Church as Shelter of Last Resort in Hawaii

NOTES BY NORSE:  Attempts by churches in Santa Cruz to protect and shelter homeless people have been mixed.  The Interfaith Satellite Shelter Program–which operated from 1988 through 2010 (or thereabouts) involved busing homeless people to  different churches every  night and its height served 40-80 people.  Since Santa Cruz has a homeless population of 1500-2000 and a law that makes homeless people  criminal who sleep either outside or in a vehicle in the city limits–this had limited effect in combatting the fear and insecurity homeless people felt at night.   The ISSP  ended because of “transportation costs”, as I understand it.
A new program spearheaded by Calvary Episcopal Church is housing about 20 people each night in a variety of churches.  A Sanctuary Campground proposal is being hammered out by Brent Adams and others at the same time as there is rising hysteria against homeless people in a political “anti-crime” wave mounted by Take Back Santa Cruz, The Clean Team, and other “clean up our town” groups.
The Coral St. Open Air Shelter (1993-5)–a tolerated campground at River St. and Highway 1–was shut down by pressure from the Citizens Committee for the Homeless, and then-Mayor Mike Rotkin.  Rotkin also moved against Father Mike Marini’s Holy Cross Shelter subsequently in the summer of 1996 by (according to the recollection of Becky Johnson) inciting the neighbors against the shelter.  Under his leadership (with Cynthia Mathews a loyal second), the Sherry Conable/Barbara Riverwomon State Parks Sanctuary proposal for the homeless-under which homeless would be bused to state parks to  camp–was
Religious leaders, who were otherwise reactionary, have also played a role in standing up for homeless people by sheltering them in their church.  See, for instance, .

Kalihi church puts faith in action to help homeless

Posted: Feb 25, 2013 7:22 PM PST Updated: Feb 25, 2013 10:57 PM PST

By Jim Mendoza – bio | email

KALIHI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Kaleo and Russell Pakele and their two-year-old daughter live in one of the tents alongside the sanctuary of Hawaii Cedar Church in Kalihi.

“God brought us to this place,” Kaleo said.

Since December, the Pakeles have been staying on the church’s property, along with about 40 other homeless people.

“I believe everybody needs a second chance. That’s why I call this program that we’re running, ‘A Second Time Around,'” pastor Henry Baxter said.

The church feeds them, and lets them use the showers and bathrooms. There are rules to follow. You either have an outside job or do church chores.

“The rules are very important in our lives. Discipline and rules,” said Antonio Hernandez, who lives with his wife and young child in the tent next door to the Pakele’s.

“Their labor is working in the parking area, the grounds, in the kitchen, the dining room, in the church itself,” Baxter said.

The church offers some job training. Adults pay about $100 a month per person to cover utilities. Pakele said that teaches them responsibility.

“It is a stepping stone for me from here to transition out,” Kaleo Pakele said.

In March, the church starts a new program. Some of the homeless will plant and harvest vegetables at the church’s farm in Waianae.

“We’ll actually be paying them $8 an hour, more than the minimum wage. They’ll only be working four hours a day, but that will be something to get them started,” Baxter said.

Most of the homeless living at the church were on drugs. Baxter said there is counseling and consequences.

“We have drug testing,” he said. “We have zero tolerance on drugs and alcohol.”

Violators are evicted.

Baxter estimates 120 families have been helped in three years, and half are now in housing.

Texas Judge Rules: Feeding the Homeless in Public Not a Crime

Guests of Big Heart Ministries’ annual Christmas meal dug into hot food on a cold afternoon outside a church on Second Avenue near Fair Park in December 2011. (Rex C. Curry/Special contributor)

For six years the city of Dallas and two ministries have been locked in a legal battle over their right to feed the homeless and hungry wherever and whenever they find them. But at long last, U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis ended that tussle today — for now, at least — by siding with Rip Parker Memorial Homeless Ministry and Big Heart Ministries.

In the final judgment you’ll find below, Solis calls the city’s Food Ordinance a violation of the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And, the judge writes, “The City of Dallas is permanently enjoined from enforcing Ordinance 26023 against plaintiffs,” who have also been awarded attorneys fees and costs.

It was Solis who, in 2011, denied the city’s attempts to get the case thrown out in the first place.

The judge’s ruling comes nine months after the city attorneys and Scott Barnard, who represented the ministries, squared off in his courtroom over the ordinance, which the ministries claimed violated their biblical duty to feed and comfort the hungry while spreading the gospel. The city, on the other hand, contended that by feeding the homeless, the ministries were enabling them to remain on the streets.

Solis, though, didn’t agree with the city’s argument.

“The Court does not make a judgment about whether the City has an interest in regulating the operations of homeless feeders,” he writes in his 39-page findings of fact and conclusions of law that also follows below. “However, in this case, the homeless feeders are religiously motivated institutions that are afforded statutory protection to practice their religions without being substantially burdened by government regulation. The Ordinance’s Homeless Feeder Defense requirements were instituted based on speculation and assumptions. The City did not establish that any of its interests have been harmed by Plaintiffs’ conduct.

“What the City did establish is that it wants to provide as many homeless people as possible with food, social services, showers, safety, job counseling, and beds in an effort to get them off the streets. The City believes that organizations that that feed the homeless on the street are thwarting the City’s efforts to get the homeless off the streets. The City has not established that its interest in regulating Plaintiffs in this way justifies the substantial burden on Plaintiffs’ free exercise — in other words, it has not established the balance weighs in its favor.”

Barnard says the judge’s ruling is “particularly moving coming as it does on the eve of Good Friday and Easter.” And he says his clients are “excited about getting back to sharing food with the homeless.”

The ministries never stopped during the course of the litigation, but did curtain their activities — in part, says attorney Lizzy Scott, because Dallas police kept cracking down on their efforts to feed the homeless.

“As recently as last Sunday one of our clients was out sharing food with the homeless near downtown, and he was told he wasn’t allowed to do it in the Central Business District,” she says. “Now he’s very excited to get back to the ministry.”

The city has no response save for these few words: “The City Attorney’s Office is studying the decision and evaluating the city’s options.” It has 30 days to appeal the judge’s ruling or file for a new trial.

As Barnard notes, Solis threw in attorneys’ fees, even though he, Scott and Andrew Newman at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld took the case pro bono. They say the money will go to charity.

Says Barnard, the ruling means “relief organizations throughout the city can continue to provide critical services to its most vulnerable residents.”

Reports of Attacks on the Homeless in Santa Cruz

The following comment is part of a larger thread on Santa Cruz Indymedia at  which criticizes the tepid and vague response of establishment liberals and “progressives” to the attacks on needle exchange, homeless services, homeless people, the counterculture, and the right to use public spaces.

by Robert Norse

Tuesday Mar 26th, 2013 9:47 AM

Yesterday at the Red Church’s Monday evening meal, I did my usual interviewing of folks.

