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A Year Later, Youth Programs Still Waiting on City Bicycles
by The Bike Church
Tuesday Jun 11th, 2013 6:00 PM
Since 1996 the City has distributed unclaimed bicycles to youth in need through nonprofits like the Bike Church and Barrios Unidos. Early last year they abrubptly ended this program and have given bikes instead to a for-profit business called the Bike Dojo, which should not even be allowed under City code to participate in the program, and which has sold many of the bicycles, also in violation of the Municipal Code. Despite admitting these problems, the City continues to distribute bikes to the Bike Dojo while denying access to the nonprofits that used to participate.
Until early last year, unclaimed bicycles at the Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) were distributed through local nonprofits to youth in need. Although the program was quite successful, distributing hundreds of bikes through more than a dozen nonprofits and public agencies, the City abruptly ended the program in early 2012. Without notifying prior participants, the City began distributing bicycles to a for-profit business, since which time the original nonprofits have not been invited to participate, and some bicycles have been sold in violation of City policy. Despite admitting these failings, the City has yet to take any action to remedy the situation. Youth and bicycle advocates are calling on the City to immediately reinstate the distribution of unclaimed bicycles for free to youth through partnerships with nonprofit agencies, as required by the Municipal Code.

The City began distributing unclaimed bicycles to youth in 1996. For years the program was administered by the SCPD, sometimes very successfully, while other times only intermittently or not at all. In 2008 distributions had stopped entirely and usable bikes were being sent instead to the landfill. At that time the Bike Church—a nonprofit repair shop and recycling center—stepped in, offering to help manage the program. The Bike Church facilitated City bike distributions for the next four years, getting over 400 free bikes to youth through various nonprofits and schools, and salvaging tons of usable bikes and parts which were not functional enough to give away. Hosting the distributions on their site, the Bike Church was also able to offer assistance with checking bikes over and performing minor repairs.

Despite this successful track record, the City ended its association with the Bike Church in early 2012. Without notifying past participants the City began to distribute the bicycles instead to the Bike Dojo, a for-profit business which, according to the municipal code (SCMC 2.24.120), should not be allowed to participate in the program. Although the Bike Dojo does have a youth program, it is neither a nonprofit nor sponsored by one. Meanwhile, they sold many of the adult-sized bicycles which previously had gone out for free to high school students in need. City staff have confirmed that these sales were made in violation of City policy.

Under the Bike Church's management and for all years prior, City bicycle distributions were open to all interested nonprofits and public agencies. Although many other groups participated as well, the most consistent partners with the Bike Church were Barrios Unidos, Green Ways to School, the Western Service Workers Association, Project Bike Trip's high school repair classes, and the Watsonville Bike Shack. All five of these partners wrote to the City last fall praising the former distribution program and the Bike Church's implementation of it, and asking that it be reinstated. The City has not responded with any substantive actions, but instead continues to distribute bicycles to the Bike Dojo.

It is notable that then-Mayor Don Lane has since apologized to the Bike Church for issuing a statement which in many respects has been proven to be false. Among other things, Lane had asserted that the Bike Dojo's youth program was a nonprofit, and that they were not selling any bikes. City staff later confirmed that the Bike Dojo was selling City bicycles in violation of City code, and that their youth program is not a nonprofit. In addition, they noted that the Bike Dojo has failed to comply with City direction to invite nonprofits to participate, and has not kept records of their bike sales. In spite of all this, the City has continued to give bikes to the Bike Dojo, while denying access to the Bike Church, Barrios Unidos, and all the other organizations that would like to make use of this valuable community resource.

Former participants in the program are calling on the City to immediately reinstate the distribution of unclaimed bicycles to youth through partnerships with nonprofit agencies, as required by the Municipal Code.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by G
Tuesday Jun 11th, 2013 6:28 PM
Oh, right.

Another episode of bad civics theater...
by zouzou
Wednesday Jun 12th, 2013 8:58 AM
I would be interested in seeing any documentation from official city sources regarding, in particular, why the former program was ended and BikeDojo was instituted.

Also does anyone have any documentation as to city claims that Bike Dojo was a nonprofit?

by Steve Schnaar
Thursday Jun 13th, 2013 4:58 PM
Yes last summer after they suspiciously changed the program without ever notifying us, we inquired about it and the SCPD gave us a number of implausible reasons, including that they wanted the recipient to pick the bikes up instead of having them dropped off, and to register the bikes. All such reasons were minor and we could have accomodated these requests if the SCPD had engaged us about them. Instead they violated the City code by giving bikes instead to a for-profit business.

