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

Shafting Non-Shoppers: Expanding the Destructive Downtown Ordinances
by Robert Norse ( rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com )
Monday Sep 9th, 2013 11:33 AM
In a disguised attack on the entire non-commercial street scene, tomorrow's afternoon City Council meeting will rubberstamp restricting still further the very limited public space currently allowed the community downtown. Under the guise of health concerns, reducing congestion, and preventing a "trip-and-fall" hazard (none of which is documented), the reactionary new laws will essentially force street performers, vendors, homeless people, local residents, and tourists to compete with each other for the small amount of "legal" spaces allowed for sitting, vending, performing, sparechanging, or political organizing. The hope is clearly to reduce "congestion" by eliminating what remains of the street counterculture. Another brilliant salvo from the bowels of the City Manager's office. It's another direct attack on the right to publicly assemble or simply use community space without paying a fee to merchants.
UNUSUAL EARLIER TIME AT CITY COUNCIL
This set of new ordinances will come up for a first reading and Public Hearing on Tuesday September 10th at the irregular time of 2 PM rather than the customary 3 PM. The item will appear sometime during ensuing Council meeting. As currently scheduled, it is agenda item 21--immediately after Chris Krohn's appeal of the Christie tree demolition. Probably an hour or more after the start of the meeting--but this is unclear.


THE NEW LAWS
The new law changes include:
+++ Extending the Smoking Ban to the side streets one block in either direction from Pacific Avenue, including all alleys & sidestreets.
+++ Extending the Smoking Ban to all surface parking lots in downtown between Laurel Street and Water St.--it's not clear whether this includes all private parking lots as well.
+++ Requiring street artists, street vendors, panhandlers, and political activists to provide “freestanding” display devices such as tables and chairs.
+++ Banning tarps, blankets, and other “non”-free standing devices, now commonly used to display jewelry, artwork, political flyers.
+++ Banning panhandlers cups and caps also currently described as “display devices”.
+++ Arguably banning street performers' open guitar cases and other “containers, structures, or objects used or capable of being used for holding or displaying tangible things” (the definition of “display devices” in the ordinance) unless placed on a table.
+++ Reducing the space allowed for a display device to sixteen square feet (there is currently only a limit on the size of the display device (6' X 3' X 3').
+++ Further reducing the total space allowed by specifying that the sixteen square feet includes not merely the display device itself but also the space where the individual is sitting and any personal property she or he has with them.
+++ Further constricting available space by requiring a 12' space between all “display devices” where this term applies to everyone sitting on the street with any kind of container--and a backpack or a sleeping bag is "capable of being used for holding...tangible things" hence--its possible use against homeless people.
+++ Essentially allowing only 47 people (given the 47 allowable spaces) or less than 5 people per block to sit on the sidewalk with any possessions


STAT-FREE STAFF REPORT
The staff report argues that there will be 42 “opportunity” (i.e. non-banned) spaces available on Pacific Avenue between Water and Laurel Streets. The severe set-backs required from buildings, intersections, directory signs, benches (the few that remain), kiosks, telephones, and “public artwork” (10' for display devices, 14' for panhandling and sitting)—remove 95% of the sidewalk from natural and traditional use from the get-go. The full staff report can be found at: http://sire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/cache/2/a3zexe45uoitixjpnnjq2qeg/379112609092013091024142.PDF

There are, of course, no stats specifying the “complaints” referred to—whether from the police or merchants. So we're left to “trust” the City Staff, which is fine if you agree with their objectives, in which case you don't care about their facts.

Nor is there any indication of a “crime wave” suggesting the need for these ordinances nor any instances of "trip and fall". Looks like the SCPD in its expanding downtown police state powers, just wants more “move along” tools.

When added to the frequent merchant expansion of their displays onto the sidewalk in front of their shops this exclusion of non-commercial activity will be nearly all-embracing. This, of course, suits those whose objective is to drive away the once-vibrant street scene in Santa Cruz.


CREATING CONGESTION WILL SET PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER OR SIMPLY DRIVE THEM AWAY
The result will be to severely crowd not just those using display devices, but others trying to sit down in the few remaining spots available whether these be elderly residents, homeless locals, visiting travellers, UCSC students, or naïve tourists (who will, of course be selectively ignored or courteously directed to pay-cafes). And either drive such people away or produce a hostile response.

Authorities clearly hope that this merchant gobble of public space will be as tamely accepted in 2013 as it was in 2002 and again in 2009 (when the “artwork” set-backs were passed). Perhaps, but this remains to be seen.

No Councilmember has come up opposing this abusive privatization of Pacific Avenue which panders to the current homeless-hostile bigotry of the Take Back Santa Cruz mentality and steals a significant portion of what remains of public space downtown. It also encourages use of police, security guards, and host snitches to pursue these new “crimes”--which in turn overburden the courts, but helpfully provide more “evidence” of the City Council-created “crime wave” in town.


