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Fifteen Minute Parking Lot "Panic" Law At Council Today (4/25)
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Apr 25th, 2006 8:47 AM
Everyone's invited to a 2:30 PM protest today (4-25) at City Hall (809 Center St.) against the Fifteen Minute Trespass law. The second and final reading will happen at the afternoon session of City Council at 3 PM (the item to reach the agenda probably sometime between 3:30 and 5 PM). Public comment can also be made, after the fact, at 7 PM during Oral Communications.
Council will receive e-mail regarding items on the agenda during the meeting at viewpoint [at] E-mail may be sent to the Council at all other times to citycouncil [at]

For more info, check out .

Here's a revised edition of the Fifteen Minute Trespass Law flier.

46 Strikes Against the Parking Lot Panic Law

“Any person who uses a City of Santa Cruz parking lot or garage for purposes other than a motor vehicle or bicycle parking ... or who remains on City of Santa Cruz parking lot or garage premises for longer than fifteen minutes...shall be guilty of trespassing, which offense shall be punishable as an infraction.”
--proposed new City Council chapter 9.64

Legal Problems: Contrary to the Pre-Bush Constitution
++It was presented to the Downtown Commission as a law
specifically designed to be selectively enforced (i.e. not against upscale
tourists); it is a legal liability for that reason alone.
++The local ACLU has expressed its concern; the National Law
Center for Homelessness and Poverty is interested in challenging the law
when it passes.
++It prohibits traditional union and political activities (such
as putting fliers on cars) except in specially posted “free speech zones”.

Community Problems: Contrary to Traditional Practice in Santa Cruz
++It backfires on the entire community, drastically limiting
everyone’s liberty in the interests of stopping a few bad apples. Instead
of focusing on specific crimes, it criminalizes everyone.
++It removes traditional liberties without polling the community
it is “protecting”.
++It supposes an undocumented “crime wave”. No crime figures
are given for past years.
++It spreads the “gated community” virus to the center of
downtown, imposing the gentrification agenda--fundamentally at odds with
traditionally diverse & open Santa Cruz.
++It provides at best the illusion of security without the
substance--no additional police resources being committed. It is a “bluff”.
It may create more work for the police not less.
++Street musicians like C.J. Stock will be banned from playing in
traditional spots.
++It is offensive enough to be likely to prompt public protest and
polarize the city
++It is class legislation that allows those with vehicles and
bikes privileges in public spaces that the rest of the community will now be
++It eliminates 8-10 square blocks of previously accessible public
space downtown.

Unwise Expansion of Police Power: Contrary to Proper Procedure
++It expands police power at a time when the SCPD needs more
checks and balances not more blank checks. Its implicit selective
enforcement requirement invites abuse.
++Its criminalize-the-innocent focus models unwise examples such
as the California “three strikes” law & the national “Patriot Act”,
localizing bad precedents.

Bad for Business: Contrary to What Draws Tourists
++It would unfairly, unwisely, and unnecessarily eliminate the right
to read, socialize, or rest in one’s vehicle, even after paying a fee to
park one’s car--unlike most other cities in California.
++It destroys a traditional right to privacy in one’s car (limiting it
to 15 minutes) which can only be enforced either selectively or
abusively--discouraging shoppers and visitors.
++It is a bizarre and unprecedented law which motorists will find
++It is special interest legislation which ineffectively but
ostentatiously reflects a conservative merchant mentality and knee-jerk
staff preference for exclusionary solutions.
++Even numerous merchants from the Downtown Association opposed this
++The Downtown Commission never asked the cost of the fines ($100 and

Safety Problems: Contrary to Common Sense
++ It compromises the liberty and ignores the safety of the same
women it claims to protect, instead of providing potential safeguards, like
increased police patrols, community watch, etc.
++It is unclear that removing watching eyes--even those of poor
people--improves safety.
++Its 15-minute time limit will encourage drunk drivers to drive home
rather than “sleep it off”.

Bad Documentation and Phony Solutions: Contrary to Actual Statistics
++No statistics show that parking lots and garages are experiencing
any crime at a greater rate than elsewhere downtown. Why not extend the
“Fifteen Minute Solution” throughout town?
++No comparisons over time indicate any kind of recent “crime wave”
requiring this drastic law.
++It is a symbolic & negative political gesture similar to the 1994
“Sitting Ban” and the 2002 “No Hackeysacking” law. Is City Council trying
to create a image for the fall elections?

