9:30 AM Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides Covers Updates on Marijuana, Syringes, and “Unreasonably Disturbing Noise” at City Council, Lapis Road Latest, A Taste of the Mime Troupe and More!–Tune in at 101.3 FM or freakradio.org

Today’s show includes Carol Denny on Pepperspray Politics in Berkeley, Tenant Activist Organizing in Santa Cruz, and Caustic Commentary by Bathrobespierre on Everything.

Contact 575-770-3377 to volunteer different kinds of support for the Survival Sleepers now dispersed to the Post Office and points along Pacific Avenue  and support Food Not Bombs locally and those whose only resting place is an illegal piece of sidewalk.

Leave your comments and questions at the same number.   Still a $500 reward for any info leading to Free Radio’s finding a 10′ X 10′  studio space for Free Radio Santa Cruz to rent in Santa Cruz.

Later in the day after the show has aired, the Sunday 9-17 show archives at http://radiolibre.org/brb/brb170917.mp3.

Free Radio Santa Cruz Temporarily Off the Air–Instead of Today’s Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides Show, a Grim Look at the Stay-Away Law that Passed First Reading at City Council Last Tuesday

Toxic Expansion of Stay-Away Ordinance Hit Council Agenda Tuesday, Returns for Final Passage in September
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Tuesday Aug 22nd, 2017 updated August 24 4:20 p.m.

There was no prior public hearings nor any media announcement of the new law which bushwacked the community on Tuesday, only appearing on the agenda a week ago.   On 8-22 City Council voted on the First Reading of a harsh law expanding Councilmember Terrazas’ 4-Year old Anti-Homeless law today at its 2:30 PM Session. The law targets homeless community members for sleeping, being in a “park” after dark, obstructing the sidewalk, etc. It vastly expands the unconstitutional sweep of the current 13.08.100.
Agenda item #20 carried the deceptive ““Schools Safety Enhancement Zones” label to describe the vast expansion of police power

Familiar anti-homeless language like “nuisance crime” and “illegal behavior” are the usual code words for harassing and expelling homeless people from public spaces in a city with no available shelter for hundreds.  The same words peppered the staff presentation (See http://scsire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/cache/2/o54x40tdjsjsx30w00mp1mry/463239708242017042248306.PDF )

The proposed law will include not just anyone within 300′ of a school, but anyone in any of the following parks as well as any adjacent sidewalks and public spaces: Arana Gulch, Neary Lagoon, Depot Park, Poets Park, Beach Flats Park, Harvey West Park, Pogonip (Open Space), Louden Nelson Park, Sergeant Derby Park, Mission Plaza Park, Star of the Sea Park, Moore Creek (Open Space), University Terrace Park .
Nice way to make the parks “homeless free” if you start giving longer Stay-Away orders (as has been regularly done for the last three years) to folks who sleep there at night.   And, of course, we know how massive a school children presence there is at night when homeless people are sleeping—particularly far away in the deep Pogonip, or down in the San Lorenzo benchlands.  It’s certainly a necessary precaution to sanitize the area by banning folks found sleeping there or just being there “after hours”.   We must have certain Rules of Conduct after all!

If you’re given a citation — even it’s unjustified, and dropped short of court — you are banned from the area (and other prior areas if you’ve received citations) for 72 hours.   If you return you face up to a year in jail and $1000 fine.

Since 2013, the use of “we don’t need to charge you in court” Stay-Away orders, have systematically and specifically impacted, if not targeted, homeless folks.

The “crime wave” being addressed is the usual: sleeping, being in a park after dark, smoking. Hundreds of citations and stay away orders were issued to folks.

No actual specifics regarding these “crimes” are provided in the staff report. Nor are there any particulars of the great threat to the schools that is used to label this grotesque expansion of police power.

It also provides massive police powers to criminalize protesters and outspoken Council critics, particularly homeless ones. The earlier 24-hour/1week Stay Away order was one device used to drive away Freedom Sleepers and the Survival Sleepers from City Hall.

Second reading will be required  at the next Council meeting which may give folks a little organizing time to speak against it in two weeks when it reappears for a rubberstamping.



This wording is horrendous in and of itself. It means if you are, say, given three infraction citations in three different places over the course of three days (or even three weeks, if the second ticket happens within a week of the first), the Stay-Away law empowers police to ban you for three months from all three areas.

All before you’ve gone to court to get a “fair trial”. And if you get a 4th ticket anytime within the next 18 months in any park or other area covered by MC 13.08.100, you can be banned for 1 1/2 years from all 4 areas. If at any time, you violate this police-imposed ban any time during these periods, you face a possible year in jail or $1000 fine. The standard fines are $200-400 for the original infraction crime.

The phony process for “appealing” a Stay-Away order involves going before an appointee of City Manager Martin Bernal, whose employees are the cops and rangers testifying against you if you file an “appeal” within 1 day. There are no “rules of evidence”, no official record of the proceeding, no provision permitting an audio recording, no right for the public or media to be present–in other words, no due process. Doo-doo process indeed.

