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Sheriff Hart Requests $47,925 to Fence Out Protesters from Santa Cruz County Jail

by Alex Darocy (alex [at]
Sheriff Jim Hart is making an 'emergency requisition' in the amount of $47,925 to install a seven-foot tall, 364-foot long gated iron fence in order to close off the area of the Santa Cruz County Main Jail's parking lot that is most commonly used by community members for public assembly and political demonstrations. Hart has specifically stated that recent political demonstrations held at the jail are the reason for building the new fence. Due to the lack of a continuous sidewalk along the Blaine Street side of the jail, the installation of the fence will essentially push protesters on to the street if they want to continue to assemble on that side of the jail. The Sheriff's Department expenditure request has been placed on the consent agenda of the April 21 Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meeting. [Top photo: The area around the Santa Cruz jail to be fenced off.]
Sheriff Hart explains his justification for the necessity of the fence in the April 21 agenda report: ".....following and in conjunction with the Highway 17 demonstration and closure, protesters blocked the driveway from Blaine Street to the garage, requiring Sheriff's deputies to clear a path for an inmate transportation van returning with inmates from court appearances."

"There have also been incidents within the last year wherein protesters walked to the garage doors, pounded on the doors, and caused disruption," Hart states.

For years, the Santa Cruz County Main Jail has been the location of political demonstrations, and two months ago the Board of Supervisors took a different action to limit movement around the main jail at the request of Sheriff Hart. At the February 10 meeting, board members unanimously voted to approve a trespassing ordinance that now makes it a misdemeanor to move within "designated security perimeters" around the exterior of the jail. The security perimeters were defined as being any area surrounding the jail that is fenced.

Community members voiced their strong opposition to the ordinance, and in response, Board members required the Sheriff's Department to specify, in a photo of the jail, exactly what locations outside of the jail would be considered the trespass zone under the new law. Before passing the ordinance, both the Sheriff and individual board members assured the public that the trespassing measure was not created to target peaceful political demonstrations.

Community members with the group Sin Barras and others unsuccessfully organized to oppose it. In speaking out against the trespassing ordinance, Sin Barras cited a statement made in the 2013-14 Santa Cruz County Grand Jury report that referenced a rally the group held at the jail in response to the deaths of multiple inmates at the facility.

"An April 6, 2013 protest march, organized by the Santa Cruz activist group Sin Barras, is an example of the community reaction to these deaths.[11] Other groups, such as the Good Samaritan Mobile Medics, the Santa Cruz 11, and the Homeless United for Friends and Freedom (HUFF) also participated in the march. After marching from the Town Clock tower to the Main Jail, multiple speakers spoke out against the in-custody deaths, conditions at the jail, and the CFMG [California Forensic Medical Group] outsourcing decision," the Grand Jury report stated.

Titled "Five Deaths in Santa Cruz: An Investigation of In-Custody Deaths," the report was released by the Grand Jury in May of 2014, and highlighted many breaches of jail protocol related to the care of the five inmates who died in the Santa Cruz main jail.

Since August of 2012, six people have died while in custody at the Santa Cruz County Main Jail.

At that April 6, 2013 demonstration at the jail, a large group of community members assembled in the area Sheriff Hart is presently requesting to fence off.

For coverage of the April 6, 2013 rally at the jail, see:

Sin Barras Rally at SC County Jail Held in Response to Recent Deaths at Facility

To read the Grand Jury's report "Five Deaths in Santa Cruz: An Investigation of In-Custody Deaths," see:

For more information about Sin Barras, see:

Alex Darocy
§Demonstrators in the area of the jail to be fenced off
by Alex Darocy
Photo from the April 6, 2013 demonstration held in response to deaths at the jail.
§Marching on April 6, 2013 in an area to be fenced off
by Alex Darocy
§July 31, 2013 demonstration
by Alex Darocy
Community members use the area to protest a variety of issues. This demonstration was held on July 31, 2013 to support the California Prison Hunger Strikers who were seeking an end to solitary confinement.
§April 21 Agenda Report from Sheriff Jim Hart
by Alex Darocy
County Administrative Officer Susan Mauriello signed off on the agenda report as "recommended."
Add Your Comments

Comments (Hide Comments)
by G
Will that pile of cash go to a known contractor? What relationships exist between the contractor and various .gov staff and representatives? Who has jurisdiction over the contractor and their cronies?
by Culture Warrior
...the protest tactics are effective, causing economic damage to their shitstem.

