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O'neill's Surf Shop, Police Hassle Street Performers, Collude to Thwart City Ordinances.

by Brent Adams
Managers and employees of O'neill's actively harass street performers and colluded with Santa Cruz Police Officer Brandt to thwart local city ordinances by writing a ticket per California Code. Even when no crime is being committed. Those are our Civil Liberties.
I play in a street percussion group called Love Gutter. We've been playing on Pacific Ave. in Santa Cruz (downtown) for 4 years.
We know the city ordinances and are considerate to other performers and business. Considering our louder sound level, we've chosen two
places for us to play to distance ourselves as far as possible from dwellings and where pedestrians have a wide radius of physical space around us. As we began to set up in front of O'neill's store at the corner of Pacific & Cooper, an employee said that we'd need a permit
to play there. We told him that we don't need one and we've been playing this location for years. He said that things change. We began to play and did so for 40 minutes. There were many dancing children... let me share what a friend had written about our performance today.
" and wireless had people slowing down in cars to watch you...old people smiling, kids dancing, my boys sitting mesmerized..."
Former Mayor Chris Krone himself actually put a few dollars in the pot while his daughters enjoyed the music.
We had made a fist full of $$ and didn't see one unhappy person in the crowd that was ever-present.
Officer Brandt of the Santa Cruz Police approached us to inform that there was an anonymous person ready to sign a ticket if we did not
stop. The ticket was a very rare street performer "Disturbing the Peace" State Law #415. section 2.
"Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another
person by loud and unreasonable noise." We certainly didn't do THAT.
A second employee from O'neill's shop stepped out of the store to say that he had called.
We chose to stop playing but now, after learning the contents of the law. I wish we'd kept playing and received that ticket.
We'd have to go to court to plead our case. Maximum fine for "disturbing the peace" is $400 and no more than 90 days in jail. HARSH!!
Officer Brandt is the constantly ill tempered bald Aussie with a tan. He was abrasive as usual. I was argumentative and loud.
Upon hearing that an O'neill's employee was responsible I began yelling, "Boycott O"neill's Today!" Like a loonie-tunes fool.
I realized I was pushing my luck and aquiessed like a good obedient bump.
The main problem in all of this is that O'neill's management has been actively open space managing the large concrete area at the corner.
There is a very large iron sculpture where kids play and is an area traditionally used as a street performance area.
There are local ordinances drawn up for this very purpose. There is a one hour allowable time that an act can legally play no matter how
good or bad they are. If a person wishes to stop us they may sign a city noise ordinance. Writing a ticket siting a state law instead of a hard fought local law is an intentional thwarting of hard fought local law that was forged to protect our local artists this type of thing.

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by phillipe macracken
why can't you guys just play for people that actually want to hear you. Go to somebody's house, an open field, or in general away from others who you'll disturb. It's just like the people that defend their rights to pollute you with their tobacco smoke. I love how "environmentalists" love to spread their personal smog, whether it be tobacco, weed, or patchouli stank
by Welcome Wagon
"Welcome to Downtown Santa Cruz. Now get the fuck out."

by and move along.
-You said yourself you're band is loud.

-You said yourself you were argumentative and loud. said plenty. Move along, go play someplace where your not buggin people. You seem to have confused some people liking your music with everybody wanting to hear it.
What Brent describes above seems to be another joint cop-merchant assault on street performers. I suggest he get a tape recorder and witnesses the next time he plays on the public sidewalk section of that corner (O'Neill's private property line extends out to the imaginery intersection of its building lines, so much that looks "public" is actually, as I understand it, private).

If you check out the actual wording of the municipal code below, you can see that you actually can continue playing for as long as you like, certainly beyond an hour, even beyond a one-hour warning given by a cop or "host". The key point is to pick up your guitar case or hat (or whatever your gathering tips in), and have someone else put down another tip-gathering device down. When cops tried to run off political tablers, we simply had someone else put down a different table in the same spot and continued our petitioning. Musicians and street performers can do the same--according to the literal wording of the ordinance.

The relevant sections of the "Move Along" and "Display Device" (i.e. open guitar case or cup for donations) municipal code section reads:


(a) "Noncommercial use" means any political, civic, religious or other public service or
charitable activity, including speech, or the distribution of literature, whether or not such activity is conducted with the assistance of a display device, and where the use is conducted for either the sale of merchandise or the solicitation of donations.

(b) "Display device" means a table, rack, chair, box, cloth, stand, or any container, structure or
other object used or capable of being used for holding or displaying tangible things, together with any associated seating facilities; "display device" does not include any street furniture such as benches or planters, or any other structure permanently installed by the city of Santa Cruz or with the consent of the city of Santa Cruz, or newsracks placed in conformity with the provisions of this code regulating newsracks.

