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ACLU Santa Cruz Brings Statement of Principle to Board of Supervisors
ACLU Calls for Board Consideration of Moratorium on Camping Ban
Tuesday morning at Oral Communication before the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, ACLU Vice Chair Steve Pleich read the ACLU Statement of Principle in support a moratorium on enforcement of camping ban laws and called upon the Board to revisit the policy of criminalizing homelessness. The following is the full text of that presentation.
"Mr. Chairman, members of the board, my name is Steve Pleich and I am the Vice Chair for ACLU Santa Cruz County. On behalf of our over 1,600 members, I have been asked to read a Statement of Principle and deliver a message. The statement reads as follows.
THE SANTA CRUZ COUNTY CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION SUPPORTS IN PRINCIPLE A LIMITED TIME MORATORIUM ON ENFORCEMENT OF CAMPING BAN LAWS AND ORDINANCES WITHIN THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ ON THE GROUNDS THAT SUCH LAWS AND ORDINANCES SELECTIVELY CRIMINALIZE THE HOMELESS COMMUNITY.
WHILE THE CHAPTER IS MINDFUL THAT SUCH A MORATORIUM RAISES PRACTICAL PROBLEMS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE, WE BELIEVE THAT THE BENEFITS OF SUCH AN APPROACH IN TERMS OF THE OPPORTUNITY FOR CIVIC LEADERS, POLICY MAKERS AND STAKEHOLDERS TO REASSESS THE EFFICACY OF THESE LAWS AND ORDINANCES OUTWEIGHS ANY TEMPORARY ADVERSE IMPACT.
The message is this. Each night there are more than 3,500 men, women and children unsheltered in our community and yet there are fewer that 700 emergency shelter spaces available. That means that the vast majority of our homeless population is at risk of citation and/or arrest every night for the crime of simply having nowhere to sleep. For our community, this is a human rights issue, this is a civil rights issue, and at the end of day for the ACLU it is a civil liberties issue. Know that the ACLU is now fully engaged on this issue and will use every opportunity to bring the matter to this board generally, to each member individually, to every city and county policy maker and to every concerned community member. A change is going to come! A change must come! And ACLU Santa Cruz has asked that I tell you that the change starts right here; and starts right now! Thank you."