Dated Updates on the Current Homeless Crisis

by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]
Thursday Mar 19th, 2020 9:26 AM

Some things are changing quickly. Others (sadly) not at all–such as the City’s failure to provide the most elementary sanitary services such as porapotties, washing stations, and bathrooms (many of them now shutting down). The following e-mail I sent out as a replacement for my usual Wednesday HUFF meeting yesterday. Audio updates will be posted between times at . Since Sunday evening March 15th , Food Not Bombs, HUFF, the Santa Cruz Homeless Union and others have supplied volunteers, food, and supplies for distribution to the community–particularly folks outside without safe reliable shelter. Hats off to Lucero Luna, Keith, Kevin, Elise, Fish, and many others who have sustained this effort.

We’ll be gathering, some of us by phone, at the Town Clock at noon today to assist the on-going survival supplies center.

Please observe 6′ separation. Gloves and masks will be available for food distribution workers.


*** Check at 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 has not yet met concerns the City has closed and ordered closed places supplying toilet and hand-washing access 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.

Check for recent audio interviews and reports from the street under Plague Reports.

The twice-weekly Bathrebespierre’s Broadsides show also archived at will feature ongoing commentary and news-ish updates Thursdays 6-8 PM and Sundays 9:30 AM to 3 PM on the stream of Free Radio Santa Cruz at .

Government’s Reaction to COVID-19: Cops and Commands Not Common Sense Services

S.C. County Issues Shelter-in-Place with No Shelter or Facilities for Those Outside by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]
Monday Mar 16th, 2020 8:22 PM
Several hours ago the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency followed up on actions by San Francisco, Marin, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties declaring much public assembly a misdemeanor. Meanwhile acting City czar Martin Bernal has declined to provide portapotties, open bathrooms, provide vacant hotel and motel rooms, or declare an eviction moratorium for folks outside and hard-pressed renters inside.

The March 16 six-page ordered by County Health Officer Gail Newel & Assistant County Counsel S. Kelley goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday March 17th.

It can be read in full at in Place Order March 16 2020.pdf?

The order requiring people to “self-isolate” in their residences does “exempt” homeless people (Section 2). “Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this Section but are strongly urged to obtain shelter, and governmental and other entities are strongly urged to make such shelter available as soon as possible and to the maximum extent practicable.”

County, City, University, State, and Federal authorities have done nothing to expand concrete on-the-ground facilities (such as vacant buildings, unused motel and hotel rooms, even campground space). Nor have they provided the most basic sanitation services near the larger encampments, instead maintaining the closing of even some of the limited bathrooms available part-time (the Library, Louden Nelson, the city-funded Bookshop Santa Cruz’s bathroom).

Attempts by Food Not Bombs, the Depot Project, and others to secure permits to provide portapotties and hand washing stations have been actively obstructed by city authorities.

The current Food Not Bombs/Union of the Homeless presence at the Town Clock is also implicitly threatened by various provisions of the “Emergency Declaration”.

For instance on p.4 under Section 10, subsection f, further subsection xiii, we read “…Food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided or at any other gathering spot.” which sounds like a perfect pretext to shut down Food Not Bombs food servings.

On p. 2, Section 2 provides provides “All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a household or living unit are prohibited except as expressly permitted in Section 10.”

Section 10 does not permit, for instance, public gatherings to petition the government for redress of grievances (say, the lack of bathroom facilities and decent shelter for the hundreds outside).

I suppose if you show up with your chef’s hat and gloves as a food provider, you may be able to argue an exemption to the First Amendment suspension if the sheriffs or cops show up to escort you “home”.

I encourage members of the community to demand loudly and clearly for the protection of the broader community that such facilities and shelter be made available immediately as an option for those outside. This can be done on-line, by facebook, and through twitter, of course, and should be, but there’s no substitute for physical presence.  I personally have recent health problems at an age where I’m particularly vulnerable, so I’m struggling with my own responsibility and response.   At this time I’m trying to avoid contact to slow the virus spread and protect myself and those in my household. 

Apparently endless e-mails, notes, and Council meeting pleas have no impact on Bernal, Cummings, and the other worthies who sit on piles of money (and now emergency provisions).

