Running Roughshod over the Recyclers: More Stench from the Santa Cruz Hatemongers

NOTES  BY NORSE:  City Council will be asked to research a non-existent “criminal problem” around recycling based on the fears, fantasies, and political buttons being pushed by right-wing NIMBY’s in our community.  The City Attorney and Police Chief (surprisingly) have already pointed out that (a) state law preempts attacks on local recycling centers, and (b) there are zero reports of bikes being stolen to be sold for recycling profits.  Still the staff forges ahead.  The following was my comment on the Sentinel on-line article at :

        A pretty transparent assault on homeless survival activity that hurts no one and actually benefits the environment. Even throw-aways now aren’t good enough for the Evil Homeless. Any scheme, no matter how cruel and counter to the Santa Cruz community (as distinguished from its governmental) compassionate traditions) is now on the table.
        Looks like centrist Democrats are now eagerly feeding from the fascist trough, their snouts in the air scenting the foul wind and which way the plague of hate blows as they eagerly troll for votes from the activated Hate Mob.
        Expect attacks of food-providers soon–as “criminal enablers”. Oh, wait,, that’s already happened out at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center turning an already no-shelter-for-most “campus” into a prison annex with a $100,000 “security gate”, ID cards, and other “public safety” measures–as the zombie corpse of Drug War insanity stalks the day.
        The results of the City Council’s latest attempt to placate the Take Back Santa Cruz NIMBY’s with their street performer slaughter legislation can be seen downtown: Of the few that remain, almost all are in “illegal” locations. Self-righteous bigots and their SCPD and yellow-jacket
Hostile-apatality allies [“Hosts”] are apparently biding their time. Waiting for legitimate outrage against these laws to cool before moving in to pick off individuals with threats, citations, and arrests.
        Is the sight of poverty so unbearable and frightening that otherwise intelligent people can descend to this kind of abuse? Give a politician a constituency, I guess, and they’ll run with it, no matter how deep the slime.
        The spurious use of environmental, public safety, and economic concerns is, of course, liberal cover for another attack on the visible poor. So much easier to treat humans as trash, if you cover the roar of the compactor and the cries of pain with reassuring rhetoric, sweet reason, and checkbook ethics.

Santa Cruz council to examine impact of recycling centers

By J.M. Brown  Santa Cruz Sentinel  Posted:   11/08/2013 05:44:01 PM PST

SANTA CRUZ — The Santa Cruz City Council will consider Tuesday recommendations for the city to more closely monitor the impacts of recycling redemption centers.

Out of mounting concern about the theft of recyclables, bikes and copper, the Transportation and Public Works Commission suggested in September the city scrutinize records of California Redemption Value centers that pay people for turning in cans, bottles and scrap metal. The panel also recommended requesting the state reconsider laws requiring such centers in local communities.

Noting that many people recycle at home now, commission Chair Richelle Noroyan said she doesn’t believe the redemption centers are needed.

“It’s almost encouraging people to break into the recycling containers,” she said.

Noroyan understands there are disadvantaged people who are not committing crimes and are picking up littered recyclable material for income. But she fears the theft of recyclables and scrap metal may partially fuel the local drug trade, and stealing from curbside containers costs the city revenue that funds environmental programs.

Public works staff have suggested the council ask the state for help in address scavenging and change zoning rules to treat redemption recycling centers as a conditional use in all areas where they are allowed. The staff also suggested reviewing for six months reports that Santa Cruz’s two CRV centers are required to file with police to determine what kind of scrap metal is being recycled and by whom.

Councilman Don Lane said stealing should certainly be discouraged, but he said he also feared requesting the removal of recycling centers could eliminate a way for poor people to earn money and increase the amount of recyclable material that ends up in the garbage.

“If you don’t have a recycling center for them to turn it in to, there isn’t much incentive,” Lane said. “It would be important to get a little more analysis of that before we move in that direction.”

Also Tuesday, the council will consider a request from the parking division to halt the 11-year practice of allowing electric vehicles to park for free at downtown meters and in parking garages. Since the incentive program was started in 2002, the city has reported a surge in electric vehicles charging at city stations for free, growing by more than 180 percent since 2010.

The city will continue the free charging because the state only permits electric companies to sell power, but the cost is expected to go up as the popularity and performance of electric vehicles increase. Electric vehicles pay to park near the beach and wharf, but the city has lost nearly $8,000 since 2010 on free parking for nearly 3,500 vehicles at the Soquel/Front garage downtown.

“As the numbers have grown and we’ve been adding more electric charging stations, (the incentive program) has achieved its desired purpose,” City Manager Martín Bernal said.

The council also will vote Tuesday on awarding a $7.1 million contract for the final phase of the Bay Street Reservoir replacement. The costs will be covered through capital improvement funds.

The Public Works Department will request spending $100,000 in capital improvement funds to share in the costs of roadway, bike lane and sidewalk improvements sought by the city on the southwest corner of Ocean and Water streets so a property owner can more easily develop the long-empty site.
Follow Sentinel reporter J.M. Brown at



WHEN: 3 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Council Chamber, 809 Center St.





So here’s what we have going on: People advocating for more nanny state! We have a small group of haters that can’t stand unsightly poor people in their neighborhood, attempting to force absurd draconian policies upon the community. They’re getting away with it because most people in SC are apathetic, and don’t bother to do a little research. Perusing this document, I see Michael Becker a Take Back Santa Cruz admin, Brook Crumpton from the Clean Team, Richelle Noroyan a flip-floppy City Council hopeful, and several other TBSC sympathizers. When is Santa Cruz going to wake up and see the agenda of gentrification that’s being pushed here? This war on the poor is pretty blatant, and eventually they’ll climb the ladder to where the policies that they’re pushing affect those of us who live in houses and earn moderate incomes.
How about this City Leaders… We’re going to start a movement to pull out all of the CRV from your blue money bins that we put out once a week for you to extract! We pay the CRV, and then basically hand it over to you, and now it sounds like you rely on it as a source of income. If you’re going to try and ram through another poor hating agenda, I think it’s time for a little push back.

Raleigh – I think you are absolutely correct that there needs to be a recycle center – just for the reasons you stated. However, it becomes a little concerning for people to have people going through their garbage.
The reason I commented to your first comment, and you continue on with the response is about “progressive”. It appears that you support allowing homeless to hangout at street corners, smoke pot, drink, bum for money, collect recycleables and just basically not respect our community or neighbors’ property. If I misunderstood you – sorry.
I bet that we could sit down at a table, and have very, very similar viewpoints on most things. However, I’m a bit more libertarian in my views. If people want to dig through my garbage to find a scrap to live, fine! I threw it out, you can have it! Also, I support ANYONE hanging out in any public space, as long as they’re abiding by the laws of common sense and respect. People that look dirty, or who are poor have just as much right to be downtown as you or I. We each will have a different line of acceptable behaviors, and laws make for that societal demarcation. I personally don’t care if people are hanging out on Pacific asking for money, I simply tell them no. Simple. Done. Do we need more laws to deal with it? Have we become so dependent on the government (police) that we can’t even say no? Are we so helpless that we grovel to the City Council to be our savior? Apparently so.
Collecting recyclables? Go for it. To me that’s actually respecting our community! And who am I to stifle some poor soul from putting food on their table after they work all day collecting a valuable resource that would have otherwise gone to a landfill?
Do I trust any report from these small town crony politicians, and hater community groups who are trying to enact a surveillance state in conjunction with more ridiculous laws? No way!
Yes this is a serious issue in Santa Cruz, and it needs to be dealt with. Don Lane loves to neglect and enable.