A number of neural reports (i.e. police haven’t been harassing as much as usual).

However a major report involves an incident at the City Parking Lot across from the Elm St. Mission and the Cafe Pergolesi last week when somewhewre between 6 and 10 squad cars reportedly corralled and ticketed a dozen or so people (I have the impression they were counterculture/traveller/homeless-looking or just perhaps economic underclass folks). And ticketed them to stop a hackeysack game some of them were playing. The charge: the old Parking Lot Panic law–MC 9.64.020 (“Trespass” on a public parking lot–the law that makes it illegal to be in a parking lot unless you’re walking directly through or parking or retrieving your vehicle). I received at least three independent angry reports on this.

Another report was of Sam-I-Am (both directly from him and from upset companions earlier) being assaulted by four men who seemed in the troll-busting mode because what they said was “I want your hat” (a humiliation ritual) and they refused to give it to them. He was assaulted with a skateboard, and hospitalized with a fractured spine–or so he said as he stood in line at the meal in some apparent pain (but without, he said, adequate pain medication from Dominican).

A third report was of a man (who wished to remain anonymous) flying a sign out at the Mission St. Safeway. First three youths spat on him as they drove by. Then a guy stopped. He went over thinking it was perhaps a food donation or somesuch. The guy reportedly ostentatiously got out of his car, took out his cell phone and loudly announce he was calling the police and reporting that the homeless man was kicking his car. He then demanded the homeless man leave (or “leave town”, not sure which) according to this report.

Two women lying on the beach during the day were told by a security guard that they had been there “too long” and “had to leave” by their report or he would “call the police”. Or so they said.

And then there was the incident I witnessed on Friday night right outside Andy’s Auto on Pacific: The daughter of Shalom Compst and Marilyn Dreampeace, a woman in her 40’s, walked across Pacific Avenue from the Metro bus side to near where I was standing. A police officer came up to her and demanded to know why she’d done that.

It is not illegal to cross Pacific Avenue anywhere between Laurel St. and the Town Clock unless (a) you are obstructing a vehicle, or (b) the police have set up a traffic-controlled intersection with a stoplight or traffic cop. Such has been my undertanding as a person who has weathered jaywalking tickets in the past.

He gave her a $100-200 jaywalking ticket anyway in spite of her pleas.

Had I known this was a jaywalking ticket as it was being written, I would have so announced it to each passerby and asked them to stop and wait as witnesses (though it was dark and around 8:30 at night). One can write this off to nubie officer ignorance or over-zealotry (I didn’t recognize the cop, whose name I was told was Clauer or something like that).

I also received a report from Billy Q that a recent Grant Street park public meeting had homeless people driven away by police last week. The TBSC website describes the homeless-free event favorably at /. This abusive exclusionary process replicates what happened at the Sharon Collins memorial last summer at San Lorenzo Park. And if the account is accurate, the SCPD or officers of same, are direct agents.

It could be I’m getting lifted by the hysteria of the times around these incidents, but they seem to be growing more serious and more numerous: vigilante, security guard, and police harassment and actual threats and assaults.

There’s a “Families First” march today from Harvey West to City Hall for 5 PM according to the TBSC website.[See ]. Since there’s no evening City Council meeting (only one at 3 PM and supposedly one at 5 PM for Oral Communication), it appears Families First–which I’m assuming is a TBSC-front group–is planning to ignore the politicians, who surf the waves of the moment, and mobilize homeless-haters, fearful-neighbors, frustrated workers, and gentrification gurus from all around the town to create an even more powerful lobbying group.

I’ll be at the 5 PM City Council Oral Communications (2 minutes and shut up)–which may be held significantly earlier since there doesn’t seem to be that much on the afternoon agenda. And then covering the TBSC (which I’ve taken to calling Take Over Santa Cruz) march for FRSC and to voice my own views.

Please post reports of any incidents you experience or witness. Video and audio are particularly helpful (sorry I don’t have much). I did play the Jaywalking incident on Free Radio on Sunday. It’s archived on the HUFF website if you search through the 3-24 show towards the end, but I’ll post its location more clearly on the descriptions section soon.

Include time, place, names and descriptions, dialogue overheard, step-by-step account, etc. if you have any of these details. The more specific the better.

Appealing An An Abusive Sleepcrime Sentence 4 PM Thursday 3-21 Dept. 5 Santa Cruz

View other events for the week of 3/21/2013

Title: Two Years for Sleeping on a Courthouse Bench? The Appeal
START DATE: Thursday March 21
TIME: 4:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Location Details:
701 Ocean St. Dept. Dept. 5
Event Type: Court Date
Contact Name Robert Norse
Email Address rnorse3 [at]
Phone Number 831-423-4833
Address 309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz, CA 95060
“Ground Zero” Gary Johnson, sentenced to two years by Judge GrimGavel Gallagher, last year, was “guilty” of four counts of sleeping on the bench in front of the courthouse with a sign “Sleep is Not a Crime”.

He was protesting the 6 PM to 6 AM curfew unilaterally imposed by Susan Mauriello to kill the Occupy Santa Cruz demonstrations.

Gary’s blog is where you can find links to attorney Ed Frey’s brief on the case.

A three judge panel is expected to rubberstamp Gallagher’s decision, however members of the public are welcome to come and be witnesses to this travesty.

As a tangential but not entirely irrelevant sidenote, the incompetent and relentless prosecutor of the Santa Cruz Eleven, Rebekah Young has left the D.A.’s office as of last Friday and reportedly is going to work as a reporter in Texas.

Apparently exposing abuses may have an impact.

Flower Felony: 18 Days in Jail, Thanks to a Take Back Santa Cruz Mob

Charges dismissed against man accused of stealing flowers from memorial to fallen Santa Cruz police officers

By Cathy Kelly
Posted:   03/21/2013 04:42:31 PM PDT
Click photo to enlarge

Ken Maffei ( SCS )
SANTA CRUZ — Charges were dropped Thursday against a Santa Cruz man accused of stealing flowers from a memorial to fallen police detectives Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Elizabeth Butler.

As attorneys said in court, Kenneth Eugene Maffei, 53, bought the flowers March 1 and had been leaving a box of Allbright’s doughnuts at the North Branciforte Avenue memorial to the fallen officers. He lingered there for about 45 minutes when a woman spotted him picking the flowers up and walking off.

The woman called police, who stopped him. Maffei was too intoxicated to explain and made inconsistent statements, defense and prosecution lawyers said. He was arrested and charged with theft and public intoxication.

Maffei had been on his way to a motel with the flowers “for a lady friend,” defense attorneys said. They said he wrote “R.I.P.” on the $1 box of doughnuts.

