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Indybay Feature

Nasty Anti-Homeless Stay-Away Laws to Get Exponentially Worse

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
3:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Event Type:
Robert Norse
309 Cedar #14B
Location Details:
809 Center ST. City Council Chambers Santa Cruz
At the afternoon City Council meeting. The item is the third of three other Public Hearings scheduled, so it may come up significantly later than 3, and perhaps (though it's unlikely) earlier.

Agenda Item #21 is a staff-generated proposal to vastly increase the amount of time those given low-level infraction tickets in city parks can be forced to stay away from the park.

The ordinance expanded to monstrous proportions is MC 13.08.100 described as "ORDER TO VACATE ANY PROPERTY MAINTAINED BY THE PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT".

The proposed penalty for violating such an order is a misdemeanor conviction (up to a year in jail or $1000 fine).

Specifically, according to the staff report:

"The proposed amendment provides for incremental increases in time that a person receiving a citation in a City park, beach or any other property maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department must stay away from the property where the arrest was made or citation issued.
(a) First offense (existing ordinance): Twenty-four hours from the time of the citing/arresting officer’s order.
(b) Second offense within one week of the first offense: One week from the date of the citing/arresting officer’s order in response to the second offense.
(c) Third offense within thirty days of the second offense: Thirty days from the date of the citing/arresting officer’s order in response to the third offense.
(d) Fourth offense within six months of the third offense: Six months from the date of the citing/arresting officer’s order in response to the fourth offense.
(e) Fifth offense within one year of the fourth offense: One year from the date of the citing/arresting officer’s order in response to the fifth offense."

Note that one doesn't have to be convicted of any offense, even charged in court with any offense, simply cited for an offense for this law to go into effect.

Since the original 13.08.100 was passed in 2013, many have been given one-day stay-away's along with their smoking, camping, or "park closed" citations. This law is designed to punish and exclude homeless people without the need to go to court and actually prove a crime.

Also note that the sway of this new law goes far beyond the city parks, since it also applies to "any other property maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department."

This apparently includes, according to MC 13.04.0111,
"without limitation all city parks and greenbelts, all city park trails and roads, all city park facilities and buildings, including Lighthouse Field State Beach, DeLaveaga Golf Course, Main Beach, Cowell’s Beach, Steamer Lane, Harvey West Pool, the Beach Flats Community Center, the Louden Nelson Community Center, the Teen Center, the Civic Auditorium, City Hall Courtyard, Mission Plaza, the Town Clock, the Natural History Museum, the Surfing Museum, Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, Pacific Avenue, West Cliff Drive (Pelton Street to Swanton Boulevard), the San Lorenzo River Levee and bike path, the San Lorenzo Benchlands, the inner banks of the San Lorenzo River within the City limits, the Branciforte and Cabonera Creeks within the city limits, Jessie Street Marsh, plus any other facilities or areas assigned to the parks and recreation department by the city manager."

The specifically stated crimes of "chronic violators" includes "smoking, possession of alcoholic beverages, camping,
public urination and entering a closed area". Folks apparently commit these dangerous behaviors and return 24-hours later (which is the limit of stay-away orders under the current law).

The purpose--the report continues-is to give the police more tools.
There is no indication of any increase in real "crime" in the parks, simply a determination to drive travelers and local homeless people away.

The statistics provided claim
21 subjects violated the order returning to the park within 24 hour and were subsequently arrested.
77 subjects returned to the parks or beaches after to 24 hours were up however, were given a second order to vacate for continuous unlawful behaviors.
26 subjects received three orders to vacate.
12 subjects received 4 orders to vacate.
1 individual received 13 orders to vacate.

However they give no indication of what these people were cited for, whether they were actually charged in court, nor whether the individuals charged were actually convicted of those "crimes".

Bathrooms in the parks close at dusk or earlier. There are, of course, no sleeping areas in the City for the vast majority of those outside where it is legal to be. And only one 24-hour portapotty in the downtown area (the Posner Pooper).

