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Notes on the Proposed New Improved Downtown Ordinances Reducing Public Space
by Robert Norse
Monday Jan 26th, 2009 10:12 AM
I made an early morning analysis of the proposed Downtown Ordinance changes and found the following gloomy results. Others may find more. The result is a very significant reduction in the amount of space allowed the public to sit, table, perform, or (gasp) sparechange. Naturally this primarily impacts poor and homeless people. And naturally they weren't consulted. Come to the 7 PM meeting Tuesday to watch this done deal go down and raise a few cries of protest.
PANHANDLING FORBIDDEN ZONES EXPANDED

OLD SECTION 9.10.030 (Panhandling locations)
Any person who solicits in any of the following places, or any person who solicits when the person solicited is in any of the following places, is guilty of an infraction: (a) At any bus stop; (b) In any public transportation vehicle or facility; (c) In any vehicle on the street; (d) On private property, unless the solicitor has permission from the owner or tenant; (e) Within fourteen feet of any entranceway into or exit from any building open to the public other than those referenced in subsection (f) of this section. Where any such entranceway or exit is recessed from the public sidewalk, the fourteen feet shall be measured from the point at which the building abuts the sidewalk; (f) Within fifty feet of any bank, savings and loan, or other financial institution buildings, including their outdoor automatic teller machines; (g) In the parking lot of any bank, savings and loan, or other financial institution; (h) Within fifty feet of all cash disbursal machines, outdoor vending machines, outdoor money changing machines, or any other outdoor machine or device which disburses or accepts coins or paper currency, except parking meters and newspaper vending machines; (i) Within fourteen feet of the face of any building not otherwise specifically referenced in this section or within fourteen feet of any fence or other structure separating private property from the public right-of-way, other than cyclone fences between vacant lots and the public right of way; (j) While seated on or leaning against any public bench, planter, monument or other public property; (k) While seated on or leaning against privately owned property without the property owner's or tenant's permission; (l) Within fourteen feet of any crosswalk.


NEW SECTION 9.10.030
(Notes following clarify how far the forbidden zones are expanded. E,H, I,J, L, & M have all been expanded; the code letters are capitalized for easier reference)

Any person who solicits in any of the following places, or any person who solicits when the personsolicited is in any of the following places, is guilty of an infraction:
(a) At any bus stop; (b) In any public transportation vehicle or facility; (c) In any vehicle on the street; (d) On private property, unless the solicitor has permission from the owner or tenant; (E) WITHIN FOURTEEN FEET of any building other than those buildings referenced in subsection (f) of this section. Where any portion of a building is recessed from the public sidewalk, the fourteen feet shall be measured from the point at which the building abuts the sidewalk; (f) Within fifty feet of any bank building or other financial institution buildings, including their outdoor automatic teller machines; (g) In the parking lot of any bank, savings and loan, or other financial institution; (H) Within fifty feet of any ATM machine or cash disbursal machine, or any other outdoor machine or device which disburses or accepts coins or paper currency except parking meters and newspaper vending machines; (I) Within fourteen feet of any fence that abuts a public sidewalk; (J) Within fourteen feet of any drinking fountain, public telephone, public bench, public trash compactor, information or directory/map sign, sculpture or artwork displayed on public property, or vending cart; (K) Within fourteen feet of any street corner or intersection; (L) Within fourteen feet of any open air dining area or café extension; or (M) Within fourteen feet of any kiosk.

Notes: “e” is now expanded to any point along a building's front, not just an entrance or exit...buildings no longer have to be open to the public (or occupied at all)... “h” arguably includes indoor cash disbursal machines... “i” is expanded to include all fences... “j” expands from “seated on” or “leaning against” to “within 14' of” and adds “vending cart”...adds street corners, intersections, open air dining areas, cafe extensions, and kiosks......also maintains the “person solicited” language


THREE INFRACTIONS AND YOU'RE MISDEMEANORED:
The title of the Ordinance is: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SANTA CRUZ AMENDING SECTIONS 5.43.020, 9.30.010, 9.10.030, 9.50.012, 9.50.014, 9.50.020 OF AND ADDING SECTIONS 4.04.015 AND 9.50.013 TO THE SANTA CRUZ MUNICIPAL CODE PERTAINING TO FAILURES TO APPEAR OR POST BAIL IN CONNECTION WITH CRIMINAL VIOLATIONS OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE, NONCOMMERCIAL DISPLAY DEVICES, AGGRESSIVE SOLICITATION, SITTING ON SIDEWALKS AND OCCUPANCY OF PUBLIC BENCHES

