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Sleeping Ban Debate – Broadcasted on Community TV. Voices of the Village
by Tim Rumford
Wednesday Nov 14th, 2007 3:28 PM
Vice Mayor Ryan Coonerty, Civil Rights Attorney Kate Wells and local ACLU representative Don Zimmerman debate the Sleeping Ban live with call-ins and public questions.

Sleeping Ban Debate – Broadcast on Community TV. Voices of the Village
6.36.010c, the camping ban, aptly called the "Sleeping Ban” by activists states that setting-up any sleeping or cooking equipment anywhere that is not intended for human occupancy with the intent to remain in that location overnight, is against the law. Sleeping in your vehicle or anywhere, including someone’s front yard with permission is a violation of this ordinance. This ordinance criminalizes sleeping on any and all public property – at night. Sleep is a human necessity. It is a human right.
6.36.010b, known as the "blanket ban", makes it illegal to set-up any bedding, even just having a blanket covering you on a park bench, between the same hours, 11 p.m. and 8:30 a.m.

People in violation of these laws face $95 tickets, despite our Vice Mayors confusion. According to reports, tickets can be dismissed from court because the city of Santa Cruz does not offer any legal sleeping option for people who do not have a legal place to sleep. Although the tickets may be dismissed in court, rangers and police regularly destroy or confiscate items belonging to homeless people, wake them up while sleeping, harass them and drag them through a revolving-door court system. You have to have the proper letter, walk to the shelter and hope the right person is there. It is not a solution with any dignity or compassion. These laws are demoralizing, unethical and unconstitutional in nature.
I have never seen this type of dialog happen in Santa Cruz, I hope to see more of it in the future. Vice Mayor Ryan Coonerty came across as a representative of business, with no real compassion for the plight of people in poverty. His lack of knowledge concerning fines, available shelter and financing astounds me. He states they do not take State and Federal funds. This is untrue. The Walk in Shelter is not allowed to allow Medicinal Marijuana patients because of the federal money they receive. He speaks of the interfaith program, which shut down last year and does not even know the amount a fine is for sleeping at night. Regardless the reason for his ignorance of the law, it shows a general lack of concern for the impoverished in Santa Cruz.

He continues to support laws that are aimed directly at the homeless. This affectively makes poverty illegal. People have offered up solutions for decades, as Robert Norse points out. I am glad Ryan agreed to this forum and I hope he will continue such dialog as allot more needs discussing. The truth seems to be that the general public is against this law. During my own discussions with people in the community including a few merchants, once they understand the law, they are appalled by it.

I urge anyone who feels that crimes of necessity are wrong to call and write the City Council and tell them to end the Sleeping Ban, the 15 minute parking lot paranoia law, blanket ban and all crimes aimed at the impoverished.

I have divided the video into three parts and will post them one at a time.

Anyone with a Sleeping ticket in Santa Cruz should call 831-423-HUFF to be a possible plaintiff in a lawsuit against the City.
HUFF – Homeless united for friendship and freedom
HRO– Human Rights Organization
HFH – Humanity for Homeless

809 Center St # 10
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 420-5020

§Part two of Sleeping Ban Debate.
by Tim Rumford (sleepisaright [at] Wednesday Nov 14th, 2007 3:41 PM
Here is part 2. If your having troubles with quality, its your connection or their server. Download for better play! Will post to another server soon.
Thanks Tim for posting this. I missed a great deal. There is a button on the right bottom corner of the video player. Its the options button. People can half size the video and it streams great. If Indybay servers are busy or as you said your connection is slow, the video gets worse. I downloaded it, and your right that works best. I can watch in full screen. Thanks again for posting.
§Sleeping Ban Debate Part III Video Community TV
by Tim Rumford ( Wednesday Nov 14th, 2007 8:40 PM
The Community TV Sleeping Ban Video Debate Part II - Approx 12 minutes. A TV Debate with Vice Mayor Ryan Connerty, Civil Rights Attorney Kate Wells, ACLU Local Rep. Don Zimmerman, and Public questions. Video in Parts due to length. One more clip to go that should fit on this post. A little audio quality issues as broadcast to me, clears up after about 3.5 min.

The night Time Sleeping Ban. A TV Debate with Vice Mayor Ryan Connerty, Attorney Kate Wells, ACLU Local Rep. Don Zimmerman, and Public questions. Video in Parts due to length, 1hr. This is Part II.

