Video sparks action against trash, drug waste near Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz

Stephen Baxter

Santa Cruz Sentinel:   11/12/2012

SANTA CRUZ — In caves and gaps between the rocks of one of Santa Cruz’s most popular surfing spots at Cowell Beach, two truckloads of trash and heroin waste have been hauled out in recent days.

Dylan Greiner, a 37-year-old surf instructor and owner of Santa Cruz Surf School, said he noticed the black trash bags, food wrappers and syringes on the rocks because he works there daily. He wanted to get the city’s attention, so he tried to contact Mayor Don Lane on Wednesday and posted a comment on the Take Back Santa Cruz Facebook page.

Then someone asked if he had any photos or video of the problem.

“The next morning I had my coffee and took my cellphone and I just decided to hit the film button,” Greiner said.

The result was a 4.4 minute video that showed some of dozens of trash bags, food wrappers and syringes. He uploaded it to YouTube Thursday and sent it to Lane.

It also was posted on the Sentinel’s website and viewed more than 8,000 times.

Later Thursday, he and a few friends collected dozens of pounds of trash and hauled it to the top of the Cowell’s staircase. They found needles and the bottoms of aluminum cans — apparently used to cook heroin.

“It affects everybody,” Greiner said of the trash. “It’s November, I know the rain is only going to get harder and I can envision it going into the ocean.”

After Greiner and his friends Mark Collins, T.J. Magallanes and Greg Sojka took the trash to the dump, there was still some garbage left on the walkway on West Cliff Drive on Friday.

Lane said he saw the video Thursday night and activated a parks crew Friday — although city offices were closed.

They hauled away the rest of the debris on Friday and got police involved.

“It’s always good when members of the community identify a problem and let the city know,” Lane said. “There’s that sense of immediacy once that video is up there. We’re doing our best to respond quickly.”

The trash and drug use is similar to a problem that neighbors noted in caves near John Street and West Cliff Drive in June. City leaders said it was unclear if same suspects were involved.

Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said that during the summer that patrols are difficult, and the riprap rocks along West Cliff often are slippery and dark.

One officer broke an ankle on the rocks investigating a separate problem. Police said they have to weigh an officer’s time and safety to do a rock scramble to other calls for service.

“It’s a challenge because these are difficult locations to get to and they’re not visible from above,” Lane said.

Police and city leaders also are looking into sealing a cave near Collins Cove — between the Cowell Beach staircase and Steamer Lane.

Greiner said more trash remains on the rocks. He planned more cleanups and posted another YouTube video on Sunday that thanked city workers for their efforts.

He and Lane encouraged residents to call police and report drug waste and the people responsible for it.

“My focus is not to go down there and continuously clean up people’s trash,” Greiner said. “My goal is that there’s no trash down there in the first place.”



  • west jr70· Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

    Stephen Baxter and the Sentinel – Way to miss the mark.The video is not “sparking action against trash” but sparking action against filthy degenerate junkies coddled by the city of Santa Cruz and the lunatics that run this city. It would be nice if you started shedding light on the problems of this city rather than running cover.

    • nsite108 (signed in using yahoo)

      Since Lane and his political friends caused this continual environmental destruction can’t they be held responsible for all these watershed and coastal ecological tragedies caused by their policies? If so does anyone know a good environmental law firm?

  • Jeff Bason· Top Commenter

    Nice work Dylan…… Don Lane is a joke….it’s too risky for a trained professional police force to go down there and enforce laws and clean up…..but not too risky for a surf instructor, concerned resident, and tax payer. Maybe the city should pay you and your friends for your efforts condsidering you are alleviating a serious health risk by picking up needles that those who are paid to protect us will not touch. Keep posting these videos until the weak, delusional city leaders make a serious effort to stop this type of behavior
  • Johnnyattheharbor Lowlife · Top Commenter · California State University, San Bernardino

    Again…super job Dylan….time to “Take back the Beach” and keep the BUMS away for good….and make it a “BUM free” area… thing that discusts tourists is running into a bunch of sleezy, no good, mooching, druggie BUMS when they visit Santa Cruz….and the city counsel should make ridding the city of BUMS a priority…..instead of catering to them by allowing that BUM Day Care Center on Coral St.Johnny at th Harbor
    BUM Patrol Leader

