Contrary to what was posted in Jessica York’s recent Sentinel Story, the time of the Tuesday October 25th demolition of the next–to-the-last segment of the San Lorenzo Benchlands Survival Camp will be at 9 AM not at noon. In a story posted October 20th on the Sentinel’s website at https://www.santacruzsentinel.com/2022/10/19/santa-cruz-may-complete-homeless-camp-closure-by-early-november/ ,
Jessica York wrote “After Tuesday’s closure, just two encampment “zones” remain, city Homelessness Response Manager Larry Imwalle said Wednesday. Another estimated 22 occupants of the next Zone 6 also were given notice of closure, set for noon on Oct. 25. At the current rate of one zone closure a week, Santa Cruz’s phased camp closure strategy may be complete as early as the first week in November.”
However the City’s “Benchlands Restoration Project Updates” dated October 20th states:
“A planned, phased closure of San Lorenzo Park Benchlands is underway for restoration. The Benchlands will be closed in segments, and affected people will receive outreach support prior to the closure of each segment. Below is an update on what services are ongoing during the closure process and what can be expected in the coming weeks.”
+++ On Tuesday October 25 at 9:00 AM, the area between the City’s two fence lines, south of the pedestrian bridge will be closed.
+++ The City aims to post notifications for closures one week in advance of the closure date.”
+++ The City aims to offer each person residing at the Benchlands an alternative sheltering option., The City currently has shelter capacity at the City Overlook at the Armory.”
COMMENTARY BY NORSE
Missing from the Updates is any reiteration of City Manager Matt Huffaker’s commitment to the public and City Council that demolition work would pause if the City does not have accessible and adequate shelter. At no time have the bulldozers and police with boltcutters snapping tent poles and tearing down emergency shelters stopped.
Nor is the City storing property such as usable tents, canopies, lean-to’s, and other survival gear—some of it reportedly donated by the community in the absence of City and County action.
Storage of seized property is required by state law for at least 60 days if not longer.
The City has never had shelter for the total number of people living in the Benchlands, as required by the Martin v. Boise federal case. Nor is the Overlook actual indoors shelter as required.
If the City’s postings on the portapotties adjoining the campground are to be believed, the deadline is three hours earlier at 9 A.M. on Tuesday October 25th.
In the past (December 2020), the City’s attempt to drive away the homeless from San Lorenzo Park was countered by Direct Resistance from housed residents and a subsequent Injunction which created the Benchlands campground for next year and a half.
Some activists are gathering names for a potential action to recover damages and stop the next sweep. City-wide repression is likely to come as the City moves to enforce its new Sleeping Ban (the CSSO–Camping and Services Ordinance). With the Benchlands forcibly bulldozed and fenced off, scores if not hundreds will move to the parks, the pogonip, the neighborhoods, and the downtown area.
Contact HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) if you wish to support this effort at 831-423-4833. For more information: http://www.huffsantacruz.org