Temporary Restraining Order Extended But City Attorney Office Slimes On..

Federal Magistrate Susan van Keulen granted a last minute motion from City Attorney Condotti delaying any decision and/or hearing on the San Lorenzo Campground until January 20th, allowing both the SC Homeless Union Survival Supporters and “Save the Grass; Screw the Homeless” attorneys to present more evidence and argument to sweep the park. 

For the documents and more commentary, go to:  https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2021/01/13/18839369.php

Stop the Sweeps in Santa Cruz and Watsonville: Tabling Saturday January 9th noon in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz

Stop the Sweeps in Santa Cruz and Watsonville
Import into your personal calendar
DateSaturday January 09
Time12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Event TypeProtest
Emailrnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Location Details
On the sidewalk in front of the Bookshop Coonerty aka Bookshop Santa Cruz at 1520 Pacific Ave.

HUFF will be tabling on Saturday noon in support of Community Solidarity and Solutions Supporting the Survival Camps in Watsonville and around Santa Cruz.

The most well-publicized of those has been the San Lorenzo camp, the subject of police harassment, community resistance, and a Temporary Restraining Order. A zoomed hearing resumes next Wednesday in federal court. https://www.cityonahillpress.com/2021/01/07/following-protests-judge-extends-restraining-order-against-houseless-encampment-evictions/

Campers along the Pajaro River in south County–both on the Watsonville side of the river and the Monterey County side have been successful resisting destructive bulldozing of their camps in the last week. See https://pajaronian.com/city-postpones-levee-cleanup-after-homeless-advocates-raise-concerns/

Salinas activists under Santa Cruz Homeless Union President Wes White have mounted pressure with other activist groups there urging the new City Council to abandon the discredited sweep-them-here, sweep-them-there strategies of the past.

Raelyn Butcher and Brian Brown of the Marysville Homeless Union have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in a recent lawsuit, with further hearings scheduled in response to abusive destruction of survival encampments there. See https://kairoscenter.org/california-homeless-union-marysville-victory/

Last year Sacramento activists secured a TRO against homeless sweeps they are still struggling to have enforced. See https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/sacramento/sacramento-new-stay-at-home-orders-prohibit-sweeping-homeless-encampments-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/103-909add39-bdec-45d0-b6fa-c721222d4c97

Joe Doherty, Santa Barbara attorney, is working on a lawsuit to stop the unconstitutional uprooting of vehicular residents there.
See https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RVHomelessStaBarbara-COMPLAINT.pdf

HUFF also expresses solidarity with the Bookshop Santa Cruz union movement (https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2021/01/06/18839228.php & https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/12/10/18838895.php), t

with the Harm Reduction Coalition’s attempt to expand and strengthen Needle Exchange (hear Denise Elrich on Free Radio at https://www1.huffsantacruz.org/lost/2%20FRSC%201-3-21.mp3 53 minutes into the audio file),

and the City’s vehicularly-housed to resist harassment by Andy Mills squad of volunteers sperarheaded by Deborah Elston, particularly focusing against Santa Cruz Homeless Union President Alicia Kuhl and her family–most recently her partner Erik, arrested and beaten during an epileptic seizure.(93 minutes into the audio file at https://www1.huffsantacruz.org/lost/FRSC%201-7-21.mp3 )..

Protest History in Santa Cruz Creating Minimal Emergency Shelter and the Beginnings of Decriminalization of those Outside

