“Vanish the Vendors” Viciousness at City Council Followed by Freedom SleepOut #44
Date Tuesday May 10
Time 3:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Location Details
The afternoon City Council meeting begins at 2:15 PM with the “Vanish the Vendors” law Item #14 on the Council Agenda. Food Not Bombs activists will be serving food in the late afternoon. Freedom Sleepers will hit the sidewalk and bricks across from the main library in front of the City Hall in the evening and night.
Event Type Protest
Contact Name Toby Nixon (post by Norse)
Email Address tobynixon [at]
Phone Number 408-582-4152
Freedom Sleepers will continue to defy the City’s 11 PM to 8:30 AM ban on the act of sleeping on all public and most private property in Santa Cruz by lining the sidewalk and City Hall grounds with sleepers on Tuesday night (5-10). Coffee and the occasional morsel to munch will likely be on hand.

The weekly organizational meeting of the Freedom Sleepers will hold their usual review and reorganizational meeting at 10 AM Wednesday at 10 AM at the Sub Rosa Cafe to be followed at 11 AM by the HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom) meet. Both are open to all.

Food Not Bombs is slated to be feeding and organizing during the afternoon and early evening.

Santa Cruz’s 1000-2000 unhoused residents continues ot face the threat and reality of harassment and citation for simply falling asleep after 11 PM. Survival “camping” is a $159 crime 24 hours a day (do it twice in 24 hours and face a year in jail and $1000 fine). Santa Cruz has zero walk-in shelter and full waiting lists for the token shelters that exist (for less than 5% of the homeless).

In March, Council crushed a minimum proposal to strike “sleeping” and “covering up with blankets” from the law, while maintaiining a “no trespassing” ban on most public property around the City. No City Council member has followed up on proposals to establish Safe Sleeping Areas for the vulnerable homeless nor on Safe Parking Areas for those whose “affordable housing” is a vehicle.

The proposed law, created behind closed doors by city staffers Julie Hende and Scott Collins and City Attorney Tony Condotti, includes a radical restriction on display for sale or donation, and sale of all kinds of items.

“Commercial Vending” is “to sell, offer for sale, expose or display for sale, solicit offers to purchase, or to barter food, goods, merchandise, or services in any area from a stand, table, pushcart, motor vehicle, bicycle, or by a person with or without the use of any other device, or to require someone to pay a fee or to set, negotiate, or establish a fee before providing food, goods, merchandise, or services, even if characterized by the vendor as a donation. [This]…includes the practice of providing, free of charge, an item which may not be vended, in exchange for the purchaser purchasing an item which may be vended as a condition for receiving the free item.

Exempted from the law are “Traditional expressive speech and petitioning activities, and the distribution of the following expressive items: newspapers, leaflets, pamphlets, bumper stickers, patches, and/or buttons.” Also “items, which have been created, written or composed by the vendor or performer: books, audio, video, or other recordings of their performances, paintings, photographs, & prints.” Additionally “any other item that is inherently communicative and is of nominal value or utility apart from its communication. Although an item may have some expressive purpose, it will be deemed to have more than nominal utility apart from its communication if it has a common and dominant non-expressive purpose.”

The City Attorney insisted that the law did not distinguish between what is art and what is not. Instead the hall monitors of Pacific Avenue will use the above definition to determine if an item is First Amendment protected or not.

Banned as “items that have more than nominal utility apart from their communication” “include but are not limited to… food, housewares, appliances, articles of clothing, hats, scarves, sunglasses, auto parts, oils, incense, perfume, crystals, rocks, geodes, lotions, candles, jewelry, jewelry holders, toys, stuffed animals, glass and metal pipes, and any vaping device.”

“Allowed” Performances are “playing musical instruments, singing, dancing, acting, pantomiming, puppeteering, juggling, reciting, engaging in magic, creating visual art in its entirety, presenting or enacting a play, work of music, physical or mental feat, or other constitutionally protected entertainment or form of expression.”

