Indybay Story with Flyer On Upcoming “Save the Ross Campground” Events

Save the Ross Campground
by Robert Norse & Keith McHenry (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Monday Feb 18th, 2019 5:23 PM

The Heroes encampment behind the Gateway-Ross area is under threat of “abatement” according to resolution passed at the 2-12-19 S.C. City Council. The flyer here describes some actions discussed by HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom).
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Recently Chief Andy Mills of the SCPD visited Ross Camp and gave stern warnings to campers that they would all have to leave by March 15. Some would have to leave town and not return. No future encampments of this sort would be permitted.

Official-looking notices have already been posted (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156853392903820&set=a.489759988819&type=3&theater).

There are no clear records of any Ross campers being housed elsewhere as was supposedly offered by city bureaucrats Susie O’Hara and Tina Shull at Council on February 12th.

Nor do Ross campers feel they want to leave for the proposed waiting lists, night-time only shelter, and other inadequate alternatives being spoken about (though not actually offered).

One camp resident gave her chilling account of Mills’s threats at https://www.facebook.com/alicia.lusterkuhl/videos/2407437002622069/ with an additional short piece at https://www.facebook.com/alicia.lusterkuhl/videos/2407443555954747/.

The federal Miller v. Boise decision, whose precedent is applicable here, bars cities from enforcing laws that criminalize sleeping, camping, resting, or lying where they have no shelter comprehensive alternatives.

Conscience and Action and HUFF will be meeting Wednesday at the Sub Rosa Cafe at 703 Pacific next to the Bike Church 11 AM to 1 PM. Join us.

Broken Promises, Buses to Nowhere: the City Council’s Homeless Solution–the Nationwide “Homeless Bound” Scam

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 .

Protest and Evening Battle Likely at City Council -Tuesday 2-12-19

NOTES BY NORSE:   This article by Councilmember Glover and attached commentary gives some important background on the evening session coming up at City Council for Tuesday night.  A speak-out and protest outside Council chambers will begin at 6:15 PM with food supplied by Jumbogumbo Joe Schultz of India Joze.
                 Originally, the protest was intended to focus on continued harassment by SCPD and P & R rangers harassing and citing homeless folks in public places, with some reports that folks living in their own camps were being driven to the Ross Camp.  Though the Ross Camp has been provided with some more (but still inadequate) facilities in the last month, it is still badly overcrowded and under severe pressure from raging neighbors.
                 In response, HUFF called for additional campgrounds, laundry and shower services, and the end to citations for being in a park after dark, reopening public bathrooms during the day and at night city-wide, and protecting the rights of those whose homes are their vehicles.
                 Councilmembers Glover and Krohn were rebuffed on rent control/just eviction and then by the City Manager and Mayor Watkins for not putting homelessness on the last January Council meeting.  In response, Glover mobilized his interns to propose 6 measures in consultation with homeless activists, and folks from Ross Camp and the RV community itemized in the PDF’s attached to his Indybay story  “The Fierce Urgency of Now”.
                  Glover and Krohn may have a 4-person majority on City Council not just to pass the homelessness resolutions, but also to rein in Mayor “One Minute” Martine Watkins censorship proclivities which were in full foul flower at the last Council meeting.  Speaking times were reduced to one minute, speakers were excluded, speakers were interrupted, and oral communications was crunched and contracted in her desire to “welcome” a foreign delegation from Japan.  There was little protest if any from the “Progressives” at the January meetings.
                   Unless members of the audience demand it vocally, there’s no guarantee we won’t see a repeat of this disgraceful performance on February 12th.  Folks need to come in numbers, ready to speak out, unroll sleeping bags, hold up signs, and stand their ground.
                    Note that there is no mention of rent control or just eviction, just a fig leaf proposal for yet another Task Force that will babble while tenants and their supporters get driven out of town.
                    Review Glover’s article and the attached documents.  Check also the “Flyer for 2-10-19 City Council Protest” which gives more details.
                    Come on down to City Council on Tuesday at 6:15 PM.  Form connections with folks at the Ross Campground.  Contact City Council by e-mail (citycouncil@cityofsantacruz.com )or phone (831-420-5020) .  And contact HUFF at 423-4833 or rnorse3@hotmail..com to be advised of upcoming flash protests and to resist the demolition of the Ross Campground.
The Fierce Urgency of Now
by Santa Cruz City Councilmember Drew Glover
Friday Feb 8th, 2019 10:45 PM
This Wednesday I went to the “Ross Camp” with some of the interns that work with me at the Resource Center for Nonviolence to get an update on the situation and to engage people in a conversation about poverty. As we arrived we met Mel Nunez, a dedicated advocate for the poor and representative from our local faith communities. [Photo: The view of the Ross Camp from the River Street side.]
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We joined him in passing out anti-microbial “Bombas” socks, fresh apples, salad greens, spinach and water. It was almost immediately after we arrived that people began to approach us expressing their need for food, materials and clothing…
Story continues at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/02/08/18821045.php and the comments that follow.