NORSE NOTE:  For more about Ken Collins and his idea of “clean-up’s” see  

Richelle Noroya, you are showing everyone in this town just how narrow minded and classist you really are. I will not even mention how morbidly obese you appear on the web.
So, in a town that encourages reacycling and sustainablity, you suggest to close recycling centers because it might spur drug trade? The we should close the Flea Market, Yard Slaes, Pawn Shops or any other business for that matter as it could also contribute to this problem. Get Real, people need to make a living, including these recycling center owners who are taxpaying busuness owners contributing to Your community.
Please be aware that there are anti racketeering laws put in place just to stop the cornering of markets. That includes the recyclables you speak of as a commodity. You simply cannot control an open and legitimate market, it is against the law and you should know that.
You might be in a postion now where you don’t need the money. That could change, be very thankful you are where you are. Don’t underestimate your fortune and try to show some compassion for your fellow humans. Even the middle class family that uses a recycling center to help pay bills!

Homeless Human Rights Violations–in Fresno and Santa Cruz as Winter Approaches

NOTE BY NORSE:  Santa Cruz’s downtown main drag, Pacific Avenue,  is now a curious scene of regular violation of the new Downtown Ordinances that exclude 95%+ of the sidewalks in business districts from sitting or setting up a table.  The laws impact anyone with a “display device”–expansively described as “anything capable of holding tangible things” (i.e. a cup for a panhandler, a table for a political petitioner, a guitar case seeking donations for a busqueer).  Almost every singer, sitter, performer, or vendor that I’ve seen is in technical violation of these ordinances since so much obviously innocent behavior is simply rebranded as “criminal”.   This fits in nicely with the right-wing claims of a homeless “crime wave” requiring public money and police attention–soon to be ceremoniously announced by Mayor Bryant’s new Citizens Task Force on Public Safety ( ).

                               Obviously uninterested in going after every instance of sitcrime, strumcrime, or sparechanecrime, cops and their cheery parapolice pals the “Hospitality” Hosts walking the beat beside them pick and choose who to harass and “move along” or ticket.  The casual and regular use of selective enforcement has soaked its way deeply into political acceptability as to be clearly visible almost  any time of day along Pacific Avenue.
That’s not enough for some CSO’s (Community Service Officers) who reportedly loom over homeless folks thumbing through their ticket books announcing new unwritten crimes that require the sitter to be 50′ from a crosswalk or building.  Or suddenly a Host announces the homeless sparechanger is sitting in a “performance zone” (of which there are none) and must move on.  And seeing to get a permit to play music or display artwork in more than 12 square feet is generally not an option, except in a very few locations (See “Shrinking Sidewalks and the Permit Fantasy” at  ).   Some homeless wiseheads are learning to justify either their peaceful panhandling or their simply sitting by making colorful signs and selling them as artwork;  this is similar to the brief rush of kazoo players a decade ago that hit the avenue when expanded forbidden-to-sit zones were created for homeless people but not those “performing”.
And mass ticketing of homeless people continues in San Lorenzo Park as recently as 11-10, according to one rudely awakened sleeper.
Property seizures are still a relatively ordinary occurrence with receipts haphazardly given, much property being taken to the city dump, and the police property room open only two days a week for two hours on those days.
Coming up next at City Council tomorrow afternoon–investigation into the feasibililty of cracking down on homeless recyclers by relocating recycling centers to more distant places or eliminating them entirely.  The City Attorney has already reluctantly told the bigotbackers on the Council that this conflicts with state law, but the “cut off all survival avenues” staff presses on.   Julie Hendee, a particularly nasty entrenched city staffer was recently heard scolding a church group for feeding people in public on the sidewalk, urging them to move indoors and out of sight.
  Food Not Bombs soupslinger Keith McHenry reports on crackdowns across the country against FNB food servers (  ).
   Fresno, at least, is still the site of an ongoing lawsuit against earlier police violations (see and—by-mike-rhodes.htm).

Are Homeless People’s Human Rights being Violated in Fresno?
by Mike Rhodes ( editor [at] )
Monday Nov 11th, 2013 5:15 PM

Homeless people in downtown Fresno, like the two in the photo below, are being harassed by the Fresno police. They are being told they can’t sit on public sidewalks, their property is being taken, and some say their constitutional rights are being violated.



“They told me I could not sit on the sidewalk and that I could only stay if I sat on the curb with my feet in the gutter, or if I sat entirely in the gutter,” Lori (not her real name)* told me. “A friend of mine got a citation for sitting on the sidewalk, because her sleeping bag and other stuff was beside her.”Violet (not her real name)*, a homeless woman who lives near the Poverello House, confirmed that citations are being given by the police to people who have their property with them. “If you go into the Pov (the Poverello House – a homeless social service agency in downtown Fresno) to eat and you leave your stuff on the sidewalk the police will take it,” Violet said. If homeless people have property with them they are being cited for having “debris on the road” and if they leave it for a few minutes it is hauled away.

One woman told me she had been taken to the hospital and when she returned everything she owned was gone. She does not know if the police took it, but said that even if they did she could not re-claim it, because she is too sick to walk to the storage facility and carry it back. She begged me for a couple of dollars to buy some adult diapers, to replace the ones that had been taken.

Down the street, Ben (not his real name)* said that on Saturday he had received a sleeping bag and tent from a the Sleeping Bag Project. He put up the tent on Santa Clara street Saturday night. In the morning he got up to go to the bathroom, but when he returned it was gone. He is sure the police took it.

Violet said the same thing happened to her daughter a couple of days ago. “She was gone for a few minutes and when she returned, the tent was gone,” Violet claimed. “The police come every morning at dawn and kick our tent, yell our names, and tell us to get up and move on.” Violet says that the harassment is so bad that she and her friend have to take shifts watching their property. Sometimes she will go eat at the Poverello House and sometimes her friend can go. They can only go together if they hide their property somewhere that can’t be found by the police.

For more information about attacks on the homeless in Fresno, see:

Where Hope Goes to Die
Sunday Nov 3rd, 2013

The Grain Silo/Canal Bank Homeless Encampment is Destroyed
Wednesday Oct 23rd, 2013

Grain Silo Homeless Encampment Posted for Demolition
Thursday Oct 10th, 2013

City of Fresno Finds New Ways to Harass the Homeless
Wednesday Oct 9th, 2013


Mike Rhodes is the editor of the Community Alliance newspaper. He can be reached by email at editor [at] .

* Homeless peoples real names are not being used in this story out of concern of retaliation.


Fresno v. Santa Cruz–a Contrast in Homeless Activism

NOTES FROM NORSE:   Fresno activists, provide material support (portapotties, toiletries, a water source) to existing encampments in Fresno (with no legal authorization from authorities or financial support from government sources).   Fresno activists also rush to encampments being dismantled, document the havoc being wrought by authorities, and even actively resist that destruction by placing their own bodies on the line.

                  Santa Cruz activists content themselves with e-mail reports (like this one), appeals to political and community authorities to create a “Sanctuary Camp” , NO support or regular documentation of the tightening grip about the throat of the local Santa Cruz homeless, touchie-feelee “let’s understand the homeless” sessions, and chats with public officials in the airy hope of finding a “solution”  acceptable to a homeless-hostile City Council.  Meanwhile police crackdown on those who rest, socialize,  display their art, or perform for donation downtown as well as sleepers with no legal place to be at night.   The latest assault is City Council’s scheduled research into an anticipated attack on homeless recyclers at City Council today at 3 PM.

