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Indybay Feature

Last Change to Stop the Sidewalk Snatchers

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
2:45 PM - 3:45 PM
Event Type:
Robert Norse
309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Location Details:
809 Center Council Chambers at City Hall across from the main library and the Civic Auditorium

After a rousing demonstration downtown on Sunday (see Downtown for All activists will gather to oppose the Bryant-Robinson City Council's steamroller seizure of the sidewalk beginning at 3 PM.

Neither the Santa Cruz Sentinel (though a reporter was there) nor chose to cover the protest.

Councilmember Micah Posner put in appearance as the protest was dispersing. I'll hope to post my own impressions later today.

Meet earlier and share some hot tasty soup, a strong dose of common sense and citizen outrage, and organizing for future action outside Council chambers.

A special tip of the hat to India Joze's Jumbogumbo Joe Schultz for providing tasty vegan soup at both the Sunday and Tuesday protests.

The new Shrink-Sidewalk-Space law changes are described at though the latest clarifications are included in the attached flyer.

The text of the proposed ordinances is at (the extended Smoking Ban) and; (the Ban on Street Performing, Street Art, Street Vending, Political Tabling, & Peaceful Sparechanging on 95% of the Pacific Avenue sidealks and entirely in other business districts where sidewalks are adjacent to buildings).

Neither of the ordinances were vetted before the public in a Council Committee or Commission--as is customary with such changes. Nor were stakeholders in the major groups impacted consulted.

They were proposed with only 72-hour notice 2 weeks ago and passed by City Council 5-2 without only 2 minutes public input allowed per person (instead of the 3 minutes customary in a Public Hearing on a law change). There was no estimate of the amount of city money and police time already being spent enforcing these "don't sit next to a building"-style ordinances

They are being pushed by some merchants in the DTA to sanitize the sidewalks and lure more shoppers in the belief that less vibrant street life is a bigger draw. The pretexts are "congestion", "trip and fall hazard", and "upgrading the tacky look".

The ordinances also seem to be part of a continuing campaign to make Santa Cruz an "unwelcome" area for homeless people, hippies, and poor people generally.

Since it seems unlikely that the Council will disobey its Downtown Association, Santa Cruz Neighbors, and Take Back Santa Cruz masters, this meeting will also be an organizing opportunity to plan the next phase of the resistance.

More protests like Sunday's street demonstration and the spontaneous Saturday Chalk-In (see ) are a likely outcome of this kind of special interest repressive legislation. To challenge the surrender of traditional Santa Cruz street vitality to the prim Victorian standards of the New Puritans.
Added to the calendar on Mon, Sep 23, 2013 9:17AM

Comments (Hide Comments)
by Robert Norse

Organize Outside Council Chambers 809 Center St.

In a disguised attack on the entire non-commercial street scene, City Council will vote to restrict still further the very limited public space currently allowed the community downtown. Under the guise of reducing congestion, and preventing a "trip-and-fall" hazard (both undocumented), the reactionary new laws crowd street performers, vendors, homeless people, tablers, local residents, & tourists with what smells like malicious intent. This will classify 95% of the sidewalk as sterile “forbidden zones” with no resting, vending, or performing and ban frequently used blankets . The attack on street counter-culture has nothing to do with “bad behavior.” It's about bigot aesthetics-& homeless cleansing to clear away visible poverty, traditional Santa Cruz diversity, and unwanted political activism.

Council staff took no input from those targeted. They provided no info on the costs of current selective enforcement, nor stats of real problems. This merchant monopolization of sidewalk space is part of a disturbing if masked “scapegoat the homeless” agenda. Fearful and greedy merchants & NIMBYs label homeless people and the street culture as “a public safety problem” and “unsightly”. With no credible stats, this phony“perception” of danger replaces targeting unmet real needs like jobs, housing, respect & restoration of civil rights eroded over the last decade.

