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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Santa Cruz Indymedia | Government & Elections | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Police State and Prisons
New Restrictions on City Hall Access Must Be Reviewed by Council
Moratorium Pending Review is Appropriate Under the Circumstances
Among the rights our federal constitution was intended to protect is the right to access and use of open and public spaces. In Santa Cruz, we are fortunate to have many such spaces and our City Hall is but one example of historically and legally recognized public space. In my view, as both a city resident and as a civil libertarian, the recent limitation of access to the area around and including City Hall (and by extension the grounds of the adjacent Central Library) raises serious issues of the abridgement of substantial civil liberties. I recognize, of course, that even Constitutional rights may be subject to reasonable place, time and manner restrictions. However, I do not believe that this standard is being met in this instance.
As community members, we are aware of the anecdotal testimony offered by City Council Members and the City Manager in support of the opinion that continued access between the hours of 6:00am and 10:00pm may adversely impact the safety of city employees working in or passing through the area in the ordinary course of their duties. However, I have neither seen, nor am I aware of, any data, statistics, or reliable evidence of any kind that would justify the abridgement of civil liberties that the new restrictions on public access would cause. In my opinion, the potential harm implicit in the newly imposed restrictions clearly outweighs any perceived benefit to either city employees or the community at large.
I am mindful of the delicate balance that exists in our society between the preservation of civil liberties and the desire of our citizens for safe and secure public spaces. But the severity of the imposed time limitations asks too much of individual liberty and offers too little in the way of potential public safety, particularly in light of the absence of credible evidence regarding the nature and extent of the public safety problems.
Therefore, as a resident, as a constituent and as a person committed to the preservation of basic civil liberties in our community, I respectfully request the Santa Cruz City Council impose a moratorium on the new restricted hours of City Hall and Central Library access, at least until the Council has obtained broad, reliable, statistical evidence of the scope and nature of the public safety issues.