Sweeping Federal Temporary Restraining Order Stopping Harassment of Homeless in Chico May Give New Hope to Santa Cruz Homeless

Chico Shines a Light, But Activists Here Must Do the Heavy Lifting Down Chico way, a Senior Sacramento Judge of the Eastern Division of the Federal District Court has stopped encampment sweeps dead in their tracks city-wide with a TRO in the Commanche Creek Greenway case. This was justified not by the fading COVID-19 shelter-in-place concerns, but rather by lack of shelter or campground alternatives for those being rousted.

In a sweeping Temporary Restraining Order, Federal Judge Morrison C. England has blocked Chico cops and bureaucrats from
***Moving on the Comanche Creek Green Way encampment
***Blocking all such sweeps City-wide in Chico
***Freezing anti-homeless Municipal Codes in the City
***Banning enforcement of the state’s anti-panhandling law (647c)
***Protecting all property of the City’s homeless, even that valued at $100 or less.
The text of the Court order can be read at https://npr.brightspotcdn.com/e7/18/db7ea75b4afe9870d05ba2cf8d79/lsnc-tro.pdf

Some of the story is told at https://www.chicoer.com/2021/04/11/lawsuit-against-city-of-chico-launched-on-behalf-of-rights-of-unhoused-individuals/

…be roused from its deep sleep whether we’re talking S.C. Union of the Homeless or the local ACLU?

While the SC Homeless Union has been gathering Declarations of damage in the local encampment destructions ever since Ross Camp was rousted back in April 2019, it has failed to move on a City-wide Injunction protecting the homeless.

In its most recent successful Injunction protecting the San Lorenzo homeless, Union attorney Anthony Prince has simply signed on to City Attorney Condotii’s “move ‘em to the Benchlands” order with few proposed modifications. He recently grew enraged with my questions at a Union meeting and refused to answer them.

The local ACLU has been even worse, pleading impotence unless it can “get permission” from the regional ACLU up North. When asked why lawyers and activists on the local Board couldn’t take matters into their own hands, Former ACLU Board member Steve Pleich stormed out of a homeless activist meeting refusing to discuss the matter. Pleich reportedly seeks a position on the restrictive Association of Faith Communities Safe Parking program (but has also declined to respond to written criticisms and concerns about their program).

Hopefully, the Chico TRO will lead to a Preliminary Injunction that will embolden the terminally timid attorneys here to move, if only to collect some money, to protect the constantly crushed civil rights of those outside.

Meanwhile the City Manager, City Attorney, and City Mayor are playing peek-a-boo politics with the Martin v. Boise decision. Dustyheart Donna Meyers’ City Council tightens the noose around the homeless citywide with its ludicrous TOLO law up for further fascist formfitting on Tuesday April 13.

That law bans homeless survival camping in parks, greenbelts, neighborhoods, downtown, at the beach…hell, everywhere but on narrow sidewalks where they’ll be subject to “blocking the sidewalk” citations. Bellowing bigots from Seabright and the West Side are demanding their sidewalks be swept clean of “the homeless menace.”

Meyers’ Council majority has signed on to Chief Mills’ clever but callous 7-point program. One device seems to be not providing specific safe zones in the TOLO law while retaining and augmenting the massive enforcement apparatus of the old unconstitutional Camping Ban.

This intentional cloudiness about safe zones was perhaps meant to reassure “drive the homeless out of sight, out of town” NIMBY activists in the neighborhoods but ironically has had the opposite effect. Or was the ambiguity intended as a device to stoke their fears in order to mobilize them into potential future vigilante action imperiling the homeless still further, but solidifying the racist anti-homeless electoral strategy with an eye on the 2022 elections?

The Mills-Meyers-Bernal TOLO law would have been laughed out of Judge Keulen’s court. Keulen, the federal judge who previously granted the San Lorenzo Park residents a 3-month reprieve, demanded specific shelter alternatives for those being rousted (though unfortunately didn’t clarify for how long).

