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Sidewalk Stroll With Tape Measure and Camera

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
1:15 PM - 1:15 PM
Event Type:
Robert Norse
309 Cedar St. #14B Santa Cruz 95060
Location Details:
703 Pacific AVe. Outside the Sub Rosa Cafe in Downtown Santa Cruz

A merry band of space-seekers will walk the mall from Pacific to Water St. (or as far as we get before collapsing from exhaustion).

We will carry both tape measure and camera to determine how much of the originally public sidewalk has now been made forbidden,

For sitting, showing crafts for donation, busqueing (i.e. performing in search of coins and bills), tabling (to improve things), or simply peacefully holding up a sign seeking food or money.

We will attempt to verify that less than 5% of the original sidewalk is now available for any of these activities.

The repressive Downtown Ordinances have long been used as merchant cover and police license to selectively harass and remove poor people and attack street culture downtown.

Last September the preempted public sidewalk space was further reduced by requiring 12' distances, a 12 square foot maximum use area, and 14' forbidden zones around trash cans, benches, directory signs, sculptures, "Real Change" meters, sidewalk cafes, crosswalks, buildings, fences--leaving performers to levitate or emigrate. The Great Morgani choose the latter.

However numerous folks protested regularly. [See ] and there was considerable outrage at City Councils absurd and blatantly repressive Take-Back-Santa-Cruz-pleasing rules.

Recently the City Council fluffed up its theft of the public sidewalk space with a cosmetic makeover in a proposal to set up small isolated "First Amendment pens" where the vendors, tablers, performers, and just plain ordinary folks sitting down would be "allowed". [See "Performance Pens--the "Reform" Proposal from Vice-Mayor Lane and Councilmember Comstock" at]

This time however, most activists seem to have bought into the Lane-Comstock mythology even though none of the space stolen is being returned--just relocated--in a few cases to be next to buildings.

Most everyone impacted by these ordinances is violating them, and police are ignoring them selectively, though going after a few. This is classic police state stuff where the police decide who they target, independent of the law.

Vice-Mayor Lane, working on the new "painted boxes" or "permitted areas"--due some months down the road--has already acknowledged there will be no more spots than the current space available.

ust how few these are--staff and Lane Happy Talk aside, a scouting expedition uncovered last weekend. In the block between Jamba Juice and Cooper St. found less than 1% of the sidewalk still available.

In that first long block, for-profit commercial cafe tables not available to the public take up more than ten times as much space. [See video at ]

So the 5% figure I've been citing as the only space left for sedentary First Amendment activity, however small, now seems to have been wildly over-estimated. The 40-50 spaces claimed by the city staff, Lane, and Comstock seems disingenuous and deceptive.

The original rationale for making so much of Pacific Avenue "forbidden" has been to give police license to selectively enforce and remove homeless looking people, youth, overly vocal minorities, protesters, and "crazies". However to cover constitutional problems, it was billed as "stopping bad behavior" legislation. [See and check out the late July and early August issues of the alternative street publication The Alarm for the massive sidewalk snatch of 2002 ]

A petition protesting this thinly-disguised privatization of the sidewalk is available at If someone wants to post it as an on-line petition that would be helpful. City Council can be censured at citycouncil [at] or 831-420-5020.

A copy of some of the more frequently used ordinances is on lie at but needs to be updated to include the comments that follow it (Volunteers?)

If you see harassment by "Hospitality" snitches, "security" thugs, or SCPDsters on the mall, please video, comment, and post. It doesn't hurt to draw others over to witness and comment at the time and on the scene too.

And anyone interested can join our sidewalk tour of what used to be the public Pacific Ave. sidewalk today.
Added to the calendar on Wed, May 28, 2014 8:57AM
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