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Sleeping Ban Back For All Santa Cruz Libraries: Decision Tonight in Aptos
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]
Monday Mar 4th, 2013 9:33 AM
The Library Joint Powers Authorities Board meets tonight (Monday March 4th) at the Aptos Public Library at 7695 Soquel Drive to give another tool to the Homeless Haters.

Item 8F on the Agenda of the Library Joint Powers Authority Board is a deepening and darkening of the Patron Code of Conduct and Suspension Policy Update to reestablish a clear Sleeping Ban in all public libraries in Santa Cruz and the surrounding county.
The Agenda is posted at . The relevant pages are 26-28.

There are no complaints on file as far as I can determine in the current monthly update of problems involving people sleeping in the library (pp. 45-48, 54-55). There are two complaints of people sleeping in the library parking lot (presumably the one in the back of the library) with their stuff "spread out". It seems unclear why there is a need to make rules harsher in what has been one of the few remaining legal public places for homeless people to be unmolested.

A story on an Iowa library banning sleeping (pp. 49-50) has the usual omission of whether city law bans homeless people sleeping in public places generally--which Santa Cruz law does--and whether it has utterly inadequate shelter space (ditto with Santa Cruz).

Recently Berkeley has adopted a similar NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) policy regarding bringing property into the library (necessary for homeless people who have no place to store their stuff and need to bring it with them). See and the comments that follow.

Currently if someone is blocking the stacks, or snoring, or impeding traffic through being sprawled out, all these issues can be (and presumably have been) addressed without sending around the "sleep police". There's currently a burly First Alarm Security guard who has been patrolling the library and surrounding grounds who creates what some regard as an intimidating presence (in all candor, some don't).

In an unexpected pushback against the county-wide attack on homeless people (ranging from destruction of campsites to crackdowns on Pacific Avenue), the Board voted 5-4 in early December to specifically delete the Sleeping Ban from library policy. With nasty changes in personnel (MacPherson, Friend, Mathews, to name only a few), the blast of bigotry is chilling.

While the language seems genteel ("Refrain from sleeping in the library"), it is backed by a Draconian Policy of Enforcing Suspension.

That policy, made much harsher late last year, specifies that First Violation results in a reading of the rules, 2nd Violation a 1-day suspension, 3rd Violation a 30-day suspension, and 4th Violation up to 6 months. No formal hearing process for anything under 31-days (appeal to the mercy of Teresa Landers, the woman who pushed these policies). Even more telling, in all cases, a person so charged has only 1-day to file a written request for an appeal, or the appeal will not be considered. (See p. 31 E, 7: "To submit a written appeal, the patron must complete the "Appeal of 30-Day Suspension" document. The patron must return the completed form to the suspending library within one working day from the date the suspension is issued.").

None of the incident reports are actually included in the Agenda. It took me over a month to get past such reports with a Public Records Act request.

There are no exceptions for children falling asleep. The law provides broad opportunity to be selectively enforced--either based on the desires of the staff to be "dutiful", but also the prejudices of certain library users who want to "clean up" the library.

This looks like a slamdunk for the Bigot Bunch, but e-mail them anyway:


Contact the following Board members

Citizen Dick English
117 Union Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Home: 831-539-3299 rpenglish [at]

Citizen Martha Dexter
117 Union Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Home: 831-600-8834 mmdexter [at]

Citizen Nancy Gerdt
117 Union Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Home: 831-335-3130 ngerdt45 [at]

Councilmember Cynthia Mathews
City of Santa Cruz
809 Center Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Office: 831-420-5020
Fax: 831-420-5011 cmathews [at]

Councilmember David Terrazas Chair
City of Santa Cruz
809 Center Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Office: 831-420-5020
Fax: 831-420-5011 dterrazas [at]

Councilmember Jim Reed
225 Navigator Drive
Scotts Valley, CA 95066 Home: 831-461-0222 jimreedsv [at]

Councilmember Michael Termini
Vice Chair
City of Capitola
420 Capitola Avenue
Capitola, CA 95010 Office: 831-476-6206 michael [at]

Supervisor Bruce McPherson
County of Santa Cruz
701 Ocean Street, Room 500
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Office: 831-454-2200
Fax: 831-454-3262 bruce.mcpherson [at]

Supervisor Zach Friend
701 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Office: 831-454-2200
Fax: 831-454-3262 zach.friend [at]

More background on this struggle can be found at ("Lost in Lander's Library Labyrinth..." and ("Library to Consider Restrictive New Policies").