SENTINEL DOES ITS USUAL COUNCIL-STROKING JOB IGNORING THE WIDER IMPLICATIONS
The Sentinel misleadingly headlines this story today as being about smokering with very brief mention of street artists but its impact is far broader and far more sinister. http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/santacruz/ci_24046155/santa-cruz-consider-extending-downtown-smoking-ban


REVENGE ON THE STREET ARTISTS
The street artist aspect also comes in the wake of the City of Sparks v. White decision, which years ago, required police to stop harassing street artists who display price tags on their wares and stop demanding they “get a license or get a fine” as they've been recently doing to some. (See http://seattletrademarklawyer.com/storage/White%20v.%20City%20of%20Sparks%20-%209th%20Cir.%20Opinion.pdf ). Barisone has repeatedly ignored my e-mails requesting that police be instructed to follow the Constitution as interpreted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals back in 2009, however he has stonewalled. Hopefully I'll be posting that correspondence later.


MAKE NOTE OF THE SUPPORTERS
Note too that New Leaf owner Scott Roseman is one of the few written pieces of correspondence supporting this nasty effort to run off non-shoppers. Folks who buy there (including me) should consider this before paying their inflated prices again. You might consider tipping the new security guard hired to eyeball customers if you support this kind of atmosphere downtown.

So instead of following the law, the City is creating more ordinances that will reduce the number of people down there whose rights they need to respect. The new laws will—in a backhanded manner--give the SCPD “needed support” in its unconstitutional threats to street artists, and fluff merchant paranoia and bigotry which holds street artists and scruffily dressed youth and homeless folks responsible for the Obama/Bush recession.

I'll be writing more about this later, but wanted to give the community a heads up.


RANTING FURTHER ON THE BACKGROUND OF THESE CHANGES
A series of co-ordinated attacks on all non-commercial use of Pacific Avenue and the adjoining streets will hit the early 2 PM afternoon session of the Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday September 10th.

In the last year expanding police sweeps of homeless camps in the levee and the Pogonip and abusive property seizures have escalated. Crackdowns around City Hall the library, the beaches, and the parks have become regular with security thugs towering over the disfavored. Titled bigots like superior Court Judge Ariadne Symons and City-Attorney-for-Life John Barisone have abandoned any pretentions of neutrality.

Their testimony and that of others before the so-called Public Safety Citizen's Task Force,serves to rationalize the transformation of Santa Cruz into a “less welcoming” town for the poor. Its bi-weekly showing before the town's very own no-public-comment-please Star Chamber has served as a glistening toxic showcase of fashionable bigotry masquerading as public safety. It will step up the pressure to weekly sessions in October—the group handpicked by “No Bikes for the Bike Church” Mayor Hillary Bryant.

The new measures continue the relentless crackdown designed to drive homeless, poor, and counter-culture people out of the downtown, out of sight, and out of town to the benefit of the new big-spending gentry.



FIGHT BACK AGAINST THE MONEY-FICATION OF SANTA CRUZ
+++ E-mail City Council at citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com .and demand these ordinances be given adequate committee/commission review and public comment.
+++ Since the ordinances don't become final until a second reading in two weeks, write to local papers denouncing this attack on traditional Santa Cruz.
+++ Join with others to seek legal and direct action response to this latest gentrification gambit.
+++ Post your own accounts of discrimination downtown (the Coffee Roasting Company along with Starbucks has recently banned those carrying large backpacks; CruzioWorks continues to discriminate against homeless customers like Dan Madison)
+++ Post video of abusive and costly use of police and security guards to enforce the Downtown Ordinances (which are already absurdly restrictive).
+++

Comments  (Hide Comments)

The (undocumented) safety issues smells like a legal ruse. The 'legal spaces' smells like a legal ruse. Barisone 'ignoring' Sparks v. White smells like a legal ruse. The charade of a Public Safety Task Force smells like a legal ruse.

Krohn is silent, other than a tree defense? #HipWashing

Note the 'broken windows' hypothesis: if scofflaws are not checked early and often, crime will grow. The reality of this can be seen in the growing encroachment on civil justice and Constitutional law, unchecked by a complicit court, executive, and legislature. Until more than one (see: the alleged sex crimes of (former) TBSC Dylan Greiner) is arrested, their abuse of the letter and the spirit of the law will continue. Until more than one is sanctioned (see: appeal of DA sanction), or disbarred (see: well, maybe one day), their abuse of the legal process will continue. As Wall Street has gambled and lost, at our massive expense, and not been jailed, so too have these gangs been having their way. It will not stop, until it is stopped. Better to do so via rule of law than without, because history shows it will eventually be stopped, politely or impolitely.

#MoreForensicAccountingPlease
by Dan C
Monday Sep 9th, 2013 12:21 PM
Apparently Parks and Rec Czarina Dannettee Shoemaker is considering a proposal to remove the benches outside Bank of the West, a spot where homeless travelers have traditionally gathered for company and safety. It is being reported that there is a plan to remove the benches and to "loan" them to a business for their private use. There is even a plan to have a ceremonial decommissioning event at the current location of the benches and a procession, with the benches, local business goons atop them, being carried by palanquin-bearers to their new location, at a local coffeeshop, where there will be a ceremonial rededication. Some press have been invited to this event. I invite local journalists like Robert Norse to show up for this event and make sure the Santa Cruz Senile doesn't get exclusive access so they can give the whole charade their glowing endorsement unchallenged.

