|Title:||Round Two–The New Anti-Homeless Laws Return for a Final Reading|
|START DATE:||Tuesday June 11|
|TIME:||3:00 PM – 4:00 PM|
|City Council Chambers 809 Center St.|
|NO LOITERING ON THE MEDIANS
The anti-homeless “no loitering on the median” law is item #16 on the Afternoon Agenda for Tuesday 6-11 at 3 PM (likely to come up slightly later). This will be the second and final reading of the law unless it’s modified (highly unlikely). It will then go into effect in a month.As is typical for those trying to restrict public spaces and criminalize homeless presence without saying so, the staff report (and the complaint anti-homeless “Public Safety” Committee) uses a “public safety” pretext without any statistical documentation.
Even the staff report (go to http://sire.cityofsantacruz.
NO STATS JUST NIMBY NATTERING AND SCPD PATTERING
The Terrazas-Mathews-Comstock “Public Safety” committee also used a police report about complaints about folks on two medians and anecdotal anti-panhandler NIMBYtalk to ratify a staff proposal. That proposal impacts ALL medians and roundabouts in the city. If it passes (as is likely without massive protest), we shall have “thou shalt not loiter” restrictions starting July 11th.
The ordinance as written not only outlaws traditional use of the medians downtown (in front of Zachary’s, for instance—though there’s already a “keep off the grass” sign there) for socializing, but will outlaw holding political signs during the regular protests that happen.
PUBLIC HYSTERIA COMMITTEE RUBBERSTAMPED THIS LAW
The gruesome threesome making up the committee also gave a favorable nod to other anti-homeless laws in the hopper: stay-away orders from public parks (after citation and prior to any charges being filed or trial), triple-fine zones throughout the city for (homeless) infraction offenses, more park rangers replacing security guards, and other gentrification goodies.
Repeated twice in the no-First-Amendment-on-the-
Making illegal asking for help with signs is grossly abusive of the First Amendment, of course, as well as a callous slap in the face at those in need. It is also a violation of elementary morality, as well as a sign of the desperation and determination of NIMBY bigots to clear the streets of visibly poor people messing up the fantasy of healthy happy neighborhoods.
“DISORDERLY CONDUCT IN PARKS AND BEACHES” LAW
This second ordinance passed on May 28th and awaits a second vote Tuesday (item #16 on the afternoon agenda) proposes up to $1000 fine and six months or a year in jail for “any person who willfully harasses or interferes” with a city employee in the park or on the beach.
A second section provides similar misdemeanor penalties for anyone who “by his or her conduct,or by threatening, abusive, or profane language, willfully molests or unreasonably interferes with the use of a City park or beach by any other person”
Both provisions may create a wealth of jury trials for those who want to challenge them, unless Public Pretenders can coax a plea—which is the case in 95% of the charges, I’m told.
Good news for courts trying to cut costs, bad news for the Constitution and the rights of the poor—since such plea bargains are usually done under threat of continued jail pending or after trial.
Attempts of the city attorney to later reduce such measures to infractions (which would strip folks of their trial and public defender rights) comes into conflict with state law limiting such shenanagans.
UNPRECEDENTED STAY-AWAY ORDERS BRING PREVENTIVE EXCLUSION TO SANTA CRUZ
These provisions—again continuing the Public Safety Masquerade—target people who NIMBY’s DTAers and TBSC-types find uncomfortable. But since they can’t openly ban “homeless-looking” people, they have to apply this to everyone—which makes it dangerous to political protesters and anyone who the police dislike.
This is dangerous, overbroad, unconstitutional, and targeting legislation, but primarily designed to be self-policing—on the theory that a tamed Santa Cruz would never assert their rights in mass (say, as the Turkish people are doing—and as Occupy Santa Cruz folks did two years ago). Everyone will become their own police officer, internalizing the fear and restrictions.
The restrictions of these ordinances do provide for an interesting Constitutional challenge for those willing to face jail (say by holding up a political sign in a park after dark or on a median).
It may also have an interesting trial if protests in solidarity with the Turkish Summer, against NSA spying, or (dare to dream) against the anti-homeless deportations and property destruction.
The text of the two laws can be found in my earlier account at
The only change was the addition of the word “abusive” and the removal of the word “annoying” leaving the relevant section to read: “Any person who by his or her conduct, or by threatening, or abusive, or profane language annoys, willfully molests or unreasonably interferes with the use of a City park or beach by any other person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”
I may be showing a video myself at the 5 PM session of City Council during Oral Communications.