Police have begun incremental removal of tent-homes in and around the Benchlands.
This seems in line with City Manager Matt Huffaker’s threat/promise to “demobilize” (i.e. remove) the Benchlands by summer’s end. HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) will be at the National Night Out at the SCPD Headquarters starting at 3:30 PM Tuesday August 2nd, speaking sense to the community and the cops. Join us. More details at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/08/01/18851370.php
HUFFsters: We did a little tabling downtown yesterday, distributing flyers and circulating petitions encouraging activists to rise up again in support of basic justice for those outside. We were testing the waters for Pacific Ave. passersby. The literature challenged the false “all is well–we’ve got shelter & housing for those outside” narrative.
The flyers and petition set out a more truthful counter-narrative.
Our ultimate goal is to provide support for resistance to Benchlands removal at the end of the summer..
Bad news for buskers, street vendors, and rv-dwellers hits the City Council agenda Tuesday April 12th on items 24, 30, and 31 in yet another “public not wanted” Zoomed meeting. A “strangle the street vendors” ordinance severely limits street vending, reinstitutes the “stay in your box” space restrictions on Pacific Avenue, and awards special-interest legislation for brick-and-mortar stores and in a return to the old regime
The backward-looking City Council laid out their “undo the Martin v. Boise” decision last summer with the CSSO restored Sleeping/Camping Ban. We witnessed a back-from-the-grave RV ban previously vetoed by the whole Coastal Commission in 2016 last fall. Last month it was the street vendors turn to feel City Council’s bad-spirited backstab. as they slip past the legislature’s 2019 law temporarily cancelling the City’s repressive Downtown and Beach St. ordinances.
Now it’s the turn of anyone involved in a public protest, parade, demonstration, or regular outdoors event to face a “no more Black Lives Matter or Food Not Bombs” events decree. With the power to permit being the power to destroy, City staff under making a thinly-disguised preemptive strike on the power of people to speak out and walk out against its gentrification agenda. For more details and to comment, go to https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/04/10/18848984.php
With the increased sweeps against those outside in Santa Cruz, HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) is checking out unhoused and sympathizer support for a regular daytime presence at City Council offices to lobby the Council for some fundamental policy changes.The regular gathering would include coffee and munchables as we seek to speak to the unspeakable.
On Tuesday, April 5, HUFF tabled at the Food-Not-Bombs meal downtown to sample opinion for the latest proposed protest lobbying effort to educate and press City Council to end the ongoing homeless sweeps.
The three flyers describe the reasons for the Koffee Klatch and some of the background which has prompted it.
Results of the poll will be released in the near future.
Have a cup of coffee and a pastry with us at City Hall.
Ask the City Council and Its Staff What the Hell is Going on?
Tell the Deaf-to-Compassion Bureaucrats the Score!
Koffee Klatch at City Kouncil
What gives? Group Encampments & Single Survival Campers now face “Move to the Benchlands” orders from SCPD & Cal-Trans. Yet the Benchlands is scheduled to be “cleared” this summer, according to the March 3 report to City Council from City Manager Matt Huffaker .
Camping Ban Ready to Rampage The new camping ban (the CSSO MC 6.36 law) prohibits putting up a tent or laying down a sleeping bag during the night if there is either “an overnight sanctioned sleeping location or available 24/7 sanctioned sheltering location” for 150 people. The OVO [Oversized Vehicle Ordinance] threatens those in RVs and cars.
The new Ban requires carrying your possessions and bedding with you through the day if and when limited storage facilities are “available” if you can’t or won’t use their facilities.
New Camping Ban Being Enforced The 3-3 City Manager’s Homeless Quarterly Update & Encampment Management prepared by Homeless Response Manager Larry Imwalle states “Until additional programs are operational, the encampment at the Benchlands in San Lorenzo Park continues to serve as an alternate location for individuals as the CSSO is enforced in other areas of the City, such as recently closed areas at Lot 27 (northeast corner of Laurel and Front Streets) and behind the Santa Cruz Memorial cemetery. Benchlands…[will be] closed in Summer 2022. ” [City Council Agenda 3-8]
City Authorities are happily violating the Martin v. Boise court decision which supposedly protects those outside, given Santa Cruz’ failure to establish shelter, campground, and storage facilities. The woefully underfunded and crowded Benchlands has longstanding health and safety problems that the City has ignored.
Illegal sweeps have been standard policy as hundreds were driven from the Pogonip, the encampment along Coral St., the “Housing Matters” corner along Hiway 1, the Hells Trail, Camp Paradise, the 2nd Hells Trail Sweep, the Levee Sweeps, and recent the Branciforte Creek sweep. Huffaker’s expanded emergency powers are a special threat.