Police-Led Martin Luther King Day March, Lots of Smiles, Little Substance

This article also available (hopefully) at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/01/22/18820615.php


I joined the MLK parade, annoyed at the annual pomp and ceremony, sterilizing, sanitizing, and snoozifying his real message-to act locally against war, racism, and poverty. The flyers I distributed lay out some of the specifics that I often echo on this website. At least one speaker at the civic Auditorium noted it was, for the second year, police-led–the final bitter icing on the fluffy cake of expropriating, transforming, and degrading King’s original message and work.
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HOLLOW VOID OF HUZZAHS`
Almost entirely absent from the event was any discussion of local racism, police abuse, or institutional anti-homeless city policies. Some folks presented with flyers raising these concerns turned up their noses and marched on in bright array.

I’ve raised this issue in prior parades. See https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/01/16/18805901.php There were hundreds perhaps more than 1000 in the parade, but fewer on the sidelines cheering or watching than last year.

UNANSWERED RV QUESTIONS
I shouted a taunting inquiry at Police Chief Mills as he left Civic Auditorium. The question was also raised in Alicia Kuhl’s press conference with Chief Mills the week before: “When are you going to stop harassing the RV dwellers?” He left it unanswered, of course, as he stiffly strode away.

The indybay story (including the Sentinel article) covering the continuing SCPD harassment of RV’s can be found at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/01/16/18820421.php?show_comments=1#18820535 .

Other activists I spoke with also mentioned the lack of local issues in the bevy of “distinguished speakers” lining the podium inside the Civic Auditorium. I regretted my own cowardice in not shouting out important questions and challenging the self-satisfied police-congratulating celebration joined in with a standing ovation.

FOXES LEADING THE CHEERING CHICKENS PARADE?
I continue to wonder when the NAACP–the parade co-sponsor–will stand up publicly and hold Mills’s SCPD accountable for its behavior towards poor folks and minorities. And, in particular, hold individual officers accountable publicly for abuses when they happen.

Mills still declines to explain why he omits race from his infraction citation summaries. He has not responded to requests for specifics of the when and where folks were tasered, struck with a baton, choke-holded, pain-complianced, or confronted with a drawn gun. He misrepresents his Parks and Recreation Rangers use of “trespass” to load up homeless people who sleep in public parks and “closed areas” at night with unpayable fines.

His police and rangers have been commended for generally leaving the Gateway/Ross camp alone, but most folks outside are not in that camp and must deal with harassment, citations, and property seizures for “trespassing on public property”.

NOT NEW ISSUES
Over a year ago, I raised these and other questions with Mills publicly. Additionally Steve Schnaar, both this year and last, wrote questioning the consistency if not the hypocrisy of the head cop leading the MLK parade. My questions remain unanswered and his concerns haven’t been addressed either.