Persons may place, erect, or maintain a display device for noncommercial use on any public
sidewalk only as provided in this chapter. A display device may not exceed six feet by three feet in size. A display device may not exceed six feet in height.

(1) In order to assure safe, orderly and adequate public access and pedestrian traffic on city
streets and sidewalks, no display device shall be placed in any of the following locations in the C-C Community Commercial; C-N Neighborhood Commercial; C-B Commercial Beach; CBD Central Business District; [Pacific Avenue is generally CBD] and R-T Tourist Residential zone districts:
(a) Within ten feet of any building entrance or fence or other structure separating private
property from the public right-of-way other than cyclone fences between vacant lots and the public right-of-way, or ten feet directly in front of any window. Where any such entrance or window is recessed from the public sidewalk, the ten feet shall be measured from the point at which the building abuts the sidewalk;
(b) Within ten feet of any street corner or intersection;
(c) Within ten feet of any kiosk or mid-block crosswalk;
(d) Within ten feet of any drinking fountain, public telephone or bench;
(e) Within any portion of the sidewalk between the license-area limit line of any sidewalk cafe or other open-air eating establishment and the curb of the sidewalk and in no other location within ten feet of any such license-area limit line; or
(f) Within ten feet of any vending cart.


(2) No person shall allow a display device to remain in the same location on the sidewalk for a
period of time exceeding one hour. After one hour the person who placed the display device on the sidewalk shall not place a display device on the sidewalk within 100 feet of the original display device location. After one hour the person who placed the display device shall not place a display device in the original display device location, or within 100 feet of the original display device location, for twenty-four hours.

(3) No person shall be cited under this section unless he or she has first been notified by a
public officer or downtown host that he or she is in violation of the prohibition in this section, and
thereafter continues the violation.
(Ord. 2002-49 § 1, 2002: Ord. 94-21 § 1, 1994: Ord. 94-13 § 2 (part), 1994).

Collusion between businesses and police to abrogate basic public assembly rights and privatize public space is an on-going enterprise in Santa Cruz and a regular practice.

Just look at the repeated attack on the Wednesday Drum Circle ("Drum Circle Back in Business; Daytime Copwatch/Chowdown Tomorrow" at


In response to a sharp-tongued African American orator, complaining about racial discrimination in Santa Cruz, O'Neill's filed one of the "unreasonable noise" complaints. In response, the orator got real specific abougt O'Neill's and spent some time urging people to boycott their business. In response O'Neill supporters menaced the guy and O'Neill's called the cops to back up their bullying with police action.

See "Freedom Man - All Charges against dropped against Jason Paschal" at
"Black Street Hawker Busted for Badmouthing Business Downtown" at

None of the charges against Paschal held up in court, but police and merchants continue their merry unconstitutional collusion. In Italy, this kind of inappopriate mixing of police power and merchant priorities was called "fascism".


More recently O'Neill's went after artist and activist Whitney Wilde for her regular erasable chalk art display on the public sidewalk in front of their store.

See "Chalk It Up to Experience" at

and "The Chalking Menace--Cops Block One Lane of Pacific Avenue for an Hour" at

So, Brent, you see you're not the first to be hassled there. And it has nothing to do with "unreasonable noise". O'Neill's behavior sounds like it deserves special attention for its attacks on community space.

I suggest some outreach and tabling outside O'Neill's to determine how many other folks have had their community activity vetoed by O'Neill's and their friends in the SCPD.

Then there could be some negotiation with O'Neill's suggesting they apologize and commit themselves to avoiding this kind of abuse in the future, possibly engaging in some kind of restitution. If they refuse and continue their repressive assaults on people using the public sidewalk, publicize their bad behavior and inviting people to vote with their wallets, as many of us have suggested folks do with Coonerty's Bookshop Santa Cruz for its owners' repressive political position towards the homeless.

In depressed times, this kind of action may have significantly more impact.

It would also be helpful to document the behavior of cops like Officer Brandt who, instead of suggesting businesses go to the D.A. or file civil suits, facilitate their repressive behavior by issueing "citizen arrest" citations (while often declining to do so for more scruffy residents).

We are working on a new Santa Cruz Copwatch blog--on which we plan to post photos and records of each SCPD officer and P&R ranger (allowing for positive and negative comments). Since the old police review board was buried in 2003, there has not been even the shadow of any kind of meaningful independent review of police agencies in Santa Cruz, whose rookies seem to make it up as they go on Pacific Avenue.

Please post your photos of police officers so members of the public will be able to recognize them and let the community (and the officers) know how they are doing.