We also did a records request which turned up virtually no information about how/why this change was made. As far as the nonprofit status of the Bike Dojo's youth program, there is no documentation because it is not a nonprofit. Don Lane's comment was incorrect, which is why he later apologized.

For some more details you can look at the blog of the Bike Church website; at the bottom is our original post on this issue, I think from last October:
by Robert Norse
Saturday Jun 15th, 2013 4:51 AM
I interviewed Steve Schnaar about this on June 9th on Free Radio ( at 3 hours and 23 minutes into the audio file).

I raised the issue directly with Mayor Bryant at last Tuesday's City Council meeting (she had no reply). See (at 2 hours and 25 minuts into the video).

For nearly nine months, Bryant has held back her e-mails on this subject, finally releasing some, but not all of them a week or two ago. In these right-wing times, it can be hard to mobilize the public to get legislative bodies to act. Exposing malfeasance, special interest, and corruption through Public Records Acts becomes all the more important.

A recent court decision, according to the First Amendment Coalition, is important:

None of this will directly force the SCPD to abandon its reactionary political posture of denying bikes to the Bike Church and funneling them to Bryant's friends...but the exposure is likely to be helpful in clearing the foxes out of the henhouse.
by Dan
Saturday Jun 15th, 2013 3:47 PM
what no longer exists. It's that simple.
by Dan
Saturday Jun 15th, 2013 4:30 PM
on July 1st, local government will no longer have to comply with the Public Records Act. In next fiscal year's budget bill there are provisions (which have been approved by the legislature which Gov. Brown supports) that allow local government to quit providing records if they certify on an annual basis that they can not afford to.
by protestWhileYouStillCan
Sunday Jun 16th, 2013 4:18 PM
Even though Santa Cruz has swung to the right, people still do not like to see children hurt by the police.
This is an EASY protest to win. Perhaps the Bike Church could give away ONE donated bike a month in a videoed free raffle type event with press present so the public can see the looks on faces of the children who didn't get a bike because there was only one bike to giveaway.

this is the real human issue here, poor kids are being denied bikes by the police, Hillary Bryant, and her cronies.

Bryant also cut funding for Barrios Unidos.

There was a lot of press on this last year, why were there no big protests then?

by (a)
Friday Jun 21st, 2013 8:28 AM
The Honorable Hilary Bryant
Santa Cruz City Council
Santa Cruz, California 95060

September 6th, 2012

Dear Hilary,

As a representative of the Bike Church, and the author of a recent article and email sent out by our group, I am writing to offer my sincere apology for the style and tone of these communications. While we obviously feel frustrated about recent changes in the City's bicycle distribution program, we recognize that it was out of line to frame the issue in such a harsh and accusatory way.

Above all, we apologize for the wording which implies that Vice Mayor Bryant had a financial interest in recommending this change. For the record, we have never thought Ms. Bryant or her husband Dave Shuman were directly making money from this program. (Indeed, there is not even much money at stake in the world of used bicycles). We also want to emphasize that our mention of Cruzin' Pedicabs was only to raise the issue of process, and not intended as an attack on their company as somehow connected with or responsible for the termination of the old bicycle distribution program. In fact, as bike mechanics and cyclists we love pedicabs, and are happy to see them springing up all over town.

In addition, we offer our apologies to the Bike Dojo for emphasizing their status as a for-profit business without elaborating about their youth program, which does collaborate with nonprofit agencies. Whatever differences we might have, we appreciate the Bike Dojo's efforts to get kids outside having fun and exercising, and getting bikes to some kids who otherwise would not have access to them.

Finally, we want to extend our apologies to the SCPD including Deputy Police Chief Martinez. We very much appreciate all their years of participating in bicycle distributions, and although we felt confused and frustrated by the unannounced change, we should not have implied any knowledge about their motivations aside from the reasons they gave us.

In conclusion, we take full responsibility for having used language out of proportion to the information at hand, and which did not serve the end of moving us forward with a process of possibly reviewing or revising the bicycle distribution program. We hope some of you are open to engaging with us regarding either this program, or our communications about it.


Steve Schnaar
Collective Member
The Bike Church
I think Steve feels considerably different now than when he wrote that letter nearly a year ago. I also suspect he was pressured to write it by the more timid and compliant in People Power.

