City’s New Years Gift to the Homeless: Demolishing the Tent City in San Lorenzo Park: The SC Homeless Union President and HUFF Respond

Deportation Decree Impacting More Than 100 at San Lorenzo Park Camp

“Executive Order 2020-24
Dear Councilmembers and Parks and Recreation Commissioners,
                   …[W]e hereby authorize and order the temporary closure of the San Lorenzo Park and the Benchlands.   The temporary closure will be accomplished in  phases, with the goal of temporarily closing the entire park by January 6, 2021.  We will aim to keep the lawn bowling green, playground and riverwalk path open during the closure period.                   City staff may cause fencing to be erected to effectuate the closure, and signage will be posted indicating the closure.                   The closure period will end on January 31, 2020, unless an extension of the closure is authorized….”
[To read the full document,  click on the http above or download the attachments]

A Response from Alicia Kuhl 

  • If individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are.  
    • Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread. 
  • Encourage those staying in encampments to set up their tents/sleeping quarters with at least 12 feet x 12 feet of space per individual.  
    • If an encampment is not able to provide sufficient space for each person, allow people to remain where they are but help decompress the encampment by linking those at increased risk for severe illness to individual rooms or safe shelter. 
  • Work together with community coalition members to improve sanitation in encampments. 
  • Ensure nearby restroom facilities have functional water taps, are stocked with hand hygiene materials (soap, drying materials) and bath tissue, and remain open to people experiencing homelessness 24 hours per day. 
  • If toilets or handwashing facilities are not available nearby, assist with providing access to portable latrines with handwashing facilities for encampments of more than 10 people. These facilities should be equipped with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol). 


    Your executive order to close the park based on clearing the current “unmanaged” encampment is against the CDC guidelines. Furthermore your list of justifications to do such order is also questionable according to the guidelines. You state that amongst other things that the city could easily rectify that there is a large amount of “Improperly disposed of Litter” If the city had been following the CDC guidelines at all, this amount of litter would not have accumulated because the city would have been bringing in the necessary services to this encampment thus the litter wouldn’t exist. 

    I Hereby request that you CEASE AND DESIST from the closure of San Lorenzo park and the displacement of the encampment that resides there until at such time as individual alternative placement options are available for every homeless individual residing at San Lorenzo Park. Or you may be faced with legal action for violating the CDC guidelines and placing the homeless community in further harm, and the community of Santa Cruz in danger due to your repeated violations of the Covid-19 guidelines given by the Center For Disease Control. Please follow the guidelines of the CDC immediately.

    Alicia Kuhl  President of the Santa Cruz Chapter of the California Homeless Union  ( 

    831) 431-7766 

Alicia Kuhl


Shift Supervisor

Emergency Interim Housing (EIH) Rue Ferrari

HomeFirst Services of Santa Clara County

(Mobile) (831) 431-7766

On behalf of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom), I sent the following Public Records Act Demand to the City Clerk today.  Her office sent me an automatic response advising me they would not be answering e-mail until

Please make available (preferably in e-mail form) copies of all reports of criminal activity as well as actual citations issued or arrests made regarding individuals in San Lorenzo Park from from July 1, 2020 to the present .  This would include any documents held by the Parks and Recreation Department as well as repair orders, orders for trash disposal or rental of public facilities, any communications from Martin Bernal or Tony Elliot concerning San Lorenzo Park during that period. 

These two public officials have recently issued an order demanding evacuation of the park without  any legal adequate alternate shelter (  ) or meeting CDC guidelines for safe sheltering-in-place.  This not only imperils the health and safety of unhoused folks outside, but of the entire community as it heightens the risk of exposure COVID-19 in a time of increasing hospitalization and ICU shortages and rising deaths.
Please additionally provide any records regarding the 16 bullet points in their 12-17-20 Memorandum and Order between the dates specified above.  Specifically:

  • Any documented reports of graffiti, vandalism, and/or illegal electrical taps
  • Any reports documenting actual fires in that area
  • Calls for service relating to reported criminal activity inside the park.
  • Any reports of theft of City tools and supplies
  • Any reports of actual damage to trees or grass
  • All reports of all trash service provided.
  • How reports regarding frequency and cost of portapotty and washstation service provided.
  • Any evidence, if such exists, of a potable water source available to those engaged in survival camping there.
  • (Though this is redundant) any reports of actual crimes against persons using the park

Also provide any records (memos, correspondence, etc.) regarding specific shelter space being allotted or particular relocation plans anticipated for those being ordered to move.
Given the severity and immediacy of the January 6 “deadline” for evicting more than 100 people, the records requested are those that Martin Bernal and Tony Elliot studied carefully before issuing this severe order.  Hence they can be made available without delay to the general public.   With winter weather upon us, deporting people from their relatively safe encampments threatens to escalate even further the homeless death toll, which has been estimated at today’s Memorial as being significantly greater than last year.  

In order to reassure the community that these are not politically motivated decrees in a time where the public has little access to any public process and the whole governmental process has become less transparent than ever, a speedy response is important.
Also if these records are not available by e-mail, please provide access to hard copies–and specify that you are doing so.  My recent request for claim forms prior to the last City Council meeting elicited no response until it was too late to comment on the items at the open interval before the closed session in the case of Christine Jacobs. 

This is both a violation of the letter of the Brown Act and the spirit of the Public Records Act–since the public needs to read the full claims of someone presenting a grievance to City Council before the meeting at which it will be discussed and considered. 

In the past, you have refused to make the full claims available as written by those making them for the on-line agenda, requiring me to make Public Records Act requests each time to get that information.  Until last meeting, you at least responded a day before the meeting.   This last time, I heard nothing from you until after the meeting.  Please clarify what your policy is.
Thanks, stay warm, and try–like the rest of us—to avoid being evicted or “moved along”,
Robert Norse