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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Police State and Prisons

The City of Santa Cruz Wages Campaign Attacking Homeless Camps
by Brent Adams
Thursday Aug 23rd, 2012 8:21 PM
For 6 weeks the City of Santa Cruz has Cited more than 300 people and has demolished dozens of camps trashing personal property.
No alternatives have been created.
busted_camper.jpg
busted_camper.jpg

Its summertime in Santa Cruz and its good vibes all around, unless you are sleeping outside.
Since early July the Santa Cruz Police Department has been attacking homeless camps and trashing personal belongings while they write hundreds of citations, arrest dozens of the most vulnerable people in town and destroy more than 100 campsites.
In the first six weeks of this program police and parks officers have racked up quiet a destructive tally and have ruined the lives of many who’re struggling at the bottom of the economic strata.

More than:
300 citations have been issued.
120 Arrests have been made.
170 Camps have been marked for removal
70 camps have been removed and all contents have been disposed of.

The warm climate attracts a million tourists who flood the beach and downtown, but as the economy tanks, more people are unable to make rent and jobs are less plentiful. More people compete for fewer jobs while restaurants and motels bustle with out of towners living the good life, or whats left of it.

In this self described liberal beach town its illegal to sleep outside between 10pm and 8am when parks close and the open spaces in the green belt surrounding town shut their doors to visitors. Some of the wooded areas have been closed indefinitely. To maintain a more stable existence out of the eyes of townsfolk, people who’ve lost their homes often take refuge in the wilds of the woods and the river levee.

As one who has been without housing before, I know its a very cumbersome existence. Some people carry possessions in a backpack or even on a set of wheels while others have found space off the beaten path to store items so they aren’t so identifiably houseless and can move around with more ease. For many, the problems are manifold. Just as it is with the “housed” population, some homeless folks have problems with drugs, alcohol and mental issues. Some are chronic abusers who need social services and the compassion of the community as they live their lives out of doors.

The police and city parks department have been running a “pilot program” to eradicate these camps and those who inhabit them. Community members have expressed distaste for these camps at City Council Meetings and while city leaders fail to address the problem of lack of shelter for these people, they clearly are eager to trash tents and the temporary makeshift homes they’ve created for themselves.

Folks who have lost everything and have no other options than to camp in the dark areas of town can begin to accumulate citations. When in this downward spiral, it is difficult to make it to the courthouse to address the citation. Police have compiled a list of 130 people who have more than 3 citations that have not been dealt with. Warrants for their arrest been issued. This doesn’t help the individual who is already suffering from economic and social problems, it only makes it worse.
Police claim they put people who’re camping in the woods in touch with social services and that may be somewhat true, but what kind of help is it to a person who is facing arrest just for survival camping?

Police are obligated to keep the personal belongings they find for 90 days before trashing them, but in these sweeps they trash belongings immediately. Many have lost important personal documents, irreplaceable keepsakes and the basics of survival to the dumpsters of the police department. This is a very dispiriting experience and it can be difficult to recover from.

There really is no place for these people to safely and legally sleep. There are not nearly enough beds in the emergency shelter that opens in the winter for folks who need them and once it closes in early spring, there is a woefully insufficient number of beds for even the most desperately homeless folks who need help because of failing health, old age or other issues.

In June, the city and county began the Homeward Bound Program which offers homeless folks a free bus ticket out of town. Nearly 400 people have taken the agencies up on the offer. The program costs $25,000 and seeks to simply rid the local area of the homeless people by sending them to other areas.

For a community that considers itself as compassionate and liberal, conducting sweeps of homeless encampments, arresting people and trashing personal belongings seems anything but helpful.
While there is no shelter available and its illegal to sleep outside at night, the only thing that the city of Santa Cruz is really offering these folks is a free bus ticket out of town.

§Photo Information: Karen Ellfson in San José
by Source: Metro Newspapers Thursday Aug 23rd, 2012 9:52 PM
Karen Ellfson says she will be ready when the city clears her camp from Guadalupe River, but she doesn’t know where she will go.

A slap shot from HP Pavilion, through Guadalupe Park and into the neighboring creek bed, a rooster makes its home. He lives among shopping carts, deflated tire tubes and toilet paper rolls, empty beer cans and coolers, a Negro Modelo sign lodged in the fresh mud and a half-dozen people who spend their nights sleeping in tents.

Karen Ellfson is one of these people. She lives here with her husband. At 30 years old, a month shy of her next birthday, the Morgan Hill native knows that in two weeks she’ll need to find a new home. She’s one of several dozen homeless people with targets on their backs.
§Still No Response
by Robert Norse Friday Sep 7th, 2012 1:02 PM
Mayor Don Lane (also Head of the Board of Directors of the Homeless [Lack of] Services Center) has still not responded to either my request for a follow-up forum on HLOSC polices re: the disabled, and due process for all clients there. He has not responded to Sandra Leigh of Community TV's request either, as far as I know.