The standard of proof is different before the City Manager’s kangaroo court–it’s “preponderance of the evidence” (51%) unlike the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of the courts. Hence you can be improperly banned for weeks from public property (particularly important for homeless people trying to survive by hiding out) before you get your court trial. And then even if found innocent, there’s no provision for reversing the Stay-Away.

To read the specifics of the “in-house” appeal of Stay-Away orders process, go to MC 13.08.100(b) at http://www.codepublishing.com/CA/SantaCruz/ .

We’ve heard a token squeak or two from our timid local ACLU– whose regional and national affiliates have quadrupled their cash reserves since the Trump victory protest. As for actually sending volunteers to help folks expose this travesty? We’re still waiting.

Courts, of course, provide little real protection from infractions, even if you trek to and from the courthouse waiting for the citation to appear, getting to the arraignment, going to the trial. The overwhelming majority of unhoused folks getting the infraction citations that accompany the Stay-Away orders have neither time, energy, nor resources to do this.

In an infraction case, you get a “judge” rather than a jury trial. You face toxically police-partial judges–even if you disqualify the Dept. 10 Commissioner and send the case to a “real” judge. And even with video documentation of false claims, selective enforcement, and/or harassment by police or rangers, the “real” judges convicted activists Abbi Samuels and Keith McHenry in two separate trials recently. This had the appearance of being part of the City Manager/SCPD campaign to drive away peaceful Freedom Sleeper protesters and Survival Sleeper homeless from City Hall. Even from the half of the sidewalks adjacent where they slept every Tuesday night in protest.

Infraction cases normally go to the Commissioner in Dept. 10, previously the notorious Brimstone Baskett who went to great lengths to provide the semblance of fairness and then finds you guilty. Baskett has now been dumped on us as a “real” judge in Dept. 4. I have no new info on the new Commissioner in Dept. 10 who hears cases.

This latest giveaway to the “homeless get out” crowd at Take Back Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Neighbors, the SCPD, and conservative staffers comes out of the bowels of Vice-Mayor Terrazas’s “Public Safety” Committee. As far as I know, it’s done zero outreach among folks outside to determine the impact of the current Stay-Away law–which has harassed and excluded hundreds of poor people without shelter.

The map showing the dramatically expanded “Stay Away Even Before You Get Charged in Court” zones is at http://scsire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/cache/2/d5tnqexznorzejga3wurjtew/463211108232017052436570.PDF.

Terrazas’s sedulous scare narrative whitewashes the actual bigotry agenda of this law. The protective clothing for this bigoted expansion of police power and invitation to vigilante action is “child welfare”–all without any statistical evidence. The boogyman label is “school safety enhancement” . If you examine the map, though, it’s mostly areas beyond the 300′ “safety zone” that suddenly kicks in triple stay-away times. (Again without a court appearance or finding of guilty).

The “evidence” used to back this police power expansion were anecdotal stories from two Take Back Santa Cruz activists who regularly sit in the City Council who’d heard a story about a child being threatened in a park and another eye-witness account of a fight in a park. The only police stats presented in the agenda packet were the “alarming” but actually quite predictable significant percentage of police “calls for service” and “citations” in the parks.

There was no breakdown, of course, as to what those citations were for, whether there were convictions, nor how many were accompanied with stay away orders. The police statistics actually presented were used to dramatize a misleading narrative of “bad behavior”, “failure to maintain behavior standards”, “environmental degradation” and, of course, “public safety for our children” in the park areas.

However HUFF’s detailed study of Parks and Recreation citations for 2013 documents these were status crimes involving non-aggressive survival behavior by homeless people like smoking, sleeping, and being in a park after dark (See “Stay-Away From Human Rights ! An Activist Examines the Escalating Stay-Away Orders Law” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/10/25/18763326.php).

More stats on an earlier version of this law are at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/10/12/18762778.php (“Nasty Anti-Homeless Stay-Away Laws to Get Exponentially Worse”).

To read some of the bigoted babble that goes on around this issue plus Sentinel coverage, go to http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/government-and-politics/20170822/santa-cruz-eyes-new-school-safety-zone-park-law .

Why bother with real evidence and argument when you have a locked-in 5-2 majority on the City Council (it actually passed 4-1 with Brown and Chase absent). It’s hard to believe that rational, reasonable, mellow-sounding people like Vice-Mayor Terrazas seems to be…that they can pass this kind of straightforward repression. Terrazas has been rubberstamping like measure for years, though, through his Public Safety Committee.

Perhaps it’s raw meat thrown to the right-wing constituency, angered at the appearance of increasing numbers of visible homeless people (ironically becoming visible through being driven out of the parks and downtown). The appearance of action without the substance. More laws for useless and unconstitutional police actions.

More on the City Council capers last Tuesday when I muster up the energy. Free Radio Santa Cruz is currently off the air due to equipment problems, but I hope to go into the broader Council meeting in more detail next Sunday.

