night weekly protest moves towards its 14th month and 59th consecutive week. At issue is the City’s low-intensity war on the homeless community marked by social service cutoffs, vehicular bans, severe restrictions on public space usage, and increased “policing” downtown, in the parks, and elsewhere.
An 11 PM to 8:30 AM ban on the act of sleeping outside or in a vehicle on public property has created a nonsensical, costly, and cruel conflict forcing unhoused vulnerable people to hide in unsafe areas, avoid well-lighted spots, and disperse from larger (safer) groups.
Without formal organization, unhoused folks have gathered every Tuesday scrunched on the sidewalk in front of City Hall (as the City has made it illegal to be in the Council “park” after 10 PM). They share company, security, and food compliments of “Jumbogumbo” Joe Schultz of India Joze. Join them to share your blankets, watching eyes, documenting cellphone recordings, and support.
COUNCIL DELAYS CITY RV BAN APPEAL
After the Coastal Commission’s defeat of Councilwoman Richelle Niroyan’s anti-homeless midnight-to-5 AM ban on RV’s in the city, the City Council last Thursday placed the item on its agenda for today’s 12:30 PM Closed Session. By Monday (perhaps earlier) it had been struck out. When asked why, Councilmember Posner neither offered a reason, nor expressed any interest in finding out.
Assistant City Manager Scott Collins has been e-mailed with the same questions. Collins is the same staffer who declined to verify the Freedom Sleepers’ claims that they were regularly cleaning up the protest area after use last fall. Instead, McHenry reports, Collins leveled criminal charges against Freedom Sleeper and Food Not Bombs co-founder after McHenry yelled at him as Collins fled the scene. In a deal to protect another Freedom Sleeper, McHenry pled to a lesser charge in the Shouting Incident as City officials went after him last winter for restoring and expanding the “blue boxes” on Pacific Avenue with do-it-yourself paint and stencils. Collins and his associate Julie Hendee are regular presenters of anti-homeless measures to City Council.
COUNTY RV BAN STRUGGLE CONTINUES
The new crackdown on poor folks in RV’s in the broader County area was reviewed last week in “Freedom Sleep #58 In the Midst of Struggle Over RV Rights: COUNTY RV BAN ENFORCEMENT IN PROGRESS? ” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/08/15/18790168.php .
On August 12 the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office wrote on this thread: “No Overnight Parking zones will remain No Overnight Parking Zones with or without a permit. As for obtaining the permit, you must have permission from your friend or family who lives directly adjacent from your RV.” A rather straightforward interpretation here is that ALL overnight parking on ALL County roads are currently technically “illegal” under the County’s Ordinance Section 9.70.620 passed in March. There has been no discussion on this thread dated later than August 12.
However, Santa Cruz Fulltimers founder Julie Schaul–an activist concerned with the rights of poor families living in RV’s in the City–reports no citations have been given out since the Sheriff’s Department announced it began enforcing the ban on August 1st. Schaul has a facebook page that covers the RV struggle.
County staff and Coastal Commission staff, though questioned about the legality of the County’s ordinance and the Sheriff’s enforcement announcement, have declined to apply the Commission’s August 10th ruling against the City ban. They have also declined to clarify an appropriate appeal procedure on the issue. E-mail and phone exchanges continue. If you wish to express your concern, contact Sharif Traylor, staffer at the Coastal Commission, at 427-4863 or sharif.traylor [at] coastal.ca.gov or Paia Levine, planner, at County Planning at paia.levine [at] santacruzcounty.us 454-5317.
Though Sharif has noted he reply by e-mail, it’s still useful to create a paper trail. The issue is whether the County March law violates the Coastal Commission’s clear statements on August 10th that there must be real public access for folks of all incomes. Neither Santa Cruz County nor the City provides places for poor people to park their RV’s, nor have they shown a real “crime” problem.
Please cc all such inquiries and responses to rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com .
DEMAND THE CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES SPEAK UP AGAINST THE SLEEPING BAN AND ANTI-HOMELESS LAWS
Contact the 9 Council candidates running by e-mail or phone to insist they raise the issues of Sleeping Ban Repeal, Access to public spaces at night, security for homeless persons and property, as well as restore the meager social services. These were some of the original demands of the Freedom Sleep-Out. The protests began as a Community Sleep-Out under the “Homeless Lives Matter” slogan last summer as services closed down at the Homeless Lack-of Services Center.
The candidates are J.M. Brown, Steven Pleich, Nathanael A. Kennedy, Drew “Dru” S. Glover, Martine Watkins, Cynthia Mathews, Steve Schnaar, James (Jim) P. Davis, Robert Singleton, Sandra (Sandy) L. Brown, and Chris Krohn. Their contact information is available at http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/departments/city-clerk/elections-2382 under “List of Prospective 2016 Candidates”.
Only Steve Pleich has spent an overnight with the Freedom Sleepers and not recently.
To discuss RV pushback and electoral antics, check out the HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) meeting at 11 AM at the Sub Rosa Cafe Wednesday August 24.