The TOLO law can only survive in the reactionary echo chamber of City Council if activists do nothing other than complain among themselves and shoehorn themselves into Mayor Meyers 1 minute gag rule. Or if we wait for attorneys to come out of hiding. Meanwhile, do we hope for Mills’ cops, Deborah Elston’s RV rousters, and Elliot’s Parks and Rec wrecking crew to see the light or act fairly?

Meanwhile, City Manager Bernal has apparently authorized activation of City Attorney Tony Condotti’s “Move ‘Em Along” order bullying Benchland residents to move by 9 AM today (4-12) . Bernal’s bumbusters reportedly posted illegal notices for Benchlander residents to vacate the park entirely (violating Judge Keulen’s court order).

When SC Homeless Union attorney Prince caught wind of this, he reportedly passed on the word to Food Not Bombs activist Keith McHenry,who then put up some “Don’t Be Fooled” signs clarifying that Benchlands residents only had to move to the Upper Park area. Then, McHenry reports, the City altered its signs to more accurately reflect the Judge’s order.

However the City’s Clear the Park Plan is in motion. The entire “musical chairs” move-‘em-to -the-122-Benchlands sites may be very temporary if Keulen dissolves the protective Injunction at the April 27th hearing. This will force all Park residents…to the imaginary accommodations that overpaid well-spoken city liars like Lee Butler and Susie O’Hara have told tales of.

Will the Chico TRO however, if upheld as a Preliminary Injunction, stiffen the spines of ACLUsters and Union activists alike to demand a broader Injunction here that protects all the homeless and relies on the obvious lack of shelter space?

COVID-expanded shelter space is reportedly contracting significantly with the cutting off of out-of-county funding with River St., Laurel St., the Armory, and other such places being shut down.

In Chico, Sausalito, and here, it took direct ground resistance from the Conscience Community to delay police persecution long enough to get Court action. That is likely to be the continuing case here. Unfortunately groups like Stop the Sweeps, NOMAD, and others are less visible if not missing entirely. But resistance has often come unexpectedly in waves.
The roar of the righteous may yet be heard again.
Add Your Comments§Text of the Chico Temporaty Restraining Order by Judge Morrison C. England (posted by Norse) (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Monday Apr 12th, 2021 8:04 AM


Download PDF (141.2KB) The TRO text is lifted from the Chico Enterprise-Record in the story that follows in the net comment. The link, as mentioned above, is https://npr.brightspotcdn.com/e7/18/db7ea75b4afe9870d05ba2cf8d79/lsnc-tro.pdf . Add a Comment§Newspaper Story by Natalie Hanson (posted by Norse) (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Monday Apr 12th, 2021 8:11 AM https://www.chicoer.com/2021/04/11/lawsuit-against-city-of-chico-launched-on-behalf-of-rights-of-unhoused-individuals/

UPDATED: Unhoused individuals launch lawsuit against city of Chico; restraining order granted
District judge sets April 23 for hearing

By Natalie Hanson | nhanson [at] chicoer.com | Chico Enterprise-Record PUBLISHED: April 11, 2021 at 6:17 p.m. | UPDATED: April 11, 2021 at 8:40 p.m.

CHICO — A legal aid provider filed suit against the city’s enforcement operations sweeping unhoused individuals and filed an additional temporary restraining order, which was granted by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. on Sunday.

That decision, which came three days after the city gave 72-hour notices to people who have been camping in violation of city ordinances at Comanche Creek Greenway, delays any evictions by the city until at least April 23.

Legal Services of Northern California, a non-profit civil legal aid provider for 23 northern California counties, officially filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California on Thursday. Attorneys Cory Turner and Stephanie Goldberg are lead litigators on behalf of eight plaintiffs against the city and the Chico Police Department.

Chico City Manager Mark Orme said Sunday “City staff does not comment on current or anticipated litigation.” The city attorney was not available to comment before this paper’s deadline.

The plaintiffs include Camp Fire survivors and other indigent Chico residents “who cannot afford housing and who live outdoors because they have no other shelter options,” and are subject to the city’s methodical encampment eviction and property confiscation efforts beginning in January, according to a news release Sunday.