These are behaviors that MLK, one presumes, would be exposing and resisting.. It seems particularly twisted to be allowing the SCPD to transform the event into a PR exercise–complete with little purple vests. I think we need some yellow ones here in Santa Cruz like those our French cousins are wearing as they take real, not just symbolic action.

§Who Stole MLK Day?

by Robert Norse Tuesday Jan 22nd, 2019 1:10 PM
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This flyer raises the questions gone into more detail on some of the other flyers.
§A summary of the Sentinel and Indybay Stories on Mills’s RV Policy

by Robert Norse Tuesday Jan 22nd, 2019 1:10 PM
Download PDF (494.5KB)
§Protect Your Home on Wheels–Two Half Page Flyers

by Robert Norse Tuesday Jan 22nd, 2019 1:10 PM
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Download PDF (720.2KB)
Top flyer is for those who aren’t currently being harassed, but worry about the future; the bottom flyer is for those currently experiencing harassment.

Sentinel presents sympathetic story about RV dwellers, misses the point of the press conference/protest

NORSE’S NOTES:  Jessica York apparently had a sitdown with Alicia Kuhl earlier this week as well as finally making use of the notes she took at the January 10th meet-up that Conscience and Action and
HUFF organized at the police station.  For the audio and video of that conference, go to “The Vandwellers Meet the Police Chief: Relearning Sad Facts” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/01/16/18820421.php.
                      Unfortunately, York missed the predictable outcome of that meeting.  Chief Mills heard  numerous complaints about targeted and premature “enforcement” by his enforcement officers including the notorious Joe Haebe.  He praised Haebe for his high record of vehicle ticketing and tows. He ducked responsibility, sending Kuhl to City Council.
                      And, most importantly, he declined to reassure her that he would enforce the law and respect basic RV rights that she and others claimed were being regularly violated at the whim of NIMBY neighbors.    That basic right:  to park for 72-hours on a public street without being harassed, stickered, or ticketed.
                       Mills declined to reassure Kuhl and others there that he’d direct officers to advise beachfront bigots that a false complaint is a misdemeanor and that police will follow what appears to be law and is hopefully SCPD procedure.  He acknowledged he would make NO policy changes:  Such as  advising his officers to sticker, ticket, or chalk a vehicle only after 72 hours has elapsed.  Directing his officers to remind complaining NIMBY’s that a false police report is a misdemeanor.   Or making a record of neighbor complaints accessible to the public to document that his department is not simply serving as an RV Elimination Squad.
                       All these issues were raised at the press conference.  Mills did spend more than  half an hour responding to often angry demands from RV dwellers with sympathetic excuses.  One of his most ironic comments was something to the effect of “my officers are just following the law”.  The complaint of RVsters present, of course, was that they were repeatedly violating the law with warnings, chalk-paint on tires, stickers, and general harassment short of the 72-hour grace period,  which seemed specifically designed to frighten and target RV residents.
To view the hubbub of hatred roused by York’s relatively mild article uncritical of the SCPD, go to https://www.santacruzsentinel.com/2019/01/18/santa-cruz-rv-dwellers-question-police-attention/
Those in RV’s facing harassment should document it with audio and video if they can, and contact  SC Tenants Association at 222-0359 where the reports will be compiled for future action.  Folks can also contact HUFF at 423-HUFF (4833).  Activists will be showing up at the Civic Auditorium at the conclusion of the Martin Luther King Day on Monday January 21st and at the Tuesday City Council meeting during 7 PM Oral Communications on January 22nd.  HUFF meets at the Sub Rosa on at 11 AM on January 23rd to discuss further action.

Santa Cruz RV-dwellers question police attention

Alicia Kuhl lives in an RV with her family, spending the night on a Westside street away from neighborhoods frequented by other RVs . (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

SANTA CRUZ — In the four months since Alicia Kuhl, her partner and three children, ages 1, 3 and 5, moved into a 23-foot recreational vehicle, she has seen her life flip over.

