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From 1968 to 2013, the Midtown Park Apartments in San Francisco's Western Addition was leased from the City to its tenants. It is the only City-owned property that is not public housing. In 2013, the City terminated the lease with the tenants and awarded it to Mercy Housing. Under the new lease, tenants are now facing enormous rent increases and rules that tell them what they can and can't do in their own homes. Mercy Housing has put forth plans to eventually demolish the buildings. In response, Midtown tenants went on Rent Strike five months ago, with half of the residents refusing to pay increased rent.
On November 14, residents of the Midtown Park Apartments and their supporters gathered for a fundraiser and BBQ. At the Saturday afternoon get together, Myles Dixon, who has lived there for 30 years, said tenants used to pay 30% of their income to live there. "We used to have our own Board of Directors, which I served on. Then the Mayor's Office of Housing dissolved our Board of Director's on Christmas Eve, 2013. That was our Christmas present."
Midtown residents have been working for decades towards the co-operative ownership of their homes and even paid off the mortgage for the Midtown property. Residents are calling out for public support.
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In the city of Alameda, rent increases and evictions remain unregulated. Landlords are pushing rents up sky high and/or evicting people out of homes they've been able to afford for decades. The Alameda City Council, which has known about the current rent crisis for at least a year, has refused to do anything about it.
On November 4, an estimated 200 Alameda renters went to their city council to demand an end to unfair rent hikes and displacement. Many renters were excluded from the hearing room. As landlords testified inside, a crowd of Alameda renters gathered and eventually began chanting “Let renters speak” in the hall outside the council chambers. City Official Bob Haun shoved with both hands a 68-year-old Alameda Rental Coalition leader and police tackled another protester to the ground where he lay bleeding while police restrained him. The police arrested both the Alameda Renters Coalition leader and the bloodied man in front of the crowd of renters that included families with young children.
After a hearing that lasted past 1am, the Alameda City Council voted unanimously for a temporary 65-day limit of 8% on rent increases and ban on no cause evictions. The statewide renters' rights organization Tenants Together called this a step forward, but says that the City needs to adopt a rent control ordinance that ties rent increases to the inflation rate and prohibits no cause evictions.
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On October 27 the Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to support the creation of a permanent garden owned by the City, on the site of the current Beach Flats Community Garden. Community members have applauded this as a great start, but the Seaside Company, owner of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, has plans to take part of the garden for other uses unless the City intervenes by November 13. The City has not committed to challenge the Seaside Company's plan to take over more than a third of the garden for other uses as of that date.
The Garden produces organic, non-GMO food that is shared with the community, including culturally relevant food not available elsewhere. The City's General Plan says that for every 1,000 residents in a neighborhood, there must be at least one acre of green space. The Garden is the largest and only available green space in Beach Flats and is only a half acre in its entirety. There are about 2,600 residents there.
Community members organizing to save the Garden say now is the time to write letters to both the City Council and local media outlets to encourage the Council to tangible action to protect this vital community resource.
Action Needed Now to Prevent Garden Plots from Being Destroyed |
Letter of Support: Preservation of the Beach Flats Community Garden |
Caution Tape Around Beach Flats Community Garden |
Crucial Beach Flats Garden meeting with City (Nov 4) |
Dolores Huerta Celebration at Beach Flats Garden (Nov 13) |
On Oct 21, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided family homes in Monterey County by pretending to be local police, including wearing jackets that said "POLICE" on them, knocking on people's doors pretending that they just wanted to ask some questions, and then arresting them without any warrants. The two men are fathers of U.S. citizens. One is a grandfather. They have lived in the United States since 1989 and 2005.
Take Back Santa Cruz (TBSC) claims to be a non-profit group dedicated to safety issues in the city of Santa Cruz, and that they have no ideological direction. The truth is that TBSC has been the grassroots arm to many of the recent laws criminalizing homelessness in the city as well as the force behind proposed RV bans, forced closure and relocation of a needle exchange service, and a stay away order law from public parks.
