Homeless (Lack of) Services Center: Please Comply With the Law As Written


To: Monica Martinez <mmartinez@scshelter.org>

Monica:

Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom (HUFF) is a local civil rights organization concerned with restoring rights for homeless people in public places and accommodations and fighting discrimination against the disabled, the poor, and other minorities who are unhoused.

As you may know, authorities continue to victimize homeless people sleeping outside for which there is no room in your shelter(s) (nor likely to be in the next decade).   The crackdown in the last two years has ravaged homeless campsites, destroyed homeless property, and subjected homeless people to coercive and abusive fines.  About this, of course, you have said nothing.

When such people come to your staff, they often seek to get on the Waiting List of the Paul Lee loft–which would immunize them from court action on camping citations under MC 6.36.055.   Additionally they seek (a) documentation that they are on the waiting list; and (b) letters to take to court noting  your shelter was full on the night of the citations.   They are having problems doing so with any regularity.  Please advise your staff to respect the needs of these folks and issue such documents when requested to do so if (a) they are on the waiting list, and/or (b) they aren’t but have a citation that they want evidence for in court to use a necessity defense (i.e. a letter that the shelter was full on that night or unavailable to them for some other reason such as disability, an alcoholism condition, etc.)

If you do not reassure me that this will subsequently be the case and in fact (this time) you will carry through on your promise, I assure you that HUFF will assist those who request it in acquiring the needed subpoenas to have you and/or your records department appear in court to document personally and formally what you refuse to document on paper when requested. 

I would hope you would spare yourself and us the trouble, however eager you may be to placate homeless-hostile authorities.  (Your security gate, ID policy, and “No Impact” Zones–treating homeless people like criminals is a shameful concession to the latest bigoted round of scapegoating by Santa Cruz Neighbors, Take Back Santa Cruz, the SCPD,  the Harvey West Association, & the Robinson City Council)

This is an old story.   You have claimed before (on Community TV no less in the fall of 2011, in audio currently archived) that the HSC does provide such documentation.  When HUFF activists showed up in force providing our own documentation, your staff–on that occasion and a few others–did comply, but apparently not any more with any regularity.  Please advise me as to what your policy will be.  Understand that considering past promises and failures to keep those promises, if we hear of further abuses here, we will simply request your appearance in court to document the situation.

More important, your staff has reportedly been misinforming people that they cannot get citations dismissed unless they are both (a) on the Waiting Lists of the Paul Lee Loft or River St. Shelter and (b) the Winter Armory Shelter is full.   As you can see by the letter from assistant City Attorney Caio Arellano (as well as a simple reading of MC 6.36.055) this is not the case.  Either condition if met, fulfills the requirement. Please advise me by e-mail that your staff has been advised of this policy and is correcting it.  This can be done by publicly posting a clarification for those who have already been misinformed.  We’d prefer not to have to raise the issue publicly on the sidewalk outside the HSC and in the media.

HUFF meets regularly every Wednesday at 11 AM at the Sub Rosa Cafe in case you wish to meet with us.  You can also contact me at 423-4833.

Robert Norse


From: CArellano@abc-law.com
To: rnorse3@hotmail.com; JBarisone@abc-law.com
CC: katewenzell@yahoo.com; riclopez35@yahoo.com; m.mayer9394@gmail.com; gailpage@earthlink.net; mmartinez@scshelter.org
Subject: RE: Camping Ban Ticket Policy: PUBLIC RECORDS ACT REQUEST
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2014 04:52:45 +0000

Robert,

Your email below correctly quotes the City’s camping ordinance. I believe it speaks for itself.

 

As for the issue you describe below, I am not aware of any such occurrences. Thank you for bringing it my attention but please note the Homeless Services Center does not have the authority to issue or dismiss citations; those responsibilities lie with the Santa Cruz Police Department/Parks Department and the City Attorney’s Office, respectively.

 

Thank you for routing your public records request through the City Clerk’s office. You may expect a response within 10 days.

 

Caio Arellano

Deputy City Attorney

 

From: Robert [mailto:rnorse3@hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, March 17, 2014 4:17 PM
To: Caio Arellano
Cc: katewenzell@yahoo.com; Ricardo Lopez; Michael Mayer; Gail Page; Monica Martinez
Subject: FW: Camping Ban Ticket Policy: PUBLIC RECORDS ACT REQUEST

 

Caio:  I just left you a voicemail message regarding this Public Records Request and request for policy clarification.  I’m also forwarding it to the city clerk’s office.

The request is self-explanatory below.

Thanks in advance for the help,

Robert Norse


From: rnorse3@hotmail.com
To: jbarisone@abc-law.com
CC: compassionman@hotmail.com; spleich@gmail.com; drpalee777@gmail.com; jammbrow@gmail.com; pecolbe@yahoo.com; citycouncil@cityofsantacruz.com; rboysen@cityonahillpress.com; gperry@santacruzweekly.com; colby@docktorcat.com; steve@santacruzhub.org; jay@got.net; mithrell@outwestbackeast.net; dhm_at_best_dot_com@yahoo.com; becky_johnson222@hotmail.com; deetler@gmail.com; homes4everyone@yahoo.com; npatino@cityofsantacruz.com
Subject: Camping Ban Ticket Policy: PUBLIC RECORDS ACT REQUEST
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2014 16:01:15 -0700

John:

Recently several members of HUFF have expressed concerns at being informed that camping tickets will not be dismissed automatically unless one is both on the waiting list of the River St. Shelter or the Paul Lee Loft, AND the Armory Winter Shelter was full on the night of the citation.   I advised them that as far as I new that was not the wording of the ordinance, but apparently some workers at the Homeless Services Center have been so advising people.

It is my understanding that tickets are to be automatically dismissed if either the winter armory shelter is full OR one is on a waiting list for either of the two mentioned shelters at the time of citation.

Since you wrote the ordinance back in 2010 and your office is charged with dismissals, I think you are the most authoritative person to seek clarification from.

As you know, the wording of MC 6.36.055 is quite explicit:

6.36.055 CITATIONS ISSUED WHEN WINTER SHELTER ARMORY IS FULL

(a)    A person shall not be in violation of this chapter if, at the time of his or her citation for a violation of this chapter, either: the winter shelter at the Santa Cruz National Guard Armory is filled to capacity; or the person is currently on the waiting list for shelter service through one of the shelter programs offered by the Homeless Services Center or the River Street Shelter in Santa Cruz.

(b)    Any citation issued for a violation of this chapter shall be dismissed by the city attorney in the interest of justice if, at the time of citation issuance, the winter shelter at the Santa Cruz National Guard Armory is filled to capacity or the recipient of the citation demonstrates that on the date of the citation he or she was currently on the waiting list for shelter service through one of the shelter programs offered by the Homeless Services Center or the River Street Shelter in Santa Cruz.
Please clarify what the current policy is and I will pass on the word.

Also, please make available for viewing or transmit in e-form (my preference) copies of all citations issued under MC 6.36 and specifically the records of any dismissed during the period of January 1,  2013 to March 15, 2013.

If you do not have all the records available at the moment, please forward what you do have and advise me as to when the remainder will be available.

If you have any questions, feel free to call me at 831-423-4833.

Thanks,

Robert Norse

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