This battle in Santa Cruz has raged on for decades, and now is raging across the nation. Crimes against the homeless nationally are on the rise. This basic debate over the right to sleep and other crimes of necessity constitutionally makes being poor a crime. Remember the country we fled from? Debtors Prison etc. While some cities are softening others are being more repressive with anti-feeding bans. These laws are unconstitutional, immoral, and inhuman. Please call our City Council and demand and end to the Sleeping Ban. This is a national issue.
Santa Cruz City Council
809 Center St # 10
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
§Last Video of the debate - Approx 11 minutes - Zimmerman gets final word.
by Tim Rumford ( Thursday Nov 15th, 2007 7:12 AM
Last video!
§This Needs To Be Attributed to The Correct Producers and Host
by Respect Tuesday Nov 27th, 2007 7:18 PM
This video was produced by Charlie Phillips and Ian McFadden, NOT Tim Rumford. It was hosted by and the content was provided primarily by host Louis LaFortune. Attribution should be made at the beginning of this post, or it should be taken down. Posting it without this attribution is the equivalent of taking credit for others' work. Also, the date of the episode should be included for reference.
§Addition to my comment
by Tim Rumford Wednesday Nov 28th, 2007 11:56 AM
I will ask the Indbay editors to add the date and the information you requested. Since titles and credits are on the video. I did not think it was necessary, but understand your point. Again I hope further such events continue.
Tim Rumford

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by George Long
Thursday Nov 15th, 2007 12:13 PM
Thanks for the post. We have needed such dialog for a long time. Ryan came across to me as out of touch with the community which he is supposed to serve. It seems the City Council serves business and development, the rest be damned. Do we want a Santa Cruz to be the next Carmel? I hope not. Santa Cruz has always had this issue, it has not grown worse with the addition of services. The homeless know how rough the cops are here. The City Council is ignoring the public, so call them and refuse to shop downtown unless they end the Sleeping Ban. $$ is the language they understand. If enough people call, it may not end the ban but keep the dialog going. It was far too short for such a heated issue.

George Long 30 year resident
by Tim Rumford
(sleepisaright [at] Friday Nov 16th, 2007 1:02 PM
I have received four e-mails of people who have called the City Council and written them. I encourage people who have to post a short comment here to help us keep track.

People are being sent to a voice mail box for the entire City Council, or if your request, a single member.

Follow up with e-mail as its hard to know how much they pay attention to their voice mails, or if they listen to them personally, or are simply handed a report reflecting the nature of calls.

Call the City Council Now!
demand they end the Sleeping ban, provide safe sleeping Zones and end criminalizing acts of necessity.
by Jude
Friday Nov 16th, 2007 2:07 PM
I watched the debate online, thanks for posting it. I am leaving my comment here and at, where I watched the debate.

I called the City Council and left a message for all of them, have notes ready as you have only a short period to leave a message. You can review and re-record though.

I was a Merchant for 20 years during the 80's. I am appalled by the Sleeping Ban and fully support protesting in front of Bookshop Santa Cruz. I am very familiar with the Connerty's and the amount of political power they wield over the council and the shaping of downtown. Educated long time activists know this. What other choice have you left them?

I will no longer support Bookshop Santa Cruz or shop downtown until the City Council ends the Ban and allows for Safe Sleeping Zones. I left a message to that affect yesterday. We cannot have such disregard for our Vets, mentally ill, and just poor. People fall from great heights into poverty for many reasons.

Ryan was so far off on his facts, it was not funny. He is your Vice Mayor and most likely your next. Yes, we may have some mental health services, but Santa Cruz County has NO compassionate Psychiatric Wards that treat people with care and dignity. The ward at Dominican is made to keep people from harming themselves or others, not treat or cure the person - prison for people with a disease. A ward is simply needed for those that need long term care, people who want and a need it. Again, in a compassionate , caring a dignified manor.

When the surge of homeless vets arrives, I hope Santa Cruz will start thinking in a true progressive fashion on these issues , instead of ruining the idea of being progressive all together as they have been for a long time.

I do want to add the the little known Renaissance Program has great therapists and work on a sliding scale, take Medicare etc. This program does not have the capacity or enough trained people to care for all the mental health needs in Santa Cruz. It is a resource.

I hope Ryan or the the Mayor will participate in a further debates and dialog. I am appreciative for this small gesture. I hope they come better prepared and actually know what they are speaking about next time. Frankly it was embarrassing to see the SC Vice Mayor so ill informed.

Where is the outreach worker on the mall? I have never seen one. Will the city stop Food not Bombs from feeding under the expanded Parking Trespass law? If not, how are you going to enforce this law? These are places where you see the poor helping each other, under recognized and never reported on. The Tuesday night Meal is a perfect example. Does this outreach worker simply advocate for those that have a bed at the shelter or does this OUT reach worker hit the streets as Ryan suggested?

by Sarasota Indymedia (repost)
Friday Nov 16th, 2007 4:34 PM
Records Reveal 131 Camping Arrests

Records recently obtained from the Sarasota City Police Department indicate that 131 arrests have been made this year for violations of the so-called "anti-lodging ordinance". The number is unexpectedly high, considering past claims by police and city officials that few - if any - homeless people were being arrested because of this law.
by Becky Johnson
(becky_johnson222 [at] Saturday Nov 17th, 2007 9:30 AM
Vice-Mayor Ryan Coonerty couldn't get past the "but we spend so much money" argument. This is what convinced the court in 1994 when Seattle's sit/lie law passed constitutional muster. The courts said that Seattle couldn't be considered anti-homeless because they paid for so many homeless services. So Ryan has taken refuge in this 1994 argument. He can't think past it.

