Execution Delayed But Not Reversed: OVO Up for Rubberstamping 1-12

A new “hearing” for the OVO [Oversized Vehicle Ordinance] will be held on January 12th at 10 AM by the Zoning Administrator to confirm the ouster of “Oversized”, i.e. homeless vehicles, from a large segment of the City. 

Some particulars of the upcoming “hearing” and the last one can be found at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/01/08/18847199.php .  

A Sneak Play Past the Community and Coastal Commission…Again

City staff is urging the Zoning Administrator to authorize and sanctify the reactionary City Council’s latest RV ban (the Oversized Vehicle Ordinance).  This law and the CSSO (Community Services and Standards Ordinance) nails the lid on the coffin of those struggling to survive outside.

The hearing is being zoomed at 10 AM on Wednesday January 5th. Oppose it in writing now and prepare for an appeal!

For more information and to comment, go to https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/01/03/18847069.php

Homeless Memorials Today Tuesday December 21st zoomed at 10 AM and in-person at 3 PM– Discussion of Flood Response

What to Do Next Time the River Floods?

Rains are on the Horizon

The Nearest, Most Obvious, & Most Immediate Sheltering Area is the Upper Park

Yet Police Have Ticketed Those Who Went There To Escape the Flood

Where Can Those Outside Take Their Property and Persons Safely ? 

Speak Up at the In-Person Homeless Memorial for the Dead !  

Tuesday December 21st Laurel/Front 3 PM ! 

  • The City’s token annual memorial will only be held on zoom this year 10 AM – 12:30 PM Tuesday December 21st.  Watch it at  https://bit.ly/31IfbY2. 
  • Food Not Bombs, the Santa Cruz Homeless Union, and HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) will be holding its own remembrance ceremony for those who’ve died this year on Tuesday December 21st 3 PM at the encampment and meal area.  We’ll also discuss possible responses to the next flood
  • In December 2020, housed & unhoused peacefully refused to leave the parkHow many would be willing to repeat this resistance while filing for a life-saving Injunction as happened a year ago ? 
  • Can the broader community repeat the successful resistance & Injunction of 12-28 & 12-29?  Do Benchlands residents and Community members support this strategy understanding the risk of arrest?

Court Hearing for the Pajaro River/Watsonville Encampments

HUFF has received and posted yesterday’s hearing temporarily proeventing the trashing off the Pajaro River campsites near Watsonville protecting scores of people.   

It can be accessed at https://www1.huffsantacruz.org/lost/Pajaro%20River%20TRO%20Hearing.mp3 on the HUFF website. 

Van Keulen said she’d be issuing a ruling on whether to dissolve the TRO, to continue it, or to create a Preliminary Injunction within a day or two.  

There will be more commentary on the issue on  Thursday’s show–which will be available to hear at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/Lostshows.html at 6 p.m. on 11-25.  Background of the Pajaro river struggle can be found in the two most recent shows also  at that website.
Monike Tone, President of the Watsonville/Pajaronian Homeless Union can be reached at  villenair831@gmail.com .


ALERT:  Monike Tone of the Pajaro River Chapter of the California Homeless Union is appealing to the community members to join her and the many survival campers on the Pajaro River off south of Watsonville, threatened with forceable eviction and destruction of their homes (tents and other structures) 7 AM Wednesday November 17th.

They were served with a notice on the 10th, given no shelter options–as is required by the Martin v. Boise decision–and expect to be confronted with armed force tomorrow morning. 

Monike met with several dozen residents earlier today and told me she and others have decided to stand fast and decline to be bullied out of their homes–as RV dwellers in Marina were last Friday.

Attorney Anthony Prince of the California Homeless Union is reportedly working to secure an Injunction as he and Alicia Kuhl did in December 2020 for the San Lorenzo Survival Campers.  Prince has been able to secure Injunctions in other cities such as Sausalito and Novato.

She invites and urges those interested in joining the resistance–either as participants or observers–to come to the Valero gas station at San Juan and Porter Streets in Royal Oaks.  Those with questions are welcome to call her at 831-707-5562.

I will be playing several interviews with Monike on my 6 p.m. Thursday show, a preview of which should soon be available this evening at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/Lostshows.html

Novato Victory: Kudos to the California Homeless Union and Attorney Anthony Prince

In mid-July Attorney Anthony Prince of the California Homeless Union successfully applied for a restraining order to stop enforcement of a thinly-disguised anti-homeless Novato city Camping ban designed to work around the Martin v. Boise decision. Perhaps activists in Santa Cruz can take similar action, long promised by the Santa Cruz Homeless Union, either with or without an attorney.
To assist and inspire any would-be legal eagles and/or simply lay activists interested in following in successful footsteps, here’s both Prince’s application for the court Injunction as well as the Court’s positive response in Novato. Hard work by S.C. Homeless Union president and workers in large part compiled the evidence. Long-time Court survivor Keith McHenry of the allied Food Not Bombs organization has repeatedly suggested that the legal arguments, gleaned from prior applications could be mustered fairly quickly. This is something ordinary mortals could do without relying on cowed or overworked attorneys.

