Oakland Mayoral Candidate Proposes Homelessness Policy That Makes Sense



NORSE’S NOTES:  Though not a fan of everything Siegel of Oakland does, what he presents below is miles ahead of Smart Solutions, 180/180, the Downtown Accountability Project, or any of the other “rush -em out of sight/drive ’em out of town” policies adopted here in Santa Cruz–from high-frequency noise generators to “security” gates to ID cards to stay-way-from-the-park-even-if-you-haven’t-been-convicted-of-anything orders, to little colored dots on Pacific Avenue setting up the invisble cages in which street performers, vendors, and tablers must confine themselves.
> Dan Siegel Releases Homelessness Policy Paper
> ————————————————————
> September 25, 2014
> Contact: April Thomas, media@siegelforoakland.org, 206.321.3850
> Mayoral candidate Dan Siegel commits to doubling Housing First Investments
> Siegel outlines his innovative and compassionate approach to homelessness (Oakland, CA) – Today, Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel released his 8th policy paper, detailing his agenda on homelessness in Oakland. The paper lays out four areas that Siegel will innovate in his approach to both increasing access to permanent housing and supporting people without shelter in their daily lives:
> Housing First: The simplest strategy is also proven the most effective: give chronically homeless people a home with no strings attached. Siegel
will double Oakland’s current investment in the Permanent Access to Housing program in order to serve twice as many chronically homeless individuals.
> Tiny Houses: The potential of the “Tiny House” movement to address homelessness has been recognized nationwide. These houses, costing as little as $5,000 to build, require minimal amounts of land and need not be connected to the power grid.
> Homelessness is not a Crime: Siegel supports legislative approaches such as California’s Homeless Bill of Rights proposed by Senator Tom Ammiano. If the state is unwilling to outlaw discrimination against homelessness (Ammiano’s most recent attempt died in the legislature in January, 2014), the Siegel administration will propose a similar bill at the city level.   “Oakland must also eliminate any ˜quality of life” laws that make life on the streets more challenging than it already is,” said Siegel.
> Shower Access: The City of Oakland, through its shelters and other facilities, should also ensure that shower and bathroom facilities are available for the homeless during the day, even if it is impossible to provide beds for all each night.
> The full paper can be accessed at http://siegelforoakland.org/policy_papers/DanSiegelHomelessnessPolicy.pdf
> .

> ============================================================
> Paid for by Dan Siegel for Mayor, 2014
> 499 14th Street, Suite 300
> Oakland, CA 94612
> (510) 839-1200

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Council Committee Forwards Bag of Bigotry to Full Council to Rubberstamp What SCPD is Doing Anyway


  on the Public Safety Committee meeting of Tuesday Night by Robert Norse  (See web story above)

Wednesday Jan 30th, 2013 9:13 AM

I spent half my time outside the meeting interviewing folks–interviews to be played Thursday 6-8 PM (some of them anyway).

So I missed the final vote, but it seems from the (often questionable) coverage of the Sentinel that not only did the Public Safety Committee rubberstamp the staff’s homeless-hostile and “more cops, less sanity” hysteria-happy agenda, but the City Attorney on secret vote from the Council

I assume the vote was unanimous, though I won’t be sure until I speak with others who were in the room when it was taken (or when I play the tape on Thursday evening and/or Sunday morning).

Quite slimey was the secrecy of the Committee and other members of the Council (like Micah Posner) who didn’t mention the key fact that the Council directed Posner in closed session to shut down a residential needle exchange site. I assume no one in the crowd was aware of it–though it happened yesterday according to the following Sentinel article.

This kind of “creeping criminalization”, which sounds like it’s out of the playbook of Deputy-Chief Steve Clark, and may be a form of abusive “reefer madness”-style Drug Warrioring which is a real step backwards.

I regret that indybay chose to remove a comment critical of me, whose author was straightforward enough to give his name. I encourage those who are not just trolling, but seriously in dispute, to leave comments on the HUFF website under the comment sections at http://www.huffsantacruz.org .

I also appreciate the support from those who like my reporting.