“With an RV, they notice the second you roll in,” Kuhl said Friday, seated on a bench outside her vehicle and home. “I would think it would be a more nonchalant thing in this town, instead of automatically associated with homelessness.”

Alicia Kuhl lives in an RV with her family — including 6-week-old terrier Bolt –and spending the night on a Westside street away from neighborhoods frequented by other RVs. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

A month ago, Kuhl, who parks away from other RVs but not directly in front of homes, found a note left on her windshield citing city municipal code prohibiting overnight camping or sleeping in vehicles and telling her she was not welcome in the Westside neighborhood. Earlier, while parked on a city cul-de-sac, she and her family were woken late one night to loud banging and what Kuhl described as drunken shouts from one of the street’s housed residents, telling her to leave. Police officers regularly approach her, once accusing her of being a drug dealer, she said.

Kuhl and several other people living locally in their vehicles joined activist groups Conscious In Action and Homeless United for Friendship and Peace to confront Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills with concerns of perceived police harassment. During about an hour-long meeting Jan. 10 billed as a press conference in front of the police department, Mills heard and responded to speakers’ concerns.

72 hours

Kuhl and several of the activists gathered questioned Mills on honoring the city’s 72-hour parking policy that allows vehicles to remain in an otherwise unrestricted parking space legally. Along a similar track, Mills has directed his officers not to enforce the city’s overnight camping ban on public land, in light of the 9th District Court of Appeals decision, Martin vs. Boise decision. However, he said, officers responding to complaint calls have the responsibility to look at all vehicle violations, such as expired registration, cracked windshields and bald tires.

Activist Robert Norse asked Mills to direct his officers to limit their RV tickets to “real violations,” be “much more cautious, given the housing crisis” and to “treat with skepticism complaints by people in the the neighborhoods who are housed.”

“If you see sewage, if you see heroin, if you’re witnessing domestic violence, absolutely call the police,” said Kuhl, 40. “If you see somebody just parking there, minding their own business, they might be making dinner for their kids — there’s no reason to call the police.”

Targeted?

“I have a really strong feeling that I’ve been talked to far more than have been complained about me, which would show a homeless targeted harassment,” Kuhl said to Mills about her interactions with his officers.

Life is good for Alicia Kuhl, who lives in an RV with her family, making sure they spend the night on a Westside street away from neighborhoods frequented by other RVs. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

The day before, the department posted an announcement on social media about its December officer of the month award, presented to vehicle abatement officer Joe Haebe, for his work in 2018 tagging more than 2,000 vehicles for abatement and having 291 of them towed.

“Joe is our go-to guy that continuously responds to illegal parking and/or storage of oversized vehicles in residential and commercial areas throughout the city,” the post read, in part, urging people to call 831-420-5185 to report “nuisance vehicles and parking violators.”

Mills told the group of about 20 people this month that he sympathized with their plights, saying that his job involves social order and finding a middle ground between the needs of people who are less fortunate and, for example, a group of 100 residents “screaming mad” about RVs that have dumped raw sewage and needles onto their residential streets. He suggested alternatives to parking on residential streets, such as working out one-on-one deals with private property owners and businesses to rent a space, or rent parking at the Kampgrounds of America in Watsonville.

Problematic parking

“We still have to deal with the amount of people parking in front of people’s homes that becomes problematic,” Mill said. “The solution is just not parking wherever we want, the solution is us … in a government, not just the government, but everyone in a society, institutions including the churches — there’s all kinds of people involved in this, including nonprofit organizations like this. Help find the locations.”

Mills said his department tries to strike a balance between “towing people’s homes,” putting another person on the street and a “responsibility to my community” sending him hundreds of emails and complaints and calls. He said city and county leaders are seeking solutions for those struggling without housing, and that an effort to establish a local safe-parking program was “submarined.”

