No political sign-holding (or homeless panhandling) on medians: new ordinance coming May 14th

The Public Safety [sic] Committee according to today’s Sentinel [] forwarded to the next City Council meeting (May 14) a law which makes criminals out of anyone lingering on the medians bisecting any city road–this would make sitting on the grassy median the Pacific Avenue stretch in front of Zoccoli’s a crime (twice in 6 months punishable by up to a year in jail and $1000 fine).It would, of course, ban political signs as well as panhandler’s “will work for food” signs.  I didn’t get to the Public Safety-for-the-NIMBY’s Committee meeting last night to my disappointment–and didn’t see this coming, not really aware of what the ordinance did.

David Terrazas, who I think is still the chair of the committee, finally agreed to audio record the “Public Safety” Committee meeting.  I requested the city staff make this audio available ASAP (especially since they’re rushing the issue to City Council next Tuesday).   I asked that it be done today so I could pick it up and play it on tonight’s FRSC radio show 6-8 PM at 101.3 FM and .

It looks like another of the tightening noose of ordinances to give police broader powers to drive homeless people (as well as political activists) out of public spaces.  I’m not aware of any “crime stats” were actually presented by the SCPD at the meeting to justify this ordinance rather than anecdotal terror tales.   Hopefully I’ll have more info when I hear the audio.

The text of the ordinance:
ORDINANCE NO. 2013-____

BE IT ORDAINED By The City Of Santa Cruz As Follows:
Section 1. Section 10.36.040 is hereby added to the Santa Cruz Municipal Code to read as follows:
Section 10.36.040. Remaining on median strips and roundabouts.
  1. Purpose. The City Council finds that when pedestrians remain on public medians and roundabouts in the City for purposes other than the purpose of assisting pedestrians to safely cross the street, including using the medians and roundabouts for, among other purposes, disorderly conduct, solicitation of money, solicitation of prostitution, consumption of alcoholic beverages, or other unlawful activity, they obstruct traffic and distract drivers, thereby threatening both their own safety and the safety of the community. This regulation is therefore necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.
  1. Definitions. For the purposes of this section, “remain” means using a median or roundabout for a purpose other than assistance in crossing the street including the purposes of disorderly conduct, solicitation of money, solicitation of prostitution, consumption of alcoholic beverages, or other unlawful activity. When intersections that contain roundabouts also contain crosswalks that connect the intersection’s streets, “remain” shall also include using the roundabout for street-crossing purposes. For purposes of this section, “median strip” means a raised non-landscaped, paved, planted, or otherwise landscaped strip of ground dividing a street, roadway or highway into lanes according to the direction of travel and “roundabout” means a raised circular shaped, non-landscaped, paved, planted, or otherwise landscaped piece of ground located within the intersection of two or more streets, roadways or highways around which vehicular traffic streams for the purpose of continuing through the intersection or moving from one of the intersection’s streets onto another of the intersection’s streets.
  1. Remaining on Medians and Roundabouts Prohibited. It is unlawful for any individual to remain on a median or roundabout within a street, roadway or highway located in the city. This section shall not apply to public employees, employees of public utilities or employees of public contractors when it is necessary for them to be upon a median strip or roundabout in connection with their employment duties.
  1. Subsequent Offense Within Six Months. Any person who violates this section and is cited for such a violation, and who within six months after receiving such a citation again violates this section, is guilty of a misdemeanor. A person is cited for a violation when he or she is issued and signs an infraction or misdemeanor citation, or when he or she is arrested and booked, or when a complaint is filed and the person is notified of the filing of such a complaint.
Section 2. This ordinance shall be in force and take effect thirty (30) days after its final adoption.