Tuesday Protest at City Hall 2 PM: No Internment Camps Nationally–Restore Survival Rights for Santa Cruz Homeless 809 Center St.

NOTES FROM NORSE:  The Tuesday protest organized by Keith McHenry of Food Not Bombs [FNB] will reportedly be providing muffins and likely provide an outdoor forum with opportunity to speak out on local repression of those on the streets, in the shelters, and in other poverty pimpsky services.McHenry’s own perspective can be read at https://anarchistcook.blog/2024/02/17/yes-they-are-coming-for-the-homeless/ .   The flyer for the protest can be found at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2024/02/27/18863521.php . While the police did threaten  FNB last year when we held a protest at City Hall and prevented us from serving food, they did not interfere in the recent Gaza ceasefire sell-out at City Hall, perhaps embarrassed to bully and steal food in the presence of long lines of people waiting to talk to a deaf Council majority.   HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) is concerned with intensified local, state, and national repressive efforts to broaden police powers to criminalize homeless presence in public spaces, community survival camps under regular attack in Santa Cruz, and a growing disregard for the most basic constitutional of poor folks living outside.  Under cover of “protecting the environment”, “public safety”, and more recently “mental health”, legislators have recently added so-called CARE Courts to the “plead guilty and take your whacks” Homeless and Drug Courts  In spite of the expansion of very limited super-regulated shelters and some housing remaining from the COVID period, Santa Cruz is now harassing and ticketing those whose only home is their vehicle as well as the ground sleepers, who make up the majority of the Santa Cruz homeless.   
City Manager Matt Huffaker’s police under the direction of Police Chief Bernie Escalante drove folks out into the rain trying to take cover in parking structures and illegally used the City’s new Camping Ordinance (MC 6.36) to destroy encampments that have been regular connection points for those providing vital food, shelter supplies, human contact, and mutual support.    Portapotty facilities and wash stations previously somewhat available during the COVID period have been removed.  City workers have bulldozed campsites and seized or trashed property seized, and falsely claimed  (as they have in other cities like San Francisco) that they are providing the shelter and storage facilities required under MC 6.36. 
City Council has scheduled an abbreviated meeting starting at 2:20 p.m. with nothing on its agenda addressing these issues.   As it has with the U.S. support of the advancing genocide in Gaza, City Council has made no demand to stop govt. funding the slaughter, nor looked into its own investments in funding sources that do business with Israeli apartheid.
The protest was announced on short notice (Saturday), so HUFF has had no time to formally meet to endorse it, but I and others will be coming to it and invite you to do the same.   Hope to see you there.
Bathrobespierre Robert Norse  rnorse3@hotmail.com

Stop Felton’s Mountain Community Resource Center Driving Homeless Out Into the Rain

by Robert Norse Tue, Jan 17, 2023 11:26AM Charges of cruel, discriminatory, and unnecessary evictions of unhoused folks into survival-threatening weather at Felton’s Mountain Community Resource Center have prompted this protest. Two fliers describe the situation and ask the community to respond.


Download PDF (431.3KB) Torrential rains and cold temperatures have made this a particularly hard weather for those surviving outside as the San Lorenzo River rises.

HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) has received repeated reports of discriminatory behavior by the management of the Mountain Community Resource Center in Felton. They include denying promised (once-a-week) shower facilities, turning those sheltered under an outdoor awning into the rain, calling sheriffs to harass otherwise peaceful homeless people, and similar actions treating the poor outside like criminals.

We will be responding to these complaints on Thursday morning to urge a change in these practices and to determine the extent of the abuses there.

Say NO to discrimination at the Mountain Resource Center at 6134 Highway 9, Contact Info: Felton, CA 95018 Phone: 831-335-6600 Parent organization: Community Bridges at 831-688-8840 & info [at] cbridges.org For more information: http://www.huffsantacruz.org§Informational Flyer by Robert Norse Tue, Jan 17, 2023 11:26AM


Download PDF (603.7KB) Please download and distribute http://www.huffsantacruz.org
TO DOWNLOAD FLYERS GO TO https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2023/01/17/18853848.php .

RV Human Rights Activists Challenges Santa Cruz City Police Violations

by Reggie Meisler (posted by Norse) (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com) Wed, Jan 11, 2023 7:07PM Reggie Meisler, civil liberties defender of unhoused rights, is waiting for an answer to his January 9th letter to Santa Cruz City Manager Matt Huffaker, Mayor Fred Keeley, Police Chief Rudy Escalante, and the S.C. City Council. Meisler calls for Huffaker to direct his SCPD to stop harassing and uprooting those whose vehicles are their shelter by misusing the “abandoned vehicle” tagging law. City Manager Huffaker, Chief Escalante, Mayor Keeley, and Councilmembers,

I want to bring to your attention an issue that is actively occurring, even during these extreme weather conditions, wherein unhoused folks living in vehicles are repeatedly being given “abandoned vehicle” green tags (See attached photos).

