Santa Barbara Activists Fight RV Ban

NORSE’S NOTES:  Santa Cruz, under the Mathews City Council, has faced a severe attack on those whose “affordable housing” is an RV with the passage last year and again this year of the city-wide nighttime RV parking ban.  This is another in a series of anti-homeless measures based on the false and vicious mythology that a large proportion of homeless folks are criminals, threats to children, etc.  It’s a fantasy pushed by influential economically distressed middle-class residents along with police, real estate speculators, and downtown business interests which has resulted in a string of repressive laws–in addition to the City’s traditional and routine Sleeping Ban–which makes any  sleep 11 PM to 8:30 AM, even in one’s own legally parked vehicle, a crime.

                    A successful appeal to the Coastal Commission heard last summer has delayed the implementation of Santa Cruz’s “no parking midnight to 5 AM” law now on the books but supposedly not being enforced  [See and ” Unexpected Victory at Coastal Commission” .   There are however mixed reports of police reportedly “cracking down” and driving vehicularly housed residents out of town into the County.  Meanwhile, the County has passed an even more repressive RV ban in March, which impacts five times as many people (since the County’s population is five times larger than the City’s).  Their ban [County Code 9.70.620] lasts all night and, like the City’s stalled ban, requires a permit connected to a resident or hotel.  It also requires parking near the residence or hotel.   Tickets so far have been very limited, but I have raised the issue with any enforcement at all with the apparently unsympathetic staff of the Coastal Commission–so far without results.

                     The “liberal” Sheriff Jim Hart reportedly has a “Flashlights at the Park” program which invites private hate groups and eager vigilantes to join deputies in stalking the parks at night in search of “illicit” behavior.  Since survival sleeping and camping is probably the most prevalent crime, the target and impact this policy seems pretty obvious. [See September 17]

                      In San Rafael as well, RV residents are fighting back.   See  For a lengthy discussion of the Santa Barbara situation from activist Peter Marin, listen to Free Radio Santa Cruz archive at [37 minutes into the audio file].

                      So far in the Santa Cruz City Council forums, I’m not aware that the issue of the harassment of RV dwellers and potential eviction of poor families has been made a high priority issue–or an issue at all for the would-be chairwarmers.    (See article below)

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Freedom Sleepers: 64th Weekly Sleepout-Sustaining the Safe Sleep Zone

Date 9/27/2016

Time 5:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Location Details On the heels and coattails of City Hall where the Sleepsnatcher Beast Slumbers. Soup and other incidentals will be available on the bricks near the City Directory sign.
The event lasts from late afternoon Tuesday the 27th through mid-morning Wednesday the 28th
Event Type
Keith McHenry (entry by Norse)
Emailkeith [at]

With a growing sidewalk community showing up each Tuesday for the “End the Sleeping Ban” rally, feed, and sleep-over, uniformed thug harassment is apparently way down with little if any interference with sleepers over the last two Tuesdays.Though only present once a week, the Freedom Sleepers continue to create a de facto Safe Sleeping Zone on the sidewalk next to City Hall across from the Main Library. A community gathers, shares food and coffee, and then sleeps in defiance of the City’s notorious MC 6.36.010 banning sleeping from 11 PM to 8:30 AM on all public and much private property.Folks have even dared to sleep on the “forbidden bricks”–the broad entrance area to the City Council Courtyard, previously open to peaceful protest and assembly until its anti-homeless closure in the fall of 2010.CITY COUNCIL COVER-UP
City Council has its 2nd September meeting (every 2nd and 4th Tuesday at 2:20 PM generally), but for the first time in memory, Council has no real agenda items other than Presentations, Consent Agenda stuff, and housekeeping (committee assignments).

Raymond Laborde apparently filed a late claim for $150,000 for “injuries allegedly resulting from an arrest”. However, City Clerk Bren Lehr has refused to put the original claim with details and phone contact on the agenda. I made a Public Records Act Request for that information, but so far have heard nothing.

Under pressure in the past, Lehr did put facsimiles of the original claims being considered on the City Council website 72 hours in advance. When pressed for contact information for those filing claims (which the City has no legal right to withhold), she removed the original claims entirely and left only the city staff’s “summary”.

Those wishing to keep abreast of who’s claiming injury from police abuse in the City should file regular Public Records Act requests well in advance of Council meetings. Claims usually take months to process, so it’s possible to get advance knowledge of who feels they’re being injured by the police if someone is interested in tracking this.

