The Questions Grow More Pressing by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com) Wednesday Jun 17th, 2020 1:14 PM

I’ve been persistently raising issues of police abuse with the SCPD. Most recently, I sent a letter to Chief Andy Mills with a variety of questions, following up on issues raised months (and often years) ago. He replied. I responded to his reply a few days ago. So far no reply. Mills’ letter reiterates my questions and gives his answers (AM). I respond with further questions (RN).

From: Andrew Mills
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2020 11:06 AM
To: Robert Norse
Cc: City Council
Subject: RE: Specific Proposals to Reforms the SCPD

Robert, you being critical of SCPD? Say it’s not so!

It’s your right and I expect you and others to hold the police accountable.

Please see my answers below.

From: Robert Norse [mailto:rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com]
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2020 9:58 AM
To: Andrew Mills
Cc: City Council
Subject: Re: Specific Proposals to Reforms the SCPD

3 1/2 years ago we corresponded regarding a flyer I had written and was distributing critical of the SCPD’s policies and practices.

I intend to update that flyer in anticipation of upcoming protests regarding largely the same issues, plus some new ones arising from police behavior during the COVID-19″shelter-in-place” situation and your recent proposals increasing public restrictions in parks and elsewhere generally.

To be fair and accurate, I’m writing you to determine if there’s been any improvement you can make me aware of regarding the following issues:

Is the SCPD willing to “open the books” on “non-lethal force” use, specifically opening for public view police reports detailing the use of these devices with specifics to time, date, location, victim, officer, subsequent injury (if any),rationale, and any subsequent investigation?
AM: [We comply with all state law on this and the courts are the final judge as to the appropriateness of the use of this force. So the books are open. Some of what you ask for is a violation of law and policy in terms of the person has a right to privacy.]
RN:{The “right to privacy” has been improperly cited by arresting officers at a scene where many cops are confronting one person even when that person repeatedly asks what they’re being arrested or detained for. If the victim of the “non-lethal force [or arrest, citation, or detention]” agrees, why have you continued to allow officers to refuse to say why people are being arrested? Will you release documentation previously withheld regarding the specific circumstances around the use of force including time, place, identity of person and officer, extent of injuries, amount of hospitalization, etc.? Will you agree to immediately make such records available and require your officers to respond accurately and promptly to community questions in real time where there is no issue of “officer safety” present? Do you acknowledge this is not being done currently and is a cause for mistrust and distrust of the SCPD?}

Is the SCPD prepared to make public the police budgets of the last few years and itemize how the funds were spent? If this has already been done, please provide links to where the public can find this information.
AM: [The links are on the city budget and you are welcomed to search and find them just like any other citizen.]
RN:{Are you prepared to advocate for a reduction of all police appropriation for Fiscal Year 2021 regarding mental health stops and homeless stops, transferring that funding to social service agencies who can more properly and more professionally do a job they, not the police, were trained for? Will you provide an accounting of the amount of money spent on all stops under the infraction concerns raised by Councilmember Drew Glover in the spring of 2019, which finally reached City Council in the fall, but are still concealed from the public?}

Will you make available records of the last six months, detailing incidents of where more than 4 police officers converged on a “crime scene”? HUFF has received reports of half a dozen or more police officers arriving at a peaceful encampment, Pacific Ave., or Ross parking lot scene involving one or two “suspects”.
AM: [No. We don’t readily capture that information.]
RN:{Nonetheless are you willing to review the records to determine when such “shock and awe” “massive presence” policing has taken place? Or are you saying find out such information summaries are unavailable. If the latter, please make available all police reports not involving current investigations where more than two officers came to the scene for community scrutiny and we will do the work for you.}

How much “drug enforcement” money is the police receiving, say for the last three years?
AM: [Very Little, we don’t have a drug enforcement team.]
RN: {How little is “Very Little”? How much time and money is put into “cooperative efforts” with county, state, and federal prohibition agents on this issue?}

What percentage of the SCPD budget goes to drug enforcement?
AM:[Very little there is no specialized part of the budget for this.
RN:{Please provide costs of how much time and money has been spent going after suspects for drug use, sales, possession. Or are you again claiming such records “do not exist”?}If you have any records regarding the number of police incidents involving drug enforcement, please provide them. Do you keep such records?
AM:[No.]
RN:{However you have the ability to determine the cost and time involved surely.}

Incidentally, HUFF has heard positive reports recently of police helping a few recovering addicts access services. Good work.
AM:[Thanks that is our preferred method to reduce drug use is by dealing with addiction.]
RN: {Have you kept records of times police have provided such aid, or helped those outside to services, or fed them? I am not referring to giving out paper or verbal lists of allegedly accessible services which frequently have long or closed waiting lists, but to actual police physical assistance to disabled, hungry, sick, or otherwise vulnerable people such as recent police behavior giving out sandwiches.}

Please specify any military equipment, drone, face & license surveillance technology requested or received in the last three years by the SCPD.
AM:[None. We have used the Sheriff’s drones on two occasions.]
RN:{And the use of the “Bearcat”?}
How many police officers actually live within Santa Cruz City?
AM:[Numerous officers live in and close to SC. I am not sure of the actual numbers.The last we checked there were about 60% within 20 minutes of SC.]
RN:{Since officers living in the area they have power over is an important issue for many folks, please specify how many officers actually live within the city limits and how many in the County?}
How many within Santa Cruz County?
RN:{Surely you have these figures–make them public.}
Are you still asking City Council to pass your 7 point program, presented to various groups earlier this year?
AM:[Yes.]
RN: {Please estimate the number of officer hours and taxpayer dollars already spent on the victimless crimes whose categories you are asking to expand and how the predicted increase in both with your 7 points.}

Please provide specific records beginning in June 2019 through the present of all arrests made and citations given regarding violations of “closed area”, being in a park after dark, violations of the COVID-19 orders of any kind, blocking the sidewalk, public nuisance, or unlawful encampment?
AM:[You have asked for this numerous times and we have given it to you each time.This takes an incredible amount of time each time you ask. If you want this information again, please submit a CPRA through the formal process.]
RN:{I’m not aware you or any other police official has honestly assessed and provided to the community and Council a careful and accurate assessment of the amount of time and money spent in “homeless policing” of non-violent victimless psuedo-crime. Am I wrong?}

In order to dampen the “intimidation factor” and assure the public that selective enforcement is not happening, will the SCPD begin to require its officers to document all stops where police officers direct (i.e. warn) members of the public (and most relevantly homeless people) to “move along”?
AM:[We will comply with the new state law requiring us to capture the perceived sex,race and reasons for the stops per the law.]
RN:{Please answer the question: will the department as stated, not the minimum that the law currently requires.}

How many “calls for service” are police responding to regarding complaints about vehicular residents since June 2019?
AM:[Scores!]I believe the Northern California ACLU has already requested this information from you. Is the SCPD regularly advising those complaining about vehicular residents that false complaints are misdemeanors punishable by fine and jail?
AM:[They are valid complaints for the most part. Perception of what is and is not a crime is not always straight forward to most.]
RN:{On the basis of what statistics and reports are you stating that the “we don’t want that van parked in our neighborhood” calls are “valid complaints”?