In many cases, folks are actually residing in their vehicle when the green tag is being given and have been parked in said location for less than an hour. I have been told about a couple instances wherein folks literally get out of their vehicle, mid-tag, and the police officer does not offer to rescind the green tag, claiming it was given because “someone called about your vehicle”. In many cases, when a green tag is given, the officer also draws aggressive messages on the vehicle owner’s tires, telling them to “move 1 mile”.

I understand how you could consider this to be some kind of compromise between giving into the bigoted demands of some of our most extreme anti-houseless community members, and what you may view as complete inaction on the issue of actually abandoned vehicles. I think that thought process would feel much more true to me if our officers at least investigated these “Karen calls” and erred more on the side of human survival and harm reduction.

Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. From my own investigation into this situation, we seem to be currently operating under a model of bigoted neighbors calling the police, and then police promptly showing up to harass our unhoused neighbors with inappropriate citations. This is a clear abuse of the law, unjustly harassing and targeting our unhoused residents; and possibly even just people with “ugly” vehicles. Given how these tags are being given out, the effort it would take to demonstrate to a court that this constitutes a lack of even-handed enforcement, would not be difficult. That’s why I’m reaching out to you, please save us the effort.

I would like to give you the opportunity to correct this behavior within the Santa Cruz Police Department before this situation escalates into some kind of legal action against the city.

Thank you,

Santa Cruz City Mangler Closes Civic Auditorium Shelter


by Robert Norse (and Matt Huffaker) (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com) Sun, Jan 8, 2023 2:28PM Yesterday, City Manager Matt Huffaker sent me his first-ever e-mail in response to my denunciation of the closing of the Civic Auditorium Emergency Shelter as torrential rains approach. E-Mail Sent to the Community (including City Manager Matt Huffaker):

LATE FLASH: The Civic Center Flooding and Wet Weather Emergency Pop-Up Shelter—open for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights—is reportedly closing down in spite of 8″ of predicted rain by Monday. A worker reports that folks were ousted at 9 AM on the order of the new Mayor (Fred Keeley), some still unable to secure their property indoors, though staff are within denying entrance (as of 1 p.m. Saturday). 

There is no indication that the Civic will reopen as emergency shelter in time for torrential rains predicted for early next week (as well as showers through the weekend)

So, the City is spending money harassing homeless folks in the rain (see below) but refuses to extend Civic Auditorium shelter in spite of flood conditions. 

City homeless funding is still unaccounted for. 

City shelter programs are inaccessible to the majority of those outside. 

Now, as for the last few years, there has been no drop-in winter shelter as in past years.

The City has refused to fund Brent Adams’ Footbridge Services—causing the only free storage program in town to shut down along with his laundry, women’s support, and other daily services.

To comment on this harsh but typical policy, contact City Mangler Matt Huffaker at mhuffaker [at] cityofsantacruz.com or the new Santa Cruz Mayor ‘Fast Lane’ Fred Keeley
at fkeeley [at] cityofsantacruz.com .

On the Thursday netshow described below there is also a brief interview with Arnie, a Civic Center Shelter occupant on Wednesday night, who reports he was harassed and directed to move along twice by police in the rain, and even threatened when under the parking garage shelter (“be gone by 8”). [Interview at https://www1.huffsantacruz.org/lost/1%20FRSC%201-5-23.mp3 (8 or so minutes into the audio file)]

Mr. Norse,

To be clear, it was my decision, in consultation with our Emergency Operations Center Team, to close the temporary emergency shelter at the Civic Auditorium. While our team, with County support, did tremendous work to stand-up the shelter in short order, the Civic is too large and resource intensive to continue operating over an extended period. I want to recognize the many City staff that proactively worked to outreach to those in flood prone areas prior to the storm.

With that said, we are actively working with the County to stand-up additional warming centers. We will share more details with the community as these resources come online.

Take care, Matt

Matt Huffaker
City Manager
City of Santa Cruz


In response, I sent the following e-mail back:

Thanks for your prompt response, Matt. 

I have many questions regarding the City’s current shelter options and expenses. I’m hoping you’ll be able to direct me to the answers or provide them yourself in the days ahead. My first question, if you have a quick answer, is what was the per night expense of opening the Civic as Emergency Shelter? How does that compare with the total budget you’ve set aside for shelter (or more realistically, police expenses for harassing, citing, and/or arresting those unsheltered outside)? What would persuade you to open the Civic or its equivalent for tomorrow night and throughout the winter as emergency walk-in? What would be required in costs and volunteer labor? 

