Stacked Deck Stay-Away Law Expansion Promises More Pain for Poor Outside at City Council Today

Coming up today at City Council on the noon agenda (unusually early) is Item, #14. It may come up within an hour by 1 PM if not before. MC 13.08.100 exponentially expands the time a cop or ranger can unilaterally order a person to leave an area and not return. The vastly expanded area includes the Pogonip, Arana Gulch, and Moore Creek. The law is billed as a “School Safety” law, though the vast majority of the area covered is much further than 300′ from a school.
MISSING INFORMATION: NO RACE OR ADDRESSES
Forwarded to me today yesterday were the attached P & R cites for 2016 and 2017, with addresses, which is helpful, but requiring some going over to see just who got the Stay-Aways and for what offenses and who didn’t. The SCPD records did not include the addresses. Neither SCPD nor P & R included race, which is interesting. There’s hardly time to do a thorough review of these to determine how severely the current 13.08.100 impacted homeless folks. Nor how much it cost the City to do it, and how much P & R time it took up for what specific “criminal offenses”.

What the records do show is massive use of the Stay-Away order. No indication of for how long the Stay-Away periods are. Nor how many have been cited with possible year in jail crimes for violating the Stay-Aways. Nor is there any record of the fabled “resources” that the largely homeless people seeking distant refuge in greenbelt areas have supposedly available to them.

There’s also no indication of the specific locations on the citations, i.e. to clarify how many were issued within 300′ of a school. Since the overwhelming majority of territory (covered by Moore’s Creek, Arana Gulch, and Pogonip) is far beyond any schools and hence not relevant to any “School Safety Enhancement Zone”, it seems clear the purpose of this is to triple the immediate punishment of anyone getting a citation prior to going to court.

Could this be to avoid the “bother” of proving someone guilty of a crime, or the shame of making a crime out of necessary survival behavior? Those outside need to sleep after 11 PM and may find a distant spot to sleep on public land in an area that has conveniently been declared “closed”.

FALSE POLICE CHIEF CLAIM THAT LAW AVOIDS CREATING CRIMINAL RECORDS
Police Chief Andy Mills’s claim that the current law and tripled-time law being considered today for final passage will “avoid criminalization of the homeless” is ridiculous, since each Stay-Away comes after an officer tickets for an underlying Infraction offense–which creates the criminal record. Or is Chief Mills claiming that he’s directing or advising his officers to issue the infractions simply to give a pretext to give a Stay-Away, and then not to show up in court so the infractions will then be dismissed?

NOT GUILTY IN COURT? STILL REQUIRED TO STAY-AWAY.
Also a finding of “not guilty” by the court (which would only happen a month or more later) does not necessarily trigger an end to the Stay-Away order. There’s no provision in the 13.08.100 for that.

The wording of the statute is flawed and insufficient. As well as there being no specific provision in the law to end Stay-Aways if there’s no conviction. Even if a judge finds a defendant “not guilty” if there is ever a court trial, the City’s “preponderance of the evidence” standard which justifies the Stay-Away order prevails. As described in 13.08.100(b) even with a prior City Manager-run so-called pre-court Appeal Hearing, the “Preponderance of the Evidence” standard overrules the judge’s “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” judgment. The Stay-Away order, in the absence of any action by court or City Manager would continue according to the proposed wording of the law.

HUGE OVERREACH OF TERRITORY: THE TEXT OF THE NEW LAW
Under Terrazas’s Public Safety Committee “Schools Safety Enhancement Zones” expansion of the Stay-Aways the law for the entire Pogonip, Arana Gulch, and Moore Creek will read

“(a) Any person who receives a citation or is arrested [in these areas--and not just within 300- of a school]… for a violation of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code or state law may be ordered by the citing/arresting city officer at the time of the citation/arrest to vacate that park or beach property and not to re-enter said property again for the period of time specified below. Any such order shall apply to both the park or beach property at which the citation/arrest occurs and to any other park or beach property at which such an order was issued within the previous year. Any person who violates such an order from a city officer shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

(1) First offense: 72 hours from the time of the citing/arresting officer’s order.
(2) Second offense within 3 weeks of the first offense: 3 weeks from the date of the citing/arresting officer’s order in response to the second offense.
(3) Third offense within 90 days of the second offense: 90 days from the date of the citing/arresting officer’s order in response to the third offense.
(4) Fourth offense within 18 months of the third offense: 18 months from the date of the citing/arresting officer’s order in response to the fourth offense.
(5) Fifth offense within 3 years of the fourth offense: 3 years from the date of the citing/arresting officer’s order in response to the fifth offense. [emphasis mine]”

ARBITRARY POLICE POWER ALLOWS LONG-TIME BANS
I emphasize “may” in 13.08.100(a) because it gives the police officer unbridled discretion to issue or not issue a stay-away order simply on the basis of any infraction ticket, without a objective standard.

