Tumultuous Tuesday Combines 35th Sleep-Out with Sleeping Ban Repeal Vote


Title: Sleeping Ban at City Council; Freedom Sleepers in 35th SleepOut
START DATE: Tuesday March 08
TIME: 3:00 PM – 3:00 AM
Location Details:
Food outside City Council in the late afternoon; Council activity through the afternoon and evening starting at 3 PM; Freedom Sleepers on the scene throughout the afternoon and evening fairly later. The event continues until mid-morning Wednesday. City Hall 809 Center St.
Event Type: Protest
Contact Name Toby Nixon (posted by Norse)
Email Address tobynixon [at] gms.com
Phone Number 408-582-4152
The long-awaited City Council meeting where Councilmembers Posner and Lane will finally attempt to discuss removing the Sleeping Ban from the Camping Ordinance. Under the proposed wording, “setting up bedding” at night–such as a sleeping bag–will still be a crime under the proposed law, though–strangely–blankets will be legal.

First up in the afternoon–shortly after 3 PM perhaps–is an attempt to some to censure Councilmember Micah Posner for renting out an unpermitted ADU in his back yard. Some see this as an attempt to provide housing, and something commonly done in Santa Cruz. The City Manager’s report finds no conflict of interest in Posner’s votes that would financially benefit it.

While he is regarded as the most liberal member of the City Council, his attempts to curry favor with the staff and the rest of the Council have resulted in many bad votes going along with the rabidly anti-homeless Council majority.

He has been on the losing good side of a number of votes such as restricting public assembly in the streets (no), extending the stay-away power to police-as-judges (a no vote), RV permits denied to the homeless (no), warming center access, sort of, maybe, someday (yes), …to name a few.

His willingness to strongly and publicly organize outside City Council for homeless civil rights has been almost entirely lacking–though he has maintained communication with activists including the Freedom Sleepers.

His usefulness in securing public records has been low–he fears offending city staff.

To check out the City Manager’s staff report on possible actions against him (which do not include expulsion from the Council), see http://scsire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=710&doctype=AGENDA and go to item #15.

At 5 p.m. there will be the usual “Oral Communications” period for items not on the Council agenda. Bring up issues there that don’t specifically involve the legal changes in the Sleeping Ban. Make sure you carry your blanket or sleeping bag with you anyway–if you intend to bring one to this cold crew.

I’ve termed the Mayor “two minute” Mathews in the past for her unnecessarily cutting short public comment. She has refused my regular request for a Free Radio interview, nor would she comment on the proposed Lane Sleeping Ban repeal.

The City Council’s courtyard is likely to be plastered with “no trespass” style signs everywhere–if past experience is any guide. Still with the Constitution still supposedly in force, bring video and audio.

Food Not Bombs playful activist Keith McHenry has announced he’ll be cooking and serving food–which never fails to excite the animus of police and politicians there.

Troubleshooter Toby Nixon is due to spearhead the 35th Freedom SleepOut–usually arriving in the mid-afternoon and staying until mid-morning Wednesday when he sometimes attends the 11 AM HUFF meeting at the Sub Rosa Cafe.

Toby’s bag and blankets are firmly planted on the sidewalk in violation of the City’s 11 PM to 8:30 AM Sleeping ban. He comes armed with video and audio to livestream police and First Alarm thug capers. Last week others joined him–without direct police harassment–though homeless folks across the street were reportedly hassled.

No rain is predicted for Tuesday or Wednesday. But bundle up if you come, and bring extra bundling material if you have it.

It may not happen if the hostile majority moves to table the motion (which happened way back in 1997 when another attempt to ease the Sleeping Ban was pressed by three Council members).

More likely, there’ll be a pro forma discussion with limited public comment time. The proposal essentially is to remove the word “sleeping” as a definition of camping from MC 6.36.

On the upside, this would, if passed as written, legalize sleeping in vehicles (if you can find a place to park). On the downside, setting up bedding (what HUFF calls the Blanket Ban) would largely be retained, minus the words “sleeping” and “blankets”, allowing the police continuing “tools” to harass those outside.

The text, staff report, and correspondence around the proposal can be found at http://scsire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=710&doctype=AGENDA (Look for Item #1 “Amendment to Camping Ordinance” on the 7 PM


There is an extensive analysis and commentary of the proposal on a Free Radio show archived at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/Lostshows.html (the March 6, 2016 show).

Mayor Lane’s proposal was cooked up in meetings closed to long-time activists and suffers from the lack of input.

Steve Pleich (one of the activists along with Phil Posner who chose to join the exclusionary meetings) has urged the Community to contact City Hall at 420-5020 or citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com and urge them to vote for Lane’s proposal.

HUFF and other activists have encouraged folks to support the proposal, with a blanket in hand at City Council at 7 PM–perhaps to be laid out in Council chambers since will be no legal place for the overwhelming majority of homeless to sleep that night