I've also invited Don to come to the Candlelight Vigil Against the Crackdown For those who want to leave him a message and arrange for an appointment to chat, call 420-5022.

Hopefully he can then explain how the City's current policies and how they help the safety of the community and respect the rights and dignity of the homeless population.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Anonymous Poster
Thursday Aug 23rd, 2012 9:51 PM
Well said.
by Robert Norse
Friday Aug 24th, 2012 7:19 AM
BACKGROUND

About a decade ago when HUFF [Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom] members were working on several lawsuits to overturn the Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010a), Blanket Ban (MC 6.36.010b), and the Camping Ban (MC 6.36.010c),I had numerous occasions with the enforcement arm of the Parks and Recreation Department. At that time enforcement was centered in the hyper-active Ranger boss John Wallace, who was quite proud of his despoiling of homeless campsites in the Pogonip and the smaller parks.

He blandly, candidly, and baldly asserted that the policy of Parks and Recreation was to post campsites, and then send in Labor Ready crews a few days later to destroy anything still there--a clear violation of both state law and the federal Constitution. State law requires property to be held for 2-3 months. The federal courts in the 2007 Kinkaid case held that homeless property can't be destroyed, but must be stored and fined Fresno over 2 million dollars for not doing so. Hence Santa Cruz City policies are both unconstitutional and illegal.

It would be helpful for those with video cameras or other devices to determine the schedule of the Labor Ready crews and attempt to follow them around and document the destruction, if that is still continuing. This is what led three law firms to successfully pursue the Fresno case--video and audio documentation as well as homeless testimony.

A complication here is that the City has taken to declaring "forbidden" "no go" zones--supposedly to facilitate reforestation, but actually, it seems clear, to both drive away homeless people from these areas and/or prevent any public documenting and protest of what is happening there. This is a reflection to some extent of the courthouse curfew crackdown on the Occupy movement (which involved the unilateral and due-process-free posting of "No Trespassing 7 PM - 7 AM" signs all around the County Building and Courthouse).

Boss Ranger Wallace was apparently replaced several years ago, so I tried to get the current policy with the following e-mail:

E-MAIL TO DANNETTE SHOEMAKER REQUESTING HOMELESS PROPERTY PROTECTION POLICY

Hi again, Dannettee:
Please make available for viewing or provide electronic copies of any and all documents, videos, audio, e-mails, etc. relating to the posting of signs at City Hall limiting the hours there (done in August or September of 2010).
On a second matter, please make available any and all P & R communications, e-mails, and other documents regarding the campground in San Lorenzo Park between October 4, 2011 and December 10, 2011. Please be sure that you are thorough in providing all documents.
Please provide this information in electronic form wherever possible.
Also make anything not available electronically available for viewing so that I can decide which I need to copy.
Much thanks in advance. Feel free to call me if you have any questions. Robert (423-4833)


Dannettee Shoemaker, head of the Parks and Recreation Department, who makes over $200,000 a year, replied:

From: dshoemaker [at] cityofsantacruz.com
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2012 15:16:28 -0700
Subject: RE: Public Records Act Request

Hi Robert
I have forwarded both of your requests to the City Clerks Department as that Office processes PRR



Dannettee
Dannettee Shoemaker
Director of Parks and Recreation
831-420-5279 ph 831- 420-5271 fax
dshoemaker [at] cityofsantacruz.com
323 Church Street Santa Cruz CA 95060


More than a month later, the City Clerks Department has failed to reply.


CORRESPONDENCE WITH MAYOR (AND BOARD MEMBER OF THE HOMELESS [LACK OF] SERVICES CENTER) DON LANE

I also sent several inquiries to Mayor Don Lane, particularly since his recent defense of discrimination out at the Homeless Lack of Shelter Services Center has prompted a public controversy:

From: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
To: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Subject: Follow-Up Interview
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2012 19:31:05 -0700

Don:
I'm looking for a follow-up interview on a number of issues, particularly relating to the current crackdown on homeless camps. When is a good time to get together?
Can you provide me with the specific policies of the P & R regarding how long and where they keep homeless property their Labor Ready crews pick up??

Thanks, Robert


From: Robert Norse [mailto:rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2012 3:21 PM
To: Don Lane
Subject: FW: Follow-Up Interview

Don:
Last week I requested a follow-up interview around some of the matters we discussed informally at Community TV. I was also asking for a clear statement about what Parks and Recreation does with the homeless property that it seems to be trashing in violation of state law. Can you please advise me on both of these requests? (I've reprinted the e-mail below for your convenience.)
Additionally, a Berkeley City Councilmember is putting forward a resolution urging the California Legislature adopt the California Homeless Bill of Rights on the model of Rhode Island. I've been receiving multiple reports of police and ranger stepped-up harassment of homeless people over the last two weeks. Are you interested in presenting such a proposal?
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Clerk/Level_3_-_City_Council/2012/07Ju/2012-07-24%20Item%2012%20California%20Homeless%20Bill%20of%20Rights.pdf
Please let me know.

