[Hpn] SANTA CRUZ Council Kills Sleeping Ban Reform: HUFF Press Release

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Tue, 04 Jul 2000 06:47:40 -0700 (PDT)


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FWD  1 Jul 2000
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COUNCIL KILLS SLEEPING BAN REFORM:  HUFF PRESS RELEASE

Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom
309 Cedar St. PMB 14B - Santa Cruz, Ca. USA 95060 (831) 423-HUFF fax
(831) 429-8529 e-mail Wmnofstl@cruzio.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Saturday, July 1, 2000

Beiers Buys Bigotry-Backed Ban, Kills Safe Sleep Zones

No Eugene "Tolerance" Model, 750-1500 Left Illegal in City

SCPD and Sheriffs Begin Systematic Harassment of Sleepers


Early Wednesday morning June 27th in the last item of the evening around
1:30 a.m. before an audience of four long-suffering homeless activists,
Council woman Katherine Beiers voted with Rotkin, Matthews, and Hernandez
to legalized overnight sleeping on public property or in vehicles in
industrial areas. Sugar and Fitzmaurice supported Krohn&rsquo;s resolution
to postpone the vote to July 11th, but all refused to advocate for the
zones, direct staff to document the alleged problems, or to put in the
necessary portpotties and dumpsters and work with the newly-formed camper
organization ROAR (Restore Our American Rights) to address problems.

Beiers caved in to an orchestrated series of complaints from a small group
of businesses in the Mission St. and Harvey West areas. Though "safe
sleeping zones" were not up for formal vote on the agenda, Beiers moved to
immediately kill zones, leaving 700-1500 people with virtually no legal
places to sleep, a $54 fine threat, and the increased risk of beatings
from anti-homeless vigilantes. Beiers performance was a virtual replay of
her February 1999 announcement she would not support a legal place to
sleep after three months of hearings because "there's just no place for
them." She, Fitzmaurice, Krohn and Sugar introduced the zones on May 23rd
after years of peaceful civil rights protest from the Santa Cruz homeless
and liberal community in a city where rents are skyrocketing and housing
availability shrinking. The zones would have become law a month after a
second vote.

The zones were a milder version of a more extensive proposal being
circulated for the ballot by David Silva's Campaign to End the Sleeping
Ban and a still stronger resolution from the City's official Homeless
Issues Task Force that the entire Camping ordinance be thrown out, because
of the current shelter crisis and escalation of violence against the
homeless in the City. A December report by SCPD police chief Steve Belcher
found homeless people ten times more likely to be beaten than those
inside.

At Public Comment on June 13th, on Community television on June 15th, and
in a steady stream to the local newspapers, a small but active group of
business owners and workers in the safe zone areas in Natural Bridges
denounced the zones, claiming "feces", "urine", "old mattresses", and
other problems. Though mandated as long ago as March 1999, portapotties
and/or bathrooms had not been installed in the industrial areas. Nor were
they put in place after the First Reading May 23rd, when national media
picked up the news story. Nor did City Manager Dick Wilson respond to ROAR
protests on June 7th and 9th demanding the sanitary facilities be
supplied.

HUFF activist Robert Norse disputed Councilmember Rotkin's claim that
Santa Cruz was the only City in the country to allow homeless people to
sleep legally in vehicles on public property, noting Austin, TX, Atlanta,
GA, and cities in Florida did so by court ruling; and Eugene, OR did so de
facto through a tolerance policy. Videojournalist and Street Spirit writer
Becky Johnson recalled that Rotkin's "magnet" effect had been discredited
as a bigoted myth after dozens of hours of testimony and research by City
Council's own Task Force to Examine the Camping Ordinance back in the
winter of 1998-9.

Johnson also challenged the claim that vehicles had come to town in droves
to sleep on the streets, noting that both sheriffs and SCPD had been
directing local homeless vehicular dwellers to the safe zones before they
were legally opened. City Manager Dick Wilson claimed his staff was "on
the verge of revolt" (over sanitary problems) but declined to document the
supposed mass of problems. Police Chief Steve Belcher did not address
business owner complaints that police were saying they couldn't enforce
the Sleeping Ban (still the law), as well as other laws against
defecating, littering, dumping, & disturbing the peace in the industrial
areas.

Vehicular resident calls to HUFF on 6-29 and 6-30 from irate campers
noted City police were directing people in vehicles to move, even though
no specific complaint had been levied under threat of tow-even though
vehicles were legally parked. Two women parked outside City limits noted
deputies had illegally searched their vehicles and personal effects, then
ordered them to move on, saying that "my sergeant has told me your
vehicles is an eyesore."

Councilmember Hernandez' suggestion that the City purchase a property on
the west-side as an emergency sleeping area was dismissed by Council;
activists noted he made no further attempt to introduce an election-eve
campground proposal.

Silva suggested the police were improperly meddling in politics to keep
the Sleeping Ban as a "convenient tool" to interrogate and move along
homeless people in spite of specific promises made to him in closed
negotiations with Belcher, Sugar, and other staff members. HUFF members,
the public, and the homeless were specifically excluded from these
negotiations and the subsequent "operational implementation group" at the
insistence of Mayor Sugar. At Rotkin's urging, Sugar had Norse removed and
barred from City Council chambers for insisting Sugar stop interrupting
public testimony.

ROAR meets each Sunday at Harvey West Park at Du Bois and H.W. Blvd. At
4:30 PM.

ROAR ASKS YOU TO E-MAIL CITY COUNCIL AND DEMAND THAT DUMPSTERS AND
PORTAPOTTIES BE PUT IN TO THE INDUSTRIAL ZONES WHATEVER THE ATTITUDE
COUNCIL MEMBERS HAVE TOWARD LEGALIZING SLEEPING AT NIGHT FOR THE POOR
OUTSIDE.

PUBLIC SANITATION DEMANDS IT !

END FORWARD