Sanctuary Camp in Santa Cruz Discussion

Activist Brent Adams has proposed a Sanctuary Camp in Santa Cruz, which is being discussed at  with a specific thread at    I reprint my comments from

by Robert Norse
Tuesday Oct 22nd, 2013 8:54 AM

Some valuable information is contained in this business plan. Yhose who are working on the Sanctuary Camp proposal need to be commended for their determination and energy in the face of a hijacked and hostile political climate. I’ve given the plan a reading, but it needs more careful analysis. Brent’s style of presentation, his repeated hostility to some of us who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon (alternating with New Age hugs), and his direct attacks on me personally and protesters generally has made objectivity difficult.

They also need to be aware that many concerned with the rights of homeless people–some homeless and some housed–have “concentration camp” and other concerns with the model.

Fresno activists have been funding homeless-created encampments with trash pick-up’s, portapotties, fresh water, and other services since they won A $2.3 million lawsuit in 2007 (because city authorities, like Santa Cruz’s SCPD and Rangers) were stealing and destroying homeless property.

There’s extensive history on this homeless civil rights struggle at . (Scroll to bottom for the most recent story)

More recent encampment coverage: (Grain Silo Homeless Encampment Posted for Demolition) (City of Fresno Finds New Ways to Harass the Homeless)

While Fresno activists have tried repeatedly to appeal to the city to be reasonable, recognize how cost productive it would be to stop harassing homeless encampments and/or supply services to them (or perhaps establish Sanctuary type campsites), authorities have repeatedly hoarded or ignored funding specifically intended for homeless relief and continued its campaign of harassment.

The relief that Fresno activists were able to give was through documentary videoing, lawsuits, and then direct services as described above.

Ed Frey and Occupy Santa Cruz supplied toilet facilities here in Santa Cruz when the City would not. In both cases PeaceCamp2010 and the Occupy Santa Cruz San Lorenzo campground were destroyed by authorities (not by internal problems).

Direct support to campsites currently in existence is another avenue to consider here in Santa Cruz, while Sanctuary seekers struggle to persuade right-wing staff, frightened liberals, and an apathetic community to allow a very limited Sanctuary campground.

Another informative document from Fresno is this documentation of The Cost of Destruction in Fresno: . The business plan references local costs generally, but getting such documentation more specifically is important.

While it feels endless and overwhelming, it’s important to support homeless folks–their rights, their property, their dignity now as it is seized from them, legislated away by law, and snarled away by a rightwing riptide undertow. If they choose to protest, it’s wrong to ignore or–worse–denounce them as “alienating the community.”

It seems both cruel and delusional to suggest they wait for the toxic political establishment to be persuaded that a sanctuary camp is a good idea as they shiver in the shadows through the winter, facing an ever nastier set of “recommendations” from Bryant’s Citizens Task Force on Public Safety. See (meeting again 6 PM 10-23 in the Tony Hill Community Room of the Civic Auditorium).

There’s also the concern that pushing a plan for a select number of homeless to be allowed a special sanitized segregated area where they will not be allowed the rights that anyone indoors takes for granted (drinking alcohol for instance) is both paternalistic and unrealistic. It also goes against the wisdom of the Housing First model which seeks to provide the most basic housing before imposing sobriety.

No one doubts the need for campgrounds. But we must support those who are struggling now. Not turn aside and censor our efforts and websites in the hope of teasing out a smile on Pamela Comstock’s face. Waiting for Don Lane to find a backbone and other progressives scuttling to find protective cover from the phony Public Safety scare is self-defeating. (See, however, for Lane’s defense of social services to the Task Force, as he remains silent–as he has for decades–on the vital need for safe places to sleep)