Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Local ACLU Issues Letter of Support for AB 5 The Homeless Bill of Rights
by Steve Pleich
Wednesday May 29th, 2013 4:36 PM
ACLU Urges Restoration of "Quality of Life" Provisions

ACLU of Santa Cruz County
123 Liberty Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
santacruzaclu [at]

May 29, 2013

The Honorable Bill Monning
Capitol Office, Room 4066
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: AB 5 (Support)

The Santa Cruz County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU) respectfully recommends support for AB 5, The Homeless Bill of Rights, which would directly address what we believe to be continued discrimination against homeless persons and which would redirect resources that are presently being employed to criminalize poverty.

The ACLU of Santa Cruz County maintains that laws that discriminate against impoverished people raise significant civil liberties issues. Poverty is often caused in part by this country’s unequal treatment of, and opportunities for, individuals based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, religion and/or disabilities. Economically disadvantaged citizens are denied civil liberties disproportionately to their more financially fortunate counterparts. Laws that specifically criminalize those without homes, such as “quality of life” or “anti-nuisance” ordinances, and which penalize people for sleeping, loitering, panhandling, or simply being present in a public space run counter to fundamental civil liberties and essential human rights. If we are ever to achieve the greater societal good of ending the cycle of poverty and homelessness, we must first recognize that criminalization of the less fortunate is not sound fiscal or governmental policy.

It is our understanding that several provisions of AB 5, including those that prohibit the enforcement of “quality of life” offenses, have been stricken from the bill. We strongly urge that you and your colleagues in the California State Senate act to restore this language and revive the promise and the spirit of the protections this bill was intended to provide.


Peter Gelbum, Chair
Board of Directors
ACLU Santa Cruz Chapter

Comments  (Hide Comments)

Remember when the Brown Beret's were given an award, and let the audience know what they thought of the Coonerty election endorsement (I teared up)? Does anyone remember the Bernard/Mike 'dialogue' out back (bonus points for IDing the cup holders)? Did anyone else know the uninformed membership was pissed off about the ACLU power structure sneaking in the endorsement, just before the election (they were pissed, yet nothing really changed)? Did anyone else watch Coonerty quietly fume in his chair (it was kinda funny, actually)?

And NOW the Santa Cruz ACLU pretends to care about homeless issues?! After DECADES of looking the other way, if not actively enabling the oppression?!

Hey Razer, got time for another 'more public' article? It is time to break this cycle of pseudo-progressive Santa Cruz ACLU election manipulation.
by civil rights junkie
Wednesday May 29th, 2013 7:01 PM
This was a long time coming . . . too late though?
by Victoria Claflin Woodhull
Wednesday May 29th, 2013 7:46 PM
This is nearly worthless........just stating support for it goes nowhere.....if there is no intent behind it.
by socialist feminist
Wednesday May 29th, 2013 8:00 PM
did rotkin vote nay?
by Robert Norse
Wednesday May 29th, 2013 8:50 PM see what the local ACLU is (not) doing locally in terms of opposing the local anti-homeless laws, go to "ACLU Chair Closes Monthly Boad of Directors Meeting, Homeless Issues Off the Agenda" at
by civil rights junkie
Thursday May 30th, 2013 2:27 AM
as i read the letter more — it is quite short — the more disappointed I became. it's mere words. words without legal action on behalf of homeless people is an empty gesture — it's mere posturing.

what a disappointment!
by Razer Ray
Thursday May 30th, 2013 7:55 AM
[Image: Crumbled cookies on Sam Farr's office table. Guess the event and win... ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!]

Writing letters to congressional representatives by the ACLU itself on a letterhead is MORE than 'posturing'.

This is more than 'posturing'...
"It is our understanding that several provisions of AB 5, including those that prohibit the enforcement of “quality of life” offenses, have been stricken from the bill. We strongly urge that you and your colleagues in the California State Senate act to restore this language..."

FYI, using words like "Demand" instead of "Urge" (I suppose this is what is meant by 'posturing') just gets your letter thrown in the trash.

But the reason that would happen (circular file) is something that's not being addressed here. What's not being said is the the fact that the "local ACLU" (note the quotes) is more akin to a marketing group, or fan club than an operational outpost of the legal arm of the ACLU.

For instance They go around schmoozing business owners into putting up the fliers and info for agendas they don't create like the death penalty campaign.

Just because there are lawyers on the local board doesn't mean they have the time, OR the technical capabilities of either taking complex cases of court or for that matter the "diplomatic" wherewithal to impress Sam Farr.

What I'm saying here is a letter from the REGIONAL or NATIONAL office means something.

A letter from the local 'chapter' gets filed in the circular file.

Sam Farr doesn't give a fuck about them either. He just puts out the better pastries when they show up at his office.

Where I see the problem is exemplified by what happened when I made my presentation to them last year [], I was told they had no available resources, and when pressed for regional office involvement for additional resources (specialized lawyers to pursue court orders at state level) they did not... seem... motivated to do so.

by G
Thursday May 30th, 2013 1:21 PM
BTW, note the date of the local ACLU letter. If I'm not mistaken, it was sent AFTER the bill was killed in committee.
by As Far As I Know....
Thursday May 30th, 2013 2:09 PM
....AB5, California's Homeless Bill of Rights is alive and kicking....
"May 24, 2013

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's bill to create legal protections and support services for homeless people stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday.


