NOTES FROM NORSE: The new Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguin has sent out an important Announcement regarding Emergency Measures to Address the Homeless Crisis. It is printed in its entirety below.
Meanwhile in collusion with the heavy hand of City Manager Martin Bernal, Mayor Mathews’ lame-duck City Council have voted over $200,000 to fund homeless-harassing “Parks and Recreation” Rangers.
Their ‘recreation’ seems to be patrolling Pacific Avenue–as though it were a park. They will be handsomely paid for harassing people for sitting down near a building, playing an instrument outside the tiny “performance pens” delineated by brass discs on the sidewalk, and generally intimidating poor people who do not follow their orders. This latest salary boost includes surveillance cameras and was voted unanimously by the “liberal” outgoing Councilmembers Lane and Posner.
Unable to find or even look for emergency money for the winter shelter crisis in Santa Cruz, the Council’s response to the arrival of several hundred protesters on November 22nd was to encourage staff to expand next year’s budget, but do nothing to expand shelter or rein in police attacks on homeless people sheltering themselves this winter.
A report from an RV activist who lives in her van noted a Thanksgiving night incident. Officer Calhoun, she writes, knocked on the RVs and made contact with whomever would answer, (most did not) telling RVs to move along. “I pointed out to Calhoun”, the activist continues, ” that the signage said I was legally parked. His reply after confirming the fact was that he “Imagined” I am living in my rv and habitating a vehicle in santa cruz is illegal. This was about a half mile from the beach.”
While the absurd anti-homeless Sleeping Ban does ban sleeping in your vehicle, outside, or in any non-residential building after 11 PM, there is no such law regarding “habitating a vehicle” in the City. The California Coastal Commission, in fact, specifically declined to okay Councilmember Richelle Niroyan‘s anti-RV law, and such abuses are illegal. We’ll see if Niroyan insists her friends on the police force respect the rights of those whose only shelter is their vehicle and follow the law as she and her Take Back Santa Cruz friends shrilly demand of the homeless. If so, a public statement clarifying that police have no business harassing people in RV’s at night is in order.
The 50 shelter spaces available on 7th Avenue for emergency shelter in December for 1000-2000 homeless are clearly a joke solution.
Santa Cruz could easily and justifiably adopt some of the measures that Berkeley’s Mayor proposes. Demand they do so at firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-420-5020. Or you can leave a message for the real power in the City and contact City Mangler Bernal at email@example.com or 831-420-5030.
From: Carol Denney <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2016 2:49 PM
To: Robert Norse
Subject: proposal for Dec 13
Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguín
Friday November 25, 2016 – 10:50:00 AM
I have placed the following on the Berkeley City Council Agenda for December 13:
Take the following actions to implement emergency measures to address our growing homeless population:
1. Direct the City Manager to provide an update on staff and Council actions discussed on November 1, 2016 to respond to the homeless shelter crisis.
2. Direct the City Manager and Chief of Police to permit camping on designated public property, unless conditions arise posing an imminent threat to health and safety.
3. Establish an ad-hoc subcommittee to work with the City Manager to explore emergency solutions, including short-term Navigation Centers.
4. Refer to the City Manager and City Attorney to develop a formal city policy modeled after the proposed amendment to San Francisco’s Police Code.
5. Adopt an Ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 7,449-N.S., which restricts the placement of objects on sidewalks to a 2 square-foot area.
Our city is experiencing a homeless and shelter crisis. On January 2015, the nonprofit organization EveryOne Home performed a point-in-time count of Berkeley’s homeless population, which showed a 53 percent increase in the unsheltered homeless population since 2009, and a 23 percent spike in homelessness overall, from 680 to 834 homeless people in total. Currently the number of homeless individuals in Berkeley far exceeds the amount of shelter beds and transitional housing opportunities available. Additionally, our city’s Storm Shelter at the 1st Congregational Church was destroyed in a fire, even more greatly reducing our shelter capacity.
In response to the worsening conditions on our streets locally and regionally, the City Council voted unanimously on January 19, 2016 to declare a homeless shelter crisis, which was just renewed on November 15 for another year. Although extending the resolution was an important step needed to minimize the red tape of potential solutions, it is in and of itself not a solution. And as our city’s residents, service providers and homeless individuals and families can attest to, shelter is needed now, particularly as winter conditions worsen.
As recommended by the Community Health Commission, the City should be immediately focused on saving lives, which can be accomplished by calling for a moratorium on the eviction of encampments until a plan is developed. Additionally, adding specific language similar to San Francisco in our Police Code regarding encampment relocation procedure will further protect our most vulnerable and their possessions.