Mayor Lane’s Recent Paper on Homelessness—and a Partial Response from An Activist

 

Mayor Lane’s Latest–and An Activist Response

by Robert Norse (and Don Lane)
Saturday Oct 31st, 2015 1:14 AM

On his facebook page several days ago, Mayor Don Lane posted a lengthy lament regarding homeless services and city abuses against the poor. Though the words “civil rights”, “human rights”, “civil liberties”, and/or “criminalization of the poor” tellingly do not appear). Several activists–we call ourselves Freedom Sleepers–have been sleeping out one night a week suffering klieg lights, security guard surveillance and SCPD citations. Something the Mayor declines to mention I’ve ignored most of Lane’s Lament to focus on proposal #4 below to eliminate the Sleeping and Blanket Bans sections of the Camping Ordinance. I’ve sent my preliminary thoughts to other activists, which I reprint in modified form here. I’ve also sent an e-mail to Lane suggesting that if he ever wants to get specific and reverse the numerous anti-homeless laws he’s voted for, I’d be happy to be helpful. At the request of HUFF members, I’ve sent out inquiries to the other Council members asking if they support Lane’s potential proposal.
WARNING:  Lane’s Lament is Lengthy.  I reprint it all for completeness, and do not challenge or comment on the many dubious “positive achievements” he claims.   I specifically focus on proposed changes that impact the criminalization of those outside, their ability to shelter themselves, and the Winter Shelter Emergency.

To read Lane’s full statement and numerous comments, go to http://www.facebook.com/Don.Lane.SC/posts/1039891709365296?fref=nf

An Open Letter to my colleagues in local government and in the Santa Cruz community about the latest challenges in addressing homelessness…as winter approaches.  (Please consider sharing this with others if you think it worth sharing.)

 

Greetings

 

As I write this letter, the City Council I belong to is about to take up a variety of measures related to homelessness. Some of these items will be discussed this week. Others will presumably be discussed over the next few months. With winter coming soon and this set of issues once again coming to the top of the Santa Cruz community’s agenda, I’d like to outline a framework for looking at these issues and make some specific proposals.

 

But let me begin with a quick report on some good news and some bad news in the field of homelessness in Santa Cruz.

 

First, the good news:

-There are several successful program models that are having a positive impact on both the community and the individuals that had been experiencing homelessness in Santa Cruz. The permanent supportive housing model, which our county began to put into practice many years ago has demonstrated real success. The 180-2020 Project, which built on the early local success with permanent supportive housing, has (in the last 3 years) housed more than 350 individuals that had been chronically homeless on the streets of Santa Cruz County for many years. And a City/County partnership (once called the Downtown Accountability Program and now going by the name PACT) to break the cycle of homelessness, nuisance crime and over-utilization of costly emergency services is showing very good results.

 

-The nationwide “Mayors’ Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness” and the high level of federal funding associated with the effort to house every veteran is bearing real fruit both nationally and locally. The lead agencies for this effort in Santa Cruz – the Veterans Resource Center and the federal Department of Veterans Affairs – are well-funded, well-staffed and are housing local homeless veterans every week.

 

-A public/private/nonprofit partnership worked to create and adopt a forward looking county-wide strategic plan (“All In”) to address homelessness. That plan, which continues and strengthens a positive trend toward approaches to reduce and end homelessness rather than the past practice of relying too much on managing it, was adopted unanimously by every local government jurisdiction in our county.

 

-The County of Santa Cruz recently funded the hiring a high-level staff person to coordinate the countywide homeless services system and to guide implementation of the countywide strategic plan. The County also stepped in with major gap funding to sustain two programs at the Homeless Services Center when HSC experienced a major funding loss. These are part of a very significant trend of County government’s larger commitment to taking on the issue of homelessness. There might have been a time when the City of Santa Cruz could have had some justification for claiming that the County was not meeting its responsibility in taking on the challenge of homelessness. That time has now passed.

 

-The Association of Faith Communities has rebuilt the Interfaith Satellite Shelter Program and it is now serving 15 to 20 individuals per night on a rotating basis at local churches. The program is also doing new work to link participants to a wider range of services and moving more people into long-term housing.

 

-Lastly (in the good news category) the 2015 Homeless Census and Survey showed that our county (and the city of Santa Cruz) had a significant reduction in homeless population. I don’t mind saying that I don’t think that this census is a very precise tool for measuring the numerical level of homelessness but it is widely recognized as a good tool for seeing general trends and the trend on the level of homelessness in Santa Cruz is a good one.

 

 

Now, the not so good news…

 

-In contrast to the good news at the county government level, the City of Santa Cruz has reduced its funding commitment for homelessness programs even as the County has increased its funding substantially. This City reduction was not done to single out homeless services for budget reductions– the cuts came to almost all human services programs. However valid those reasons for this reduction, it is a real problem that the reduction in City funding for homeless services has been significant.

 

-The Daytime Essential Services program at the Homeless Services Center has been severely curtailed due to the loss of key state grant funding. This means hundreds of people without homes have lost regular access to breakfast and dinner meals and to sanitation facilities including restrooms and showers. It also means many people who had a somewhat protected place to spend their days are now passing their days in public spaces and neighborhoods all around the community. I know some people might have imagined that, if day services at HSC were severely restricted or eliminated, that the community problems associated with homelessness would diminish and that many people living on the street would go away from Santa Cruz. The verdict on this idea seems to be in

– and homelessness did not go away. (My judgment on this is based on reports from all over the community suggesting that people who appear to be homeless are still present all over town and the burden placed on the community by extensive homelessness has not diminished significantly.)

 

-The Paul Lee Loft Shelter at HSC also lost substantial funding this year and has adapted to grant funding requirements by changing its role from a short term emergency shelter to a different kind of interim housing program. The Loft Shelter had been the main year-around emergency shelter for adults in the Santa Cruz area and it is no longer a contributor to meeting our short term shelter needs. Despite a fairly widespread misconception, we’ve never had a lot of emergency shelter for adults in the City of Santa Cruz. And now we have even less. No matter how you slice it, during most of the year, there are literally hundreds of adults without an indoor space to sleep at night.