}Is the SCPD (and in particular retired police vigilante Joe Haebe) been direct to stop chalking tires as part of the 72-hour enforcement policy, which violates the 4th amendment according to the Michigan courts?
AM:[I don’t respond to comments like that Robert. If you want serious answers be a serious person. Joe is not a vigilante but doing a difficult job. He has been kind, patient and long suffering. Calling him a vigilante]
RN:{Sorry, Andy, Haebe is regarded by numerous vehicular dwellers I’ve spoken to as a vigilante who has made it his mission to harass poor people in cars out of the neighborhoods. I repeat the question: have you directed your officers to (a) advise all callers wanting to use the 72-hour law to “move long” vehicle dwellers that false complaints are misdemeanors? Have you advised your officers to stop using chalking or painting–a vandalistic device–as a basis for claiming violations of the 72-hour law?Just answer the questions directly, please.}

Will the police department resume reporting race and class stats (i.e. when a person has a 115 Coral St., transient, or homeless designation) on its citation/arrest summaries, as it has refused to do for the last three years? Will it allow access to these records to the general public as required by the Public Records Act?
AM:[How does one report class?]
RN:{By providing the addresses of those cited when requested to do so without elaborate delay and obstructive requirements.}
AM:[We have provided more information to you than any department in this region.]
RN:{Again, please answer the question directly and stop ducking: will you transfer the racial data indicated on citations into summaries released to the Council and public? At a time of angry concerns about racial profiling, this seems to me to be a very important step}

Please provide a record of all detentions from 1-1-19 to the present including grace and class stats, since your 2017 response below indicates you keep such records.
AM:[We collect and report out race data.]
RN:Please provide a summary of citations indicating race for January 1 through December 31 of last year: THIS IS A PUBLIC RECORDS ACT REQUEST.
AM:[What class do you want?]
RN: {It’s difficult to believe you aren’t clear on this, the class of unhoused people is indicated by the words “transient”, “115 Coral St.” or (less certainly) a general P.O. Box.}
AM:[How do you define class.]
RN:{That’s how.}
AM:[What class are you in?]
RN:{Just provide the data, please.}

My thanks for any police help (including sandwich distribution) helping homeless people in existing encampments and assistance to those in San Lorenzo Park. The great majority, of course, are in the Pogonip and elsewhere, much of the area within SCPD jurisdiction. Help there including trash pick-up’s, portapotty access, wash station availability, electrical charging, and drinkable water is badly needed. Will the SCPD be helping to facilitate this aid?
AM:[Ask the County to. It is their job! Your efforts are misplaced. As intelligent and educated you are I am shocked it has taken you this long to understand it is the county’s responsibility to provide for the homeless.]
RN:{Will you publicly support a transfer of funding from what is admittedly a huge police budget for a city our size to social services that actually serve these appropriate functions and run by the City?}

Please provide a listing of all white-collar crime citations and/or arrests made in2019, since you assure us this is a concern of yours.
AM:[File the proper request.]
RN:{How about an informal accounting to assure the Community that the department is actually engaged in such behavior?}

What particular mutual aid style arrangements has the SCPD made with other agencies, state, federal, county, and private regarding mutual assistance in the event of protest activity or broad citizen resistance (say, to COVID-19enforcement)? Your prior answer to this was vague.
AM:[There are no agreements.]
RN:{So the Oakland Expeditionary Force was just a fluke, a one-off, a random event? Please clarify under what authority you sent armed officers north, what controls they operated under, whether the SCPD is ready to do something similar when another department asks for assistance in “controlling protests”.}

Regarding police access to surveillance devices that regularly record lawful community activity, you still have not clarified where these devices are located.Will you make this information publicly available (for instance, around City Hall,or at the SCPD HQ itself)?
AM:[We have only deployed LPR’s to combat gang shootings. They have stopped for now.]
RN:{By surveillance devices, I’m speaking of any fixed devices placed or maintained with public funding surveying public property which video or audio the public engaged in lawful activities. Again, please don’t duck the question, but specify where such devices are currently operational.}

Thanks for making some of the Sean Arlt documentation available on your Transparency Portal athttp://www.cityofsantacruz.com/government/city-departments/police/transparency-portal/sean-arlt-ois-investigation . Does this include all the Arlt video, audio, and witness report documentation?
AM:[Read it and let me know.]
RN:{How would I know what documentation the SCPD has but has not released?This is another example of an unresponsive answer. If you want to restore trust with the community , you must show transparency and accountability. To get respect, you must be respectworthy.}

Please clarify what prevents you from revealing the extent of ICE/SCPD disclosure as requested three years ago.
AM:[I have told you and others numerous times. We do NOT have a relationship with ICE. Period! It’s really frustrating to answer the same questions repeatedly. Because in your mind there has to be a relationship via conspiracy theory does not make it true.]
RN:{You have not provided the documentation of prior intimate involvement with ICE under Chief Vogel as requested, nor have you disclosed correspondence between ICE and the SCPD regarding the abusive conduct of the department and ICE in the spring of 2017. Please do so.}

Accurate and timely information on these issues is most helpful in assuring that
truthful matter is distributed when concerns are raised about SCPD behavior and
policy.]