+++ Extends the Smoking Ban to the side streets one block in either direction from Pacific Avenue, including all alleys & side streets & to to all surface parking lots between Laurel Street & Water St. perhaps private parking lots as well. Ignores that current law already bans smoking 25' from a door or window, targeting the heavily homeless smoker population.
+++ Bans tarps & blankets now used to display jewelry, artwork, political fliers, etc. and requires all devices on the sidewalk to be “free-standing”, penalizing poor people, squelching downtown color & spontaneity.
+++ Reduces total allowed space to 12 sq ft area [3 “squares”] which now includes table, instruments, chair, people & possessions—virtually requiring special permits. The ill-defined space requires a tape measure.
+++ Requires 12' distance between display devices, isolating performers and forcing away other vendors.
+++ Reduces total available space 4/5 to exclude 95% of the sidewalk by expanding the “forbidden zones” to 14' from buildings, street corners, intersections, kiosks, drinking fountains, public telephones, public benches, public trash containers, information/directory signs, sculptures or artwork, ATM-style machines, outside street cafes, vending carts, and fences. This bans sitting on any sidewalk that is narrower than 14' (no sidewalk use in other business districts at all if buildings adjoin).
+++ In conjunction with Santa Cruz's unique “Move Along Every Hour” law, police can then ban individuals from any one spot for 24 hours & require them to move 100'--further reducing “legal” spots.

When added to the frequent merchant expansion of their displays onto the sidewalk, this exclusion of non-commercial activity is nearly all-embracing. Backed up by selective enforcement at merchant whim, this suits those whose real objective is to clamp down on the once-vibrant street scene in Santa Cruz and to 'Carmel-ize” the Avenue.

This will cause real congestion with people competing for the public spaces (when open sidealks actually have room for all). It will severely crowd not just those using display devices, but others trying to sit down in the few remaining spots available whether these be elderly residents, homeless locals, visiting travelers, UCSC students, disabled folks, or naive tourists (who will, of course be selectively ignored or courteously directed to pay-cafes). And either drive such people away or produce a hostile response, more conflict downtown, & greater expense. Police will be given greater power to drive away a significant number of people currently using the sidewalk.

+++ Use your video phone to capture evidence of authorities harassing the public on the streets downtown. Post on You-Tube and . Send them to HUFF (rnorse3 [at] ); pass on links.
+++ E-mail City Council at citycouncil [at] .and demand these ordinances be reviewed for cost, effectiveness, impact, and unintended consequences. Send them back to citizen committees for public input.
+++ Spread opposition; Write local papers; Use Facebook & Twitter;. Ordinances become final a month after a 2nd vote in two weeks (October 24) Support businesses who oppose, publicize those who don't.
+++ Post your own accounts of discrimination downtown. The Coffee Roasting Company, Verve, & Starbucks refused service to homeless people with backpacks; CruzioWorks refused 24-hour service to homeless Dan Madison.
+++ Witness & support other street performers & streetfolk when they face harassment from authorities.
+++ Get familiar with the Downtown Ordinances, often misquoted by police and hosts. Copies available through HUFF (Wednesdays 11 AM, Sub Rosa Cafe 703 Pacific) & soon at the Sub Rosa Cafe (703 Pacific).
+++ Prepare to sustain a long struggle by documenting police and merchant behavior regularly, organizing solidarity between vendors, activists, and others seeking to use the public space. Report harassment accurately.

Flier by Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833 9-23-13
by Keeping It Real
Blah Blah Blah wrote: "Neither the Santa Cruz Sentinel (though a reporter was there) nor chose to cover the protest."

Robert, ST*U.

Indybay does not choose to cover anything. Indybay, an all-volunteer collective, does not have a team of reporters. Indybay is an OPEN PUBLISHING website. Cover it your damn self, or ST*U. Oh, that's right, you just bitch and complain all the time.

Like practically everyone else that knows you, I am so tired of your pathetic brand of "activism".

You're not an ally, you're an assh*le.
by Pasko Rocks
She hasn't worked for the Sentinel for 6 months.

Here is the report she published:
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