This abuse of public property and further erosion of public spaces for the community is a sad example of the harassment and discrimination facing poor people in "liberal" Santa Cruz every day.
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Sep 10th, 2013 6:54 AM
The often execrable Santa Cruz Patch has briefly mentioned this matter at http://santacruz.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/city-council-to-consider-cutting-more-smoking-downtown-and-limiting-artists-displays?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001&evar4=picks-1-post&newsRef=true .

Most of the Sentinel commentary revolves around the expansion of the Smoking Ban, though, as I've written, the really significant impact is the power to remove not just vendors, but anyone sitting down with anything that could be construed as a "display device" anywhere along Pacific Avenue from Water to Laurel Sts.

It's a rather nasty retaliation for the City of Sparks v. White decision upholding the right of artists to sell their artwork. (Ironically that does not automatically apply to jewelry vendors, and those presenting crafts, so the City is just using its vindictive response to impact everyone who isn't renting space.)
by tripOverMerchants
Tuesday Sep 10th, 2013 11:34 AM
This also affects freedom of speech on the mall. we can demand the merchant fencing off of the sidewalk be removed first to ensure adequate remaining sidewalk space for political speech. maybe Pleich can get the ACLU to fight this rather than the pointless center meridian case.
by Sylvia
Tuesday Sep 10th, 2013 1:09 PM
About non-commercial use and no-smoking downtown - there are three dozen comments in the online agenda packet for today's City Council meeting to vote in the new ordinance. Robert's is the only comment against the ordinance. I am the only comment against the non-commercial use restrictions. I've never before read the City Council input – I'd like to know if this is the usual kind of response.

I agree this is a way to make downtown unappealing for unpopular people. I wonder if it will shift both the art/wares/vendors and the smokers south of Laurel, nearer to the sports arena and the beach, and what the consequences of that might be in terms of development, neighborhood, unruliness, … As the police sweep people from campsites into town, and the commercial areas insist on no sitting, where will the crowd collect?

I dislike the dishonesty, am watching the city bypass it's own safety task force, and despite that am for the no smoking part of the ordinance.

And a live video feed directly to the Police Department has been added to the City Council chambers.
the model for SC downtown seems to be to try to as much as possible, emulate the Capitola -privately owned--mall...only with open space. the increased move of public transitioned to private hands is part of this plan.

once again the so-called "neighborhood" groups ie business property owners seem to have a heavy hand in this.

I have to say though, this has been orchestrated pretty well. Fear of crime has turned most of SC populace into a mass of paranoid sheeple ready to crush anything that smacks of people or products that haven't been created and tested in corporate labs.


Fear is an amazing tool, isn't it?
Although once the world noticed, they backed off, a little, for now.

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/08/22/18741953.php

No kidding.
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Sep 11th, 2013 9:46 AM
Street performers will be severely impacted.

Their allowable performance area will be reduced from the current standard--having an 18 sq ft table and being able to have other items outside that area--to 16 sq ft and having to have all their personal possessions (including musical instrument cases) inside that area.

They will be required to provide stand-up tables or boxes on which to perch their stuff (actually creating more of a trip-and-fall hazard--one of the laughable undocumented excuses used to sugarcoat this attack on the street scene). In effect they'll be required to store their personal goods inside these devices

How many poor people can actually afford to purchase such devices? How many homeless people can store them at night?.

They will be required to be 12' away from each other—limiting still further the total available space (under the second phony pretext—also asserted without proof or documentation--that there were "conflicts").

But most important, the 10' "forbidden zones" have been increased to 14'--something specifically rejected by extensive hearings in 2002 and 2003 when several committees and the City Council itself in repeated sessions debated the issue. Street performers then vocally and accurately pointed out that the expanded zones (which were at that time designed to corral and deter homeless and poor people panhandling and sitting) would severely impact the performers. The Downtown Commission as well as a Joint Council-Commission Task Force recommended and got the Council to limit the damage to 10'.

This new expansion "no man's land" (the forbidden zones bans on tabling, sitting, sparechanging, vending, etc. essentially only consumer access to stores) cuts available performance space down to about 1/5th of what it was.

How so? Rough estimates in 2002 were that the sitting and panhandling ban (which were increased from 6' to 14') eliminated 95% of the sidewalk for "legal behavior". The 10' forbidden zones finally settled on after extensive research and public debate eliminated 75% of the sidewalk for "display devices". Street performers will now be in the same position as sitters and sparechangers have been for the last decade—legal on only 5% of the street (as distinguished from the previous 25% (and that was a generous assessment).

Since then, additional forbidden zone creators like "public art", directory signs, trash compactors, and other items have been added to the landscape. Additional bike racks have been put in creating less space for traditional Santa Cruz street activity.

The new ordinance now proclaims that any street musician who performs with a cup or open guitar case (a "display device", to quote the ordinance, "anything capable of holding tangible things") will be illegal within 14' of a forbidden zone indicator.

The forbidden zones extend within 14' of:
buildings,
street corners,
intersections,
kiosks,
drinking fountains,
public telephones,
public benches,
public trash compactors,
information/directory signs,
sculptures or artwork,
ATM-style machines,
outside street cafes,
vending carts,
and fences.
(See http://www.codepublishing.com/CA/SantaCruz/?SantaCruzNT.html under MC 5.43.020).