RN:{If your practices have changed since you made your responses, please indicate that so we can proceed forward. “Bending a knee” and leading a MLK parade means very little if you aren’t being transparent and accountable in day-to-day police practices.}

RN New Question:{In the wake of current protests, demands on other cities, and responses from some police departments, will you commit yourself to a local response to demands being made nationally to fundamentally alter institutional brutality that has become business-as-usual for many departments?}

RN:{This would include a significant shifting of SCPD jurisdiction from dealing with emotional behavioral crises, poverty “crimes”, and other areas to community agencies better trained and equipped as well as less prone to violence.}

RN New Question:{Will you publicly support and lobby for full disclosure of SCPD disciplinary records of police officers both current, applying, and past—so that “bad apple” cops won’t simply be shifted around from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (as happened for instance in the case of Officer David LaFaver some years back.}

RN New Question:{In the wake of the current protests, demands on other cities, and responses from some police departments, I would ask whether you will commit yourself to full disclosure of SCPD disciplinary records for excessive force complaints both for police applicants.} I’m sure you appreciate that.Hope to hear from you soon.
AM:[I am not going to play 1,000 questions and responses with you Robert. If you want a limited amount of time to discuss that is fine, but there are more people than you in this city of 66K who want and need help and information. We average 54 CPRAs per month. It is an enormous amount of work with very limited staff. COVID has not helped and potential furloughs will hurt us further.]

RN:{It would be easier for me and perhaps others to be more sympathetic to the needs and limitations of your department if you actually provided candid and full answers to the questions raised. That might be the first step towards a new beginning.}

Some Questions for Sandy Brown and the City Council

An e-mail sent to Councilmember Sandy Brown will likely result in no action at City Council. More seriously, the Council, which has ultimately control of the police through the City Manager, needs to be forced to confront long-standing SCPD issues that are of a piece with demands on departments across the nation.   Sections of it are reprinted here. 

TODAY’S COUNCIL MEETING WITH NOTHING ON THE AGENDA REGARDING POLICE MISCONDUCT

The regular Council meeting begins at 2 PM and takes place in ghostly fashion by Zoom with no real meaningful public participation (though this is usually the case during their in-person appearances as well). Oral Communications is at 6 PM.   To call in for the crumbs of 2 minutes speaking time at Oral Communication, check out the phone numbers (and the agenda) at https://scsire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1365&doctype=AGENDA for the phone numbers.

The on-line agenda has nothing which responds to the protests that have rocked the City in the last two weeks.

 I sent it around 8 am. I’ve received no response.

Brown has the option to raise any issue as an emergency matter (though it requires additional votes and an emergency finding).

She and other Councilmembers need to be confronted where they work and where they live to demand they take action. Massed people power finally provides the voice that deaf politicians have to hear whether they want to or not these days.


MAYOR CUMMINGS SETS THE AGENDA, CAN CALL MEETINGS

Cummings elected with Progressive student and tenant votes betrayed his constituency. Witness his long silence on the Glover and Krohn recalls, his refusal to press for just eviction protections or even landlord data, the sell-out of the homeless repeatedly, and his refusal to hold police accountable for fences, sweeps, and a roster of abuses (See “Rein in the SCPD with Real Community Controls” at https://www.indybay.org/uploads/2020/06/04/scan_20200604.pdf.

His recent postures to “cool protester anger at the police station and “bending a knee” with Chief Mills are more acts of betrayal attempting to co-opt a vital movement.

Of course, the real power in the city is City Manager Martin Bernal, who will never be held accountable until the community votes with its feet and voices to do so.


FOR THE TEXT OF THE E-MAIL GO TO:  https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/06/09/18834065.php

Correspondence on COVID-19 and the Homeless With County Healthsters

Jessica,
Thanks for your answers.  I, of course, have more questions.  These are in CAPITALS below.
I will forward your answers to many others interested in your stats.  

You are also invited to attend the protest happening Friday April 24th outside of Denny’s on Ocean Ave noon to 2 PM.  See “Shame on Santa Cruz–Hotels Not Hospitals” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/04/21/18832547.php

Coverage of an earlier protest can be found at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/04/20/18832521.php (Demonstrators Demand Santa Cruz Provide Hotel Vouchers for the Homeless).  An earlier story I posted is at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/04/19/18832493.php (Questions that Demand Answers).
Please reply with whatever information you have to the attached questions or refer me to those who have the information, if you don’t.
Thanks again,

Robert Norse HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom)

Robert,

Your e-mail was forwarded to me.  Please see my answers to your questions below in red: (Note: This blog does not have the answers in red but the answers from her are right after each question)

As you know, the Supes finally unanimously voted to open motel rooms to thousands of homeless people

(https://48hills.org/2020/04/supes-approve-bill-mandating-hotel-rooms-now/?
https://sfist.com/2020/03/24/san-francisco-hotels-offer-up-8500-rooms-and-counting-for-homeless-healthcare-workers/).

Reports about Santa Cruz’s failure to empty its dangerous group shelters continue to be unclear. Can you provide either stats or informed estimates in answer to the following questions?

  • How many motel rooms are currently available for housing homeless folks?
    • There are currently 27 motel rooms in contract with the County for persons experiencing homelessness who are symptomatic or medically vulnerable.  WHEN WERE THESE ROOMS ACQUIRED?   The County is expecting to have two more motels ready for occupancy by the end of next week, which would provide a total of 112 rooms. We are looking into securing additional sites to provide isolation and quarantine services for unhoused residents.
  • How many are currently vacant, how many occupied?
    • Approximately 20 of the 27 motel rooms are currently occupied. Under the prioritization system laid out as part of Project Roomkey, the County is keeping a certain number of rooms available for people who are homeless who test positive for COVID-19, or who need to quarantine because of the likelihood of infection.  HOW MANY OF THE ROOMS ARE BEING OCCUPIED BY PEOPLE WHO ARE VULNERABLE BUT NOT COVID-19 POSITIVE OR SICK WITH SYMPTOMS?  