It is not clear that any homeless or social service agencies have been consulted. I've not heard that any out reach has been done to the homeless community. This is the 21st century equivalent of Sunset Laws where blacks were told to be "gone by sundown" from many towns in the country.

There has been no mention of this proposed Council deportation of homeless people in the kept media (Sentinel, Good Times, City on a Hill.

Staff reports and ordinance can be found at Council's agenda at under agenda item #21.

City Council members need to be e-mailed at citycouncil [at] . Individual council members can be reached by taking the first initial and last name of the Council member and adding to it (e.g. mposner [at]

Dannettee Shoemaker and Martin Bernal are two of the highest paid officials in the City earning over $200,000 a year (not counting their benefits). They have signed their name to this police state measure--need to be horsewhipped and put in the stocks for this latest attack.

The consequence of the massively increased policing downtown, expanded stay-away orders, anti-median ordinance, and authority-encouraged bigotry against those outside has been pressure on the churches who do provide services.

The Circles Church has closed down its warming center and some of its meal services. The Red Church no longer allows people on its lawns prior to the meal.

There is no indication of the cost in manpower and tax expense for the increased "drive 'em out" policies of the Robinson-Mathews City Council during the last two years.

Nor any estimation of how much the increased penaltes will cost--especially if contested in court. Already the city is facing a potential class-action lawsuit from activists gathering data about the amount of homeless property destroyed by police and rangers.

The repeated citations are obviously taking police and ranger attention away from other areas and aren't free. Apart from the immorality and futility of the whole thing, there's no indication of the expense involved.

Dannettee Shoemaker head of Parks and Recreation and Martin Bernal, City Manager, are two of the highest paid officials in the City earning over $200,000 a year (not counting their benefits). They have signed their names to this police state measure.

The class war on the poor is advancing relentlessly under color of law.
Added to the calendar on Sun, Oct 12, 2014 9:05PM
§The Staff Report
by Dannettee Shoemaker (posted by Norse)
Note that the "crimes" that prompt this massive replacement of Due Process with Do-Do process are "smoking, possession of alcoholic beverages, camping, public urination and entering a closed area."

Comments (Hide Comments)
by Brent Adams
I am quite dismayed at these Stay Away Laws, which are not unlike racist Sunset Laws of the past that make simply existing, illegal. With no other alternatives, people who already have no safe place to be, are increasingly marginalized and turned into outlaws for the act of sleeping, or for just being in a park.

The thinking seems to be that if we make things so unpleasant for people, they'll just go away. This isn't very astute reasoning by our high-paid bureaucratic professionals and it isn't supported by any previous actions taken to date. Making life increasingly difficult for our most vulnerable population just makes them more desperate. I wonder if it's just fuel for a self-fulfilling prophecy of crime and punishment by a city that has nothing in the way of creative ideas for this growing problem.

We face the shame, in our county, of a poverty rate that is higher and out of sync with the rest of the state. Rather than focus on solutions, we seem to think we can arrest our problems away. There is now an entire wing at the county jail, dedicated exclusively to homeless people with mental health issues. Is this really how we're choosing to deal with difficult issues? We just keep issuing citations to people with no other options and eventually lock them up for good. I doubt this is the true will of our community.

I've met several people who're camping in some of these parks and have been accepting tickets because they've no other choice. Our local government has a serious crisis of will, creativity and compassion. As an advocate for well a well regulated, safe and clean space for people to sleep, keep personal belongings and begin rebuilding their lives, I'm saddened to see our city turn a blind eye to many successful projects elsewhere in favor of the citation, the baton and the locked cell.