His arraignment hearing March 5 drew more than a dozen Take Back Santa Cruz members as Judge John Gallagher kept him in County Jail with bail set at $5,000. Maffei was in custody for 18 days, said Larry Biggam of Biggam, Christensen & Minsloff, the primary public defender firm in the county.

“This case was a classic ‘rush to judgment’ — from the arrest, to the high bail (at arrest), to the harsh judgments in the media,” Biggam said. “Mr. Maffei has been demonized and has served 18 days in jail for a crime he did not do.

“Yes, these are difficult and sensitive times in our

community, and I understand people’s concerns.

But we need to address those concerns with facts, not fear, and with fairness, not prejudgments.”

Maffei was nearby when Baker and Butler were killed by a suspect Feb. 26. He went to the street-side memorial to pay his respects, Biggam said.

Another defense attorney, Jack Lamar Jr., came to court with a letter from Erika Hearon of the Davenport Resource Service Center stating Maffei had been a “valuable volunteer” for several years.

Biggam said Maffei was not a “transient,” as police stated, but has lived in Santa Cruz for 31 years.

The defense found a receipt for the flowers among Maffei’s belongings in County Jail, Lamar said.

District Attorney Bob Lee said follow-up investigation raised doubts as to Maffei’s guilt and that his office was “doing its due diligence to determine what had happened.” He said once prosecutors got the new evidence from the defense, it prompted a thorough investigation by inspectors who concluded the flowers belonged to Maffei.

Prosecutor Jennifer Hutchinson requested both misdemeanor charges against Maffei be dismissed. She said searching Maffei’s personal belongings in jail “is something we can’t do.”

“From the DA’s Office, this is a pursuit of truth,” she said.

Judge John Salazar said the District Attorney’s Office could have waited until the eve of the trial to drop the charges, and he said he thought it “was not an unreasonable conclusion” to believe Maffei had stolen the flowers given the circumstances and initial evidence.

“It’s a good reminder that sometimes people charged did not commit the crime,” Salazar said. “And we have a system that finds that out, at least eventually.”

Maffei attended the hearing, as a free man. When questioned outside court, he smiled and said he “probably shouldn’t say anything.”

Follow Sentinel reporter Cathy Kelly on Twitter
Brent Adams  · Video Journalist, Filmmaker at Subcommondante Films comments:
tbsc has their priorities wrong. They are creating and harvesting pain and fear and using it for a political agenda that hurts our community instead of helps it.
More than a dozen tbsc were in court for this?? Is this a “public safety issue”??
I think not. Where are they when homeless people are being cited for just sleeping? Where are they when people’s personal belongings are being trashed??
There is no place for 90% of homeless people to sleep tonight. Census stats show that 70% of local homeless are from here. And yet, they go after basic sustenance food programs at the Homeless Services Center.. is that about Public Safety?
Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp. Join the conversation.
A special salute to Judge John Salazar for wisely reminding us of the generosity of the D.A.’s office in allowing this flower-filcher to be released after only 18 days when he could (and surely should) have been held until trial.
And to Judge John (“Justice is my Middle Name”) Gallagher for standing firm against any hysterical or hasty action and wisely putting Maffei, the petunia pincher, behind bars on $5000 bail.
Another to the D.A.’s office which has shown in other cases—like my own Santa Cruz Eleven prosecution—that money is no object in Keeping Santa Cruz Safe from marijuana smokers, homeless campers, and political protesters. Though it may cost tens of thousands more in the upcoming trials of the remaining 4 and caused one D.A. To flee town—Rebekah Young left for Texas last Friday– D.A. Bob Lee has assured us that the more trivial cases of murder, assault, and burglary aren’t being stalled because of his focus on ending the “culture of tolerance”.
We can’t be sure, but let’s give the benefit of the doubt to the Sheriff’s office for holding this rhododendron robber in stir where he belonged instead of embarrassing everyone by revealing the receipt (probably forged anyway).
And a shout-out to the Public Defenders who took only 18 days to find the receipt that showed the apparent innocence of this geranium-grabbing Maffei. These hard-working attorneys were plenty busy saving the County money by squeezing guilty pleas out of the riffraff cluttering up the court docket.
Not to mention the deep research done by the Sentinel in its even-handed investigation of this case (as shown by its wise commentary on the Menace of Illegal Campsites, the Dangers of Needle Exchange, and, of course, the Perils of Keeping Santa Cruz Weird)!
Let’s not forget the ever-vigilant SCPD who saw through Maffei’s clever act in concealing his obvious drunkenness from a crowd of mourners for 45 minutes and had him arrested for being unable to take care of himself (the legal definition of drunk in public). Puzzling, of course, is the disappearance of the surely-justified Drunk-in-Public charge. Perhaps this is another example of our soft-heated drug-tolerating, homeless-enabling community! We know the SCPD would never have labeled a person drunk and unable to take care of themselves without justification!
Finally, a slap on the back to the patriots at Take Back Santa Cruz who roused the crowd at court to demand the judicious Judge Gallagher hold this rose-loving rogue in a safe place. I understand they’ll be advancing the Keep Santa Cruz Straight campaign at City Council, making our community safe from needle-strewing homeless junkie-loving flower thieves and the bureaucrats who protect them.
One can’t but marvel at their broader many-pronged strategy to slash away the homeless cluttering the Santa Cruz landscape like so many toxic weeds: “starve ’em out” by cutting the funding of homeless services; “slap ’em awake” with more police sweeps; culminating in the “strip ’em naked” plan—with Parks and Rec crews confiscating their criminal clothing.
But while I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who want to Keep Santa Cruz Safe, I must insist that we show our own tolerance and good sense: Keep TBSC, the D.A., the Sentinel, the Courts, the Sheriffs, and the Public Defender’s Office Weird!

Let’s join TBSC’s march with COLOR, signs of positivity and compassion, costumes etc. [1 Attachment]

[Attachment(s)from Robert Norse included below]

NOTE BY NORSE:  Brent Adams is a musician, community activist, and for the last year, target of the SCPD and D.A. Bob Lee as a member of the Santa Cruz Eleven.  He has led protests seeking an end to the harassment of the homeless in the past, and is currently working on a Sanctuary Camp project (see his facebook page).  Below he calls for joining a march with the Banish-the-Homeless group Take Back Santa Cruz in a dialogue strategy.   He also has a radio show on Free Radio Santa Cruz at 101.3 FM every Tuesday night from 9 PM to 11 PM.

