other than giving the police blank checks to run off “undesireable” people.

STAFF REPORT: Some larger performance spaces will be allowed accommodating larger performing groups.

Now, given the 12′ limitation voted in by Terrazas, Mathews, & Bryant, virtually all groups are technically illegal since it’s nearly impossible to take up that little space with instruments, cases, and other items.

STAFF REPORT: Likely that 50 to 60 spaces can be marked out– “very similar to what is available now”

Of course, no such number of viable spaces are available in the Pacific Ave. core downtown area—and this misrepresentation exposes the mendacity of the project’s conclusions generally.

Marking out spaces for performers is likely to put serious pressure on merchants nearby. The previously fluid and flexible flow of performers in the downtown area—until sabotaged by the destruction of the Street Performers Guidelines in 2003—addressed this concern. Limited and static places for performers is may also increase friction between performers, tablers, vendors, and others trying to use the sidewalk—as crowding often does in other confined areas.

REAL AGENDA LAID BARE

“The more pressing issues for merchants include early morning messes left behind by homeless persons sleeping adjacent to businesses and the gap in downtown ordinance enforcement in the early to mid-evening after the Downtown Hospitality Team has completed its work. We now see for instance, partner with the Downtown Management Corporation to fund more early morning cleanup of human-created messes and more Community Service Officer patrol coverage on Pacific Avenue on busier evenings. It appears that these efforts, along with the City’s current work on the vertical prosecution team (Downtown Accountability Program) will have a more positive impact on the Downtown.”

The bigoted language (barren of documentation) speaks for itself. More cops, more harassment of homeless people. But let’s lure back The Great Morgami and still the criticism these abusive ordinances have roused, by accustoming the community to a step-by-step surrender of public space to anxious merchants and right-wing ideologues.

As for the noxious and nearly unique-to-Santa-Cruz “Move Along” law, all discussion is to be postponed for six months.

The full staff report can be found at http://sire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/cache/2/1kfzveexdnc1m5f01431dc55/387346905122014102408710.PDF

Prior commentary on the latest turn of the screw in enforcing the “homeless get out” Downtown Ordinances:
“Restoring Sidewalk Sanity in Santa Cruz ” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/03/19/18752796.php
“2013: A Nasty Year Heavy With New Anti-Homeless Laws” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/03/10/18752404.php?show_comments=1#18752432

For those who want to look over the Downtown Ordinances, go to http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/29/18657087.php?show_comments=1#18752784 though you have to go through the comments sections to update the earlier document.

For those who harkened to comforting fantasies spread by City Council staff about “permits” as an “escape valve” for those wanted to be legal, see “Shrinking Sidewalks and the Permit Fantasy” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/11/09/18746169.php

A general critique of some of the Downtown Ordinances after the passage of the Sidewalk Shrinkage laws in September: http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2013/10/10/tour_of_shame_longer_flyer.pdf .

Some of the comments in the Council-friendly Sentinel story are of interest at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/News/ci_25737729/Santa-Cruz-council-to-review-downtown .

This issue will be on the City Council agenda Tuesday evening shortly after 7 PM.

Bring an audio recorder at your own risk! (See “Video of the False Arrest at Santa Cruz City Council for Audio Recording on April 1” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/05/03/18755258.php).

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