Brent Adams
Santa Cruz Sanctuary Village
& The Warming Center Program
by @
is anyone really surprised by this? the homeless have seriously lost ground in santa cruz in the last couple years.
if you don't stand up for your rights, they get taken away. a little at first, more later. to stop this erosion in our rights, we should always be protesting, trying new tactics, and finding the tactics that actually work in our town.
by John Colby (karma [at]
The intensity of hate mongering against homeless people has been intensifying since I became an advocate for (disabled) homeless people during Peace Camp 2010.

This continuing vilification of homeless people serves a neoliberal political agenda. Fear diverts the citizenry's attention from pressing problems: economic inequality, political disenfranchisement, government secrecy, poor governance and lack of accountability.

Our community has serious problems to overcome: little economic opportunity for most, concentrated wealth for the few, little affordable housing, no sustainable jobs base, over-dependence on retail and tourism trades, traffic congestion, poor urban planning, increasing poverty and legitimate public safety threats (like teenage gangsters, dangerous drug dealers and sexual predators).

Rather than focusing on legitimate issues our political leaders — supported by a small yet vocal group of hate mongers — have illegitimately targeted poor and homeless people. Our leaders work for special interests, not for us. Employing culture war tactics with coded phrases like "nuisance crimes", "self-responsibility" and "quality of life", they attack marginalized groups in the service of their wealthy benefactors. They are ignoring valid community concerns by controlling the public through fear — we are ruled by plutocrats and crony capitalists. They thrive on human suffering, gorging themselves at our expense.

We must throw off the shackles of fear to overthrow this anti-democratic regime. We can solve our problems with compassion, empathy and fairness. Otherwise Santa Cruz will devolve into a mean cesspool. The hate mongering vultures will leave little about Santa Cruz to praise after they have feasted on its carcass. Don't allow them to reshape our town in their dystopian image.

I yell out a call to arms — the citizens must revolt! We must wrest back our town from self serving hate mongers.
by Robert Norse
It's at ...for the moment.

Articles now disappear from the Sentinel website soon after they're published (and permanently unless you pay $3 per article or some such for stuff beyond a year). So here's the "coverage" below. It's followed by a fetid swap of bigoted, confused, and rancid comments--as is almost always the case on the Sentinel comment stream on homeless issues.

Penalty expansion proposed for Santa Cruz park stay-away ban
Santa Cruz parks officials targeting infraction repeat offenders

By Jessica A. York

jyork [at] @ReporterJess on Twitter

POSTED: 10/13/2014 06:24:46 PM PDT18 COMMENTS

Santa Cruz park users could be facing up to a year ban for repeat infractions under an ordinance...

SANTA CRUZ >> Repeated scofflaws in Santa Cruz parks and on city beaches may soon face longer expulsions for their recurrent behavior, if a city Parks and Recreation Department proposal gains traction with city leaders Tuesday.

During its afternoon meeting Tuesday, the Santa Cruz City Council will consider approving a city ordinance enhancement targeting so-called habitual violators for minor infractions in city operated parks and beaches. Under existing law, a park user can be told by police and city park rangers to leave a park for 24 hours if they are cited for things such as possessing alcoholic beverages, camping, urinating and entering closed areas, according to a report by Dannettee Shoemaker, city director of parks and recreation.

The ordinance's harsher penalties are designed to address park patron complaints, provide police and park rangers more enforcement tools and increase patron use of city parks, Shoemaker said. A park user could be banned up to one year after being cited for the fifth time within a year, under the latest proposal.

Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said the park stay-away ordinance is an unfortunate necessity for repeat offenders who have "hijacked" city parks.

"It's about reclaiming the parks for their intended use. Anyone who wants to enjoy the parks and engage in appropriate behavior is welcome to do so," Clark said. "If they choose to engage in behavior that's a problem, then they're going to be asked to vacate the park."

Vice Mayor Don Lane, who will lead Tuesday's meeting in the absence of Mayor Lynn Robinson, said he expects some conversation on the agenda item, noting that the stay-away order's effects could be felt in many different areas of the community. Lane said the ordinance likely affects people who are homeless and spend long periods in local parks.