“Progressives” Defeat Trump Wall Investment at City Council but Local Anti-Homeless Fencing Still Marches On at Evening Session; Survival Sleepers Seek Help

Looks like the threat of disinvestment from Granite Construction may have discouraged them from bidding for the anti-immigrant Trump wall on the border (Item #2 7 PM Agenda).     Council may also support disinvestment from Wells Fargo for its support of the Dakota Access Pipeline (Item #3 7 PM Agenda).  However at Tuesday night’s 4-25 Council meeting the Council will still be considering a “cost-effective” fence along the levee along with increased cops, surveillance cameras, and lighting to add to the “no loitering” enforcement, forbidden to sit rules, and high-pitched anti-homeless “Mosquito” boxes along the levee.

Agenda item #1 on the 7 PM Agenda of the last City Council meeting in April has the following item up for a vote:

Riverwalk Engagement Summit Results and Recommendations (CM)
Consider community stakeholder recommendations generated from the Riverwalk Engagement Summit, which include enhanced City leadership and coordination, improved amenities, revenue enhancement efforts and a coordinated community outreach and engagement plan to encourage greater public participation/activation on the Riverwalk and adjacent San Lorenzo Benchlands and Park.

TO READ THE STAFF REPORT: Go to item 1 on the evening agenda at http://scsire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=856&doctype=AGENDA .

The flowery language masks the reality: $138,000 for more cops and copcars (technically Rangers and their Rangermobiles) to move along and drive away the poor from the levee area, $50,000 for “security” cameras, $24,000 for lighting upgrades, and $5000 for a “Public Engagement Summit”
Also on the conveyor belt is proposed fencing along the levee, as they look for a cheaper contractor.

The previous “Summit” in March had no representation from renters, the unhoused, civil liberties groups, minority interest groups, or students. The proposal is being pushed by the true bosses of the City Martin Bernal and his underling Scott Collins–City Manager and Deputy City Manager respectively who remain unaccountable to the community and receive no regular public scrutiny by any independent oversight body.

Recent mass marches have highlighted opposition to Trump’s misogyny, his immigrant hostility, his tax returns concealment, and his “alternate science” weltanschauung and the upcoming Trump’s Climate Confusion walk next Saturday. There is little if any acknowledgement of the broader collusion or indifference of local politicians on prior policies which set the stage for Trump’s toxic expansions.

The most obvious aspect of this is the local silence in the face of recent bipartisian saber rattling and hypermilitarism escalating foreign wars that thrived under Obama (and that Clinton vowed to continue). Local opportunist Democrats are heightening the danger with ramped up Russophobia and McCarthyite hysteria to justify Clinton’s defeat and push Trump out of power (so we can get Pence?).

The same local misfocus is also true of any pressure for politicians to be locally accountable. However, item ##2 and 3 on the evening agenda involving divestment from Granite Construction and Wells Fargo on the evening agenda do indicate a positive change–though again, prompted by distant national issues and heavy Democratic Party mobilization “against Trump”.

Where there is no improvement–in fact, further deterioration, is around poverty, houselessness, and local policing.

The City’s involvement with the recent chain link fence at the downtown post office has been unclear in spite of e-mails from Councilmembers Mathews and Niroyan hostile to Food Not Bombs weekend meals there.

The post office fence is likely part of the drive against homeless sleepers under the eaves at night and Food Not Bombs patrons on the steps during the weekend. The alleged “Construction” supposedly being undertaken there has yet to appear–and it’s been weeks.

The whole thing is reminiscent of the phony “plant restoration” pretext given to rope off the levee space near the Soquel St. bridge across from CVS back in 2010. See “City runs off Drum Circle again, cuts down trees and cements AREA CLOSED signs along levee” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/29/18654907.php .

To register your opposition to the City Council’s latest gentrification move on the Levee, e-mail them at citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com . To consider more direct action protest, check out the HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) meeting at 11 AM-1 PM Wednesday at the Sub Rosa Cafe at 703 Pacific, or give a call to 831-423-4833.

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More Bucks for Busts, Slashing Social Services & Rain Rousts- Come to Freedom Sleepout #72

Date Tuesday November 22  Time 4:00 PM – 4:00 AM

Location Details On the sidewalk outside City Hall as the City Council votes to cut back further its wretched services for the poor and those outside. 809 Center St. facing the main library. The protest runs from 4 PM Tuesday to 9 AM or so Wednesday. Rain possible. Bring umbrellas, tarps, and protective gear.
Event Type
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email keith [at] foodnotbombs.net

For the 72nd time, community activists who call themselves Freedom Sleepers [FS] create a one-night refuge for homeless folks against the city-wide ban on sleeping outside in a city shelter for less than 5% of 1000-2000.