BUT THE ACTUAL WORDING OF THE ORDINANCE ITSELF DOES NOT RESTRICT ITSELF TO THE SPECIFIC CODES OUTLINED IN THE TITLE. Notice the wording of the actual ordinance:

4.04.0150 FAILURE TO APPEAR OR POST BAIL.
(a) Any person who, on three occasions during any given six month period, fails to appear in court in connection with a citation issued for a criminal violation of any provision of this code or to post bail in connection with that citation, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
(b) Pursuant to and in accordance with California Penal Code Section 853.8 or, alternatively, California Penal Code Section 1427, whenever a person fails to appear in court or to post bail in connection with a citation issued for a criminal violation of any provision of this code three times within a given six month period, upon the third such failure to appear or post bail a warrant for the arrest of that person shall be issued.


DISPLAY DEVICE (POLITICAL TABLERS, PERFORMERS WITH OPEN CASES)

Section 5.43.020 (d) has been modified: It previously read:
(d) Within ten feet of any drinking fountain, public telephone, or public bench.

The Mathews-Coonerty-Robinson version is now broadened to read:
(d) Within ten feet of any drinking fountain, public telephone, public bench, public trash compactor, information or directory/map sign, sculpture or artwork displayed on public property, ATM machine or other cash disbursal machines or any other outdoor machine or device which disburses or accepts coins or paper currency except parking meters and newspaper vending machines;

It also adds a section:
(g) Within ten feet of any fence that abuts a public sidewalk.


MOVE ALONG SECTION BROADENED BY REDEFINITION
The “Move Along” section 5.43.020(2) has been modified adding the words “police officer” those that are required to warn those who set up the display device. And a new section has been added redefining the word “person” to include 'group of persons' or 'Organization'--reminiscent of the Supreme Court's redefining “corporation” as a person protected, only in this case, it allows police or private parties to discriminate against groups of people and organizations.


FORBIDDEN ZONES FOR INNOCENT SITTING SIGNIFICANTLY EXPANDED
SECTION 5. Section 9.50.012 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code is hereby amended to read as follows:

9.50.012 SITTING DOWN ON PUBLIC SIDEWALKS IN DESIGNATED CITY ZONES.
In the C-C community commercial, C-N neighborhood commercial, C-B commercial beach, CBD central business district, and R-T tourist residential zoning districts, no person shall sit upon the following enumerated portions of a public sidewalk:

(a) At any bus stop; (ADDED) (b) Within fourteen feet of any building. (CURRENTLY IT IS WITHIN 14' OF THE ENTRANCE, EXIT, OR WINDOW) Where any portion of a building is recessed from the public sidewalk, the fourteen feet shall be measured from the point at which the building abuts the sidewalk;
(c) Within fifty feet of any ATM machine or cash disbursal machine, or any other outdoor machine or device which disburses or accepts coins or paper currency except parking meters and newspaper vending machines;
(d) Within fourteen feet of any fence that abuts a public sidewalk; (ADDED)
(e) Within fourteen feet of any drinking fountain, public telephone, public bench, public trash compactor, information or directory/map sign, sculpture or artwork displayed on public property, or vending cart (VASTLY EXPANDED FROM THE PREVIOUS WORDING, WHICH SPECIFIED ONLY DRINKING FOUNTAINS AND PUBLIC PHONES) (f) Within fourteen feet of any street corner or intersection; (ADDED)
(g) Within fourteen feet of any open air dining area or café extension; or
(h) Within fourteen feet of any kiosk. (ADDED)

No Public Body has received any figures on the great Crime Wave that these expanded forbidden zones are supposed to stop. Nor on how much it will cost. Nor on how much has been spent and how effective the older laws have been. Instead of drawing in the folks involved, these laws were cooked up behind closed doors to override and criminalize them. Bad idea. Rushed process. Failed solutions. Backdoor staff, police, and merchant power. More public space converted to private security patrols (where the SCPD becomes the merchant cop force).