The law was first instituted in June 2013, with a 24-hour stay-away order issued to park users involved in illegal and/or disorderly conduct. The proposed update would coincide with some park improvements and dedicated rangers assigned to specific city parks. Shoemaker said Monday that the ordinance has worked in its current form, but has not addressed repeat offenders as well as expected.

Homeless advocate Robert Norse of Santa Cruz has raised concerns about the proposal. The escalating stay-away orders, he said, appear to target the homeless and do not require conviction of any crime, just an initial citation.

"Without any real investigation, there's no information about how many people have been convicted of these crimes," Norse said Monday. "To me, it's a homeless removal plan, or traveler removal plan or poor people removal plan. It's all designed to eliminate a certain class of people from the parks and the city."

Shoemaker said the ordinance is not selective, other than to target those "taking part in illegal activities in our parks."

The council meeting begins at 2:30 p.m. in Santa Cruz City Council Chamber, 307 Church St.

Police officers are now judge, jury, and executioner--since convictions are not required as a part of this law. This true even under the current law--though only for 24 hours--which reads:

Any person who receives a citation or is arrested on city park or beach property or any property maintained by the parks and recreation department for a violation of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code or state law may be directed by the citing/arresting city officer at the time of the citation/arrest to vacate that park or beach property and not to re-enter said property again for a twenty-four-hour period from the time of the arrest/citation. Any person who violates such an order from a city officer shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

"Ship 'em Out" Shoemaker signed her name to the staff report and presumably asked for this law (or could it be Steve Clark and his SCPD?). She should know better since punishing people without conviction or even trial is pretty clearly an unconstitutional abridgment of basic liberties. Perhaps campgrounds, sanctuaries, and safe zones won't be necessary once a savvy lawyer takes advantage of a few mass rousts to file a kick-ass lawsuit for damages and rights violations and prompts a substantial settlement to folks outside. Fresno had to pay $2.3 million back in 2007.

by they are back
the long stay aways are probably unconstitutional. but this policy is already a year old and no lawyer has challenged it. over the last year the homeless have been defeating the stay aways by simply shifting to the nearby county land at the courthouse, leading to increased hassling there by private pigs. not to mention fenced off areas there that no one can enter.

the homeless, of course, have to be somewhere, and will just move to other public spaces, so eventually all of santa cruz public space may have to require a permit to even enter.

by John Colby (karma [at]
Santa Cruz should learn from Russell Brand — homeless people have a lot to contribute to the community — we can expand our consciousness by hanging out with homeless people.
by curious
does anyone have an actual breakdown of the type of citations actually issued that were used in staff report?

Is there a way to get a breakdown of what is being used to keep people off public land?
Skimming the 2012/2013 data that I've seen, there were 178 citations between July 2013 and December 2013 and 7 arrests between September 2013 and November 2013. No citations or arrests at all in 2012. The top 5 locations...

67 San Lorenzo Park
23 Main Beach
21 blank
12 Harvey West Park
7 Friendship Garden

Two people got 8 citations, one 7, one 4, six 3, seventeen 2. One of the 8 citations people was arrested, and the four person.
by G
A skim of the (other) charges received by the person that received 8 of the 13.08.100 citations (and was also arrested) seem to be some 13.04.010 ('off trail') and a few bicycle flavored 'violations'. I'd do a more detailed analysis but am not in an SQL mood at the moment.

"The amount of energy required to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it."
by Robert Norse
Some HUFFsters and I will be going in to City Hall later today to count all stay-away orders since July of 2013 when, as G points out, the law went into effect after being passed for a final reading at the first City Council meeting of June 2013. Those citations are available for anyone to view after finally being released in response to a Public Records Act request I made in August. Dannettee Shoemaker was not immediately forthcoming.

Last month, I requested all the Parks and Recreation Department [P & R] citations for MC 6.36 (the camping ordinance) during the 2013-2014 period and was simply given bundles of all citations for all offenses to look through. Apparently this department does not index its citations or at least did not provide them to us on request.