There will be a meeting noon tomorrow at Laurel Park next to Louden Nelson Center (Tuesday March 5th) to discuss a Sanctuary Campground for the homeless. A second meeting on the subject will take place the next day at the Sub Rosa Cafe (703 Pacific) at noon after the HUFF meeting (10 AM to noon).
by Robert Norse Monday Mar 4th, 2013 12:18 PM
The words of the Ban sound mellow enough " [Please] Refrain from Sleeping in the Library". Unfortunately in the current police-solutions-rule climate and given the reality of the City's nighttime universal sleeping ban for homeless people, the policy has a significance above and beyond their innocuous appearance. The "please" is backed up by the hardline Suspension policy and is predicated on no new specific complaints that I'm aware of.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Spanksalot
Monday Mar 4th, 2013 12:43 PM
Libraries are for studying and reading, not sleeping, washing, showering, living etc. There are homeless shelters for that.
by Robert Norse
Monday Mar 4th, 2013 1:11 PM
It's certainly true that libraries are for reading (and such).

However, fostering the illusion that there are legal places for homeless people to fall asleep in Santa Cruz is false and misleading.

The Homeless (Lack of) Services Center has space for less than 10% of the homeless community.

City law makes sleeping outside at night after 11 PM illegal.

There are no legal camping areas in the City of Santa Cruz.

Hence all homeless campers are "illegal" by definition. Pretty nasty use of words, rules, and laws to read homeless people out of town. And the library board is climbing onto the hate-happy bandwagon.

Glib statements don't change grim realities--they either mask ignorance or bigotry.
by No One Minded
Monday Mar 4th, 2013 2:08 PM
I have always had a home that I could call my own, and my own warm bed to sleep in, but I still have fallen asleep in the library before. More than once.

I believe it is a common occurrence that people fall asleep when they read, is it not? People nod off for a minute or two. They rest their eyes. Maybe they are out for 5 minutes. If they are quiet, what would the problem be if someone fell asleep for a half an hour while seated upright in their seat?

This rule is being enacted to target homeless people who sleep. Why not target disruptive behavior instead?

A rule against blocking the isles, or a rule against taking up the space of three people at a table, would seem more appropriate to me.

The rules state that they may photograph people for breaking any of the other rules.

I just can't imagine they would photograph me and kick me out of the library for falling asleep, because of my "professional" appearance. They will be photographing homeless people and others with mental disabilities who they deem to be "problems".

The enacting of this rule seems selective and bigoted, and it blatantly targets one segment of the population for unfair harassment.
by No One Minded
Monday Mar 4th, 2013 2:13 PM
I just can't imagine that it will soon be against the rules for me to rest my head on my work binder, cross my arms around my face, and close my eyes for a few minutes to rest while I work at the library. No one here has ever taken a short break from work in a library this way?

Will they think I am a homeless person and bother/contact me for this in the library now?
by G
Monday Mar 4th, 2013 3:59 PM
There are very few places to simply be, without money. Without money, anything involving customers is off lmiits. No stores, no restaurants, no coffee shops. No homes. Think about that for a minute. Where would YOU go.

Maybe a park (during the day). Or a beach (awkward jurisdiction). Or a bench (only for short periods). Or a sidewalk (keep moving!). Or perhaps a library (for now).

As already pointed out in the comments, appearance matters! If you are wearing a suit, untouchable. If you look corporate, untouchable. If you look wealthy, aggressively untouchable. If you look poor, a target. If you are carrying what little you have with you, aggressively targeted.

Of course such bigotry is difficult to enshrine in explicit law, or at least is thought to be difficult (the real world, codified bigotry of Santa Cruz grows by the week). So behavior laws are used to hide the enforcement of the 'demographically indictative clothing' laws used to oppress those that are fashionably persecutable, which, at least on occassion, shocks the conscience of the world. And when the citizenry, those not in a (currently unfashionable) demographic, fail to speak up, well, history is repleat with examples.

I suppose the tipping point comes when, having nowhere to simply be, legally, the oppressed are forced by circumstance to die, or become the oppressors. Think about that too. Where would YOU go, then?

The consent of the governed is a fragile thing.
by Michael A. Lewis
(malewis [at] Monday Mar 4th, 2013 7:40 PM
This is not about someone falling asleep while researching their homework or writing the Great American Novel. This is about people who go to the library, not to use the library facilities, but to spend time indoors, in a warm dry place, with their worldly goods spread out across tables and the floor.

When people take up library space to count out all the pieces of fabric crammed into their back back, legitimate library users are excluded. The library is a place to read, research and check out books. It is not a hostel, a homeless shelter, nor a sleepover.

The citizens of Santa Cruz do not have to put up with the takeover of community libraries by those who do not use them as libraries.