On Friday, Kuhl, who will seek appointment from the Santa Cruz City Council to a seat on the city of Santa Cruz’s Parks and Recreation Commission on Tuesday, said she believes what the city really needs is a new standing homeless commission. The body, comprised of nonproperty owners such as renters and homeless people, could make city policy recommendations on spending recommendations, long-term programs, safe parking options and more, she said.

Santa Cruz RV-dwellers question police attentio

Alicia Kuhl lives in an RV with her family, spending the night on a Westside street away from neighborhoods frequented by other RVs . (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

SANTA CRUZ — In the four months since Alicia Kuhl, her partner and three children, ages 1, 3 and 5, moved into a 23-foot recreational vehicle, she has seen her life flip over.

“With an RV, they notice the second you roll in,” Kuhl said Friday, seated on a bench outside her vehicle and home. “I would think it would be a more nonchalant thing in this town, instead of automatically associated with homelessness.”

Alicia Kuhl lives in an RV with her family — including 6-week-old terrier Bolt –and spending the night on a Westside street away from neighborhoods frequented by other RVs. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

A month ago, Kuhl, who parks away from other RVs but not directly in front of homes, found a note left on her windshield citing city municipal code prohibiting overnight camping or sleeping in vehicles and telling her she was not welcome in the Westside neighborhood. Earlier, while parked on a city cul-de-sac, she and her family were woken late one night to loud banging and what Kuhl described as drunken shouts from one of the street’s housed residents, telling her to leave. Police officers regularly approach her, once accusing her of being a drug dealer, she said.

Kuhl and several other people living locally in their vehicles joined activist groups Conscious In Action and Homeless United for Friendship and Peace to confront Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills with concerns of perceived police harassment. During about an hour-long meeting Jan. 10 billed as a press conference in front of the police department, Mills heard and responded to speakers’ concerns.

72 hours

Kuhl and several of the activists gathered questioned Mills on honoring the city’s 72-hour parking policy that allows vehicles to remain in an otherwise unrestricted parking space legally. Along a similar track, Mills has directed his officers not to enforce the city’s overnight camping ban on public land, in light of the 9th District Court of Appeals decision, Martin vs. Boise decision. However, he said, officers responding to complaint calls have the responsibility to look at all vehicle violations, such as expired registration, cracked windshields and bald tires.

Activist Robert Norse asked Mills to direct his officers to limit their RV tickets to “real violations,” be “much more cautious, given the housing crisis” and to “treat with skepticism complaints by people in the the neighborhoods who are housed.”

“If you see sewage, if you see heroin, if you’re witnessing domestic violence, absolutely call the police,” said Kuhl, 40. “If you see somebody just parking there, minding their own business, they might be making dinner for their kids — there’s no reason to call the police.”

Targeted?

“I have a really strong feeling that I’ve been talked to far more than have been complained about me, which would show a homeless targeted harassment,” Kuhl said to Mills about her interactions with his officers.

Life is good for Alicia Kuhl, who lives in an RV with her family, making sure they spend the night on a Westside street away from neighborhoods frequented by other RVs. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

The day before, the department posted an announcement on social media about its December officer of the month award, presented to vehicle abatement officer Joe Haebe, for his work in 2018 tagging more than 2,000 vehicles for abatement and having 291 of them towed.

“Joe is our go-to guy that continuously responds to illegal parking and/or storage of oversized vehicles in residential and commercial areas throughout the city,” the post read, in part, urging people to call 831-420-5185 to report “nuisance vehicles and parking violators.”

Mills told the group of about 20 people this month that he sympathized with their plights, saying that his job involves social order and finding a middle ground between the needs of people who are less fortunate and, for example, a group of 100 residents “screaming mad” about RVs that have dumped raw sewage and needles onto their residential streets. He suggested alternatives to parking on residential streets, such as working out one-on-one deals with private property owners and businesses to rent a space, or rent parking at the Kampgrounds of America in Watsonville.