Rushed Tactics Bypassing the Public: Contrary to Wise Process
++It was rushed through unprecedented special meetings of the Downtown
Commission [DC]
++It was rushed through the Downtown Association two days after being
introduced over dissenting voices with the public excluded from the final
++Alternatives have not been publicly and seriously considered;
instead a prefabricated law has been the focus of all discussion. The DC
chair’s request for more time was denied on 4-11.
++The Council ignored ACLU pleas for more time & scheduled comment for
afternoon not night

Staff Problems: Contrary to Effective Realistic Solutions
++It provides no new resources--these which might actually address
their problems--for the understaffed Parking Lot attendants whose concerns
prompted this law .
++Created by Parking workers and police officers, it reflects too
narrow a perspective.

Anti-Homeless Focus: Institutionalized & Explicit Hate Crime Law
++It is first and foremost, notwithstanding claims to the contrary,
consciously directed against the involuntary homeless. It is part of a
broader attack from Public Works and the SCPD including “no parking at
night” signage, San Lorenzo Park “no smoking” posting, & new Park closing
++It would have an immediate impact on the health and safety of
dozens of homeless people who currently use the garages for temporary
shelter against the wind and rain.
++It will explicitly ban taking shelter from the rain, even briefly.
those without vehicles are not allowed to linger at all. This exacerbates
health problems like pneumonia and is unconscionable.
++It adds another layer of criminalization to the homeless, already
denied the right to sleep or shelter themselves, in a city with shelter for
only 160 of the 1500-2000 homeless here.
++As with change machine placement, bench removal, no Sitting laws,
the Sleeping Ban itself, and other anti-homeless laws masquerading as
“public safety”, the law will simply move homeless people around--creating
the need for more “safety laws” in new spots .
++The populations impacted (homeless, youth, residents, tourists) have
not been seriously approached or their needs adequately considered.
++Complaints about homeless people leaving litter, going to the
bathroom where they must, and camping ignore inadequate trash receptacles,
closed bathrooms, and the shelter emergency.
++Hysteria and humbug: the law both presupposes, uses, and furthers a
false and mean-spirited stereotyping of homeless people as fearsome &
loathsome criminals, which implicitly denies their worth and rights, based
on middle-class fears & fantasies rather than human realities .

Politician Hypocrisy and Conflict of Interest Problems
++Sheila Coonerty, former Downtown Commission chair and ACLU co-chair
forwarded this law to Council, ignoring ACLU concerns. ACLU’s “Riot Act”
Rotkin forcefully backed it on 4-11.
++Ryan Coonerty (Sheila’s nephew), City Councilman, Bookshop Santa
Cruz employee,& civil liberties teacher, has pressured this bill through
special sessions of the Downtown Commission. Though he has financial
interest, he did not recuse himself in the 4-11 vote.

Overly Broad Special-Interest Law: Contrary to Fair & Equal Treatment
++The law, even as amended after three sessions before the DC and one
before City Council, still has no exemptions for the disabled. Disabled
activists say it violates federal law.
++The law provides special-interest exemptions for all city employees
“doing city business”.
++Its sweep in taking in both garages and lots is over broad at best;
the lots issue is has even less “documentation” around supposed problems
than the garages.
++It empowers bureaucrats and bigots to ban individuals from
previously public spaces without any cause other than apprehension over
their appearance.

Sign the Petition Opposing the Fifteen Minute Trespass Law
Contact City Council at 420-5020: Urge them to Vote it Down.
Organize for Theater of Protest: Call 831-423-4833
Tell the Downtown Association (429-8433) you’ll shop elsewhere.

Flier by Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833 309
Cedar #14B Santa Cruz, 4-25-06

Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
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Letter and Less Upbeat UpdateRobert Norse (and Donna Deiss)Sunday Apr 30th, 2006 12:36 AM
Upbeat Update: Parking Lot Panic Law Postponed to May 9th !Robert NorseTuesday Apr 25th, 2006 10:35 PM