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Parking Lot Panic Expansion Law Headed for Downtown Commission 5-24

by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]
Back from the graveyard: an expansion of the current Parking Garage Paranoia Law to include every single surface parking lot in the Downtown area banning those without cars and bikes and requiring those who use the lots to time themselves and make sure they spend no more than 15 minutes going to and from their vehicle or waiting in their vehicle.
The City's ban on entering its 4 downtown parking garages as well as Parking Lot #9 (Elm St. between Cedar and Pacific) is slated to be broadened, if the Public Works Department has its way.

I spoke with Matt Ferrell, outgoing Parking Supervisor, who confirmed that the issue of expanding the law had already been raised at the March Downtown Commission meeting (unbeknownst to me). I hope to have a tape of that meeting available for play on the air next Sunday on my Bathrobespierre's Broadsides Free Radio Santa Cruz show at 101.1 FM ( sometime between 10 and noon.

The current law fines anyone entering Lot #9 or the garages unless they have a vehicle of bike there. If they do, they get 15 minutes, after which they become "illegal".

The privatization (or perhaps we should say police-a-fication) of public space was primarily a response to homeless campers who (still) have no legal shelter in Santa Cruz (space for 40 for 1500-2000). Instead of legalizing safe sleeping zones as Fresno's mayor says he'll be doing, or suspending nighttime ticketing as San Diego and Los Angeles have done, or changing their Sleeping Ban law as Richmond has done, the Reilly-Coonerty Council has hired more 7 more CSO/Rangers to increase the homeless ticketing in the Pogonip and promoted "Lone Ranger" John Wallace to Chief Ranger.

Wallace is a nice guy, but an uncompromising zealot regarding homeless people in public spaces. He gave out more "sleepcrime" tickets last year than the entire SCPD combined.

His ticketing of shelterless people violates the federal Jones decision (as well as common sense and common decency). The seizure and wanton destruction of homeless property violates the Fresno Kincaid decision (not binding precedent here, but an obvious warning to us to stop treating homeless survival gear and valued possessions like trash). In laymen's terms, Wallace's policy (and City Manager Dick Wilson's policy) treats homeless people and their property like lower animals, undeserving of constitutional protection.

I wasn't at the last Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, but it reportedly featured another "horror slide show" of wretched homeless camp sites and trash left behind. This is akin to showing human feces and piss and ignoring the locked or non-existent bathrooms.

The Downtown Commission meets Thursday May 24 at 8:30 AM in City Council chambers at 809 Center St. Protests against an expansion of this abusive and selectively-enforced ordinance can be sent directly to City Council at 420-5020 or to the Downtown Commission at
(831) 420-5184 or e-mailed at pw-downtown-commission [at]

Last year activists successfully fought to remove the parking lots from this absurd law. Now they're back, seeking to lock down more traditional public space (including Lot #4 where Food Not Bombs serves every Wednesday. They've already removed the last of the 24-hour portapotties downtown. Now you won't be able to wait in your car longer than 15 minutes or even enter one of the 20+ public lots downtown unless you own or are traveling in a car or bike. If you don't stop the police state, it will stop you.

Earlier stories:
Parking Garage Paranoia Law Stalls Again (Thursday May 11th, 2006)

Parking Lot Panic at City Council Tuesday May 9th (Monday May 8th, 2006)

Parking Lot Panic Law: Training Tutorial Downtown 3 PM Saturday (Friday May 5th 2006)

Fifteen Minute Parking Lot "Panic" Law At Council Today (4/25)

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Robert Norse
Fri, May 11, 2007 11:13AM
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