Banned Performances include “(a) The application of substances to others’ bodies, including but not limited to, paints, dyes, and inks; (b) The provision of personal services such as massage or hair weaving, cutting, or styling; (c) the completion or other partial creation of visual art; (d) the creation of visual art which is mass produced or produced with limited variation; or (e) the creation of handcrafts, such as weaving, carving, stitching, sewing, lacing, and beading objects such as jewelry, pottery, silver work, leather goods, and trinkets.”

These bans are in effect “on the streets or sidewalks of Pacific Avenue; and on the streets or sidewalks of the side streets, alleys, and surface parking lots one block in either direction from Pacific Avenue, between Laurel and Water Streets.”

The area in which no tabling is allowed except in select “exempt” zones will be chosen behind closed doors, largely by merchant pressure by Hende and Collins. That forbidden area extends from Laurel to Mission along Pacific Avenue and one block in either direction along the side streets. The forbidden zone apparently includes the twice-weekly Food Not Bombs set-up near the main Post Office. Although the new “Vanish the Vendors” law does not explicitly ban simply giving away free items such as food, another section of the ordinance prohibits the use of “display devices” (i.e. tables) except in the limited (less than 30) “exempt” zones which Hende and Collins choose to designate.

In addition the “Move Along Every Hour” law now requires what the current law does not–that folks time themselves. Anyone using a table, open guitar case, or any thing “capable of holding tangible things” placed on the sidewalk must move every hour without being asked to do so by a cop, security thug, or “host”. The current law requires a warning that one’s hour is up and then a “refusal” to move for the $200-300 ticket to be given. The new law just requires that you be there for 61 minutes to be slammed with a citation.

Two artists–Joff Jones and Alex Skelton–were taken away in handcuffs twice within two weeks for setting up their art displays outside the sacred “blue boxes”. They had also declined to move every hour. Defying the massive police presence in their second arrest, the two have returned to Pacific Avenue to continue to assert their rights. See “Santa Cruz Artists Dare to Display Art “Outside of a Blue Box”” at

Meanwhile in Sacramento, activists who staged a 3-month round-the-clock protest had all charges dropped against them. See “City of Sacramento Won’t Put Unlawful Camping Ordinance on Trial, Dismisses Criminal Charges Against City Hall Protest Organizers on Eve of Trials” at .

And a delayed Freedom Sleepers case will be returning to Court 8:30 AM on May 20th as Robert Norse demurs to two “trespass at the City Hall courtyard” arrests, claiming they were unconstitutional.

For more info on the Freedom Sleepers and the “Vanish the Vendors” law, check out for the last 43 Tuesday events.

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Eureka Readies Homeless Removal as Santa Cruz Freedom Sleepers Gather for 43rd SleepOut
Date Tuesday May 03
Time 5:00 PM – 5:00 AM
Location Details
The event actually runs from 5 PM Tuesday to around 9 AM Wednesday at that old familiar spot–the sidewalk and City Hall Courtyard across Center St. from the Main Library, though many homeless sleep under the eaves of nearby buildings (like the library, Civic Auditorium, and Greek Orthodox Church).
Event Type Protest
Contact Name Toby Nixon (posted by Norse)
Email Address tobynixon [at]
Phone Number 408-582-4152
Persistent activists with the Freedom Sleepers will return this Tuesday for another night on the bricks and the blacktop in front of City Hall.

Their numbers reportedly grew last week to include 15 or 20 at various times throughout the night. Jumbogumbo Joe Schultz provided coffee; Troublemaker Toby friend chicken; and a tripled “security force” of First Alarm costumed “guards” provided comic relief.

No City Council meeting slated for this week, but Keith McHenry of Food Not Bombs announced he’d be there during the afternoon cooking and leafleting to restore the survival rights of unhoused community versus the City’s anti-homeless Sleeping Ban and Park Closing laws.

Meanwhile up Eureka way, there was a mixed victory–temporarily securing the rights of 11 folks outside, while abandoning the majority to the threatened police sweeps.
See “Mixed ruling: Judge prevents Eureka from evicting 11 homeless; city says plan to proceed” at

In Sacramento, in the wake of a lengthy day-and-night protest/encampment at City Hall, attorney Mark Merin said he was applying for permits for homeless sleeping spots. This was suggested by city officials after their recent trip to Seattle with its longstanding tent villages.