The Council's claim that it wants to "avoid confusion" and "make things consistent" disguises the fact that this kind of consistency punitively sucks up the public space. Comments by City Council members (Robinson, Comstock, Mathews, Terrazas) seemed to indicate "aesthetics" (i.e. Get rid of the indications of visible poverty) and merchant sensibilities (more space for us and our customers) were the major indicators.

No concrete evidence of "trip and fall", congestion, ongoing conflict problem, or any other real public safety concern was presented.

But, of course, this ties in nicely with the City's redefinition of "Public Safety" as "Homeless Removal".

Real public safety concerns might be aesthetically and economically "desirable" alcohol abusers lured by the city's nightlife, but hey--they pay good money for their raucous behaviors and "contribute to the economy of the city".

The real issue is how to restore and reclaim the public spaces that the Downtown Association and Take Back Santa Cruz--operating through the City Council--have stolen...again. Perhaps a kazoo brigade? Perhaps chairs distributed to homeless people to sit (sitting in a chair anywhere on Pacific Ave sidewalks is legal if you're not blocking the sidewalk)? Perhaps link-ups with Palo Alto attorneys who have already committed themselves to challenging anti-homeless laws there?

The law comes up for a second reading on September 24th.

I'll be hoping to write more about this infuriating situation if I can find the steam.
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Sep 11th, 2013 10:22 AM
In response to Dan C. above, when is Dannettee Shoemaker moving to privatize the public benches? More details, please!

My apology to everyone for not catching what was really the most important aspect of the attack on community spaces passed yesterday on a First Reading. The sweeping expansion from 10' to 14' contracts existing tabling/performing for donation/vending space by 4/5 as my article above describes. I should have caught this, but am getting slower and pokier.

by HUFF (posted by Norse)
Wednesday Sep 11th, 2013 11:24 PM

HUFF voted to call a protest with food, possibly music, and speakers on Sunday September 22nd at 1:30 PM in front of Forever 21 near Soquel and Pacific Avenues in anticipation of the final vote on the ordinances the afternoon of September 24th at City Hall.

A preliminary organizational meeting will be held Saturday September 14th at 5 PM on the steps of the main post office after the Food Not Bombs meal.

We encourage folks to pass the word to street performers, street vendors, homeless people being targeted by police, rangers, and security thugs, as well as political activists--all of whom will be severely impacted by these downtown ordinances that reduce tabling, sparechanging, vending, and performing space by 4/5.


RECENT REPORTS OF POLICE AND MERCHANT HARASSMENT AND DISCRIMINATION
Reports are coming in of mass harassment at the Red Church driving away sleepers on Tuesday morning and of mass ticketing of sleepers up near the railroad tracks a few days earlier. Travelers newly arrived are getting camping tickets, but not being informed that such tickets are subject to dismissal if the victim gets on the waiting list of the Homeless (Lack of ) Services Center. Trespass tickets are being used as a substitute for camping tickets in order to avoid the mandatory dismissal required by MC 6.36.055.

The downtown Coffee Roasting Company, according to its staff, is now refusing service to homeless people with large backpacks. Brent Adams reports that a family of three (mother, father, and child) bought coffee last night, and then were told to leave after the father brought in a laptop computer. If you are a regular customer or simply concerned about this kind of hateful attitude, please speak to the management and let them now how you feel. Also please post any more recent accounts of such repulsive behavior.



Sean Deluge created the flyer.
by City Staff (posted by Norse)
Thursday Sep 12th, 2013 9:37 AM
The 9-10 City Council video can be found at http://sire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=472&doctype=AGENDA at
2 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds into the video: 20:04:20 A tip of the hat to city staff for posting the video so quickly.

I haven't the stomach to go through the video to detail the falsehoods, distortions, and cover stories used to justify this latest "all space to the merchants" ordinance, but perhaps someone will have the time and tenacity.
by Razer Ray
Thursday Sep 12th, 2013 8:43 PM
shot.jpg
shot.jpg

More at the link...
by Leigh Meyers
Friday Sep 13th, 2013 7:57 PM
..and I say they've turned it into a mini-police state. So much so no one want to come downtown... Which of course they blame on the homeless or whatever but let me illustrate where the problem REALLY lies. Greed.

The other day I went into CVS downtown at about 6:45 in the morning to buy a candy bar to go with my coffee.

For some reason I cannot understand one of the clerks began following me up the candy isle. When I turned and saw her she said "Do you need me to open the liquor cabinet for you?"

I was startled. I hardly ever drink at all and haven't really ever been fond of drinkers and I said "I'm getting a candy bar", as I reached for a kit-kat... began walking towards the register but she damn near blocked me like she was waiting for security or something so I said:

Are you profiling me?

She snapped "I'm calling the manager"

I said smartly: "You do that. I probably KNOW your manager"

She went up front to the phone and lied to the manager telling him I HAD asked for liquor access and then again when he stalled her on the phone and I said I'd wait as long as it took... She told him I was "Getting Violent".