Problematic parking

“We still have to deal with the amount of people parking in front of people’s homes that becomes problematic,” Mill said. “The solution is just not parking wherever we want, the solution is us … in a government, not just the government, but everyone in a society, institutions including the churches — there’s all kinds of people involved in this, including nonprofit organizations like this. Help find the locations.”

Mills said his department tries to strike a balance between “towing people’s homes,” putting another person on the street and a “responsibility to my community” sending him hundreds of emails and complaints and calls. He said city and county leaders are seeking solutions for those struggling without housing, and that an effort to establish a local safe-parking program was “submarined.”

On Friday, Kuhl, who will seek appointment from the Santa Cruz City Council to a seat on the city of Santa Cruz’s Parks and Recreation Commission on Tuesday, said she believes what the city really needs is a new standing homeless commission. The body, comprised of nonproperty owners such as renters and homeless people, could make city policy recommendations on spending recommendations, long-term programs, safe parking options and more, she said.

The Vandwellers Meet the Police Chief: Sad Lesson–Protection Lies in Your Community not the Cops

The Vandwellers Meet the Police Chief: Relearning Sad Facts
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Wednesday Jan 16th, 2019 8:22 PM
Alice Kuhl, a mother of 3 who lives in her RV in Santa Cruz, asked SCPD Chief of police Andy Mills some hard questions last week. Kuhl challenged what she termed harassment by hostile homeowners and SCPD’s vehicle abatement enforcer Joe Haebe. She noted lack of support from Mills SCPD complaints line and sought assurance from Mills. She got none.
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WHY THE PRESS CONFERENCE?
Some weeks ago, Kuhl came to a HUFF meeting with a flyer. One side of it was a hostile and inaccurate flyer urging her to move her vehicle. The other was her response. After meeting with HUFF and Conscience and Action, she agreed to speak publicly with Chief Mills–this happened on Thursday January 10th.

We met to encourage RV dwellers to meet, share stories, and gain solidarity with each other. And at the same time to invite Mills to address real concerns–if he so chose. See
“Clarifying RV Dwellers’ Rights in Santa Cruz ” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/01/07/18820149.php .

Most of the meeting was videoed by Salinas Union of the Homeless activist Wes White and is posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOMxmjPs40Y&feature=youtu.be .

Several RV dwellers and numerous reporters videoing covered the exchange in front of the SCPD police station.

BACKGROUND
Particularly at issue for Alicia Kuhl and other houseless folks was harassment actions by enforcement officers like Joe Haebe ignoring their right to park on public streets for 72 hours unmolested. She asked Mills to instruct his officers to respect that 72-hour window, which, she and other vandwellers said, they took care to not overstay.

Mills insisted he had a responsibility to investigate all complaints and praised Haebe’s work in “tagging and towing”.

See https://www.facebook.com/santacruzpolice/ January 9th “Officer of the Month Awarded to Joe Haebe” ” Over the past year, Joe has fielded hundreds of calls, tagged more than 2,000 vehicles for abatement, and towed 291 vehicles.”

MILLS UNRESPONSIVE
Mills did not respond to requests that he instruct officers not to “take the side” of the homeowner, and to view repeated “get this vehicle out of my neighborhood” style calls, skeptically.

The general brunt of the questioning was a futile effort to persuade Mills to direct his officers to respect the 72-hour law. Not to seek out minor violations (like cracked windshield, bald tire) as a “spur” to getting vehicles to immediately move to placate housed vigilantes nearby short of the 72-hour period allowed.

WHAT’S NEEDED?
Mills needs to require officers to limit themselves to determining if a vehicle has overstayed 72-hours (which he said police can do through an undisclosed system).

Kuhl claimed earlier that she was obstructed in her attempt to determine the identity of those complaining about her vehicle and the specifics of their complaints. She also suggested that her vehicle was being targeted. She questioned Haebe’s enthusiasm in threatening vehicles with ticketing and suggested earlier it seemed to indicate an anti-homeless bias.