 

-It gets even worse. Because HSC has had to cut so much program and so much staffing, without additional funding, it will not be staffed and equipped to be the operator of north Santa Cruz County’s Winter Shelter Program (at the National Guard Armory in DeLaveaga Park.) HSC will need tens of thousands of dollars of new funding to operate a Winter Shelter Program.

 

-Even if our city and county come up with enough funding to sustain the Winter Shelter Program, when the weather turns bad (as in very heavy El Niño rains) the Winter Shelter will not be sufficient. It can serve about 100 adults. There are several hundred unsheltered individuals in the immediate Santa Cruz area.

-It’s also important to note here what is probably the worst news of all: rental housing costs are skyrocketing. It’s widely agreed that our area is experiencing a housing affordability crisis that is likely worse than any past housing crisis we’ve seen. People, mainly people with jobs, are being priced out of their rental housing situations every day. This suggests that both a potential increase in homelessness could emerge and that it will be more difficult than ever to move local people off of the streets and into housing.

 

- Last but not least in the bad news category: we are continuing to experience tremendous litter and waste disposal problems along with environmental damage as a result of careless actions by people camping in our parks and open spaces. The City has sought to manage this problem by increasing ranger and police interventions and through the issuance of citations– especially camping citations. The number of camping and sleeping citations issued this year has increased tremendously compared to previous years. Yet hundreds of individuals continue to sleep in our parks and open space lands every night. I think we have a failure of policy and practice on multiple levels. a) Our camping enforcement activities are not substantially reducing the number of people sleeping in these public spaces. b) The environmental damage and litter damage persists. c) We have more citations being issued that end up having little deterrent effect while consuming much law enforcement time.

 

Beyond what I’ve categorized as good news and bad news, there is another significant piece of news. The federal government has, in a variety of ways, signaled that it will not provide federal homelessness funding to localities that enforce laws against sleeping outside when those who are sleeping outside have no legal alternative. The feds have also started to intervene in court cases that question local laws that prohibit sleeping in public places for people who have no place else to sleep.

 

The City of Santa Cruz has been able to maneuver through this legal situation in recent years. Several years ago, the City Council worked with the City Attorney to set up a system whereby people who had sought emergency shelter but were turned away for lack of space could have sleeping and camping citations dismissed. This has been less than a perfect system but it least it tried to avoid penalizing people who had made an effort to avoid sleeping outside. Now this model is becoming less functional because there is almost no drop-in emergency shelter in our city. (In the non-winter season — April to November– there are something like 15 to 30 unrestricted emergency shelter beds in Santa Cruz) It has become extraordinarily difficult for any homeless adult to find any emergency shelter. If court rulings continue to hold that penalizing people for sleeping outside when they have no alternative is unconstitutional, Santa Cruz (and hundreds of cities around the country) will no longer be able to enforce this kind of ordinance.

 

A related issue which has surfaced locally, partially in the context of our city council’s consideration of RV parking regulations, is the reality that many people without homes sleep in their vehicles. Courts have begun to wade into this issue, too, and the general trend seems to be that cities might not be able to restrict people from sleeping in their vehicle if their vehicle is in every other way compliant with the law. When Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo tried to ban people without homes from sleeping in vehicles, lawsuits ensued and both cities were required to make some allowance for sleeping in vehicles.

 

So we have quite a tangled web of challenges and circumstances to take on as we wrestle with homelessness.

 

As I mentioned before, our local governments have adopted a strategic plan that I believe provides an excellent road map for how we can successfully reduce homelessness in our county. It’s based on well-tested models that are working elsewhere. These models are now showing success here. But this roadmap was not primarily designed to address some of our most pressing short-term challenges. And, beyond that, the conceptual roadmap is just a plan on our desks unless we take concrete actions and make a real commitment of resources to implement it.

 

 

So… I would like to offer for community discussion a set of proposals that I hope will be considered and then acted upon by the City of Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz City Council in the coming days and months:

 

1) Commit additional funds in the amount of $31,000 to ensure that the Winter Shelter Program can operate again this year and provide shelter for up to 100 adults throughout what we expect will be a very wet rainy season. I also suggest we indicate a willingness to contribute a modest amount more if there is a weather-based need and a countywide willingness to extend the Winter Shelter program for extra weeks. (The final decision on this second part would occur in February or March.)

 

2) In conjunction with a mid-year budget update and budget adjustment in January, consider an additional allocation of funds to sustain the Paul Lee Loft Shelter through the current fiscal year, allowing that program additional time to seek a state Emergency Solutions Grant in 2016 without closing the loft program. (Allowing that program to close prior to the completion of the 2016 ESG funding cycle would virtually ensure that the program would lose eligibility for ESG funds next year.)

 

3) The County of Santa Cruz has taken steps to create an emergency “warming center” program that will provide the most basic of protections from the rain and cold on nights that are either wet or have near- freezing temperatures. A volunteer organization is working in the Santa Cruz area to implement a similar Warming Center program for this winter season. While I think it is unrealistic for the City to take on providing all of the facilities that might be needed for a “warming center” program, I think we can be one of the partners in this. I propose that the City Council direct our City staff to identify a suitable facility (or facilities) to be used for up to 10 nights of warming center use this winter season at no charge– contingent on the warming center volunteer project identifying other locations/facilities that will commit to sharing in this effort by providing 30 nights of warming center use. (It’s my understanding that the volunteer effort has already identified 20 nights of facility use from private organizations.) Of course, city staff would set reasonable standards for the use of city facilities and the city’s offer of use of these facilities would be withdrawn if those standards are not met.