Hi friends,

As you know,
   over the past few years and especially recently, Take Back Santa Cruz has been repeatedly using news stories about violence and drug abuse to
focus attacks on our homeless population and Homeless Services.  Recently they’ve begun to lobby for a removal of the sustenance food program
at HSC that feeds hundreds of people daily.  They also want drug and background checks as a requirement for basic homeless services.
They are having a march from Harvey West Park to City Hall to parade their hatred of homeless people past the Homeless Services Center HSC.
The march will be at 5pm Tuesday March 26
I invite you to join me in this march as we engage in colorful, compassionate community.  Bring signs of compassion and love.  Costumes are
highly encouraged.  Let’s begin to transmute this negative energy into something beautiful.
—    —-    —-    —
This community group has had a large roll in the removal of a long-time needle exchange program, the virtual clear-cutting of the river levee and
a 3 month long homeless sweep of the woods.   At city council meetings they use “compassion” as a negative trait and they blame former
liberal politicians for the violent climate only to harvest the pain and fears to base proposed anti-homeless policies on.  The net effect is
an increasingly fearful and knee-jerk environment where fair practices and justice are at risk.
TBSC just filled the court room to protest the defense of a man who was held in jail for 18 days even though he had direct evidence of his
innocence in his pocket.  He had been detained for stealing a bouquet of flowers that he had just purchased.  Charges were dropped but with no
apology to the man who spent 18 days in jail before seeing a judge.
Let’s have fun out there,
Brent Adams
Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp
Attachment(s) from Robert Norse
1 of 1 Photo(s)

Bad Times In Berkeley–A Lesson for Santa Cruz

Berkeley singer, performer, and activist Carol Denney, regular author of the hilarious Pepper Spray Times (to be found on-line at ) is a long-time fighter for the rights of those outside as well as those who are likely to find themselves outside next month.  Her story below was published in the on-line Berkeley Daily Planet, to be found at .   She lays out the roots, background, symptoms, and causes of the homelessness/housing crisis that has been an ignored emergency for the last 30 years.  And talks about her own personal experience to boot.

–R. Norse

Berkeley Central – You Can’t Afford It

By Carol Denney
Friday March 22, 2013 – 02:39:00 PM

Carol Denney

Carol Denney

Carol Denney
It’s safe to say to 95% of the Bay Area goes to sleep every night with the secure knowledge that easily between 100 to 1,000 people within a five to ten mile radius are asleep nearby behind dumpsters and under bushes.

It’s safe to say that by now most of them have realized that every trip to the grocery store and the BART Station will necessitate walking past between two and twenty people with outstretched hands, shadowed by at least twice that number in severe, specific, and immediate need.

This isn’t the full picture. This is just their picture, the picture that colors their neighborhood, their day, their sense of community and fairness, and whether or not the world is a good place to be.

It’s safe to say most of them have hit the breaking point and can no longer imagine that handing out dollars and dimes represents any kind of solution to poverty. It’s safe to say that most of them recognize that a radical change in housing policy is not just a civic, but also a moral obligation.

None of them were protesting the policy of building housing specifically for the out-of-town Prada/Lexus crowd in front of the opening of Berkeley Central’s new luxury apartments on Thursday, March 21, 2013. They don’t believe homelessness can happen to them, or that squandering scarce square footage on pied-a-terre techies plays any role in the housing crisis.

On Berkeley Central’s ribbon-cutting Thursday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a cover page story about the 264 homeless families hoping for shelter in San Francisco. The East Bay Express and the Oakland Tribune ran stories on the nine percent increase in rents in one year as Berkeley renters engaged in bidding wars over a limited supply of housing.

The crowd at the opening was full of wry comments about the few who could manage both the cost of the penthouse, one and two-bedroom apartments and studios currently available for lease and the lack of space for the stuff which would make actually living in them feasible.

Nobody was allowed to see the studio apartments. Both the public and the media tour excluded the studios, presumably because they are even more shockingly space-resistant than the one-bedrooms. The one-bedrooms are perfect for people who have no books, no instruments, no hobbies, and fervently wish to have no friends or parties ever in their lives.

Perhaps I am being harsh. But I live in a very small place. And I don’t really play the banjo, at least not very well.

And I have four banjos. My CD collection alone would barrel out the door of these space-free units with their special staged-home beds, bedswhich knowledgeable eyes know would accommodate only part of a sleeping human being but help give the impression of more space in a staged home for sale. “Don’t worry,” said one of the women on the tour. “The people who’ll be living here are on their second homes.

I’m not saying that to embarrass the hard-working, friendly, gorgeous crowd of young, mostly white women who shepherded the crowd through the tour with casual authority and aplomb. They were smart, responsive, engaging, and very patient with a crowd that grew more raucous with each of at least three alcohol stops.

There is no question that something is wrong with a hiring policy that manifests such racial and gender singularity, but those whom I met were talented, dedicated, and sincerely capable of both fielding critical questions and guiding drunks out of the shrubbery.

The officials, planners, and developers who pushed for the project are only partially at fault for plucking the ripe cherry that is – surprise – another luxury housing development in Berkeley, the city with the largest gap between rich and poor in the entire Bay Area.

Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, representative for downtown Berkeley’s district four, was there beaming along with Downtown Berkeley Association members, Chamber of Commerce representatives, and of course the Mayor Tom Bates for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

I’m noting the second home theory to honor the theme represented by nearly every speaker at the ribbon-cutting ceremony and most of the literature as well. The 143 units at Berkeley Central were specifically designed to attract people from out of town.

I would have no problem with this if we weren’t in a housing crisis. Build for the rich, I would say. Build crazy stuff with gold-plated toilets and let them buy it.

But we are in a housing crisis. The Downtown Berkeley Association tried to outlaw sitting down on the sidewalk, for Christ’s sake. The money spent on that campaign would have funded a drop-in homeless center for at least three years.

It’s safe to say that using Berkeley’s precious square footage to accommodate the needs of the uber-class: the high-end tech workers priced out of San Francisco who can afford as many storage units as it takes to make sure they don’t have to live with their boxes of Christmas decorations or their old Occupy banners next to their beds is – dare I say it — unfair.

They may be making up apps by the thousands over in Silicon Valley, but ain’t nobody making any new land. We either build with an eye toward addressing the obvious need for low-income housing, or we sidestep acknowledging a housing crisis so obvious that perfectly sane, arguably intelligent people sit around board room tables discussing which of the array of attributes describing homeless or nomadic people would be best to criminalize next.

We, the taxpayers of Berkeley, pay for the City Council’s and the planners’ salaries. Why aren’t they building housing to accommodate our existing housing needs? Rich people, lovely though they may be, are just not at a loss for housing options. You should have seen the high-end bicycle in the bike rack in one of the staged rooms at Berkeley Central. This is not your father’s IT worker.

But oh, how well this policy works for politicians whose larger agenda is to simply eliminate poverty by eliminating poor people from the community entirely. Polly Armstrong of the Chamber of Commerce said it, Mayor Tom Bates said it, Councilmember Jesse Arreguin said it, and even the official literature echoes the obvious policy of addressing Berkeley’s income gap by tilting housing in the direction of rich techie youngsters who hopefully will never know that homes used to, as a practical matter of course, have pantries, linen closets, attics, basements, parlors, porches, etc.

