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ACLU Santa Cruz County Adopts Landmark Statement of Principle
ACLU Board Supports Camping Ban Moratorium
At its June, 2014 Board Meeting, ACLU Santa Cruz County adopted a Statement of Principle in support of a proposed moratorium on camping ban laws and ordinances within the City and County of Santa Cruz. Discussion of the statement was preceded by testimony from several local homeless persons and homeless advocates. Among the questions discussed prior to the vote was the belief by some members that laws and ordinances that prohibit “camping” have been wholly ineffective in addressing the perceived problem of homelessness in our community. Proponents argued that both the City and County of Santa Cruz have incurred, and continue to incur, many tens of thousands of dollars of costs in both enforcement and administration and that criminalizing homelessness, and particularly the essential right to sleep, is a failed policy and one that must be revisited if the community is ever to move forward and create truly positive outcomes for our resident homeless community.
It was further the position of proponents that a One Year Moratorium on the enforcement of camping ban laws and ordinances between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. would allow the Santa Cruz City Council and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors to conduct a fiscal review of the cost savings of the proposed moratorium as well as provide an opportunity to assess the impact of such a moratorium on both the homeless community and the community at large.
Although the vote was not unanimous, it does reflect a renewed commitment and willingness on the part of the local ACLU to be more engaged on issues of local interest and importance and particularly those issues that impact basic civil liberties. It is the intention of the Board that the Statement be read publicly before both the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and the Santa Cruz City Council at their next meetings.
The Statement of Principle reads as follows:
STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLE
THE SANTA CRUZ COUNTY CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION SUPPORTS IN PRINCIPLE A LIMITED TIME MORATORIUM ON ENFORCEMENT OF CAMPING BAN LAWS AND ORDINANCES WITHIN THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ ON THE GROUNDS THAT SUCH LAWS AND ORDINANCES SELECTIVELY CRIMINALIZE THE HOMELESS COMMUNITY.
WHILE THE CHAPTER IS MINDFUL THAT SUCH A MORATORIUM RAISES PRACTICAL PROBLEMS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE, WE BELIEVE THAT THE BENEFITS OF SUCH AN APPROACH IN TERMS OF THE OPPORTUNITY FOR CIVIC LEADERS, POLICY MAKERS AND STAKEHOLDERS TO REASSESS THE EFFICACY OF THESE LAWS AND ORDINANCES OUTWEIGHS ANY TEMPORARY ADVERSE IMPACT.
THE RELEVANT LAWS AND ORDINANCES AS PRESENTLY PROMULGATED AND WHOSE ENFORCEMENT IS THE SUBJECT OF THE PROPOSED MORATORIUM IN THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ ARE AS FOLLOWS:
Santa Cruz Municipal Code 636.010, et. seq.
Santa Cruz County Code Section 10.16.060, et. seq.
City of Capitola Municipal Code Section 9.48.030, et.seq.
City of Scots Valley Municipal Code Section 7.12.140, et. seq.
Watsonville Municpal Code Section 5-36.01, et. seq.
California Penal Code Section 647e