  • HOW MANY (IF ANY) ARE BEING USED BY HOMELESS PEOPLE (SAY THOSE IN SHELTERS, BUT ALSO THOSE OUTSIDE) WHO WERE IN CONTACT WITH THOSE WHO TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19?
  • What’s the cost of these rooms?  How much funding is still available?
    • The County expects to receive $800,000 from the State for all the sheltering activities underway due to COVID19. Some of these funds will be used for the hotel shelters. In addition to the cost of securing the rooms, the County must provide associated services, cleaning, security, insurance, meals and other supplies that allow residents to stay in rooms and isolate. As you noted, we and many others around the state are watching San Francisco to see if they are able to deliver on the Board’s mandate – our preliminary calculations show the cost of securing 7,000 hotel rooms to be nearly $1.2 million per day. HOW MUCH COVID-19 HOUSING FUNDING HAS NOT YET BEEN SPENT?
    • Governor Newsom also announced a master lease agreement with Motel 6 to provide rooms under Project Roomkey. It is unclear what, if any, impact that agreement will have on Santa Cruz County’s unhoused population.
  • Have all shelter operators (or at least Salvation Army and Housing Matters) offered its clients the option to go into these shelters?
    • All shelter operators were able to refer their participants to the motel.  DOES “REFERRED” MEAN THAT SHELTER CLIENTS WERE OFFERED ACCESS TO THE ROOMS?  HOW MANY IN THE SHELTERS WERE NOT OFFERED THE ROOMS?   Referred persons were screened and placed in the motel, first based on their COVID-19 status and then on medical vulnerability and age, consistent with the prioritization guidelines of Project Roomkey.  The initial 27 rooms are insufficient to meet the need; the County is actively seeking more hotels willing to partner consistent with the terms of the Governor’s program.  HOW MANY WHO MET THE REQUIREMENTS WERE UNABLE TO BE PLACED IN SAFER MOTEL ROOMS?
  • Or rather are only those who are (a) sick and (b) COVID-19 positive being given that option?   Is it an option or a requirement for the COVID-19 cases?
    • No one is required to go to the motel. The first priority for the motel is to provide persons who are confirmed or presumed COVID-19 positive the opportunity to isolate or quarantine. After those needs are met, the remaining rooms are offered to people who are at highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19 by virtue of their age and/or medical vulnerability.  WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA FOR MEDICAL VULNERABILITY THAT YOU ARE USING?   It is important to note that while we currently have no known COVID-19 cases in the unhoused population, Santa Cruz County’s surge is now projected to hit in mid-May, and we must keep rooms available for immediate isolation of diagnosed patients in order to minimize community harm.  HOW MANY OF THOSE IN SHELTERS HAVE BEEN TESTED?   HAS EVERYONE WHO REQUESTED A TEST BEEN GIVEN ONE?
  • Most important, is the motel option being offered to all homeless people in these shelters?
    • No, the County does not have enough motel rooms under contract to offer one to every person staying in a shelter.   As described above, another part of the County’s overall strategy is to help shelters transition to a shelter-in-place model that allows participants to remain at the site 24/7 with appropriate distancing and hygiene practices.  The County will continue to focus on serving the most medically vulnerable and those needing isolation and quarantine as it secures additional motel rooms.  HOW MANY MEDICALLY VULNERABLE PEOPLE OUTSIDE AND NOT IN SHELTERS HAVE YOU INCLUDED IN YOUR MOTEL SANCTUARIES?  HOW MANY HAVE BEEN TESTED OR EXAMINED FOR COVID-19, SICKNESS, OR VULNERABILITY?
  • Or are, at least, elderly and vulnerable people being offered the rooms?  What are the specific criteria?
    • As noted, we have moved a number of medically vulnerable individuals from the existing shelter network into hotel rooms.  WHAT NUMBER?  HOW MANY ARE NOT BEING SHELTERED?  This not only protects those individuals, but also those who remain in the shelter network as we increase physical distancing in shelters in accordance with CDC guidelines.  ARE YOU CLAIMING THAT CDC GUIDELINES SUGGEST THAT ANY COLLEGIATE SHELTERING OF UNAFFILIATED GROUPS IS SAFE?   IF SO, PLEASE CITE THE CDC DOCUMENTS THAT BACK UP THIS CLAIM.  We are prioritizing elderly individuals and persons with pre-existing medical conditions that make them especially at-risk for mortality should they contract COVID-19.
  • Who has these statistics if you do not?  What is their contact information?
    • Please see above responses.
  • How many cases of sickness have appeared in the Paul Lee Loft, the Page Smith Community House, the Laurel St. Shelter, the Armory, and the Vets Hall?  How many documented COVID-19 cases in each place?  
    • While persons experiencing homelessness have been tested and a handful have been quarantined pending test results, HOW MANY WOULD THAT BE?  there have been no confirmed COVID-19 positive individuals in the homeless community in Santa Cruz County. To help prevent persons becoming sick with COVID-19,  we continue to build capacity by opening new shelters (these include new shelters at the Santa Cruz and Watsonville Veteran’s Memorial Buildings, as well a transition-age youth shelter at Simpkins Family Swim Center), increasing physical distancing in existing shelters, opening hotels for isolation and quarantine, and sheltering.  WHAT ARE THE DAILY COSTS OF RUNNING THOSE SHELTERS?  PLEASE ITEMIZE THE COST OF RUNNING ALL THE CURRENT SHELTERS, AS FAR AS PUBLIC FUNDS GO. We have requested trailers from the state to provide additional sheltering capacity. We are also getting additional supplies out to people who are still living outdoors so that they are better able to shelter in place according to CDC guidelines. We have also conducted outreach to the unhoused population to educate them on safe practices, including physical distancing. HOW MUCH MONEY IS BEING SPENT ON A DAILY BASIS TO PROVIDE FOOD, SURVIVAL GEAR, TRASH PICK-UP, PORTAPOTTY OR BATHROOM SERVICING, LAUNDRY AND SHOWER ACCESS, AND ELECTRICAL RECHARGING CAPACITY FOR THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY WHO ARE CURRENTLY WITHOUT SHELTER?  PLEASE SPECIFY THE SERVICES BEING MADE AVAILABLE AND THEIR COSTS IN EACH OF THESE CATEGORIES.  ALSO INDICATE HOW MUCH OF THE MONEY AVAILABLE IS GOING FOR SALARIES, OFFICES, AND OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE OVERHEAD.

I am also cc-ing a number of county officials who might be helpful.  I encourage them to provide whatever help they can.

If I can get some simple direct answers, I won’t have to follow this up with a specific and time-consuming (for me and staff) Public Records Act request.

For additional information, please also see the County’s Press Release regarding its COVID-19 Homelessness Task Force at: https://www.santacruzhumanservices.org/Portals/0/hsd/temporary/COVID19TaskForce.04012020.pdf

Thank you,

Jessica

Protest Tomorrow Monday April 20th NOON at 1505 Ocean (in front of the hotel next to Denny’s)

While other counties have been using federal and state funding to house vulnerable homeless people, Santa Cruz has not–in any appreciable numbers. While the broader community is directed to shelter in place and not gather in groups larger than 10, homeless “shelters” unsafely cram folks into one or two rooms. I asked specific questions and got unsatisfactory answers.
On Friday April 10th, after a massive outbreak of COVID-19 in two San Francisco shelters, health professionals held a Press Conference demanding motel/hotel shelters immediately:
https://www.facebook.com/CoalitionOnHomelessness/videos/2954977444559143/

On Friday April 17th, I e-mailed a letter to city officials and health workers including Mayor Cummings and City Manager Bernal asking a series of questions.