The suit seeks an injunction barring the city from enforcing 72-hour eviction notices issued to unhoused people sleeping and resting on public land, such as one issued at Chico’s Comanche Creek Green Way park April 8. It also seeks ending continued enforcement of city ordinances “that criminally penalize the plaintiffs’ homeless status in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as defined under two recent federal court decisions that struck down similar ordinances – Martin v. City of Boise, Idaho, 2019 and Blake v. City of Grants Pass, 2020.”

Turner said Chico lacks sufficient emergency shelter for hundreds of unhoused residents and that existing shelter options “are inaccessible to many unhoused people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, even when beds are available.”

“Nevertheless, the city and its police department have undertaken aggressive sweeps of public areas where unhoused people rest and sleep and have refused, repeatedly, to tell unhoused people where they may lawfully reside until they are able to secure shelter. As a result, unhoused Chico residents, many of whom have physical and mental disabilities, are thrown into a cycle of constant movement from one location to another to avoid arrest, citation and destruction of what little property they have.”

The plaintiff’s suit seeks to prohibit the city’s enforcement operations sweeping camps “until such time that it develops more appropriate community solutions to meet the needs and honors the civil rights of all Chico residents, including those who cannot afford shelter.”

Turner said Sunday the city has not yet responded to several invitations Thursday to discuss the pending 72-hour notice enforcement at Comanche Creek Greenway, which he said triggered the need to file the lawsuit and the restraining order. This notice expired noon Sunday.

“We hope this can help lead to solutions that meet the needs our clients — and the community as a whole,” Turner said.
His clients are hoping to secure housing and need to know where outdoors they can stay until they secure it, he said. But Chico police have advised they do not tell people where they can stay, beyond not camping in parks and greenways.

“They’re not telling people where they can be safely and legally,” Turner said. “They (clients) just want to be in a location where they can avoid arrest and citation and potential destruction of their property.

“You can’t expect people to be able to help themselves when they can’t be sure of those basic needs to begin with.”

By 5 p.m. Sunday, the request for the restricting order was granted by the judge as the District Court found Sunday a temporary restraining order is warranted.

According to the brief released Sunday, “Plaintiffs have carried their burden of demonstrating that they are likely to succeed on the merits, that they would be irreparably harmed in the absence of a temporary restraining order, that the equities weigh in favor of granting the requested temporary restraining order, and that the temporary restraining order would not be against the public interest. The Court also finds that Plaintiffs have no other adequate legal remedy to preserve the status quo.”

This means until a hearing April 23, the city cannot legally enforce sweeping operations to enforce city ordinances. The city cannot enforce city code Waterways Ordinance – Camping, Staying, Storage of Personal Property, Entering and Remaining on public property, or any “destroying property of unhoused persons seized by Defendants even if Defendants value the property at $100 or less and/or determine it is not of reasonable value.”

The suit was filed two days after the Chico City Council voted 5-2 in favor of rescinding the shelter crisis declaration in the city, on the grounds that there are shelter beds available.

In an email obtained by Chico Enterprise-Record, Housing and Homeless Administrator Don Taylor advised city staff Wednesday an official rescinding of the crisis “immediately makes that jurisdiction ineligible for the use of Homeless Emergency Aid Program, Coalition for Adequate School Housing 2018 and 2019 funds.

“We are reaching out to the state to inform them and ask for specific direction. There are several contracted agencies we will need to inform that they can no longer use funds as of today.”

Taylor said the decision would impact programs like True North Housing Alliance, Chico Housing Action Team and Caminar and could impact Ampla Health and Catalyst Domestic Violence Services programs. He said he will be communicating with contracted agencies “so they don’t incur costs that won’t be covered.”

“At a minimum, they will be aware the costs they are incurring will not be reimbursed by these funding sources so it will be up to them whether they continue to provide services.”