I ask these questions because they are not theoretical and have a direct impact upon those swept outside and the community generally. And they are, of course, time sensitive.

I’ll be playing your e-mail on tomorrow’s netcast at 9:30 AM on http://www.freakradio.net (archived at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/Lostshows.html ) around the same time. I will add answers you provide to the netcast.

I’m also cc-ing our correspondence to other homeless activists for their thoughts.


So far I’ve heard nothing from him. For more information: http://www.huffsantacruz.org§Belated but Welcome Opening of Emergency Shelter at Depot Park by Robert Norse Mon, Jan 9, 2023 5:09PM


original image (850×1170) I wasn’t able to reach any additional City information at City of Santa Cruz Facebook page at the address mentioned on the attached flyer. However for those who have trouble reading the attached flyer, here is the text:

“Emergency Shelter at Depot Park! Temporary Emergency Shelter opening at 8 PM on Monday January 9, 2023, and operated by Santa Cruz Free Guide. the shelter will be in the Freight Building at Depot Park 119 Center St., Santa Cruz for anyone needing to get out of the rain overnight. This site will be open 8 pm – 8 am through Thursday, January 12th at 8 am.

For current information, see the city of Santa Cruz Facebook page at this address: http://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=santa%20cruz%20city%20government

This half-assed response of an open-during-the-night-only shelter receives some pertinent and scathing comments on the City’s facebook page. Could the City Manager be trying to save face on the cheap?

Correcting the Story: San Lorenzo Benchlands Demolition to begin 9 AM on Tuesday 10-25

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.”

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

Stop SCPD and City Manager Initiated Sweeps of the Benchlands !

Police have begun incremental removal of tent-homes in and around the Benchlands.

This seems in line with City Manager Matt Huffaker’s threat/promise to “demobilize” (i.e. remove) the Benchlands by summer’s end.
HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) will be at the National Night Out at the SCPD Headquarters starting at 3:30 PM Tuesday August 2nd, speaking sense to the community and the cops.
Join us.
More details at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/08/01/18851370.php

Preparing for End-of-the-Summer Sweeps of the Benchlands

HUFFsters:  We did a little tabling downtown yesterday, distributing flyers and circulating petitions encouraging activists to rise up again in support of basic justice for those outside.
We were testing the waters for Pacific Ave. passersby.
The literature challenged the false “all is well–we’ve got shelter & housing for those outside” narrative.

The flyers and petition set out a more truthful counter-narrative.

Our ultimate goal is to provide support for resistance to Benchlands removal at the end of the summer..

TO READ THE FLYERS AND PETITION, GO TO:  https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/07/04/18850863.php .  

Coffee Against the CampCrushers–Monday June 6th through Wednesday June 8th Outside the City Manager’s Office 10 AM – 11:30 AM

Join the Community Truth Squad 

Mid-Morning Coffee Outside the City Manager’s Office 

Demand straight solutions not sugar-coated shit.  

10-11:30 AM Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday June 6th -8th   

City Hall Courtyard 809 Center St.      

Pastries Likely   Spread the Word 

$14.5 Million in “Homeless” Funding?     150 “Beds” for 1000-1500 Outside?   

“Pathway to Housing” Leading Back to the Street?   More Sleeping Tickets? 

July Sweeps of the Benchlands?   “Programs” Treating People Like Prisoners? 

Stop the Waste and the Lies.    Keep Up the Pressure! 

Talk Truth to the Community to Counter City Council’s Crapspeak 

Triple Trouble Tuesday: Trio of Terrible Items Scars Council Agenda

Bad news for buskers, street vendors, and rv-dwellers hits the City Council agenda Tuesday April 12th on items 24, 30, and 31 in yet another “public not wanted” Zoomed meeting.
A “strangle the street vendors” ordinance severely limits street vending, reinstitutes the “stay in your box” space restrictions on Pacific Avenue, and awards special-interest legislation for brick-and-mortar stores and in a return to the old regime

The backward-looking City Council laid out their “undo the Martin v. Boise” decision last summer with the CSSO restored Sleeping/Camping Ban. We witnessed a back-from-the-grave RV ban previously vetoed by the whole Coastal Commission in 2016 last fall. Last month it was the street vendors turn to feel City Council’s bad-spirited backstab. as they slip past the legislature’s 2019 law temporarily cancelling the City’s repressive Downtown and Beach St. ordinances.

Now it’s the turn of anyone involved in a public protest, parade, demonstration, or regular outdoors event to face a “no more Black Lives Matter or Food Not Bombs” events decree.
With the power to permit being the power to destroy, City staff under making a thinly-disguised preemptive strike on the power of people to speak out and walk out against its gentrification agenda.
For more details and to comment, go to https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/04/10/18848984.php