We'll be doing a Copwatch downtown tomorrow in front of Borders. Folks are invited to join.

Beware, though: City Council is reportedly preparing significant worsening of the Downtown Ordinances at its 1-27 City Council meeting (see "Harsher Downtown Ordinances Being Cooked Up?" at ). Call the Councilcop of your choice at 420-5020 and request more info.
by Anon
Serious question from someone not at all familiar with Santa Cruz politics, but how does a bookstore have any power to be repressive towards homeless? Does the store ban them from coming in, or refuse to donate to the local library, or what?
by Robert Norse
For Mayor (and Bookshop Santa Cruz manager) Coonerty's anti-homeless record on the City Sleeping Ban, see "Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban Struggle (for Street Spirit newspaper)" at .

Councilmember Coonerty is also a member of the secretive Mathews-Coonerty-Robinson City Council trio whose behind-the-scenes Downtown Task Force has prepared new anti-homeless laws which Coonerty has so far declined to make public: ("Harsher Downtown Ordinances Being Cooked Up?" )

Coonerty was rejected as an Obama delegate, after much publicizing of his anti-homeless positions:("Coonerty to Face Challenge in Obama Delegate Selection 2 PM Sunday" ).

Coonerty, as Mayor last year, was also responsible for cutting short public comment, making City Councl meetings less accessible, and creating a novel new procedure where members of the public have to beg City Councilmembers to allow them to speak on Consent Agenda items--unlike other California cities: ("Mayor Coonerty's New Rules Ban Public Comment on Half of City Council Afternoon Agenda" at

Coonerty's father, Supervisor Neal Coonerty, the Bookshop Santa Cruz owner, was behind the original 1994 Downtown Ordinances establishing most of the sidewalk as a forbidden "no sitting, no peaceful sparechanging, no street performing" zone.

Coonerty the younger made himself inaccessible to public meetings, and so we picketed outside his bookstore. In response, he banned the protesters "for life" from his bookstore, signing his ban "Mayor Coonerty".

Coonerty was reelected, however, in November--after spending the most money of any of the candidates with the highest number of votes. He may feel this justifies his new repressive laws.
by brent adams
For those who don't remember, downtown Santa Cruz once was a mecca for talented street artists. The earthquake in '89 effectively changed
a lot downtown and the vibrant performance artist scene all but vanished. With the bulldozers and the chainlink fences came a barren wasteland. As the city slowly rebuilt, performers slowly started returning but with a much harsher police force than before... something had
changed at the heart of Santa Cruz that we've been working to restore. A celebration of creativity instead of an outlawing of it.

The deathknell additional blow to the vibrant street scene was 9-11. After that, folks seemed content that speaking out in public or sharing
one's creativity on the street was unwelcome. The status quo thinking was to just sit on your couch, watch TV and keep to yourself. Anyone
standing out in the crowd was viewed as suspicious. I personally took issue with that vibe. I began standing on the main corners downtown
and playing a 55 gallon barrel to share some beats and to show that it is safe and beautiful to be creative in the town center.
Little by little folks started coming out and playing their instruments. The City of Santa Cruz had passed a series of laws to manage the downtown performers and these are strictly enforced.

We've been playing for years honing our specific series of odd metered beats and polyrhythms. We play on weird instruments that we've made ourselves. We intend to inspire and entertain and in our great experience we've done that well. We make quite a lot of $$ and smiles and children dancing. You old whiny farts are free to walk away and go home and kick your dog, berate your wife and kids and watch another TV show. Thank you and goodriddens.
by an anarchist
yeah, the downtown merchants pretty much love kicking street people and non-shoppers around and would be happiest if we were all in a concentration camp. it seems that someone broke a window at urban outfitters recently though. i think those people in oakland had a pretty good idea of how to respond to state & capitalist repression.
by Sandy
Were the musical instruments being used amplified? Amplified music is against city ordinance unless a permit has been obtained.
by brent
no amplification. Like I said in the report above, we know the local ordinances very well.
by Robert Norse
HUFFsters concerned with O'Neill's use of police to interfere with musicians, artists, and critics (see comments above) on the sidewalk will be holding an information-gathering Copwatch (O'Neillswatch?) at Cooper and Pacific next Tuesday January 27th at 2 PM.

If others have had problems where O'Neill's used police as their private security force or as enforcing agent for the abusive Downtown Ordinances, please post here or give a call to HUFF at 423-4833. Or show up at the Copwatch table to make written complaints and sign petitions.

I'll also be working on a petition urging that the 2/3 of the Council agenda (the afternoon "Consent" agenda) be restored to public comment status, plus a variety of other measures that would open up Santa Cruz government to actual community participationand may have it ready for circulation at the Copwatch/HUFF/O'Neillswatch table on Tuesday.