 

4) Amend the current camping ordinance to remove references to “sleep” and “sleeping” and “covering up with blankets.” I realize that some will argue that this will encourage even more camping in our city…and therefore result in even greater improper waste disposal and environmental damage. This does not have to be the case. Any person that sleeps outside and is also making a mess is committing other violations of city ordinances and this suggested amendment would do nothing to discourage enforcement of those ordinances. In fact, if the city council made it clear that waste problems and environmental damage are a priority for enforcement rather than sleeping, we could actually send the message that we are going to focus on the real impacts of camping rather than on the natural survival activity of sleeping. [Emphasis added]

 

5) I propose that the City Council indicate that the City will seek a partner organization with experience working on homelessness to set up a pilot permit program for local residents living in vehicles (limited to 25 vehicles). City cooperation on this pilot program will be conditioned on a rule that the vehicle of each participant be registered at an address with a Santa Cruz zip code (95060-65). It would also be required that permissible parking locations be away from residences and be dispersed throughout the community and that the partner organization provide outreach services to the program participants. I believe this pilot would best be implemented in conjunction with the RV permitting program under development by city staff under previous city council direction.

 

6) I recommend that the City of Santa Cruz take a neutral and open stance on the question of creating a small, pilot camping area for people unable to access any other form of shelter. Personally, I think this kind of “outdoor shelter” is fraught with likely problems of significant magnitude. Santa Cruz’s earlier attempt at this kind of camping space turned out to provide a place for individuals to prey on the most vulnerable people in need of safe shelter. This does not mean that a genuinely safe and well-managed camping space would not have value—it means that a community organization with proven capacity to manage this kind of project would have to put a complete project plan together (including a legal and workable physical location). I think the City should indicate a willingness to permit such a program but not be partner in operating it.

 

7) Direct our City Manager to include a proposal for City participation in the funding of the County’s Homelessness Coordinator position in the 2016-17 City Budget. (There would not be a formal decision to provide funding in the near future—just a decision to consider this participation in the context of other budget decisions next June.)

 

8) Engage in a process to determine what would be the city’s “fair share” of homeless services in relation to our county and our region. I believe we need to stop making our decisions on these issues based on the unwillingness of some other communities to take on any significant responsibility on this issue. If every community used that standard, we could pretend that it would be justified to do nothing. In light of the fact that hundreds of individuals living on our streets are “locals” by any standard, I believe we need to decide what we are willing to do for those individuals and build our funding commitments around this. It would also create a starting point for inviting our neighboring jurisdictions to do the same.

 

9) Participate with other agencies (public and nonprofit) to evaluate and consider the best use of the facilities located at 115 Coral Street. Changes to HSC’s funding are having an impact not only on their programs but on the programs run by the County Health Department and the River Street Shelter operated by Encompass Community Services. We cannot afford to let any of those facilities to be underused when the need to address homelessness remains so high. The City and the community would be well-served to work with its partners on rethinking the use of those facilities.

 

Of course, others in the community have different proposals and suggestions and I will consider those approaches as others consider mine.

 

When we address an issue as complex, controversial and persistent as homelessness it’s not unusual for there to be some avoidance of one or more elements of the issue—elements that probably fit well under the tag “the elephant in the room.”

 

In Santa Cruz, I believe the biggest “elephant” is the behavior of a handful of high profile homelessness activists. (Note: these are homelessness activists– the most notable among them are not themselves homeless.) Years of boisterous and offensive behavior have caused me to avoid dealing with some aspects of local homelessness issues. I imagine this is also the experience of some other local elected officials. Anyway, I am not proud of my choice to avoid some of these issues. I have allowed what I see as the poisonous behavior of a very small number of people to keep me from taking on some truly important issues.

With this letter, I am trying to move in a new direction: no longer allowing this behavior by others to interfere with my efforts to address difficult aspects of homelessness as a community issue. I hope others in the community will join me in this new approach.

 

I also want to be clear here that I don’t consider my assertion that some of the activists have behaved badly as a rejection of all of the substantive concerns those individuals have raised about local homelessness policy. Just because some of them behave poorly, does not mean all of their ideas or assertions are incorrect.

 

I also want to suggest that there may well be a second elephant: the persistent avoidance by local government of the most difficult QUESTIONS related to homelessness. Here are some of the questions that really must no longer be avoided, especially in light of the Grand Jury’s recent report on homeless services and the emergency shelter crisis:

 

-Where is a person who attended Santa Cruz High 15 years ago and who is now broke and troubled and living on the streets supposed to sleep tonight?

 

-Where will we suggest that each of the several hundred unsheltered individuals in the Santa Cruz area spend the night when it starts raining hard?

 

-What public purpose is served when an unsheltered, impoverished person gets a citation for sleeping outside? Is that kind of citation having any positive impact on the homelessness problem we have?

 

-What is our city’s “fair share” of services? How many emergency shelter beds are appropriate for us to have in a city of our size with our level of homelessness?

 

–And, finally, a couple of specific questions for any official who includes in their response to these kinds of questions: “it is up to some other level of government or some other entity to deal with homelessness.” What do we imagine homeless individuals should do while we wait for those other levels of government to step up? If those other entities are not doing their fair share, who should pay the price for that failure? Should it be those entities and their leaders or should it be the individuals who are struggling to survive without a home or a place of shelter?

 

Lest any reader believe that I am pointing the finger at someone else to deflect from my own responsibility—I will simply say that I am as responsible as anyone in this community for our failure to address our lack of shelter and our over-reliance on law enforcement and the criminal justice system to manage homelessness. I have been a direct participant in many of my City’s decisions on homelessness. I have failed to adequately answer many of the questions I am posing. I’ve come to realize that I am not fulfilling my commitment to compassion and compassionate action if I don’t address these issues more thoroughly and engage others to join in that work with me

 

I encourage others to join me in making a new commitment to address these issues more directly and effectively. I’m looking for new partners in this work. I’m also ready to engage in frank conversations on these issues with people of good will—even if we have disagreements on any particular policy or funding approach. We have so much work left to do.

 

Don

 

[P.S. This is the fourteenth draft of this letter. I apologize for its length. I continue to wish I could communicate on this set of issues more clearly and make every point more completely. However, at some point, I have to say it’s “good enough” to launch what I hope will be fresh discussion and break out of some of the places we've been stuck.]

Top of Form

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MY RESPONSE

Hi, Louise and everyone:

HUFF discussed the Lane facebook posting and Phil’s response as well as that of Abbi, Becky, Pat, and me.