OTHER QUESTIONS
Vandweller Veronica Crow noted the appearance all over town of “permit parking only” signs that ban parking at night without a permit–a specifically anti-homeless provision.

Is Mills explicitly advising callers complaining that vehicles have a right to be there for 72 hours? Are his cops notifying them that filing a false police report is a misdemeanor? Is he looking into the claims that his “go to” guy Haebe is engaging in “hunting expeditions”?

THE FINAL RESULT
Mills sympathized that those in vehicles are only going to face street homelessness if his cops vigorously persecute vehicles at the instigation of neighbors. However he explicitly refused to offer a change in any policies, some of which are discretionary.

He may agree that police have higher priorities that removing them because of the aesthetic preferences or unfounded fears of residents. But if he refuses to act to rein in those abuses, the buck stops with him.

OTHER ISSUES
Other issues raised were the crying need for a carpark. Mills sympathized but declined to offer any public advocacy. He also suggested folks leave town and go to campgrounds (costly) and ask churches and businesses for parking space (largely unsuccessful in the past).

His general response was “our job is to enforce the law” and “take your concerns to the City Council.”

MEDIA HERE AND GONE
Numerous reporters were at the conference taking notes, audioing, and videoing.

Jessica York of the Sentinel was there for some time but the Sentinel wrote nothing. She told Kuhl she’d contact her for follow-up…but never did.

I did comment at length as I played the full audio of the encounter on my Sunday radio show at http://huffsantacruz.org/lost/1%20FRSC%201-13-19.mp3 (25 minutes into the audio).

MILLS AS PR PROFESSONAL
Last Sunday Mills wrote an editorial for the Sentinel, apologizing for other abusive police departments, but ignoring concerns about his own.
He also announced joint sponsorship of a Martin Luther King day march with the NAACP on Monday the 21st.

See https://www.santacruzsentinel.com/2019/01/13/andrew-g-mills-santa-cruz-police-naacp-chapter-co-host-mlk-march/

While Mills has commendably backed down somewhat in issuing citations for survival sleeping, rangers under his direction do seem to have increased citations for “being in a closed area’, a fancy name for “trespass on public property” in parks at night. He has also declined to answer numerous outstanding questions about his department’s use of tasers, baton strikes, guns, etc.

See “Demands of the New Police Chief and His Initial Response” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2017/12/30/18805570.php

FOLLOWING UP
Mills has said he holds meetings on Monday mornings. Contact the SCPD at 831-420-5810 to make an appointment. If you think it’s worth the time and breath.

HUFF and Conscience and Action members met today to discuss further steps in documenting and challenging abuses targeting those whose homes are in vehicles. Volunteers interested in assisting this project, call HUFF at 423-4833.

RV and Surivival Sleepers in Vehicles: Air Concerns with Each Other and the Police Chief

SURVIVING IN YOUR VEHICLE…-BUT HAVING HARASSMENT PROBLEMS?

Rally and Press Conference at the Santa Cruz Police Station Fountain Area Thursday January 10th 1:30 PM 155 Center St.  at corner of Laurel St.

  • Are you being pressured or threatened to move your vehicle more frequently than the legal resting period of 72 hours?  Are strange chalk marks appearing on your tires?
  • Are hostile housed locals suggesting you have no right to park on the public streets?
  • Are you awakened by rude pounding, shouting, and banging in the dead of night?
  • Is your family or loved one being made to feel unwelcome in a neighborhood in which you’ve parked for less than 72 hours?

    +++ Come and tell the community what’s been happening to you and your family. +++ Share suggestions and advice on “smart survival tactics”, “diplomatic camping”, and an appreciation of your rights and responsibilities as a car camper.

    +++ Demand the new City Council and Police Chief Andy Mills direct officers to follow the law Chief Mills has agreed to be present to answer questions and concerns.