What he refuses to consider is what the 9th circuit appeals court ruled in 2006--that its cruel and unusual punishment to cite or arrest homeless people for sleeping or sheltering themselves when inadequate shelter exists---regardless of how much money the City spent on it.

Ryan also claimed the Sleeping Ban hadn't been altered in 30 years. False. It was altered in 1996 to allow up to three cars to park at churches and sleep. It was altered again in 2000, to lower the fines. Then a year later it was altered again to allow up to two cars per business. It was altered one more time when Barisone inadvertantly deleted the backyard exception and HUFF activists had to lobby to restore it.

Did you see how Ryan couldn't comment on the Richmond law?

Finally, Ryan oversold the Homeless Resource Officer as someone who helps homeless people connect with services. Ryan is outright lying here (or grossly uninformed). The Homeless Resource Officer goes out and finds homeless people with outstanding warrants and arrests them. He can't connect them with services as the current services are inadequate. Most homeless people report that the homeless Resource officer's duties are to harass homeless people. The downtown social worker does attempt to connect people with services---but since they are inadequate, what's the point?

by Anton
Sunday Nov 18th, 2007 9:08 AM
I also called the City Council and left a message to the same general effect as Jude's post. I hope more people will call. I also heard the ban was also altered in the 70's, is that true, or before everyones time? Call and write, make your voice heard.
by Not Such a Militant
Wednesday Nov 21st, 2007 2:26 AM
Tim, this is a good article. The problem inherent in the militant approach favored by Norse and Johnson is that by its very nature, it alienates the mainstream populace. They have taken this to unusual extremes and have generated so much antipathy towards themselves and the people who associate with them that they can accomplish nothing. So while Norse may say that people have been trying to solve this issue for many years, he will never be part of that solution. That's a fact. Ask any politician or city worker whom these guys have incessantly hassled, or any merchant whose business they have tried to hurt by standing outside his/her store and telling passersby a stew of half-truths about them. I mean, how incredibly vindictive and mean-spirited to drive a city receptionist to tears and to a psychologist by harassing her day after day in a tight office, or to sit outside Bookshop one weekend after another, trying to hurt them. No cause justifies such hurtful behavior. None of these people will ever work with HUFF or HRO again. They are completely marginalized.
I hope that we will make progress to better the lot of our brothers and sisters also, Tim. I know that the Norse way will never work. Look at how long he's been at this. Look at how little has changed. It's not all the system's fault. Simply calling merchants and politicians bigots and vilifying them will accomplish nothing. You must work together to solve problems. Even Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. understood this. They were always careful to keep positive relationships alive with their adversaries, which allowed them to talk things through when the time was right. There is exactly zero chance that Norse and Johnson will ever be invited to be participants in a real problem-solving process because of how many bridges they have burned.
Norse and Johnson always call this sort of comment a personal attack. It's not. It's a fact that has to be addressed before anything real will get done. That's the truth.
by Ben
Wednesday Nov 21st, 2007 9:16 AM
I think the above post is very true. Norse and Johnson have done in the movement they say that they champion. In all these years they have accomplished nothing except alienating the good will of the people of Santa Cruz. In all honesty, when their names or the mention of HUFF is brought up, the general reaction of citizens in Santa Cruz is to roll their eyes and make nasty comments. They have over and over refused to work with people in order to make a change opting for the strategy of demanding change as they want.
The people of Santa Cruz are far above the average community in their willingness to make social change. That is a great base to work with. Where I find Norse and Johnson missing their target is that they are not advocating a radical change in the homeless situation but rather fighting for the right to keep things the same. Rather than fight to help people OUT of homelessness, and putting them on a path to sustainable housing, they just fight for the continuation of a homeless situation. The people of Santa Cruz would like to help those that need it get back on their feet, find housing, and get jobs. It's something good for everyone. But fighting for people to continue in a muddled state, without hope of getting a leg up, will not rally people around them.
It's time for the homeless in Santa Cruz to get new champions. Someone, or a group, that is looking to help them end their situation rather than prolong it. Norse and Johnson have failed. That is not an attack on their persons. It is a simple fact. Both the homeless and the city of Santa Cruz would be better off with an advocate for change.
by Tim Rumford
(thatoldbopokstore [at] Wednesday Nov 21st, 2007 4:43 PM
To the two comments directed at me and my relationship to Huff and Robert, yes I support what they do.
I admire Robert for never giving in, knowing the laws better then anyone I have met. We dont agree on everything, but who does. He is vilified because he makes people see the poverty. The Connerty's have had the most power over the shaping of downtown then any merchant ever. I have always said I do not think all merchants are bad. I have lived here for 36 years I'm forty. People in my family are merchants.

Robert has kept poverty a forefront issue for a long time, he has not let poverty be pushed out of sight. Again, Poverty needs to be seen.
I do allot of other things through the name of my own organization to help many people. But I don't make a big deal of it. nor will I list them here for your sake. Its every humans responsibility to be a humanitarian in the way you can. I will not debate my relationship with Robert or how you think he is to blame for all the ills of Santa Cruz. I would reply that your time would be better spent doing something your passionate about unless this is it.