Don't sleep in the libraries and we won't store books in the homeless shelters.
by G
Tuesday Mar 5th, 2013 6:49 AM
Yes, I know, that might be a difficult concept to understand, but even the homeless shelter (note the lack of a plural) has been known to, by explicit policy, ask homeless people to leave, during the day, and find someplace else to be.

If only the economic bigots would spend time policing their broken economic system, broken constitutional system, and broken civic system with such habitual control-freak-isms...

I would add cites for each claim, as things are demonstrably broken at the moment, but given the consistent distaste for factual basis, I will simply say that y'all should consider ceasing the reflexive blaming of victims, stop the hate-fueled hunting of victims, before it is too late.
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Mar 5th, 2013 6:51 AM
See "What Homeless Shelters Would Those Be?" above. Or perhaps the good Michael fell asleep too many times in his classroom.

Existing powers and policies adequate allowed for advising people who were blocking aisles or improperly taking up too much space. This new rule takes NIMBY-ism right into the faces of poor people in the library.

How about "don't bulldoze our campsites and we won't crash in your gated houses"?

I didn't read nor have I heard or seen any "space" problem in the library. Some middle-class people, however, have their paranoia and privacy demands so extended they require an absence of poor people in the public spaces, they traverse, look at, or even think about.

That's what gave us the Downtown Ordinances two decades ago and the Sleeping Ban outside or in vehicles three decades ago. Police find such ordinances "helpful tools" in stripping those they want to interrogate of their First, Fourth, Fifth, Eight, and Fourteenth Amendment rights (the Constitution, irrelevant as it is, to our local governing boards, is still in the library somewhere, I think).

This sounds like a political decision designed to treat "tolerance of the homeless" as weakness or sin.

The real sin, of course, is intolerance as we used to learn from those books in the library. Looks like the library board has fallen asleep and is dragging the community into its gentrified nightmare.

If anyone's interested in bringing pillows to the library to whack the local Nightmare Nannies, I'll set my alarm clock. Perhaps a visit to the public prowling grounds of Matthews, Terrazas, MacPherson, Friend at City Hall or the County Building would help to educate this "wake up the weary" crowd. I will bring bathrobe and teddy bear--and have a few to spare for those who'd like to join the educational sleepwalk.

Full disclosure: I'm still awaiting the latest bad dream confirmation from the Library Board that they passed the Sleeping Ban last night. But assume that Landers had her ducks lined up and got her "thou shalt not sleep" decree rubber-stamped. If I'm wrong, I'll throw a pajama party for the lot of them. And provide hot chocolate.
by Just sayin
Tuesday Mar 5th, 2013 8:39 AM
I think this is the basic comprehension divide which Robert can't seem to cross: "My" property is mine because I paid for it and own it. "Our" (your) campground is not yours because you don't own that land. The public does. All of us. And as such, a decision by a single person to make it "our'(yours) doesn't count.

It's pretty simple fact and logic, and it holds true nationwide, not just here in Santa Cruz: plopping your butt down and squatting on it doesn't make it yours. It's still ours. And as such, we get to decide how to use it, not just you.
by Razer Ray
Tuesday Mar 5th, 2013 10:21 AM
" because I paid for it and own it."

The rational used for clearcutting forests and mountaintop removal mining.

Just sayin' [snigger]
by Razer Ray
Tuesday Mar 5th, 2013 10:31 AM
The same rationale allows for the building ticky tacky un-affordable housing in pristine places all over the woods around here while seeing some perverse differentiation when spewing about how a few mattresses in the woods (that for the most part biodegrade quickly) are some sort of environmental nightmare.

That line of reasoning and rationalization is the 'nightmare'.
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Mar 5th, 2013 2:23 PM
...on this gloomy story can be found at "Joint Powers Board Votes to Ban Sleep in Santa Cruz County Library Branches" .

A free HUFF-ceritified homeless teddy bear to the first photographer who can produce five photos or recognizable portraits of library board members slumbering in their up-scale homes, while downtown homeless people are rousted in their camps at night ushered out of the public library during the day by burly sleepbusters.
by John E. Colby
Tuesday Mar 5th, 2013 8:01 PM
Ray made a great point. How can homeless people be vilified for despoiling the environment (on a small scale) while federal, state and local government officials give logging and mining companies tax breaks to despoil the environment on a monumental scale?

Who are the real villains?
by Just Sayin
Thursday Mar 7th, 2013 11:04 AM
To your Alberta sands post Ray, I return serve with Land Trust Of Santa Cruz County.

Public Lands.
Our Lands.
Bought and paid for to protect it from despoiling and destruction.

..and that includes despoiling and destruction by illegal campers and their tons of trash.