It’s true I mix opinion and fact in my commentaries–but I don’t hide that fact and don’t apologize for it either. Someday when I grow more skillful (probably never), I may be able to use the “facts speak for themselves” approach.. Trouble is that I feel so strongly about my conclusions, that I always have to stick them in, if not lead with them. Still I think these articles are helpful.

The Sentinel story is at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_22478511/santa-cruz-shuts-down-longtime-needle-exchange-site

Tasty Survival Soup

Chow Down with Tasty Survival Soup

Compliments of Jumbogumbo Joe Schultz of India Joze Restaurant

Tuesday 7 PM December 11th

Outside City Council Chambers 809 Center St.

Last Council Meeting of the Year Ignores Winter Shelter Emergency

Wander inside as the Old City Council pats itself on the back and the New City Council makes speeches and takes office. The Councilthen adjournsto warm beds until January 8th, leaving 90% of the homeless community without shelter and illegal if they make it themselves.

Pamela Comstock, Cynthia Mathews, and Micah Posner take office replacing Katherine Beiers, Tony Madrigal, and Ryan Coonerty during the evening session of City Council.

8-8:30 PM (time uncertain)

Civic Auditorium 307 Church St.

Schmooze with shady politicians & mangling media

Share coffee & snacks across the street in the Civic

Fight the Crackdown, Ticketing, & Property Seizures

Demand A Ceasefire in the Winter War Against the Homeless Community

Demand ACTION to increase shelter this winter, let homeless people legally shelter themselves somewhere, provide legal overnight park-and-sleep places for those in vehicles, and rein in abusive police officers and vigilante attacks.

When the Council takes NO ACTION…

Organize independently for survival and self-defense.

Don’t roll over for brutality and bigotry!

Bring Sleeping Bags, Blankets, Cameras, and Friends.


Flier by Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 423-4833 www.huffsantacruz.org 309 Cedar PMB #14B S.C. 12-6-12

See also “Taste the Tedium & Terror Tuesday” at


The Proposed California Homeless Bill of Rights and Santa Cruz–Preliminary Thoughts

Robert Norse

The California Homeless Bill of Rights, modeled after the Rhode Island bill which passed this summer, is being heralded as a strong step towards ending selective enforcement, anti-homeless laws, and institutionalized Hate Crime. Since Santa Cruz has been a leader in these fields (that is, in laws the pioneer harassing the homeless), will the Bill of Rights impact homeless people on the ground here. The answer is unclear but activists in other cities are hopeful…

cont. at   http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/12/14/18728066.php

Santa Cruz library board delays suspension policy changes

J.M. Brown

Santa Cruz Sentinel:   11/05/2012SANTA CRUZ — The library board agreed Monday to push two controversial issues to its Dec. 5 meeting to get legal advice on a patron suspension policy and replacing a citizen board member.

The proposed patron policy changes allow for staff to suspend someone for up to a year after a series of warnings.

Current rules allow only for a 30-day suspension, after which the next step was to seek a temporary restraining order. Staff now would be able to suspend a patron up to six months or a year after a fourth violation of conduct rules, and there are ways to appeal.

The changes also ban using the library for sleeping. Landers said the rule is not meant to punish those who doze off while reading, but rather those who come to sleep for long periods of time. The new rules also empower staff to remove unattended items, such as backpacks.

The rules also clarify provisions for animals — dogs or miniature horses — that provide emotional support to patrons. The proposed rules would require staff to ask what kind of service or support the animal provides.

Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ellen Pirie objected to the rule, saying the question could violate personal privacy by forcing a patron to disclose a disability.

“I agree you need to ask, ‘Is this a service animal?’ It’s the next step that I’m not sure is wise,” Pirie said.

Landers said identifying the purpose the animal services reduces the city’s liability if the animal injures someone else.

The library also updated the language used on a flier staff can hand to someone who has a strong odor, a piece of paper that on one side urges the person to leave and on the other provides information about free shower and laundry facilities at the Homeless Services Center. The new language tells the person their odor ‘is a violation of our rules of conduct,” a point Landers said interferes with others’ use of the library.

Landers estimates staff hands out a flier once or twice a week at the downtown branch.