Councilor Alex Brown, who proposed discussing sheltering opportunities on two city properties which was rejected 5-2, reacted to other councilors’ intention to rescind the shelter crisis. Brown said the proposal was used “as an opportunity to undo great work that has been done up until this point, under the mistaken belief you can whittle down the experience of people on our streets being, they simply do not want shelter.”
“The irony is not lost on me that the vote to rescind the shelter crisis has led to this consequence to the very people (shelter providers) who are facing extreme cutbacks to their ability to do that,” she said Wednesday, calling it “the results again of hasty reactive decision making.”

“This massive decision was brought up on an item that was related to providing shelter which gave no opportunity for the public to weigh in on the proposal,” she added.

The city confirmed Thursday the shelter crisis is not yet rescinded and an official resolution would be needed to properly rescind the shelter crisis declaration in Chico.

“Whether or not they (the Chico City Council) choose to have an active shelter crisis declaration doesn’t change whether there is a shelter crisis in the city,” Turner said. “There are more people who are unsheltered than there are available shelter in the city. That is obvious.”

Natalie Hanson | Reporter
Natalie Hanson covers the city of Chico, seniors and general assignments for the Chico Enterprise-Record after previously editing and writing for A&E. She has written and edited for multiple publications including The Orion at Chico State and is studying journalism and international relations. She is passionate about student journalism, covering the community and quality coffee.
nhanson [at] chicoer.com

Deadly Injunction Needs Quick Response

Modified Injunction is Bad News for the Unhoused;Resist Now, or Regret Later
Judge Susan van Kuelen’s March 30th modifications in the 1-20-21 Preliminary Injunction previously protecting the San Lorenzo Survival Campground was published April 1st. It allows a week or two relief, if that, before the unhoused population faces restored confinement or persecution.

Story continues at…

Court “relocates” San Lorenzo Benchlands Survival Campers–Audio, Sentinel Stories, and other Links

Audio, Sentinel Story, and Links at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2021/03/31/18841259.php

Keith McHenry’s analysis “Unhoused of Santa Cruz Win Another Round in their Legal Struggle to Protect their Rights and Safe” at : https://www.indybay.org/comment.php?top_id=18841262   gives the upside of the hearing.

I’ll have to examine my notes and the formal order (when Van Keulen issues it).  However at first glance, it’s seems more like a two week’s reprieve for those currently in the upper Park, immediate relocation up into the park for those currently in the Benchlands or along the Riverbank until the camp is opened and then eviction to…nowhere, and then another two week’s reprieve for those who get permits to move into the 122 spaces in the “managed campground” in the Benchlands after which there’s no provision for shelter for them, and no provision other than eviction for those who don’t chose to use the “managed campground”. 

As I remember it, the order will likely allow use of the infamous cop-issued stay-away orders for anyone in the vicinity without a permit.  And, of course, there was no mention of the looming TOLO law and little mention of the shelter absence with a likely step-up in “hide out or get out” enforcement as COVID shelter-in-place protections lessen.

Also missing from public view as the Code of Conduct imposed on those in the “managed campground”. 

Most of the documents filed with the Court by both City and the Union have not been provided by the SC Homeless Union in spite of repeated requests.

HUFF will be discussing the situation in the Park as well as the broader situation tomorrow Thursday 4-1 11 AM to 1 PM at its usual Sub Rosa coffee-and-complaints meeting at the Sub Rosa (next to the Bike Church at 703 Pacific).

Bad News Tuesday’s Coming Up Fast Beware Item #26 on the Evening Agenda

Return of the Sleeping Ban and a Letter to Mayor Meyers


Below is a copy of the link….

Return of the Sleeping Ban and a Letter to Mayor Meyers by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Friday Mar 5th, 2021 5:16 PM On February 23, City Council ignored dozens of speakers, silenced another two dozen, and passed the TOLO (Temporary Living Outside Ordinance) well after midnight. I filed a Brown Act complaint, noting the failure to provide adequate Agenda notice, requiring them to redo the item. I’m not holding my breath.


Download PDF (314.2KB) The letter to Mayor Meyers is fairly self-explanatory. I have made a few minor corrections and clarifications. So far, I have received no response from Meyers, suggesting she is unwilling to correct the Brown Act violation and redo the item with adequate public notice..