Interestingly enough, the SCPD initially insisted it too had no such index. After repeated prodding and showing up in person to view the tickets, the department eventually provided us with a listing of all citations in the downtown area.. It took repeated requests to get the addresses of the people cited (so as to calculate the attention given to homeless folks). You can view an example of the SCPD's matrix--for Officer Barnett's citations--below. This something the P & R won't or can't provide requiring us to examine the citations individually. I've also requested Micah Posner request staff to make this information available, but similar requests in the past have fallen on deaf ears.

It seems pretty important in creating an ordinance this severe and unprecedented to get some sense of what the cost, the extent, the target, and the effectiveness of stay-away orders has been over the last year. Stay-away orders are traditionally issued by a court after a conviction and only from a very particular place. Given P & R's broad authority over much city property, these orders could be issued routinely and repeatedly with increasing severity for the most minor offenses.

Considering that most homeless people smoke (70+% compared with less than 20% of the general population), it's no wonder that the "crime rate" is rising. Creates more demand for more cops and more enforcement. Since more is illegal. Not to mention sleepcrime citations.

Note that race is not included in the SCPD records--except on the citations themselves (and presumably in the inaccessible police reports), so we will still be returning to the SCPD to examine more closely the racial component of the citations, which apparently the SCPD doesn't think enough of to add to its matrix (strange, since I'd imagine such stats may be required by the FBI or other federal agencies).

For the matrix of Officer Barnett's citations downtown--to get any idea of how heavily weighted they are against homeless people, go to . The longer story is at, , and . The racial stats were roughly counted as being given out to seven times as many people as were recorded as black in the last United Way census. We hope to more closely analyze them.

The vastly expanded City Council law will be going into effect on November 28th or thereabouts if it passes again as it's likely to on October 28th with a 5-2 vote.

Some pointed out at last Tuesday's meeting (myself included) that their proposed law law mandates the stay-away's prior to any court charge, hearing, trial, or conviction. What was not noted is that any stay-away is an additional action which is completely discretionary. This discretionary loophole allows rangers and cops to pick and choose who they'll issue the orders to with no guideline as to when to do it. It is police state authorization in its purest form--leaving the matter entirely up to the officer. And, of course, completely beyond court review--even if the officer's victim is never tried, had charges dismissed, or is found not guilty.

But the discretionary provision explicitly authorizes and hence encourages selective enforcement depending on the preference of the citing officer. Easy enough to decide that an homeless person sleeping gets a "stay-away" order while a more well-dressed smoker gets off without one (though a high fine for both).
by Steve Conover (posted by Norse)
When reading about this weapon in the arsenal of the war against the poor and homeless, the stay away "order," I see clearly a weapon that has been used for some time by so-called homeless service providers, businesses, towns and police as if such actions, instead of being seen as the cause of more suffering for the poor and homeless, are portrayed as normal "punishment," and a way for municipalities to collect revenues and acquire free labor via so-called "community service."

In so many towns unless one "buys" something one cannot relieve oneself, for their are "no public restrooms." When one's bladder becomes full one then becomes a criminal. Getting back to the issue at hand, the stay away order, I can see the history of that, I may even say the source/idea for it, at the Santa Cruz HSC on River and Coral Streets. Over the years when homeless myself and at HSC for a meal or shower, I often saw people being given "stay away orders" enforced by the police. Yes, occasionally there would be someone threatening violence and needed to leave the area for a time, so as to de-escalate the conflict. But so many times it was clear that the person being told to stay away really did nothing wrong, usually simply disagreed with something paid STAFF was saying or doing, or was even being harassed by a Staff member who simply "did not like" that particular person. It was pretty obvious this what was going on. Question STAFF at HSC and you go hungry for weeks at a time.