An individual getting four different citations–say for sleeping after 11 PM, being in a park after dark, sitting down within 14′ of a building on the sidewalk downtown, and smoking in a back area of the park in the first week, would face a 3 month stay away and a misdemeanor charge with a fine of $1000 and/or 6 months or a year in jail.

PHONY CLAIM OF “DIRECTING THE HOMELESS TO RESOURCES”
This in a town where there is no emergency shelter and 1000-2000 homeless outside. Essentially non-existent resources for the overwhelming majority.

THE FOLKS BEING TARGETED
Earlier research showing just what kind of “crimes” and what kind of people are getting targeted is at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/02/05/18768065.php?show_comments=1#18768117. at Statistical Evidence of Park Rangers & SCPD Targeting Homeless Folks for Sleeping in Parks .

MISSING PUBLIC REVIEWS IN THE PAST
Supposedly Terrazas’s Public Safety Committee was supposed to review this matter six months after passage in 2015, but I’m not aware that he ever did so. On-line minutes and agendas for his Committee are not currently available.

Earlier story on the Stay-Away Stampede:  “Toxic Expansion of Stay-Away Ordinance Hits Council Agenda Today” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2017/08/22/18802084.php
The proposed law needs to be tabled and sent to Public Hearings to consider more closely the actual alternate resources available, the impact on the poor population, and the costs.

Councilmember Posner Calls for 24-Hour Bathroom Support at Council today

 

 
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Jun 9th, 2015 1:56 PM

On May 26, City Council voted, at Councilmember Comstock’s initiative, to direct staff to investigate if not add 24-hour bathroom access. See “City Council Unanimously Votes on Two 24-hour Bathrooms” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/06/02/18773019.php Recently activists, led by Brent Adams, have focused on the lack of adequate cleaning of the “Posner portapotty” at Laurel and Front Streets, and enlisted some community members to do the job, Parks and Rec has declined to do.
Today the final budget comes up for discussion and vote at 7 PM. Councilmember Micah Posner, apparently anxious that staff opposition will kill the proposal, has asked the community to come and support. I forward his e-mail and my response.

Posner’s E-Mail:

Dear Activists,

As you know the City Staff are very concerned about Council’s direction to keep some bathrooms open all night. Their concerns are totally legitimate. After all staff are the ones who will have to supervise the proposed program.

The City Council, led by Pamela Comstock, has, so far, courageously, directed the staff to find some way to keep bathrooms open at night.

If people want to support this direction, you should be supportive. Bring flowers, appreciations and constructive suggestions. This is not a time for a negative protest, not even a polite negative protest. The Council can use your SUPPORT. This is completely different from the BEARCAT thing where you were being ignored and it needs a completely different
response.

AND, the idea of ramping this up into bringing excrement to the Council is completely counterproductive, in addition to being totally rude.

There is no better way to ruin the chances of the City opening bathrooms up at night than to bring shit to a Council that is being supportive of these efforts. I am totally shocked that activists who I respect came up with this idea. To be honest it makes me not want to share information with some of you.

My request: completely change the Facebook Event to encourage people to SUPPORT a City Council that wants to open bathrooms. Meet people at 6:45 and explain why being positive and supportive is the best way for them to get bathrooms open at night.

Thank you hearing me,
Micah Posner

MY RESPONSE

A City that declines to provide elementary sanitation services at night should not have to be wooed with flowers and candy.

The problem seems to be that the Staff (who Micah praises as usual) wants to reverse the will of the Council as expressed on May 26—the reason he’s asked homeless people (and housed folks) to come to the meeting.

And since the staff is usually the tail that wags the Council dog, as one activist put it, there’s not a lot of reason to be terribly optimistic.

I think everyone should present their concerns as they feel them.

No one I know of is planning to bring buckets of shit–though the current closed bathroom policy results in just that happening all over the City, of course—in spite of Brent and Micah’s well-intentioned incremental efforts.

I suggest people speak about the issue forthrightly and clearly and be prepared for the usual Council-follows-staff lockstep.

If that doesn’t happen—if the opening up the bathrooms is kept in the budget, well then, flowers to the Council!

If the Council caves, then obviously further steps have to be taken to focus attention on the issue.

Folks should be aware, of course, that this whole issue is a smaller part of the much larger proposed shutdown of emergency services at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center—which is now a locked, gated, patrolled area that requires ID to use.

This all seems part of the broader attempt to “unwelcome” homeless people to Santa Cruz and it is this broader issue that we all need to unite to fight. Or fight it separately in our own ways.

Meanwhile kudos to Brent and others focusing attention on the essential sanitation issue. And to the Council, if–for once–they do the decent thing.

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