DARK AGENDA IN A DARKENING ERA (from City Manager Martin Bernal and his underlings)
For hardnosed veterans interested in confronting a Trump-minded City Council, here are a few of the agenda items and their approximate time:

12:30 pm [Open Interval of the Closed Session] City Manager’s Performance Evaluation City Manager Martin Bernal is the most powerful and highly paid official in town; the anti-homeless policies supporting increased police harassment of protesters and homeless must have his approval.
2 pm [Afternoon Session]
#16 $217,000 for more rangers and more surveillance to deal with “crimes” like camping and loitering
#17 More Talk about the Housing Crisis: no Funding.
#18 More power to ticket vehicles for the parking enforcers.
#21 Prohibits growing any recreational marijuana in your fenced off yard even if not visible from the street

5 PM (approx) [Oral Communications] 2 minutes or less at the whim of Mayor Mathews: say what you want to the audience, those watching on tv, and the (shudder) City Council but act with others to create the changes Council refuses to look at.

7 pm [Evening Session] Move to shaft the pitiful remaining social services: redistribute the $1,000,000 Community Programs budget to new areas and thereby substantially reduce awards to programs or projects that support Early Childhood Education, Seniors and Homeless Services. Petition opposing this at 521.seiu.org/CommunityFunding
e-mail the Council at citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com

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The Right to Disrespect Abusers in Power: A Reminder

I wrote this letter this morning after Vice-Mayor Cynthia Chase attempted to stop me from speaking with my back to the Council during Oral Communications yesterday afternoon. It wasn’t clear to me that she was taking action to arrest me, but seemed like she was threatening to do so. It has to emphasized again that a violation of Council rules, unless it disrupts the meeting, is not a disruption, however much a presiding officer wants to paint it as one. The interruption and threat to the speaker is the disruption. Showing disrespect is not a crime and often a duty.

At issue was the SCPD slaying of Sean Arlt Sunday before last (https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/10/21/18792527.php ) and their refusal to hand over audio and video as well as the Council’s refusal to take any action.  Mayor Cynthia Mathews reduced time for each speaker to one minute instead of extending Oral Communications time.   I requested Councilmember Micah Posner by phone before hand to move to extend the time, but he remained silent when Mathews asked if any Councilmembers had objection to her “one minutes and then shut up” ruling.

Cynthia Chase, Vice-Mayor
309 Center St.
Santa Cruz, CA


Council’s failure to either agenda-ize or allow at least a three minutes per speaker Oral Communications time last night (and a 5 minute period for groups as has been traditional) provoked a lot of justified anger in the community.

Council has failed to recognize, much less reign in a long out-of-control police department with a lethal use of force policy, a perpetual lack of transparency, and a history of class profiling. This means many have lost their faith that the Council will provide even the semblance of a discussion, much less action, on these issues facing communities confronting abusive behavior by police departments across the country.

I think other speakers (and common sense) has made it clear. Leaving everything to the same department (and its D.A. friends) who OKs 4 armed and armored police shooting a guy “brandishing” a rake 4 times in 20 seconds appears like a corrupt rubberstamping of an out-of-control police department.

Refusing to demand the department show its video/audio to the community seems further evidence of this. And the final straw, of course, is failing to protect the community by requiring Vogel either discipline his officers or be fired.

I’m writing you regarding your attempt to persuade me to face the Council when speaking. I actually wasn’t aware it was you speaking (though I should have been), incidentally. My comments were not intended to be personally insulting, but to attempt to finish my (1 minute only!) public testimony without interruption.

Without intention to insult you, I’d add that this wouldn’t have made any difference. As I’ve told the Council in the past, this is my right and the right of any member of the public which the Council is required to respect (though it seldom does). As the 9th Circuit Court has ruled in an early City Council attempt to arrest me and later avoid responsibility for a civil rights violation–violating a Mayor or a Council’s “rule of procedure” is not a disruption. On the other hand, repeatedly interrupting a speaker at the microphone during Oral Communications so as to materially interfere with their right to speak is.

It was those who repeatedly interrupted my attempt to speak that were creating the disruption. A disruption is something that materially impedes the progress of the meeting. I would go so far to say as shout from the audience while viewed as “disrespectful” are a part of the democratic process–which is often not polite and friendly.

I thought this whole matter was made clear to the Council in the lawsuit that cost the City $200,000 in the mock-Nazi salute case of 2002–which you may be familiar with. Mayors Lane and Mathews have thought better of trying to stifle an obviously First Amendment-protected activity at the microphone during a public comment period.

This is likely to happen again, depending on the behavior of the Council. It’s up to the speaker at the mike, not to the Council or the Council’s presiding officer, how a person makes their commentary. If they choose too be disrespectful, that’s something the no member of the Council has any business moving to repress with force or threats of force.

I’ve had little contact with you other than the brief friendly chat we had when I interviewed you last month outside City Council for Free Radio Santa Cruz. I don’t have much faith in your interest in restoring basic rights to the broader community or the homeless community–based on your track record. But I found you amiable and approachable.

Hence I’m writing to you to explain that my back-to-the-Council presentation was not intended as a personal insult to you. My raised voice was intended to make what I was saying audible because, indeed, as you pointed out, I was turned away from the microphone.

I was addressing my views to the community because the Council clearly intended to do nothing about the Arlt slaying other than leave it in the hands of the agencies who committed what appears to be a rather lethal crime. I encourage you not to take gestures of disrespect to the Council personally, but to regard them as a necessary (if unpleasant for you) part of the cost of being a public official facing an justifiably outraged citizenry.