On Saturday April 18th, Mayor Cummings responded by forwarding me the city latest “update” which answered almost none of the questions and indicated no intention of stepping up any attempt to house even the more vulnerable homeless people in any numbers.

I followed up with a letter urging more information. (reprinted below)

On Saturday April 18th, Governor Newsom called on all counties not using the FEMA and roomkey funding to do so immediately: https://www.facebook.com/fox5sandiego/videos/533233420715199/ See also https://calmatters.org/health/coronavirus/2020/04/newsom-cities-blocking-hotels-for-homeless-will-be-judged-by-history

I’ve done several netshows (4-12, 4-16, and 4-19) on the subject, which can be found at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/Lostshows.html .

Today Alicia Kuhl of the Santa Cruz Homeless Union and Keith McHenry of Food Not Bombs announced a Physical Distancing Picket noon tomorrow 4-20 outside the Hampton Inn next to Denny’s at 1505 Ocean St to demand the City and County authorities follow the CDC/Newsom guidelines. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10158028273318820&set=gm.229151128428242&type=3&theater

The HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) members I’ve contacted support this protest. I and others will be there.

TO READ THE DOCUMENTATION AND COMMENTS GO TO https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/04/19/18832493.php

Tiny But Tough-Love Tour of Shame to Demand Opening Up Motel Rooms for Shelter Now ! Easter Sunday 2 PM Laurel and Front

In an Easter Sunday sweep through the City by car, several of us will gather (safely in our cars or at 6′ distance with protective gear) 2 PM at Laurel and Front St. We will.distribute survival gear and provisions to folks outside around the City and conduct an educational tour of shame to counter the rosy fabrications of Sentinel and city/county officialdom. WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The health and well-being of our entire community–not just those outside.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
No provision is being made to broadly activate motel rooms for folks outside generally and vulnerable asymptomatic folks specifically. They are far down on the priority list issued by the County coming after the visibly sick, the COVID-19 positive, and those in contact with those found to have COVID-19.

HUFF working on phone meeting to prep protest pressure for city or community action to open up motel rooms and vacant buildings. NO Noon Meeting Today at the Sub Rosa, Conference call likely later today for Easter Sunday Protest

HUFF tech-challenged activists are working on a conference call later today to discuss the Posner/Norse plan for an Easter Sunday Direct Action to get motel rooms open immediately.  E-mail rnorse3@hotmail.com if you are interested in learning about or want to be a supporter of this action. Or if you wish to be included on the HUFF conference call.

Updates: 

  • Food Not Bombs [FNB] is still serving daily under the parking garage in lot #10 facing Front St. (technically 124 River St.) across from the Bookshop Santa Cruz 1 PM to 6 PM.
  • Food prepster Keith McHenry has put out an emergency call to find additional kitchens as India Joze’s is being overburdened; he also needs volunteers and donations (tents, clothing, books, and staff).  Bring them to the daily meal.
  • City Council declined to follow up on the current shelter crisis for those outside, refusing to allow discussion of necessary shelter-in-place options NOT BEING MADE AVAILABLE in spite of available funding, vacant motel rooms, CDC guidelines, and growing illness nationwide.
  • City Manager Martin Bernal announced that in spite of the closing of all City and County parks and beaches starting tonight at midnight, folks outside in those areas in encampments will not be ticketed.  This, of course, doesn’t mean they won’t be swept, harassed, or driven out into the rain as has been the case during the last week.
  • Conditions have thinned out slightly but not significantly at the Salvation Army’s Armory, Laurel St., and the new Vet’s Hall mini-shelters.  There are rumors of some similar “thinning” at the Paul Lee Loft.  No clear information on Page Smith Community House, River St. or River St. Shelter.  Current conditions violate CDC shelter-in-place standards that are now being attempted in other cities like San Francisco after similar resistance from their mayor.  They risk everyone’s health speeding disease transmission.
  • Meals are being provided for the relatively few people in these crowded “have some COVID-19” “shelters”; police are promoting their PR by handing out a few bag lunches; bag lunches for seniors may still be available at the (otherwise closed down) Louden Nelson weekdays; get-em-at-the-door sparse bag lunches up at St. Francis Soup Kitchen on Mora St. weekdays.
  • If anyone has reports on the Association of Faith Communities mini-mini-shelter-together-while-we-cough-at-one-another program, please call 423-4833 with reports.   Ditto with their vehicular “safe parking” program.  Santa Cruz Homeless Union activists report continued marking of tires by cops and auxiliaries in possible violation of persuasive court rulings in other jurisdictions (https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/24/chalking-unconstitutional/   ).
  • Government “health authorities” with the collusion of governments have shut down all city/county parks and beaches as of midnight tonight; not sure what the status is of the Farmer’s Market downtown today.
  • McHenry said yesterday parking structure bathrooms have been shut down with portapotties overflowing or poorly maintained.  HUFF is still seeking volunteers to do a daily check and report on various portapotties and washing stations city-wide.
  • There are no vulnerable unsheltered people in motel rooms as of a day or two ago, according to McHenry.
  • Anyone have reports on the national Rent Strike and any local actions that were announced to begin April 1st?  Renter-unsheltered coalition is vital in these times.
  • Stipends for out-of-work Street Spirit distributors are still “being worked on”, according to Berkeley’s J.C. Orton.
  • Frequent local updates are still appearing on Facebook under SC Food Not bombs, SC County Homeless Advocates, Homeless Outside in Santa Cruz, at huffsantacruz.org and at indybay.org/santacruz .
  •  