Congrats to the drummers Wednesday afternoon for restoring public space in Parking Lot #4 next to the Farmers Market--even in rainy weather.

In the face of expanding Downtown Ordinances and City Council's wink-and-a-nod to abusive and selective enforcement of existing Downtown Ordinances, every time the community regains public space is a cause for celebration.

City Council staff has still not yet posted on-line the worsened Downtown Ordinances nor the Council agenda. But they will be on either the 3 PM session or the 7 PM session (if there is one). Show up and speak out.
by restriction=a type of boundary (boundaries harbor hate)
"Disturbing the Peace" State Law #415. section 2.

"Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another
person by loud and unreasonable noise."

People who scream their annoying conversations on their cell phone for everyone to hear in public spaces is what I consider "disturbing the peace". These people should be ticketed.

Ps. What about during Christmas when performers stand outside of O'neills singing Christmas carols? Did O'neill's have a problem with that? Probably not because Christmas is a consumer holiday and Christmas carols are more likely to add to the "Holiday atmosphere", an atmosphere of buy, shop, and spend.

by jack straw
Seems over the top, but Oneill is a huge local business and an "anchor" store on the mall. What choice do you think the cops are going to make if you upset business there? Did you notice Jack just coughed up the dough to keep the surf museum open? Chris Krohn? Did you know that he's persona non grata in SC? Street musicians are great (ok, some aren't so great), but if you're disrupting business, it's time to shut up and move on. Now I'll boycott Oneill for doing all their manufacturing overseas, but not because the don't support our local community - be it the arts or the environment...
by Shadow
Anon asks "Serious question from someone not at all familiar with Santa Cruz politics, but how does a bookstore have any power to be repressive towards homeless? Does the store ban them from coming in, or refuse to donate to the local library, or what?"

Bookshop Santa Cruz does not ban homeless people from entering. On the contrary. The bookshop allows all people to sit down and read books, as long as the store is open, without a time limit. I believe the owners know that some people are looking to the bookshop as day and evening shelter. they let them do so.

They are also the only business on Pacific that allows open access to it's bathrooms. Many homeless use it's bathrooms when they can not find others to use. The bathroom costs the bookshop around $40,000 a year to maintain.

They openly allow people to use the alcoves both in the front and back of the store to find shelter.

I have seen the owners give food to some people sitting in front of their doors.

Bookshop employees donate quite a number of hours to community service without drawing attention to it.

I also know that some of the store owners have helped homeless people find homes. There are quite a few people with housing that would still be on the street if not for the bookshop.


Does HUFF contribute to this community without letting people know about it?

Has HUFF been successful in gaining dependable long term housing for homeless people?

Has HUFF been successful in gaining bathroom facilities for homeless people?

How many people do HUFF members let stay in their homes during the day in order to seek shelter from the elements?

In the end it looks like the "Evil" Coonertys do more on a daily basis to help relieve the suffering of homeless souls in our community. Robert and Becky just fight to maintain their right to sleep outside. So nice of them.

by Resident of Santa Cruz - Alan Becker
Question: Does HUFF contribute to this community without letting people know about it?
What have they contributed to this community? Oh wait, a HUGE law fee when Norse sued the city.

Question: Has HUFF been successful in gaining dependable long term housing for homeless people?
NO. That is not what they do. They leave that up to others - so quoted by Becky Johnson.

Question: Has HUFF been successful in gaining bathroom facilities for homeless people?

Question: How many people do HUFF members let stay in their homes during the day in order to seek shelter from the elements?
Zip. Becky also made comments on how she had several fests over the holidays and in the next breath ranted that the homeless are outside in the COLD because of the sleeping ban!
by Azi fedoui
why would you choose a bright beautiful day,to go downtown to Santa cruz and care to share your soul by spreading your true spirit and joy at being blessed with the beat of your heart the freedom to do so and yes another beautiful moment in time it was no matter how it all turned out it's always a lesson and a bleeing... peace and more love and yes I've got to go play music on the streets of ( yes! santa cruz pece and more love until and yes by choice ps. next time buy something from O'neill's just dioing this will change the their actions and or reaction in and out of court . they must find ways to work with others ...remember peace
by Azi fedoui (reggaesoldierz [at]
you don't need a noise permit if you stand there using a jack hammer. but as the man said why don't we go play for the people that want to hear us ?
well there are many of those people on the mall that come to hear the music and even the music that you'd believe no one could love! but truth is sometimes just rejoicing in the fact that you can, is human... i think that there should be a time when street musicians might want to not play...... it would be like no birds in the sky...peace Azi
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