Somewhat against my inclination, Becky moved and HUFF voted to contact each of the Councilmembers to determine their position on Lane’s proposed removal of sections MC 9.36.010a and b from the Camping Ordinance. This should clarify the real division on the Council for the Community and expose the real tensions and real violence–as Martin Luther King might have said.

I’ll be sending off such an e-mail after a few brief comments.

I’m not one to reject partial steps towards restoring basic civil rights to those outside.

However the following needs to be said:

As mentioned before, it appears Lane’s proposed changes in the Sleeping and Blanket Bans are raised in response to potential threats of litigation and funding cutoff (as was the case with Vancouver, WA, and various southern California cities recently). However, merely eliminating “sleeping” and “blankets” provides no immunity from a third and harsher section of the ordinance 6.36.010c citations (“camping with the intent to remain overnight”). Nor from other citations (such as “being in a park after dark” “lying on a bench”, or “lodging on public property”) that serve the same purpose. Most important, it does allow those outside to protect themselves from the weather and danger of sleeping outside with tents, tarps, and other camping equipment. It does however provide the city attorney with possible legal protection from litigation and gives politicians and poverty pimps a claim that Santa Cruz is “doing something” and shouldn’t have its HUD funding cut off.

What could Lane do that would involve real action rather than “compassionate” (and often misleading) rhetoric?

1. As Mayor, he could ask the City Manager and Police Chief to stop ALL citations of those sleeping, covering up with blankets, or camping outside either for those offenses or for “being in a park after closing” (something now frequently used which suspiciously looks like a dodge against potential litigation and liability for 8th Amendment violations). The Council majority might block this–but Lane would have taken a clear position that supporters in the community could unite behind.

2. As Mayor, he could publicly state he could demand the right to be on the City Hall grounds is a basic 1st Amendment protected right. Currently, to discourage protest, the City Manager maintains a nighttime curfew on peaceful protest (or any kind of presence) at City Hall after 10 PM. To respect the current protest, Lane could demand the removal of the klieg lights, the “no parking” jackets that block protest communication, and remove the unnecessary and provocative First Alarm thugs.

3. As Mayor, he could publicly request the City Attorney to amnesty all MC 6.36. and MC 13.04.011 citations for the last two years and request the courts (with whom he’s worked so on such friendly terms for the bogus DAP program) do the same. If he really wanted to restore elementary justice (forget about “compassion”), he could ask for restitution of property stolen from homeless folks by authorities–a regular occurrence in the last decade.

4. As Councilmember who has voted for a series of anti-homeless laws over the last decade, move to remove them from the books. I’ll be happy to elaborate in detail in future days–but they include expanding the forbidden zones downtown where people can sit, perform, peacefully sparechange, or table, making 3 unattended infraction citations the basis for a misdemeanor prosecution, making every subsequent infraction citation after three unpaid ones an actual misdemeanor, criminalizing peacefully standing on a median with a sign, taking issue with a park employee (now a misdemeanor), the cop-empowering Stay-Away order laws.

5. As a Homeless Services (Lack of) Services Center cheerleader, he could move to reform and transform what has now become a prison-like camp. He could demand the HLOSC de facto penal aspects [gate, guards, ID) be dumped. He could demand funds for expanded services for the broader homeless community not just the chosen few on the alleged “path to housing”. That would mean restoring bathroom and regular shower access, meals, laundry use, phone use, and daytime access. He could require the HLOSC dump the bogus grant-seeking “path to housing” requirements of the Paul Lee Loft and return to its supposed original “mission”. Though this was actually set up to lure homeless people away from Food-Not-Bombs style protest meals at the Town Clock in the late 80′s.

6. Introduce a measure to provide dumpsters, portapotties, and regular trash pick-up’s for existing homeless encampments–where most homeless people actually live these days. He could organize privately sponsored refugee-relief–as was done in Fresno after a successful lawsuit there fining the city $2.3 million for its abusive treatment of those outside.

7. Make it clear that the “Magnet” Theory, the “Homeless as Public Safety Threats”, the “Needlemania” mythsteria, and other false but inflammatory pretexts trumpeted over the last few years to frighten and mislead the community. These resulted in the fear-generated passage of many anti-homeless laws. The scare tactics helped fund abusive police/ranger behavior positing a “crime wave” that had no basis in fact. These are the real “elephants in the room” that Lane tactfully ignores, perhaps in deference to reactionary bigots and institutional gentrification power in the community and on the city staff. Nonetheless, he went along with this poisonous mythology. If he’s serious in his confession, he needs to take responsibility for legitimizing this dangerous nonsense that has caused folks outside much suffering.

8. Lane voted for the crap that came out of them (the Citizens Public Safety Task Force for instance) and needs to repudiate those votes and move to reverse the dangerous impacts he’s created (hundreds of phony citations, thousands of harassing police contacts, empowerment of bigotry in the neighborhoods against the poor).

9 It might mean something if during the first torrential rains of El Nino, Lane joins with activists in simply opening up vacant public buildings as survival shelter. All the talk of (“warming center” “sanctuary place” “campground” “tent city” is fine, but an emergency is an emergency. The Civic Auditorium, City Hall Council chambers, Stadium, are all vacant at night. Use them to protect the lives and safety of those he cares so much about.

These are preliminary thoughts, but they’re relevant. Note that Lane’s letter seems to me to be an appeal to rightwingers in the community and on the City Council with his statements that “enforcement hasn’t worked”, “homeless haven’t been driven away”, “it’s too costly” (I paraphrase rather than quote), with no mention of human rights, civil rights, or criminalization.

The issue is not whether Lane’s proposals are better than the Council majority’s bullshit, but whether they are adequate for homeless survival this winter. And for HUFF, whether they have anything to do with the “mandatory minimums” that will really set us on the right path.

For me we wouldn’t be very far along that path which involves real housing, rewarding work, revolutionary shift from war to healing, profound redistribution if power and income, and other rather profound changes.

Lane has his Lengthy Redemption Lament. We have our job to do–which has to do with reality not rhetoric. Let’s get on with it.