Prince’s Application for a Restraining Order: file:///C:/Users/Robert/Downloads/516121476-California-Homeless-Union-et-al-v-City-of-Novato-et-al-complaint(1).pdf [put this link in your browser to see the full document]

The Court order: https://www.scribd.com/document/516120708/Novato-camping-restrictions-temporary-restraining-order

Attached are several stories giving background (from an establishment perspective of the Novato City Council’s conniving against Camp Compassion and the unhoused folks in that town: from the Marin Independent Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle. For completeness and amusement, I add the Novato and Police Chief’s statements as well.

FOR THE FULL STORIES & TO COMMENT, GO TO https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2021/07/24/18843907.php

Novato Victory: Kudos to the California Homeless Union and Attorney Anthony Prince : Indybay In mid-July Attorney Anthony Prince of the California Homeless Union successfully applied for a restraining order to stop enforcement of a thinly-disguised anti-homeless Novato city Camping ban designed to work around the Martin v. Boise decision. Perhaps activists in Santa Cruz can take similar action, long promised by the Santa Cruz Homeless Union, either with or without an attorney. www.indybay.org

Chico’s Homeless Win Preliminary Injunction—Will Santa Cruz Take a Similar Path?

The grim news of sweeps removing homeless-run encampments in Sausalito and San Rafael, as well as the RV rousts in Seaside, in recent weeks is now counterbalanced by a ray of light from a federal court in the Warren v. City of Chico case, which I transcribe here.   In mid-December, City Manager Martin Bernal unilaterally sent in Andy Mills’ SCPD last December to oust the homeless population living in San Lorenzo Park, ignoring the winter weather, COVID crisis, and lack of City shelter.

Bernal and his staff had decreed such removals with false promises of adequate alternative shelter and services from the Benchlands, 1220 River St., Ross Camp, and Phoenix Camp in prior years.

In response, community organizations set up their own tents and showed up in large numbers to interpose themselves between armed police and the threatened homeless residents. A day later the California Homeless Union and its attorney Anthony Prince got a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) blocking the removal. The order was turned into a longer term Preliminary Injunction on January 20th.

In negotiations with the City, Prince agreed to squeeze the homeless encampment into the Benchlands in March where it has grown over the last few months receiving limited support from City authorities and from Food Not Bombs and other charitable groups.

“Given the great disparity between the number of beds and the number of unhoused persons, the Court need not get into the weeds of whether the existing beds are “practically available.” There was simply not enough shelter available for the community to opt to enforce its criminal sanctions.”    –quote from the decision

TO READ JUDGE MORRISON’S DECISION GRANTING THE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, GO TO “The Chico Decision-Hope for the Homeless in Santa Cruz” AT https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2021/07/10/18843676.php .

Audio of and Commentary on the June 29th Hearing Dissolving Federal Protection of the Benchlands Residents

Judge Dumps Benchlands Survival Camp, Ignores Shelter Emergency by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Wednesday Jun 30th, 2021 7:08 PM
TO READ OR MAKE COMMENTS AND/OR READ THE TEXT OF THE COURT ORDER, GO TO https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2021/06/30/18843516.php

AUDIO OF 6-29 HEARING at https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AFAV6DNypFX%5FpZ8&cid=E7C40525F715047C&id=E7C40525F715047C%213055&parId=E7C40525F715047C%21657&o=OneUp

The federal court ignored the City Manager Bernal’s failure to fulfill the terms of the modified Preliminary Injunction to meet regularly with the Homeless Union to improve Benchlands conditions. Magistrate Susan Van Keulen lifted the Court’s protection of the encampment Tuesday afternoon, discarding more than several hundred people into the City’s predatory “care”. Download PDF (611.0KB) HEARING ENDS MONTHS OF PROTECTED CAMPING
An earlier 11 AM zoomed hearing before Susan Van Keulen provided few surprises. The magistrate, who’d previously protected the encampment from the City’s dispersal-without-alternatives strategy, stated at the outset the purpose of the hearing was the lifting of the Injunction.

In so doing, all parties paid little heed to the elephant in the tent–the lack of shelter, campground space, or housing for the majority of the homeless in the Benchlands–to say nothing of the wider city population.

Some activists–like myself–had been pressing SC Union officials to persuade their attorney Anthony Prince to focus on City’s lack of available shelter and prior history of false promises by the City in prior “relocation to nowhere” sweeps.

Though mentioned in the Declarations of Keith McHenry and Alicia Kuhl, the no-place-to-go arguments were not strongly raised by Prince in his pleadings. With the COVID shelter-in-place arguments predictably likely to be rejected by the Court, more fundamental issues had to be raised.