Following the letter are links to the current Camping Ban and the Meyers-Brunner Council’s proposed replacement. The current ordinance is not usually enforced because of its explicit use of the word “sleeping” in violation of the 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments (as starters). Instead, cops and rangers use “public nuisance”, “closed area”, “illegal lodging”, “block the sidewalk” and other convenient ploys to work around the Martin v. Boise federal court decision given Santa Cruz’s on-going shelter deficiency. More frequently police simply use threats and bullying as their traditional fallback.

They are likely to continue to use these laws rather than the TODO, even after the new law goes into effect in 30 days. They lack the real resources claimed but not real in the law, including safe sleeping places, toilet facilities, storage, outreach workers, and so forth. They will also face the likelihood of an Injunction if they attempt to use it, given the success at San Lorenzo Park and Dumphy Park in Sausalito.. But the real issue for those concerned with human rights for those outside is how can the community effectively enjoin police harassment using other laws.

The specific changes voted by City Council, which they’re likely to rubberstamp at the 2nd reading next Tuesday, are listed below. They can also be found on the City’s website.

Mass resistance, media publicity, neighborhood marches, and direction action–all of this does make a difference.

Upcoming protests include
++a Sunday 1 PM Tabling (and possible Tentraising) Against TOLO Terrorism—go to Soquel and Pacific to join up on 3-7.
++ a Tuesday 4;30 PM Gathering at City Hall at 809 Center as the law is being given it’s Rubberstampng 2nd Reading on 3-9
++ a Sunday 3-14 2:30 PM SC Mutual Aid Council of Relentless Mischief 2:30 PM. described as a A Street Theater Drag Festivity–a parade to end at City Hall).

The new law is long and tedious–its text I give in full, taken directly from the City’s website in this imbedded PDF for those who want to dissect it in more detail.


Ms. Donna Meyers, Mayor
Santa Cruz City Council
809 Center St.
Santa Cruz, CA

Dear Mayor,

The February 23 evening agenda session, included as its main evening item, a lengthy proposed revision of MC 6.36. According to Councilmember Justin Cummings, neither the General Public nor the City Council itself as a whole received the red-lined version of what several select Council members and community members devised and what was presented at the meeting as the working draft.

This violates the agenda requirements of the Brown Act Govt., Code 54950, particularly important when such a serious matter as a revision of a law that impacts hundreds of people is being considered. The text of these previously prepared changes is a substantial requirement of the Agenda Packet which was not included.

You also refused to provide a full Public Comment period allowing everyone to speak. According to Justin Cummings, you cut off at least 26 speakers. You shortened time for those who were allowed to speak, both for groups and for individuals.

You apparently didn’t even bother to count the number of speakers silenced by your time constraints. You failed to recognize Councilmember Brown with what she later said was a motion to extend the Public Comment period.

You insisted on dragging out the meeting until long after midnight in what seemed to be a determination to reach a predetermined result. All of this suggests bias on your part.

To address the Brown Act violations, I demand that any actions taken on this item be considered null and void, If you insist on pressing forward with this item, It must be placed on a future agenda allowing for an informed discussion with the community.

Both Council and community must be given adequate notice of its content. Given the Sausalito court ruling (below), it makes far more sense to send this measure back to the Public Safety Committee, the Social Services Committee, the Public Works Committee, and the City Attorney for extensive revision.

It might also be helpful to hold public hearings allowing the public, homeless service providers, the unhoused community itself, and the CACH committee in a full public discussion and debate.

The recent Federal Court decision regarding the Sausalito Anchor-Outs struck down a nearly identical restrictive “no day camping” police policy Sausalito/Marin County Chapter of the Homeless Union et. al. v. City of Sausalito et. al. at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jvJG7lh77jnxMQs4VZVwGRE2JK6rk28g/view .

This Injunction, as well as the San Lorenzo Park decision suggests this “hide the homeless” measure will cost the city in legal battles and be found unconstitutional. The local ACLU has already weighed in against it.