Identifying Potential Sites of Campgrounds for (Homeless) Members of
The Public: A Quest for Humanity on the Streets of Fresno, California
By Paul T. Jackson
T  a  b  l  e     o  f     C  o  n  t  e  n  t  s
Formulation of a Legal Solution to a Legal Problem
Liability with Respect to Third-party Conduct
Liability with Respect to Water on Proposed Campgrounds
Liability with Respect to Use of Fire on Proposed Campgrounds
I.     Along the East Side of Regional Sports Complex: Proposed Campground for Semi-autonomous, (Homeless) Members of the Public                                                  
II.    93721 Heavy-industry Corridor: Proposed Campground for (Homeless) Members of the Public with Mobility Issues
III.   93706 Light-industrial Corridor: Proposed Campground for Campers Who Are Bicyclists, Electric Wheelchair Users and Addicts                                                 
For many years now, local churches, masjids, synagogues, and temples—their members impelled by a desire to reduce suffering in the homeless communities of Fresno, California—have raised funds to purchase fire-and water-resistant tents. So have conscientious, albeit agnostic residents in this city. Such tents are vitally necessary to the lives of homeless people, and are to be the only form of shelter in any campground the City will permit on the proposed public campgrounds to be discussed in this paper.
However, without assurance that, after the tents are set up, neither the City nor any other public entity will declare a “cleanup” only to tear the tents down and store them in bins virtually inaccessible to the owners of the much-needed tents awaiting alleged abandonment thereof, the religious, spiritual, and just plain decent impulses to live and let live would be imprudent. Our modest efforts to alleviate such needless suffering in our community would be frustrated by a City impelled by alleged concerns of health and safety necessitating abatement of each and every homeless encampment under the terror of the City’s territory, including even that which had been set up near the grain silos where concern for neither health nor safety appeared to anyone yet on this past October 23rd suffered the fate of all other woebegone people who, though lacking customary homes, seek to keep body and soul together. They seek to survive, despite the edict of some less-enlightened, if not benighted institutions whose leaders have the audacity to declare them to be mere street people or “infidels,” allegedly alienated from the dignity which we know to be inherent in every natural person.
Now, therefore, we have come to realize that definite steps must be taken so that our efforts to alleviate such suffering will no longer prove vain; that tents and sleeping bags purchased with hard-earned money for the health and safety of homeless people undoubtedly living harder lives do not end up forever lost to their owners as a result of measures allegedly taken for their health and safety; and that the people who need these donated items may use them safe and secure in the knowledge that the land on which they do is legally available to them under reasonable conditions and not a labyrinth of rules and regulations, such as are imposed at one facility housing some two percent of the local homeless population, while the remaining 98 percent endure waves of officially sanctioned repression.
Formulation of a Legal Solution to a Legal Problem
Since solutions concerning availability of land to those people who truly need it, must come through the legal system, it is self-evident that solutions will be wrought in that system. If traditional politicking—letter-writing, lobbying, petitioning, and picketing—were enough to bring about the necessary land reform, it would have been achieved long ago in an area with plenty of food and land to share.
We know solutions to homelessness must exist in Fresno, land-poor though the city is. The area is very rich in land and the foods grown here. Land, food, tents, and sleeping bags are primarily what the homeless people here need. If the City would but open public lands to the public—a seemingly obvious proposition—caring, socially responsible residents will see to the other three needs. A reasonable legislative body will open public land as a campground if furnished with unlocked bathrooms with running water for rinsing one’s hands, a duty of personal hygiene which most of our homeless wouldn’t shirk if given the chance, and if not entirely forgotten after having been locked out of public bathrooms downtown for so very long. With the bathrooms and dumpsters that will be made available to them, the living conditions of homeless individuals will satisfy the “health and safety” requirements of which local public politicians and officials drone in their attempt to justify “cleanups.” And a court of law could find a campground with these basic amenities of hygiene satisfies those requirements, often cited by those officials, though by means never the officials intended: Unimproved public land opened as a campground for (homeless) members of the public!
Most homeless individuals in Fresno, California need access to public services which are delivered downtown. Selecting the location of a proposed campground is usually made with that consideration in mind. Though land is plentiful, vacant public land is not. Selection of potential sites, which the writer makes using the City’s website (, is a quest for all of the prerequisites the City must satisfy to use the law empowering it to open unimproved (or vacant) public lands; to avoid schools and parks incurring opposition to a proposed campground; and of course to choose location where it’s possible for us to enable (homeless) campers to meet the basic necessities of life.
Liability with Respect to Third-party Conduct
Criminality among homeless individuals has recently been documented and reported in The Fresno Bee. It’s sure to be the hue and cry of those local politicians who will oppose any proposal of the Fresno Homeless Advocates that the city open a campground. Generally, the City, as any public entity, is not liable for injury resulting from third-party conduct, whether negligent or criminal, on unimproved public land opened pursuant to chapter 2 of the Tort Claims Act. (See, e.g., Gov. Code, § 830.2 and § 835.)
However, in opening public lands as campgrounds for (homeless) members of the public, the City incurs liability if it’s reasonably foreseeable that a person will use property adjacent to public property (or the property itself) with due care, yet the person’s use results in danger due to a condition which exists in conjunction with some particular feature of the public property. “If the third party’s negligence or criminal conduct is foreseeable, such third party conduct may be the very risk which makes the public property dangerous when considered in conjunction with some particular feature of the public property.” (Swaner v. City of Santa Monica (App. 2 Dist. 1984) 150 Cal.App.3d 789, 804 [198 Cal.Rptr. 208].)
The City, by erecting a barrier on the perimeter of a campground, addresses its said liability if it takes a precaution against a motorist who (using due care) tries to make a U-turn crossing into a proposed campground or negligently crosses into it. The barrier need not prevent any possibility of a large truck from entering one of these proposed campgrounds. However, it must be so constructed as to make entry thereinto by a motorist an act of negligence entirely on his part, and not the City’s. It must be high enough above ground level and present a vertical face to the average motor vehicle that would alert any responsible motorist he is violating the boundary of the street and putting life and limb at risk.
Additional study is necessary to determine the specifications of the barrier.
In virtually all other conceivable cases, the City is immunized under Government Code, section 835 for any injury resulting from third-party conduct.
Liability with Respect to Water on Proposed Campgrounds
Access to potable (drinkable) water will remain a challenge for occupants of a proposed campground. Such water is not furnished in all wilderness areas, governed by the same law (ch. 2 of the Tort Claims Act, contained in Cal. Gov. Code, §§ 830—840.6) as that under which public land will be opened within our city limits. Where potable water is not available, a bathroom faucet may be set to produce only a trickle of water for cleaning one’s hands, discouraging its consumption and satisfying the minimum requirements of the Health and Safety Code.
We anticipate that occupants in outlying campgrounds lacking running, potable water will, at least over the short term, demonstrate the self-reliance, resourcefulness, and cooperativeness of homeless people of former tent cities “cleaned up” or destroyed by the City. We believe that they’ll secure and replenish drinking water for their own communities.
Liability with Respect to Use of Fire on Proposed Campgrounds
“Fire rings” are shallow concrete basins, usually about 4 feet in diameter. (Historically, these were used on California beaches, both for recreation (bonfires) and cooking, though they’re now banned on most of the state’s 108 public beaches.) Barbecue pits tend to be deeper.
The California Fire Code is contained in Part 9 of Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations ( The San Joaquin Air Pollution District has jurisdiction to give prior approval permit any open burning under conditions stated in the District’s authorization (Cal. Fire Code, § 307.2.1). And if an open burning “creates or adds to a hazardous or objectionable situation,” the fire code official may order such fire extinguished (Id., § 307.3).
To keep themselves warm in wintertime, homeless people would probably be happier with a fire 15 feet away, rather than 50 feet away from any structure. Generally, an open burning must be 50 away (Id., § 307.4). However, if built in an “approved container,” a fire may be as close to a structure as 15 feet therefrom (Id., § 307.4, exception 1).
Additional study is needed to determine the specification of an “approved container.”
But if the pile size is 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less, the fire must be at least 25 feet away from a structure (Id., § 307.4, exception 2).
 “Open burning, bonfires, recreational fires and use of portable outdoor fireplaces shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished. A minimum of one portable fire extinguisher complying with Section 906 with a minimum 4-A rating or other approved on-site fire-extinguishing equipment, such as dirt, sand, water barrel, garden hose or water truck, shall be available for immediate utilization.” (Cal. Fire Code, § 307.5.)
Selection of a campground may require consideration that a fire may create a hazardous or objectionable situation on certain lands. The first of three proposed locations could produce such a situation, requiring further study.
I. Along the East Side of Regional Sports Complex: Proposed Campground for Semi-autonomous, (Homeless) Members of the Public
Just to the east of the Fresno Regional Sports Complex are three large tracts of vacant land, presumably publicly owned. Their current use is actually non-use; they’re vacant. The City’s current plans are to use them as an open space/regional park, which would be adjacent to the sport complex.
With respect to the intersection of S. West Ave. and W. Annadale Ave., the tracts are on three corners, excluding the SE. The tracts to the NE and NW of the intersection span almost as far N as W. Jensen Ave. The tract on the SW corner is about half the area of that on the NW corner of that intersection. All three tracts are remote from residential parcels.
As vacant land without landscaping, buildings, or other improvement, these appear to qualify as “unimproved public land” within the meaning of California Government Code section 831.2, so that “[n]either a public entity nor a public employee is liable for an injury caused by a natural condition” thereof. (Ibid.)
The Fresno Homeless Advocates may propose that the City leave all three tracts unimproved, except for the paving of roads, construction of bathrooms, and furnishing of dumpsters and access to sanitary (though non-potable) water. These public works do not “improve” the land such as would remove it from coverage by section 831.2, supra. But these public works furnish the land with the basic necessities of an overnight, long-term campground. The Fresno Homeless Advocates may propose that the City revise its plan accordingly.
Whole families will have the opportunity to come from local churches to visit this large campground. While parents serve and/or share food with needy campers there, children (under proper supervision) will use the sports facilities at the adjacent complex. Churches that now serve food in Roeding Park and that sometimes find they end up with excess food, will coordinate with others in Fresno’s religious community, so that food and potable water are served to meet people’s needs in both large parks. (The sports park is about 4 mi away from the Pov’.)
We anticipate these proposed campgrounds will comport with the City’s recent (Nov. 9, 2013) recoding of the nearby Running Horse property, now called Mission Ranch, for large-scale commercial farming. The presence of such farming implies the absence of residences and schools, which would likely incur opposition to the proposed campground.
However, a threat to the feasibility of a campground on this tract appears if the vacant land, like the sports complex adjacent thereto, is reclaimed landfill. If so, methane emissions would appear to present a safety hazard to anyone using a controlled fire on such land, whether for cooking food, bodily warmth, or storytelling or other fireside recreation. The heat of a barbecue pit could raise the temperature of the soil on which it rests, possibly resulting in methane emission at dangerous levels. And if methane were emitting on hotter days of the year, any fire could present even greater risk to the public.
Further study is necessary.