Public Records Act requests to view Sleeping Ban and other anti-homeless citations are still being resisted and ignored by the SCPD and its supposed bosses at City Hall. Issue of surveillance devices, coming up at the upcoming ACLU forum is also being stalled. Mayor Mathews, though informed of the situation, has declined to respond. She is running for reelection in November.

On September 20th at the initiative of the City Manager, City Attorney, and reactionary Mayor, City Council there passed an “emergency” ordinance to drive away the nightly Tent City known as “the Flagpole Community” (see “Speak Out Against the Proposed Camping/Loitering Ordinance” at

Activists from other cities including the Santa Cruz Freedom Sleepers joined dozens of others in speaking out against the phony “public safety” law, designed specifically to drive away protesters outside Salinas City Hall led by Wes White.

Right-wing media covered the event at (“County supervisors surprised, chagrined over proposed Salinas city overnight camping ban”)

The Community recently threw its 6-month Sleep-In celebration (see “Six Month Birthday Party for the Flagpole Community ” at “Monterey County Homeless Union Establishes Tent Community at Salinas City Hall” at .

As the clock strikes midnight on Saturday October 1st, police have threatened to begin enforcement, clearing away an orderly encampment of several dozen folks and their tents–with no alternative shelter facilities or safe sleeping spots allowed. The anti-Camping law is city-wide and includes an “anti-loitering” law.

Activists will reportedly resist the attempted destruction of the protest and urge others to join them, if only as witnesses with video. For more information, contact Wes White at 510-274-9275 .

Smooth-tongue Steve Pleich will be greeting potential voters at Woodstock Pizza 710 Front St. 5-7 PM on Friday September 30th. Pleich is the only candidate so far to specifically denounce the Sleeping Ban in the numerous candidate forums (though not the most recent Downtown Association Forum at the Civic last Thursday).

Lone wolf founder of the Homeless Persons Legal Project, Steve has recently released a list of specific accomplishments that document his history of homeless accomplishments. He himself lives in a vehicle and may be more vocal on homeless issues than most assuming his passion for shmoozing with power doesn’t get the best of him.

HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) has yet to endorse any candidates in the upcoming electoral charades, but will be meeting tomorrow 11 AM at the Sub Rosa Cafe 703 Pacific to discuss City Council election prospects.

Freedom Sleepers Bed Down for #63 While Salinas Fights Camping Ban

Date Tuesday September 20
Time 5:00 PM – 9:00 AM

Location Details At the edge of the seat of government–Santa Cruz City Hall–unholy birthplace of anti-homeless laws. Banned from peaceful protest at night, the sleepers will be positioned on the Center St. sidewalk and assorted spots nearby throughout the night and into the morning. The Sleep-Out will run from Tuesday afternoon through mid-morning Wednesday.

There will be no City Council meeting today (every 2nd and 4th Tuesday are the regular times). City bathrooms have recently been “closed for vandalism”; city employees have their own special bathrooms to use behind locked doors not available to the public. New portapotties reinforced with wooden structure –instead of opening existing bathrooms at night–are only open after 10 PM. They can be found at the parking lot adjacent to Cedar and Union streets, another at the corner of Cedar and Lincoln, kitty-corner from the Calvary Episcopal Church.

Reports from the levee suggest anti-homeless hysteria masquerading as “public safety” has prompted both increased police and ranger harassment of the citizenry generally who linger along the levee path, even during the day. Ricardo Lopez, a levee resident, reports massive bulldozing of brush along the levee to uncover the small population of survival campers there.

Event Type
Organizer/AuthorKeith McHenry (story by Norse)
Emailrnorse3 [at]

With reports coming in of wretched conditions at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center, along with an essentially closed program that requires a ‘path to housing” (i.e. government money) to get in, it’s little wonder the Freedom Sleepers continues to gather each Tuesday night in front of City Hall to defy the City’s Sleeping Ban for unhoused people.

Recent Freedom Sleep-outs are discussed and pictured in “Getting a Good Night’s Sleep with the Freedom Sleepers” at

The local ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] has announced an open “Forum on Homelessness” featuring Fresno writer and activist Mike Rhodes to be held Wednesday October 5th 7-9 PM at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History at 705 Front St. More info at

Other City Council candidate forums where homeless advocates may want to raise unmentionable issues from the audience or by protest inside or outside the event include September 21 6:30 PM: Democratic Central Committee Endorsement Forum, Community Foundation 7807 Soquel Dr. Aptos • September 22 6-9 PM Downtown Association Candidate Forum, 307 Church St.

Salinas City Council is slated to consider First Reading of an anti-homeless sleeping ban dressed up as a “Camping Ban” which criminalizes “camping equipment” such as sleeping bags.

The staff report is at staff report at .