My further comments are at
by protestWhileYouStillCan
Sunday Jun 30th, 2013 12:17 AM
when i asked steve last year why the hell the Bike Church wasn't protesting this bullshit, he told me elements within the Bike Church wanted to take a more moderate stand, and that at least some kids were going to get bikes.
fear of slander or libel is ridiculous, a lawsuit would only bring more attention to an issue Bryant and the cops wish would go away. in any event steve doesn't rule the anarchists, where is their "autonomous action" in solidarity with bikeless poor children?

Record Requests are only good if the record is hard to delete. a persistent protest on Pacific during the TOURIST SEASON is in order. if tourists found out how mean to little kids the cops and city council were on this, they might be less inclined to spend money downtown.

this is NOT a norse, brent, or occupy issue, the Bike Church or People Power have to stand up for the kids.

or of course the kids themselves.

imagine little children carrying protest signs written in crayon about how the cops fucked them over..

by Unicycle Dave
Monday Jul 1st, 2013 5:17 PM
I must disagree with the tactic of having little children parade with protest signs about how the police "fucked them over". Besides the fact that it's creepy to coopt children solely to advance ones political cause, in this case it's actually a bigger problem, because those kids aren't getting "fucked over" at all, since the same number of bicycles are going to them as before. By some accounts, the number is higher.

And tourists might not be dismayed by all of this. It may turn out they don't care or, worse, that they approve.

Steve got the tack right, in my opinion. I'm glad for the levelheaded people in Bike Church who were willing to set their politics and grandstanding aside for the children.
by Robert Norse
Monday Jul 1st, 2013 11:51 PM
...these "moderate" tactics have been. Those in power continue to withhold bikes, conceal the truth and turn out their endless phony narrative. (See

Deputy Chief Clark's newly-ballyhoo-ed excuses for unilaterally shutting down a successful program without consultation or discussion with the Bike Church and turning it over to a business contact of Mayor Bryant's spouse are a completely new fabrication about which the SCPD said absolutely nothing before, in conversations that Steve S. had with them over a year ago. Or so he told me.

I encourage everyone to listen to the Jeremy Scahill/Glenn Greenwald audio from last weekend where the lesson is..."courage". "Courage is contagious" Go to .

Blowing the whistle on the right-wing police agenda is important. Because fear--the fear spread by Take Back Santa Cruz, the Public Hysteria Citizen Task Farce, the SCPD, and the Bryant Council is also contagious.
by protestWhileYouStillCan
Thursday Jul 4th, 2013 12:26 AM
"since the same number of bicycles are going to them as before"
according to the GoodTimes article Norse cited, the cops aren't giving any bikes away. so much for your credibility Dave.
and in my view, only a creep would find it creepy when children exercise their 1st Amendment right to petition their government for redress. is it OK for kids to celebrate the 4th of July? or is that creepy too?

so it appears lazy cops got their feelings hurt by the anarchists, then switched to an unlawful solution.

what kind of a message does that send to the kids?

by Unicycle Dave
Thursday Jul 4th, 2013 4:07 PM
What's creepy is that an adult wants to orchestrate an event where kids are used as sock puppets and made to carry signs - cynically written in crayon, no less - proclaiming that they were "fucked over" by the police..

Or are you suggesting that dozens of local children, ages 4-9, are sitting around reading this thread and becoming so enraged as to rise up in unison to exercise their First Amendment rights?

I share your frustration at the system, but you're letting it devolve into rage, and get in the way of rational thought, which isn't helpful.

I should have said more bikes WERE going to kids. It's true that the program was recently completely mothballed because of the ruckus created by the people at Bike Church and in other quarters who got accusatory and combative about the switch. Robert is fond of blaming societal ills on people who aren't as quarrelsome as himself. I'd suggest that this episode goes to show that he's wrong. The kids lost on this one. That's all that happened. Tough to so see how that's progress.
by protestWhileYouCan
Thursday Jul 4th, 2013 7:55 PM
and may soon be moderated away Dave.

I never said an adult should get children to do any protest i said IMAGINE if the kids stood up for themselves. it is not unheard of, i started protesting young. and I don't think even a dozen adults are following this thread. thanks for the tip on rage, but if i was enraged, i would be out there protesting alone.

Now here is a tip for you: When you accuse Norse and the Bike Church of being responsible, you are falling victim to Projection.
Did they have any power over the program? No, the police did and still do.

Face it Dave, the police got caught breaking the law and had to stop. They can't go back to the old way without losing face, so now they are stuck doing what they do best.

by zouzou
Friday Jul 5th, 2013 1:44 PM
ahhh...sometimes a picture IS worth a 1000 words.

check out this photo:

It's a bunch of happy friends smiling for the camera. The non-profit-profit or for-profit non-profit Bike Dojo held a fundraiser for the scholarship fund for Officers Baker and Butler. Over $5000 were raised an of course, that's a good thing.