ACTIONS, RESOURCES, & CONSIDERATIONS from a HUFFster’s perspective​

  • Check at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/Lostshows.html to hear a series of phoned-in reports from different activists and workers–which should be posted shortly and will be updated daily if possible.
  • City Manager Martin Bernal provided a handful of portapotties  City-wide and cold water washstands after refusing to do so for months, but maintained nighttime closure of bathrooms in parks in spite of the emergency situation and repeated calls and e-mails.   Nor has the County acted to provide basic sanitary facilities for the poorest outside, though it has financial and organization resources to do so.
  • City agencies are still refusing safe concrete space for Food Not Bombs to provide food and other services. their attempts to establish such vital resources.  With the massive (and arguably illegal) fencing off of the Post Office, Town Clock, Scope Park, and other sidewalk areas, reaching the FNB meal has become more difficult.
  • Continued shutdowns at the Library, Louden Nelson, the Metro, the publicly sponsored Bookshop Santa Cruz, closed restaurants, coffee shops and businesses make this situation ever more dangerous both for folks outside and the broader community.  No alternate provision has been made for laundry, storage, phone-charging for the great majority of unsheltered people.
  • Very very few motel or hotel rooms are yet available for the 1000-2000 homeless outside who want and may need them to shelter more safely and securely in spite of government directives and financial grants.  With City and County authorities refusing to act, the Community must make sure these spaces are opened up by any means necessary.
  • The inadequate “normal” charitable activities of those working with churches, social services, etc. have been cut back or closed–many of the staff of these organizations are over 60 and particularly vulnerable to the corona virus.
  • Normal donations to those directly seeking survival money through “panhandling” have been discouraged or criminalized under the new emergency regs, enacted without public discussion or vote.  The 6′ distancing rule makes exchanges more difficult and less likely even though more necessary than ever.
  • Public transportation options have been restricted or shut down, making access to what limited resources there are even more problematic.
  • Mayor Cummings has issued no calls for an emergency Council meeting to pass elementary measures already done in other cities like a moratorium on rents.  A weak Santa Cruz moratorium eviction law provides little protection as workers are encouraged to work under unsafe conditions to pay rent.
  • City Manager Martin Bernal & the City Council majority continue a long history of resisting the expansion of basic services for the less privileged in town.
  • Supervisor Coonerty and the Board of Supervisors have declined to provide county-wide resources in an equitable and sensible fashion.
  • The health of the community depends on our community action through a direct and united response by Direct Action.
  • Up to now we have seen how “concerned” and “effective” local authorities have been in meeting the needs of renters and those outside.
  • Meekly following the dictates of authority in this crisis has not in the past, nor likely in the future, to be a wise, health-providing, and productive course.
  • We must confront directly, clearly, persistently, loudly and immediately to secure the basic survival needs of the community in the current crisis.  Join with others to take peaceful Direct Action independently and this Sunday.
  • With washed hands and care to keep physical distance, bring food and yourselves to the 1 PM -6 PM FNB meal to sustain the survival effort and take the necessary future steps.  Support the SC Homeless Union legal action (if it ever comes) and the Footbridge Services (Brent Adams Day/Night Storage).
  • Contact Food Not Bombs (575-770-3377), HUFF (831-423-4833), or the Santa Cruz Homeless Union (831-431-7766) if unable to come for health or other reasons. (454-2200) and you wish to help.

In Search of Action to Open Up Safe CDC Compliant Shelter-in-Place Facilities for Those Outside NOW

An Immodest and Long Overdue Proposal by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Tuesday Apr 7th, 2020 8:45 AM Please post your reactions to this proposed protest, which mirrors actions undertaken by nurses, unions, and homeless advocates in other cities. An earlier version of these suggestions was originally posted on facebook. RESTATING THE OBVIOUS
The virus spreads as City Council and the Stupes continue to ignore CDC guidelines and hoard funding. Waiting until actual symptoms and/or positive test results finally appear to open up those rooms to the vulnerable outside is obviously too late. We all know this, so do they. Time to stop knowing and bleating and start organizing. If Food not Bombs waited for authority approval or action, there’d be substantially more hunger, illness, and hopelessness in our community. Past time for US to act.

CITY COUNCIL TO FIDDLE TODAY AS THE CITY SICKENS
City Council agenda is at http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/…/city…/council-meetings for the 6 PM meeting tonight. They have graciously provided their usual token public comment before the rubberstamping period. Phone numbers are · . 1-669-900-9128 1-346-248-7799 1-301-715-8592
1-312-626-6799 1-646-558-8656 1-253-215-8782
If one is busy, try the next one (sez the printed agenda on line).
· Enter the meeting ID number: 379-565-623
When prompted for a Participant ID, press #.
Press *9 on your phone to “raise your hand” when the Mayor calls for public comment.

” It will be your turn to speak when the Mayor unmutes you. You will hear an announcement that you have been unmuted. The timer will then be set to 2 minutes” Of course, you’ll be “allowed” to speak on two items: the Election results (i.e. Real Estatesters recall of Krohn and Glover) (item 1) and more power to police agencies to shut down dissent (item 3). The comments of the vultures who are replacing Glover and Krohn (Beiers and Golder) will stand unchallenged. And there will be “off topic” Oral Communications.

The point is not that this charade has any more meaning than City Council meetings in the past (less, with the amputation of Glover and Krohn). But rather that this is an opportunity for us to organize and focus around this basic issue: immediate provision–or seizure–of Motel rooms for shelter-in-place for the good not just of the homeless, but for everyone.

SPEAK OUT TO ORGANIZE SAFE PROTEST
In other words, speak up under items 1 and 3 to demand immediate action and announce protest actions–not because the Council will do anything other than rubberstamp the staff’s proposals, but rather to get the word out and encourage others who feel isolated to band together in solidarity.

USING CARS TO PROTEST SAFELY
I propose a safe-and-peaceful but loud-and-prominent protest in vehicles focusing on the City officials with power (Bernal, Mills, Cummings, O’Hara) and County officials (Elissa Benson, Jessica Scheiner, and Tatiana Brennan ) as suggested at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/04/06/18832134.php “Lobby for your Life: Suggestions from Laura”. Give the babbling bureaucrats and the hotel hoarders an immediate demand to act within 48 hours or face strong direct peaceful (and hopefully constitutionally protected) protests.

THE CITY’S CURRENT “DIE SOONER, SAVE MONEY LATER”
SHELTER HUDDLED TOGETHER TOKEN ACTIONS
While we wait and worry, vulnerable asymptomatic homeless people are squeezed into the Vets Hall, the Armory, and Laurel St.—all large contained rooms that violate CDC guidelines. Meanwhile motel rooms and real estate properties sit empty as Santa Cruz Homeless Union activists like Alicia Kuhl, Food Not Bombs workers like Keith McHenry, and alternative social service providers like Brent Adams expose the toxic absurdity of preserving privilege as the community ship sinks.

The dangerous psuedo-shelter plan is happening as police, deputies, and security thugs run homeless people out into the rain and harass encampments–again, violating the CDC guidelines and threatening community health.

