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Feature Archives

Thu Sep 22 2016 (Updated 09/24/16)
Getting a Good Night's Sleep at Santa Cruz City Hall
Presently the only location in downtown Santa Cruz where people on the street are able to sleep regularly as a group is at the weekly community sleepouts organized by the Freedom Sleepers. Homeless sweeps conducted by the Santa Cruz Police Department beginning in January of this year have for the most part cleared the downtown area of groups of people sleeping together in other locations, such as at the post office. Since July of 2015, the Freedom Sleepers have gathered to sleep at city hall one night a week to protest local laws that criminalize homelessness. September 20 marked the group's 63rd sleepout.
In June, the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury released its report on the death of 23-year-old mother Krista DeLuca, who died in the main jail on September 29, 2015. Shortly after the release of the Grand Jury report, DeLuca's family filed a civil lawsuit against the County of Santa Cruz. Besides the County, the lawsuit lists as defendants the Sheriff's Office, Sheriff-Coroner Jim Hart, Under-Sheriff Jeremy Verinsky, Chief Deputy Jeff March, Lieutenant Kelly Kent, and California Forensic Medical Group, Inc. (CFMG), as well as a list of unspecified "John Does".
Fri Aug 19 2016 (Updated 08/20/16)
Protect Our Right To Stay: No Suban La Renta
Renter protections are on the ballot for voters to vote on this coming November in the cities of Oakland, Richmond, Alameda, Burlingame, San Mateo, and Mountain View. On August 8, the Alameda Renters Coalition (ARC), tenants and other community members rallied to protest against no-cause evictions — and evictions at the Bay View Apartments in Alameda. Tenant advocates across the Bay Area are urging renters to vote on strong renter protections during the upcoming November elections, urging people to vote against weak proposals placed on the ballot by the City Council in Alameda and Mountain View.
On August 11, the California Coastal Commission found by an 11-1 vote that the City of Santa Cruz' midnight to 5 PM RV (recreational vehicle) parking ban involved a "substantial issue" and so would require a new hearing in the months to come. The CCC was not convinced by Assistant City Manager Scott Collins's claims that Santa Cruz provides RV alternatives, is dealing with an RV "crime crisis", and is only duplicating what other cities have done.
In the wake of the Chinatown homeless sweeps that displaced hundreds of people in downtown Salinas in March of this year, a small but thriving tent community has established itself at Salinas City Hall, where a group has been camping out every night for over four months. An anti-camping ordinance was recently passed by the Salinas City Council that allows for the city to quickly remove "bulky items" stored on public property, and outlaws setting up tents on public property between the hours of 6am and 6pm.
The Freedom Sleepers celebrated their one-year anniversary together on July 5 with a march through downtown Santa Cruz, and then an outdoor movie screening at Santa Cruz City Hall. After celebrating their one-year anniversary, the Freedom Sleepers have returned to Santa Cruz City Hall for three more sleepouts. The most recent was their 55th community sleepout on July 26. Since July 4 of 2015, a coalition of unhoused and housed community members in Santa Cruz have converged to sleep at city hall one night a week to protest local laws that criminalize homelessness.
In front of Oakland City Hall on July 11, Leigh Davenport of the Anti Police-Terror Project announced community activists' intention to recall Mayor Libby Schaaf. Primary among the concerns cited as cause for Schaaf's removal from office are her failures: 1) to address the massive displacement of long-time Oakland residents; 2) to support local youth and job centers; and 3) to hold Oakland police accountable for corruption, sexual exploitation, and those they've killed. “The level of discontent is high in the City of Oakland," notes Cat Brooks.