  • Lisa Tracy

    Our city is better than this, especially when this medical waste is just waiting to be released in the Ocean. Please do something to get these druggies off the beach and make our town safe for families
    • blue waters· Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

      Is SC really better than this?…or is this an ongoing symptom of a city in perpetual liberal decline…

  • Dennis Jason Anti· Top Commenter

    Dude. Serious kudos to you guys for cleaning up that stuff. People like you and your friends are a HUGE bonus to our community.
  • Ronald Paul Hughes · Top Commenter · Genius, Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist at Productops

    Thanks to all involved. To eliminate this problem, Law Enforcement needs to aggressively target the drug dealers that provide this crap. Eliminate the salesmen, choke off the supply, and the addicts will disappear too.
  • Nancy Ziegler · Queen at Here & There

    Thank You Guys.
  • Greg Henderson · Top Commenter · Owner at Henderson Automotive

    The only good junkie is a cold blue junkie!
  • Steve Welch· Top Commenter

    Nice cover up City…..seems nothing gets done until it gets on YouTube….continue the good work Sentinel.
  • Rikki Bell · Santa Cruz, California

    Great citizen effort…Really appreciate it. Now, how can the community get more involved in stopping this or the very least being able to keep it clean?
  • Jasmine Berke · Five Branches University, Graduate School of Traditional Chinese Medicine

    Dylan and friends, thank you so much for your work. You guys are real heros, saints, for bringing this to the attention of the public and for cleaning up this dangerous mess!!! The city needs to do a better job of patrolling this area and keeping it clean. These sick dirty addicts can not be allowed to take over our beaches and public places with their waste and loitering. Wake up city council and do your job!
  • David Lane · Top Commenter · Expanded Consciousness

    Yet another negative side effect of prohibition. If we re-legalized and regulated drugs people would not be cooking heroin on the beach and leaving syringes laying around. When Bayer heroin sold for about the same price as Bayer aspirin most addicts held jobs and were normal members of society, not degenerate junkies. That role was created be prohibition.
    • Mike Marketello · Top Commenter · Harbor High, Santa Cruz, CA

      I’m wondering Dave, where will homeless junkies shoot up if legalized? I can’t believe you just advocated making becoming a junkie easier.

    • Petrified Cheetoman (signed in using Hotmail)

      This area of cliffs is difficult to access. Once there is no longer the threat of arrest the
      users will not have to hide there anymore.With the current drugwar policies many people are denied a job and forced into homelessness. Since addiction is not yet classified as a medical disability an employer can drug test and deny applicants for simply testing positive even if they do not use during work hours. Point two. Criminal Records. Keeping the drugwar in effect is making NEW criminals everyday. Sometimes even a small quantity of drugs can get a felony charge. Once again no employer will hire someone with a felony even IF it is non-violent. I would also imagine that a felony charge might be an obstacle to most housing rentals as well. So you see I have just illustrated how the current drugwar enforcement policies FORCE people ou…See More

    • Michael Jolson · Top Commenter · Cabrillo College

      Mike Marketello prohibition of drugs leads to crime, violence , the spread of infectious diseases, and dirty needles in the ocean ! If heroin were legal, they would have a safe place to shoot and not spread infectious disease and pollute our oceans!
      Prohibition didn’t work with alcohol and it sure isn’t working with the Drug War! What does the create? It creates a Prison industrial complex , a powerful prison guard union , and thriving gangs, violence, and utter destruction!
      Th e Drug War is an utter failure! Great job TJ , and Dylan!

    • Mike Marketello · Top Commenter · Harbor High, Santa Cruz, CA

      This tell me that you have the political argument of legalizing drugs down, but perhaps have never dealt with addiction or mental illness it on a personal level? The only way to get an addict help, or a mentally ill person help, is to force them to it. You take away all other options until their life becomes so hard, or they end up in jail, it is usually at that point they are open to change. I believe for most, sitting in jail is when they finally hit rock bottom. What you have just suggested is the mother of all enabling. A chance for them to go on living their destructive lives in more convenience and no end of the road. Leave them in their compfort zone so that they can go on with no pressures to change. What you are suggesting is to prolong their destructive habits for society’s convenience. Most pot smokers who desire their pot to be legal make this war on drugs about them. In my opinion you do not legalize destructive behavior so as pot smokers can get a lower price on their pot.