Waiting for this to spread as facilities are kept empty is cruel, crazy, and costly—to the entire Community. WE must act now to stop this by whatever means are necessary.
TO COMMENT GO TO:  “An Immodest and Long Overdue Proposal” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/04/07/18832146.php

A Santa Barbara Activist Responds to the Deathly Silence and Social Service Evasions in Santa Barbara

NORSE’S NOTES:  Writer and activist Peter Marin (https://msu.edu/~jdowell/135/PMarin.html) has this angry and familiar interchange with Kimberlee Albers, “Homeless Assistance” Program Manager in Santa Barbara (https://www.noozhawk.com/article/hand_washing_stations_arrive_in_santa_barbara_county_20200319 ).   The arguments and toxic duck-the-issue deficiencies are mirrored here in Santa Cruz’s reassure-a-lot do-nothing wait-until-folks-are-already-infected-before-providing-shelter “solutions”.

The National Homeless Union on Thursday presented two hours of organizational peptalk and numerous local reports at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgBEB3lv4lc with local activists Keith McHenry presenting the grim Santa Cruz picture.   If and exactly how local activists can coalesce and push back–or create their own solutions by using ties with renters, elders, disabled folks, immigrants, and the expendable in other cities, is really the big question. 

Few activist groups are braving police threats and the very real danger of infection by providing service and taking action to address issues the City and County are stalling on (motel shelter, food services, decent sanitary measures, providing survival necessities like tents, tarps, blankets, etc.).  But if folks are willing to go out to address their own necessities, it’s not merely compassion but common sense to demand and provide life-saving provisions and demand policies.  What kills those outside will kill those inside.
Irregular reports, interviews, and updates are available archived at  http://www.huffsantacruz.org/Lostshows.html

Updates from the “Ignore Them Until they Disappear or Die Off” Genocide Zone in Santa Cruz

Updates from the “Ignore Them Until they Disappear or Die Off” Genocide Zone by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Monday Mar 30th, 2020 5:47 PM
While City & County officials who live indoors postulate, ponder, and predict, no safe shelters, sanitary shithouses, or reliable food services have opened up to replace those shut down. HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) critic passes on some updates and the latest in-the-field reports from Food not Bombs still-serving-under-fire foodster Keith McHenry. Chief Andy Mills’ police and Sheriff Hart’s deputies keep flouting federal and state guidelines by “moving along” homeless survival-in-place encampments and food servers with threats and arrests. City Manager Martin Bernal’s Bureaucrats lock bathrooms, and preventing those outside from taking shelter. City leaders remain silent or facilitate this toxic insanity.

Homeless folks are crowded into the few shelters in conditions that spread COVID-19. We must do what the leaders only talk about before it’s too late.

UPDATES FROM A LOCAL FOOD NOT BOMBS ACTIVIST

Yesterday [3-29] “Amazon, Instacart Grocery Delivery Workers Demand Coronavirus Protection And Pay” on East Coast at https://www.npr.org/2020/03/30/823767492/amazon-instacart-grocery-delivery-workers-strike-for-coronavirus-protection-and-?

Today [3-30]
11 a.m. Join the Global Rent & Mortgage Strike April 1st
see “Rent Strike Nation” at https://newrepublic.com/article/157081/rent-strike-nation-coronavirus?

3:55 p.m. We need books for people to read since those of us who live outside cannot charge their phones. We also have a lot of bread that is amazing at the Benchlands behind the Santa Cruz County building. Thanks

4:10 p.m. Still at the Benchlands sharing food. We are almost the only food and water in Santa Cruz for the hundreds without housing. The city portable toilet is overflowing so we are using the bushes until we dig a pit toilet. Tell people in Santa Cruz that we have food, water and lots of bread in San Lorenzo Park behind the county building near Water Street. We want to end service at 7 today. Thanks

HUFF Howlings
Coming Tomorrow: Community Health Demands Immediate Occupation of Vacant Buildings to Stop COVID-19 Outside

Endless promises and reassurances, evasions and lies, by the highly paid homelessness “experts” who have funneled money into very limited and expensive homeless “services” that exclude or recycle the majority of the 1000-2000 homeless people outside in the City.

These excuses and justifications–and those in power who use them–now threaten the health of the entire community.

At the national level we have two sold-out national parties that have passed another huge corporate trillion dollar giveaway. (See “Why Are Progressives Voting For Ultimate Screwing Of America?” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfOPSq705To,
“How Bernie and Warren Sold Us Out Over Stimulus Bill” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsPjPmDzN8w)

We’ll no doubt hear more reassuring words from Supervisor Zack Friend. he’s “hosting” [and you’re paying for] a telephone town hall with Mimi Hall, director of the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, to discuss the latest updates on COVID-19 and take your questions. The session will run from 6-7 p.m. Tuesday. Information: 831-454-2222 and use meeting ID 145384.,

….But are the County Buildings bathrooms, sinks, and showers open for community (and particularly homeless) use while Zack comfortably relieves himself on the community while the officials he funds continue to deny vital services?

Needs: While we’re waiting for shelter-in-place access to the many vacant motel rooms,
…..a regular check on the availability of toilet paper, towels, soap, water at the few portapotties outside.
…..the immediate 24-opening of parking garage bathrooms, and other more civilized facilities currently unused,
…..and, of course, occupation of vacant office, apartment, and other buildings as emergency shelter-in-place, and quarantine space,
…..the release of prisoners from the local jail in the current crisis before they become the epicenter of a new epidemic,
……commandeering and distribution of vital food and supplies to unhoused, renters, and others growingly in need in the current crisis. See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/24/this-is-life-or-death-homeless-families-reclaim-vacant-homes-to-survive-virus-outbreak?

Do we wait for the concentration zones for the homeless–frightening alternatives reportedly being set up in other cities such as Las Vegas? See https://www.fox5vegas.com/coronavirus/parking-lot-at-cashman-center-opens-as-temporary-homeless-shelter/article_613927c0-7139-11ea-a802-536e3067a76c.html?fbclid=IwAR1MDfnuaoleJgkgn-PXXH8Yk9j3KwX85NMHtl2_0epKK6WLi7ZdOkBtu0o

On the other hand, psuedo-shelters such as the Salvation Army’s Laurel Street serve as useful containment and quarantine centers when the inevitable COVID-19 cases break out–cases that could yet be prevented with adequate distancing–say in motel rooms.. Seattle’s KIRO news reports on this crisis at https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/three-seattle-area-shelters-close-after-resident-tests-positive-covid-19/Z3YXVZPJ2BG3DNUN4QYPQX7LZM/?fbclid=IwAR3SsHfm-5uVrXAy5Sh68eq4abTUrhdSt7qIl3SRPmRInmg1zqHN9a6OWOE

LOOKING BACK IN DISGUST
XXXX Homeless providers Cooper and Russell were arrested and released several days ago to move them along from their (legal) sidewalk spot at the complaint of the nearby bank. Their survival gear was seized and has not been returned.

