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On January 22, the Homeless Persons Legal Assistance Project (HPLAP) filed and served a lawsuit on the City of Santa Cruz challenging the constitutionality of the recently passed parks “stay away order” ordinance, Municipal Code Section 13.08.100. HPLAP is bringing this suit on behalf of the homeless community for whom City of Santa Cruz parks and beach areas are traditionally places of rest, relaxation and communal association.
The Complaint alleges in part that “the activities (use of parks and open spaces for free assembly) … are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and by the California Constitution and Defendants’ restrictions as to place, time and manner embodied in Section 13.08.100 are not reasonable under the circumstances.” It further alleges that “the ordinance as applied to Plaintiff’s activities … are based upon violations of other municipal ordinances which are so vague that they violate the due process standards as set forth in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in that a person of ordinary intelligence cannot reasonably know what he or she is legally permitted to do under the statutes as applied.”
The ordinance had its second and final reading before City Council on January 13 and will go into effect thirty days thereafter by operation of law.
Read More | See Also: Open Letter to Mayor Lane Re: Compassion and Actions vs Words
Previous Coverage: Santa Cruz City Council Delays Second Reading of Parks Stay Away Ordinance
On January 13, hundreds of residents attempted to attend the Santa Cruz City Council meeting to oppose the council's December decision which approved a police department request to accept Homeland Security grants totaling more than $250,000 earmarked for the purchase of an armored attack vehicle. When residents first found out in early December about the proposed purchase, police described it as an "emergency response and rescue vehicle" in a report sent to city council members prepared by Deputy Chief of Police Steve Clark and approved by Chief of Police Kevin Vogel. The public later found out that police intended to purchase a Lenco "BearCat." BearCat is an acronym, standing for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck.
Shortly after the December 9 BearCat approval, a group of activists met with Mayor Lane to discuss the issue, and they were invited to give a short presentation on January 13, which was delivered by Abbi Samuels of Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs. She spoke on behalf of a coalition of eight individuals which included members of the local chapters of the ACLU, WILPF, People's Democratic Club, Code Pink, and Food Not Bombs, as well as a first responder and a civil rights activist. The purpose of the presentation, Samuels said, was to give reasons why the BearCat order should be rescinded, as well as to introduce a proposal to change the process by which the City of Santa Cruz acquires grants.
Community members continue to circulate a petition
calling for the city council to "Give Back the BearCat," and another protest at City Hall is planned for Tuesday, January 27
Read More with Photos | See Also: Escalated Government Attacks on Homeless, Journalism, & Public Criticism: Santa Cruz & SJ
|| Public Records Released by the SPCD on the Bearcat
Previous Coverage: Protesters Shut Down City Council Meeting after Purchase of Armored Vehicle Approved
Santa Cruz County is drafting new regulations for medicinal cannabis patients and providers. These new rules have the potential to turn large numbers of patients and providers into criminals and drastically roll back decades of progress won by cannabis activists. In letters to the Board of Supervisors, medicinal cannabis patients and cultivators are expressing their desire for "more effective, more sensible, and more just solutions" regarding a policy on medicinal cannabis cultivation and distribution.
Cannabis Advocates Alliance (CAA) is a newly formed network concerned about the environmental and community impacts of unregulated cannabis production, but who also know that regulations must not diminish the availability of quality, safe and effective medicinal cannabis.
Santa Cruz County is proposing to ban
all commercial cannabis cultivation located in Residential Agriculture (RA) and Special Use (SU) zoned parcels, and only allow commercial cultivation in Commercial Agriculture (CA) and Agriculture (A) zoned parcels. In effect, this would make the vast majority of cannabis gardens in Santa Cruz County a "criminal matter". This rule, in particular, is problematic as it does not provide cannabis cultivators a clear, accessible path towards compliance.
CAA is requesting that local patients be given a greater voice in re-drafting the County cannabis ordinances, that the County draft clearer and more environmentally-friendly paths to compliance for patient-cultivators, and that in re-drafting the existing ordinances the County preserve the minimal diversity of choice required for patients to have proper access to quality cannabis medicine.