In Salinas, Wes White and the Monterey County Homeless Advocates have spent more than a month camping outside their City Hall at night, demanding abolition of the anti-homeless “leave your stuff on the sidewalk, face seizure”. Wes gave a long update at (3 hours and 28 minutes into the audio file).

In Santa Cruz, Keith McHenry reports that street artists Alex Skelton and Joff Jones were arrested and their artwork seized again—two weeks after their first arrest. Their “crime” was presumably being “outside the blue brackets/dots/boxes” or perhaps “declining to move-along every hour.”

Assistant 2nd Class Scott Collins has continued to decline to meet with those wanting to make suggestions and ask questions regarding the “blue boxes” law—though he has responded to e-mail. The “Vanish the Vendors” laws are likely to be returning to Council on May 12th. A Public Records Act shows much communication between Collins, fellow bureaucrat Julie Hendee, and various merchants downtown intent on restricting if not eliminating street vendors downtown.

Councilmember Micah Posner will be at the May 4th HUFF meeting at 11 AM [Sub Rosa Café, 703 Pacific) to discuss the issue. He has been asked to bring a copy of the proposed law–created with much merchant, but little if any street performer input.

Freedom Sleepers will meet Wednesday morning at 10 AM at the Sub Rosa to lick wounds and plot strategems.

For more event information:

HUFF hits the streets noon Saturday April 30th to Fight the Sidewalk Shutdown Law

Taking Back Pacific Avenue and Defending Artist, Vendors, & the Community Against Bad Laws
Date Saturday April 30
Time 12:00 PM1:30 PM
Location Details
Soquel and Pacific on Pacific Avenue outside Forever 21. Or whereever the wind blows or the police push us.
Event Type Protest
Contact Name Robert Norse
Email Address rnorse3 [at]
Phone Number 831-423-4833
Address 309 Cedar St. P.O. Box 14B, Santa Cruz, 95060
Join us at noon on Pacific to TAKE BACK THE PUBLIC SPACE ! We’ll share coffee, brownies, strong opinions, and heart space with all comers.

HUFF [Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom] is tabling to raise public awareness about and action around…

+++ The upcoming attack on vendors and other non-commercial folks on the street by the City Council with its new “Vanish the Vendors” ordinance. The law reportedly returns to City Council on May 10th. See [item #22]. My summary is at .

+++ Support for and solidarity with artists on Pacific Avenue, notably two arrested on Saturday April 16 for “displaying artwork outside the blue dotted area’. See “Pacific Avenue Santa Cruz: The Joff Jones and Alex Skelton Report on Freedom in the USA” at .

+++ Join the HUFF campaign to open the City Hall bathrooms 24-hours a day, reopen the closed Soquel Ave. garage bathroom, and bring Santa Cruz into the 21st Century on elementary health and sanitation matters.

+++ Support the HUFF campaign to replace “forbidden zones” blue “performance pens”, and “move along” laws with the successful Voluntary Street Performers Guidelines–which worked well from 1980 to 2002, until torpedoed by a merchant-hamstrung City Council. See .

Bring video and audio devices if you’ve got ’em (phones will do)!

HUFF Back on Pacific Avenue In Support of Artists, Performers, and Other Riff Raff 1 PM Thursday 4-21


HUFF Tabling Against Police Repression Downtown
Date Thursday April 21
Time 1:00 PM2:30 PM
Location Details
Pacific Avenue near Soquel next to Forever 21 or nearby
Event Type Protest
To protest the heavy police (SCPD, 1st Alarm, Host) harassment of the poor, the artists, the vendors, the performers, and the activists on Pacific Avenue.

The “Vanish the Vendors” ordinance is due to return May 10th to City Council. This law will freeze into law police power to continue and increase the threats, citations, and arrests police have already introduced for the last few weeks downtown. See “…Vanish the Vendors Law…” at

Most notorious was the arrest of Alex Skelton and Joff Jones (See “Pigs Repress Free Speech on Pacific” at ) last Saturday. The two have returned–again reportedly outside the performance pens or blue boxes in defiance of the “free speech an hour at a time and only in the blue boxes” Decree of the city staff and Downtown Association.