Developers win when mini apartments get fondled and crowed over as “green” for having no place to put the basketball. But then, developers always win.

You’ll want to know, so I’ll tell you; $2,575 to $3,000 for a one bedroom, 3,775 to 3,900 for a two-bedroom, $5,350 to $6,300 for the penthouses. Door to door trash service (a mandatory $30 fee) and proximity to the BART Station.

Entirely smokefree, except that somebody was smoking on the penthouse floor.

But those two and twenty people with outstretched hands are right outside wondering how long they have to wait until we can have a ribbon cutting ceremony for the majority, the poor, who have somehow become wallpaper to the people who wandered through Berkeley Central’s luxury apartments sipping wine.

FW: Sin Barras Updates and Events [1 Attachment]

[Attachment(s)from Robert Norse included below]

It is my belief that many homeless people are in Santa Cruz jails for trivial offenses.  Activists from Sin Barras have been coming to HUFF meetings for the last month.  I think their events are likely to interest HUFF activists and sympathizers–hence this e-mail!

Robert Norse

Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2013 15:54:12 -0700
Subject: Sin Barras Updates and Events

Hi Gail and Robert,

This is what’s happening on the Sin Barras front. We are in the midst of:
  • creating educational pamphlets/zines on the research we have done regarding the prison system in santa cruz county
    • the zine will be premiered at our Art Show Fundriaser this Friday
  • organizing an Abolition Art Show Fundraiser this Friday, you and friends are all welcome to come!
  • programming for our April 6th Speakout + March
  • communicating with Scott McDonald (Santa Cruz County Chief Probation Officer)

We have also:

We’re also coordinating ride shares for an event in San Francisco related to our work. Let us know if you’d like to join us:
    • We will meet up at 8:30 am outside the forum with banners and posters demanding an end to overcrowding, releases and real health care to save our friends and family in prisons & jails;
    • We will be making t-shirts of the same color with slogans like “overcrowding=death” and something punchy about healthcare for us all to wear;
    • We are gathering volunteers who feel comfortable holding banners up inside the symposium;
    • We will be bringing statements from people inside prison about the conditions/healthcare and pointed questions for volunteers to raise during Q&As or any other chances to speak;
    • We will ask that all supporters stand or raise hands or fists when our organizers are reading or making statements;
    • We will hand-out and collect more post-cards to give to Kelso at the event
  • We welcome your comments AND participation. As one CCWP member said, it is important for Kelso (Medical Receiver) and all of those law enforcement types to see a solid block of people standing up in solidarity with all of our loved ones inside.
As for further research, we are investigating the numbers of inmates still awaiting trial and we are still desperately looking for narratives and testimonials of treatment and conditions inside Santa Cruz County Jail.

Health & Happiness,
Tash Nguyen

UC Santa Cruz
Urban Anthropology & Environmental Studies

“Let’s be gentle with ourselves and each other and fierce as we fight oppression.” 

– Dean Spade

Attachment(s) from Robert Norse
1 of 1 File(s)

Interesting Report–with a usable link!

To reach  the Housing report go to & then click the links in the following sentence.

In 2006, WRAP published a Without Housing report that clearly showed the world why America’s “approach” to ending homelessness has been overwhelmingly ineffective. In 2010, we updated the report, now available in both English and Spanish.

Robert Norse

Support Homeless Rights and Services–A Response to Councilmembers Robinson and Lane

NOTE BY NORSE:  Rouster-of-the-Wretched Lynn Robinson, until the election of Pamela Comstock, was the most reactionary member of the Santa Cruz City Council.  Along with David Terrazas. Cynthia Mathews, and Hillary Bryant, Robinson has faithfully backed or initiated a steady stream of anti-homeless measures increasing criminal penalties for innocent behaviors like sitting on the sidewalk, sleeping outside at night (in a town with no alternatives for most), and peaceful sparechanging.
Last Sunday Robinson flung rhetorical acid at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center [HLOSC] in a front-page story, attacking its funding, denouncing its management, and smearing its clientele.
For Robinson’s rattlebrained roarings go  to
Joining the gruesome chorus of bigotry orchestrated by Take Back Santa Cruz, Robinson championed further cutbacks in the vital needle exchange program and megaphoned the familiar right-wing merchant myth that Santa Cruz is a magnet for crime, violence, and danger because of its (alleged) tolerance of homeless people, drug abuse, poor people entitlements, and “weirdness”.
Santa Cruz, in fact, with the collusion of self-described “liberals” like Don Lane (and former Council member Katherine Beiers) pioneered California anti-homeless laws in 1994 including the Sitting Ban, the Sparechanging Ban, & the Street Performing Ban.  (The word “ban” is meant to suggest that police are given such broad prohibition powers that they can restrict, bully, harass, ticket, or arrest whomever they choose doing these activities–which they do.)
Santa Cruz has also instituted Permit Parking, banning the very existence of homeless vehicles (even when homeless aren’t in them) during nighttime in hours in many neighborhoods.  The City Council passed the notorious Parking Lot Panic law which bans anyone from reading a book, socializing, or–for that matter–changing a baby’s diapers in their car in any of the city-owned parking lots.  In the last few years, it has leveled nighttime curfews all over the city establishing forbidden zones at such traditionally  public areas as City Hall, the Library grounds, the River, the Parks, and elsewhere.
As far as “drug tolerance”, the City has crippled the voter-mandated Measure K, supposedly making recreational marijuana use in private for those over 21 the lowest priority, and its rates of marijuana arrests have been rising, not falling.   The closed-door City Council putsch that shut down the effective and safe Needle Exchange program on Barson St. with no public debate or announcement was an abject surrender to the hysteria of the Take Back Santa Cruz/Clean Team crowd stoking rising hysteria over the needles found in their clean-up’s (a relatively small number–400 over several months compared to the several hundred thousand picked up each year).
Instead of calling for a changed policy that moves away from the useless, costly, crime-producing, and rights-wrecking Drug War, the policy of the City Council is to throw more money at the SCPD.  Instead of opening up more needle exchange sites and increasing funding and staff for clean-up’s, City Council is buying into the absurd “Just Say No” stupidity once heralded by Nancy Reagan.
Now comes Vice-Mayor Lynn Robinson leading the pack of paranoids, denouncing the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center.
HUFF has harshly and persistently criticized abuses and leadership at the HLOSC.  For not providing shelter other than for a fraction of the population.  For not advocating for the rights of those outside.  For not protecting disabled people from arbitrary decisions by their staff.  For caving to anti-homeless bigotry of neighbors with their “no impact” zones (penalizing clients for simply seeking the right to use the public spaces as members of the public rather than as cringing abjects subject to the whims of neighborhood NIMBY’s.  For closing the center during the day to those who they’re supposedly paid to serve.  For refusing to replace vital storage lockers.  And more.
But the HLOSC does provide two meals a day (unless they exclude you), does offer a (for-pay) mail service, and does provide a pick-up point for Armory Shelter in the winter as well as providing an entry point for other programs.
Council member Don Lane (whom I call satirically Gone Lame) has long been a booster and frequent Board of Directors member of the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center at 115 Coral St.  He recently was Mayor and President of the Board of the HLOSC.  And Robinson’s toxic venom has upset him.
What is his response?  Not a forthright “homeless people have rights and needs” statement.    It wouldn’t be credible to those who closely follow his record (and many don’t, because his rhetoric is often impressive).  but more to the point, he would actually have to take an unpopular stand in a city where bigotry, bullying, and police-worship is on the rise.  That’s something I don’t remember his ever doing.
So instead he tells nearby businesses that it’s their job to ramp up the war against the homeless in the nearby public spaces, not the HLOSC–which–get this–just doesn’t have the money.  Instead of mobilizing people who have long objected to police, merchant, and resident abuses against poor people outside, instead of championing the obvious–emergency campgrounds, public bathrooms, trash collection, and reform of the HLOSC (to make it more accessible and less a prison camp), he defends the group he’s made his turf for the last decade.  He attempts to “reason” with the wretched Robinson instead of exposing her libelous anecdotes and self-righteous bigotry.  In essence, he is saying that he supports the war against the homeless, but they can’t blame the HLOSC for not pursuing it vigorously enough because they don’t have the money.
Aside from being fascistic and immoral, this tries to play pattycake with same unrealistic “drive the homeless away” approach.  This approach targets the wrong people and institutions.  It panders to “compassionate fatigue”, “homeless enabling”, “street culture = criminal behavior” “hyperpolice/vigilanteeism = increased security”  and other all to familiar misleading stereotypes.   it appears with the underlying phony distinctions between “our” homeless and the “other” homeless, between “the worthy poor” and “the crazies, druggies, criminals, and bums”.  The phony focus on needles, the Drug War, homeless camps, trash, are an attempt to vilify the homeless community.   Wild exaggerations of conditions that conditions that exist in every city don’t lead to more safety for the community and set the stage for an intensifying witchhunt against the homeless community–something Don Lane has watched without comment or objection for the last year.
Access to food, shelter, medical care, and equal  treatment is a right we need to enforce.   The reactionary fantasy that these exist in abundance in Santa Cruz is ridiculous to anyone who’s ever been poor here.  In so far as the HLOSC meets these needs and secures these rights, it needs to be supported.  In so far as it fails, it needs to be held accountable, reformed, and/or replaced.