The manger arrives, the short Asian one, and I begin chewing him out about the way a regular customer was just treated. He said... repeatedly "I understand. I understand. I understand." But the MotherFucker never once said "I'm sorry."

The REAL KICKER to this story though is AS I was chewing him out, at 6:50 or so AM, the same checkout girl who stalked me was selling A HALF GALLON BOTTLE OF VODKA to a 'river wino'.

Who the fuck lets a store with a history of problems with drinkers sell liquor at 6 fucking thirty in the morning next to the BIGGEST open air bar in Santa Cruz, The San Lorenzo Levee?

The same people who BLAME the homeless, or this group or that group for the 'problems downtown' or business failures, are MORE THAN GLAD to take the money at an early hour of the morning for the SUBSTANCE THAT CAUSES MOST OF THEIR COMPLAINTS.

The end result? I'm NEVER going into CVS again... Someone who has been going in there since it was Longs. I KNOW some of the Long family! ... and that river wino will be showing up every morning with pooled panhandled money or someone's disability/SSI check money and they will continue to take it for high dollar alcohol sales, and continue to scapegoat those people, AND ANYONE THEY PROFILE THAT WAY all at the same time.

That IS a metaphor for Santa Cruz municipal ordinance making in general.

The city's so-called government is their own citizen's worst enemy having created a city too expensive to actually live and work in then creating a municipal police state to keep the displaced workers who didn't flee harassed and surveilled as I was at CVS. And the business/property owning 'community'... for the most part NO WHERE NEAR LOCAL RESIDENTS... Those are their friends.

Corporatist operated city. Authoritarian laws. Totalitarian surveillance all over downtown in the form of security guards. "Downtown Hosts", security cams tacked to every wall, and almost every SCPD officer on any shift withing a minute of Pacific.

It all adds up to a Fascist city of it's own creation.

NO WONDER no one goes downtown.
by shopper
Friday Sep 13th, 2013 10:39 PM
I know that several prominent and outspoken members of TBSC work for New Leaf markets. I didn't realize New Leaf boss man was hostile to public space and citizens who weren't obviously upscale as well. It makes sense though now, when one looks to who was/is a supporter of the Bike Dojo's bike project, you see that New Leaf market is a prominent supporter.


There is no way I'm going to support a business enterprise that is overtly trying to subvert public space. There are other places to pick up organic sustainable food.
by Another shopper
Saturday Sep 14th, 2013 6:30 AM
Why don't you all just boycott downtown? That might actually solve the problem.
by Leigh Meyers
Saturday Sep 14th, 2013 9:43 AM
New Leaf's parking lot attendant cum 'security guard' took a looooonnnnngggg hard look at a bottle of Reeds Ginger Ale I was drinking a month or so ago... Another establishment downtown that sells alcohol and uses it as an excuse to profile individuals... often in error. I used to bank there when it was B of A.

...Even as Motiv, across the street, parks a "Party RV" outside their shithole bar and has RICH people drunk and dancing in the streets with police cars rolling by but NEVER stopping.

But I digress. Actually, some businesses, local AND corporate, are quite OK with the countercultural situation downtown and know they need the 'weird' to keep themselves in business because a short rush of tourists twice in the summer and another spurt of cash when the students come back to school with shopping money is not enough to keep themselves in business year-round. They need those $900/month Disability SSI check bearing customers with no expenses assuming the person can maintain legal public decorum.

I dare TBSC to try to make up for that revenue if it went away.

MY PERSONAL EFFORT, my AVOCATION, now that CVS and New Leaf have profiled me for my age and 'appearance' is to explain to any concerned business owners, (and I KNOW MORE THAN A FEW) I meet exactly how the city, over the intervening years since the Loma Prieta quake and concurrent redevelopment by outside investors of Pacific Street into a shopping mall, CREATED the problems from rampant alcoholism in the streets to lack of jobs or housing for the average citizen who actually lives here for more than a UC education's span of time, then they developed a mini-authoritarian state to control and perpetuate that situation.

Just like Fascists.

group called "citizens for a better santa cruz."


the shit is hitting the fan there because someone called out Pamela Comstock for some of her comments and what's behind the new ordinances.
by Robert Norse
Saturday Sep 14th, 2013 4:18 PM

Download, circulate, and post...
by Robert Norse
Saturday Sep 14th, 2013 4:20 PM
Shafting Non-Shoppers: Expanding the Destructive Downtown Ordinances
Merchant Monopolization of Public Spaces Marches On

In a disguised attack on the entire non-commercial street scene, City Council voted to restrict still further the very limited public space currently allowed the community downtown. Under the guise of health concerns, reducing congestion, and preventing a "trip-and-fall" hazard (none of which is documented), the reactionary new laws crowd street performers, vendors, homeless people, tablers, local residents, & tourists together & sterile 95% of the sidewalk as “forbidden zones” for resting, vending, or performing.

This is a merchant/right-wing attack on the street counter-culture. It has nothing to do with “bad behavior.” It's about “bigot aesthetics”--clearing away visible poverty, traditional Santa Cruz diversity, and political activists. Council staff showed no input from those impacted (other than merchants) and had no info on costs or stats documenting problems.

