Community members continue to protest La Playa Carmel owner Sam Grossman's refusal to rehire the workers who were laid off in 2011 when the hotel was closed for a remodel. La Playa Carmel re-opened in 2012 and only three of the former workers, who were all union members, were hired back. At the holiday rally held on December 20, a former worker named Sergio said, "I miss working here. I worked for 23 Christmases in this restaurant, and the last three I haven't worked."
On December 25, Christmas Day, Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs served a free vegan holiday meal to hundreds of community members outside of the downtown post office. Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry helped organize the meal, and he has reported that many of FNB groups across the country would be sharing vegan meals during the holidays this year in response to an increased need due to new cuts in food stamps and an extreme reduction of access to food during the holiday season.
Food Not Bombs founder Keith McHenry was in Santa Cruz to give a presentation at Santa Cruz's Resource Center for Nonviolence. When he heard that no free Christmas meal was planned this year in downtown Santa Cruz, he decided to hang out and organize one. McHenry says they're planning on feeding up to one thousand people at the December 25th meal.
Friends and family from coast to coast are mourning the loss of 28-year-old Anthony Messer, who died in Santa Cruz on the evening of December 2. Anthony was well known across California as a veteran of the U.S. military, a political activist, a traveler, and a generally friendly person who exuded positivity. Funeral services were held for him on December 9 in Chipley, Florida.
The recent sub-freezing weather has prompted community members in Santa Cruz to mobilize around the creation of “warming stations”. Warming centers for the homeless could open during the overnight hours when temperatures drop drastically. An ad hoc group calling themselves Residents for a Coldest Nights Warming Center was formed, and they held a meeting to continue the discussion on December 22.
On the shopping "holiday" known as Black Friday, protesters positioned themselves in various locations at the Capitola Mall to raise awareness about SodaStream, a company with a factory built on illegal Israeli settlements located on occupied Indigenous Palestinian lands. Santa Cruz community members wore black and held large banners that read "Boycott SodaStream."
Steve Schnaar writes:
"The Santa Cruz Public Safety Task Force has completed their work and is presenting their recommendations to City Council on Tuesday, December 3rd at 7pm. The recommendations include some positive, proven ideas like funding drug treatment and after-school youth programs. However the report also recommends ideas which are not evidence-based, such as misdemeanor charges for multiple infractions, restricting the needle exchange program, and increasing the size of the police force based on sloppy statistics."