Camping Ban Enforcement Without the Camping Ban City anti-homeless authorities have long used other laws than the Camping Ban to harass, threaten, and displace those surviving outside such as “blocking the sidewalk”, “closed area”, “public nuisance”, (spurious) “fire danger”, & other pretexts. Bucks for bullying instead of for real services is the true crime.
Community and SC Union Support stopped the San Lorenzo Park clearing in the Winter of 2020. Resistance works if folks organize, do outreach, and educate the community and the neighborhoods. It takes housed and homeless in community to beat back the bureaucrats.
Legal and activist action established and fed the Benchlands encampment with little support from the City other than insufficient portapotties, closed bathrooms, fenced off areas, threats to those seeking to escape the winter flooding, one water faucet, and phone charger.
City Council and City Staff are betraying even those in the community who want the homeless gone. The Benchlands was never presented to the community for discussion and input. There has been no clear accounting of where funding for those outside has actually gone. Endless promises by former assistant City Manager Susie O’Hara, former City Manager Martin Bernal, and the current crew of Lee Butler, Matt Huffaker and Larry Imwalde have been outrageously optimistic in their claims and inaccessible on the details.
Real services that might deescalate or assist folks with disabilities, mental crises, drug recovery are woefully underfunded. Policing services get extra funding.
The City should not be cooperating with the new “Normal” which requires those outside to be grouped under “mentally ill”, “drug abuser”, or “service-resistant” labels to receive basic aid. Gov. Newsom’s latest “obligation to accept shelter’ and “forced treatment” proposals are an ominous direction that needs to be fought. Inclusion, not coercion!
HUFF opposes City laws (CSSO and OVO) that punish those outside for being homeless. We oppose compulsory treatment and feel existing laws, properly enforced, are adequate to deal with real health and safety concerns.
Come Demand Real Answers
Huddle at City Hall Until They Provide Them !
Time and Date to be announced.
Flyer by Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 423-4833 www.huffsantacruz.org 309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz 4-2-22
Koffee Klatch at City Hall ?
Poll for Your Opinion
Get-together at City Hall (perhaps daily—if enough people are interested) during business hours.
Perhaps walk there from Food Not Bombs through downtown.
Try to talk with City Council members and/or Staff about problems outside and grievances.
Sip coffee while we’re waiting.
Share concerns with media—if any show up.
Hang out until those in power start to notice.
Keep coming back—the problems aren’t going away.
Confront those responsible for the recent sweeps, misuse of money, and other abuses against the poor outside.
Tell the real facts to them, the media, and the community from the people being pushed around.
Flyer by HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) www.huffsantacruz.org 309 Cedar PMB #14 B S.C 4-5-22
Koffee Klatch POLL
City Manager Huffaker signed a March 3 staff report to the City Council stating the new Camping Ban was now “enforceable” because the Benchlands was adequate shelter in spite of the Martin v. Boise [no tickets without shelter for all] decision. Police and city workers under his direction have been sweeping other large encampments, dispersing them and directing them to the Benchlands under theat.
Huffaker’s Quarterly Update also announces the Benchlands will be “cleared” this summer. Sources close to Benchland management confirm this deadline. Benchland residents report being told the eviction deadline is imminent. All this with no place to go.
HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) proposes regular coffee at City Hall during business hours to wait to speak to individual City Council members and Mayor regarding the problems of living outside.
Please give your reaction to these demands. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the most disagreement, and 5 being the most agreement.
an accounting for the millions supposedly spent for “the homeless” over the last few years; _____
(b) give the unhoused a voice on how to spend the millions;_____
(c) end the sweeps of ground sleepers, encampments, and car folks _____
(d) more services in the Benchlands other encampments; ____
(e) results of the housing “successes” of the last few years have been; _____
(f) immediately move funding from the SCPD to real support services._____
Rhonda Reyna accused the SCPD of abusive violence & kidnapping against a minor last summer. City Administrator/Clerk Bonnie Bush refused to post the full text of this Claim on the twice-monthly Santa Cruz City Council agenda for its 2-4 meeting, leaving the community in the dark before the upcoming Council meeting. But then, this may have been the whole point.
HUFF is usually interested in police violence as it affects those outside who are more vulnerable. However, institutionalized abusive practices which affect the entire community, even more significantly affect the homeless. For more about this case go to https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/02/15/18847994.php .
Food Not Bombs volunteers and those eating with them could be arrested and our equipment stolen by the property speculators on Thursday, January 20, 2022 at 5 PM from their new location next to University Copy at Cathcart & Pacific.
Their storage area near India Joze is also under threat of seizure.
A new “hearing” for the OVO [Oversized Vehicle Ordinance] will be held on January 12th at 10 AM by the Zoning Administrator to confirm the ouster of “Oversized”, i.e. homeless vehicles, from a large segment of the City.