Santa Monica, CA: homeless action Update (POST fwd)

Tom Boland (
Sun, 29 Nov 1998 22:10:41 -0400

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 08:25:14 -0800 (PST)
=46rom: forrest curo <> (by way of (Becky
Subject: Santa Monica Update (POST fwd)

The Busch story is followed by a dialogue between David Busch and San Diego
homeless editor Forrest Curo of Street Light.   --R. Norse

>Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 21:23:36
>Subject: Santa Monica Update

>Homeless activist David Busch has been working as a volunteer to help
elect a liberal majority to the Santa Monica City Council. The effort was
successful, but the city's prosecution machinery is still working to jail
him for his part in a peaceful demonstration earlier this year.
>On February 3, in Santa Monica Municipal Court, Busch faces trial and a
possible six month jail sentence for pitching a symbolic tent in front of
Santa Monica's City Hall. He was demonstrating against that city's housing
policies, which are similar to those of other California cities where the
incomes of major property owners and developers take precedence over housing
for poorer residents.

>Busch, a local Food Not Bombs organizer who coordinates a weekly homeless
meal and sleeps on the street, insists that "No one slept or even sat in the
tent. I was protesting against the destruction of our local rent laws, and
the growing lack of affordable housing, which is a problem all over Southern
California." Busch, along with three others, was arrested and charged with
violating a controversy-ridden city ordinance which declares it illegal "to
erect a tent in a prohibited public place...for the purposes of living

>The tent, sitting on the City Hall lawn with a sign reading: "This is
NOT `Camping' BUT is SURVIVAL!" was obviously meant to carry a message,
not to serve as "living accommodations." But Santa Monica City Attorney Norm=
Waggoner threatened to ask for the maximum six months penalty if Busch
didn't accept the offered plea bargain. Busch says: "I will not
plea-bargain! I may be doing my next calls from jail."

>This is not the first confrontation between Busch and Santa Monica
>officials over homeless issues. Last November, in a widely publicized
>protest, Busch was arrested along with a small group of community organizer=
>led by a City commissioner, Jennafer Waggoner (no relation to the City
>Attorney), in the city's biggest police raid of the year--when 40 police
>arrested 5 people for housing 60-plus homeless people for a week in the
>abandoned Flamingo Motel. The activists agreed to perform community service
>over last year's controversy, and completed it, but Busch, who has been
>advocating with Waggoner and others to increased services for homeless
>residents, believes the current charges are retaliatory--and intended to
>stifle his opposition to a new development wave planned to wash over the
city soon.

>Says Busch, Santa Monica is an almost obscenely wealthy city. "This
town, for over four years now, has been almost totally taken over by a cabal
of development interests and local trojan-horse politicians, who want to
suck up Southern California's tourist bucks and pretend like they're too
good to
deal with the real poverty in the rest of L.A. 4% of the City Budget would
shelter every homeless person in Santa Monica, but current subsidies for
low-income housing have been cut by developer-pandering. 2% of the City
Budget is all it will take to protect every HUD subsidized apartment for
the next two years," but the previous City Council was unwilling to put the
money to that use. Their contribution to the housing problem was to
dismantle the city's
20-year-old rent control laws, as of January 1. "According to state studies,=
least one in seven working people can't find affordable housing. Because of
luxury developers, poor people in Santa Monica are losing their homes right
now and the fixes are all only temporary. Where do they expect people to liv=

>It's nothing but greed. January 1 is coming and If people think that the
recent election means that our problems here are solved, they need to look
again. We really need some actions--not just promises. It's obscene. If
going to jail for six months brings out the truth, then it's a good thing."
City officials have already offered Food Not Bombs/Homes Not Jails $400
in compensation for breaking up a prior demonstration at the Civic Center.
This latest incident took place just two days before the widely-publicized
Enis Cosby murder trial was set to begin in Santa Monica, with the
demonstrators potentially in sight of world-wide news media.

>Busch is hopeful about Santa Monica's future. "I was put in charge of
recruiting volunteers for the election and I was told that as a homeless
person working to protect renters I was making a statement. I did some work
for Boxer but mostly for Santa Monica City Council candidates, and our side
WON! We've re-elected a LIBERAL majority to City Council in one of the
biggest renter turnouts in history. (Included was getting a second Green
Party candidate on City Council--He even got the endorsement of the rank
and file organizations representing the city's police and firemen.) But of
course the fight for homeless rights in tourist towns is just beginning."
>David, how about some clarifications?
>> Food Not bombs is doing a vegan thanksgiving for homeless people with a
>>benefit concert from a San Francisco band and I'm still in civil court on
thelawsuit against Ralph's.
>A  Santa Monica Attorney Carol Sobel sucessfully defended me in LA
Superior court against an arrest last year by a Ralphs Store Mgr.  =ECWho
claimed that I harrased customers and blocked the doorway.=EE while simply
asking for donations for Making Change (the Santa Monica homeless paper).
>Because we presented evidence that other petitioners were allowed even
closer to the door than I was (they were from a right-wing religious
fanatic group called =EBteen-challenge=ED) and because the store Mgr could n=
find one customer to complain against me, the case was thrown out.  Carol
is now sueing  Ralphs on my behalf for false arrest for $25,000.  we are in
pretrial motions on this.
>> Busch states that a city police officer inspected the tent on June 12,
>>the morning of his arrest, at a demonstration in front of the Santa Monica
>>City Hall.

>>Busch states that "The City clearly and grossly violated our first
Amendment right to protest that day." City Attorney Norman Waggoner offered
him a "deal" if he pled guilty to the charge of "camping"
>so-called deal of letting me do 20 hrs of community service plus 1 year of
probation for exercising my 1st amendment right to protest.
>What charge, what deal?
>>, and if I have to, I will go to jail rather than be viciously bullied in
>>any plea-bargain threat from a city of basic human rights violators.
>We've had some nasty examples down here--in a recent case the prosecutor
>ADDED a charge because some young demonstrators wouldn't roll over. (Isn't
>that illegal, if we can prove that's why he did it?)
>I am almost sure this is illegal, but I'd have to look it up
>>This is happening while some of the regional studies on housing have
>>literally been frightening.
>Please give examples.
>1996 USC study says that 1 in four people in Los Angeles are living more
than one to a room, including
>livingrooms, kitichens and dinning rooms.
>A widely publicized regional study from the =ED80=EDs projects 2020 populat=
in LA metropolitian area will be 25 million  (currently 14 million)  it
predicted widespread housing shortages and actual third world style shanty
towns will result.
>>Officials have already formally offered Food Not Bombs / Homes Not Jails
>>in compensation for breaking up a prior demonstration at the Civic Center.
>When--demonstrating for what?--police rationale/excuse for breaking it up?
>Its a long story, demo was in May, to support you guys.
>It's interesting that you've got a new, non-developer dominated(?--so far)
>majority. But the City persecution-machinery is still trying to chew you up=
>Maybe I'll rederange the piece around that aspect(?)

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