[Hpn] TENT CITY at Santa Cruz City Hall May 18 OR Sleeping Ban on Council Agenda Agenda

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Tue, 16 May 2000 23:10:56 -0700 (PDT)

[I append a related SJM news column to HUFF's Press Release below:]

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, May 12, 2000



Activists from HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) will
resume their Informational Picket in the waiting area of the City Council
at 809 Center Street today Friday May 12th . In spite of commitments to
do so this week, Mayor Keith Sugar has not announced Sleeping Ban repeal
language for the May 23rd agenda. Unless Repeal language is on the May
23rd agenda (released to the public May 18th), HUFF activists and other
supporters will set up Tent City 2000 at City Hall for homeless

On May 8th Sugar, Councilmember Beiers & Councilmember Fitzmaurice
allegedly commited themselves. They reportedly agreed (a) to put the
Decriminalization of Sleeping Zones Initiative circulated by the Campaign
to End the Sleeping Ban (CtEtSB) on the November ballot, & (b) to
immediately suspend the Sleeping Ban provisions of the Camping ordinance
in suitable zones, as provided by the Initiative. In an agreement
witnessed by CtEtSB representative David Silva, HUFF observer Bernard
Klitzner, Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Schmidt, & Homeless
Services Center Director Ken Cole, Councilmembers supposedly promised
these provisions would be put on the 5-23 agenda after a final
housekeeping meeting with City Attorney John Barisone on 5-10.

As of May 12th, no such agreement has been reached. Newspaper accounts
report Councilmember Beiers equivocal, Councilmembers Hernandez, Rotkin,
and Matthews violently critical, and the other Councilmembers largely
silent. Silence does not fulfill the commitment for public advocacy or
putting the promised reforms on the Council agenda. Rumors abound that
the Police Department is exerting pressure on wavering Councilmembers to
maintain a law that they can use as a "useful tool" for searching,
interrogating, and ëmoving alongí whomever they choose.

While some negotiators are still optimistic that a scheduled May 15th
meeting will produce final language, HUFF activists want easily made
political promises replaced with firm public commitments. The community
needs to step up its support for restoring rights to the homeless. There
is legal night-time shelter for less than 5% of the Cityís 750-1500
homeless people. Hundreds face harassment of $54 fines. An unchallenged
SCPD report documents assaults on homeless people last year at a rate of
4 to 12 times that of those indoors. Chief Steve Belcher has still not
released the most recent statistic documenting violence against the
homeless that has sent at least three men by airlift to Stanford Medical
Center in the last six weeks. The Homeless Issues Task Forceís final
report recommends abolition of the entire Camping Ordinance, not just the
Sleeping provisions, so activists have already compromised themselves.

Homeless people are increasingly angry and upset over vigilante
assaults and police harassment. Sleep is a life-sustaining and innocent
behavior. It must be made legal. HUFF is asking human rights supporters
to support Tent City 2000 at City Hall unless Sleeping Ban Repeal is on
the May 23rd agenda as promised. City Hall is central, highly visible,
well-lighted, and near public services. With police patrolling nearby,
"trollbuster" beatings are unlikely. Call 831-423-4833 to help with
tents and blankets.

(end of original message)

You can view this message and the related discussion by following this link:


FWD  San Jose Mercury News / Tuesday, May 16, 2000, in the


Mercury News Staff Columnist

     TALK ABOUT LIVING in an ivory tower!

     Most Santa Cruz City Council members sound and act like they never get
out of City Hall to go and talk with just plain folks in our neighborhoods.
Instead of finding out what the majority of their constituents want and
believe, these city pooh-bahs seem isolated. They seem to get all of their
information and input not from the neighborhoods but from the small claque
of loudmouths who dominate council meetings.

     The loudest are those few self-important individuals who have for
years harangued the council demanding repeal of laws banning sleeping in
public. They call themselves ``homeless advocates.''

     I call them bums.

     They are people who think the world owes them a living -- because
they're thinking through an alcoholic or drug-induced haze, or are just
plain lazy. They prefer the free-roaming and responsibility-free life.

     They aren't looking for a place to live. They want to sleep in their
cars, wherever they want. They want to sleep in the bushes down the street.
Now the city council seems poised to give them what they've been demanding.

THERE are many folks here in unfortunate circumstances who need and deserve
our care, compassion and financial help. Just as there are some truly needy
homeless people, there also are field hands and their families who can't
afford food or decent housing.

     The truly homeless, as far as I'm concerned, are those who through
unfortunate circumstances have lost their homes and are looking for
someplace to live. They may have medical conditions or weaknesses that make
it difficult to pay the rent, but they want to.

     Anyone with no place to sleep deserves shelter. But when they sleep in
front of your house or business, there's a good chance they're also going
to relieve themselves and toss their trash out there as well.

     If that's what you want, you'll enjoy tonight's expected city council
vote to put repeal of the camping ban on the November ballot -- and to
order the cops to stop citing people in the meantime for sleeping in their
cars or in the bushes.

     Council members are apparently under the mistaken impression that
everyone in town thinks this is a good idea. They are going to find out
differently in November!

     Meanwhile, by putting the anti-sleeping law on the November ballot,
the council is also giving a shot in the arm to the ballot measure that
would have future council members elected by district.

     Presently, all councilmen and councilwomen are elected citywide.

     District elections, local conservatives believe, would break the lock
that liberals -- who call themselves progressives -- now have on city

     The truth is, electing council members by district might get a couple
of more moderate members on the body, but progressives would still win in
most parts of town.

     Santa Cruz voters may be liberal but are not going to vote to allow
derelicts to sleep willy-nilly around the city. And I suspect that many of
those same neighbors who'll go to the polls to vote to uphold the camping
ban will also vote for district elections.

IN FACT, I also suspect they'll be the kind of voters who will cast ballots
for challenger Kate Canlis instead of appointed incumbent District Attorney
Ron Ruiz, the darling of local progressives.

     The Santa Cruz City Council has never hesitated to reload and fire
again after shooting itself in the foot. But how much ammo can they have
left in their bandoleers

      By catering to the bums, beggars, winos and slackers who want to
sleep in public, the city council is not only doing nothing to help the
truly homeless, it's encouraging voters who favor district elections to
show up at the polls.

     There's a lot of hubris at City Hall. Many council members treat the
opinions of our town's non-activists who live and work -- and vote -- in
Santa Cruz as though they don't count.

     They will learn differently come November.


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