  • Greg Henderson · Top Commenter · Owner at Henderson Automotive

    Dylan you have a free oil service from my shop for your awesome work. YOU ARE A HERO AND WOULD LOVE TO HELP WITH CLEAN UP IN THE FUTURE.
  • Balicia Embernate

    Great job Dylan, pdog and crew!! Thanks for loving sc:)
  • Lois Petrozza · Santa Cruz, California

    my family and i thank you dylan!
  • nsite108 (signed in using yahoo)

    I am a ecopsychologist and I think we all can see how mentally ill Lane is by his following statement,””It’s always good when members of the community identify a problem and let the city know,” Lane said. “There’s that sense of immediacy once that video is up there. We’re doing our best to respond quickly.”

    Yes, there is a sense of “immediacy” but not from Lane and his partners in local environmental crime. Greiner, brought this to Lane and pals attention a month ago and the only reason he is doing anything now is because it is in the paper. There are still 1000 of homeless drug addicts in our watersheds dumping needles, meth making chemicals, raw sewage and garbage. Please, lets convict Lane on environmental crimes and clean up this city.

  • Roy McAlister · Top Commenter · Luthier at Self Employed

    According to Robert Norse and Becky Johnson, that stuff is just “homeless survival gear”“…trash is not a big problem from homeless people, from “druggies” or even from the general public. This “clean-up” produced very little trash…”

    “…Perhaps homeless people are cleaning up more trash than they are leaving? …In any case, groups like Take Back Santa Cruz and editorials by Don Miller in the SENTINEL can’t really claim that the sweeps are justified because of a clear environmental danger…”

    -Becky Johnson

    Thanks Dylan…excellent display of taking action for reality over apathy of delusion.

  • Gary Roberts · Top Commenter · Santa Cruz, California

    Many thanks to Mr.Greiner, and Mr. Magallances.No other thanks are possible, especially to the city. Don Lane..give me a break! It is the voter, citizens, and people who really care, that get-out and make things , better for everyone. Thank you, for posting this on You tube, that’s the way to go, and put it on Facebook, in the future. These two guys should be on City Council….they would do a better job!
  • William Peak · Top Commenter · Duke University

    It’s its always good when members if a community identify a problem and let the the city know.
    Are you kidding , don lane. You live on van ness and can’t figure out that the city is overrun with criminal transient drug dealers? Good one, we’ll kep pointing out the obvious to you so you can “do your job”
  • Carin Thoits · CSU Monterey Bay

    Thank you for posting these videos!! The drug epidemic occurring in Santa Cruz is appalling and disheartening. I appreciate all the hard work you have done and brining this important issue to light. I truly hope we will begin to see more positive outcomes and change in regards to this health hazard!
    • Mike Marketello · Top Commenter · Harbor High, Santa Cruz, CA

      Carin I hate to break it to you. You look pretty young so maybe you are unaware, Santa Cruz will doing nothing long term. They may throw out some short term appeasement, but when it boils right down to it Santa Cruz is not willing to even consider they have a hand in creating this environment. This type of climate has been attracting the nations homeless to SC since the 70’s, and every decade there are the same complaints, and new excuses. This decade the excuse seems to be to try to convince you that the majority of these folks were born and raised in Santa Cruz and have just fallen on hard times because of George W Bush. Now I know that sounds cynical, but yes, I am cynical, it comes in time.

  • Mike Marketello · Top Commenter · Harbor High, Santa Cruz, CA

    Good on this young man for trying to make a difference. He asks “I wonder if anything can be done?” Well ya, but Santa Cruz is not willing to do it.. This is a decades long argument, only this dump-site is new.
  • Jeff McNeil · Santa Cruz, California

    This is why my family refuse to visit any Santa Cruz parks. I found my two year old daughter playing with a used needle at a local kids park.
    • Katie McNeil· Top Commenter

      Said park was Harvey West, and to clarify the story, our two year old’s three and a half year old friend found a used hypodermic needle stuck in a redwood tree and pulled it out. She was very mature about it and our daughter touched the back end of the plastic part while it was still in the tree. Still…. It was enough to make me vow never to frequent any SC park or beach where druggies (to be so blunt) hang out. The consequences above could have been much more dire and it still
      makes me nauseous when thinking about it. On that note, a friend of mines son stepped on a hypodermic needle while in junior life guards on Cowell’s Beach back in the mid 1990s while running drills…he was about ten at the time. This lack of cleanliness on the main and Cowell’s goes way back. There’s got to be an outcry that’s loud enough to clean up our town’s public parks and beaches. Hopefully, this is it.