I would be happy to discuss this matter more fully with you if you wish. I think it’s important for you to understand some of the history here as you are likely to be the next Mayor.

I can appreciate your wanting me to behave in a certain fashion and your asking me to do so. Repeatedly interrupting me so as to interfere with my speaking time, however, is another matter. Obviously, even more seriously, I cannot and will not accept the use of armed force to attempt to suppress free speech at the public microphone during public comment period. Please assure me that you will not do this again and will intervene on behalf of speakers there if other members of the Council attempt to do so.

Feel free to call me if you wish to discuss these matters more fully.


Unexpected Victory at Coastal Commission Overturning Nighttime RV Ban

The Coastal Commission today found by an 11-1 vote that the City’s midnight to 5 PM RV ban involved a “substantial issue” and so would require a new hearing in the months to come. Unimpressed with Assistant City Manager Scott Collins’s flimsy if not false claims that Santa Cruz provides RV alternatives, is dealing with an RV “crime crisis”, and is only duplicating what other cities have done.FLYER DISTRIBUTED TO THE COMMISSION AT THE HEARING

notes_for_a_coastal_commission_speech__final_flyer.pdf_600_.jpgDownload PDF


City councilfolks and staffers can bullshit themselves, but it’s harder to bullshit the Coastal Commission. In Santa Cruz, staff word is usually holy writ, so they can spin whatever yarns they want with challenge only from the occasional critic that the Council ignores. The Coastal Commission staff initially advised the Santa Cruz Council staff that last year’s proposed 8 PM to 8 AM RV ban would be too sweeping to pass muster once I’d filed an appeal at the recommendation of Councilmember Posner. The Coastal Commission staff, after months of consulting with the Scott Collins City Council staff, agreed to a “compromise” midnight to 5 AM ban, swallowing whole Collins’ specious arguments. The CC staff then recommended upholding the “RV’s Get Out!” law and denying my appeal.

Though they had plenty of time to research, both staffs failed to include the particulars. For instance, the (lack of) availability of RV parking in the City. Or the miniscule number of churches that actually allow an RV to park (where they have to compete with vehicles). In essence, Collins’ failed to come up with specific parking alternatives for unhoused people using RV’s as housing.

He had no specific statistics clarifying what “crimes” required passing such a Draconian city-wide ban. But claimed he had. A few simple questions from the Commission itself exposed the how unsubstantiated these claims were.

We brought up these issues repeatedly before City Council but were ostentatiously ignored. Arrogant politicians in an echo chamber suddenly run up against outside observers who, whatever their political preferences, have to consider real facts. Like denying coastal access to a whole class of people to please NIMBY neighborhoods.

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Vanish the Vendors Law, RV Night Ban, Big Police Budget & Freedom SleepOut #46 (whew!)


Mathews Council Crushes Handicraft Vendors; Freedom SleepOut #46 Soldiers On
by Robert Norse   Tuesday May 24th, 2016 12:58 PM
Last chance to make a cry of outrage at the City Council’s law to outlaw all handicraft vending in the downtown and wharf-beachfront areas. Follow-up by saying no to a cop-heavy budget (social services take up less than 3% of the budget compared to police & rangers (42%). Finally the Food-Not-Bombs supported Freedom Sleepers will resume their principled civil disobedience on the sidewalk and city hall courtyard that night for the 46th week.
On the docket shortly after 2:20 p.m., Mathews’ City Council will likely rubberstamp the staff’s law reducing performance, vending, and “free speech” spaces by half. The new law will also seriously stiffen the “Move Along Every Hour” law. It will require anyone with a table or display device (anything “capable of holding tangible things”) to move along every 61 minutes. No warning will be required. Fines for overstaying your time or being outside the “exempt” areas (the blue bracketed areas on the sidewalk) will be $250 to $300 when court fees are added.The new Commercial Vending ban bars selling or displaying for donation any articles like clothing, scarves, crystals, rocks, geodes, and many other articles. This true whether anywhere on Pacific Avenue or the adjoining streets, whether inside or outside the Blue Boxes. Banned performances also may include face-painting, creating visual art, “visual art produced with limited variation”, handicrafts such as weaving, carving, stitching, sewing, lacing, and beading.The “clear” standard is whether an item though it has an “expressive purpose”, it is “deemed to have more than nominal utility apart from its communication, if it has a common and dominant non-expressive purpose.

Permitted performers such as singers, dancers, jugglers, puppeteers, magicians, actors, will be allowed to put a donation-seeking device directly on the sidewalk with their table, instruments, and possessions entirely contained within the Blue Boxes.

A map of the Blue Boxes showed only 17 between Plaza Lane and Soquel Avenue. Only two spaces are available on the Del Mar Theater block in spite of the wide sidewalks. Much sidewalk space is taken up with privatized outdoor areas next to sidewalk cafes, unpermitted merchant A-frame advertising signs (technically illegal) and other city equipment. The expansive vacant space remaining is banned for “display device” use.