Thanks, Robert


LANE'S REPLY & THE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

From: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2012 15:28:08 -0700
Subject: RE: Follow-Up Interview

Hi Robert
Here is the info from the Parks Dept staff: I confirmed with staff this morning that If items found in an illegal camp site have value, they are stored through PD. If it’s contaminated, we do not store it, it is taken to the landfill. Parks and Recreation does not store anything. We use SCMC 2.24 as a guideline as well.
I think I will again decline your request for an interview… I think I explained my reasons the last time you requested an interview.
I’ll read up on the homelessness bill of rights

Thanks

Don
Don Lane
Mayor
City of Santa Cruz
831-420-5022


Lane's reply does not answer the question of what Labor Ready crews (who are not connected with the SCPD) do with the homeless survival gear except apparently to confirm that there is no policy for them to store usable and/or valuable property in the camps. The City Code section cited also refers only to the SCPD, which is not involved in these clean-up's.

Accordingly I just sent Mayor Lane this letter:

From: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
To: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
CC: dshoemaker [at] cityofsantacruz.com; blehr [at] cityofsantacruz.com; npatino [at] cityofsantacruz.com; spleich [at] gmail.com; mmartinez [at] scshelter.org; jpasko [at] santacruzsentinel.com; dan.woop [at] gmail.com; walkabouting [at] yahoo.com; edwinfrey [at] hotmail.com; jonathangettleman [at] yahoo.com
Subject: Some Questions and Renewing A Public Records Act Request
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2012 07:13:32 -0700

Don:
About a month ago, I requested a Public Interview to discuss the Public destruction of homeless survival camps in a city without any shelter or safe zones for the overwhelming majority of the 1000+ homeless people in City Limits. You declined without giving any substantial reasons. I am renewing this request.
You also forwarded the SCPD policy for addressing homeless property taken. I need you to confirm or deny that this is what the Parks and Recreation Department also does, because earlier reports have indicated that Labor Ready crews simply destroy and/or landfill homeless camps already posted for removal.
I made a Public Records Act request over a month ago to Dannettee Shoemaker, which she supposedly forwarded to the City Clerk's office. They have not responded. Please advise me ASAP what's going on here. I am renewing the Public Records Act below and asking why the City has been delinquent in its response.
Numerous homeless people have been telling me not only have they been awakened, harassed, and cited in the middle of the night and told to "move on" with no legal place to move to, but they have had their property destroyed by these government-funded vandals.
As a Board Member of the Homeless (Lack of Shelter) Services Center, I would think you have a particular concern about this issue. I would also draw this conclusion from numerous remarks you made on being installed as Mayor.
Could you also advise me of the posted and written polices of the HLOSC (what you would term the "Homeless Services Center") that constitute the "rules" for being on the HSC property and programs, what the procedures are for exclusion from the property and/or programs, and what the appeal process is?
Regarding the Waiting List for the Paul Lee loft. Being on it, under the 2010 amendment to the Camping Ordinance, supposedly assures dismissal of all MC 6.36.010 citations (though not apparently the more numerous MC 13.04 citations that the SCPD blog cites as now being the tool of choice for harassing homeless people). What will be the status of this list when the Paul Lee loft program is filled with people from Page Smith during the Page Smith reconstruction period? Will homeless shelter-seekers still be allowed to sign-up for the list, even though there will be no spaces available?
Finally, renewing a request for information made several years ago which you repeatedly deflected, does the HSC issue receipts on request documenting one's status of being on the list? Does it issue letters indicating that its shelter program was full for those not on the list, but who have gotten tickets, and request documentation to get their tickets dismissed at court under the necessity defense? Is there a person present at night at the shelter who will advise police, clients, and any other member of the public, whether there is still actually space there?
Thanks in advance for your speedy reply.

Robert
(423-4833)


by the anteater
Friday Aug 24th, 2012 10:02 AM
Cuz of tha attack on tha houseless.. no bathroom open for people at night fot example.. iv gotten sick while helping my houseless friends and iv stayed sick for 3 months.. the city is not helping the germ problum by not providng bathrooms and showers.. I have had 3 months to feel the daily effect that witch trile bigotry has had on this "modern" community....
by Robert Norse
Friday Aug 24th, 2012 8:06 PM
I received this prompt, if somewhat cranky, cc from Mayor Don Lane today.


From: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2012 16:15:33 -0700
Subject: RE: Some Questions and Renewing A Public Records Act Request

Hi Dannettee

Wading through all the BS below… can you confirm that the Parks Department follows the same procedures as SCPD for campsite property removed.