Achievement Through Successful Protest 

Rough Draft of a History of Protest Against Sweeps and For Shelter 

  • Protest created the first Winter Shelter in 1985 at what is now Kuumbwa Jazz Center;  
  • Protest forced the City to purchase the mini-shelter at River St. in 1986;  
  • Protest pressured the opening of the River St. Annex in 1989;  
  • Protest created the Free Meal in 1989; which evolved into the Homeless Community Resources Center 1990’s; which became the Homeless Services Center in 1999;  
  • Protest embarrassed the City into expanding the Interfaith Satellite Shelter Program in the early 90’s;  
  • Protest prompted the tolerated “back 40” camping zone in 1991;  
  • Protest prompted the City to “allow” churches to have 3 cars as survival campers per night on their parking lots in 1995;  
  • Protest forced the reduction of penalties in the Sleeping Ban in 1999 and “allowed” business parking lots to allow 2 cars per night;   
  • Protest moved courts to remove Failure to Appear warrants for Sleeping Ban infractions around 2005; 
  • Protest motivated the City Attorney and a compliant City Council to create the Waiting List exception stopping the filing of camping tickets in 2010; 
  • Protest prompted the suspension of Camping Ban citations along with the Federal Courts Boise v. Martin decision (now substantively ignored by the SCPD using other ordinances to sweep people away   
  • Protest created the creation of the first Benchlands campground in 2017 (out of embarrassment in the aftermath of the Freedom Sleepers protests with the appearance of survival camps outside the Post Office).   

Protest gets the goods when City Council is frozen into a reactionary posture by right-wing pressures, staff power, and City Manager mismanagement.  It can do so again.  Particularly if joined by a legal challenge (or many legal challenges).  If you remember other instances, e-mail me at rnorse3@#hotmai.com  

Flier by Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833   www.huffsantacruz.org     12-29-20 

Spread the Word Gather Forces Stop the San Lorenzo Evictions ! NOON tabling today in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz

Saturday, December 26  NOON
In front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz at 1520 Pacific Avenue
(weather and scanty pedestrian traffic may have us moving to the sidewalk in front of the main Post Office)

The abusive edicts of Martin Bernal and police chief Andrew Mills seizure of homeless survival gear on 12-21 are well-documented and well-known.

See “Santa Cruz Left: Eviction is Violence…” at https://dsasantacruz.org/articles/eviction-is-violence/?

“”Clear ’em Out” Cruelty as Usual: Deportations Slated from San Lorenzo Park” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/12/21/18839039.php

“Missing Documentation on San Lorenzo Camp Extermination to Remain Missing” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/12/23/18839067.php

We’ll be trying a bit of tabling, ducking the rain today, initially in front of the Bookstore Santa Cruz hopefully with some coffee to warm folks up.

We’ll be circulating a petition and a sign-up sheet for those wishing to oppose either electronically or in person the police sweeps in San Lorenzo Park.

The main problem is that police make and get paid for their time and trouble. So showing up at their scheduled time of eviction doesn’t really phase them. They just come back later when housed volunteers have gone home.

I don’t have any answers. Perhaps taking over a vacant building and defending it would be a better way to go. At least a more permanent presence could be established. And people shelter themselves against the rain and the cold in the interim.
That, of course, involves willingness to risk more likely citation and/or arrest.

Another possibility is a broader coalitions with other groups strongly opposed to government policies–some of whom we don’t agree with who are (such as the anti-shut down folks). What’s needed are the numbers that returned the anti-homeless fences at the Town Clock and Post Office back to the perps at the police station.

But folks with NOMAD, Copwatch, YAR, Food Not Bombs, the SC Homeless Union, the DSA, and other groups are increasingly active. Even Brent Adams, though he can’t resist denunciations of other activists, has posted strong videos denouncing Bernal’s actions.

For the first time, a majority of the letters hitting the reactionary Sentinel highlight Bernal’s decrees as pointless and counterproductive. The issue is finding a way to unite our power–or at least work parallel rather than at cross-purposes.

The threat of police action and the economic/health crisis prompt fear–which is contagious. But then, so can courage be–when folks begin to stand up to injustice.
For more event information: http://huffsantacruz.org
Indybay posting and comments at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/12/26/18839089.php

Concealing the Documentation Until It’s Too Late to Matter: The San Lorenzo Camp Scandal

I sent the following Public Records demand to the City Administrator/Clerk on 12-17 regarding the abrupt and toxic shutdown of the San Lorenzo Campground displacing 150-200 people. I received a reply that City offices would be “closed for the holidays” until January 4th -but City Mangler Bernal has set January 6th as the date for completion of the destruction of the shelter-in-place camp.  