Other cities like Chico–which Prince did mention in his verbal presentation to the Court–had been granted a city-wide Injunction–something some activists had been urging. The strongest point Prince made was the City’s failure to follow the Court’s urging that the City authorities meet regularly with Union activists–something that reportedly only happened once in the course of several months.

Prince also used a closed if not secretive process in gathering information and framing documents, which made broader Union input problematic. He refused to release court papers, which finally had to obtained, ironically from the opposition City Attorney through a Public Records Act request,

Previous dispersals of the Benchlands (2018), the 1220 River St. camp (2018), the Ross Camp (May 2019), and the Phoenix (Desiree Quintero Memorial Camp November 2019) were accompanied by a bevy of non-existent “alternatives” from Susie O’Hara and Megan Bunch. The attempted mid-epidemic Xmas-time removal of hundreds from San Lorenzo Park featured more false promises by Lee Butler’s staff.

Judge and attorneys alike failed to focus on this well-documented history of bad faith and broken promises. Both sides laid emphasis on the “good management” of the Benchlands camp, without answering the obvious–what kind of guarantees was the City providing that it wouldn’t disperse the camp–say on July 4th when the new Camping Law goes into effect.

Nor were survival sleeping area alternatives provided in the recent camp demolitions at Hiway 1 and Hiway 9, the Camp Paradise “Hell’s Trail” bulldozing and the proposed July 1st deadline for Pogonip evictions.

The City Council has gone on July vacation, leaving all emergency powers in the hands of the City Manager and his subordinates. Few if any specifics were revealed at the last City Council meeting about storage and shelter alternatives supposedly being developed to provide reassuring backdrop to the harsh enforcement provisions of the new Camping Ban.

On December 28th after an ineffectual earlier attempt on December 17th, community members in numbers came out to challenge the punitive “removal to nowhere” response of Mills’ SCPD. That day’s victory was followed the next day by a successful Preliminary Injunction from Prince and the Santa Cruz Homeless Union–something Union activist Alicia Kuhl said was put together in short order.

Recent activist and community response to the Highway 1 sweeps-to-nowhere has been sparse, but given the history of numbers of people in the Benchlands, the response may be stronger. The Homeless Union has been organizing there for some months, though meeting attendance has been limited (but spirited).

Tent residents, housed supporters, and Santa Cruz Union members met Tuesday night to discuss survival strategies for the Benchlands community survival encampments. A 2nd Benchlands camp meeting is planned for Friday July 2nd at 5 PM on the tables in back of the courthouse..

Federal Court Lawsuit Protecting the Santa Cruz Benchlands Homeless: Documents and Audio Access

The most recent documents to follow the arguments of attorney Anthony Prince representing the Santa Cruz Homeless Union and the City Attorney Anthony Condotti can be found at https://cityofsantacruz.sharefile.com/d-s911ada8e59964e4c891a8e9690536bb9 .  The link will be active for 30 days, according to the Deputy City Clerk Administrator Julia Ward.  The documents were released in response to a Public Records demand.  Previous such requests to attorney Anthony Prince were met with refusal or silence. 

Tomorrow, Tuesday July 29 at 11:00 am   The Federal Judge will hear the case to decide if she will lift the injunction  

that makes it illegal for the City of Santa Cruz or it’s Police Force to sweep the homeless folks and all their tents and survival gear out of the San Lorenzo Park Benchlands where they have been living in tents for the last few months of the pandemic.   You may join this zoom meeting by using the link below: https://cand-uscourts.zoomgov.com/j/1613982797?pwd=QkRjaGdHbmNNbDJBcWNxRkNLbVB3QT09

There will be a demonstration at San Lorenzo Park at the Benchlands at 7 pm to discuss what the ruling means to the folks living in the tents at the Benchlands.  The Santa Cruz Homeless Union will meet under the Footbridge there.
Thanks to LawWatcher Laura Chatham for this additional information. 
An audio of the July 29th hearing–if someone makes it available–will be posted at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/Lostshows.html .

Real Struggle to Support Survival Camps While Council Gentrification Juggernaut Grinds On

Community focus must shift from the prefabricated public-excluded City Council meetings to direct action and legal support to defend the many survival encampments (Meyersvilles) that have sprunt up around Santa Cruz as emergency housing.  The massive street protests of last summer tore down Chief Mills fences against Food Not Bombs and the Cooper encampment next to the Post Office. But recent attempts to rouse the righteous have failed to contest the mass camp evictions of June 4th and June 21st along Highway 1.

Still, I believe it is only through such massive direct actions that there can be real changes in abusive police policy–which must begin with massive budget cuts from a violent, secretive and inbred police department to broader community-based outreach system . Story continues at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2021/06/21/18843369.php .See also “Defend the Survival Camps: June 29th Rally”  at https://www.indybay.org/uploads/2021/06/21/combined_stop_the_sweeps_flyer_6-21-20.pdf  .