Responding to the New ‘Doo-Doo’ Not Due Process in the Homeless ‘”Stay Away” Law 2

This comment is part of a longer article on the City Council’s new anti-homeless law massively expanding “stay-away” orders for homeless people from all areas of Santa Cruz controlled by the Parks & Recreation Department.   The rest of the article can be found at .
by Robert Norse

Thursday Oct 16th, 2014 2:08 AM

Some HUFFsters and I will be going in to City Hall later today to count all stay-away orders since July of 2013 whenthe law went into effect after being passed for a final reading at the first City Council meeting of June 2013. Those citations are available for anyone to view after finally being released in response to a Public Records Act request I made in August. Dannettee Shoemaker was not immediately forthcoming.

Last month, I requested all the Parks and Recreation Department [P & R] citations for MC 6.36 (the camping ordinance) during the 2013-2014 period and was simply given bundles of all citations for all offenses to look through. Apparently this department does not index its citations or at least did not provide them to us on request.

Interestingly enough, the SCPD initially insisted it too had no such index. After repeated prodding and showing up in person to view the tickets, the department eventually provided us with a listing of all citations in the downtown area.. It took repeated requests to get the addresses of the people cited (so as to calculate the attention given to homeless folks). You can view an example of the SCPD’s matrix–for Officer Barnett’s citations–below. This something the P & R won’t or can’t provide requiring us to examine the citations individually. I’ve also requested Micah Posner request staff to make this information available, but similar requests in the past have fallen on deaf ears.

It seems pretty important in creating an ordinance this severe and unprecedented to get some sense of what the cost, the extent, the target, and the effectiveness of stay-away orders has been over the last year. Stay-away orders are traditionally issued by a court after a conviction and only from a very particular place. Given P & R’s broad authority over much city property, these orders could be issued routinely and repeatedly with increasing severity for the most minor offenses.

Considering that most homeless people smoke (70+% compared with less than 20% of the general population), it’s no wonder that the “crime rate” is rising. Creates more demand for more cops and more enforcement. Since more is illegal. Not to mention sleepcrime citations.

Note that race is not included in the SCPD records–except on the citations themselves (and presumably in the inaccessible police reports), so we will still be returning to the SCPD to examine more closely the racial component of the citations, which apparently the SCPD doesn’t think enough of to add to its matrix (strange, since I’d imagine such stats may be required by the FBI or other federal agencies).

For the matrix of Officer Barnett’s citations downtown–to get any idea of how heavily weighted they are against homeless people, go to . The longer story is at, , and . The racial stats were roughly counted as being given out to seven times as many people as were recorded as black in the last United Way census. We hope to more closely analyze them.

The vastly expanded City Council law will be going into effect on November 28th or thereabouts if it passes again as it’s likely to on October 28th with a 5-2 vote.

Some pointed out at last Tuesday’s meeting (myself included) that their proposed law law mandates the stay-away’s prior to any court charge, hearing, trial, or conviction. What was not noted is that any stay-away is an additional action which is completely discretionary. This discretionary loophole allows rangers and cops to pick and choose who they’ll issue the orders to with no guideline as to when to do it. It is police state authorization in its purest form–leaving the matter entirely up to the officer. And, of course, completely beyond court review–even if the officer’s victim is never tried, had charges dismissed, or is found not guilty.

But the discretionary provision explicitly authorizes and hence encourages selective enforcement depending on the preference of the citing officer. Easy enough to decide that an homeless person sleeping gets a “stay-away” order while a more well-dressed smoker gets off without one (though a high fine for both).

One thought on “Responding to the New ‘Doo-Doo’ Not Due Process in the Homeless ‘”Stay Away” Law 2

  1. When reading about this weapon in the arsenal of the war against the poor and homeless, the stay away “order,” I see clearly a weapon that has been used for some time by so-called homeless service providers, businesses, towns and police as if such actions, instead of being seen as the cause of more suffering for the poor and homeless, are portrayed as normal “punishment,” and a way for municipalities to collect revenues and acquire free labor via so-called “community service.”

    In so many towns unless one “buys” something one cannot relieve oneself, for their are “no public restrooms.” When one’s bladder becomes full one then becomes a criminal. Getting back to the issue at hand, the stay away order, I can see the history of that, I may even say the source/idea for it, at the Santa Cruz HSC on River and Coral Streets. Over the years when homeless myself and at HSC for a meal or shower, I often saw people being given “stay away orders” enforced by the police. Yes, occasionally there would be someone threatening violence and needed to leave the area for a time, so as to de-escalate the conflict. But so many times it was clear that the person being told to stay away really did nothing wrong, usually simply disagreed with something paid STAFF was saying or doing, or was even being harassed by a Staff member who simply “did not like” that particular person. It was pretty obvious this what was going on. Question STAFF at HSC and you go hungry for weeks at a time.

    And that is the “punishment” for questioning or annoying STAFF at HSC. Some folks are told to stay away for a week, a month, and even longer. For a person with no money, how does one eat during that week or month long punishment? I also saw many times when one of these folks on such a stay away order at HSC would walk in, hungry, try to get a meal, without causing any trouble, the STAFF would call Police who then come and take the person off to jail, treating them as if they were the worst of criminals and the STAFF as if they were “BROTHERS IN ARMS.” It was obvious that whatever the STAFF said was taken as truth, even when it was blatant lies. And they could of just offered the person a meal to carry with them, but no, they were punished for violating HSC’s stay away order.

    Of course, I can say for certain, but when hearing about this new proposed ordinance and Parks and Recs’ involvement, I could not help but suspect that HSC Staff probably gave the City this idea since they used it so often at HSC, and still do.


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