City’s New Years Gift to the Homeless: Demolishing the Tent City in San Lorenzo Park: The SC Homeless Union President and HUFF Respond

Deportation Decree Impacting More Than 100 at San Lorenzo Park Camp

“Executive Order 2020-24
Dear Councilmembers and Parks and Recreation Commissioners,
                   …[W]e hereby authorize and order the temporary closure of the San Lorenzo Park and the Benchlands.   The temporary closure will be accomplished in  phases, with the goal of temporarily closing the entire park by January 6, 2021.  We will aim to keep the lawn bowling green, playground and riverwalk path open during the closure period.                   City staff may cause fencing to be erected to effectuate the closure, and signage will be posted indicating the closure.                   The closure period will end on January 31, 2020, unless an extension of the closure is authorized….”
[To read the full document,  click on the http above or download the attachments]

A Response from Alicia Kuhl 

  • If individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are.  
    • Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread. 
  • Encourage those staying in encampments to set up their tents/sleeping quarters with at least 12 feet x 12 feet of space per individual.  
    • If an encampment is not able to provide sufficient space for each person, allow people to remain where they are but help decompress the encampment by linking those at increased risk for severe illness to individual rooms or safe shelter. 
  • Work together with community coalition members to improve sanitation in encampments. 
  • Ensure nearby restroom facilities have functional water taps, are stocked with hand hygiene materials (soap, drying materials) and bath tissue, and remain open to people experiencing homelessness 24 hours per day. 
  • If toilets or handwashing facilities are not available nearby, assist with providing access to portable latrines with handwashing facilities for encampments of more than 10 people. These facilities should be equipped with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol). 



    Your executive order to close the park based on clearing the current “unmanaged” encampment is against the CDC guidelines. Furthermore your list of justifications to do such order is also questionable according to the guidelines. You state that amongst other things that the city could easily rectify that there is a large amount of “Improperly disposed of Litter” If the city had been following the CDC guidelines at all, this amount of litter would not have accumulated because the city would have been bringing in the necessary services to this encampment thus the litter wouldn’t exist. 

    I Hereby request that you CEASE AND DESIST from the closure of San Lorenzo park and the displacement of the encampment that resides there until at such time as individual alternative placement options are available for every homeless individual residing at San Lorenzo Park. Or you may be faced with legal action for violating the CDC guidelines and placing the homeless community in further harm, and the community of Santa Cruz in danger due to your repeated violations of the Covid-19 guidelines given by the Center For Disease Control. Please follow the guidelines of the CDC immediately.

    Alicia Kuhl  President of the Santa Cruz Chapter of the California Homeless Union  ( 

    831) 431-7766 

Alicia Kuhl


Shift Supervisor

Emergency Interim Housing (EIH) Rue Ferrari

HomeFirst Services of Santa Clara County

(Mobile) (831) 431-7766

On behalf of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom), I sent the following Public Records Act Demand to the City Clerk today.  Her office sent me an automatic response advising me they would not be answering e-mail until

Please make available (preferably in e-mail form) copies of all reports of criminal activity as well as actual citations issued or arrests made regarding individuals in San Lorenzo Park from from July 1, 2020 to the present .  This would include any documents held by the Parks and Recreation Department as well as repair orders, orders for trash disposal or rental of public facilities, any communications from Martin Bernal or Tony Elliot concerning San Lorenzo Park during that period. 

These two public officials have recently issued an order demanding evacuation of the park without  any legal adequate alternate shelter (https://kion546.b-cdn.net/2020/12/Santa-Cruz-encampment-executive-order-12-17-20.pdf  ) or meeting CDC guidelines for safe sheltering-in-place.  This not only imperils the health and safety of unhoused folks outside, but of the entire community as it heightens the risk of exposure COVID-19 in a time of increasing hospitalization and ICU shortages and rising deaths.
Please additionally provide any records regarding the 16 bullet points in their 12-17-20 Memorandum and Order between the dates specified above.  Specifically:

  • Any documented reports of graffiti, vandalism, and/or illegal electrical taps
  • Any reports documenting actual fires in that area
  • Calls for service relating to reported criminal activity inside the park.
  • Any reports of theft of City tools and supplies
  • Any reports of actual damage to trees or grass
  • All reports of all trash service provided.
  • How reports regarding frequency and cost of portapotty and washstation service provided.
  • Any evidence, if such exists, of a potable water source available to those engaged in survival camping there.
  • (Though this is redundant) any reports of actual crimes against persons using the park

Also provide any records (memos, correspondence, etc.) regarding specific shelter space being allotted or particular relocation plans anticipated for those being ordered to move.
Given the severity and immediacy of the January 6 “deadline” for evicting more than 100 people, the records requested are those that Martin Bernal and Tony Elliot studied carefully before issuing this severe order.  Hence they can be made available without delay to the general public.   With winter weather upon us, deporting people from their relatively safe encampments threatens to escalate even further the homeless death toll, which has been estimated at today’s Memorial as being significantly greater than last year.  

In order to reassure the community that these are not politically motivated decrees in a time where the public has little access to any public process and the whole governmental process has become less transparent than ever, a speedy response is important.
Also if these records are not available by e-mail, please provide access to hard copies–and specify that you are doing so.  My recent request for claim forms prior to the last City Council meeting elicited no response until it was too late to comment on the items at the open interval before the closed session in the case of Christine Jacobs. 

This is both a violation of the letter of the Brown Act and the spirit of the Public Records Act–since the public needs to read the full claims of someone presenting a grievance to City Council before the meeting at which it will be discussed and considered. 

In the past, you have refused to make the full claims available as written by those making them for the on-line agenda, requiring me to make Public Records Act requests each time to get that information.  Until last meeting, you at least responded a day before the meeting.   This last time, I heard nothing from you until after the meeting.  Please clarify what your policy is.
Thanks, stay warm, and try–like the rest of us—to avoid being evicted or “moved along”,
Robert Norse

Say No to the City Manager’s Attack on Homeless Encampments and Food Not Bombs–2 PM Wednesday October 27th at City Hall Courtyard–NO on Agenda Item #9


The city is threatening to evict Food Not Bombs from its sharing location for the fourth time during this pandemic even though more than 100 people a day are depending on us for food, clothing, books and masks. They are suggesting that it will be illegal for us to share in any public location and plan to fence off each of these areas.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020, at 2 PM Santa Cruz City Hall – 809 Center Street, Santa Cruz. The vote is scheduled for that time or soon thereafter.

The City Council meeting will, as usual, be held behind closed doors in spite of the availability of the Civic Auditorium for safe use.

For information on how to call in your opposition, go to https://ecm.cityofsantacruz.com/OnBaseAgendaOnline/Meetings/ViewMeeting?id=1533&doctype=1

If you wish a fuller discussion of the 4 City Manager Decrees up for rubberstamping by the City Council, when it comes your time to speak, request the City Council remove item #9 from the Consent Agenda for a staff report and more extensive discussion. Mention that Councilmember Sandy Brown is often respectful of the public’s right to speak more fully on Consent Agenda items and hope she will do so again on this one.

For more coverage of this issue and to make your own comments, go to https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/10/26/18837897.php ,

City to Move on Food Not Bombs Tuesday 9-29 Pre-Empting 200th Day of COVID support and Evicting Nearby Campsites

Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs activist Keith McHenry has called for Community support tomorrow when the City has threatened to move on Food Not Bombs, trying to force it into a more constricted space as well as evict without alternatives nearby tent and ground-sleeper residents. 

He also posted an extensive update in the comments following https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/09/27/18837088.php (“Santa Cruz City Officials to evict Food Not Bombs, the Homeless Union COVID -19 Relief Center“). 

He is urging folks to show up with friends and video capability tomorrow morning at 8 AM and then later in the day at the 200th day celebration at 1-6 PM. Check the indybay story for more details, a downloadable flyer, and a place to leave comments.