Federal prison sentences were handed down October 2 for the three remaining defendants in the Kettle Falls Five case in Washington State. They were charged with multiple federal felonies after a 2012 raid on the family’s personal cannabis garden. The case has received national attention as an example of federal interference with state-qualified medical cannabis patients. Lobbying by Larry Harvey, a defendant in the case who died last month from cancer, was instrumental in getting Congress to restrict Department of Justice enforcement in states with medical cannabis laws.
The decision on approving the grant money for a Stingray upgrade was postponed to an indefinite date, probably December.
Receiving scant attention from marijuana legalization advocates and just about zero attention in the national media, voters in Ohio will be deciding on a controversial marijuana legalization initiative this November that “Grants a monopoly for the commercial production and sale of marijuana." It is a cautionary tale to which the backers of California’s multiple marijuana legalization initiatives might want to pay close attention.
Activists in Santa Cruz are moving in to their 13th week of sleep protests held at city hall organized to protest the criminalization of people experiencing homelessness, and to work toward the repeal of the local camping and sleeping bans. Dozens of "Freedom Sleepers", as many of them call themselves, have held their ground and stayed the night at city hall despite regular visits by officers with the Santa Cruz police department, as well as First Alarm security guards hired by the city, who have made arrests and issued protesters dozens of citations.
Tuesday, October 6: Freedom Sleepers 13th Community Sleepout
Community Sleepout #11, September 22: Activists hold ground at city hall for 11th week in a row
| Waking the Freedom Sleepers
Community Sleepout #10, September 15: Sleepout protest fighting Santa Cruz anti-camping ordinance moves into tenth week
| 2 Harassment Arrests, 2 "Standing in a Parking Spot" Cites at Freedom Sleepers Protest #10
| First Alarm Security Guards Violently Detain Woman at Santa Cruz City Hall
Community Sleepout #9, September 8: 9th SleepOut Holds The Sidewalk, Faces Klieg Lights, Parking Barriers, Police Retaliation
| Santa Cruz Police Make More Arrests at City Hall Sleepout #9
Community Sleepout #8, September 1: City escalates effort against camping-ban protestors, event attracts variety of supporters
| City Hall Sleepout #8
| Crackdown from Police against the Freedom Sleepers
Community Sleepout #7, August 25: Two more arrests at Community Sleepout event in front of Santa Cruz city hall
| City Hall Sleepout #7
| SCPD celebrates their big arrest in keeping downtown safe!
Community Sleepout #6, August 18: Attendance Doubles at Sixth City Hall Sleepout
Community Sleepout #5, August 11: Santa Cruz Police Arrest Journalist and Issue Stay Away Orders at Community Sleepout #5
| Half a dozen cited, photographer arrested at Freedom Sleepers Protest
| Arrest of Citizen Journalist for resisting arrest leaves questions of Police Intimidation
| Police disrupt sleeping-ban protest, issue citations and make 1 arrest
Community Sleepout #3, July 26: Community Sleep-ins Continue at Santa Cruz City Hall
Community Sleepout #2, July 19: Despite Heavy Police and Security Presence, Campers Make it Through the Night at City Hall
Community Sleepout #1, July 4: Community Campout Ends with Citations
| On the Eve of Protest: Letters to and From Councilmember Micah Posner
| "Homeless Lives Matter" Back For Fourth Meal Preparing for July 4th CampOut
See Also: Local ACLU Issues Statement of Support for the Freedom Sleepers
| Vancouver, WA Move to End Nighttime Camping Ban Should Encourage Freedom Sleepers
| River St. Shelter Waiting List UpDate
| Freedom Sleepers Website
Previous Coverage: Residents Respond to Withdrawal of Homeless Services Funds in Santa Cruz
Small cascades of pristine water rush out of the hillside at Big Springs, the headwaters of the Sacramento River, as they converge in a shallow pool located in the Mount Shasta City Park. On September 26, Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, and hundreds of environmentalists and activists from all over California and Oregon held a rally, the “Water Every Drop Sacred” event, in the scenic park. After the rally ended, Sisk and tribal members led a march and protest of 160 people to the water bottling plant.