THE NEW LAWS
The new law changes:
+++ Extends the Smoking Ban to the side streets one block in either direction from Pacific Avenue, including all alleys & side streets and to to all surface parking lots in downtown between Laurel Street and Water St. perhaps private parking lots as well (Julie Hendee, one of the authors of the law wasn't sure!).
+++ Requires street artists, street vendors, panhandlers, and political activists to provide “freestanding” display devices such as tables or boxes on which to hoist above the sidewalk anything with them. This bans tarps & blankets now used to display jewelry, artwork, political fliers and likely laying objects directly on the sidewalk. This includes panhandler's cups and caps as well as street performers' guitar cases and change bowls.
+++ Reduces the total display device space to 16 sq ft now to include all the person's personal possessions;
+++ Requires a 12' distance between display devices, isolating community members.
+++ Reduces available space 4/5 to include 95% of the sidewalk by expanding the “forbidden zones” to 14' from buildings, street corners, intersections, kiosks, drinking fountains, public telephones, public benches, public trash compactors, information/directory signs, sculptures or artwork, ATM-style machines, outside street cafes, vending carts, and fences. This bans sitting on any sidewalk that is narrower than 14' (stops use of all sidewalks in other business & beachfront districts).
+++ Defines “display devices” as any kind of container "capable of being used for holding...tangible things"—which may include a backpack or sleeping bag, making likely its use against homeless people.

When added to the frequent merchant expansion of their displays onto the sidewalk in front of their shops this exclusion of non-commercial activity will be nearly all-embracing. This, of course, suits those whose objective is to drive away the once-vibrant street scene in Santa Cruz and 'Capitola-ize” the Avenue.

The resulting congestion will have people competing for the public spaces (when there is actually room for all). It will severely crowd not just those using display devices, but others trying to sit down in the few remaining spots available whether these be elderly residents, homeless locals, visiting travelers, UCSC students, or naive tourists (who will, of course be selectively ignored or courteously directed to pay-cafes). And either drive such people away or produce a hostile response and more conflict downtown.

FIGHT BACK AGAINST THE WEALTH-A-FICATION OF DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ
+++ Use your video phone to show authorities harassing the public on the streets downtown. Post on You-Tube and http://www.indybay.org/santacruz . Send them to HUFF (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com ).
+++ E-mail City Council at citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com .and demand these ordinances be reviewed for cost, effectiveness, impact, and unintended consequences by citizen committees and with public input.
+++ Spread opposition; Write local papers; Use Facebook & Twitter;. Ordinances become final a month after a 2nd vote in two weeks (October 24) Support businesses who oppose, publicize those who don't.
+++ Post your own accounts of discrimination downtown. The Coffee Roasting Company & Starbucks recently banned large backpacks; CruzioWorks refuses 24-hour service to Dan Madison for his homeless appearance.
+++ Come to City Council 3 PM September 24th to oppose the 2nd Vote on these laws!
This side of the flier by Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833 http://www.huffsantacruz.org 9-14-13
So much for a little piece of the internet being able to stand up to SC City Council. It looks like after a small group started to criticize SC City council actions on Steve Pleich's Citizens for a better Santa Cruz Facebook group, Steve has declared that off limits because it's not positive! ????????

The action that seemed to prompt the new rule was a brief appearance by Councilwoman Comstock who after complaining about being criticized, left the group.

So it looks like if the public has an inclination to speak out against SC City Council actions, that Indybay (and perhaps other groups on Facebook) are the only spots to do so.
by Robert Norse
Monday Sep 16th, 2013 7:33 AM
The question, of course, is whether the community is prepared to tolerate this crackdown on street performers, vendors, smokers, and homeless people downtown and what effective resistance strategies can be mounted. Next Sunday's 1:30 PM protest in front of Forever Twenty-One may provide some indication and ideas.

There'll be an additional gathering at City Council on the afternoon of the 24th when Council votes on the 2nd reading.

I played some of the staff's defense of the proposed amendments on my show--archived at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb130915.mp3 (about 2 hours into the audio file). And I'll be playing more with more street commentary Thursday night from 6 to 8 PM at http://tunein.com/radio/FRSC-s47254/. It will be archived at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb130919.mp3.

Apologies for reiterating to some extent; some of these considerations are new.


CURRENT SMOKING BAN LAW IGNORED
An inconvenient fact not mentioned and an area not examined by staffers Hende and Collins in their no-input-from-smokers presentation on September 10th was the current law:

Current law MC 6.04.060 (u) provides:

Areas which share their air space, including, but not limited to, air conditioning, heating, or other ventilation systems, entries, doorways, open windows, hallways, and stairways, with other enclosed areas in which smoking is prohibited. It shall be the responsibility of any person smoking outside where smoking is otherwise permitted to ensure that smoke does not enter any buildings where smoking is prohibited through open windows or doors; however, in no event shall smoking be allowed within twenty-five feet of any such door or open window or within twenty-five feet of any other air-intake facility through which air may flow into a building from outside that building. Notwithstanding the prohibition set forth in this subsection an employer may establish an outdoor employee smoking area within twenty-five feet of an employer’s service entrance door; provided, that said door is closed while employee smoking is taking place.

