City Bicycle Distribution Issue to be Decided Next Tuesday, Jan 14

To: “Steve (!) Shnarr” <>

Steve:  Your position is significantly weakened by omitting any mention of the repeated attempts you and others made to clarify why the SCPD stopped the bike distribution and under pressure from whom.  You omit mentioning that your attempts to get clear and transparent response from then-Mayor Hillary Bryant or from Assistant City Manager Tina Shull were dodged, ignored, or dismissed.   You seem to be trying (again) to “smooth things over”, “avoid antagonizing the SCPD”, and “maintaining good relations with the city staff”, but hasn’t the sweet talk approach showed how ineffective it is?   Power senses weakness and has only contempt for it.

The community and Council need to be publicly confronted with the rather bald questions: why were the distributions stopped?  why have they been held up for nearly two years?  why aren’t the responsible people held accountable?  And, most obviously, without any phony dicking around, why isn’t the original process simply restored?  Instead  we have MIcah’s face-saving (and futile) Request for Proposals nonsense–which, so far, as gone nowhere.

Folks assembled in mass half a year ago already made a plea for return of the bikes.   Half a year later–are we any closer?  Just another Council meeting.  Folks who could have had bikes–those poor folks who are the target of the City Council’s ordinance changes last year and their notorious Task Force on Public Safety (or more accurately the Task Farce Transmitting Public Hysteria).

It is my understanding that these bikes are being auctioned off in Sacramento (if they’re not dumped into a landfill)–does that confirm your information?

Please provide straight talk and straight questions to the community and Council.  You may find such candor, if followed up by other direct actions may embarrass the SCPD stonewallers into relenting and actually forestall such abuses in the future.

Robert Norse

> Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2014 13:23:07 -0800
> From:
> To: various
> Subject: City Bicycle Distribution Issue to be Decided Next Tuesday, Jan 14
> Dear friends,
> Next Tuesday, January 14th the Santa Cruz City Council will decide
> whether or not to reinstate the long-standing program of distributing
> unclaimed bicycles to youth in need. Please let the Council Members
> know you think this is a valuable program! You can let them know in
> person at the meeting, or email them at
> Currently we don’t know if this item
> will be discussed at the 3pm afternoon or 7pm evening session, but
> we’ll post details as they are available:
> Thanks,
> Steve
> Background:
> Every year the City ends up with hundreds of bikes which are not
> claimed and must be dealt with somehow. Because the bikes are
> generally of moderate to low quality and many are in disrepair, they
> offer little cash value to the City through auctioning. Therefore in
> 1996 the City began distributing them to youth in need, turning these
> old bikes into a valuable community resource. The distributions were
> open to any qualified nonprofit or government agency, and got out many
> hundreds of bikes to youth who otherwise might not have had the
> opportunity to own a bicycle.
> Although a valuable program, participation varied over the years and
> sometimes the administration felt like a drain to the SCPD, which in
> 2008 stopped distributions and began sending bikes instead to the
> landfill. At that point the nonprofit repair shop the Bike Church
> approached the City, offering to handle most of the administration of
> the program. For the next four years, the Bike Church held 16
> distributions, getting out 415 bikes through a variety of nonprofits,
> while salvaging tons of usable material from the scraps that no one
> else was able to make use of.
> In early 2012, the City ended this important program without any
> notification to the Bike Church or other participating groups. Bikes
> were delivered instead to a for-profit business that sold many bikes
> which previously would have gone free to youth, and which did not
> invite the former nonprofit participants to take any of the bicycles.
> The five groups that had matched up the most bikes to youth prior to
> this change—Barrios Unidos, Green Ways to School, Project Bike Trip,
> Watsonville Bike Shack, and Western Service Workers Association—all
> wrote letters to the City praising the former program and the Bike
> Church’s management of it, and asking that it be reinstated. However
> no changes were made at that time.
> The following summer in August 2013, acknowledging that the municipal
> code does not allow distributions through a for-profit business, the
> City suspended distributions entirely. City Manager Bernal stated at
> that time the intention to invite proposals from nonprofits to partner
> with the City in renewing the program. However due to
> behind-the-scenes pressure by some Council Members this plan was never
> moved forward, with bikes now being auctioned off for as far as we
> know the first time since 1996.
> Fortunately, the City Council will have the opportunity to vote on
> this matter next week, and we hope they will listen to the
> overwhelming community support for giving the bikes to youth instead
> of auctioning them off.