II. 93721 Heavy-industry Corridor: Proposed Campground
For (Homeless) Members of the Public with Mobility Issues
Two vacant parcels lie to the S of the intersection of S. Cherry and S. Railroad avenues. The parcels are particularly helpful to those homeless individuals who have difficulty cooking for themselves, and/or mobility issues hindering them from walking long distances.
The parcels are only 0.6 mile away from the Pov’, an estimated 12-minute walk (or wheelchair ride). To the S of those two are three more, also in the 93721 ZIP code, i.e.: Parcel Nos. 28282828 and 23202320, both lying to the SW of the intersection of E. Florence Ave. and S. Tulip St. These are 1.1 mile away from the Pov’, an estimated 21-minute walk.
While constructing restrooms on all public campgrounds, including both of the parcels at Cherry and Railroad, the City would do well to furnish the two last-mentioned parcels with ramps leading to the restrooms. The City, as any public entity, is not required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to make every recreational area accessible to disabled individuals. But, to fulfill the ADA’s purpose of making public facilities equally available to disabled individuals, the bathrooms at the 93721 campgrounds should be furnished with ramps.
III. 93706 Light-industry Corridor: Proposed Campground for Campers Who Are Bicyclists, Electric Wheelchair Users and Addicts
In the 93706 ZIP Code, there’s a cluster of five parcels, all of which are listed as vacant land.
In the industrial corridor, no residential parcels or public parks are nearby. Nor are there any schools, the nearest being the Teocalli Dance Academy, which is 0.3 mile to the northwest.
The cluster of parcels has one which is fairly remote: A large parcel on the SW corner of the intersection of E. Church Ave. and S. Golden State Blvd. Just 0.1 mile to the west of that intersection is S. Sarah St.; on that street, 475 feet to the S of Church is Foundry Park Avenue, from which the same corner lot is accessible. Continuing  0.2 mile on Foundry Park Avenue (past Wilson’s Motorcycle), the said avenue comes to a fork: A 0.2 turn to the NE, connecting with Golden State, and the same avenue continuing SE another 0.1 mile to reach Ry-Den Truck Center at the cul-de-sac.
The four remaining parcels in the cluster are on either side of the 0.2 mile long avenue connecting to Golden State.
As vacant land without landscaping or buildings, these appear to qualify as “unimproved public land” within the meaning of California Government Code section 831.2, so that “[n]either a public entity nor a public employee is liable for an injury caused by a natural condition” thereof. (Ibid.)
Assuming campers have some means of transportation, they’ll have two services within their reach. The Turning Point G Street Residential Re-Entry Center is just 0.3 mile to the northeast, an estimated 7-minute walk on Golden State Boulevard. The proposed campground will be convenient for recovering addicts.
The Pov’ is 1.4 mile away—an estimated half-hour walk or ten-minute bicycle ride—mostly along Golden State Boulevard. Using this route, which is low traffic and also the shortest to the Pov’, campers will avoid the dance academy, which is the only public facility in the area.
In our quest for legally sustainable, politically suitable, and truly feasible solutions to homelessness, we are confronted by chapter 2 of the Public Tort Claims Act. This chapter contains laws permitting a public entity to open unimproved public land to the public. To provide a base of stability for Fresno’s harried homeless population, we propose homes be made available to them in the manner of a campground. Such a proposal appears the quickest for the great majority of the people and the least costly without jeopardizing life and limb, let alone the immorality of the City’s apparent war against homeless individuals.
To that end, we have moved that the Fresno Homeless Advocates propose the City open the above mentioned “vacant” parcels near downtown, and the large “vacant” tract three miles to the east thereof. To make our proposal legally and politically viable, we must see it through the City’s eyes. Therefore, we attempt to address liabilities arising if the City were to open the vacant (unimproved) public lands for our stated purpose. Whatever liabilities each location poses to the City, and  whatever advantages each poses to the proposed campers, the writer hopes this paper has invited the Fresno Homeless Advocates to engage in serious thought into the kinds of considerations necessary to formulate a viable proposal that would alleviate the living conditions of our longsuffering homeless communities.