Don Lane

City Councilmember for the City of Santa Cruz

Thoughts on my letter to Lynn Robinson concerning the Homeless Services Center

Posted on March 19, 2013 at 2:41 pm
I have been absent from posting to this blog for many months.  Mainly I’ve been trying to cut back to 50 hour work weeks after being at more like 60 hours last year (during my term as mayor). I’ve also been nursing a herniated disk in my neck—which I hope will finally diminish as a problem after spinal surgery next week.
But I have been recently awakened from my slowdown — first by the horrifying deaths of city police Detectives Baker and Butler –and then further by some of the disturbing reactions that have surfaced in the past few weeks (alongside the amazingly generous outpouring of support for our fallen officers that showed up around our community) in the form of troubling proposals to change some of the community’s policies.
One of these proposals struck me particularly hard because it went right to heart of the primary volunteer work I do, which is to support policies and programs to successfully address homelessness and homeless issues in our community.
This proposal played itself out when the local daily paper got its hands on a letter that my city council colleague, Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Lynn Robinson, wrote to the Executive Director of our local Homeless Services Center, Monica Martinez.  As you will see below, her letter did not sit well with me.  Though I originally saw the letter on February 27, I set it aside (in spite of my negative reaction to it) in recognition of our need to focus on mourning the deaths of Butch Baker and Elizabeth Butler.  However, once the Sentinel reporter spoke to me about the letter (around March 13) and told me he was going to feature it in a newspaper story, I thought it was then appropriate to send a response to Lynn.  It was also important for me to respond at that time because, that same week, Lynn also made a formal motion to cut funding for the Homeless Services Center at our city council meeting. And it lso appears that she quietly triggered a document search to see if she could find other ways to do things that I saw as undermining the work of HSC.  In other words, Lynn did not just write a letter, she appeared to me to have begun a three-pronged “campaign” against HSC.
I’m sharing it here because many people communicated with me that my letter was referred to in a Sentinel article but it was not printed. They said they wanted to see it.
I don’t often send letters like the one below. It is strongly worded and takes a very firm position on the issues involved.  For people who know my work in the community, they will recognize that it takes a different tone than my typical tone. I normally try to work in the middle ground of controversial local issues.  Though I am not trying to fool myself into believing I am always a neutral player, I usually try to quickly move past my own views to embrace the “controversy” and try to be a voice for bringing the divided participants together.  This works for me most of the time.  But not always.
There are some issues that cut deeper for me and then I discover my limits.  One of those issues is immigration.  My only daughter, who my wife and I adopted when she was 10, was born in Mexico and brought to the United States without proper immigration documents when she was a very young child.  The rest of her life story is irrelevant to this essay, but the fact that the “group” she belongs to is regularly under attack in the politcal discourse of this country makes me very sensitive on these issues. I want to seek middle ground on immigration issues but I have especially little tolerance for hateful language around immigration issues. So my public comments and actions on this issue tend to be less measured.

My journey into the issue of homeless is a bit less personal but that journey has still been long and deep.  I actually got involved about 25 years ago when I was invited to help resolve a conflict between the Downtown community and the City government on one side and a group of good samaritans and political advocates on the other side who were serving a daily meal to homeless individuals in a public space Downtown. (There’s a bit more about this story in the letter below.) Suffice it to say that my mediation in this situation led to my assisting the meal-serving group to relocate away from Downtown and to a place where the meal could be served in a more orderly and safe situation.

Through that episode, I met some very caring and committed people and I started to learn more about the lives of local people living on the streets of our community.  I got involved in starting the Homeless Community Resource Center and continue to this day in work that brings me into contact with homeless individuals and families and with those who work with those difficult-to-serve populations.