Thanks

Don


The "BS below" is my e-mail to Lane posted in a prior comment.
Don Lane Mayor City of Santa Cruz
831-420-5022



Those who have questions or have had other experiences might want to call him and report on their discussions.
by Robert Norse
Friday Aug 24th, 2012 9:24 PM
In search of more specifics, I wrote back to Don Lane:

From: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
To: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Subject: RE: Some Questions and Renewing A Public Records Act Request
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2012 20:09:31 -0700

Don: Thanks for the prompt (if salty) response.

Perhaps you can clarify what exactly you regard as erroneous, exaggerated, or untrue in my last e-mail (the "B.S." in other words). Otherwise a casual reader might assume you are simply dismissing substantive criticisms with empty abuse.

Robert

P.S. You're still welcome to come clean in an interview, though perhaps you'd find it more appropriate to do that in public at the upcoming forums before a larger crowd.


I encourage any and all to demand answers of Lane, City Manager Martin Bernal, Police Chief Kevin Vogel, and Parks and Recreation Czarina Dannettee Shoemaker, just where they expect homeless people to go when rousted. Becky Johnson and HUFF have called for an immediate suspension of the Sleeping Ban--particularly urgent, given the new high-profile crackdown on people--many of them disabled with no alternatives.

Lane's e-mail is as above. His office phone is 420-5022.
by Casey Livingood
Saturday Aug 25th, 2012 2:16 AM
From: kclivingood [at] hotmail.com
Subject: RE: [huffsantacruz] City Officials Mum on SCPD Homeless Scorched Earth Policy in Santa Cruz
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2012 10:20:59 -0700

Perhaps still backlash from the murder of business-owner Shannon Collins? While Don Lane advises people to treat those without homes with more compassion, under his mayoral term there is one of the least compassionate actions taken.

Whether it's Lane's limitations as just one of seven city councilmembers or his lack of courage to stand up and do what is right, this disgusting act of violence toward those most vulnerable plunges into history pages.

Using legislation, police, courts, jails and municipal funds, we find ourselves spending more on "cleaning up the streets" than it actually would cost to provide service-enriched housing, at least 5 times as much. Empty buildings remain vacant, shelter lines prolific, sleeping/camping outside illegal, sitting banished and politicians angry; spells bad news for homeless people anywhere.

If housing can't be provided, these people, rather than sleeping anywhere, should be able to sleep somewhere.
~Casey
by Robert Norse
Saturday Aug 25th, 2012 12:29 PM
Don Lane, Mayor of Santa Cruz, is running for relection in the midst of a relentless campaign to criminalize and disperse homeless people engaged in necessary survival camping activity, who have no other shelter options.

Admittedly, Lane is probably not the initiator of this campaign. More likely the whisperword comes from Vice-Mayor Bryant, Councilmembers Robinson, Coonerty, and Terrazas and is then broadcast forward via City Manager Bernal to Police Chief Kevin Vogel.

Still Lane voted for the expanded anti-homeless laws in 2009 (one making three unattended infractions a misdemeanor, another making every subsequent unattended infraction a new misdemeanor--punishable by up to six months in jail and $1000 fine). He has taken no stand against the last six weeks of SCPD attack on homeless encampments.

Lane is running for reelection and needs to be held accountable for these decisions and others regarding treatment of clients at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center, whose Board of Directors he's been on for some time.

For the last three months, he has refused my repeated invitations to be interviewed on these issues.

I received the following e-mail from Don Lane today, regarding our prior conversation reported in an earlier comment above:


From: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Date: Sat, 25 Aug 2012 11:48:12 -0700
Subject: RE: Some Questions and Renewing A Public Records Act Request

Robert

Every time you refer to the HLOSC, I consider it BS.
I will continue to decline your request for an interview. Obviously, you are welcome to continue your advocacy work in whatever legal means you see fit but I think your style of conducting that advocacy is not something I choose to participate in-- even in the guise of "public interview." I do my public interviews with a range of news organizations that, while having their various biases, do not dominate the interview questions with lengthy advocacy statements, accusations and insults.
Don

Don Lane


I replied:

From: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
To: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Subject: Questions To Be Answered
Date: Sat, 25 Aug 2012 12:15:32 -0700

Don:

Thanks again for replying so quickly.

Full disclosure: I am posting our discussion on line. Since you've shut down any interview prospect, I am reduced to reporting what you're willing to say in these brief e-mails.

If the only "B.S." you find in my last few e-mails is my referring to the HSC as the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center, then I'm impressed with your willingness to acknowledge unpleasant facts.