Defeated on May 10th at the first reading was a motion to allow “a few” spaces against any buildings for performers as repeatedly requested. Playing against the sides of building used to be regular practice prior to 2002 under the Voluntary Street Performers Guidelines.

There is no provision for public input or regular public hearing on the adequacy of these spaces or concerns about inappropriate police or host enforcement. Apparently these issues are left in the merchant-friendly hands of staffers like Redevelopment Agency leftover Julie Hende and Assistant City Manager Scott Collins. Both have a history of creating laws or projects that reduce public space at the behest of nearby merchants.

Vendors under the leadership of Shindig, a jewelry vendor, have begun signing up to oppose and fight back against the laws. HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) joined Shindig on Sunday to circulate petitions opposing the destruction of street culture. Many of these laws originate with a 1994 deal between merchants and a “progressive” City Council to clear away homeless-looking people from the sidewalk by instituting ever-expanding zones where it’s been forbidden to sit, table, peacefully spare change, perform, or vend.

Agenda item #13 returns Councilmember Richelle Niroyan’s toxic attack on families living in their vehicles with a nighttime ban on RV parking anywhere in the City unless you’re a resident with a permit.

Though the federal government accepts homeless people as “residents” in allowing them to vote at the spot they currently frequent or try to find rest at, Santa Cruz will now ban homeless vehicle dwellers from applying for “resident” permits, no matter how long they’ve lived in town.

Niroyan’s latest attack on the poor on behalf of West Side wealthier folks who are concerned that RV’s block their view or “make them nervous” will have to meet a Coastal Commission review–which now seems more likely according to letters in the agenda packet.

The City’s 2017 Budget will be up for discussion beginning at 7 PM tonight all day tomorrow beginning at 9 AM. Social services (what little there is) will be up for discussion tonight with local agencies squabbling for tiny pieces of the ever-diminishing pie. Tomorrow morning Parks and Recreation (slated to take over First Alarm enforcement on Pacific Avenue and notorious for heavy ticketing and stay-away harassment in the parks at night) will be up for budget discussion at 9:10 AM. The police budget follows at 10:10 AM.

Strangely missing from the budget presentation on-line but occupying more than half of it in years past is the policing budget for the SCPD and Parks & Recreation. Nor is there any indication of the total budget with a pie chart indicating which departments get how much. In fact, nowhere in the budget agenda attachment that I’ve found is there any indication of what the total budget is for this year. City Administrator Bren Lehr was unable to find these stats in the budget, but after tracking the matter to the Finance Department, I found that this year’s budget is $90 million or so. And 42% of it goes to cops and rangers.

Mayor Mathews has declined to clarify when public comment will be allowed. I’ve sent her an e-mail asking her to correct this problem, but so far she hasn’t responded.

To address the real problems in the police departments generally, I suggest taking a long hard look at Black Lives Matters’ proposed reforms at http://www.joincampaignzero.org/solutions/#solutionsoverview . My suggestions for meaningful police reorganization are at http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2014/12/13/flyer__for__12-17.pdf

The Social Service component of the budget is less than $2 million.

For the 46th night, unhoused folks and their supporters will gather for soup (thanks to India Joze), coffee, and company through the night. Last week there were no tickets issued in spite of harassment driving poor people from the bricks and City Hall courtyard onto the sidewalk, where none have been prosecuted for sleeping.

Robert Norse (the author of this piece) is still facing charges for MC 13.04.011–being in a park after dark. This charge was widely used against Freedom Sleepers last summer and fall. I went to court on Friday and had my demurrer dismissed with a trial set for 10 AM on June 24. Motions hearing will be 10 AM June 17th in Dept. 1.

Though an original Freedom Sleeper, I am now simply writing and reporting. Hats off to activists Abbi Samuels, Zav Hershfield, and others who are holding down the protest each Tuesday. Support them in any way you can or propose new actions to end the Sleeping Ban!

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Calling for Santa Cruz to Declare a Sidewalk Safe Sleeping Zone at Freedom Sleep Out #14 Tuesday 10-13

Title: Safe Sleeping Zone at Freedom SleepOut #14? Why not make it official!
START DATE: Tuesday October 13
TIME: 3:00 PM – 3:00 AM
Location Details:
809 Center St.–In and Around City Hall During and After the Tuesday City Council Meeting

The actual time will be Tuesday afternoon, evening, and Wednesday morning–with coffee to be available in the morning.

Event Type: Protest
Contact Name Keith McHenry (posting by Norse)
Email Address keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
Phone Number 575-770-3377
For more than 3 months, Freedom Sleepers have held weekly food-sharing and sleeper protection to mobilize the community to end the City’s institutional hate crime of criminalizing homeless people if they fall asleep at night or seek to protect themselves with camping gear.

In a City with 1000-2000 homeless (and a County with far more), the Comstock-Mathews Santa Cruz City Council majority has declined to reopen closed shelter space and kept sleeping for the poor at night a crime–in vehicles or outside.