R Continue reading

Grab Your Pajamas and Bathrobe 6 PM November 3rd for Freedom SleepOut #17

 

Title: 17th Sleep Out Supports Safe Sidewalk Sleeping
START DATE: Tuesday November 03
TIME: 6:00 PM6:00 AM
Location Details:
In the forbidden zone outside City Council in the supposedly “public space” around City Hall in the “Courtyard” area near the sidewalk across from the Main Library at 807 Center St.

The event begins around 6 PM and goes until 7 AM or 8 AM the following Wednesday.

Event Type: Other
Contact Name Keith McHenry (posting by Norse)
Email Address rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Phone Number 575-770-3377
Address
TO MAKE SLEEP LEGAL FOR THE POOR
Jumping off from last week’s successful Sidewalk Safe Zone Sleep-Out, Freedom Sleepers will resume their “make Santa Cruz a safe and legal place for poor people who have no legal place to sleep” campaign against the City’s anti-homeless Sleeping and Blanket Bans.

LESS TICKETS, MORE SLEEPING
At the last Freedom Sleep-Out no one was ticketed. The infamous “sleep deprivation special” Klieg Lights, though posted and ‘guarded” by two (down from five) First Alarm Security guards, were not turned on.

20-30 folks slept through the night on the sidewalk or in vehicles nearby without getting MC 6.36. citations. Cops harass sleepers outside with these $149 tickets elsewhere in the City. Nearby other groups of sleepers also apparently slept without incident. The Safe Sleeping Zone seems to be expanding.

Modest peanut butter and jelly mini-sandwiches will be available later in the night and coffee the next morning (and in limited quantities during the night).

EXPANDING THE PROTEST
Up for discussion will be plans to intensify and extend the protest with secondary events such as teach-in’s, skits, musical jams, and other welcoming events.

Also provoking both hope and skepticism–Mayor Lane’s lengthy facebook lament which includes a specific offer to Amend the current camping ordinance to remove references to “sleep” and “sleeping” and “covering up with blankets.” at http://www.facebook.com/Don.Lane.SC/posts/1039891709365296

LEGAL UPDATE
Many Freedom Sleepers have received “in the park after dark” citations from police with their “court trials” coming up shortly.
Last Friday, Max from Monterey to avoid losing more work and travel time, pled “no contest’ to two of such “no public assembly at City Hall after dark” citations. One of his cites was dismissed and a second got him 24 hours of “Community Service”.

Steve Pleich, who has also received such a ticket will be challenging the constitutionality of the law in a hearing in early December. Others will face court (no jury) trial in November.

Tristia Bowman of the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty may be calling in at the Tuesday protest from Washington, D.C. in search of prospective plaintiffs for a lawsuit against the City’s anti-homeless laws.

And southern California Paul Cook may be on hand to consider distant legal support for the Sleepers as well. Cook was an adviser to an earlier project to sue the city for sleep deprivation in Small Claims Court.

IN OTHER NEWS
The most recent director of the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center [HLOSC] Jannen Thomas, has resigned and left town. Poverty impresario Phil Kramer, former Section 8 Voucher Shuffler of the 180/180 program, has taken over the reins of the prison-like compound at 115 Coral St.

Winter shelter services this year are less than last year, thanks to City Council’s “fund the cops and freeze out the poor” policies. They have declined to restore meals, laundry, and bathroom services out at the HLOSC unless you have a “pathway to housing”.

Waiting list sign-up’s by phone for the adjacent River St. Shelter are still reportedly available. Call 831-459-6644 to get subsequent camping tickets automatically dismissed short of court (but call every three days to renew your place on the list).

A LOOK BACK
To follow the history of the Sleep-Out’s go to “City Council Chatter, March, & Safe Slumber Event #16 ” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/10/26/18779269.php
and follow the links.

For a list of earlier Freedom Slumbers, Scroll down to find “Community Sleepouts Advance to 13th Week” at http://www.indybay.org/santacruz/

Flashbacks Galore on Free Radio: Back to 2005 with Bathrobespierre’s Broadside 6 PM Tonight

Tonight’s Free Radio replay will include clips with the Pirate Radio San Diego raid; Battleweary Bob Patton of the (former) Human Rights Organization, SEIU hiding on the Sleeping Ban Issue; Beggarbacker Becky Johnson on her FRSC expulsion; Attorney Kate Wells on Richard Quigley’s  “Helmet Law” Case;  Steve Argue on SEIU action, and more.  The show can be downloaded at http://radiolibre.org/brb/brb050721.mp3   if you miss the original broadcast.

HUFF will still puff at Sub Rosa Today 11 AM at ye olde 703 Pacific Ave.

HUFF meeting today to review recent work by activists Avian, Laura, Linda perhaps, and others!  Not to mention the latest vague Mea Culpa from Mayor Lane on his facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Don.Lane.SC/posts/1039891709365296?fref=nf ) as well as Rabbi Phil Posner’s supportive response from beautiful Puerto Rico… and other updates and non-updates re: Public Records Act requests.

Freedom SleepOut 16 on Tuesday October 27 to Support the Beach Flats Garden

Title: City Council Chatter, March, & Safe Slumber Event #16
START DATE: Tuesday October 27
TIME: 4:00 PM – 4:00 AM
Location Details:
Inside City Hall (809 Center St.) demanding restoration of real homeless services at the afternoon Council Meeting (3-4 PM or so). Then assembling at Raymond and 3rd at 5 PM to support the Beach Flats Gardeners in a March to City Hall. Solidarity with the Gardeners 7 PM meeting to forestall the November.Homeless refugees and their housed allies will then reassemble at the de facto Safe Sleeping Zone in the Courtyard (and after 10 PM on the sidewalk) for the rest of the night outside City Hall.There will be coffee and crunchables sometime after dawn.
Event Type: Protest
Contact Name Phil Posner (commentary by Norse)
Email Address chatrabbi [at] aol.com
Phone Number
Address
FREEDOM SLEEPERS TO RETURN FOR SLEEP-OUT #16
After a success bannerwalk in the UCSC Slug parade on Sunday, Freedom Sleepers will return to City Hall in support of the Beach Flats Garden.See “March to City Hall to Support Beach Flats Community Garden” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/10/25/18779243.php .COUNCIL TO VOTE ON PARTIAL RESTORATION OF SERVICES
We will also be watching agenda item #18 in the afternoon involving partial restoration of drips-and-drabs homeless services The proposal is to keep the Paul Lee Loft open–but only to those who have a “pathway to housing”.