It falls on the community to take peaceful but forceful Direct Action to protect the health not just of those outside, but of the entire community before it’s too late.

Speak Out Against Chief Mills Latest Anti-Homeless Plan

SCPD Chief Andy Mills and reactionaries on the City Council want to “work around” the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Martin v. Boise decision.

Since they refuse to open up survival encampments or vacant public buildings, police need “tools” to drive unhoused people out of public spaces. Hence the Mills 7-Point Plan…

(1) Banning Tents During the Day,
(2) Making Possession of Syringes a Crime in Public Places,
(3) Declaring Pacific Avenue a “Park” to Allow Police-Initiated Stay-Away Orders,
(4) Criminalizing Bike Repair in Public Places,
(5) Driving Away Vehicular Homes from West Cliff,
(6) Increasing Legal Pressure on Homeless “Crime”,
(7) Shopping Cart Criminalization.
Make comments, get more info, and download flyers at: (Reactionary Riptide Against Homeless Must be Stopped !)
HUFF meets Wednesday noon at the Sub Rosa Cafe.

Koffee Klatch at City Kouncil Offices–and a Week of ACTION Meetings


7:30-8:30 AM  City Hall   Wednesday Feb 19th   Coffee, Soup, & Speak-Out!

Demand Action from City Manager Bernal Now !

Where are Governor Newsom’s Promised Buildings & Camps?                     Other Action Meetings This Week

  • 6-8 PM Tues 2-18 SCPD Community: Say NO to CACH Collaboration with Cops
  • 7:30 AM Wed 2-19 City Hall Backtalk City Manager Bernal—Free Coffee and Munchies
  • Noon Wed 2-19  More Coffee with HUFF Sub Rosa Café next to the Bike Church
  • 4:30 PM Wed 2-19 SC Union Forum 612 Ocean RCNV  on Resistance Strategies
  • 5:30 PM  Fri  2-21 City Hall Offices Clue in Drew Glover on Needed Agenda Action!
  • 10 & 12 AM  Sat/Sun 2-22/23 Tabby Cat Café 1101 Cedar St.  Canvas Against the Recall !
  • 5 PM Sun Post Office Sidewalk—SC Homeless Union Huddle on Tent Protections
  • All Week Long: Students Demand COLA4all: Fair Wages at Bay & High St.  

March to Restore Police-Stolen Property from Folks in Survival Encampments 1 PM Tuesday February 4


Louden Nelson Center (301 Center St. )1 PM Tues February 4th

March to Police Station (155 Center) to Reclaim Property Taken

Was Your Stuff Taken?   Let Us Know !

Last Thursday, a group of people, many of them elderly and disabled, were swept away from their sidewalk encampment next to Laurel Park (near London Nelson Center) on Washington.  Half a dozen cop cars and 10-15 cops and rangers took all their survival gear–clothing, blankets, tents.  Police arrested Cooper d’Angelo, jailing her for 10 hours.   Her “crime”, she said, was a small pile of marijuana ash left on the sidewalk by someone else. A arrested her for smoking (which she denies) “near a school.”  

 Early that week police repeatedly woke up Cooper her partner Russell.  They gave them 10 false citations for “impeding foot traffic”.  Cooper said they only took up half the sidewalk and a wheelchair could pass by. 

 Police seizures of homeless survival gear are ongoing in spite of the federal court’s Martin v. Boise decision and the City’s lack of Shelter.  If your property or person is threatened by police, rangers, security guards, or hostile NIMBY’s, Call 221-6310 to report police theft.  The Santa Cruz Homeless Union and other groups are planning a retaliatory lawsuit.  Police “property pick-up” hours are absurdly limited:  Tuesday (11 AM – 3 PM) (and Thursday 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM).

Today’s Conscience and Action & HUFF meetings Cancelled–Next Meeting January 1, 2020 Sub Rosa noon

C & A & HUFF ACTION ITEMS for 12-25-19


Informal chatting, munching, and flyering at the MAH Meal noon-3 PM Front & Cooper St.