However, if the City wishes to proceed with this medically-unwise proposal in the midst of a pandemic, in the face of this decision as well as the San Lorenzo Park case locally, you must still follow the requirements of the Brown Act.

There are further concerns, showing a violation of the spirit as well as the letter of the Brown Act. Your summary of the final wording of the First Reading of the ordinance at the February 23 meeting was not available on line until March 2nd, though it appeared on March 3rd dated “March 1st”.

The meeting was not held in a large accessible venue as has repeatedly been requested. The Civic Auditorium would have been a traditional venue with safe distancing and adequate sound amplification.

Those most impacted by the Ordinance–the Unhoused community was given no access to the proposed ordinance. The unworkable constraints it lays upon those trying to survive outside would be clearly exposed if those who have to suffer its impact were give a real public hearing. It appears to have been largely sprung on the Council for rubberstamping with lots of wordy afflatus but no specifics about such basic issues as specific safe spaces.

Vague references to County cooperation as familiar as Lee Butler’s empty reassurances disturbingly reminiscent of the repeated and false promises raised by well-paid Council fluffers like Susie O’Hara.

The lack of real available shelter or housing is of particular concern to the homeless. The lack of respect for the Shelter-in-Place guidelines of the CDC and County shows disregard for the health of the community.

No specific sleeping places, storage areas, wash station and toilet facilities, and/or trash pick-up locations are included; simply broad authority for the City Manager and his staff to do that in the future at a time and place of his choosing. It seems so patently unworkable, that one wonders if this law is simply some kind of concession to Chief Mills and to those who’d like to believe that poor people outside can be bullied into submission.

Neither the budgets nor the jails have room to hold the number of people who will fall afoul of the demeaning and unreasonable “stay out of sight” demands of this law.

Ironically, this failure to be specific also disfavors housed residents. Many of them, confronted by O’Hara’s past fumbles, have objected angrily and in force to locations chosen by the Council and/or City Manager (i.e. Depot Parking Lot, Delaware St., and San Lorenzo Park Benchlands).

Are you trying to assure buy-in by these groups, by passing what amounts to a restored “jail for sleep” law intentionally avoiding naming actual places, which would have to be specified for the ordinance to mean anything?

In creating an ordinance that has no such particulars, is this simply a greenlight to modern-day Troll busters that there will be a heavy police response? And when that doesn’t happen, vigilante action will intensify (as is already happening with the collusion of the SCPD in the manner vehicular dwellers are treated by Deborah Elston and her crew of ticketeers?

Chief Mills gave no specifics when asked by Councilmember Golder if he had the resources for enforcement, nor statistics about the kinds of laws being currently used, the cost to the City, and the cost to those so victimized.

Is the point then to secure passage of a law first by being intentionally vague about locations? Will this be followed by “sleeping zones” laid down from on high by the City Manager through an opaque and unaccountable administrative process?

While it is within your purview to pass a repressive ordinance, to do so without providing adequate notice to the Community as to the content to be discussed violates Section 54954.2a of the Brown Act. You were required to provide a 72-hour notice; but you provided no notice of the red-lined version.

In any event, I demand you redo the entire agenda item at a subsequent City Council meeting, respecting the requirements of the Brown Act.


Robert Norse
Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom

THE CURRENT CAMPING BAN (MC 6.36) at https://www.codepublishing.com/CA/SantaCruz/#!/SantaCruz06/SantaCruz0636.html#6.36

PROPOSED CHANGES AS VOTED ON FEBRUARY 23rd are also available under agenda item #26 on the City’s website at https://ecm.cityofsantacruz.com/OnBaseAgendaOnline/Meetings/ViewMeeting?id=1640&doctype=1

Note Mayor “Mum’s the Word!” Meyers has shortened public comment to 1 minute per person, shuts it off at 9 PM, and allows for no extended group comment. She announces this public muzzling –even though there has been no public discussion on the proposed law as written up last Council session.

You can also read Ordinance Amending Chapter 6.36 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code Related to Regulations for Temporary Outdoor Living. (or the Temporary Outdoor Dying Ordinance, as some of us call it) here.

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