The proposed law is at . It’s apparently designed to remove peaceful nighttime protesters who have slept nightly outside Salinas City Hall for nearly six months now.

See “Speak Out Against the Proposed Camping/Loitering Ordinance at Salinas City Council Meeting ” at

Organizer Wes White, who has videoed and supported the Santa Cruz Freedom Sleepers and backed supposedly pro-homeless Santa Cruz City Council candidates has expressed dismay at their failure to respond to what he describes as a historic confrontation today at Salinas City Hall (200 Lincoln Ave.) at 3 PM. He encourages reciprocity between activists in the two cities and urges folks to come today. Contact Robert Norse at 831-423-4833 for more transportation information.

Added to the calendar on Tuesday Sep 20th, 2016 10:55 AM

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep at City Hall with the Freedom Sleepers

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep at City Hall with the Freedom Sleepers
by Alex Darocy (alex [at]
Monday Sep 19th, 2016 6:27 PM
After a chilly series of summer nights for people on the street in Santa Cruz, temperatures have increased, and so has attendance at the Freedom Sleepers community sleepouts held at city hall. About three dozen sleepers made it through the night at the sleepout held on August 30, and attendance was nearly as high at the sleepouts organized on September 6 and September 13. Since July of 2015, the Freedom Sleepers have gathered to sleep at city hall one night a week to protest local laws that criminalize homelessness. September 13 marked the group’s 62nd sleepout. [Top photo: The Freedom Sleepers at Santa Cruz city hall at the 61st community sleepout organized on September 6-7. Scroll down for more photos.]

Presently, the only location in downtown Santa Cruz where people on the street are able to sleep regularly as a group is at the weekly community sleepouts organized by the Freedom Sleepers. Homeless sweeps conducted by the Santa Cruz Police Department beginning in January of this year have for the most part cleared the downtown area of groups of people sleeping together in other locations, such as at the post office.

The sleepouts have attracted quite a bit of attention from the police. By sleeping at city hall, the Freedom Sleepers, some of whom have fixed housing of their own and some of whom do not, are engaging in a civil disobedience protest that directly violates the city’s camping ban, which outlaws sleeping anywhere in public between the hours of 11 pm and 8:30 am.

Many of the organizers of the sleepouts, which are organized as political protests, are hesitant to describe them as a completely safe place to sleep, but one of the founding Freedom Sleepers, Robert Norse of Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom (HUFF), has described them as “safe zones” that are a “safer” place to sleep.

“A lot of the homeless people have come up to several of us and said that this is the only night of the week they can get an uninterrupted night of sleep,” said Abbi Samuels, who is also one of the founding Freedom Sleepers.

“To me that’s so sad that there is only one night a week they can get 7-8 hours of sleep,” she said.

“I have been able to get a good night’s sleep too,” Samuels said of her own experience of sleeping at city hall with the Freedom Sleepers.

The primary demand of the Freedom Sleepers has been the repeal of the city’s camping ban ordinance, but Samuels believes some immediate relief for homeless people could be attained by amending the ordinance.

“I think people should be able to sleep at government and public facilities,” Samuels said.

“City facilities should be re-zoned,” she said.

Early on during the protests, the Freedom Sleepers attempted to sleep in the large lawn area located in the center of city hall’s courtyard, but sleepers in that area were subjected to citation during the many police raids the Freedom Sleepers experienced. The city hall courtyard is a no-trespassing zone and is closed to the public at night between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am.

Additionally, city staff has actively worked behind the scenes to make it more difficult for individuals to sleep at city hall. In October of 2015, the Parks and Recreation department began the process of removing the grass lawn at city hall and replacing it with spiny plants, new pathways, and rock features, as part of a landscaping project that has rendered the area hostile to those looking for a place to sleep.

“It’s horrible, it’s a subtle way to get rid of homeless people,” Samuels said. “I am so livid.”

She recalled how soft the lawn area was, and how people could sleep on it comfortably.

Samuels says she learned in October of 2015 that the landscaping changes were intentionally designed to prevent people from sleeping in the area from Don Lane, who was the mayor of Santa Cruz at the time.

The Freedom Sleepers had moved their primary sleep location to the sidewalk before the changes in the landscape were initiated by the city, and the sleepouts continued unabated, but the loss of the lawn area is a constant reminder and sore point for the group.

In addition to those looking to sleep with a group of people, the Freedom Sleepers attract a large number of people who are in need of life necessities and other basic supplies, such as food, clothing, and blankets or bedding.

On August 30, Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs estimates they shared 200 servings of food or more at city hall before that evening’s sleepout, which was in addition to food donations made by other organizations that day.