*** Demands at SCPD Last Wednesday & Follow-Up E-Mail: Specific Complaints

*** Contact Lists for Future Actions—Camps, Occupations, Protests

*** Informally Gathering Direct Contacts and Reports from Individual Survival Camps & Refugees


*** C    Canopy & Coffee Outside City Manager’s Office w/ Letter Writing: We Want Open Shelter

*** W  Wait-In at City Offices (Bring Your Own Chairs) to get Cummings to stop Garage Crackdowns

*** Fly Flyering the Metro demanding end to Discriminatory Exclusions


Contact Robert at 423-4833 to help with Public Records Analysis or Expanding Contact Lists

Attend Public Meetings of Public Officials with Signs & Loud Questions: WHERE’S WINTER SHELTER?

SANTA CRUZ: Facebook pages:  Alex Darocy, Santa Cruz County Homeless Advocates/Santa Cruz California Homeless Union, Brent Adams, Homeless Outside in Santa Cruz, Alicia Kuhl, Autumn Sun, Conscience & Action,

The Santa Cruz Community, Steve Pleich, SCCCP, Keith McHenry, Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs, Tenant Sanctuary,

Wes White, Monterey County Homeless Advocates, Kristina Roach, Lucero Luna,


Two Flyers Covering the City’s Destruction of the Phoenix Encampment (the 2nd Ross Camp)

Activists are discussing a housed and street response to the City’s abrupt shutdown of the Deseire Memorial Survival Campground on Friday. 

For a different perspective than mainstream media, go to Two Views of the City’s Ambush of the Phoenix (Deseire Memorial Survival) Camp Behind Ross at .

Another Terrible Tuesday Afternoon at City Council–Holding Vice-Mayor Cummings Accountable

A long line of speakers urged faster action to protect Section 8 tenants in the last months of the year at Tuesday’s Special City Council meeting. I summarized in accusatory terms Vice-Mayor Cummings record in siding with the reactionary Watkins majority on tenant and homeless issues. Brown supported a Mathews weakening of the Just Eviction protection emergency measure, and the Council caved.

Tenants:  Hold Vice-Mayor Cummings Accountable

         Tenants need protection.  Whose vote blocked just eviction protections last January?  Justin Cummings [J.C.].   Who deserted the Progressive majority this special tenant protection session necessary and too late for those already evicted ?   J.C.    

Protecting tenants saves them from homelessness.   In April Ross Camp activists were driven away without adequate shelter as landlords are now threatening to do and doing.  The elderly, the disabled, the vulnerable.    Who promised “no evictions from Ross without adequate shelter?  Then obediently followed the false narrative of City Manager Bernal and his homeless-betraying assistant Susie O’Hara ?  J.C.   Whose key vote delayed any meaningful data on landlord costs, evictions, and rents?  J.C.   

Who scorned the pleas of the Clear View Court residents fighting corporate developer greed last meeting?   J.C.    Who won’t meet with activists on the tenant and homeless emergency?   J.C.  Who won’t hold regular office hours or answer e-mails?   J.C.   Will other tenants be driven out?  Deep into the Pogonip made dangerous with high winds?   Ask Justin Cummings.  His vote withholds protection.   

Desieire Quintero was a former tenant.  She took shelter at Ross Camp.  Bernal & O’Hara threw her out with no shelter.  She fought back in court.  Discredited City Attorney Reid Gallogly countered with lies. Two days ago, a falling tree in the Pogonip killed her as she slept.  Who drove her there?  J.C.   How many other displaced tenants will we lose from the community?   Whose name should we etch on that fatal tree?   If any vote and voice was key, it was J.C.  

Can tenants expect any real protections from the Watkins-Commings Council?   Ask the question, but your words must somehow pierce the deadly silence…of Justin Cummings..


           MORE ON THE LIFE AND DEATH OF DESIERE QUINTERO, go to (After Fighting to Keep Ross Camp Open, Homeless Woman Killed When Tree Strikes Campsite)                                                                        ( Alicia Kuhl’s Statement on the Death of Desieire)


(Federal Judge Orders City of Santa Cruz to Halt Closure of Ross Camp )