In latest Santa Cruz Street Performer Sweep Away, Permits Not Available

NOTES BY NORSE:   The attack on street performers, activists, and artists downtown to seems to me directly related to the ongoing sub-humanization of the homeless population through Drug War smears, “lazy bum” stereotypes, and “public safety”  scare stories.   Many of the street performers are themselves homeless or travelers.  There is a fundamental push to Carmel-ize Santa Cruz by right-wing groups which have always had this agenda (the Downtown Association, the SCPD, Santa Cruz Neighbors, etc.).  We need a broad coalition of artists, performers, unhoused folks, renters, workers, and bankster victims to fight back, or get picked off.

Shrinking Sidewalks and the Permit Fantasy

by Robert Norse
Saturday Nov 9th, 2013 7:12 PM

With the suffocating reduction of sidewalk art and performance space under the modified Downtown Ordinances that went into effect in Santa Cruz on October 24th, repression apologists are reassuring those facing a matrix of exclusion that all the need to do, if they want to play, table, display, or occupy more than 12 square feet (approx 3 1/2 X 3 1/2 feet) is to apply for a permit at the Parks and Recreation Department. This is camouflage and cover for a fundamental change in the downtown scene being orchestrated by those engaged in class and culture war to gentrify Pacific Avenue and use the myth of Poverty Crime and Clutter to tramplel Santa Cruz values & traditions of diversity & inclusion. Described below is what is actually offered in the “permit process”.

In fact performers, other than those singly cramming themselves into 12 square feet downtown are now technically illegal. Those you see down there are either unaware of this fact or being temporarily ignored by the police (perhaps while protest heat subsides).   However the new laws are as clear as they are devastating.  It signifies the legal end to street performing as Santa Cruz as has traditionally known it.


(These notes are based on the Parks & Recreation [P & R] office worker info on 11-7-13 as well as the City’s Street Performance Downtown Santa Cruz website. If anyone has new info or corrections, please contact me).PERMITS TO BE GRANTED IN ONLY 5 SPOTS DOWNTOWN
The only spots for which P & R will grant permits are
(1) Compass Rose area near the post office;
(2) Memorial Plaza near Jamba Juice;
(3) Pacific and Cooper;
(4) Pearl Alley;
(5) Scribner Statue area.

In other areas where performing for donation was traditional (say in front of New Leaf Market), it is simply banned with NO provision for any permit. This means from Laurel St. to Water St. there are a total of 4 spots to play with more than one performer, assuming the two aren’t in a carnal embrace and playing harmonicas (i.e. have instruments like guitars that require at least some space).

Permits can be filed only Monday – Thursday 8 AM – 4 PM at the P & R Office at 323 Church St 36 hours in advance of performance. So, if you want to perform with a fellow guitarist on a Monday, you’d better have applied on Wednesday or Thursday of the prior week. P & R worker Betsy assured me that two people playing could easily fit into 12 square feet—the maximum allowable space without a permit for someone with an open guitar case, cup, or other “display device”.. She must have been quite the rage at college phone booth stuffing events.

Maximum time length allowed is 2 hours on Pacific and 3 hours in the alleys, one performance per day, and only between 11 AM- 10 PM. Additionally it’s not clear when these rules will be altered given the new ordinances (and new bleak mentality to enable performance “regulation” by police, hosts, security guards, city staff, & merchants). Only one event per weekend. And only in the five spots indicated. Otherwise you are expected to squeeze your instrument, effects, companions and hynee’s into 3 of those sidewalk squares.

When Betsy checked, no one had applied for (and been granted) a permit subsequent to October 24, though 2 groups had applied for events in November before that date and been granted permits. Actually though I’ve only heard second hand accounts of smoking tickets being issued and none of sitting or “display device in wrong place” or “taking up too much space” citations, the number of performers down there has looked tome to be markedly less and those who are there are newbies who often don’t know the rules. Today I saw two homeless people sprawled in “illegal” spots (but not blocking traffic, of course, just “illegal under the “merchant freeway” rules) and, I think, one performer–this was around 4 PM.

Though the permits are free, if you’re using a keyboard or any kind of “amplification” however minor, you’ve got to go through the SCPD and pay $33 with a much longer lead time. I’ve filed a Public Records Act request asking for specifics from them—which they’re supposed to respond to in the next 10 days.
I’ve also requested a list of the names and positions of the Hosts (the Hostile-aptaility squad) and the First Alarm thug patrols–no response yet.

Contrary to what rule#7 at reads at the Street Performance Downtown Santa Cruz city website (“no commercial sales”), recent court decisions acknowledged by the City Attorney’s office allow you to both sell and price tag your own original work (if written, audio, or video)–though this is not explicitly acknowledged (and not respected by some police).

The published decision is Steven C. White v. City of Sparks. It can be found at . There’s a news story at

The City’s Street Performer website has also not been updated to indicate that a permit is required for any space more than 2′ X 6′ (not 4′ X 6′ as it now reads).

What you don’t read in the latest cheery Street Performing Downtown Santa Cruz hand-out being passed on by police and hosts (from their unmarked HQ at 607 Front St.) is the alarming (and absurd) clarification that the 12 square feet is only 3 “sidewalk squares”–difficult for one performer with an instrument and its case, impossible for more than one.

MC 5.43.010 only limits “a display device for noncommercial use ON ANY PUBLIC SIDEWALK” [emphasis mine]– so if the device itself doesn’t sit on the sidewalk, but on you, it arguably isn’t covered by the ordinance. So one alternative for performers is to attach a cup to your clothing and have no display device at all. Perhaps add a small sign “City law forbids me to place this cup on the sidewalk.”

This has the additional benefit of arguably allowing you if you perform while standing to do it anywhere and everywhere and still get donations from those brave enough to approach. The 14′ setbacks only apply to sitting, display devices placement, (and panhandling—which is explicitly defined differently than performing for donation).

I include below copies of the Permit Application, the Permit “Rules” from the City website, the Santa Cruz Performers Guidelines flyer being pushed by the Hosts and cops, and a flier that outlines the information I’ve outlined above.


by Robert Norse Saturday Nov 9th, 2013 7:12 PM



by Robert Norse Saturday Nov 9th, 2013 7:12 PM



by Robert Norse Saturday Nov 9th, 2013 7:12 PM



by Robert Norse Saturday Nov 9th, 2013 7:12 PM



by City Staff (posted by Norse)

Saturday Nov 9th, 2013 7:16 PM



The site at has not been updated. So the sentence “The performance requires a space greater than 4 X 6 feet” has now been amended to read “greater than 2 X 6” or more accurately, 12 square feet.

Albany Homeless Driven to Nowhere

NOTES BY NORSE:  As here and elsewhere, an unholy coalition of gentrification gents, NIMBY’s, homeless-o-phobes, “public safety” flimflam hysterics, and (strangely) environmentalists are pushing or backing the deportation-to-nowhere of homeless folks, who haven’t created any notable problems (and certainly less than when they are dumped and dispersed).  In Santa Cruz, this takes the form of Clean-Up’s, a Public Safety Task Farce, a collection of tightening restrictions on the use of public spaces for everyone, & a neighborhood siege mentality targeting homeless survival camping as the Menace of the Month.

                   The first two stories are from the Berkeley Daily Planet, an on-line paper at .  The third an earlier one from the S.F. Chronicle.
Laying waste to the primitive hovels and tents of poor homeless people is billed in the mainscream newspapers as garbage disposal, drug dealer seizure, and public security enhancement. ( See  &  ).