More Punches at the Poor on Today’s Council Agenda

HUFFsters might be interested in some commentary on today’s City Council agenda.  The meeting starts extremely early at 9:30 AM (for the Closed Session) and then 10:30 AM (for the Regular Open Session).
The article expands on a recent letter I sent to Mayor Justin Cummings concerning continued City misconduct towards unhoused folks as well as the Council’s general obliviousness and what appears to be the usual stacked agenda, rife for rubberstamping.   Any budget discussions or public debate on the pressing issue of the day–defunding police violence–is not on the agenda, of course.
Today’s agenda for the “public” meeting is largely a ratification of the City Manager’s latest decrees and the unelected city staff’s priorities.

For details on a few of the items, go to:  https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/09/22/18836851.php

Or here is the article:

More Punches at the Poor on Today’s Council Agenda by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Tuesday Sep 22nd, 2020 8:42 AM A recent letter I sent to Mayor Justin Cummings remains largely unanswered. I include some selections as well as a few additional comments bearing on today’s agenda at the “public” meeting–largely a rubberstamp of the City Manager’s latest decrees and the unelected city staff’s priorities. Several items caught my attention in today’s agenda.

Item 7 simply extends the COVID-19 emergency. Some oppose this based on disagreement as to the proper way to find the COVID-19 pandemic, some dispute its toxicity. My concern is rather the extension of fundamentally unaccountable dicatatorial powers given to City Manager Martin Bernal, city employees, and the police/rangers. As a member of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom), I focus on the impact of those outside, but, establishing a defacto dictatorship with only token public input, fundamentally alters the whole political process.

The first was the library burial rubberstamping (Item 12 on the Consent Agenda), covered by Erica Aitken at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/09/21/18836813.php (“The library/parking garage project is a litmus test for the future of Santa Cruz”) with more information at https://www.reimaginesantacruz.com/ . Since the library–when it’s open–in spite of increasing restrictions in recent years–has been something of a resting place for homeless folks, many have been concerned that relocating it under a parking garage may make it less friendly, healthy, and accessible.

Noticeable by their absence were any stat updates on the availability of safe sheltering (i.e. motel rooms) during the Coronavirus pandemic situation for unhoused folks. City Manager Bernal and his faithful rubberstampers on the City Council have failed to follow CDC guidelines to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19 in the congregate shelters such as the Vet’s Hall, the Armory, Laurel St., and the Paul Lee Loft.

As more tourists flock to the City without adequate testing, contact tracing, vaccine prevention, treatment, etc, the danger for all of us–both the unhoused and the housed remains very real. How much Roomkey and Housekey money was spent? How much remains? How many are still unsheltered? How many were tested? Are tests available to those who ask for them?

Given Cummings’ supposed close collaboration with the County, he has access to direct answers: how much was spent, how it was spent, how many vulnerable folks are actually being housed in safer motel rooms away from congregate settings, how many are not. County health worker Jessica Scheinert declined to follow up with any specifics on the questions several months back.–the amount of money received and spent, how many vulnerable homeless people are being turned away, how many are still in the dangerous congregate shelters, and so forth. Nor has Cummings.offered any accounting.

Last spring Cummings voted not to disperse Ross Camp until there was adequate alternative shelter. Weeks later, under the toxic wing of Councilmember Mathews and Supervisor Coonerty, Cummings ignored his commitment and authorized police to drive hundreds into the bushes, the streets, the downtown, and the neighborhoods. His pretext was a concern to keep County money flowing to the smaller token 1220 River St. shelter which warehoused a fraction of the Ross group.

In my letter to him, I pointed out that he now has a chance to rectify that cruel mistake. The issue is back on the table again as the number of visible camps skyrockets along hiway 1 (see https://www.facebook.com/HomelessOutsideSantaCruz/videos/1551108471759675). The SCPD continues its abusive and unhealthy homeless displacement raids (see https://www.facebook.com/HomelessOutsideSantaCruz/photos/pcb.2522456464726074/2522448391393548/).. And in spite of momentarily expanded shelter, there simply is no plan for legal and accessible shelter for those displaced, nor any protection for their property.

