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Community members protesting local laws that criminalize homelessness held their third group campout at Santa Cruz City Hall on July 26. Several dozen people slept in the City Hall courtyard from sunset until the following morning, when they were greeted with a large buffet-style breakfast served by a fresh-faced group. Organizers have more sleep-ins planned for the future, with the next confirmed for Sunday, August 2, again at Santa Cruz City Hall.
Conservation groups have reached an agreement with First Solar, Inc. to provide additional conservation protections to wild lands and wildlife as part of construction of the California Flats Solar Project, a proposed 280-megawatt solar energy project in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. It will affect 2,720 acres of important habitat for a number of rare and sensitive plants and animals. The project site is currently part of the 72,000-acre “Jack Ranch,” which is owned by the Hearst Corporation and currently operated as a cattle ranch.
The California Rodeo Salinas is scheduled to start on July 16, yet the rodeo refuses to change its illegal practice of hiding injuries to animals. In December 2014, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the animal rights group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) against the rodeo for failing to report animal injuries to the state veterinary medical board, as required under California law.
On July 4, community members in Santa Cruz held a public campout at Santa Cruz City Hall, but it was quickly cut short by police at about 1am. The campout was organized in response to the recent reduction of services at the Homeless Services Center that occurred due to a funding deficit, as well as to protest local laws that criminalize sleeping outdoors. At least eight individuals were issued infraction citations for refusing to leave City Hall.
In June, the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury released its report: "Medical Services at the Jails: How Does the Sheriff­ Coroner Manage Oversight?" Since 2012, Santa Cruz County has outsourced its jail medical services to the private for-­profit corporation California Forensic Medical Group (CFMG). The Grand Jury has found that there is, "a lack of transparency and accountability on the part of CFMG and there is insufficient oversight by the Sheriff ­Coroner’s office."
On the 4th of July, community members in Santa Cruz brought messages of peace, justice, and equality to Ocean Street as they greeted visitors entering town for the busy holiday. Every year a variety of groups working on peace and justice issues rally along Ocean Street as thousands of people make their way to the beach and the Boardwalk. Although some very serious statements were communicated by those holding signs at the rally, the atmosphere was generally fun and festive.
The six UCSC students charged in association with the March 3 blockade of Highway 17, where it meets Highway 1 in Santa Cruz, will be back in court on Monday, June 29 and Tuesday, June 30. On June 29 at 10:00am, there will be a hearing in Santa Cruz County Superior Court to finalize their sentence, and on June 30 at 1:30pm there will be a restitution hearing. The students are calling for court support.