I will not debate this further with nameless people.
Tim Rumford
by Not Such A Militant
Wednesday Nov 21st, 2007 7:50 PM
I didn't mean for this to be a commentary on your relationship with Norse, Tim. Infact, I wasn't really addressing it at all. No worries. It doesn't matter. I believe that time will demonstrate that I'm correct, that Norse and Johnson are irrelevant, and a drag on the cause. They could have accomplished much in their lifetimes. They haven't. Even the stoners, meth heads and other wastrels whose cause they supposedly support are no more liberated than they were before Norse-Johnson took up their cause. Go figure.
Good luck in your work, Tim. I wish I could say I believe you will succeed. I don't.
by Not Such A Militant
Wednesday Nov 21st, 2007 7:51 PM
I didn't mean for this to be a commentary on your relationship with Norse, Tim. Infact, I wasn't really addressing it at all. No worries. It doesn't matter. I believe that time will demonstrate that I'm correct, that Norse and Johnson are irrelevant, and a drag on the cause. They could have accomplished much in their lifetimes. They haven't. Even the stoners, meth heads and other wastrels whose cause they supposedly support are no more liberated than they were before Norse-Johnson took up their cause. Go figure.
Good luck in your work, Tim. I wish I could say I believe you will succeed. I don't.
by Tim Rumford
Wednesday Nov 21st, 2007 9:15 PM
I do appreciate your non offensive manor in addressing me. Its rare so I am replying. I know, and I should know, since I spend time with them, that they have accomplished allot. I dissagree with Becky severally on certain things, but why should that stop me from working with her on issues I do agree on? She is a nice person and does allot of great things. I have no problems with that. So if your are trying tell me who to hang out with like a schools kids, I am forty, far from gullible and can take care of myself, all by myself. HUFF works on a consensus based system, so join and have a voice.

I have watched the mall in its best and worst times. I fed for nine months once a week until I could not for health reasons, but it continues, run and sponsored by the poor and homeless.

I have walked through the years of red tape top get disability everyone thinks falls from trees.

Your wrong in that Robert even focuses that much of his time on what you call meth heads. He stands up for the rights of the homeless equally mostly by opposing laws that need opposing. Its sad that you have lost your compassion for the youth because of a drug war our government started and we treat them with programs that do not work. Check out Leap.Org.

I was a homeless youth for a time. It happens to homeless youth awareness month. They do
have rights, like it or not. We should be asking what there parents are doing. We should all be pushing for better health care, programs aimed at the youth that work. Which brings me to the second reason I take what you call a milliatnt stance.

The City Council has done nothing but make the problem worse, even for downtown. I would argue strongly that these laws have pushed people into the hills where there is more damage.
Until they start acting differently, and stop these laws, and start offering solutions -- the City Council will not do anything accept expand and gentrify. These laws do criminalize poverty. This was evident from the debate and their last 20 years of passing more and more ordinances aimed at the poor. So I join with those that scream the loudest. Those who are unyielding and relentless, because history has also shown me that although these people are often vilified, it is later that we find they were right.

I was beaten in the County building as a youth for possession of some leaf. The cops was on desk duty for beating the homeless. These laws are on the rise and so is the hate towards people stuck in poverty. You can find the hate in the Sentinel forums and in the forums across the nation. Where locally death threats to activists and pesticiding the homeless are tossed up as ideas and solutions.

So again, I disagree about what they have accomplished. But I would not expect you to really know. Robert does not justify people with an answer to silly question as I am doing. I applaud him for it. It is those who's compassionate work is done with humbleness that know what giving and taking are really about. I hope we can END this conversation on a note that we just disagree. I am a ... pausing not to swear... I am an adult and choose whom I hang out with and do not need someone trying to stick up for me like I am a school yard kid.

What, do you think I am what, more compassionate and need saving? More gullible so, I am being mentally molested by him and Becky? or is it my time your so worried about? If you know me or are a freaked out relative, then call me like an adult. Otherwise, raise an issue about poverty or about this debate. where I mentioned Robert once in my commentary. I will be happy to discuss it with you. I will not discuss this other crap no matter how nicely its presented again.
Peace Out
Tim Rumford
Tim Rumford
by Not Such A Militant
Wednesday Nov 21st, 2007 9:21 PM
Right on Tim. I wish you well.
by Tim
Wednesday Nov 21st, 2007 9:35 PM
After reading your pots I drifted off topic. I want to just ad, that there are new advocates. Many people work as advocates, caretakers etc. I do allot just because it needs doing. The reason I got so huffy, is because the city council will not even return my e-mails or phone calls. They City constantly try and keep public records away from us. People perceptions need to change on both sides of the fence, that I agree on, where all growing,, learning and changing, including the people you vilify.