In the Pogonip and along the levee as well many many survival sleepers face demands to leave with what they can carry or face fines and jail (an unconstitutional threat under Boise v. Martin) . I asked Cummings to direct the City Manager to secure an accounting from the County of how many are being displaced, and what kind of facilities are actually open and available for them–given their vulnerabilities and disabilities.
Cummings has made no reply.

Item #20 ignores and attempts to reverse the 5-2 decision of the Public Works Commission in upholding a challenge by Santa Cruz Union of the Homeless President Alicia Kuhl. She and other vehicle-dwellers have parked along Olive St. for a year lawfully and respectfully in spite of hostility from some groups in the City. In violation of the CDC stay-in-place guidelines and legal “no tickets without a shelter option”, city staff have moved to appease reactionary critics with a culture-war agenda. In an attempt to gentrify the area and strip it of poor people so it will have a better “look”, staff proposed shrinking parking spaces so as to functionally exclude Kuhl’s vehicle and that of others there.

My letter to Cummings expressed frustration and disappointment that he even put this item on the agenda. The Mayor (in conference with the City Manager) controls the agenda. This is something Progressives last year learned too well when former Mayor Wakins repeatedly used her power to exclude, weaken, or delay items protecting renters and the poor. When two Councilmembers objected to this process and struggled to change it, they were subject to a recall,

As Mayor,, not unexpectedly, Cummings has declined to use his power to advance Progressive interests. After Cummings’ failure to strongly oppose the decimation of the Progressive majority through the recall, he now tamely proceeds to allow the Mathews majority an easy path to rubberstamping. He had the option to delay such harassment of vehicle dwellers at least until such time as the staff presented actual stats showing a crime problem, or answered the concerns of the Commission which rejected its recommendations.

It seems particularly strange that the City Council agenda has no documents I can find that record the Commission’s debate on the issue or give the Council and the public any insight into why they rejected the staff’s “move ’em along” agenda. The answers: inadequate alternate shelter, important shelter-in-place health concerns, a rental crisis, don’t make the staff report.

Former Mayor Watkins repeated exercised Agenda-setting authority to keep Progressive items out of City Council last year. She even maneuvered to move the Council Meeting Calendar section, used in desperation by the Progressive majority last year to override Mayoral censorship, to the top of the agenda so new issues revealed in the meeting wouldn’t be used to require her to agendize Progressive items.

I believe agenda setting should be a public or at least an open process. I don’t believe behind-doors Mayoral-Manager dictating is a good precedent or regular go-to, but Cummings’ failure to use it to protect a vulnerable part of the process is telling in this case.

Some of the meeting is gloomily predicted on my Sunday show at https://www1.huffsantacruz.org/lost/1%20FRSC%209-20-20.MP3 (1 hr, 1 minute into the file).

The threatened sweeps defy the CDC’s COVID-19 shelter-in-place advisories as well as the Martin v Boise court requirements banning camping citations and other abusive citations for survival behavior outside.

Some folks look to the November election and the “Progressive” slate of Kuhl, Kumar, Hill, and Brown as a respite from the reactionaries now on the Council. None of them (except perhaps Kuhl) has come out for the firing of the City Manager and the City Attorney–the necessary first step in a fundamental change.

The community must mobilize to keep up pressure on the real power in the community–the staff and those who lead it–as well as the compliant Council. “Progressive”-sounding words historically degrade into complicity. Folks must continue to hit the streets, organize independently, and recognize that the current system is immune and indifferent to rational argument, but understands little other than power.

It takes direct action–whether to remove fences walling off the homeless (and the public), provide daily meals and clothing (as Food Not Bombs does) or to effectuate justice as authorities continue their bad-business-as-usual.

Defund the Police; Refund the Community: Protest 6 PM Tuesday Town Clock

Join us at the Defund the Police – ReFund the Community March from the Clock Tower to City Hall this Tuesday. to protest the cruel city organized campaign against those who live outside.

At 7:30 PM, the Community Advisory Committee on Homelessness (CACH) Co-Chair and City staff will present their report. It plans to do little other than criminalize the unhoused and continue to take people’s vehicular homes. 
For more details and to download flyers go to https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/08/10/18835811.php