Meanwhile Council is ok-ing the shut down of meals, laundry, and bathroom access for the general homeless population. There is no provision to restore them in spite of conversations with Councilmember Posner on this subject three months ago.

Even the restored shelter proposals still leave the overwhelming majority of unhoused folks outside in the face of Sleeping Ban harassment and an El Nino winter.

See the Staff Report at under Item #18 of the City Council Agenda at http://scsire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=683&doctype=AGENDA .

MY PERSONAL VIEWS ON ITEM #18
All these barely-more-than-token homeless shelter options are being presented as the usual cosmetic (and legal) cover for the holiday season. The venomous impact of Take Back Santa Cruz, NIMBY neighborhood bigots, and the Terrazas-Mathews Council majority seems to have had its destructive impact.

The Council has provided a steady stream of anti-homeless laws over the last five years as well as stepped of enforcement of the Sleeping Ban, the “in the park after dark” Ban, and other nasty ordinances.

HOPE ON THE HORIZON?
On the positive side, apparently the Northern California ACLU with help from fighting lawyers from Southern California as well as the D.C.-based National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty are considering a lawsuit on behalf of the Santa Cruz homeless (though they may choose another California city).

BRING YOUR SLEEPING BAGS
There has been vigorous discussion in the Freedom Sleepers movement, whether to step up the pressure on City Council during their meetings and what to do with them in and outside Council chambers.

Folks are invited to bring their Sleeping Bags on the march from the Beach Flats Garden and Raymond and 3rd at 5 PM. Blankets and signs can be carried on the march and brought into City Council.

The proposed support recommendation for the Garden and extensive correspondence is at http://scsire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=683&doctype=AGENDA –Item 1 in the 7 PM agenda.

Council will vote on whether to stop the Seaside Company’s proposed November 13th eviction deadline. After we have all supported the Beach Flats Garden survival, folks may decide what to do regarding the failure of Council to restore shelter, civil rights, and basic dignity to the unhoused folks outside.

ANOTHER NIGHT UNDER THE STARS ON THE SIDEWALK
Either inside or outside, there will be a Freedom SleepOut at City Hall. There will be modest food and coffee support (Food Not Bombs chefster Keith McHenry may be spicing things up with his usual flurry of cooking).

Last week’s Freedom Sleep-Out increased its numbers where several dozen found a tolerated (but not legal) spaceIncreasing areas of exclusion?

WHILE SANTA CRUZ MAKES VEHICLE SLEEPERS CRIMINALS, COURTS IN L.A. MOVED A YEAR AGO THE OTHER WAY:
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-los-angeles-homeless-vehicle-ban-overturned-20140619-story.html

For more historical background on Freedom Sleepers, go to http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/10/17/18778977.php and follow the links.

DISCLAIMER
This description of events represents my views and may or may not represent the position of others in the Freedom Sleeper Movement. There are varying shades of opinion in the group and among its allies.

Come anyway. Do what you think is right! Support the Freedom Sleepers and the Beach Flats Garden.

 

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Is JURY NULLIFICATION a cause worth getting arrested for? Yes

NOTES BY NORSE:    Jury Nullification–the right of a jury (even a single juror) to block a prosecution even if s/he believes a defendant guilty but feels the law is unconstitutional, wrong applied, and abusive–is something judges, prosecutors, and PD’s don’t talk about.  Are even banned from talking about.  But it was an important aspect to early victories in the homeless court struggle in the late 80′s and early 90′s when homeless activists occupied buildings and resisted the Sleeping Ban in greater numbers.   Chuck Jagoda, Palo Alto activists, sends us this e-mail, an inspiring reminder that struggling against an unjust system rather than making deals with it, can yield success.   Unfortunately Jury Nullification is something that applies to ordinary people, jurors, not people who have bought into and run the system like judges and commissioners.  Infractions-http://huffsantacruz.org/wordpress/wp-admin/post-new.php-such as those most protesters are faced with–don’t get jury trials.  But misdemeanors and felonies do.  Recently we’ve seen the Final 4 of the Santa Cruz 11, the Hiway 6, and others plead out rather than face the threats and tension of trials.  There is another option.

Hi All–
I’m ending up sending you all this for different reasons.  The one underlying reason to send it to you all is that it’s a breakthrough in an important area of our legal rights– something I learned about from Aram.  It’s a basic Constitutional right but denied to us in most cases.
NJ Weedman is a very brave and successful person.  Brave in that he takes on the law and all its resources.  Successful in that he has won some important trial points.  He defeated the State of NJ in court with a very effective jury nullification brief that halted a lot of similar prosecutions that had been in the works and then got dropped.
I think Tianay should be well aware of Ed Forchion’s success and spirit.  I think we all should.
Chuck

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Flashback Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides Show from August 1996 On Air Sunday 10-25

Yet another flashback show coming your way on Free Radio Santa Cruz at 101.3 FM (streaming at freakradio.org) Sunday October 25 2015. (9:30am-1:00pm)

This one features Santa Cruz Performers Guild activist ” Travelin’” Tom Noddy, Housing Now! in Santa Cruz founder “Lighthouse” Linda Lemaster, and me discuss the history and then current status of street performers in 1996 and some of the earlier struggles of the Scott Creek Bluff Vehicle Dwellers.

A second interview has me and “Dragonsheart” Dan Hopkins, who vigiled at Santa Cruz City Hall night after night from March 1996 through October of that year exposing and denouncing the City’s Sleeping Ban on a mainstream radio station.

The sound quality of the shows is iffy but the info is interesting.  Or I hope listeners will find it so.  Let me know by e-mail, folks, if you like these flashbacks.  I’m still making ineffectual efforts to restore current and live shows.  And we still need a studio!  Call me at 831-423-4833 if you’ve got suggestions, ideas, etc.