My main concern about the HLOSC has been its failure to honesty stand up for homeless people and the clear and present reality and danger that lack of shelter involves. The "lack of services" I refer to is primarily about shelter, of which the Center provides very little. Considering how much money it spends, it could provide extensive emergency campground space or at the very least widely publicize how inadequate shelter services are and how abusive the City's anti-homeless ordinances are. It does not, nor do you.

Other concerns about the HLOSC are lack of due process for clients disfavored by authorities there, alleged discrimination against disabled clients, arbitrary, unwritten, and unposted rules, retaliation against advocates organizing or protesting HLOSC abuses,repeated false statements made by the director of the Center, collusion with police and courts in helping to criminalize homeless advocates (one of whom went to jail yesterday for four months, thanks to Martinez's testimony), and bureaucratic stonewalling when these issues are repeatedly brought to the attention of the Board and the Council. If you are unclear on any of this or dispute it, please let me know. I'd be happy to furnish details.

Your cut-off of interview availability is another example of the kind of retaliation and lack of transparency that has long been a feature of the HLOSC as well as of numerous former mayors. Whatever our differences, and however colorful my rhetoric (not meant to be insulting, but to expose unpleasant realities), I had given you credit for a policy of some transparency regarding your new openness around e-mails, lobbyist visit, forthcoming Mayoral schedule, etc.

I note your hostile attitude began when John Colby--independently of anything I was doing--began advocating for people like Andrea and other disabled people who asked for his help and were being stonewalled or discriminated against by the HLOSC (according to their reports). I think you should regard this as an opportunity for reform rather than a call to circle the wagons and demonize/dismiss the critics.

There are many in the Occupy movement who remember you as a helpful intermediary who spent time and energy meeting with activists then around the issues of the San Lorenzo campground. Candidly I was not one of that number, since you refused to advocate for opening the park bathrooms (as Katherine Beiers did), pressed for a phony permit that was actually a shutdown device, and expressed no concern when the campground was first truncated and then destroyed by police authorities. I tend to judge officials by their actions rather than their rhetoric. However others, like Brent Adams, have a high opinion of you.

If you are unwilling to face me, would you be willing to address these issues publicly on Community TV or Free Radio with someone else? (I know this sounds familiar, but the issues remain the same and were largely unaddressed in your last appearance).

Robert
by CReef
Saturday Aug 25th, 2012 12:48 PM
Casey makes good points and I'm sick that the generation that he represents is given so little options for hope-(yet hope and action are also options in a feel good world. I mean- we can choose to be happy and live well despite the fact that here are a lot of problems on the horizon )what with maybe an entire eco system shift due to methane, radiation, weather modification, drought, crop failures and though economy LOOKS a teensy better, the restructuring behind and around is not friendly. 2013 has the biggest drug enforcement budget ever,(ref Douglas Fine) and that includes use of drones to make lots of interference somehow.

People need to be creative, inform each other, collect data, join together. And remember history scale down and live under proper precepts that protect the communal life- yet don't enrage and destroy the connections to the apparent civilization as for now. See my other writings for references @ myspace.com/coralrockmusic.
by brent adams
Saturday Aug 25th, 2012 1:56 PM
Sure, the mayor is a public figure and must answer to the citizens of the City.
But there are ways to facilitate this.
Obama would never take a call from Rush Limbaugh.. nor would one expect him to.
Public officials will speak with citizen advocates and community leaders.
If there is a grass-roots movement forming then I'd expect Don Lane to be more than willing to address whatever was being proposed.

But here we have my friend and comrade Robert Norse who doesn't seem to care about generating public support or creating allies for issues he "champions" but
instead alienates them with incendiary rhetoric and funny monikers and insulting catch phrases.

If one wishes to help the people who're being attacked in the woods by the city and have a dialog with the Mayor about it, one would not begin by
insulting the person and agencies that the person represents. I've spent time at the Homeless Services Center (HSC) and have experienced the complicated and compassionate work they do there. What personal relationship does Robert Norse have at the Center?

Robert Norse officiates the weekly meetings of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom) But it is anything but "united", in fact very few homeless people attend these meetings. According to a statement by Norse at last week's meeting, not one of these 300 people who've been ticketed have reported to HUFF. HUFF does not represent any segment of the homeless population. HUFF is really just a group of folks who'd like to help on these issues but instead are treated to the opinions of Mr. Norse. If one has a different opinion, one will be shouted down.

I wrote the article above because I was astounded that 6 weeks into a campaign attacking homeless people, neither HUFF nor Indybay had written even one article on the topic. What kind of a homeless issues advocate would let this travesty go unreported?
And here, in this comment thread we see Mr. Norse using the issue to once again post a private email conversation with Don Lane.
This is NOT about Don Lane. But the insulting rhetoric actually has me supporting Mr. Lane instead of Mr. Norse.