“We had to make more food,” said Keith McHenry of Food Not Bombs about the August 30 sleepout.

“I have never seen so many eager for food at a Freedom Sleepers sleep out. It seems like we are getting more people seeking food each week,” he said. “America is in crisis.”

The Freedom Sleepers have indicated the sleepouts will continue indefinitely at Santa Cruz city hall. The next sleepout is planned for the evening of Tuesday, September 20.

Alex Darocy

Photos below…..

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Speak Out Against the Proposed Camping/Loitering Ordinance at Salinas City Council Meeting

peak Out Against the Proposed Camping/Loitering Ordinance at Salinas City Council Meeting
Date Tuesday September 20
Time 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location Details
200 Lincoln Ave
Salinas, CA 93901
Event Type Meeting
Organizer/Author Monterey County Homeless Union
3pm- Rally
4pm- City Council
6pm- Potluck Dinner

200 Lincoln Ave
Salinas, CA 93901


The city council will consider a new ordinance PROHIBITING CAMPING AND LOITERING ON ANY PUBLIC PROPERTY.

If there is a war on homeless going on throughout the country, Salinas is certainly on the front lines! Come speak up for those less fortunate and more vulnerable than you. They need your love and support at this critical time. The city’s position is that if you’re too poor to afford rent, you don’t belong in Salinas!!

Please speak your mind to the council about real issues that are hurting your community and ask why they are attacking the poor. God’s will be done. Amen!

More information:

Monterey County Homeless Advocates

Salinas City Council to consider camping ban ordinance


Rain or Shine, HUFF hits the coffee and chatter Wednesay 11 AM Sub Rosa Cafe 9-14 until 1 PM or maybe 2 PM

HUFF agenda:  Reviewing our response to recent Camping Ban/RV Ban/ Property Seizure Fights in Marysville, Honolulu, San Rafael, Denver, and elsewhere; Embarrassing Questions to Raise at the Candidate Forums (like the one happening 9-14 at the SCPD Community Room at 6:30 PM run by the Santa Cruz Neighbors); Homeless Haters Out at Night With Cop Support?; and more…plus coffee, cream, and sugar

Homeless Bans Beaten Back Elsewhere; Santa Cruz Freedom Sleepers prepare SleepOut #62

Date Tuesday September 13

Time 4:00 PM – 8:00 AM
Location Details
Next to the belly of the beast–Santa Cruz City Hall–as close as sleepers dare lay down their bags, mats, and blankets. 809 Center St. Across from the Main Library. Starting on Tuesday afternoon and running through Wednesday morning.
Event Type
Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
rnorse3 [at]

While sleeping continues to be illegal (and sleepers hassled) throughout Santa Cruz elsewhere, the Tuesday night “Safe Zone” set up by the persistence and determination of the Freedom Sleepers continues to shame city electeds and officials as they walk by with eyes averted.

The homeless-hostile City Council has an afternoon session with little or nothing on the agenda that alters the “no shelter for the poor”, “no relief from the cops” situation of folks outdoors, and no improvements for tenants and workers.

Mayor “Two Minute” Mathews is expected to allow only 2 minutes apiece at 5 p.m. for Oral Communications regardless of how few speakers there are and how much time is actually available. Tjhis is the time when folks can talk about items not on the agenda such as police abuse, tenant rights, access to public spaces, criminalization of the poor.

The Sidewalk Sleeper Community will likely find food and coffee as well as company Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

The first report of an overnight-RV-ban-in-the-County has come in, though there doesn’t yet seem to be massive enforcement. Santa Barbara activists are busy using the Coastal Commission access requirements to challenge their RV restrictions.


Hawaii: Restitution Awarded: (and see comments!)


Meanwhile in Salinas, the Flagpole Community has slept out NIGHTLY at City Hall since late March. It plans a 6-Month Celebration on September 24th noon to 3 PM with a bbq (with the Mayor and City Council, perhaps, as the main dish?). “Whip ’em into Shape” Wes White noted he may be trying a “mob the mike” strategy with the heart-deaf Salinas City Council today at 4 PM.

Freedom Sleepers need blankets, bags, food, friends, and other support–as ever. Come on down!

HUFF reminder: Meeting Today at 11 AM

We will be meeting today at 11 AM at the Sub Rosa as ever.

On the agenda: the RV situation here compared with Santa Rosa and Santa Barbara, possible link-up’s with Venice in theri struggle, a (shudder) look ahead to the next City Council meeting, more brooding on how to make something meaningful out of this election season, Seattle’s landmark legislation to protect homeless encampments, and more…