Read More | Cannabis Advocates Alliance | Jan 21: CAA meeting | Jan 27: Board of Supervisors meeting
In Oakland, hundreds of people from more than two dozen groupings organized in response to the Anti Police-Terror Project’s call to come together for ninety-six hours of direct action over the Martin Luther King Day weekend. The first action announced was a protest inside Montgomery BART station in San Francisco at 7am on Friday. The weekend’s events culminated in a Jobs and Economy March for the People on Monday, January 19. Other groups organized more MLK-related events in Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, and throughout Northern California. (Check back on full feature as coverage is still coming in.)
On January 14, California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced new “recommended restrictions” on the use of chloropicrin, a cancer-causing pesticide used widely on California strawberries. Health, environmental and rural advocates say that DPR ignored its own scientists in developing the proposal, and that the recommended restrictions fall far short of protecting schoolchildren and rural residents from harmful exposures to the toxic pesticide.
While Governor Jerry Brown and his staff continue to greenwash the Governor's abysmal neo-liberal environmental policies, thousands of Californians are convening January 12-18 as part of the "California Crossroads Tour" calling on Governor Brown to ban fracking, stand up to Big Oil, and "move California beyond fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy," according to a news release from Californians Against Fracking.
Brent Adams writes:
On December 30 and 31, with forecasts below freezing, the Santa Cruz Warming Center Program had its inaugural opening. Calvary Episcopal Church stepped up to provide the needed hall, a dozen people volunteered for overnight monitor shifts and 100 blankets were donated in a 24-hour period. A van was rented to shuttle people from Homeless Services Center and to cruise the area searching for people needing shelter. On the first night we served nearly 50 people and on the second night we hosted nearly 60, who snoozed warmly and peacefully.
During the 10-day cold snap of 2013, it became apparent that hundreds of people sleep outside when it freezes, while numerous large halls and auditoriums remain locked closed.
How can it be that in an area of such affluence, with more nonprofits and community groups than one can count, we don’t have a program ensuring that people who sleep outside by the hundreds have a warm place to rest when it freezes? Exploring the nature of this inexplicable void, one finds concern but very little public will to change the situation. We have an office of Emergency Services that issues freeze warnings for pets and outdoor plants, but not for human beings who sleep outside.
In response to a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated that Endangered Species Act protection may be warranted for monarch butterflies. The agency will now conduct a one-year status review on monarchs, which have declined by 90 percent in the past 20 years.
On December 22, with the full support of marine conservation organizations, a group of California legislators called on the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service to transition away from deadly California drift gillnets. “California drift gillnets are deadly curtains of death for marine wildlife like whales and sea turtles,” said Doug Karpa of Turtle Island Restoration Network.
On December 17, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit against the California Rodeo Salinas and its head veterinarian Tim Eastman for failing to report animal injuries to the state veterinary medical board, as required under California law. The defendants are accused of significantly under-reporting the number of animals injured at the California Rodeo Salinas, the largest rodeo in the state and one of the largest in the country.
In the last two years, the nonprofit SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) has documented injuries to 41 animals—yet the rodeo has reported only four of those injuries. The lawsuit was filed in the Monterey County Superior Court on behalf of SHARK, who has had to spend its limited resources monitoring the rodeo and documenting unreported injuries to animals.
The California Rodeo Salinas holds an annual rodeo each summer in mid-July, drawing crowds of approximately 50,000 people. Events include steer wrestling, bull riding, calf roping, and team roping, all of which pose serious risks of injury to animals. For the last two years, SHARK has attended the California Rodeo Salinas and videotaped more than forty injuries to animals, including calves limping in pain after being dragged to the ground, and a horse with a tennis ball-sized wound on his neck. Expert veterinary assessment of this footage confirms that these injuries required immediate veterinary care, and should have been reported. But to mask the inherent dangerousness of rodeo events, California Rodeo Salinas has drastically and chronically under-reported animal injuries.
Read More | Showing Animals Respect & Kindness (SHARK) | Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)
On December 13, community members in Santa Cruz joined people across the country for a national day of protest against police violence. The focus of the protests have primarily been on the police killings of three black individuals, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, which all came to national attention in 2014.
9:30AM Saturday Mar 7
AIDS Walk and Fun Run