Free Radio Flashback Today on Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides 5:45 PM or so: Winter 1998

Yet another back show from the archives–this one with extensive discussion of the high hopes for abolition of the Sleeping Ban in the Winter of 1998 after a “progressive” majority gained power–Councilmembers Beiers, Krohn, Sugar, and Fitzmaurice–who sadly disappointed us days later and throughout their 4 year term.  However activism was at a high pitch and the discussion and phone calls are interesting.   It’s archived at http://huffsantacruz.org/archive98 under December 3, 1998 if you miss the show or wish to review the discussion.   If you have comments, call and leave a message at 4123-4833!   Happy listening.

Good news:  I’ve downloaded Audacity and now simply need to secure some equipment and training to return to contemporary interviews and commentary!

Hawaii and Santa Cruz–Cruelty and Cosmetic Cover

NORSE’S NOTES:  The sweeps and subsequent “Homelessness Emergency” declared by officials in Hawaii remind us of similar “crush and conceal” tactics used by Santa Cruz City authorities here.  After closing the main emergency food, laundry, bathroom, and day homeless services in town (which even before closing served only a fraction), SCPD and Rangers have stepped up “enforcement” of “Don’t Sleep at Night if You’re Homeless” ordinances including park closing laws, camping bans, and other abuses criminalizing the status of homelessness here.

The Santa Cruz Freedom Sleepers’ Sleepout #15 in front of City Hall tonight drew 30 or more folks and at least half that many overnight sleepers, braving cold sidewalks, fines, police harassment, and the threat of glaring klieg lights shining down from 3 high-intensity platforms (though the lights uncharacteristically hadn’t been turned on by midnight nor had the police arrived for their customary “disperse and disparage” sweeps of previous Tuesday nights.

Second-hand reports claimed that 6 police vehicles were sweeping Harvey West Park, while two nights before 17 citations were reportedly issued at the Red Church downtown—as homeless folks scrambled to find safe refuge somewhere from the City’s relentless gentrification efforts to run the poor out of town.

As cosmetic coating, the Santa Cruz City Council is reportedly preparing the usual scaled down Winter Armory Shelter for 100 homeless people and perhaps a reopening of the Paul Lee loft—serving less than 10% of the homeless community.  Meanwhile no let-up in the citations and harassment of homeless “sleep criminals” is in the offing—in spite of major changes in more conservative cities like Anaheim, Huntington Beach, and Santa Ana.  ‘With one hand, Santa Cruz officials continue the beatings, with the other they reassure the public with the holiday season “generosity”.  Bitter bullshit, but nothing new.

City completes latest sweep of homeless in Kaka’ako

UPDATED 7:14 PM HST Oct 09, 2015

HONOLULU —From tents to bicycles, most of what once littered the sidewalks of Kaka’ako Makai was removed by the City as it conducted its final phase of sweeps in the homeless encampment.
Dump trucks were filled to the brim as the city cleaned the sidewalks of Kaka’ako Makai. Not counting Friday’s totals, crews have filled seven bins of stored items, 29 shopping carts and 26 tons of trash over the last month. “I believe we’re going to establish a record for our removal actions,” said City Facility Maintenance Director Ross Sasamura.
Not lost among the chaos, dozens of volunteers passed out lunches or moved boxes. Students from the nearby medical school say they’ve come to know these folks like neighbors.
“We’re here all the time. My friends play with their kids and their dogs. I don’t think that them living here permanently is a solution in any way, but I don’t think the way they’re treated now is right either,” said University of Hawaii medical school student Megan Sumiga.
Just as they did Thursday morning, the city provided buses to shuttle folks from Kaka’ako to shelters. However, city officials did say that among the 100 families they moved Thursday morning only eight took advantage of the service.
“We actually checked capacity before we began enforcement yesterday to make sure there is enough space for everybody,” said Sasamura.
Despite the city’s efforts to break up the state’s largest homeless encampment, those who call Kaka’ako home say the effects are temporarily cosmetic.
“Is it reasonable to think that most of these families will be coming back here? Oh yeah. It’s a given,” said Tabitha Martin, who is homeless.
The city says when the sweeps are complete, they’ll continue enforcement maintenance where crews will frequent the cleared areas to remove garbage and clear out anyone living on the sidewalk.
Scott Morishige, Gov. David Ige’s coordinator on homelessness, announced Friday that a total of 48 people who had been living in Kaka’ako (including eight families, three couples and five singles) have moved into shelter in the past week. Individuals and families were primarily placed at the Institute for Human Services, Next Step Shelter and the Lighthouse Emergency Shelter.
“By working together, we have made a positive difference in the lives of these individuals and families. This would not have been possible without close coordination between homeless outreach providers, shelters, the state and the City and County of Honolulu,” Morishige said.
Since Aug. 7, state-contracted outreach providers have offered shelter and permanent housing resources to individuals and families in the Kaka’ako Makai area. A total of 152 people (including 23 families) have been placed into shelter or permanent housing.
“In our 37 years of delivering homeless services, we have not seen a more coordinated, organized and well-executed outreach campaign take place in Hawaii,” said Clinical Director for The Institute for Human Services Jerry Coffee. “We would like to congratulate the State’s Homeless Coordinator, Scott Morishige, and the Governor’s leadership team on homelessness for their successful effort in addressing one of our country’s largest homeless encampments. Their leadership brought homeless providers together to share resources and provide various services to addressing the individual needs of many people throughout Kakaako. We also acknowledge our government leaders who worked closely with service providers to ensure adequate shelter space and housing resources were available throughout each enforcement phase.”
Coffee says in two months, IHS staff moved 18 families (44 individuals) and 32 single individuals from shelter into housing. This allowed 73 additional individuals from Kaka’ako to seek safe shelter and housing during this time period for themselves and their children.
• 10 families (15 adults and 24 children) and 23 single adults into shelter.
• 3 families (6 adults and 5 children) placed directly into housing.
“We will continue working with each client to ensure housing and self-sufficiency becomes their end goal. And we look forward to continued progress as we develop new coordinated strategies and approaches to addressing other homeless encampments throughout Hawaii,” said Coffee.