The Sierra Club and the Albany Bulb

By Lydia Gans
Thursday October 24, 2013 – 08:17:00 PM
The backlash against the Sierra Club for joining with Citizens for East Shore Parks in lobbying to incorporate the Bulb into East Shore State Park is not surprising. The San Francisco Bay Chapter, in the May issue of their newspaper, the Yodeler, states the rationale for their action. It gives a very troubling image of the group. The story is titled “Changing the Albany Bulb – creating a bright spot on the East Bay Shoreline”. Apparently in order to “create a bright spot” the first step requires evicting the people who are camping there, people for whom the Bulb is their home. Why is this Sierra Club chapter participating in evicting people? The mission of the Sierra Club is the maintenance and protection of the environment for the enjoyment of the people. It does not mean only certain people, only the“right kind” of people.In going over some of the Bulb history, the Yodeler article says; “In the 1990’s people started camping illegally on the Bulb, and in 1999 the city and the Park District removed that camper population, but the land was again left unprotected …” From what, or from whom did the land need to be protected? From people who cared for it as their home, who planted trees, made trails, worked at mitigating rebar and concrete hazards on the site?

Protected from people who created works of art out of found materials, set up and operated a free lending library?

Over the years the police occasionally sent homeless people from the streets out to the Bulb but otherwise the city of Albany pretty much ignored the camp. Some churches and community organizations and local citizens who enjoyed the place regularly brought food and supplies to the campers. The Sierra Club never took an interest in them. Other than contract with Berkeley Food And Housing Project to provide “Outreach and Engagement” the city has done nothing for the campers. Albany has no homeless shelters and apparently little or no affordable housing – only one of the 60 or so campers has been housed.

One might ask the question, why now? Why do the Sierra Club and Citizens for East Shore Parks demand the Bulb incorporated into the Park at this time? The Bulb juts out from the shoreline and would not be an integral part of the Park nor would any section of the Bay trail go through the Bulb. With a few amenities such as toilets and running water and possibly some help in getting rid of the rebar and concrete it could continue to serve as a campground – at least until Albany can provide proper housing for homeless.

Albany Landfill Evictions Affect Berkeley

By Daniel J. McMullan III
Thursday October 24, 2013 – 08:28:00 PM
In 1999 I was asked by some of the then long time residents of the Albany landfill to come out to the bulb and advocate for those who were being evicted, some them after living there for over 10 years or more.At the time the City of Albany had no services whatsoever for the homeless and their only design, that became very clear by the end, was to dump their homeless problem on the City of Berkeley. The residents of the landfill then as they are today came from places all over the state and country.

I watched the City of Berkeley spend 100’s of thousands if not millions of dollars on the people they ejected from the landfill, most of whom eventually died on our streets. With the help of a non-profit they paid a nominal $13,000 they shifted their responsibility to their homeless to Berkeley.

Now they are in the process of doing it again. In the 14 years since the last big dump upon our City, Albany has done nothing. Still not a single penny has been spent on any program or plan to deal with its homeless.(Unless you want to count the very recent plan to put it’s responsibilities on the backs of the Berkeley taxpayer)

To keep the heat off themselves they permitted their homeless to occupy the landfill again but now they want to pull another people dump at our expense. Every item in their plan is the same except that this time instead of employing conservation corps members to tear out the foliage. They have employed goats. I like goats and to use these noble creatures to serve their hateful plan is very disturbing.

Albany has already hired a willing Berkeley non-profit to do their fakery. And the rest of their non-plan is rolling along. I ask the Mayor and City council to direct the City attorney to put a stop to this in and by any and all means available to us.

We have been hard at work with our own responsibilities,The Homeless Task Force, the revitalization of our SRO’s and creating movement in that system among many, many other things.) And now Albany wants to throw another 70+ people on our streets and into our programs and services?

Albany has one plan. One Action

Dump all its problem’s and expenses on us, on Berkeley.

Time to flip switch at Albany Bulb park, city says

Carolyn Jones
Published 5:21 pm, Monday, September 9, 2013
  • A view of the bay from inside the Castle, a piece of conceptual art that was built by an Albany Bulb resident. Photo: Sam Wolson, Special To The Chronicle
    A view of the bay from inside the Castle, a piece of conceptual art that was built by an Albany Bulb resident. Photo: Sam Wolson, Special To The Chronicle

For more Albany Bulb Art go to

Albany’s version of People’s Park appears headed for a showdown next month when police begin rousting 60 to 70 homeless people who’ve taken up residence at a long-neglected shoreline park.The City Council recently voted to begin enforcing no-camping laws at the Albany Bulb, a 31-acre former landfill that juts into San Francisco Bay just north of Golden Gate Fields racetrack.

But some of the homeless, a few of whom have camped there for decades, pledge to resist any relocation efforts. Affordable housing in the Bay Area is scarce, far too expensive and potentially too far away or unsafe, they said.

In short, Albany is their home, and they want to stay there, they said.

“It’s frustrating, aggravating, scary,” said Katherine Cody, 60, who’s lived at the Bulb for about two years. “I’m comfortable here. I feel safe here. Rainy season is coming – I don’t know where I’ll go except the streets of Albany.”

The Bulb, named after its shape, is comprised of old concrete, rebar, dirt and other debris from the construction of East Bay highways. Since the landfill closed in 1984, it’s evolved into a somewhat more natural setting, with a beach and dense acacia, broom, eucalyptus and other plants.

Decades ago, artists began colonizing the Bulb as a sort of outdoor studio not unlike the old Emeryville mudflats, leaving anonymous works of all shapes, sizes and quality. Some works have endured and others have disintegrated over the years.

In the 1980s, homeless people also started moving in, taking advantage of the relative quiet and million-dollar bay views. Some have semipermanent homes, with generators, sturdy wooden walls and even multiple stories.

The Bulb is also a favorite among dog walkers, who enjoy the informal off-leash rules, beach and relatively wild environment. Some have noted it’s one of the only shoreline parks that’s not manicured or developed with paved paths.

Part of state park

In the mid-1980s, the Bulb became one of the original pieces of the Eastshore State Park, envisioned as a continuous strip of bayside greenery stretching from Oakland to Richmond and linked by the Bay Trail.

Most of the park is completed. But the Bulb remains as woolly as ever, due in part to complications with the Regional Water Quality Control Board over seepage.

Those issues are finally resolved, and last spring the city began moving ahead with plans to clean up the Bulb and turn it over to the East Bay Regional Park District and California State Parks to incorporate into the Eastshore State Park.

Relocating the homeless is an important part of that transition, said Robert Cheasty, a former Albany mayor who’s president of Citizens for East Shore Parks, a nonprofit.

“Thousands of people have worked for three or four decades to turn this area into a usable shoreline park,” he said. “We cannot break the faith of all these people just to allow a small group to essentially privatize public land.”

Helping the homeless

To ease the transition for the homeless, the city has spent $60,000 on a contract with Berkeley Food and Housing Project, a nonprofit, to help the Bulb campers find homes, counseling and other services.

The anticamping enforcement should have come months, if not years, ago, said City Councilwoman Peggy Thomsen.

“It’s a safety issue and a health issue, and we need an end point,” she said. “A lot of people are afraid to go out there. We need to worry about the safety not just of regular park users but the inhabitants as well.”

That’s little comfort to the homeless, who say they’re safer there than they would be at a shelter or at affordable housing in sketchy areas.

“Everyone’s stressed,” Cody said. “We don’t know where we’re going to go. It’s very discouraging.”


