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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Environment & Forest Defense | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Take the "Clean Camp" pledge.
by Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp ( santacruzsanctuary [at] gmail.com )
Monday Jul 22nd, 2013 12:21 AM
Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp encourages houseless campers to take a pledge to keep camping areas clean.
A Clean Camp pledge card is handed out to campers who verbally accept a short list of agreements.

Over the past several years we've been disheartened about the general situation of homelessness in Santa Cruz.
We've seen the endless chain reaction of homeless encampment discoveries and subsequent camp sweeps almost as if city and county law enforcement and officials have difficulty accepting the reality that homeless people exist.

For the approx. 1,500 people who have been counted as sleeping outside, there is no legal place for these folks to sleep. Lets never forget that it is illegal to sleep outside after 11pm.

One of the biggest factors that triggers these camp sweeps is evidence of some identifiable trash filled camp areas or found syringes. We agree that garbage in natural areas is a problem but we assert that it is difficult for officials to expect clean areas if there are no trash receptacles, porta-potties or syringe refuse containers in these areas.

We've decided to take a pro-active approach from within the population of campers by beginning to issue "Clean Camp Pledge" cards. On the back of these cards is a short list of agreements (the word "defecation" is misspelled but has been corrected on the actual card). We are visiting local food lines, shelters and HSC and where ever houseless folks congregate to ask folks to verbalize their agreement for acceptance of one of these cards.

Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp is planning to establish a community supported homeless tent camp.
The days when homeless people are the targets of scorn are numbered.
We are destroying what it means to be homeless.

Please watch the video in in the internet link listed here.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by No other reality
Monday Jul 22nd, 2013 8:21 AM
Sorry, but I think your statement of "We agree that garbage in natural areas is a problem but we assert that it is difficult for officials to expect clean areas if there are no trash receptacles, porta-potties or syringe refuse containers in these areas" is a farce.

If someone has the strength and determination to pack a loaded bottle of liquid into their camp, then they have the same strength to carry the now-lighter empty bottle out of their camp...if they have the determination. Same thing with any and all waste. It gets carried it, its just as easy if not easier to carry it out...if you care to.

It's about the not caring; not the lack of handy receptacles. You're pledge challenge has the ability to bring some credibility to the camping mess debacle. I'll watch with interest to see if it has any result. The ball is in the campers court to show that determination.
by Robert Norse
Monday Jul 22nd, 2013 9:21 AM
...to get supporters of Sanctuary Camp (and even those who don't) to demand City Council, the SCPD, and the City Manager support the

"Fair Treatment" Pledge...where the City places dumpsters, Sharps Containers, and portapotties near campsite areas (all of which are currently illegal). And regularly services them. Not to mention getting them to forswear destroying homeless camps as part of their own "Clean-Up" activities.

A reasonable substitute for the Sleeping Ban provisions of the Camping Ordinance would be to institute a "Dirty Camp Ban" which would penalize sleepers or campers for having any trash within a 15' radius of their sleeping area. This would accomplish the goal of discouraging messy camps, but end the human rights abuse of banning sleep for the poor.

I endorse the "Clean Camp" drive--with the understanding that it's unlikely to be successful given that all camping and sleeping is illegal, encouraging both disrespect for the law as well as explicit packing out of trash which tends to identify "illegal" campers. It can also be difficult to do if one is forced into the deep woods to avoid the police.
by Incredulous
Monday Jul 22nd, 2013 12:28 PM
The problem with asking someone to agree to the "Clean Camp Pledge" is that you are profiling them as illegal campers who use needles.

The whole idea of asking people to agree to it is demeaning.

Do you, Brent and Robert, agree not to defecate near waterways?

Do you agree to dispose of your needles in a safe manner?
by brent
Monday Jul 22nd, 2013 1:15 PM

Incredulous, yes, with that in mind:

I saw it as a problem immediately that the words and agreements on this Pledge card would be insulting to nearly
every person who camps.. that is why these cards won't just be handed out randomly. They are done so with a brief conversation prefacing that most people who camp are not creating these hazards but some people are and so the broad net that is cast is intended to reach those outliers who may be creating these messes that are affecting the larger population of campers.

Come to the Red Church today as we address those folks who come to eat and enjoy community.
We'll be conducting many one-on-on conversations and dispensing these Pledge cards.

by (p)
Monday Jul 22nd, 2013 1:33 PM
Brent what makes you think government is responsible for providing trash collection and public toilets? Those are enabling magnets for the civilized. Everyone knows government is supposed to be for overpaying bureaucrats and their friends to saddle the pubic with overpriced projects like Desal.

Besides who would TBSC scapegoat if our city was clean?

by Robert Norse
Monday Jul 22nd, 2013 1:48 PM
Whoa. Incredulous is right. Having actually gone back to more carefully examine what I'd presumed to simply be an "I Camp Clean!" assertion, I have to back off.

Perhaps an offer to encourage clean and responsible camping in return for a clean and responsible law enforcement, garbage disposal, and accessible services ?

One of the problems I have with the whole idea of an oppressed class of people trying to show they are "worthy" of not being kicked around or shat on by, say, being "good nigras" or "responsible Mexicans" is that it's an attempt to placate bigotry by joining in the mythology of bigotry.