BTW, fences are great for hanging effigies and banners from... No pesky CHP telling you your art is a 'traffic distraction'
by Sylvia
People who object to this can send an electronic comment via a link from the online agenda. A person who attends in person on Tuesday could pull the item for later discussion.
by anon
Great American songster Cole Porter commented:

Don't Fence Me In

Oh give me the land, lots of land
Under starry skies above
Don't fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open
Country that I love
Don't fence me in

Let me be by myself in the evening breeze
Listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don't fence me in

Just turn me loose let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies
On my cayuse let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountain rise

I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
Gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
I can't look at the hobels and I can't stand the fences
Don't fence me in

by Robert Norse
On February 10th, Sheriff Hart, through one of his deputies, assured the public and the Board of Supervisors that it didn't intend unlimited discretion to declare areas around the jail "No Trespassing" zones at will, as his original letter indicated. (See Sheriff's letter at ).

The deputy went through an extensive map presentation of the limited areas to be posted with "No Trespassing" zones in contrast to Sheriff Hart's original letter. It may be this was a last minute modification in anticipation of the highly negative public testimony that surfaced.

Now it seems either Hart had more extensive plans then or decided to use the reactionary media backwash against the Hiway 6 to push for "forbidden zones" that severely restrict protests.

Note also that Item #22 is currently on the Consent Agenda. The fencing can be voted on as a block with all the other items without individual discussion--unless a member of the public or a Supervisor pulls the item off for an individual public hearing and vote--as obviously needs to be done in this case.

I've always noted that the Board of Supes has maintained the usual right of individual members of the public to pull off items. This then requires such items to be discussed separately at a public hearing if so that fuller individual testimony and more staff input can be heard. It's unlike the City Council's rubberstamping process which requires a member of the Council itself to remove an item, eliminating the right of the public to do so. Coonerty did this without a Council vote, but as a matter of decree at the time by unilalterally changing Council rules.

At the last Supes meeting, the Board suddenly altered its own policy without warning, discussion, or apparent explanation. The issue was a quick vote to ban all outdoor marijuana cultivation in the County except WAMM's and grows of less than 100 square feet.

The Board, I'm told, ignored the request of Jason, an organizer with the Cannabis Advocates Alliance [CAA], speaking in part for many individuals who'd come to testify to remove that item from the Consent Agenda for individual discussion. The Supes suddenly refused to allow a separate hearing and limited all testimony to one minute each (the usual time is three minutes). They seemed to use as their authority, Susan Mauriello, the $500,000 a year CAO. (including salary, benefits, vacation, and pension).

This abuse of democratic process was unfortunately greeted passively by CAA speakers who pleaded with the Board, urged the Board, entreated the Board, etc. but all in the most submissive and genteel manner. Larding their begging with praise for the Board, they came hat in hand. The Board ignored them and proceeded to criminalize all local growing for dispensaries under pretexts of "bad smell", (unspecified) police problems, and (real--but what else is new?) profiteering. I didn't hear any alternative proposals from the CAA--so that didn't help.

However, the danger with the fence proposal is that the Board, apparently under the sway of CAO Susan Mauriello, will again suddenly declare an impromptu new process and decline to remove the appropriation from the Consent Agenda as was done to muzzle the cannabis supporters.

She's a 1%-er whose salary, leave, pension, and medical benefits reportedly amount to more than half a million dollars per year.

I've looked unsuccessfully for the Board's rules regarding Consent Agenda procedure on line, and have sent John Leopold a facebook request for info (I can't find an e-mail address for him). Best of luck to those fighting this.
by Perhaps
Sounds like SC is falling in line with the rest of California in not allowing a member of the public to pull a consent agenda item for individual discussion. In a (admittedly) unscientific survey of cities and counties in the state, I discovered that 99% require a Supe or city council member to pull an item. SC was one of the very few jurisdictions that allowed members of the public to directly pull items. My research revealed there is no state law or regulation that requires local government bodies to allow the public to pull consent items.
by Supes Info
John Leopold
Email: john.leopold [at]
County Website:

The rest of the supes' info can be found through the Board's page:
Apologies for the slightly off-topic request, but could "Perhaps" list the cities he's contacted where the "no public pulling allowed" policy is in force?
by Perhaps
Robert, I checked the websites of every California city at least the population size of SC. All require a member of the public to ask a city council member to pull the item from the consent agenda for discussion as a contested agenda item. Typically, the request should've been made before the meeting started, although items could be pulled when the consent agenda is approved.

Fresno is typical. Years ago city council policy allowed members of the public at council meetings to directly pull consent items. In the 1990s the policy was changed. The county board of supervisors has the same rule. All of the inland large cities and counties do things the same way. Looking at Southern California, it's universal down there.
by Vet
One cannot determine the consent agenda policy for Santa Cruz County by simply reading the website, and I imagine that information is likewise not available on most city websites.
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