Hope and Positive Reporting: A Rare Commodity in the Media

NOTES BY NORSE:  The two stories below come as a welcome but unusual respite from the flood of anti-homeless propaganda, police vitriol, and drug war dirt used to smear those outside locally.  A long series of interesting and spirited comments unlike the usual troll detritus on the Sentinel website follows the article profiling the Felton homeless folks at   There you can read “Take Back Santa Cruz”–Felton-style bigots getting corrected by the homeless people they are smearing.  Quite provocative.  A little favorable publicity can go a long way.

Homeless turn overnight California bus route into ‘Hotel 22’

By Mark Emmons, San Jose Mercury News

Posted:   11/01/2013 07:43:43 AM PDT

People wait to board the No. 22 VTA bus at about 1:20 a.m. morning, October 25. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

ABOARD VTA BUS 22 — Sylvia Hernandez bundled up with extra clothing from her small pull cart and prepared to join the other dozen people trying to doze on the bumpy ride between East San Jose and Palo Alto, Calif. It’s still early, she said. Just wait.

“Later, it will completely be full of homeless people,” Hernandez said.

By midnight, the transformation from public bus into “Hotel 22”³ was well under way — and among the growing number of no-place-to-call-home riders was a father and his 10-year-old daughter.

“We don’t have a place to stay,” said the man, who wouldn’t give their names, but said they had spent nights this way for five months. “From early evening to morning, we’re on the bus.”

Line 22, the only bus route that runs 24 hours in the Santa Clara (Calif.) Valley Transportation Authority system, becomes an unofficial shelter each night, a mobile testament both to the resourcefulness of the region’s homeless and the agonizing challenge of finding shelter in pricey Silicon Valley.

Weary riders can start at the Eastridge Transit Center and travel for two-plus hours to the end point at the Palo Alto Transit Center. There, they wait for a return bus, and then maybe make the round trip again. Somehow, they manage to nod off despite the herky-jerky motion and lights coming on with each stop as an automated voice announces the location.

“The bus says to me that people are so desperate that they will ride it all night,” said Jenny Niklaus, the CEO of the nonprofit EHC LifeBuilders. “Think about it: We are in such a state of crisis that people are eager to ride a bus, and it’s been that way for years.”

One early morning last week, an older woman, who would identify herself only as Angel, said being a Hotel 22 rider comes down to simple survival skills.

“The bus,” she said, “is safety.”

The complex problem of homelessness is a hot-button issue in Silicon Valley at a time when the high-tech economy continues to fuel the expensive
home and rental markets — widening the divide between haves and have-nots.

A 2012 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report highlighted how the South Bay has become a front line to the homeless quandary not only here in the Bay Area, but nationally as well. It found that San Jose and Santa Clara County had the nation’s highest percentage of unsheltered homeless as well as the third-highest number of chronically homeless.

Using data from another census, conducted in January, it was estimated that 19,063 people in the county would experience homelessness this year. The survey found that 27 percent of homeless said they had been turned away from an emergency shelter in the previous 30 days — usually because of a lack of beds.“There are 5,000 homeless on any given night, and we just don’t have enough housing for all of them,” said Ray Bramson, San Jose’s homelessness response team manager.

That explains Hotel 22.

The line is VTA’s longest and busiest route, ferrying about 20 percent of the system’s overall bus ridership. In the overnight hours, three buses make the meandering trip that runs from East San Jose, through downtown, onto the El Camino Real corridor into Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View and finally Palo Alto — before heading back.

VTA officials make clear that homeless have just as much right to ride as anyone as long as they obey the rules such as no smoking, eating or drinking.

“We serve the public, and that includes anybody who has the need for transportation and has the ability to pay,” said Greta Helm, the VTA’s chief external affairs officer. “If people present a valid fare, there’s no reason to dispute them boarding.”

A one-way fare costs $2, but monthly passes can be purchased for $70, and VTA also has a program offering some free, quarterly transit passes to homeless and those in risk of losing their housing. So the Hotel 22 is a relative bargain in high-cost Silicon Valley.

As night stretched into early morning last week, late-shift workers and club-hoppers who mostly stared at their smartphones thinned out. They largely were replaced by people using the bus to catch some sleep rather than reach a destination. More were men than women, and the ages of all tended to skew older.

“This bus has all kinds of names, like Hotel 22 or some just call it ‘Life on the 22,’ ” said Tony Velgara, a bus operator. “These usually are nice people, but they’re just dealing with hard times. They’re just like anybody else.”

Hernandez, 52, sat near the front where she could stay close to her cart containing possessions. Hernandez said she has been homeless two years since losing her disability compensation, splitting nights between what she described as “benches” and Bay Area public transportation.

“People think it’s easy finding a place to stay, but in a bad economy, it’s very difficult to even get into a shelter,” Hernandez added. “And the winter shelters aren’t going to be opening for another month, and it’s going to begin to rain soon.”

When passengers disembarked in Palo Alto, they only had to wait a few minutes before climbing on a San Jose-bound bus. On this trip, the father slept sitting up in a back corner. His daughter was lying over three seats, covered in a blanket, a backpack serving as a pillow.

The father was uncomfortable revealing details about their lives. But he did say that he’s 40, has been unemployed and that he and his daughter, who is in fifth grade, are on a family shelter waiting list.

“She’s managing, much better than I ever expected,” the father said after waking her as the bus reached Eastridge at about 1:45 a.m. “I have no idea how she’s doing it. This is one of her best years so far in school.”

The girl, acting like a Hotel 22 veteran, had joined a large group of people gathering for another journey toward Palo Alto — a mixture of newcomers and those who had made the previous round trip.

“Daddy, the bus is coming!” she shouted in a voice both urgent and tired.

As it left the station, the Hotel 22 nearly was full.

“In the morning,” the father had said before boarding, “she’ll get on the bus for school.”

The experience of the homeless in Felton
Jeffrey Scofield, Rob Ropes, Jonney Hughes, and Linda Miller discuss their experiences living homeless in Felton. Joe Shreve/Press-Banner

Jeffrey Scofield, Rob Ropes, Jonney Hughes, and Linda Miller discuss their experiences living homeless in Felton. Joe Shreve/Press-Banner

The topic of homelessness in Felton is not exactly a new one, but in the past several months, it has become something of a hot topic as local community groups and organizations have made a priority of addressing the environmental and societal concerns associated with homelessness and homeless encampments.

In the wake of some extensive coverage of the efforts of the political and community organizations, a group of homeless agreed to meet with the Press-Banner on Tuesday, Oct. 8 to share their own experiences of being homeless in Felton.

“I never dreamed I’d be homeless,” said Jonney Hughes, a woman in her early fifties who described herself as being retired and on disability. “There’s all kinds of reasons people are out here.”

Hughes said that she found herself without a home in 2003, when she was suddenly widowed.

For the next five years, she said, she camped in many different places in the Santa Cruz Mountains and found herself accepted into what she described as a tight-knit family of fellow homeless people.

“They took care of me,” Hughes said. “You just don’t have any of the things you need to have, so everybody looks out for everybody.”

Hughes said that while she has lived in a fifth-wheel camper since 2008, she still maintains regular ties with her homeless friends.

“I still come here every day,” she said. “I love these people.”

Linda Miller, 54, originally hails from Virginia, but has lived in the Felton area for the past 9 years, living with her boyfriend, Rob Ropes, in his recreational vehicle — parking it wherever he can find a safe place.

Miller, a retired nursing assistant, said that she is currently on disability and found herself homeless 20 years ago in the wake of a messy divorce.