  • Marta Bechhoefer

    the police have their 4 wheel drive vehicles that they often drive on Cowell and Main Beaches so it’s easy enough to get to the location of this garbage. Thanks to Don Lane for getting on this right away!!
  • Jr Santana · Santa Cruz, California

    God i didn’t know that cowells was the new pogonip I’m surprised to see this going on without the intervention of law enforcement
  • Victoria LeDoux· Top Commenter

    Sad, sad, sad…such destruction to a beautiful place..
    • Edward Cravalho · Top Commenter · MIU

      Not so “Sad, sad, sad”. It’s more like Stupid, stupid, stupid.
      This is the state of our City Government, it’s still nursing on mothersTit and thinks everyone else should be cared for as well. Bunch of lunatics.

  • Robert Norse· Top Commenter

    Any evidence that the trash and needles aren’t left by housed people partying? That’s the question raised by a long-time needle exchange worker.Nothing wrong with getting derelict city officials to address clean-up problems, but screaming “bums” and trying to raise hatred against homeless people for sleeping? No thanks.

  • Jeff Mick · Top Commenter · Works at International Union of Operating Engineers

    Just down there today at Cowell’s Beach. Since the video, there sure is a heightened presence of police. They are making more than the regular appearances. Still a lot of those homeless druggy types. The policeman encountered one by the bottom steps of the DI & couldn’t hold him for anything. The man, probably in late 20’s or 30’s, had the demeanor & body posture of someone in their 60’s. As the policeman continued on to the area of those rocks, the aforementioned man was sifting through the sands, looking for something, or it was just his way of twitching? Casting a general eye of the beach at that time, saw a lot of those homeless type folks waiting by the beach, for the sun to drop. Once again the darkness would cover the sight of them making their pilgrimage to the favorite groups of rocks; out of sight, out of mind.
  • dwfxx (signed in using yahoo)

    Are company cleans the beach’s at harbor to river mouth ,and it is very depressing to find needles on the beaches,wine bottles covered in sand,rubbers ect… very dangerous for kid’s to be going down and playing around,and if you go to these beaches then you know that schools take there classes down there daily…just a real bummer the lack of respect so have for this area.
  • Alicia Luster Kuhl · Top Commenter · Stockton, California

    Help the struggling homeless people in that area in a way that provides dignity and hope, and maybe they won’t resort to drugs. I know that area and some of those people need serious help. The city needs help with recognition and focus… All that money in that city and this is happening…FAIL!!!

    Alicia Luster Kuhl · Top Commenter · Stockton, California

    So disgusting the 2nd video made me want to puke. I say help the people making this mess to get a grip on their life. If they refuse, arrest them. This mess is unacceptable.
  • commentssc (signed in using yahoo)

    Don Lane must not know shame. I’d be embarrassed to show my face in this town if I were him. How the eff does this guy keep getting re-elected?
    Someone ought to deliver all of the trash from the clean-up directly to his front lawn.
  • Cheryl LaMorte · Owner at LaMorte Style

    that breaks my heart to see this, I used to bring my kids down there back in the 80`s. Now is this what has happen in the last few years? Can Ibring my grandkids down to the beach to dig for sandcrabs and come up with a needle ? it is going to take more than a clean up of trash.
  • nsite108 (signed in using yahoo)

    We need to reprint Mike Erikson Sr’s 1980s “Troll Buster Shirts” — remember when they sold them at Redwing Shoe Shop downtown and what a stir they made with the psycho city counsel. lol
  • cbrown1389 (signed in using AOL)

    thank you guys for risking your lives cleaning up human waste and dirty needles to keep it off the beaches and ocean! Get off your butts City Council!!!! Supervisor Coonerty!!! Mayor Lane!!!!

    Michele Mathews-Perez · Office Manager at Atwater Tile

    Sad to say but this is an issue that has been a problem for years. Not only are they drug addicts they have mental issues as well.

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