Landers said there has been a major improvement in the atmosphere around the branch since the city hired private security guards to patrol the library and City Hall. People have often congregated outside, sleeping, smoking or being loud. There have been problems inside too, including a man staff caught disrobing in the stacks months ago.

Monday, the board also debated the process for replacing citizen Leigh Poitinger, who has represented Santa Cruz. Pirie objected to specifying that a seat be named specifically for the city, saying the library’s bylaws only state that the board’s three citizen seats be geographically diverse.

The board decided to table the matter to get a ruling from the city attorney about a motion passed in 2005 that some believe required city residency for one of the seats.

Farr, others to target funding for medical pot crackdown

Jason Hoppin

Santa Cruz Sentinel:   05/07/2012

Rep. Sam Farr wants to tie the federal government’s hands when it comes to medical marijuana dispensaries, joining an effort to cut off funding for a burgeoning statewide crackdown.

Farr, D-Carmel, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, and Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., are spearheading a bipartisan effort that should hit the floor of the House of Representatives today. During debate on a bill that funds the Department of Justice, the trio are expected to introduce an amendment barring the use of funds to prevent states from implementing medical pot laws.

“It is time for the federal government to stop targeting the legal vendors that are providing safe access to this treatment, and instead focus limited resources on those who sell illicit drugs,” Farr said. “The amendment I will offer with my colleagues will work to assure funds under the Department of Justice do not target the safe access to treatment patients need.”

Jack Gillund, spokesman for San Francisco-based U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, declined to comment.

For months, federal law enforcement officials in California have targeted dispensaries through warning letters and even periodic raids that appeared to target large-scale operations. The crackdown has claimed several renowned dispensaries, which chose to shutter their doors rather than fight on.

Critics say the effort represents a broken promise by President Barack Obama, who previously vowed not to use federal resources on medical marijuana. Obama recently told Rolling Stone magazine his administration doesn’t go after patients, but that it cannot ignore federal law.

About 200 dispensaries have closed across California, including the venerable Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana and the Berkeley Patients Group. Locally, former Mid-County club Crème de Canna, located near a preschool, closed amid speculation that it had received a warning letter from the feds.

Attorney Ben Rice, who represents several local clubs, said the crackdown is being selectively applied, making it difficult for patients everywhere to have access to marijuana.

“You have different readings of the law from one town to the next. The feds get invited from communities where medical marijuana is not welcome,” Rice said. “What we’ve seen happen is some of the really well-organized and patient-based dispensaries have been shut down. You can’t tell me that every single dispensary in Santa Barbara is violating the law.”

Last week, 10 dispensaries in the Santa Barbara area received warning letters from prosecutors. The city of Monterey has passed a moratorium on clubs, while dispensary regulations in Santa Cruz County are suspended due to an ongoing court case.

“Some don’t want medical marijuana around and just call the feds in, and others are targeted because they’re perceived to be hurting law enforcement’s picture,” Rice said. “I think that hurts their narrative. There are some people in law enforcement who still just don’t buy medical marijuana as a legitimate form of medication.”

Though the raids have been criticized by everyone from Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., last week California’s congressional delegation began to push back in earnest. On May 2, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, issued a press release blasting the crackdown.

That is being followed by today’s expected action. Even if the effort to tie the Justice Department’s hands is unsuccessful, Rice praised Farr and Rohrabacher for bringing it forward.

“Absolutely,” Rice said. “It’s really important that they speak up.”

High court upholds jailhouse strip searches

Associated Press
Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 3, 2012

(NOTE: The Sentinel published an edited version of this article. The following is the complete article.)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Jailers may perform invasive strip searches on people arrested even for minor offenses, an ideologically divided Supreme Court ruled Monday, the conservative majority declaring that security trumps privacy in an often dangerous environment.

In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled against a New Jersey man who was strip searched in two county jails following his arrest on a warrant for an unpaid fine that he had, in reality, paid.

The decision resolved a conflict among lower courts about how to balance security and privacy. Prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, lower courts generally prohibited routine strip searches for minor offenses. In recent years, however, courts have allowed jailers more discretion to maintain security, and the high court ruling ratified those decisions.