David Paul, an unemployed woodworker, has camped in the Felton wilderness since early August. He said he had been living with his brother — who has a home in the area — for several months after moving from Colorado in search of work.

While he has not been homeless in the area as long as the others, it is not his first time being homeless, either.

“I’ve done it before in Colorado,” he said. “I’ve gone through this before.”
‘One of these days, they could be right where we’re at.’
All of the homeless people interviewed said that they are all too aware of the spotlight cast on them, and negative reputation associated with them, in recent months.

Many said that they feel as though they are being unfairly assigned blame for issues raised by the community — such as littering, drug abuse, and aggressive panhandling.

Often, they said, issues arise when mentally ill people from local treatment facilities are mistaken for homeless people, or new — often younger — homeless people come to the area and do not understand the rules followed by the established homeless community.

“We try to police our own people,” Hughes said. “You’ve got a lot more younger (homeless), and it’s up to the older ones to teach the younger ones.”

Ropes said that most of the homeless in the area are just trying to eke out a living, and described the idea of drug abuse as “ludicrous.”

Ari Stines, a younger homeless man agreed.

“Most of the people who can afford drugs are in downtown (Santa Cruz),” he said.

Hughes said that, as far as littering goes, recycling is often the primary source of income for homeless people, and they “recycle everything they can get a hold of.”

Ropes, who has to frequently move his recreational vehicle due to lack of a legal place to park it, said he is often harassed — even when the RV was parked at an auto shop with a work order invoice attached to it.

“We don’t do drugs, we don’t panhandle, and we don’t beg,” Ropes said. “All I want to do is be left alone.”

While Paul acknowledged that a few bad apples occasionally appear, he said that most homeless people are just trying to make the most of a bad situation and the spotlight falls on the homeless because “you’re so much in the open here.”

“The people that are willing to help themselves aren’t the problem,” Paul said. “(The ones that aren’t), they just get to a point where they just go underground.”

Miller said that she was often upset by what she sees as a lack of communication and understanding between the homeless and the community.
“It really upsets me,” she said. “One of these days, they could be right where we’re at.”

‘I wish we could find a place’
The reality of the situation in Felton, Hughes said, is that with crackdowns on camping on private property, such as the closure of the Felton Meadow property by Mount Hermon, have concentrated the homeless into a few places.

“The bottom line is, where do they want the homeless to go?” she said.

Paul, who is a member of the Felton Reboot group working to clean up downtown Felton, said that he and other homeless were trying to get involved in dialogue with community members.

“Some of us are trying to do some outreach,” he said. “We’re trying to put our best foot forward.”

He said that the homeless needed to acknowledge the community’s concerns as much as vice versa.

“They have valid concerns,” Paul said. “You can’t discount people — otherwise, it’s just a wall between us.”

Ropes said that he, and others, have paid rent to down-on-their-luck homeowners who are willing to let homeless camp on their property, but that always comes with the fear of bringing a red tag down from the county.

“I paid $10,000 for this RV,” he said. “I have some money; I’d be happy to pay rent.”

Hughes, who herself lives in a fifth-wheel trailer, said that one day, she’d like to see a place set aside for homeless people to camp, and not put homeowners at risk by renting to homeless.

“We’re worried we’re going to get (the homeowners) in trouble,” Hughes said. “I wish I could find a place where homeless could go.”

Fresno: Where the Disappearing Blankets and Tents Went

NOTES BY NORSE:  Santa Cruz homeless activists have long demanded that Santa Cruz store rather than discard homeless property.   I have had conflicting accounts of whether this is done, but rarely of people being able to reclaim their property.  More recently a camper near “Nasty’s Camp”, the camp targeted by SCPD and sheriffs for seizure of their (legally grown) marijuana crop [ ]  reported all her property twice stolen and dumped by workers affiliated with the city though she wasn’t charged with anything.

Santa Cruz is a much smaller community than Fresno and reclaiming property should be easier.  Simply citing state law and the constitution clearly doesn’t do the trick if you don’t have the power of people on the street and perhaps attorneys behind you.  Still I encourage any Santa Cruz homeless person who’s had her property taken by police post their accounts of whether they were able to reclaim it or not.  Public exposure is much cheaper than trying to find legal help–though the possibility of Small Claims Court is still open.
Where Hope Goes to Die

These photos show where the City of Fresno is temporarily storing property taken from homeless people during the sweeps over the last two months.



The large blue tarps flap in the wind and catch your eye as you drive down south down H street, on your way to the center of downtown Fresno. Few people know that this small city of blue topped storage containers is where the City of Fresno, complying with a Federal court order, has brought the confiscated property of homeless people, as they fled the destruction of their humble shelters. Today, the police are confiscating shopping carts filled with homeless people’s property and adding those to the collection – even if the owner of the property just left their property in front of the Poverello House while they got a bite to eat.This confiscation of homeless peoples property started about 2 months ago with the demolitions of downtown Fresno homeless encampments. It continues today as the police and city workers round up homeless people’s property and lock it away behind a barbed wire fence, guarded 24 hours a day/7 days a week, with very little chance that it will be given back to its owners.

Even when homeless people are with their property, on the streets of Fresno, they are harassed by the police. In an incident that happened about a week ago, a group of homeless people were given “debris in road” citations. The “debris” was their blankets, food, and other items they need to survive.

There is little chance that homeless people who lost all of their belongings in these raids by the police and city workers will be able to re-claim their property, because there is no place in the city that is currently safe for them to keep it. Nobody can carry everything they need to survive with them all day/every day. Therefore, the “technical” compliance with the Federal court order is simply a cover for the city’s ongoing policy of taking and destroying homeless peoples property, endangering their health, and decreasing their overall quality of life.

For information about what homeless advocates are doing to respond to this crisis, see:



§These Shopping Carts Were Taken From the Homeless

by Mike Rhodes Sunday Nov 3rd, 2013 5:31 PM



§Sign Identifying Who the Property was Taken From

by Mike Rhodes Sunday Nov 3rd, 2013 5:31 PM



Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Kit Williams

Sunday Nov 3rd, 2013 7:44 PM

The sergeant of the police task force charged with following the homeless to ensure that they do not resettle anywhere told me that the police were taking the shopping carts because the carts belonged to stores and would be returned to them, their rightful owners. Apparently this isn’t true, as the carts remain lined up beside the storage containers. Are store owners clamoring for the return of their property? I’ve read nothing that indicates they are.The receipt given to a homeless person whose property is confiscated says clearly (on the bottom of the form) that a photo of the property is placed on the reverse side of the form. I have yet to see a single photo of any property.

The idea that the City is complying with the court order is clearly a farce. At the end of ninety days, the property, if unclaimed, can be discarded by the City. If the City isn’t doing so, it’s undoubtedly because they don’t have the resources (the personpower) to do so, not because they are holding it out of the goodness of their hearts.

The idea that a homeless person is capable of reclaiming their property before the end of the ninety day period is likewise a farce, as this article states. Because they are homeless (and lack vehicles), they have no way to transport their belongings and no place to put them were they able to reclaim and transport them.

It is time for all of us to stand up to the City, to insist on both emergency and transitional housing, for safe and legal campgrounds, for some form of housing for those without shelter of any kind. Contact your City Council member now!

The temperatures are dropping into the 40s, into the range at which people can suffer from hypothermia. Can the City be held liable or found culpable in the deaths of any homeless people who have had the most basic of shelters torn from them? A possible question worth exploring ….

by paulal

Sunday Nov 3rd, 2013 9:27 PM

It looks like it would be impossible for a person to find their belonging in those big containers.