You judge but what you see and hear rather then what you know and you do it anonymously.
by Stephanie B.
Thursday Nov 22nd, 2007 3:21 AM
It's obvious you missed the point of the previous posters Tim. The City will not return your calls for just the reasons he/she mentioned. You say Norse is learning and changing. The evidence argues that he's not.
I don't know anything about you, and I only have a passing acquaintance with Norse and his cohorts, having seen them outside people's stores and having read far too much about them in the papers. I really don't understand how they are doing any good at all. Nobody in the public seems to like them, and I haven't seen them accomplish anything to actually help lift the poor out of their situation.
Getting mad at these posters because you don't like the message doesn't make sense. Even if you disagree with them, their comments hardly seem mean or like vilification. They seem a lot less so than any of Norse's diatribes I've read here anyway. And posting anonymously isn't that big a deal. Lots of people do it, and putting your name on a post really doesn't make the point any more or less valid. I've seen some posts from Norse here that were completely loony. Taking credit for them doesn't make them less so.
I guess it's fine that you admire Norse, Tim. Maybe you're right about him. It doesn't seem like his agenda is very productive or useful. Some of it seems downright hostile and destructive. For the sake of the real poor and needy, I hope I'm wrong.
by Anonymous by Choice
Thursday Nov 22nd, 2007 11:54 AM
So Norse is not Robert's real name. It's a pseudonym. His real name is Robert Norris Kahn. Which is better, a post from "anonymous" or one from a person who uses a stage name? I read somewhere recently that he owns several acres of land in Los Gatos and in Bonny Doon, land that he was given by his wealthy family. I know he says he lives on "savings", but he's never worked, so these savings are apparently someone else's.
None of this would matter, except that everyone should be held to the same standard, don't you think? If everybody is supposed to be transparent in their comments, Norse should be too.
by Robert Norse
Thursday Nov 22nd, 2007 11:33 PM
There will be emergency walk-in shelter tonight for 160 people. The homeless population of Santa Cruz is variously estimated at 1500-2000.

More than sixty Sleeping Ban tickets were issued for the last six months--a significant increase from the year before. Currently it costs $97 per citation to pay off the bail. At tonight's Thanksgiving meal, homeless people report Ranger John Wallace's crew destroying homeless survival gear and personal property, as well as continuing to issue Sleeping Ban tickets in spite of the shelter emergency. Some interviews should be archived soon at

After a Los Angeles lawsuit produced a settlement in the Jones case, the LAPD and City Council agreed to stop busting homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks (provided they are 10' from a business and until 1200 units of housing are built). A similar settlement is in force in San Diego. But not in Santa Cruz.

If the trolls who prowl this site were genuinely interested in ending this obvious human rights abuse, they would act independently, no matter how they regard me and other activists. They aren't; they don't. So it falls to the rest of us to speak out when and were we can, while others complain about our tone, our manner, and our tactics.

Isn't it time to catch up with L.A. and San Diego, and coming out of the Dark Ages here in Santa Cruz by ending the city's Sleeping Ban. It might also be useful to discuss the actual issues in this debate.

Vice-Mayor Ryan Coonerty--whom some on this thread are unfathomably defending--as well as the rest of the Council continues to support the City's 11 PM to 8:30 AM Sleeping Ban.

Attorneys Kate Wells and David Beauvais will be meeting with potential plaintiffs in our lawsuit at Louden Nelson Center at 4 PM on December 1st. There will also be a free movie and munchables.

Volunteers who want to help can call the HUFF line at 423-4833. Which is listed under my name (Robert Norse). Unlike the anonymous critics, I do have a number, hold open meetings, and am accessible. You can even call me by my family name, which I haven't used for two decades, if you'd like.

And I'd be happy to be given a piece of property. It would still be hard to use it for a low-income campground because, authorities have repeatedly refused to sanction such projects such as the eco-village by "respectable" locals like Paul Lee.

As Frederick Douglass put it, "power concedes nothing without a demand". All the sweet reason in the world didn't give women and blacks basic rights. The same applies to the homeless. You stand up and fight for your rights, or you don't get them.

Folks interested can also check out the Human Rights Organization, which meets every Saturday at 2 PM at 131 Front St. at the Firefly Cafe.

Plus, of course, the weekly Banish Bigotry protest in front of Bookshop Santa Cruz each Sunday at 2 PM. Also check out the HUFF website at

My thanks to Tim for his continuing work. And my amazement at his endless patience.

At some point, probably in a new post, I hope to put up a close analysis of Coonerty's evasions, falsehoods, and special merchant interest pleading.