Repression against protesters and city-wide citations and stay-away orders against homeless sleepers continues in spite of Department of Justice statements that such behavior is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment (Bell v. Boise Statement of Interest).

The threat of HUD funding cut off for cities that don’t decriminalize homelessness may have some impact, but even liberal Councilmembers have remained silent instead of inspiring support to end Santa Cruz’s Legacy of Shame.


The 14th Weekly Freedom Sleep-Out will invite the community and City Council to declare the sidewalks around and near City Hall “Safe Sleeping Zones”.

Perhaps to avoid a blatant record of repression around the specific MC 6.36 which criminalizes homeless survival sleeping at night, police have notably given out no citations for camping or sleeping at the protest.

They have ticketed for “being in a park after closing hours’, ‘jaywalking’, “failure to sign a ticket”, and other such harassment “crimes”. But almost without exception folks sleeping on the sidewalk have not been cited.

This has led Freedom Sleepers to invite the Community and City Council to officially declare the sidewalks around City Hall a “Safe (from Citations) Sleeping Area”–since no such area currently exists for hundreds and hundreds of people.

We invite housed (and unhoused) folks to join us Tuesday night in solidarity, to witness, and to document the proposed Safe Sleeping Zone.

City Council’s afternoon agenda impacting folks outside includes Preparation for the Winter Storm Event–El Nino (Item #11); Banning RV’s From Parking in Any Spots the City Engineer Cares to Designate (#12), & Endorsing Rental Profiteering in the Summer (#13).

Around 5 PM those who oppose discrimination against the houseless outside are invited to bring sleeping bags and signs and speak about the issue during the Oral Communications session.

During the evening session,the City’s Parks Master Plan Study Session is up. It includes reference to “illegal” activities (i.e. the visible presence of poor people at night, homeless gathering day or night, smoking, drinking, yelling) See “Safety and Illegal Activities” at http://scsire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/cache/2/ls4iafvlsinbqldrspddipdc/428205310122015120017953.PDF (p. 4) .

Here the apprehensions and prejudices of middle-class NIMBY’s are being raised as a new “public safety” standard, as done by the hand-picked Citizens Public Safety Task Force of 2013. There Deputy-Chief Steve Clark portrayed citations given to homeless people for sleeping, being in a park after dark, and smoking as constituting a “crime wave”.

Dannettee Shoemaker, Parks and Recreation boss, used similar scare tactics to push through the first-in-the-state No-Court-Necessary Stay-Away laws in 2013 and 2014, which ban poor people from the parks without court appeal, trial, or even formal charge. These unprecedented powers are proposed to remain permanent.

Building on the Needlemania hysteria of those years, the report validates the Hyper-Drug Warrior mindset that prompted City Council to destroy the City’s Needle Exchange program behind closed doors in 2013–providing real estate agents and property owners dramatic pretexts to clear away the poor and gentrify the area.

Recent fencing and locks at Grant Avenue Park (not to mention the Homeless Lack of Services Center itself) as “security measures” are an ominous sign of the growing class war being waged against those outside. Increased appropriations for First Alarm and P&R patrols funds and fuels the advancing police state. More policing means more citations justifies a bigger threat justifies more appropriations…and so on.

There is no reference to using any of the Pogonip as vitally needed campground area for those outside.

While there is no specific proposal, the staff report suggests (p. 4.) that one of the “community concerns” which it apparently takes seriously is to “limit food giveaways”. Since Parks and Recreation has city-wide authority as far as the City manager may designate not just in parks, this may mean renewed attacks on Food not Bombs-style operations.

Last week, police gave out no citations by my reckoning (though there were fewer sleepers), came only once, and made no arrests.

On Saturday, Freedom Sleepers held a dusk Portapotty Parade through the downtown lasting half an hour. It drew active supporters and encouragement from the evening crowds (as well as the occasional heckle). Cries of “Stop arresting the homeless! Sleep is not a crime” were met with smiles, thumbs up, and an occasional new marcher.

At a time to be announced–a showing of the Exodus from the Jungle film documenting the resistance of San Jose urban poor (i.e. unhoused) to the displacement of the largest encampment in the country last fall….along with a KNOW YOUR RIGHTS training for those seeking legal tips to beat back the Sleeping Ban.


Editorial Note: The views expressed here are mine and in my view likely shared by many of the Freedom Sleepers. It is not an official statement however.

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BearCat Buffoonery Bumbles On: Santa Cruz Police Policies & Planned Protests



Latest Update to the SCPD Policy Manual including Use Policy on the Bearcat
by Robert Norse (and the SCPD) ( rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com )
Friday Feb 27th, 2015 10:38 PM

After several requests and considerable delay, assistant City Attorney Reed Gallogly finally coughed up the recent additions to the SCPD Policy Manual. I previously posted the full manual as of 2011 at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/05/19/18713791.php and the new one as of November 2014 is posted below as well as a January 2015 addition, included the day after the City Council meeting where Mayor Lane gave special time to Police Chief Vogel to read his policy.