So the issue of homelessness is a big deal for me. I will not pretend that it is not personal after those many years of work.  But its not just “personal.”  It is also something I have spent a lot of time learning about and working on as a community problem in the context of being a city councilmember. It is a problem that everyone in the community recognizes. As an aside, I should note here that I encounter many people who say two things almost simultaneously that I find very puzzling. First they say something like: “Don, why do you spend so much time focusing on homelessness and not focus enough on the rest of us taxpayers who are not homeless and who have important needs, too?” Then they say: “I am so upset about all the problems homelessness and homeless people cause in our community.  Why don’t you do something about it?”  I’m not sure they see the contradiction but I certainly do. And so I continue to work on the issue of homelessness.

And I do it for the entire community- not just for those who are on the street. I do it because my compassion (which has oddly become a bad word among some people in Santa Cruz lately) includes concern for everyone who suffers from the existence of homelessness.  That includes just about everyone. Obviously this includes people living in a variety of very difficult situations that share the label “homelessness.” And it includes compassion for housed people who have to deal with a variety of challenges including public expense, business disruption, dirtying of public spaces and a variety of things that the legal world euphemistically calls “nuisance” behavior.

The reason I “take sides” at certain moments on this issue is that I have a visceral reaction to scapegoating groups that are vulnerable and groups that do not have much political influence.  Since I deal with a lot of people dealing with homelessness, I am particularly senstive when I see them under attack.  This does not mean I embrace or excuse bad things that homeless individuals do. And it does not mean that I believe every homeless service program is perfect. It means that I will resist efforts to punish a group for the bad acts of particular individuals in that group. And I will resist efforst to blame people who are making the community better simply because those people are not making the community perfect.  And thus I wrote the letter below…

Dear Lynn
Thanks for your call on Thursday night… I appreciate that you let me know about your letter to Monica Martinez.  As I mentioned, I had asked Monica to forward it to me a couple of weeks ago (soon after you told me about it) and I’ve had a chance to review it quite carefully.  I especially appreciated the letter’s clarity expressing your specific concerns… because our recent meeting about these issues did not get to as much specificity as I had hoped.

As I mentioned to you in our phone call, I stepped down from the Board of Directors of HSC in February.  I did that in large part because I have been working on a few different projects related to homeless issues and I was spreading myself too thin, especially in combination with my City work and my other employment.  I also think it’s important for the community to know that when I speak about issues of homelessness in our community, I am not speaking on behalf of HSC.  My focus is moving more and more to larger policy issues and I want to work primarily in that mode. 

Having said that, I want to respond to the content of your letter and acknowledge that some of my response is informed by my knowledge about the work of HSC and its neighbor agencies stemming from my past work there.
In your letter, I found it particularly notable how authoritatively you spoke about HSC. This surprised me because of your statements to me at our meeting a couple of weeks ago where you specifically told me that it has been a very long time since you’ve actually visited the homeless programs located on Coral Street.  I think this fact is indicates how your strong feelings about HSC are informed more by your personal perspective as to what is going on at the Coral Street “campus” rather than on a truly thorough examination of homelessness and homeless programs in Santa Cruz.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is your apparent assumption the Homeless Services Center organization is solely responsible for the Coral Street campus.  I think you are aware but failed to acknowledge that the Coral Street campus is shared by three organizations: the County Health Department’s Homeless Persons Health Project (HPHP); the Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center’s River Street Shelter; and the Homeless Services Center.  Did you know this and chose to single out HSC… or did you forget to include the other organizations in your communications about the Coral Street area?  It was particularly noteworthy that your letter described how Paul from HPHP was working with one of the people you had concerns about… and then blamed Monica and HSC (an organization completely separate from HPHP) for the alleged failure of Paul to solve the problem you wish he could solve.  (I should also note here that there is probably no single individual in this community who has more constructively addressed the health issues of homeless individuals than Paul, who is a public health nurse with HPHP.  You could not have picked a poorer person to single out. His work is exemplary by any standard and until you’ve learned more about the work he does and tried to do the kind of work he does, you would be well-advised to steer clear of mentioning his work in the negative way that you mentioned it.)

Next, I wonder if you are aware of the functions and activities of the Homeless Persons Health Project in general. More than 100 individuals drop into HPHP on a typical day.  Did you know, for instance, that if a homeless person in the Santa Cruz area is interested in receiving help with their substance abuse problems, HPHP is the most appropriate place for that person to go for assistance?  Since there is no other similar drop-in program designed for homeless persons with this problem, do you have a suggestion for where these persons should be going instead?  I understand that you would like these folks to go to some other place in the county for assistance but there is no other such place right now. Soon there will be a new facility for HPHP in South County (which I think we agree will be a positive thing) and there will more of the jurisdictional sharing that you seek.  But there will still be many homeless IV drug users in the Santa Cruz area (until there is a sea-change in funding for treatment and a dramatic reduction in the flow of heroin and meth into this area) and they will continue to seek help at the Coral Street clinic of HPHP.

Perhaps the most alarming assumption contained in your letter is the idea that HSC is primarily responsible for every homeless person in the vicinity of Coral Street.  I believe this is based on the idea that HSC staff have tried to create a no-impact zone near its Coral Street location.  I believe HSC staff has worked seriously toward this within the limited resources it has… because you and others have demanded that HSC take responsibility for this.  I have always supported HSC’s effort to do this even though it pulls staff resources away from their primary function of safely serving homeless persons who come to HSC itself for services.  However, I have also had reservations about your demand because, though the demand came from representatives from the City, it did not come with any new dollars from any funding source including the City.  In fact, HSC’s funding from the City has fallen by about $100,000 during your time on the city council and you have supported that reduction.  So, in other words, you want HSC to use funds the City Council has designated for meeting the basic needs of low-income people to patrol city streets and sidewalks and other people’s private property… and you want HSC to take on that extra burden with a lot less money.

I should also note that I had reservations about HSC taking on your demand for a no impact zone because I suspected that HSC did not have the legal authority and powerful tools that would be required to make it effective… thereby setting up HSC for failure and your subsequent criticism.  That suspicion was certainly borne out by your letter.  And, to add insult to injury, now you have randomly expanded the zone you expect HSC to “police” to an even greater area by throwing in a business on the other side of the Highway and a Costco driveway.  I dare say that your placing expectations on locations so detached from the HSC campus made what was originally a dubious demand into an unreasonable one.

Even more to the point, since the “no impact” effort began, HSC staff members have been working very closely with the SCPD to protect the safety of both clients at the Coral Street property and in immediately adjacent areas.  I am not aware of any way HSC has not cooperated fully with SCPD. HSC has also worked closely with the First Alarm security staff and, again, I’m not aware of any situation where HSC has not worked cooperatively with First Alarm.  I am also not aware of any action you or other city officials have taken to deputize HSC staff to enforce local nuisance behavior and drug laws.  If a person outside the property of the homeless programs at Coral Street is seen violating laws, what tools have you provided HSC staff to enforce those laws?  I’m pretty sure the answer is that you (and the City in general) have provided the same tool to HSC staff that you have provided to every other community resident… you have given them the phone number to call the police.  HSC staff does this on a regular basis just as you have asked.  HSC has also continued to deny access to its programs by people who have violated the rules of HSC. (This has been HSC’s practice since long before you got involved.)