In a statement, Ammiano said he was disappointed that the "Homeless Person's Bill of Rights and Fairness Act" failed, but that he understands the state's budget picture."
by Found more info
Thursday May 30th, 2013 8:01 PM
G, together we will get the facts straight! lol

The Bill stalled, though the article you cited does say it failed, in addition to saying it stalled.

From a May 30 article: "Earlier this month, the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee approved the legislation, AB 5. But last Friday, the Appropriations Committee put the bill on hold until January 2014."
by RazerRay
Friday May 31st, 2013 8:32 AM
Sam Farr's aides at that time (he wasn't there at the moment) were two Israeli Nationals.

Go figure... You'd figure he'd hunt down local high school valedictorians or someone like that for the job... NOT! He owes his elections ass to the local construction industry and AIPAC.
by G
Friday May 31st, 2013 9:35 AM
One of the reasons I dislike moderation; it gets in the way. ;) On to the fact... Sure, AB 5 is 'stalled', until next year. Given the 'neutral' language used by opposing interests (via other stereotypes, some might call it shameful bigotry), I would be very surprised if any such efforts were not 'stalled' again, next year. But we can't know that, until next year. And we can't know if the local ACLU chapter will make more feel good gestures, after the fact, next year+.

I suppose that is OK, for those not exposed to persecutionary discretion, for yet another year.

What use is justice, if so easily deferred, for 'others'? What use a Constitution, when so easily ignored, by those that never face accountability? The consent of the governed is a fragile thing.

Oh, I hear that Sam Farr is also beholden to strawberry growers, but is that a fact?
by RazerRay
Friday May 31st, 2013 11:09 AM
In general. It was so obvious I don't mention it.

The photo of the crumbled cookie came from an Occupy Project" (no not "#Occupy. Earlier... before peacecamp) visit to Sam Farr's office at the county building. He was confronted, among other things, about back-door funding the War on Iraq via his sponsorship of the Iraq Reconstruction Act bill which would have Pentagon-ized California's construction industry making it easier for them to obtain contracts to take part in the "Blow it up and pave it over" plan for the country.

The ag industry, except for troop food supply and at the higher levels BigAgra GMO seed rights in the occupied countries, generally don't need those congressional military connections.

Their issues are more related to worker rights, health and human safety, and environmental pollution such ag chemicals and potions that make Strawberries bloom en masse where they would otherwise not (Methyl Bromide and Chloropicrin to name two) and "dust storm monocropping agriculture", observable over Watsonville as a brown cloud every time the wind blows which, besides the toxic chemicals in the area's denuded-of-natural-nutrients soil, contains mold and fungal spores that are VERY BAD for the human organism.

This is what happens when you grow two of the most water-intensive crops in the world, Lettuce and Strawberries, in a region with little water (and a huge human population now).

In other words don't expect Sammy Farr to oppose desal, even if he says he does.

The people who need the water to make HUGE money on two utterly un-tenable for the region crops, elect him.

Remember kiddies... (See the image)
See "While Mayor Coonerty Hammers Away at Civil Liberties, the ACLU Awards Him Sunday" at . Follow the links for the nauseating details.
by Robert Norse
Saturday Jun 1st, 2013 10:12 PM
I count four actions this year recognizing local civil liberties issues by the local ACLU: (1) a letter urging strengthened language for the AB5, the California Homeless Bill of Rights; (2) unanimous opposition to the Cowell Beach curfew and a reading of that opposition to the City Council; (3) a statement urging support of the Trust Act, which attempts to protects immigrants from federal seizure and deportation on trivial charges (something Sheriff Wowak has been continuing to do without opposition from the ACLU), and (4) a weak statement suggesting that two of the four reporters among the Santa Cruz Eleven should not be prosecuted without a deeper investigation.

To the best of my knowledge, that's it for the ACLU's sterling local record recently.

It has implicitly rejected or ignored or sidelines all the specific proposals regarding the legal and extralegal attacks on homeless people locally as itemized in the main article above.

Perennial City Council candidate Steve Pleich, for whom I have a personal fondness, has enraged me for his refusal to act on local homeless issues while grandstanding as a homeless advocate, brushing off any criticism without explanation or apology. At the Bradley Manning event today at the Town Clock where Steve and I shared a podium, I found myself soft-pedaling any criticism in order to avoid public disagreement that might upset supporters of the campaign to free Manley and stop prosecution of all whistleblowers.

The local ACLU has long been a useless body around local issues and seems to corrupt those who attempt to climb its hierarchy. Steve's been there for a year and has become vice-chair; his refusal to raise homeless issues hasn't changed. We obviously need another legal support group that really cares about local civil liberties, even at the risk of offending political allies--something Pleich and other ACLU members do not seem willing to do.

Anybody know any attorneys interested?
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


donate now

$ 240.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network