In other words, there's a 25' setback for smokers already on side streets and hence no need to create a total ban and thus a clustering on streets still further away. Mentioning this inconvenient existing law might strip some of the wind from the sales of law supporters (though no clear evidence of complaints was presented by the SCPD or any other staffers around this issue and certainly no input from the affected group).

Additionally, as the tenor of the town turns more hateful under pressure from Take Back Santa Cruz and other hobophobic groups, recent accounts and common experience documents that homeless people smoke at a significantly higher rate than the housed population (see http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jul/18/news/la-sn-homeless-smoking-20130718 ). Hence this ordinance unduly impacts the poorest portion of our downtown community and seems likely to be used as another tool to move them out of the downtown, out of sight and out of town.


STREET PERFORMER IMPACT SEVERE; EVEN MORE SO FOR VENDORS
This huge restriction of space comes on the heels of an already sterilized sidewalk which irrationally excludes people from sitting, peacefully sparechanging, performing for donation, vending, and/or politically tabling from more than 75% of the sidewalk on Pacific Avenue. It also (currently) impacts 100% of virtually all sidewalks in other business districts----which are less than 10' wide.

Additionally, the notion that one street performer--much less two--can comfortably perform within a 4'X4' area is ridiculous. The notion that a vendor can do so and also have a chair and her or his personal possessions in that area is even more far-fetched.

And the notion that this all should be put on boxes or tables increases the burden on performers & vendors unnecessarily and to a ludicrous extreme in the interest of a hostile aesthetic--again imposed without any input from performers.


STREET PERFORMERS SPECIFICALLY INCLUDED NOT EXCLUDED IN THE ATTACK CONTRARY TO STAFF AND COUNCIL CLAIMS
Staff members Collins and Hende (and City Attorney Barisone) misleadingly implied that street performers aren't impacted by the display device provisions since they can "play anywhere on the avenue". There was also the absurd suggestion that artists can "hold up their art with their hands" and so also not be impacted.

While it is true that a street performer without an open guitar case or cup or cap on the sidewalk is not limited as to where he or she may play, that's only if they don't have one of those items out to collect donations. This, of course, ignores how street performers operate sine the point of the performance usually is to collect donations. What collects donation? Cups, caps, guitar cases, etc. These are indeed "display devices"--as defined by the peculiar wording of the ordinance and have been treated as such by police for the last 19 years.

The specific definition of MC 5.43.-000(b) defines display devices as "a table, rack, chair, box, cloth, stand, or any container, structure or other object used or capable of being used for holding or displaying tangible things, together with any associated seating facilities..." Could anything be any clearer (or more sweepingly inclusive)?

In addition the few spaces left in the area street performers, political tablers, and vendors usually set up (between New Leaf Market and Locust St.) are further constricted by the Move-Along law (another unique Santa Cruz DTA creation) which forbids using any particular space for more than 1 hour in any 24 hour period. This means that even if a space is suddenly emptied of someone sitting, sparechanging, standing, performing, vending, or tabling, anyone who's "set up a display device" during that day won't be able to come back and use that space for a day.

Given the severe expansion of the "forbidden zones" (now covering 95% of the sidewalk), as well as the new 12' distance required between display devices, the new laws seem both likely and indeed designed to drive away the "unsightly" cluttered scene that so offended Mathews, Comstock, & Robinson--who are essentially imposing their own aesthetic dictates upon the entire community.


SIGN-MAKING TOMORROW (Monday September 16th) FOR THE SUNDAY PROTEST AT THE RED CHURCH 5-6 pm at Lincoln and Cedar Streets. The Occupy Santa Cruz Homeless Justice Working Group and HUFF will be making signs for the September 22nd and 24th protests tomorrow at the Red Church. Come on down and mingle with those who will be affected. Come gather round ye artists of olde!

I also encourage folks to download and pass on fliers from this website--make your own as well!--and encourage local organizations to support these protests and subsequent actions to restore community space downtown.
by Robert Norse
Monday Sep 16th, 2013 7:42 AM
See http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/09/16/18743316.php . There'll also be sign-making prospects at the Food Not Bombs meal 4 PM Saturday 9-21 and before the subsequent Occupy Santa Cruz gathering at 5 PM.
by Razer Ray
Tuesday Sep 17th, 2013 10:38 AM
A little slice of reality about the 'community' the real estate industry around here believes is appropriate:

Company More Like Family Whose Members Are Desperate To Join Better Family

News in Brief • Local • coworkers • work • ISSUE 49•38 • Sep 17, 2013

Santa Cruz Ca— Saying that it represents more than just a 9-to-5 to them, employees at Proteus Commercial Logistics told reporters Tuesday that the company they work for is more like a big family whose members are frantically trying to join a better family.

“With a lot of jobs, it’s nothing more than a paycheck, but this place is really a family where everyone desperately wants to leave so they can make more money and get ahead in their careers with a far superior family,” said junior sales associate Omar Castillo, 31, noting that he thinks of his coworkers not simply as colleagues but as relatives whom he would swiftly abandon at a moment’s notice should the chance to have more impressive relatives present itself.

“We really are all like family here, until such a time, of course, as I meet a new family in a bigger, better city who will provide me with a superior benefits package.”