XXXX Mills cops posted the Town Clock and served McHenry with a Cease-and-Desist letter, then fencing off to stop food serving there. On 3-28, they served McHenry with a letter demanding he stop feeding until “getting a permit” in the San Lorenzo Benchlands, after forcing the meal from its safer location in back of the courthouse to the marshy rainsoaked Benchlands.


WHAT WE CAN DO
We need to distribute maps of vacant buildings, unused restrooms, and provide an honest listing of actual food and survival equipment spaces.

Volunteer at noon at the Vet’s Hall to help cook for the Benchlands meals.

Democracy Now gives a (very) brief mention of authorities ignoring these needs in New York City at https://www.democracynow.org/2020/3/30/nyc_homelessness

Check out Facebook for Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs, Santa Cruz County Homeless Advocates, and Wes White (for Salinas & National Updates)

Free Radio Santa Cruz on-the-Net Interview with Keith and others outside at http://huffsantacruz.org/lost/1%20FRSC%203-29-20.mp3 Regular updates at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/Lostshows.html .

MAKE AND READ COMMENTS AT  https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/03/30/18831951.php

HUFF shifting to in-the-field support and reporting: HUFF members aiding Food Servers & Hotel Shelter Providers as City “leaders” lie and stall. NO Noon Meeting Today at the Sub Rosa

As of mid-day March 24th, police chief Andy Mills posted “Vacate by 9 AM March 25” Notices around the Town Clock’s COVID-19 Relief Center, jointly staffed by Food Not Bombs, SC Homeless Union, HUFF, and other community volunteers. 

The Center has been operating 24 hours a day, serving food and supplies to those outside as City Manager Bernal, Mayor Cummings, City PR Megaphonestress Susie O’Hara, and Police Chief Mills have continued to ignore, harass, and/or misinform the community.  

Yesterday’s “no public allowed” City Council meeting defeated two attempts by the dying Progressive majority to (1) call an emergency meeting within 48 hours to address homeless shelter and health issues being ignored at the Tuesday Council meeting; and (2) strengthen and lengthen the fluffy light and unenforceable eviction moratorium proposed by Mayor “Can’t Help” Cummings and Vice-Mayor “Merry Malice” Myers.

For the last two nights, SC Homeless Union has taken the lead in distributing overnight motel vouchers paid for privately at that location (and last night from a parking garage).  See https://www.santacruzsentinel.com/2020/03/24/santa-cruz-homeless-activists-draw-coronavirus-shelter-battle-lines/ for a slanted Sentinel take on the distribution.
While denouncing a “lack of the 6′ safe distance” at the voucher distribution on 3-23 and using that as the pretext to “cease and desist” order the vital Town Clock support center, Mills’s police cited an activist for marking out 6′ intervals on 3-24 in the parking garage for the 2nd voucher distribution. One hypocritical hand washes the other.
Street Spirit newspaper distribution operations are currently suspended, but the Berkeley vendor center is looking for ways to provide some interim support for vendors whose sales lifeline has been cut off.  When HUFF hears, we’ll let the few vendors we have down here know.
Frequent local updates can be found on Facebook under Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs, Santa Cruz County Homeless Advocates, Homeless Outside in Santa Cruz, and HUFF.  As well as occasionally at indybay.org/santacruz.
If anyone has seen the wandering coffee canister used to supply morning coffee to those outside which “walked away” yesterday, please ask it to come home!  



ACTIONS, RESOURCES, & CONSIDERATIONS from a HUFFster’s perspective

  • Check at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/Lostshows.html to hear a series of phoned-in reports from different activists and workers–which should be posted shortly and will be updated daily if possible.
  •  City Manager Martin Bernal provided a handful of portapotties  City-wide and cold water washstands after refusing to do so for months, but maintained nighttime closure of bathrooms in parks in spite of the emergency situation and repeated calls and e-mails.   Nor has the County acted to provide basic sanitary facilities for the poorest outside, though it has financial and organization resources to do so.
  • City agencies have thwarted or denied Food Not Bombs, the Depot Project, Bagels on Bikes, HUFF, and other organizations their attempts to establish such vital resources.
  • Recent shutdowns at the Library, Louden Nelson, the Metro, the publicly sponsored Bookshop Santa Cruz, closed restaurants and businesses make this situation ever more dangerous both for folks outside and the broader community.
  • No motel or hotel rooms are yet available for the 1000-2000 homeless outside who want and may need them to shelter more safely and securely in spite of government directives and financial grants.
  • The inadequate “normal” charitable activities of those working with churches, social services, etc. have been cut back or closed–many of the staff of these organizations are over 60 and particularly vulnerable to the corona virus.
  • Normal donations to those directly seeking survival money through “panhandling” have been discouraged or criminalized under the new emergency regs, enacted without public discussion or vote.
  • Public transportation options have been restricted or shut down, making access to what limited resources there are even more problematic.
  • Mayor Cummings has issued no calls for an emergency Council meeting to pass elementary measures already done in other cities like a moratorium on evictions and rents.
  • City Manager Martin Bernal & the City Council majority have a long history of resisting the expansion of basic services for the less privileged in town.
  • Supervisor Coonerty and the Board of Supervisors have declined to provide county-wide resources in an equitable and sensible fashion.
  • The health of the community depends on our community action through a direct and united response.
  • Up to now we have seen how “concerned” and “effective” local authorities have been in meeting the needs of renters and those outside.
  • Meekly following the dictates of authority in this crisis has not in the past, nor likely in the future, to be a wise, health-providing, and productive course.
  • We must confront directly, clearly, persistently, loudly and immediately to secure the basic survival needs of the community in the current crisis.
  • With washed hands and care to keep physical distance, bring food and yourselves to the noon food serving to sustain the survival effort and take the necessary future steps.
  • Contact Food Not Bombs (575-770-3377), HUFF (831-423-4833), or the Santa Cruz Homeless Union (831-431-7766) if unable to come for health or other reasons. (454-2200) and you wish to help.