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Indybay Feature

Coastal Access Denied to Motorhomes and Trailers in Santa Cruz

by Donna Deiss (LIVE2007 [at]
Ranger John Wallace, six police officers and four squad cars showed up Wednesday August 29, 2007 at noon at a public parking lot designated as LOT A on West Cliff Drive, north of the Lighthouse and Steamer Lane to harass and ticket a 60 year old woman and her companion, critically ill with AIDS. New signs were posted during the night denying motorhomes and trailers access to the parking lot during day hours. He cited municipal code 13.04.010MC given by the ranger states "Limitations on public property when designated." No obstruction was caused by the 21 ft. RV which the owner told the ranger was the legal length to fit in any City parking lot. The two have been in a self contained RV for one year and have been on the HUD list for five years.
The lot, out of the way of tourists has been a place for many locals to hang out and get away from downtown. Vans, cars and motorcycles as well as monster trucks are not denied use of the lot. The armed police officers alarmed and threatened the disabled woman and her companion with AIDS blood pressure and stress level skyrocketed as he was the first one to be commanded to "Hand over your ID in 3 seconds or your home will be towed. Other RVers left the lot but the two decided to fight the ticket. They recently participated in the sleeping ban protest at City Hall. They are organizing LIVE or Live in Vehicles Excellently to provide a contact point for those harassed and threatened by police and vigilantes or "haters'. Contact email: LIVE2007 [at] Thank you
Donna Deiss, the author of this article, is the main target of Chief Ranger Wallace's enforcement activites as he demands she move her RV out of Parking Lot A, and she refused to comply.

Donna has formed a new organization LIVE (Living in Vehicles Excellently) which is concerned with the rights of vehicle dwellers. She can be contacted at the above e-mail. (Be patient in waiting for a response; she has to access the e-mails at the main library).

I spoke with Chief Ranger John Wallace Tuesday morning by phone. He insisted that he had nothing to do with the designation of Lot A as a "no RVs" zone, but that it has to do with restriping the lot to "create more vehiclar spaces". He claims the same process happened several years ago in the three adjacent lots: B, C, & D, now cleared of RVs. The reason that A was not so posted was because of the lack of funds.

I have filed a Public Records Act Request with Parks and Recreation Superintendant Steve Hammack, seeking to see all public documents involved in the process of designating these lots as closed to RVs. So far Hammack has not returned my calls or answered the Request (made last Friday, due 10 days after it's made)

In the past decade in moves initiated by Emily Reilly and Ryan Coonerty, many nighttime street parking areas have been closed to the public explicitly to discourage "homeless camping"--although it is already illegal to sleep in one's vehicle.

Last year Coonerty successfully pushed through the public-hostile Parking Garage Paranoia Law (or the 15-Minute Trespass Law, as City Council called it) which makes it illegal to even enter a garage without a car or bicycle, and then only for 15 minutes.

WARNING: A Downtown Commission member has alerted me that the last Thursday of the month at 8:30 AM, his Commission will be reconsidering expanding this law. The attempt to expand this abusive, unnessary, and repressive law to all the city's lots was rejected buy the Downtown Commission earlier this summer, but only because the SCPD was too lazy to present any statistics. They are apparently planning to come back with tales of terror to eliminate the right to gather in public parking lots..

Thanks to Wallace's scary "homeless campers destroy the environment" presentations to City Council last year, the Rotkin-Reilly City Council has pushed forward expanding funding and enforcement powers for "drive out the poor" rangers and cops. A deceptive Measure put on the ballot, supposedly to improve the roadshas been used to dramatically increase anti-homeless enforcement in the Pogonip, along the San Lorenzo River, and on the Westside.

In Santa Cruz, affordable housing for many poor and disabled people is a vehicle.

Deiss also accuses Wallace of running off handicapped folks with legitimate handicapped placards on their RVS.

Wallace claims he's simply enforcing the laws others made and "protecting the environment." However he openly acknowledges that the clean-up crews that follow his tagging of homeless camps destroy and dumpster all homeless property instead of storing it as required by the federal Kincaid decision in Fresno.

Please post any abuses by Wallace's Rangers and the new SCPD enforcement team headed by Sgt. Warren Barry. Documenting these outrages is the first step towards taking these licensed thugs to court.

Please contact Donna if you wish to join LIVE or pass on helpful information and support.

Donna and her partner Shane provided a bathroom for Homies for the Homeless when they did their 6 night Sleep-Out at City Hall, providing the sanitary facilities that the City refused to do, when Mayor Reilly (and her boss City Manager-for-Life Dick Wilson) refused to respond to the request that City Hall bathrooms be opened at night.

For a decade, Donna worked for the rights of tenants as co-founder of TRUSC (Tenants Rights Union of Santa Cruz).

by Robert Norse
See "Superintendant Hammack Stonewalls on RV Ban in Coastal Parking Lots" at
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