When reached for comment, Proteus CEO Bernard Dixon said that he himself sees his employees like his children whom he wouldn't hesitate to fire should cheaper, less entitled children be made available.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/company-more-like-family-whose-members-are-despera,33890/
by Robert Norse
Saturday Sep 21st, 2013 1:17 PM

Download and Distribute
by Robert Norse
Saturday Sep 21st, 2013 1:18 PM
SAVE VIBRANT STREET LIFE DOWNTOWN !

PROTEST, CHOW-DOWN, AND SPEAKOUT !
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 22nd 1:30 PM
on Pacific Avenue in front of Forever Twenty-One

SING BACK AT CITY COUNCIL
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 24th 3 PM
Council Chambers 809 Center St.


In a disguised attack on the entire non-commercial street scene, City Council will vote to restrict still further the very limited public space currently allowed the community downtown. Under the guise of health concerns, reducing congestion, and preventing a "trip-and-fall" hazard (none of which is documented), the reactionary new laws crowd street performers, vendors, homeless people, tablers, local residents, & tourists together. This will classify 95% of the sidewalk as sterile “forbidden zones” with no resting, vending, or performing. This attack on street counter-culture has nothing to do with “bad behavior.” It's about “bigot aesthetics”-& homeless cleansing clearing away visible poverty, traditional Santa Cruz diversity, and political activism. Council staff took no input from those targeted. They provided no info on the costs of current selective enforcement, nor stats of real problems. This merchant monopolization of sidewalk space is part of a broader “drive the homeless away” agenda.

THE NEW LAWS AS AMENDED
+++ Extends the Smoking Ban to the side streets one block in either direction from Pacific Avenue, including all alleys & side streets & to to all surface parking lots between Laurel Street & Water St. perhaps private parking lots as well. Ignores that current law already bans smoking 25' from a door or window in the side streets.
+++ Bans tarps & blankets now used to display jewelry, artwork, political fliers, etc. and requires all devices on the sidewalk to be “free-standing”. This okays guitar cases and cups, but arguably makes backpacks and anything placed perpendicular to the sidewalk “display devices” requiring a 12' distance from the next “device”.
+++ Reduces total allowed space to 4' X 4' area which now includes table, musical instruments, chair, people & personal possessions—making playing without a special permit difficult if not impossible.
+++ Requires 12' distance between display devices, isolating performers and forcing away other vendors.
+++ Reduces total available space 4/5 to exclude 95% of the sidewalk by expanding the “forbidden zones” to 14' from buildings, street corners, intersections, kiosks, drinking fountains, public telephones, public benches, public trash containers, information/directory signs, sculptures or artwork, ATM-style machines, outside street cafes, vending carts, and fences. This bans sitting on any sidewalk that is narrower than 14' (no sidewalk use in other business districts at all if buildings adjoin).
+++ In conjunction with Santa Cruz's unique “Move Along Every Hour” law, police can then ban individuals from any one spot for 24 hours & require them to move 100'--further reducing “legal” spots.

When added to the frequent merchant expansion of their displays onto the sidewalk in front of their shops this exclusion of non-commercial activity will be nearly all-embracing. This, of course, suits those whose real objective is to drive away the once-vibrant street scene in Santa Cruz and 'Capitola-ize” the Avenue.

The resulting congestion will have people competing for the public spaces (when there is actually room for all). It will severely crowd not just those using display devices, but others trying to sit down in the few remaining spots available whether these be elderly residents, homeless locals, visiting travelers, UCSC students, or naive tourists (who will, of course be selectively ignored or courteously directed to pay-cafes). And either drive such people away or produce a hostile response and more conflict downtown. Police will be given greater power to drive away a significant number of people currently using the sidewalk.



DOWNTOWN FOR ALL ! NOT JUST THE RICH, CONSERVATIVE, & FEARFUL

+++ Use your video phone to capture evidence of authorities harassing the public on the streets downtown. Post on You-Tube and http://www.indybay.org/santacruz . Send them to HUFF (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com ); pass on links.
+++ E-mail City Council at citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com .and demand these ordinances be reviewed for cost, effectiveness, impact, and unintended consequences. Send them back to citizen committees for public input.
+++ Spread opposition; Write local papers; Use Facebook & Twitter;. Ordinances become final a month after a 2nd vote in two weeks (October 24) Support businesses who oppose, publicize those who don't.
+++ Post your own accounts of discrimination downtown. The Coffee Roasting Company, Verve, & Starbucks refused service to homeless people with backpacks; CruzioWorks refused 24-hour service to homeless Dan Madison.
+++ Come to City Council 3 PM September 24th to oppose the 2nd Vote on these laws!
+++ Witness & support other street performers & streetfolk when they face harassment from authorities.
+++ Get familiar with the Downtown Ordinances, often misquoted by police and hosts. Copies available through HUFF (Wednesdays 11 AM, Sub Rosa Cafe 703 Pacific) & soon at the Sub Rosa Cafe (703 Pacific).
+++ Prepare to sustain a long struggle by documenting police and merchant behavior regularly, organizing solidarity between vendors, activists, and others seeking to use the public space. Report harassment accurately.

Flier by Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833 http://www.huffsantacruz.org 9-19-13