I do not have any vendetta against Robert Norse. On the contrary, we are friends and allies on many fronts, but for me the homeless issue isn't a political football to be used at the expense of those being harmed. Why the hell is Robert Norse the one lone "homeless advocate" in Santa Cruz?
I'll tell you why, because folks who'd love to work on these issues are driven away for fear of association.
We need a REAL homeless advocacy group "united for friendship and freedom".
We need a real grassroots movement focused on helping this issue..
But instead all we have is Robert Norse.

I think it is a shame in this compassionate liberal town that one person can drive such a wedge between real advocacy and the people who have real dire needs and are being driven from the one last place they feel safe.

I don't know how HUFF is funded. I don't know how Robert Norse makes his living. Activism takes lots of work by folks who do so at the expense of other things they could be doing on their free time. It is a commitment and a lot of sacrifice over time. Mr. Norse has been seen and heard speaking on homeless issues in Santa Cruz for well over a decade but what do we have to show for this? Where is the grassroots movement that I'd expect to see? Where are the victories this movement has won? The institution that fields hundreds of thousands of tax and charitable dollars to offer services to the homeless population does need to be monitored and critiqued ... but not constantly attacked. This does nothing to help these people who work with this population every day. I'd like to see HUFF funding go into a real grassroots building campaign that has in it's vision a real plan for the future instead of the petty name calling we see.

Does Robert Norse visit the Elm Street Mission or the Saint Francis soup kitchen? Have you seen him at the HSC?
Is Robert Norse really an advocate for the homeless population? Does he work to bring folks together to help this population in need?
What are folks who've encountered Mr. Norse saying about his activism? What are folks who've been homeless saying about Mr. Norse?

I ask is Robert Norse helping or hurting the plight of homeless people in Santa Cruz?

Can we build an advocacy movement without him, or does the mere existence of Mr. Norse make that possibility impossible?

Robert Norse, I challenge you once again to evaluate your tactics and effectiveness. In Santa Cruz there is a large population of compassionate citizens ready to be inspired and a grassroots movement to grow and facilitated. One day we will protect those in greatest need, and one day we will have a sanctuary camp and shelter beds for all who need it and one day we will see the Sleeping Ban Repealed.. but the road to get there doesn't include harassing the mayor or the Homeless Services Center it will require working with them.
by Robert Norse
Saturday Aug 25th, 2012 2:14 PM
To his credit, Mayor Lane has sent me the following clarifying e-mail:

From: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Date: Sat, 25 Aug 2012 12:48:04 -0700
Subject: RE: Questions To Be Answered

Robert
You wrote:
"Since you've shut down any interview prospect, I am reduced to reporting what you're willing to say in these brief e-mails."

Please note that you are not reduced to any such thing... after you wrote that sentence you went on to write several more paragraphs, which continue to be less than accurate and peppered with advocacy.

For instance, your line "Your cut-off of interview availability" is additional BS. The last time we interacted around my decline to an interview with you, we moved to working out a community TV interview.

I continue to be available for those with a fair format and fair moderator.

It is worth noting that it took you five paragraphs to get to the point of asking me in question in that email.

This appears to me to be typical of your "interview" approach and demonstrates why I don't think it is useful for me to participate in an interview with you.

Don Don Lane Mayor City of Santa Cruz 831-420-5022


The program Lane refers to was on the Community TV with disabled advocate John Colby. Some of the issues which prompted it are described at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/06/19/18715777.php . An audio of that program, interspersed with my commentary, can be found at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/08/02/18718703.php?show_comments=1#18718777


I responded with:


Don:

Once more, thanks for the fast reply. Most public officials are not so obliging--particularly on weekends.

You make no response to the concerns I raise in the first few paragraphs of my letter--perhaps because they aren't explicitly phrased as questions? If you dispute any or all of these allegations, I do invite you to say so, so that those watching this discussion can see "both sides". Or, more important, hear the perspective of a person in power who is being challenged rather sharply on a number of issues. I didn't intend to have you "wade through" the first paragraphs, but hopefully to respond to them.

Since you are concerned with "fairness", would you be willing to respond to questions from me in a debate format, through a moderator whom we both agree is fair, with equal time limits on both sides? If you're not trying to exclude me for content, I would thinks this format would satisfy your concerns. I'd also be happy to advise you of the issues I'd be raising in advance (most of which are itemized in the last few e-mails).

It's been my sense that other interviewers aren't really equipped or willing to follow up on questions with you that would get to the heart of issues such as I've outlined. That is why I've suggested you have "cut off interview availability". I do acknowledge you agreed, after some initial dismissal and denunciations that you would be on a community tv show. But even then, I got the impression you would not be willing to face me, even if someone else were controlling the time.

I know that facing sharp criticism is uncomfortable. And I admit to more sympathy for those whose homes and property are being destroyed in the sweeps the SCPD brags about on its blog than to your discomfort during interviews. Still as a long-time campaigner, you're familiar with the territory, and I think you can take the heat if you choose.