    More info; report violations  :  Contact Vehicular Tenants Hotline at 234-2067

Without Emergency Action at Council Today, Tenants Face Evictions and Homelessness This Winter

Last Council Meeting of 2018 What’s Missing? Freeze/Just Eviction Protection Extension !
In the last regular scheduled Council meeting of the year outgoing Mayor Terrazas won’t put on the agenda an item to extend the Rent Freeze/Just Eviction Protection that the Council passed overwhelmingly in February. That measure expires on today December 11th once the election results are accepted by the Council. It leaves tenants vulnerable to exorbitant rental increases. I have written several letters demanding the “progressive” Council members (who constitute a majority in the middle of the evening session) act to raise awareness and muster public pressure to stop this.

Vote for the Best Spot to Camp as City Council Abandons the Homeless Camp November 15th

Polling Folks Outside for November 15th
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Tuesday Nov 6th, 2018 9:06 AM
This poll was distributed yesterday at the Red Church meal and will be made available to unhoused (and housed) folks throughout the City to provide input for the march on November 15th to begin at the Town Clock and lead to a Campsite.
campground_poll__updated_again.pdf_600_.jpg

Download PDF (663.7kb)

Download and Distribute

You may also e-mail your vote to rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com or leave it at the Food Not Bombs literature table Sat/Sun 4-6 PM just outside the main Post Office fence or at the Sub Rosa Cafe at 703 Pacific Ave. when it’s open.

More info at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/11/01/18818652.php (“More Fences, More Tickets, Less Winter Shelter, More Cruelty”)

Even more info: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/10/24/18818475.php (“Campground Crisis As Winter Approaches”)

§History of the Campground Controversy

by Robert Norse Tuesday Nov 6th, 2018 9:06 AM
campground_carousel_flyer.pdf_600_.jpg

Download PDF (227.4kb)

A detailed account of the last year’s slitherings of the City Council and staff to present the illusion of shelter which actually covers only a small fraction of those outside in Santa Cruz. And even less this winter than last winter.
TO DOWNLOAD THESE FLYERS AND MAKE COMMENTS,

More Fences, More Tickets, Less Winter Shelter, More Cruelty

More Fences, More Tickets, Less Winter Shelter, More Cruelty

Make your voice heard at City Council – Tuesday, October 23, 2018
4:00PM - Santa Cruz City Hall – 809 Center St, Santa Cruz
Free meal provided

Santa Cruz awarded $3.3 million for homeless…Closes the River Street Camp and pubic parks?

On October 17th, Sentinel journalist, Jessica York, reported that the River Street Campground will be shut down in November, with some of its members relocated into a scaled down Winter Shelter program at the VFW Hall on 7th Avenue. The VFW site will sleep  60 people and open only during evening hours, with a first-come, first-served model that does not allow pets and has limited possession storage.

On the same day that the Sentinel announced the closing of the River Street Campground city officials fenced off San Lorenzo and Grant Street Parks, closed its bathrooms and posted signs saying “PARK CLOSED Until further notice for – Focused Maintenance – Public Safety”. Workers started to replace the fence at the Post Office with a permanent iron fence  on Monday, October 22, 2018.

Private security guards were busy rousting homeless people from the San Lorenzo telling them to cross the river into downtown. The city has already fenced off Garfield, Star of the Sea, and Laurel Parks, closed the Louden Nelson bathrooms  and is stepping up harassment of those without housing seeking a place to rest downtown.

Santa Cruz currently has no walk-in shelter with long waiting lists for programs at the Homeless Services Center.  Police and rangers are also violating the Martin v. City of Boise – Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against ticketing and arresting people who have no place to sleep subjecting local homeless community members to what the court says is cruel and unusual punishment. The waiting list at the River Street Shelter is closed.

The County of Santa Cruz was just awarded  $3.3 million in State and federal grants to help house homeless individuals and families yet few are being housed and instead they are being fenced out of public space.

Join us and speak out at City Council.  – Call 1-800-884-1136 to get involved

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