The Coonerty Council has the power to change these laws, just as Bush's White House has the power to stop torture at Guantanamo and Abu Gharab. We are all shamed and imperilled by these abuses. Give the Coonerty Council a call at 420-5020 and tell him what you think.
by Not Such A Militant
Friday Nov 23rd, 2007 2:44 AM
Robert, you seem to be implying that no one but yourself and the organizations you associate with are involved in homelessness issues. This of course is not the case. Santa Cruz, by any measure, is one of the most compassionate communities around. Many people here help the indigent and dispossessed in many ways. I do not know if the "trolls" as you call us, all contribute. I certainly do, in ways that involve my personal money and resources.
I'm not involved in suing the City or County. Nor am I fighting for a perpetuation of the homeless situation or expending my energies on causes of questionable value, such as the camping ordinance, which is so lightly enforced as to be a non-law. Those 90 tickets, which will probably be dismissed in court, represent a miniscule percentage of actual violations of the ordinance. This hardly amounts to systematic and widespread oppression or denial of peoples' rights. Besides, many of those tickets devolve from extreme provocation, such as occurred during your ill-advised sit in at City Hall earlier this year, which generated an enormous backlash in the community. I realize it was a setup to build your case for your lawsuit and that the actual campers involved were merely pawns in your grand scheme. Nonetheless, you will lose this lawsuit, just like your last one, because the ordinance here is not comparable to the ones elsewhere.
But you know all this. That's not really the point, is it?
As I said Robert, this community will not work with you. You obviously have no intention of working with it. You will simply continue to repeatedly sue all of us because we don't collectively see things exactly your way. It's the only way you know to get what you want. And that was the point I was originally attempting to make.
What you and Kate Wells are involved in is extremely damaging to this community, Robert. It's sad to see how much you folks have hurt it over the years.
But that's your God-given right, isn't it?
by Robert Norse
Friday Nov 23rd, 2007 9:12 AM
Laws that criminalize innocent and necessary homeless behavior--like the Sleeping Ban--are being fought in many jurisdictions by many homeless advocates. Witness Los Angeles and San Diego.

To argue that defending the right to sleep, use public spaces, have access to restrooms, have one's property secure, etc. is "perpetuating homelessness" is both absurd and harmful. While it's great that Santa Cruz (and other cities) provide some extremely limited shelter services, the actual percentage of homeless people that are protected each night is under 5% in the winter and 10$ in the summer.

The rest face potential and real harassment, particularly if they get together in groups to assist each other and for self-protection as with the Homies for the Homeless City Hall Protest or the Camp Paradise experiment of 2001.

Perhaps the anonymous writer can supply documentation that most Sleeping Ban tickets come from "extreme provocation". I've interviewed hundreds of victims and not found that to be likely.

The Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women, SCAN, WILPF, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Greens, and numerous other local groups have weighed in against the Sleeping Ban here locally.

Many Sleeping Ban tickets are dismissed---if homeless people spend a lot of energy getting a letter. This may or may not be forthcoming from the Homeless Service Center, and is not being given out after November 15th. The Sleepcriminal must then get to a court date and go before a referee--all of which was found unconstitutional in Los Angeles. "Compassionate" Santa Cruz, of course, knows better.

Meanwhile many other Sleeping ban tickets--perhaps most--aren't dismissed.
See The tickets go to warrant or civil collection, further ruining the credit prospects of folks trying to get out of homelessness, or providing the police with more pretexts to harass.

More important--poor people are treated like animals to pander to the paranoia and bigotry of conservative residents and merchants, who want their areas homeless-free, even if there are no actual health and safety problems. Whenever "safe zones", campgrounds, or carparks are proposed, local bigots raise the roof, as is also done when drug programs, shelters, or food programs are initiated.

While there are numerous organizations paid to provide limited services to the homeless (far from the glowing picture Coonerty presents), none of these deal with the basic housing/shelter/ situation or the criminalization issue.

Perhaps critics could step up to the plate with their own energy and solutions instead of dissing those of us who keep raising the unpleasant issue and naming the names of those responsible.

Private charity for the poor is always welcome. To suggest this translates into "a compassionate community" is nonsense when Santa Cruz has a set of the harshest laws in the state which translate into systematic and wholesale criminalization of innocent behavior.

Suing the city is a cumbersome and last-resort sort of process that happens when authorities repeatedly fail to address human rights issues. But, again, such lawsuits have been successful in Los Angeles and San Diego (and also had positive results in Fresno and Richmond). Sacramento activists have undertaken a similar lawsuit.

To target me and Becky is disingenuous (i.e. many local and state groups take the same position) as well as being diversionary (though I acknowledge our still-anonymous poster does raise some issues). If the critic wants a real debate, why not come on the radio?
Call 427-3772 Thursdays 6-8 PM or Sundays 9:30 AM to 1 PM. Or come on down to the Boycott Bigotry protest 2 PM on Sundays at the Bookshop?

I do encourage people to join the lawsuit and/or support it. Real action must continue to be on a number of fronts--through the media, on the street, holding councilmembers and cops accountable, and dealing with the deeper issues like rents and jobs.

Now is a particularly good time to press these issues--with the weather growing colder and the community entering the "Season of Compassion."

It's important to resist the temptation to debate with critics whose personal hostility is intense and whose opinions are entrenched. Indeed, it is all our "God-given" right to believe what we choose. I apologize for spending so much time here and hope, like Tim, that I direct my energies back to the main issue in future.