The real issue is if you are willing to answer the hard questions from someone you don't particularly like.

Let me know.

R
by Sleeplessly Seeking Renewal
Saturday Aug 25th, 2012 8:59 PM
When the time is right, the numerous people who care about the lives of others will rouse themselves (or be roused by the likes of Norse or Adams or Lane or Lemaster or Johnson), shatter their own complacency, and come together. The coalitions waiting to be born need new energy--all of ours--to coalesce. Let us make that a stepping stone on the journey toward our goals, ladies and gentlemen. "Perhaps one day, you will join us, and the world will live as one."
by Angry B.
Sunday Aug 26th, 2012 9:36 AM
Upon consideration of the issues here, it is clear to me that we need not consider one man an obstacle to organizing. That is a trap. What the grassroots movement that you hope to foster needs, Brent, is a set of courageous, empowered folks, undaunted by "fear of association" with an unpopular issue or its most vocal spokesperson in town. We just have to find those folks that we can work with, that have the time, energy, etc. to be the advocates, and seek our allies from that pool.
by brentugly
Sunday Aug 26th, 2012 4:55 PM
My article above was focused on the one individual and made claims that i know are untrue about
the numbers of people actually working on homeless issues, writing about them and demonstrating against the
unjust laws.
One previous comment listed some of the last names and i'll do it again but there are countless others that continue to speak out today and
have in the past.. several of them for over a decade. Becky Johnson, Linda Lemaster, John Colby, Gary Johnson, Ed Frey, Freedom, Robert Norse
and many others.
Much gratitude to them.

Please, if you'd like to continue to list them here, I welcome you to do so.
by RazerRay
Wednesday Sep 5th, 2012 12:30 PM
That is a question for the US DOJ considering the city and county OBVIOUSLY have no interest in the needs of their houseless, of whom 70% were employed and housed here before whatever occurrence left them without a roof.

...and the state? I think H&S 647(e) speaks directly to the state's concern with it's displaced workers.

Some of the reasons are macroeconomic... But A LOT of the problem, and ALL OF THE FAILURE TO ADDRESS AND RESOLVE THOSE PROBLEMS stems from the city's own "planning" and "Redevelopment" policies.

My suggestion on how to proceed towards getting DOJ oversight is here:

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/08/30/18720644.php?show_comments=1#18720942
The danger is that all these "nice" liberals fear people they don't really understand at all, people that their trusted media lie about and take things out of context on. They will go to their liberal churches and give token aide to people down on their luck (or wanting to live FREE OF tyranny in its diverse forms), but beyond that is emptiness. We thank them for tolerating us, and their token gestures, but without more meaningful relations, without going out of your way to empathize, the bottom line is that alienation persists in a most unhealthy direction. Which means, I think, a most dangerous setting of precedents.

As things get worse (i.e. all our posessions are stolen by cops), we'll likely take it. (Do we have a choice?) For awhile. But if some fascist group comes along saying they want to help us, and then wants us to do their ideological bidding?? Look how popular fundamentalist church groups are becoming, filled with homeless people seeking to survive. Their ranks swell, and pretty soon, women don't have the choice to have an abortion if they're raped, and such things. Maybe I'm wrong, but don't you see the likelihood that your alienation from us will only make things WORSE in the long run??!

Citizens living in towns and cities on the coast of Africa, say Sierra Leone, all would not and could not imagine that their towns and cities might be attacked by fascism, but that happened. It has happened systematically. I read a book about it, about the child soldiers, which was quite popular in a liberal bookstore and in a liberal town's public library (a big waiting list to read it). They touched on what happened in coastal towns and larger cities when tyrannical violence began to arise more and more.

Could it happen here?
Seems impossible, but look how taken by surprise so many 'modern' Africans were (along with their european aide workers!). But then I recall how many people were shooting guns off, quite randomly, and nearby public roads, along the coast of California and Oregon this last winter and spring. I was living in the woods. Such shootings were commonplace in Northern California, especially. Even in the fancy, liberal towns north of Eureka, though just outside of them. All the nice Unitarian Universalist liberals and their kind, didn't seem to know what was going on, or couldn't "deal with it", I guess.

Now, as things get more Rightwing, you think they're going to continue to play nice? They're being systematically hyped-up (read various marginal rightwing media), and the bottom line is that there's never any context or empathy allowed for people who have to (or choose to) live outside (or any other "anti-social" group).

Yes, I'm over in SW Michigan right now (if you've looked up my IP), but that doesn't mean anything. I'm still seeking to speak up about a trend that I'm afraid is going to continue to get out of hand. Unless we all begin getting in touch with our informal powers to make meaningful community with each other!

(info on such: http://www.ic.org)

More and more shootings are happening. More and more people are willing to sacrifice themselves to "make their voices heard" in any way they possibly can--even by shooting people. You know the news, you've seen how things are going. You really think the police are going to protect you???

