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Freedom SleepOut #20: City Council Chatters While Folks Freeze

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
3:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Event Type:
Robert Norse
Location Details:
In front of City Hall and in the sidewalks around City Hall at 809 Center St. Freedom Sleepers will be on hand from midafternoon Tuesday to mid-morning Wednesday to deter or document new SCPD harassment tactics used to discourage homeless people from protesting the City's Sleeping Ban--and to establish the usual (sort of) Safe (from Citation) Sleep Zone.


On the afternoon agenda coming up sometime between 3 and 5 PM is Item #21. It directs city staff to make available a facility for up to 10 nights this winter free if a "Warming Center Organization" agrees to find facilities and commit to 30 nights of Warming Center use. No budget is proposed until a site is "identified".

Last month, defying the wishes of hundreds who marched there, City Council refused to consider eminent domain or other pressures to get the Seaside Company to allow the continuation of the Beach Flats Garden at its present location and size. Instead they passed their staff’s prefabricated sell-out to Canfield’s Seaside Company. Should we expect anything more from them here?

The staff’s “Warming Center” proposal lacks any committed funding or real acknowledgment of the upcoming (and ongoing) shelter emergency. It instead throws all the responsibility on private charity groups, abdicating its responsibility for City’s 1500-2000 homeless. Instead it continues to fund police and rangers harassing, citing, and arresting folks for sleeping, covering up with blankets and other survival behavior.


The last item on the evening agenda, Item#3--the RV Parking ordinance--would ban RV parking city-side unless vehicle owners get a permit.

Its definition of "resident" seems to exclude travelers and unhoused people. It reads: "["Resident"] shall not mean a
person who maintains an address at a post office box, mailbox drop, or who rents a room without it being the primary place of abode."

The 10 PM to 5 AM on all RV parking is another extension of the NIMBY "no homeless vehicles allowed to park at night" signs posted in many areas throughout the signs (with the word "homeless" discreetly omitted).

It sets up "no parking" zones within 20' of an intersection or 30' of a traffic light. Why?

Exempted are hotel guests, government vehicles, and folks who buy 72-hour permits (only 4 periods per month, not continuous).

"Residents" as defined above, can buy permits for parking outside their residences--no sleeping or camping, of course, even in a vehicle specifically outfitted for that purpose.

Hotels who allow non-paying guests to park their vehicles will be fined; likewise if anyone sleeps in their vehicle.


IN 45 DAYS, staff is asked to return with proposals for "safe zones for non-resident owners". That'll be some time in mid-January with nothing mandated for the winter. THERE IS NO PROPOSAL FOR FUNDING OR EVEN A SPECIFIC RV PROGRAM.

There is no move to eliminate the sleeping, blanket, or camping bans--as promised by Posner many months ago. Nor is there any move to decriminalize by suspending ticketing for non-crime crimes like being in a park after dark./


Indeed though the Klieg lights and "no parking" restrictions used to attack the Freedom Sleeper protests in September and October have disappeared, SCPD used a new tactic last Tuesday.

A squad of six cops descended on homeless people sitting legally in the City Hall courtyard in the daylight hours before the protest and confiscated "unattended property" which one person was watching for others. A similar sweep took place the next morning after most of the protesters had left with tickets issued both before and after but not during the protest.

Freedom Sleepers will be in front of City Hall through the night nonetheless.


We will also be inviting unhoused folks to attend a meeting Tuesday December 1st before Freedom SleepOut #21 to ask them "Do you Want the Freedom SleepOuts to Continue?" and if so, in what form?

As the weather worsens and rain descends, Freedom Sleepers is considering moving inside city buildings to establish emergency shelter (unless the proposed Warming Centers are actually available on those nights).


Unhoused folks in Berkeley gave hours of angry testimony against new anti-homeless laws in Berkeley (which passed in diluted form: see ).

Inspired by the Freedom Sleeper movement here and by their own First They Came for the Homeless encampment up there, Berkeley activists were still camping out at City Hall every night since the Council moved to expand criminalization there.

I've broadcast a discussion of the Berkeley fight against the anti-poor laws at You can also follow the full debate on line at .


The ever-popular Peanut Butter 'n Jelly sandwiches, hot coffee, and perhaps hot soup will be available at various points throughout the night.

Bundle up--it's likely to be cold and possibly rainy. We encourage donations of food, tarps, blankets, and sleeping bags. We suggest folks bring their own gear (if it hasn't been taken by police or thieves).

For more background go to "Fight Cold Hearts and Cold Weather: Freedom SleepOut #19 " at

The opinions expressed here are mine and likely shared by many of my fellow Freedom Sleepers.
Added to the calendar on Mon, Nov 23, 2015 12:02AM
§Mayor Lane Suggests E-Mailing the Council
by Robert Norse
I've already given my opinion as to the inadequacy and vagueness of the proposed Warming Center, Vulnerable Women, and Safe Parking Zone Measures measures compared with the real harm being passed into law by the bigoted RV parking ban. However, Mayor Lane has put out a personal appeal for e-mail (and personal) support at City Council tomorrow for Item 17 and parts of the evening's Item 3. You might also urge him--and the rest of the Gang of 7--to speak out against the main elephant in the room--the anti-homeless RV ordinance.

Here is the e-mail I received with Lane's appeal (also on his facebook page at where I suggest you leave a comment):

"Small—and significant—steps

This coming Tuesday (November 24) at the City Council meeting we have a unique opportunity to support some of our most vulnerable residents as winter approaches.

There are three items on our city council agenda to address various aspects of the critical need for shelter for people living on the streets of Santa Cruz. One item is about the possible City partnership role in creating a program for individuals living in vehicles to have a legal place to park at night and sleep. The second item is a request from the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women that the City play a role in ensuring a safe place to sleep for women without shelter. The third item is a proposal to allocate some time in city facilities to accommodate the Warming Center program.

1) The City Council will be considering adoption of RV parking restrictions at this meeting. As the City moves in that direction, two of us have suggested that the City create some legal parking spots for people that live in vehicles along with a system for working with these people to assist them in finding a more permanent home. The City Council is being asked to support a plan to identify a nonprofit organization partner to put together such a program.

2) After a very positive discussion at their last meeting, the City's Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women asked the City Council to work toward creating some kind of facility or program to provide emergency shelter for women living on the street. The City Council will decide whether or not to move ahead with this process.

3) After a successful "pilot" effort last year, the volunteer-run Warming Center project is gearing up to operate their program this winter. With a wet winter rapidly approaching, the Warming Center team is working to secure commitments for indoor spaces for people to shelter when the weather crosses certain thresholds of danger to human health. A couple of us are proposing that the City commit to providing approximately one quarter of the nights required to meet the space needs of the Warming Center program.

If you would like to express support for any or all of these proposals, please write to your City Councilmembers. The email address is citycouncil [at] You can write to that same address to express your concerns about these proposals, too. And you can attend the City Council meeting at City Hall. The Warming Center issue will be on the afternoon agenda (some time after 2:30 pm and most likely after 3:30). The women’s shelter issue and the RV issue will be on the evening agenda (some time after 7 pm and most likely after 8 pm)."
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Thu, Nov 26, 2015 8:24PM
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