 

 

Economy

After Destroying Homeless Camps, Hawaii Declares State Of Emergency On Homelessness

by Bryce Covert Oct 19, 2015 10:01am

On Friday, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) signed an emergency proclamation on the state of its homeless population.

The proclamation will speed up construction of a temporary homeless shelter, extend existing contracts for homeless services, and increase funding for housing first programs that aim to move people into a home and then address any other issues they may have. It comes with more than $1.3 million in funding for services and permanent housing.

“It is still a state of emergency when you consider there are thousands of people in our community who continue to be homeless,” Ige said at a news conference. There were nearly 5,000 homeless people in a state of 1.4 million at latest count, just under 2,000 of them unsheltered.

The state has come under scrutiny, however, for often dealing with its burgeoning homeless population by simply cracking down on those who are on the streets or clearing them out. In a press release announcing the state of emergency, Ige cited enforcement in the Kaka’ako Makai area, near Honolulu, and said, “We plan to replicate the Kaka’ako model as we work to address homelessness in communities across the state.” But that city has repeatedly raided its homeless camps, forcing people out and throwing out their belongings.

The American Civil Liberties Union had sued the city in an attempt to stop the sweeps, arguing that by seizing and destroying property, the city is violating homeless people’s due process rights. But a judge denied its request for a temporary restraining order, and the actions had moved forward.

While buses were offered to bring people to shelters, most did not take that option and simply moved elsewhere. The city says, however, that it has moved 152 people into shelters or permanent housing since August.

Many other places across the country have responded to increases in their homeless populations through similar tactics that simply criminalize them. But such efforts have been found to be costly without actually solving the root problem. Housing the homeless, on the other hand, comes with significant savings.

States of emergency were recently announced in two other places facing large homeless populations: Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. In both of those cities, the declarations mean increased funding for housing subsidies and shelters as well as easing the way for building more affordable housing. Neither will focus on cracking down on the homeless.

 

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE NEWS RELEASE: Governor Ige signs emergency proclamation to address homelessness statewide

HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige today signed an emergency proclamation that enables the state to quickly funnel money toward the facilitation of: (1) rapid construction of a temporary shelter for homeless families; (2) the immediate extension of existing contracts for homeless services; and (3) an immediate increase in funding for programs that promote immediate housing.
State funds of more than $1.3 million were identified this month, paving the way for the emergency proclamation. The monies will serve an additional 1000 homeless individuals between now and July 31, 2016, providing increased funding for homeless services and programs that promote permanent housing for families and the chronically homeless.
The emergency proclamation will also facilitate the construction of a transitional housing facility for homeless families. The facility will be temporary and have a clear sunset date.
The state, city, federal governments and various service providers have worked together to place 158 individuals and 25 families from Kaka‘ako into shelters since the effort began in early August. That’s 54 percent of homeless individuals surveyed in Kaka‘ako in early August and more than 80 percent of the families surveyed.
“The lesson learned is that great things can be accomplished when we all work together. Despite the recent success of enforcement efforts in the Kaka’ako Makai area, homelessness remains a serious issue in every county throughout the state. We plan to replicate the Kaka’ako model as we work to address homelessness in communities across the state,” said Gov. David Ige.
“There’s still much work to do. Hawai‘i has the highest rate of homelessness per capita among the 50 states, with an estimated 465 homeless individuals per 100,000. The alarming increase in unsheltered individuals and families over the past two years is particularly significant on O‘ahu. This proclamation will expedite the state’s plans to help these individuals and families to more quickly transition to permanent housing,” said Scott Morishige, Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness.

 

Governor issues emergency proclamation to address homeless crisis

Posted: Oct 16, 2015 2:22 PM PST Updated: Oct 16, 2015 3:05 PM PST

By HNN Staff

Video at http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/30282619/governor-issues-emergency-proclamation-to-address-homeless-situation

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE NEWS RELEASE: Governor Ige signs emergency proclamation to address homelessness statewide

HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige today signed an emergency proclamation that enables the state to quickly funnel money toward the facilitation of: (1) rapid construction of a temporary shelter for homeless families; (2) the immediate extension of existing contracts for homeless services; and (3) an immediate increase in funding for programs that promote immediate housing.
State funds of more than $1.3 million were identified this month, paving the way for the emergency proclamation. The monies will serve an additional 1000 homeless individuals between now and July 31, 2016, providing increased funding for homeless services and programs that promote permanent housing for families and the chronically homeless.
The emergency proclamation will also facilitate the construction of a transitional housing facility for homeless families. The facility will be temporary and have a clear sunset date.
The state, city, federal governments and various service providers have worked together to place 158 individuals and 25 families from Kaka‘ako into shelters since the effort began in early August. That’s 54 percent of homeless individuals surveyed in Kaka‘ako in early August and more than 80 percent of the families surveyed.
“The lesson learned is that great things can be accomplished when we all work together. Despite the recent success of enforcement efforts in the Kaka’ako Makai area, homelessness remains a serious issue in every county throughout the state. We plan to replicate the Kaka’ako model as we work to address homelessness in communities across the state,” said Gov. David Ige.
“There’s still much work to do. Hawai‘i has the highest rate of homelessness per capita among the 50 states, with an estimated 465 homeless individuals per 100,000. The alarming increase in unsheltered individuals and families over the past two years is particularly significant on O‘ahu. This proclamation will expedite the state’s plans to help these individuals and families to more quickly transition to permanent housing,” said Scott Morishige, Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness.

 

SEE ALSO http://humanservices.hawaii.gov/bessd/files/2012/12/PIT-Oahu-2015-PIT-Report-Rev-4.18.15.pdf  for City and County of Honolulu Homeless Point-in-Time Count 2015 Continue reading

HUFF struts its stuff Wednesday 10-21-15…11 AM at Sub Rosa 703 Pacific

HUFF will be staggering in from SleepOut #15 (assuming we’re not in the hoosegow) to consider tabling at a Take Back Santa Cruz Event on Thursday night, organizing for the UN street closure on Saturday,  considering a recent report of a police officer drawing a gun, and prep for next Tuesday’s Council Meeting sleep-out for a possible Sleep-In.  Come on down and join the merriment.  Coffee and cups provided.