It reminds me of Lane and Posner and other "responsible progressives" who responded to the Needle Hysteria by saying they have a "better way" of dealing with the Public Safety problem. But there is no "Public Safety" problem--any more than there was 1, 5, or 10 years ago. Ask the police chief (well, perhaps he's not that good a source after all). There's a Public Hysteria problem. And a Blame the Homeless Problem. And an absurd Drug War Problem. This is common knowledge.

There are obvious ways to create clean camps--provide the means to camp cleanly, legally, and safely (say with Sanctuary and other type camps and half-decent facilities). But to demand bourgeois cleanliness of homeless people hiding from authorities for their very survival is clearly both unrealistic and cruel. It's an attempt to placate prejudiced people by suggesting their distorted perceptions have to be taken as "real" in some way under the ridiculous theory that "the perception is the reality" or as important as the reality. Pandering to that is not a good idea.

It obviously makes good sense to camp clean. However to demand it as a precondition to basic human rights and needs is both unworkable and profoundly wrong.

I don't think Brent really intends that, but in an attempt to PR the bigots, it leaves that impression. Somewhat along the lines of "don't protest, it'll only hurt your cause by offending the powers that be."

Even trying to encourage "clean up" peer pressure encourages the "bad apple ruins the barrel" mythology, This is the phony theory--too often internalized by homeless people I've spoken to-- that "if only those few bad needle-using and shit-dumping campers weren't here, there'd be no persecution." It profoundly misses the basis of the persecution--paranoia, prejudice, class privilege.

It's rooted in the desperate hope that policy makers are at some level rational, reasonable, and humane. And that they'll leave people alone if only they "try" hard enough. If this had been true, we wouldn't have had a Sleeping Ban in the first place. Nor would the 99% be struggling to hold onto their homes, jobs, and sanity. Power unfortunately only understands greater power. Gated communities want higher gates, faster dogs, and more security thugs.

by HappyPeaceCamper
Monday Jul 22nd, 2013 3:22 PM
Of course the City doesn't care if camps are clean. Otherwise they would provide garbage cans and port-a-potties. What irks the City is they can't make any money off the homeless, like they can off tourists and taxpayers. So they encourage trash, waste, and needles, by not doing anything about them. Then they or TBSC blame the victims.

Brent is squelching that propaganda argument with this card idea.

It is a shame the Free Skool doesn't offer a class in effective PR for activists.
by Steve Pleich
Monday Jul 22nd, 2013 4:35 PM
There's nothing wrong with asking for a little accountability and civic pride from those Father Joel Miller calls our "outdoor citizens". Not a bad idea, but not a novel one either. Becky Johnson offered much the same at a HUFF meeting some months ago suggesting that campers take responsibility for policing the area within a 10 or 15 foot radius of a camp site. Signing a card does seem as little Orwellian, but what the heck.
by Property Is Theft
Monday Jul 22nd, 2013 4:40 PM
a post that will get deleted, refers to allowing the poor to sleep on the public commons as an utopian ideal. actually this common sense practice (where else will they sleep-your yard?) goes back at least as far as the Magna Carta and the Forest Charter, the foundations of our system of law. it is only in recent decades that irrational government action has made it illegal.

thereby making mere existence illegal for the poor.

of course jailing them at $60,000 a year doesn't work either.

the City blows $500,000 a year on the Golf Course, so THAT is clearly a failure. let's put a Sanctuary Camp there instead. Think of the money we could save.
by Robert Norse
Monday Jul 22nd, 2013 4:46 PM
For those who have heard the usual homeless-hostile stories about past campground and/or decriminalization-of-sleep efforts in Santa Cruz that supposedly failed, here's the real story of what happened when the Council did a partial (and pathetically inadequate) repeal of the Sleeping Ban and then fearfully retreated. It happened in May 2000 under Mayor Keith Sugar.

An article Becky Johnson and I wrote for Street Spirit described what went down:

http://www.huffsantacruz.org/StreetSpiritSantaCruz/148.Smoke,Mirrors%20And%20Texas%20Instruments=7-2000.pdf

and

http://www.huffsantacruz.org/StreetSpiritSantaCruz/149.Smoke,Mirrors%28cont.%29=7-2000.pdf .
by (Parent)
Tuesday Jul 23rd, 2013 2:04 AM
When there are no portapotties for the homeless at night, where do they go poop? I will tell you where. ALL OVER SANTA CRUZ! When that disgusting poop dries out, the wind picks up the poop dust and blows it into your face and lungs. Yeeech!

I used to take the family to the Beach Boardwalk. Not anymore, now we go to Great America.
by RazerRay
Tuesday Jul 23rd, 2013 11:42 AM
...has it exactly right. Thanks!
by RazerRay
Tuesday Jul 23rd, 2013 12:30 PM
" What irks the City is they can't make any money off the homeless,"

But they DO! From the 'ticket mill' laws that never go to warrant but to a state-mandated collection agency that pays a percentage of the fine to the city, at a rate the city already knows meaning they can at least economically plan for a break-even on their ticket blitzes, to the large number of $900+- gubmint check recipients with no place to cook, or make coffee so they spend it in local restaurants etc.

Homeless people DO put money into the city's coffers and businesses.

Not to mention their scapegoated role employing multiple dozens of security guard, hosts, cops, who then spend their money, hopefully in Santa Cruz where they (hopefully) live.

The homeless are an economic boon for Santa Cruz, probably putting more money 'in the till' year round than the seasonal 'tour bus tourists who come in cars passing through' revenues.