I’d like to go a bit further with you on the question of who is responsible for all the problematic behavior that some homeless individuals are involved in around the Harvey West district and the city in general.  I’ll start with a bit of history… on two separate occasions I have been approached by key people dealing with Downtown issues asking me to encourage volunteers serving meals on the streets Downtown to stop doing this Downtown.  On both occasions, I was able to get those volunteer groups to re-locate their meal programs to the Coral Street facility.  This was applauded by both city officials and representatives of private businesses Downtown.  In other words, HSC and its partners took on an extra burden at the request of the City because it knew that THE CITY ITSELF HAD THE RESPONSIBILITY TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONGREGATION OF HOMELESS PEOPLE IN PUBLIC LOCATIONS. That is still the case.  Only City officials have the legal responsibility and authority to do this.  HSC cannot walk Downtown and do anything to address problematic behavior of homeless persons.  This is true in every public location in the city… the river levee, the parks, the Pogonip. 

My point here (in the form of a question) is simply this: what are you, Lynn, doing to FULLY address this behavior in public spaces?  I know you have tried different approaches and made some inroads but all the things you have proposed and supported have not eliminated this problematic behavior in these public places.  Shall we cut funding from the Parks and Rec budget because there are still some homeless individuals perpetrating illegal and problematic behavior in Parks facilities?  Shall we cut the Public Works budget because they cannot ensure that there are no homeless people gathering on their sidewalks?  Shall we cut the Police budget because they have not eliminated crime among the homeless population?  I think you know that we should not…and will not…make these cuts.  The only question that remains unclear is this:  Shall we cut our salaries because we have not eliminated problem behavior and illegal behavior in public locations entrusted to our care as City Councilmembers?   I suspect the answer is “no” because we are both working pretty damned hard on a lot of difficult issues… and we don’t believe in punishing ourselves for our imperfect records… because we are still doing some good work.

I’d like to pose another question on a related topic:  Have you been consistent with private property owners who have ongoing behavior problems related to homelessness?  The first property that comes to mind is the rail line that runs through Harvey West and the Pogonip.  Have you placed expectations on Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railway similar those placed on HSC?  You specifically noted problems along the railroad tracks…yet you target HSC for responsibility when problems on the tracks have existed for decades… long before HSC existed.  Is there a different standard? If so, what is the basis for that double standard? And if you do contact Roaring Camp in the future and they successfully cleared their railway property of problem behavior by nudging it to the nearby sidewalk, would you then approach them again to demand more because there is a problem NEAR their property?  This seem to be how you have treated HSC… will you be taking the same approach with others?

There are properties all around Harvey West and other locations in Santa Cruz that have persistent overnight camping and gatherings of people who are behaving in ways similar to those described in your letter.  Have you been putting the same pressure on these businesses and property owners to address these problems?  If so, I hope you can fill me on how you are applying that same pressure. (Perhaps you could show me the letters you’ve sent them.)  Of course, we all know that those property owners might try to rely on the currently favored approach of blaming HSC for everything (simply because it exists and is doing its job) and using that as an excuse for avoiding their share of responsibility.  But legally, that is not how it works. If any property owner is allowing nuisance behavior to persist on his/her property, they are responsible for addressing it.  HSC is meeting its responsibility by excluding people who break the rules or the law while on its property—and by calling the police as needed. That is what the City and police have expected of HSC. Now shall we penalize them for doing what we have asked?

At this point, I feel compelled to address the anecdote in your letter that demonstrates how far off the mark I think your entire message is.  I refer to your recounting of the tale of the woman with prosthetic legs. Your city government, with your strong support (and my support, as well) has undertaken an ongoing program of cleaning out and removing encampments occupied by homeless individuals in and around our community.  This woman was one of the homeless individuals living in that kind of situation who was displaced in one of those cleanups.  So an action that you vigorously supported drove this woman into a more visible place in our community (and a more vulnerable situation). It is very troubling that you are blaming HSC because you are now seeing her out there in a visible location.  The real question is what are YOU doing to help this woman who you have made more vulnerable by your actions?  The answer appears to be that you are demanding that someone else deal with her—while at the same time consistently moving to reduce funding for one of the principal organizations that is trying mightily with limited resources to help her.  Since you are a person of great compassion, how do you justify this?

Some of us have been working without any financial support from the City to expedite the 180-180 project in Santa Cruz.  The woman with prosthetic legs has been surveyed by  the 180-180 project and could possibly be housed through that project. But she won’t be housed sooner because your City (and mine) pushed her into an even more vulnerable situation.  She will be housed because HSC and its partners and volunteers and supporters put together the resources – without your help – to make it possible.  It is so disappointing to me that you would play the role you have played in making her more vulnerable and then expect someone else to clean up a problem you helped create. 

It appears to be less than constructive that you would poke around these issues and these programs with such a lack of information and understanding.  Do you really think that programs whose funding you have voted to cut should now be taking care of every needy person you see just because you make a phone call? Is this a responsible approach for an elected leader of this community?   If and when the woman with prosthetic legs is housed and taken off the street safely, it will be because HSC has been working on this for months and it will happen in spite of your actions.

Your letter and your approach to these issues may end up impressing some people in the community with its “get tough” language and demands now that it seems to be coming to light.  However, it will not impress many of us actually trying to help the most vulnerable and impoverished people in our community.  If you want to dig in, as you said you will do in your “gardener” mode, I want to encourage you to plant some seeds of intelligent solutions rather than throwing around “enough is enough” language.  Anyone in the community can express frustration and say “I’ve had it.”  There are plenty of things that I can list around the community that I could say “I’ve had it” about.  My view is that leaders move quickly past their frustration to identify thoughtful solutions based on good information.  I know you have shown this kind of good leadership on other issues. So I’m looking forward to your thoughtful answers and suggestions that go beyond what I see right now as unfair and misdirected complaints on these Coral Street area issues.

Finally, despite the criticisms contained in this letter, I want to acknowledge how hard you are working on a range of important community safety issues.  The community is definitely benefitting by much of your work. I hope you will recognize that I share your desire for a safe community. I simply cannot support particular approaches that are off-target and unfair and inadvertently play into the fear-based demands of some frustrated community members.
I respectfully request that you take the next step in your Coral Street efforts by answering the questions I raised in this letter.  The questions may seem rhetorical in nature… but every one of them needs and has a real answer.  I hope you will take the time to thoughtfully answer each one.  In turn, I would be happy to answer any questions you have for me– to the best of my ability — about homeless issues and homeless services.

Thank you for considering my request…and for your continued service to Santa Cruz.