An updated list of SCPD Officer names and numbers as of November 2013 can be found at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/11/01/18745758.php .

Chief Vogel insisted at the January 13th Council meeting that he would not make this policy statement public It was, of course, available on video and audio–especially for those who (“illegally”) recorded it as I and John Malkin did.

Vogel read off his description of the policy at the end of the Oral Communications period pmn 1-13 in the special time allowed by Mayor Lane apparently designed to deflect and calm the concerns of the largely anti-BearCat crowd that tried to speak. Vogel’s apparently created this “policy” without any input from critics or the community generally. It’s been included in the SCPD Policy Manual by Vogel’s fiat. With no dissent so far from anyone on the Council.

Lane, however, did not allow the public to conclude its input nor invite any critics to express their concerns at that meeting.

Nor did he direct Vogel to respond to questions about the supposed “deadline” date which he and Deputy Chief Clark falsely claimed required accepting the Bearcat before the end of 2014. Members of the audience who shouted out these questions were hushed into silence. Decorum, after all, must be preserved.

Instead of marching to the police station, sitting in at the City Manager’s office, or taking other forceful direct action, SCRAM (Santa Cruz Resistance Against Militarization) deferred any protests, originally scheduled for the February 24th meeting. Food Not Bombs did not provide food at the event–which had previously been scheduled. The purpose of ducking the meeting seemed to be to avoid offending middle class police patrons who were attending a round of SCPD glorification with yet another memorial to former cops Baker and Butler. These two are well-known in the homeless community for their abusive behavior towards the poor.

Meanwhile the struggle for the cash being collecting using the Butler and Baker deaths as fund-raisers is chronicled in the rapidly-shrinking Sentinel at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/general-news/20150213/legal-battle-in-santa-cruz-fallen-officers-fund-extended-to-city .

There is however, I’m told, a march against police brutality being scheduled by UCSC students on Wednesday afternoon from the Quarry to the SCPD station against police violence as oart ofthe 96 Hours of Action around tuition hikes and such.

HUFF continues to urge a broader attack on local police abuse, as described at http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2014/12/13/flyer__for__12-17.pdfhttp://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/12/04/18765028.php …and … http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2014/12/03/grand_jury_protest_updated.pdf . Sending back the BearCat and refusing License Recognition software as well as establishing an NDAA-free zone in Santa Cruz seem to sell more tickets than stopping the SCPD attacks on poor and minority people, demanding transparency from the SCPD, and dislodging the SCPD from its privileged position in the political process.

For a reminder that I’m not the only one concerned about these issues, see “Police Injury of Homeless Man Still Unresolved” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/02/18/18768736.php and “City Bicycle Program Dysfunction Continues” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/02/13/18768472.php –stories suppressed by the Good Times but posted by writer Steve Schnaar. Schnaar has also written “Santa Cruz Police Department: Political Smears, Unfair Profiling, and Harassment” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/12/28/18766107.php .

For some reason I was unable to download the individual page describing the BearCat Policy in the updates I received, so I’ve copied it below:

706.2.7 BearCat Rescue Vehicle

The BearCat rescue vehicle is specialized equipment designed for specific purposes. The vehicle is not intended to be used for routine patrol or day-to-day operations. Only properly trained and certified personnel may operate the BearCat rescue vehicle.

The Santa Cruz Police Department is obligated to make the BearCat rescue vehicle available to other law enforcement agencies upon request. Any request ofr use of the BearCat rescue vehicle requires review and approval from a police manager. In the event the request is approved, the Santa Cruz Police Department will provide our own personnel to safely operate and deploy the vehicle.

Use of the BearCat rescue vehicle is restricted to those situations where the utility and capability of the vehicle are necessary and when the capabilities of other department vehicles are insufficient for those situations as determined by the chief of police or department designee. This includes, but is not limited to public safety emergencies, where life threatening conditions exist, the extraction of persons at risk, the need to insert police, fire, and emergency medical services into a dangerous environment, ballistic or projectile protection, high-risk vehicle stops, high-risk warrant service, active shooters, unsecured crime scenes.

This policy recognizes that it is not possible to catalog or anticipate all situations where the BearCat rescue vehicles capabilities are necessary and/or appropriate. This policy acknowledges that it is not the intent that the BearCat rescue vehicle be used in an offense manner where no threat to the public or first responder personnel exists. such situations would include, but are not limited to parades and peaceful demonstrations where violence is not threatened towards the public, property, or law enforcement personnel.

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HUFF does another Wednesday at Sub Rosa 11 AM 703 Pacific

HUFF reappears a its usual spot as the Stay-Away Orders begin….Review of the sorry City Council meeting;  …Small Claims Demands Reach Council…Homelessness Marathon to Do It’s Annual Flurry from Florida Next Wednesday…and Recycling Rabbledybabble!   Come, learn, and drink lots of coffee.

Yo, HUFFsters!   Sub Rosa won’t be open, so we’ll be moving to the Bagelry a block or two away (Cedar just off of Laurel).  See ya there!    11 AM this morning.