NOTES BY NORSE: “Liberal” SCPD Chief Andy Mills showed up at the Ross Encampment last week around the time “Abatement” notices were being posted, to give warnings.
If you live in distant towns, you will be given (one-way) tickets; if you live in outside Santa Cruz City Limits, you will be forced to leave; if you live in here, you will be evicted by March 15th. You will never be allowed to form another Ross Camp style survival encampment again. These were his words as remembered by Mama Shannon, a long-time homeless activist and resident of Ross Camp and as reported to me last night
Thanks to the key vote that killed a proposal to restore last year’s rent freeze and just eviction protection law, hundreds of Ross camp residents are facing loss of their lodging, belongings, privacy, and safety. New Councilmember Justin Cummings voted with the Mathews-Watkins majority to back a slippery City-County plan to offers phantom floor spaces and uncertain prospects of future shelter. Why? A cosmetic cover for the joint City-County “eliminate the eyesore” Ross Camp which prompts anxiety from nearby housed residents and tourist-seeking businesses at the Gateway Plaza.
Cummings made an apparent promise on February 12th that the announced “abatement” might be altered at the February 26th or March 12th Council meetings if it became (even more) obvious that there was insufficient shelter to meet the needs of the Ross residents. However he also voted for the provision that allowed for closure notices to be posted immediately and has not responded to repeated requests tostop the forced eviction until real guarantees can be provided.
Santa Cruz also uses the deceptively-termed “Homeward Bound” as part of its one-way-trip-to-nowhere plan to lawlessly deport homeless folks, often in collusion with law enforcement authorities, social service “providers”, business interests, and courts. This provides the charade with both humanitarian and legal cover. Last year’s Boise v. Martin decision makes laws that enable arresting homeless folks for sleeping, resting, sitting or lying likely unconstitutional here.
The makeshift Ross Camp Community was created largely by the unhoused themselves. This was prompted in part by the shameless reduction in even token winter shelter space. In part by city staff betraying promises to keep open the small and cramped River St. Camp until next April (while actually closing it in October=–thank you City Manager Martin Bernal, Susie O-Hara and Tina Shull). And partly by the inevitable explosion of the local homeless population as rents escalate, jobs disappear, and services shrink.
Police and rangers may have had a plan to use the camp as a concentrating device. Numerous survival sleepers report being (illegally) driven to the camp under (false) threat of arrest and property seizure. However, once there, saner and more compassionate heads in the community began to provide food and shelter support. The City and County were forced by the numbers to provide minimal portapotty, trash, and needle disposal services.
Keith McHenry of Food Not Bombs announced a nonviolent direct action campaign to establish temporary survival campgrounds in downtown parking garages (See “This is a Homeless Emergency” at https://www.indybay.org/
newsitems/2019/02/15/18821195. php )
Tomorrow (Tuesday February 19th) is a Special City Council meeting behind held at the Harvey West Clubhouse 326 Evergreen St. at 9 AM where there will be a brief public comment period (http://scsire.
cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/ mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1230& doctype=AGENDA).
Wednesday Conscience and Action meets at 11 AM at the Sub Rosa Cafe followed by HUFF at noon to firm up strategies. Councilmember Glover is reportedly going to be going to an open meeting that night at the Felton Community Hall 6191 Highway 9 in Felton (6:30 – 8 PM)
The Guardian article below documents how widespread the homeless-dumping practice is throughout the U.S. For more details, video, and commentary, go to https://www.theguardian.com/
us-news/ng-interactive/2017/ dec/20/bussed-out-america- moves-homeless-people-country- study .