In this case, Albert Florence’s nightmare began when the sport utility vehicle driven by his pregnant wife was pulled over for speeding. He was a passenger; his 4-year-old son was in the backseat.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said the circumstances of the arrest were of little importance. Instead, Kennedy said, Florence’s entry into the general jail population gave guards the authorization to force him to strip naked and expose his mouth, nose, ears and genitals to a visual search in case he was hiding anything.

“Courts must defer to the judgment of correctional officials unless the record contains substantial evidence showing their policies are an unnecessary or unjustified response to problems of jail security,” Kennedy said.

In a dissenting opinion joined by the court’s liberals, Justice Stephen Breyer said strip searches improperly “subject those arrested for minor offenses to serious invasions of their personal privacy.” Breyer said jailers ought to have a reasonable suspicion someone may be hiding something before conducting a strip search.

Breyer said people like Florence “are often stopped and arrested unexpectedly. And they consequently will have had little opportunity to hide things in their body cavities.”

Florence made the same point in his arguments: He said he was headed to dinner at his mother-in-law’s house when he was stopped in March 2005. He also said that even if the warrant had been valid, failure to pay a fine is not a crime in New Jersey.

But Kennedy focused on the fact that Florence was held with other inmates in the general population. In concurring opinions, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito said the decision left open the possibility of an exception to the rule and might not apply to someone held apart from other inmates.

Kennedy gave three reasons to justify routine searches — detecting lice and contagious infections, looking for tattoos and other evidence of gang membership and preventing smuggling of drugs and weapons.

Kennedy also said people arrested for minor offenses can turn out to be “the most devious and dangerous criminals.” Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh initially was stopped by a state trooper who noticed McVeigh was driving without a license plate, Kennedy said.

In his dissent, Breyer said inmates in the two New Jersey jails already have to submit to pat-down searches, pass through metal detectors, shower with delousing agents and have their clothing searched.

Many jails, several states and associations of corrections officials say strip searches should be done only when there is reasonable suspicion, which could include arrest on drug charges or for violent crimes, Breyer said.

Susan Chana Lask, Florence’s lawyer, said, “The 5-4 decision was as close as we could get … in this political climate with recent law for indefinite detention of citizens without trial that shaves away our constitutional rights every day.”

The first strip search of Florence took place in the Burlington County Jail in southern New Jersey. Six days later, Florence had not received a hearing and remained in custody. Transferred to another county jail in Newark, he was strip-searched again.

The next day, a judge dismissed all charges. Florence’s lawsuit soon followed.

He still may pursue other claims, including that he never should have been arrested.

Florence, who is African-American, had been stopped several times before, and he carried a letter to the effect that the fine, for fleeing a traffic stop several years earlier, had been paid.

His protest was in vain, however, and the trooper handcuffed him and took him to jail. At the time, the State Police were operating under a court order, because of allegations of past racial discrimination, that provided federal monitors to assess stops of minority drivers. But the propriety of the stop is not at issue, and Florence is not alleging racial discrimination.

In 1979, the Supreme Court upheld a blanket policy of conducting body cavity searches of prisoners who had had contact with visitors on the basis that the interaction with outsiders created the possibility that some prisoners had obtained something they shouldn’t have.

For the next 30 or so years, appeals courts applying the high court ruling held uniformly that strip searches without suspicion violated the Constitution.

But since 2008 — in the first appellate rulings on the issue since the Sept. 11 attacks — appeals courts in Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Francisco have decided that a need by authorities to maintain security justified a wide-ranging search policy, no matter the reason for someone’s detention.

The high court upheld the ruling from the Philadelphia court, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case is Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, 10-945.

Jury convicts Santa Cruz man of four counts of illegal lodging

by Jessica M. Pasko
Santa Cruz Sentinel 03/22/2012

SANTA CRUZ – A Santa Cruz County jury has convicted Gary Johnson of four counts of illegal lodging for sleeping on a bench outside the courthouse.

Johnson, 47, was sleeping next to a sign proclaiming that sleeping is not a crime, a reference to the state law against lodging outside. He and his supporters argue that the state is infringing upon his constitutional to protest the law, which they believe persecutes the county’s homeless population.

After a two-day trial, a jury on Thursday morning found Johnson guilty on all counts. He could face as much as six months in jail per charge when he is sentenced next week.

