NOTES BY NORSE: The cautionary tale of Redding’s attack on the homeless is a strong reason why HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) and Conscience & Action are putting so much energy into the demand that the Louden Nelson bathrooms be reopened. Their closing in March by Iseth Rae, the Louden Nelson Community Center [LNCC] Supervisor is only one of a variety of anti-homeless actions taken at Louden, many without public discussion or notice, including the costly wrong-iron fence around adjacent Laurel Park, the sudden designation of LNCC as a de facto privatized “cafe”, the presence of a taser-armed Parks and Recreation heavy “patrolling” the area, new rules threatening “unattended property”, and, of course, the placement of a lock on the bathrooms and the restriction of use to “patrons of scheduled activities” (not including those using the park except children). Star of the Sea park has also been fenced.
In spite of contrary claims by some misinformed or homeless-hostile community members, an ordinary community member can no longer get bathroom access. One older woman tried to do so last week and was turned away. Her experience was audioed and is available at http://huffsantacruz.org/lost/1%20FRSC%208-30-18.mp3 [6 minutes into the audio file]. Even if disabled, sick, or elderly, unless they are attending a scheduled function, according to local activist Phil Posner. Even Seniors who regularly use the Senior meal have complained–to no avail–of difficulties using the facility (which is not available to them unless they arrive outside the lunchtime period.
HUFF and Conscience in Action activists will be tabling downtown this Sunday and planning a City Hall event in September to mobilize support to reopen the bathrooms and speak out against the other anti-homeless measures being taken–most notoriously, the shutdown of all walk-in emergency Winter Shelter voted by City Council at the August 28 Council meeting. (Instead the Council voted to add 20 tents to the River St. Campground, a number of beds to the Paul Lee loft, and support a vehicular resident “gone by dawn” parking program at the edge of the City.) This at the same time as the City announces it expect to receive a significant chunk of the $30 million being appropriated by Sacramento for homeless needs.
Meanwhile Brent Adams free and “come one, come all” Day/Night Storage program is proceeding without any city help, funding, or alternatives. And, as usual, the vast majority of homeless people remain outside, illegal, and under regular threat of harassment, ticketing, arrest, and property confiscation by SCPD, Parks and Rec, and the various “security” thugs hired by business groups and their government enablers.
Food Not Bombs activist Keith McHenry is still being denied every a permit process for setting up a privately funded portapotty, which is organization has agreed to sponsor–as has the ACLU and the UN Association, according to Homeless Persons Legal Assistance project worker Steve Pleich.