Nevertheless, the collection of people in the photo did give me a little pause, rereading all the press regarding the disposition of property being held by the city/SCPD.

From the left, SCPD Officer Rick Martinez (name sound familiar I seem to recall he had some sort of role in this mess?), next to him SCPD Chief Kevin Vogel, next to him and happily holding a large check is none other than Mayor Hilary Bryant (whose husband just happens to have a connection to the nonprofit affiliated but still not really a nonprofit Bike Dojo).Next to her is of course, SCPD assistant Chief Steve Clark (who seems to need a ipad because he can't keep track of all the different explanations he has for how and why the Bike Church got fired and the the Bike Dojo hired as repairer of abandoned bikes). And then to round out the happy clan are Rob and Kim Mylls (owners of the for profit, nonregistered, not nonprofit Bike Dojo).

My my my my, are we connecting all the dots yet?

Of course this photo was taken May 2013 AFTER the Bike Dojo had been anointed by martinez/clark/bryant/mystery decider as the new recipient of abandoned city property but really can you imagine any of SCPD or the Mayor happily posing for photos with anyone from the Bike church?

Naw, I can't either.

Sure might explain though why no one can find any official correspondence as to how the switch to bike dojo went down.

by Unicycle Dave
Friday Jul 5th, 2013 2:06 PM
Zouzou is right that there are legitimate questions about process here. He also seems to accurately represent how the law works in regard to programs like this. Certainly, it seems rather convenient that the Police Department and the City don't understand the law well enough to follow it properly in this matter.

Of course, it's equally ironic that anarchists and other folks who, as a matter of creed and principle, reject any and all forms of institutional authority, including the entire legal code, find it so convenient in situations like this as to all of a sudden become great legal scholars and write long tomes on the correct interpretation of the law and on legal procedures regarding its enforcement.

The net result of all this, of course, is that the city will find a way to stop sending bikes to Bike Church. They don't have to have this program, and if having it means that they have to work with Bike Church, they won't. Mark my words.

That's a sad outcome.

by zouzou
Friday Jul 5th, 2013 3:01 PM
UniDave wrote: Zouzou is right that there are legitimate questions about process here. He also seems to accurately represent how the law works in regard to programs like this. Certainly, it seems rather convenient that the Police Department and the City don't understand the law well enough to follow it properly in this matter.

Reply: I am not a he, I'm female.

UniDave wrote: Of course, it's equally ironic that anarchists and other folks who, as a matter of creed and principle, reject any and all forms of institutional authority, including the entire legal code, find it so convenient in situations like this as to all of a sudden become great legal scholars and write long tomes on the correct interpretation of the law and on legal procedures regarding its enforcement.

Reply: If you are referring to me Dave, I am no anarchist. I'm not a libertarian either. Based on my experiences in life I don't trust people enough to believe that there should be no laws. I think while many people are "good" they also can become greedy, powerhungry, controlling, oppressive and just basic assholes. I view the law like I view a weapon. It's a double edged sword which at it's best serves good intentions and at it's worst serves the worst of humankind.

As for all of a sudden becoming a great legal scholar that I am not. On the other hand I also am trained and licensed in the law which is why I feel more than comfortable in interpreting a relatively simple code and ridiculously simple procedure. I also understand that those in power are inclined to control others for their own ego will often try and twist the law.

UniDave wrote:The net result of all this, of course, is that the city will find a way to stop sending bikes to Bike Church.

Reply: Well Dave, that's on the city really. I mean, let's use an analogy from the 60's when white restaurant owners didn't want to serve "coloreds." When the law changed (from people basically taking to the streets) some racists were so filled with hate that they shut down their business rather than have to serve non-whites. Would you bemoan the loss of your favorite Chicken Fried Steak shack and blame it on black folks for wanting the law applied equally or would you be an adult and understand that the racists were acting like babies and if they couldn't exercise their prejudice they would throw and tantrum, take their marbles and go home.

Me, I'm not about to blame African Americans for wanting equal rights in the US.

UniDave wrote: They don't have to have this program, and if having it means that they have to work with Bike Church, they won't.

Reply: Well then whose fault it that, the Bike Church's who seems to be following the law or a bunch of pissy city leaders who seem to want to be able to act with prejudice against their own laws and if they can't play favorites they'll just make some poor kids suffer. Let's be real Dave, none of the City Council's kids are for want of a bike or a decent home or dinner on the table, so what the hell do they really care?