The sooner we get back to the real issues, the less people will die this winter.
by Not Such A Militant
Friday Nov 23rd, 2007 9:50 AM
Robert, what is absurd is the suggestion that Santa Cruz is somehow not compassionate enough. Drifters from all over the country gravitate here because of our permissiveness and the high quality of our services. Our tolerance for the abuse of our public spaces and monies by these people is legendary. The proof is in the pudding, my friend. Nothing has changed in regards to your causes in 30 years. So yes, you have simply perpetuated homelessness. Certainly you have done nothing to alleviate it.
My anonymity is no different from yours Robert. To the extent that ones identity matters here, you are no more forthcoming about your background, assets or bonafides than I. What we share is an interest in this problem. I accept your views at face value. You must do the same with mine. Now, I'm going to heed your words of wisdom and resist the temptation to further debate with individuals whose personalities are hostile and views are entrenched.
See ya.
NOT A MILITANT WRITES: "I mean, how incredibly vindictive and mean-spirited to drive a city receptionist to tears and to a psychologist by harassing her day after day in a tight office..."

BECKY: As the record number of homeless deaths in one year was reached (42), 17 activists with HUFF staged a "sit in" at Mayor Tim Fitzmaurice's office. Our demand was to put the Sleeping Ban on the City Council agenda for discussion. Tim Fitzmaurice is a member of the Green Party which has a platform condemning laws such as the Sleeping and Blanket Ban. We went for a few hours each day to Mayor Fitzmaurice and asked if we could meet with him. If he wasn't there, we would wait for him. We did not harass the receptionist. See: Koffee Klatch Three.

People in power--such as police or members of the City Council are incredibly vindictive and mean-spirited against homeless people---willing to rob their sleep and to force them to freeze even if they own a blanket. Now they are violating the 8th amendment according to the 9th circuit court.
by Doug Enns
Sunday Nov 25th, 2007 1:40 AM
Well hello there, Becky!
Does it occur to you that all this nonsense that you guys are huffing and puffing about, I mean your frenzied efforts to litter the landscape with people sleeping on the sidewalks in the bitterly cold nights, amounts to an insistence that they be allowed to freeze to death? Way get your priorities straight, sister.
You are odd "activists". I'll say that.
by Becky Johnson
(becky_johnson222 [at] Sunday Nov 25th, 2007 9:02 PM
DOUG ENNS WRITES: "I mean your frenzied efforts to litter the landscape with people sleeping on the sidewalks in the bitterly cold nights, amounts to an insistence that they be allowed to freeze to death?"

BECKY: I didn't "litter" the landscape with people sleeping out of doors. Huge socio-economic factors did that. I'm AGAINST the blanket ban. That's right. The ban that prevents a homeless person from using a blanket between the hours of 11PM and 8:30 AM. If anyone is insisting that they freeze to death, it is you. You SUPPORT the blanket ban.

Yes, the only true solution to homelessness is housing. I get that. But just as doctors swear an oath to "First do no harm", so should City Councilmembers who will agree that the much -needed housing is ten years off at the least, should stop punishing homeless people for the ACT OF SLEEPING. i.e. stop injuring them further, and allow them to shelter themselves. Why not set up a legal campground and thereby encourage those illegally camping in the greenbelt areas to come in where they can get services and won't cause environmental damage?
by Doug Enns
Sunday Nov 25th, 2007 10:07 PM
Ah yes, so now you're a doctor! Presumably you carry malpractice insurance, so when your loony schemes implode, you're covered. And "first do no harm" doesn't include alienating every sane individual in town, right?
by X Merchant
Tuesday Nov 27th, 2007 3:13 PM
I have to say that as an X merchant of downtown till the earthquake took my store, the Connerty's have had way too much power in the shaping, or misshaping of downtown for far too long.

We fault the activists because the City Council wont listen to them? Does that mean they are never going to part of the solution? No, they said the same thing about every movement we have had. One thing I have learned. I may not agree with every tactic, but the activists know more about the laws of this city regarding the homeless then anyone else. Maybe its time the City start learning form them. It was evident from Tony Madrigal's lack of knowledge on homeless issues during his LBAM propaganda day downtown, and Ryan Connerty giving the worst miss information I have heard in decades at the debate. Not knowing how the law reads, what the fines are or how it affects people directly and naming services that no longer exist is dereliction of duty -- your next mayor.

As soon as we hide poverty in the corners were all doomed. The City is doing just that. Anyone who really was apart of downtown when the Cooper House was open, and the old bus station was by Borders, know that the worst element in this City was never the homeless.

Downtown should be a garden setting and no cars, they had the chance and blew it. You put the services right next to downtown. Other towns in our County pay to have the services here out of their elite communities. What did you expect to happen? You in your city allowed it.

You blame the acctivists for lack of affordable housing? The people against the ban on this forum seem to be against it purely for personal reasons, and we have to get past that, on both sides. So much could be learned from each other. Your missing the solution. I have not heard one argument for a nighttime sleeping ban, just vilification which is so easy and childish.

As far as Downtown, we should be looking at Seaside company, and the 30 million tourists that rarely come downtown after a long day or weekend at the Boardwalk why they import workers. They ruin our roads, pay little in property taxes and we all pay for it.

Why not safe sleeping zones? It seems Robert is right on this, they would be easier to police, cheaper in the long run. We need housing that someone living off disability can afford, and we don't. So many suffer for it. Why not a solution and an end to a ridicules law?

by Tim Rumford
Wednesday Nov 28th, 2007 11:53 AM
It was never my intention nor did I imply in anyway that I produced this video. I simply posted it with my personal commentary for the public to also comment on, as they have on all sides.