HUFF will be tabling to demand an end to the restrictive boxes, forbidden zones, and move-every-hour law to return to the peaceful and success Voluntary Downtown Performance Guidelines. It voted at its weekly meeting to support those guidelines and expand them more broadly to vendors, tabler, and others engaging in extended non-commercial speech. See”Santa Cruz, California Street Performing Voluntary Guidelines” at

Other HUFF concerns include its Give A Shit! campaign: restoration and opening of 24-hour bathrooms, including Soquel garage bathroom (closed for three weeks for “vandalism”); end harassment of poor people with no legal shelter the right to sleep at night and cover up with blankets; and the broad restoration of public space in parks and public walkways (heavily monopolized by commercial interests downtown).

Bring signs, friends, video, and high spirits!
Iced tea and brownies likely available for early arrivals.

For more event information:


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As Cops Handcuff Artists on Pacific, Freedom SleepOut #41 Raises Its Sleepy Head
Date Tuesday April 19
Time 5:00 PM – 9:00 AM
Location Details
Bricked area next to the sidewalk in front of City Hall Courtyard across from the main library. The event begins around 5 PM with a prior flyer-and-feed prologue from Food Not Bombs. Keith McHenry will be reminding City Hall that “we’re still here” and “the abuses have not gone away.”
Event Type Protest
Contact Name Toby Nixon (posted by Norse)
Email Address tobynixon [at]
Phone Number 408-582-4152
In spite of internal disputes, activists will return to City Hall today (Tuesday 4-19) to challenge impervious and abusive City Hall authority backing the endless low-intensity War Against the Homeless.

Instead the homeless remain outside–the target of police, security guards, and NIMBY’s who use them. They are free, even encouraged, to harass those without shelter under the City’s Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010a), the “Closed Spaces” ordinance (MC 13.04.011), and other laws designed to make Santa Cruz a “less welcoming place” to the poor.

More info at .With the closing of the Winter Armory Shelter earlier this month, there is no walk-in emergency shelter whatsoever and getting on the River St. Shelter waiting list is the only option. To do that, call 831-459-6644. Ask to be put on the waiting list (even if you only reach a recording).

Even if you have no intention of ever going in the shelter, signing up is a good idea (and has to be renewed ever three days by phone). Citations given under MC 6.36 must be automatically dismissed by the City Attorney short of court according to MC 6.36.055. Section A of that law also states ” A person shall not be in violation of this chapter if, at the time of his or her citation for a violation of this chapter, either: the winter shelter at the Santa Cruz National Guard Armory is filled to capacity; or the person is currently on the waiting list for shelter service through one of the shelter programs offered by the Homeless Services Center or the River Street Shelter in Santa Cruz.”

Food and flyers will be available earlier in the afternoon with Food Not Bombs organizer Keith McHenry and local FNBers. There’s no regular City Council meeting until April 26th when the Vanish the Vendors ordinance will reappear [See] . McHenry feels it’s important to maintain a persistent presence at City Hall to remind the community that it’s the people not the politicians who are the legitimate authority.

Scott Collins, Assistant City Manager and one of the movers and shakers of the proposed VtV law, has not yet responded to questions about the law or agreed to meet.

Meanwhile last Saturday, two street artists were arrested and hauled away in handcuffs after refusing to sign their citations, as they had previously done in the past. [See “Pigs Repress Free Speech on Pacific” at]. It was unclear whether the initial charge was “refusing to move along after an hour” or “displaying outside the blue boxes”–the small segregated segments of the sidewalk set aside for public use, with the rest reserved for commercial activity. In violation, of course, of the public right to use the sidewalk for a broad range of purposes.

Alex Skeleton and Joff had previously won a trial against being “outside the blue boxes” [the bracketed and/or dotted areas on Pacific Ave. that “allow” artist activity]. They have been displaying and selling their artwork downtown for the last 9 months with no threats of citation recently. For more extensive background: .

More info at .




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