UniDave wrote:Mark my words.

Reply: You might be right. Maybe we can get some religious/spiritual leaders to do an intervention on SCPD/City Leaders to reflect on the spiritual price one pays for following their ego vs doing what's right.

UniDave wrote:That's a sad outcome.

Reply: It would be. Sadder still are all the lame asses who seem to want to excuse City leaders for playing favorites and disobeying the law rather than to march on City Hall and hold them accountable.

But then again maybe SC residents are too busy sipping their double half caf mocha frappe shakes with organic quinoa sweetener and soy whipped cream topping to be concerned about all of this.
by protestWhileYouStillCan
Saturday Jul 6th, 2013 12:20 AM
well said zou-zou.
are you an attorney? i am not directly damaged by this but i could get taxpayer standing by paying a dime for a bag.
by (a)
Monday Jul 8th, 2013 11:57 AM
here comes the protest
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Jul 10th, 2013 1:01 PM
> Quoting Robert Norse :
> > Any objection to my posting this letter?
> >
> > The thread comment I was referring to was this one by "Unicycle
> > Dave" rejecting my suggestion you were pressured by others around
> > your "apology".
> >
> > He wrote: "Why in heavens name would you say that? Why do you suspect he was "pressured" to
write that by the more "timid and compliant" in People Power? Do you not find it plausible that one might take a more conciliatory approach than yours?
"As a matter of fact, I asked Steve about that letter in the recent past, and he expressed no regrets about writing it. He reiterated that he believed there was significant exposure for a libel action, and that it was wise to acknowledge the slander, as the lesser of the consequences. Doesn't change the rest of this discussion, but it was certainly prudent, and courageous, to admit that they had crossed a line that shouldn't have been crossed."
> >
> > Were you, in fact, not pressured? Not what you told me as I remember.
> >
> > Thanks,
> >
> > R.
> >
> > P.S. I've forwarded the Bike Church's call to attend and e-mail City
> > Council too the HUFFsters.
> >

> >> Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2013 08:03:24 -0700
> >> From: steve [at]
> >> To: rnorse3 [at]
> >> Subject: Re: Let me know...
> >>
> >> Hi Robert. I was gone all last week, on a bike tour. I'm not really
> >> that interested in engaging in long comment threads online. But to
> >> answer your question, the SCPD gave me the same phony reasons a year
> >> ago, namely that the BIke Church didn't pick up the bikes, that we
> >> didn't register them, and that they had to haul away the scrap metal.
> >> Maybe there was one other reasons stated.
> >>
> >> None of those in my opinion hold any water, or are believable reasons
> >> for the change. We used to submit detailed info akin to registration
> >> but then they stopped asking us for it. We have people who are happy
> >> to take our scrap metal for free, and it would have been no problem if
> >> they said they didn't want to take away the scrap anymore. Even
> >> picking up the bikes, we could have worked that out but they never
> >> asked. Instead they secretly changed it...
> >>
> >> Steve

> Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2013 10:18:59 -0700
> From: steve [at]
> To: rnorse3 [at]
> Subject: RE: Let me know...
> Thanks for passing on the call Robert. I am fine if you want to post
> publicly the email I sent you re: SCPD's reasons for changing the
> program.
> Also I generally try to avoid long online comment discussion. But my
> first reaction at seeing someone post the apology letter I wrote to
> Bryant was that it seemed odd to post it without the LTE I wrote the
> following week to the Weekly, making it clear our apology was for tone
> but not content of our original press release:
> Steve


Thanks, Steve. 

I think the internal dynamics (i.e. cowardice, false hopes, faith in institutionally opaque and fossilized city agencies) of groups that don't speak out (even apologizing for having spoken out) is a key factor on the ongoing neo-fascist surge in our community. 

Hence it's important to me that groups (like the ACLU, the Posner-posse, and the Bike Church/People Power folks who have soft-pedaled or remained silent on obvious human rights abuses or denial of services) be educated through exposure.  The kind of "groupthink" that Jerome Leonard credited with creating approval for Ken Collins behavior in the famous homeless-harassment video is at issue here.

I may see you this afternoon if you're around.

Micah continues to have no problem with his "gradualist" approach to the bike issue (he spoke with me this morning), somehow feeling he'd "won a victory" by stopping bikes to the Bike Dojo (as though that were getting any bikes to the kids in the community).