I thank you for doing such a great job, and hope further such dialog continues. I assume anything on Community TV is public.

Tim Rumford
by cp
Saturday Dec 1st, 2007 8:03 AM
Yes - it strikes me that the recent Chronicle reports about the situation in San Francisco claim that their law or procedure is that the Golden Gate park dwellers only are going to get cited after they documented the person refusing free semi-permanent housing (not just a shelter bed) that they are setting up to get them off the streets.
Berkeley went through the same dialog for their recent law (which I noticed was reported in papers outside the region in Seattle. ) The council balked until they could have a place or resource to point to, and could say "you have to get off this sidewalk, and can go there".
I was surprised when moving here to learn that Santa Cruz has one tiny shelter. We are always told over and over that the homeless are rebels who turned down open shelters because they want to drink.
Maybe everyone needs to move to San Francisco during the winter where at least they have these rooms.
by Robert Norse
Monday Dec 3rd, 2007 4:14 AM
Consider the following story from Beyond Chron at

Religious Leaders Denounce Crackdown on Homeless
by Paul Hogarth‚ Oct. 05‚ 2007

While Mayor Newsom held a press conference yesterday announcing the 2,000th person being housed under Care Not Cash, Religious Witness for Homeless People denounced the City’s crackdown on “quality-of-life” offenses. The interfaith group released a study showing that, in the past four years, the City has spent $7.8 million prosecuting such infractions. The Police, they argued, should focus their attention on homicides and other violent crimes – while the $7.8 million could have been used on more effective homeless outreach and social services. While the Newsom Administration has provided supportive housing for thousands of homeless people, they said, it has also cracked down on offenses like camping, sleeping, public urination and panhandling. This does nothing to solve homelessness other than move the “problem” to a different neighborhood.

“I want to emphasize,” said Sister Bernie Galvin of Religious Witness, “that any person – homeless or otherwise – whose behavior poses a genuine threat to the health or safety of other individuals should be dealt with appropriately.” But, she added, the vast majority of homeless people are not a threat – they just have nowhere to sleep. As Richmond Police Officer John Andrews recently told the Chronicle, “90 percent of the homeless don’t cause any problems – 10 percent terrorize the neighborhood.”

Efforts to expand permanent supportive housing are worthy of praise, but that’s only half the story. “We are pursuing two policies simultaneously in opposite directions,” said Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan. “The City is trying to provide housing and care, while simultaneously criminalizing homelessness.” In the past four years, the City has issued 46,684 “quality-of-life” tickets – at a cost of $7.8 million to the City’s taxpayers. This does not get people off the streets and solves homelessness, said Galvin. It just moves the problem to different neighborhoods.

“A quality-of-life citation begins an extremely expensive process,” said Michael Bien. “It’s a process that includes police officers, police clerks, court commissioners and court deputies. Then there’s scheduling, copying, filing, data entry, testifying, booking, reporting and completing voluminous forms.” District Attorney Kamala Harris has made things worse, he said, by starting to staff infraction courts – beyond misdemeanors and felonies – which involves hiring D.A.’s and Public Defenders on each side. Once you “bring in the lawyers,” the costs go through the roof.

A prop shows the number of citations issued in the past four years, as well as the cost to City taxpayers.

And does using law enforcement resources help the homeless by getting them off the street? Not really. “This Administration has become addicted to using the police as social service agencies,” said Wolf-Prusan. “It is counter-productive, it has never worked and it will not work.” The $7.8 million, he added, could have paid for 492 people in supportive housing for a year, put 300 people in a three-month detox center, or paid for 113 psychiatric outreach workers.

The City recently created 21 new Homeless Outreach worker positions, who encourage homeless people to go to a shelter or else face arrest by the police. “Only 12 have been hired so far,” said John “Fitz” Fitzgerald, “and they were immediately sent to Golden Gate Park, which is not where the chronically homeless live.” Galvin added that the homeless outreach workers should be sent to neighborhoods like the Tenderloin or Bayview – where the homeless could be connected to social services.

But could expanded outreach workers actually help? Absolutely. By the City’s own estimates, 3,000 of the chronically homeless would qualify for Medi-Cal and federal SSI or SSDI benefits of up to $10,000 a year. But due to their medical condition they need assistance to guide them through that process. Getting them a steady income could help them get off the streets – and save the City the cost of having a police officer arrest them whenever they get caught camping in Golden Gate Park.

The Religious Witness report is the most comprehensive examination of how much money the City has been spending on arresting homeless people – rather than providing them with resources. The Newsom Administration deserves credit for the successes of Care Not Cash, as 2,000 people have been offered the dignity of a home with a lock and key. But by diverting resources away from intensive criminalization of those still sleeping in the streets, we could do even better.

Send feedback to paul [at]
by Respect
Monday Jan 7th, 2008 3:15 PM
Thank you for making the changes regarding the attribution on this and for getting the word out, Tim. Keep up the great work!