Johnson was arrested four times in December and January after refusing sheriff deputies’ orders to pick up his sleeping bag and move along. Deputy Daniel Robbins testified during trial that Johnson was arrested twice during one deputy’s shift, first about 10 p.m. and then after being released from jail about four hours later.

Johnson was convicted of the same charge last year, a misdemeanor violation of a state law against lodging outside, after the Peace Camp 2010 demonstrations. The conviction is being appealed.

The county in November instituted a curfew prohibiting anyone not on county business from being at the County Governmental Center from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The county’s principal administrative analyst, Dinah Phillips, testified that the action was taken after safety and sanitation problems during the Occupy Santa Cruz demonstrations.

“Poverty continues to be crime,” Ed Frey, Johnson’s attorney, said after the verdict. “The judge narrowed the issues that the jury could consider so severely.”

Frey was precluded from using the necessity defense, a legal defense that under state law argues that criminal conduct took place to avoid an even greater harm. Johnson was protesting the law to protect the rights of homeless who have nowhere else to sleep, he argued. Prosecutors rejected that argument and Frey was not allowed to use it in the trial.

“There is nowhere you can sleep legally if you don’t have a property right, so poverty is a crime,” Frey said.

Judge John Gallagher denied Frey’s request to allow Johnson released from custody pending his sentencing on March 29. Prosecutor Shannon Murphy had argued against Frey’s request, citing Johnson’s history of disobeying the law.

“I’ve been angry for a long time about the way you treat homeless people,” Frey told the judge Thursday.

Man on trial for sleeping on bench outside Santa Cruz County Governmental Center

Santa Cruz Sentinel 03/20/2012

SANTA CRUZ – Trial testimony began Tuesday for a 47-year-old man accused of four counts of illegal lodging for sleeping on a bench outside the courthouse at the County Governmental Center, beside a sign proclaiming that sleeping is not a crime.

County officials and sheriff’s deputies disagree with that statement, however, and Gary Allen Johnson was arrested four times in December and January after refusing deputies’ orders to pick up his sleeping bag and move along.

Johnson was arrested twice during one deputy’s shift, first about 10 p.m., and then after being released from jail about four hours later, deputy Daniel Robbins testified.

Defense attorney Ed Frey asked whether Johnson was obstructing or damaging something. Robbins said he was not.

Johnson was convicted of the same charge last year, a misdemeanor violation of a state law against lodging outside, after the Peace Camp 2010 demonstrations.

He was out of custody pending an appeal when he began sleeping on the bench in December.

After repeated arrests, a judge set his bail at $5,000 and Johnson is being held in County Jail, Frey said.

Frey, 71, said he took Johnson’s case pro bono, because he believes the law is unjust and unconstitutional.

“There is nowhere you can sleep legally if you don’t have a property right, so poverty is a crime,” he said. “People have a right to sleep. Many, many constitutional provisions give that right.”

Frey also said that “lodging” is too vague a description of the illegal behavior.

Prosecutors Shannon Murphy and Judith Jane Stark-Modlin called the county’s principal administrative analyst as a witness.

Dinah Phillips testified that the county in November instituted a curfew prohibiting anyone not on county business from being at the County Governmental Center from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. That action was taken after numerous safety and sanitation problems during the Occupy Santa Cruz demonstrations, she said. Those demonstrators erected a large campsite on city property adjacent to the county buildings and a smaller camping area on the courthouse steps along Water Street.

Several no trespassing signs were posted with the curfew hours, Phillips said.

Frey asked if the county had consulted anyone about the constitutional rights that might be violated by such a curfew, and she said they had, that county counsel had advised them it was within their rights.

Murphy asked sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Freitas, who had warned Johnson, whether Johnson had said he had any purpose for being there other than protesting, or whether he said he did not have anywhere else to go. He did not, Freitas said.

Johnson, a tall, thin man with dark gray hair and a beard, said quietly beside his attorney Tuesday.

Testimony in the jury trial is expected to continue through Thursday, in front of Judge John Gallagher.

Frey said his client could face as much as six months jail time for each of the four violations, if found guilty.