And that is the "punishment" for questioning or annoying STAFF at HSC. Some folks are told to stay away for a week, a month, and even longer. For a person with no money, how does one eat during that week or month long punishment? I also saw many times when one of these folks on such a stay away order at HSC would walk in, hungry, try to get a meal, without causing any trouble, the STAFF would call Police who then come and take the person off to jail, treating them as if they were the worst of criminals and the STAFF as if they were "BROTHERS IN ARMS." It was obvious that whatever the STAFF said was taken as truth, even when it was blatant lies. And they could of just offered the person a meal to carry with them, but no, they were punished for violating HSC's stay away order.

Of course, I can say for certain, but when hearing about this new proposed ordinance and Parks and Recs' involvement, I could not help but suspect that HSC Staff probably gave the City this idea since they used it so often at HSC, and still do.

by required author
if parks and recs don't have the stay away orders on computer, then the pigs must. request from them. no way do the pigs go down to the parks and rec to thumb through citation slips to find out if there is a stay away order on someone.

a stay away order from private property doesn't need a court order imagine, because you don't need a court ordeer to put up a no trespassing sign. banning someone from a traditional public forum like a park, probably does require a court order.

also the stay away order must be narrowly tailored to prevent the on going crime, like the pdf link in the comments above points out.
if you have a stay away order for lodging at night in san lorenzo, you should still be able to use the bathrooms there in the daytime.

also as that link points out, municipalities are getting away with unconstitutional harassment of the poor because few lawyers are willing to fight these cases pro bono, and those lawyers who do and are winning the case, opt for a local settlement, instead of winning a precedent that would protect the homeless from government state wide.
It's clear this new Santa Cruz ordinance violates the 5th and 14th Amendments and probably the 1st Amendment too. These kinds of violations, enforced by police officers legislated by politicians, can be investigated by the FBI, then prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

I plan to send the City Council and City Attorney John Barisone a cease and desist order — demanding they immediately nullify this unconstitutional legislation. If they don't and then police officers give out these extra–judicial stay–away orders, I will file color of law complaints with the FBI against the City Council, City Attorney Barisone and the police officers involved.

Relevant links:
by G
Wow, City Council is making LGBT preferences a crime?!
Wow, City Council is making certain religions a crime?!
Wow, City Council is making certain races criminals?!

No, just kidding. That might cause riots.

Instead, City Council is making non-wealth a crime, which is should be a serious crime.

So much for 'solidarity'.
by curious
is there still a local chapter of the ACLU? Do they actually do anything?

It would seem they would have made an appearance at the city council meeting. Or written a legal memo to city council and city attorney warning of potential legal action.

are there any actual lawyers in the ACLU?
Because certain Santa Cruz ACLU board members entertain anti-homeless sentiments — like former Mayor Mike Rotkin — the local ACLU chapter ignores clear violations of (disabled) homeless people's civil and human rights. Anytime homeless issues come up for a vote, Rotkin tables it, strangling any honest debate.

Local homeless activists should write to the Northern California ACLU complaining the Santa Cruz chapter is biased against (disabled) homeless peeps. We must demand they sanction the local chapter, if necessary that they revoke their charter.
by curious
the proposed change:The proposed amendment provides for incremental increases in time that a person receiving a citation in a City park, beach or any other property maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department must stay away from the property where the arrest was made or citation issued.

The language is specific that the stay away order relates ONLY to THE PROPERTY WHERE THE ARREST WAS MADE.

arguably that means if caught sleeping at Harvey west that any stay away order can only relate to the location where the event occurred OR actual issuance of citation not all other parks or city property.

The language actually isn't very clear.
by Robert Norse
Not to all property, but to any property where such an order was previously issued. That can mean as many properties as orders were issued--even if the new infraction "crime" has nothing to do with the prior infraction crime where a stay-away was issued and is in a completely different place.

The proposed law reads: "Any such order shall apply to both the park or beach property at which the citation/arrest occurs and to any other park or beach property at which such an order was issued within the previous year."
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