So, isn't it about time that all you "nice" liberals start to go out of your way to be human beings with we who are being treated so stupidly and evil-ly by "the powers that be"? We are human beings just like you! It's just that being in survival mode (and being forced to deal with state authorities and their shitty rules) takes a lot out of us. You show your humanity to us, and in no time, we'll show you ours right back!

Don't be deterred by the provacateurs and the few who are already so lost that they can only react in with the pain they've gotten to know too well in their experiences! Invite us out to eat with you (when I had money I used to do that, and wow, people couldn't believe I didn't have some ulterior agenda!)! And as you get to know us, invite us to stay on your land or something like that! You'll be surprised! I bet you'll meet plenty of folks who know how to fix stuff around the house and your car, and such things!

You'll have allies, that's for sure. And the more allies you make amongst we who know how to survive in bad situations, the more strength you'll bring to your efforts of community defense!

Think about it!

p.s. I used to be a regular vendor with Street Roots in Portland, OR before I left that town (it is always really "hairy" around big cities, mostly because the cops are especially volatile).
by there is always an empty bed
Tuesday Sep 11th, 2012 7:37 PM
or at least that is the pretext used to criminalize sleep - you had a legal alternative, you didn't take it, guilty as charged. 6 months in jail. FREE GARY JOHNSON

donlane has no solutions - he just wants more shelter manager salaries for his friends. he did nothing but waste SCOccupy's time last year. Occupy did a much better job than the city. Occupy kept the levees swept clear of the homeless by offering them a more attractive place to hang out, not by harrassing people and stealing their personal property like the city does.

Occupy did that for the public at no cost to the taxpayers. whereas donlane, zacfriend, and corpcops are nothing but a cost to the taxpayers.
by repost
Friday Sep 14th, 2012 12:06 PM
SAN JOSE -- Workers cleared 60 tons of trash and ousted 150 occupants from five of the city's estimated 60 homeless camps, located mostly along creeks and a river. But only weeks after an expensive summer pilot program ended, the homeless are finding their way back and the trash is building up again.

http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_21544219/many-san-joses-homeless-return-camp-after-cleanups
City of Santa Cruz- Sept 26, 2012

You will STOP persecuting, arresting and ticketing the poor and homeless in santa cruz.
Santa Cruz is my hometown and i will not permit this type of fascist police state activity to continue here.
This city and its little nazi parks and recreation dept have ALREADY stolen my possessions as a homeless person once
and have ALREADY damned their souls to hell as a result. In fact, they shall be given DOUBLE punishment for their
CRIMES at the Judgement since Santa Cruz is MY hometown. This much has already been decreed.
Continue on in your insane madness and persecution of the poor and defenseless
and you will follow them into the inferno. Do you understand me?

Your actions are EVIL and have NO PLACE in my hometown nor in this country. The police state is completely
OUT OF CONTROL in this county, in this state and in this country. i condemn and rebuke it in the strongest possible terms.
The cancer has spread to the federal level with the DHS and the TSA. http://jackstraw7.tripod.com

Instead, you must LEARN to assist those who are in need here. I would highly recommend that you begin to fund and
institute a program to help the poor and homeless establish themselves as living, working, thriving members of our community.
i would recommend a program that assists the homeless in building a green, sustainable, eco-town/eco-community north of town where there is plenty of land.
Here,the homeless
can procure their own food (you've already got the homeless garden project), get off the grid with alternative energy sources
(solar, wind...) create their own clothes (with a hemp plantation?) and maintain an honorable and established presence here in the county.

As a city, you must learn to show the greatest respect for the poor, homeless and disadvantaged. We are members of the community just as much as those
who live in multimillion dollar mansions. We all share this beautiful city together. No-one is above another. We are ALL equal in God's eyes.

For the record, I AM a local santa cruz and a UCSC alumni.

Selah,

Jonas the Prophet
Santa Cruz, California
USA

http://jonastheprophet.tk

CC: Homeless Services Center
Governor Jerry Brown
Sam Farr (D-CA)

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by Jon
Friday Oct 12th, 2012 9:52 PM
Has litigation against these illegal encampment cleanups been pursued in Santa Cruz? Numerous court cases across the state -- including in Fresno, where a multi-million dollar lawsuit was won, and in Los Angeles, where the case went all the way to the District 9 court -- have more than set the precedent for other cases in other parts of the state. In San Jose, the threat of the potentiality of a lawsuit and pressure from Judge Ladoris Cordell of the Independent Police Auditors' office was enough to shift that city's policies on cleaning up homeless encampments. It is now city policy to sort and store the property of persons displaced by encampment cleanups.

Google "Homeless Encampments San Jose" and you'll find everything you need to get the full story, from City Memoranda to News Stories.