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Under Increasing Threat Of Legal Action, Beach Flats Gardeners Sign City Letters
by Beach Flats Garden Coalition
Wednesday Feb 17th, 2016 2:08 PM
Under imminent threat of legal proceedings against them, the gardeners of Beach Flats have decided to sign a city letter acquiescing to temporarily leaving the garden plots they have tended so carefully over the past two decades.
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[ February 16 letter from Beach Flats Gardeners to City of Santa Cruz reiterating their desire to “join in productive conversation” and their “wish to continue growing food” in the Beach Flats Garden. ]

Contact: Michael Gasser
bfgc.outreach@gmail.com

UNDER INCREASING THREAT OF LEGAL ACTION, BEACH FLATS GARDENERS SIGN CITY LETTERS IN HOPES OF MOVING BEYOND THE SHORT-TERM

With the hope of nudging the city forward toward making good on its months-old public promise to initiate permanent investment in the Beach Flats Community Garden, and under imminent threat of legal proceedings against them, the gardeners of Beach Flats have decided to sign a city letter acquiescing to temporarily leaving the garden plots they have tended so carefully over the past two decades.

On October 27 of last year, in a emotional council meeting attended by hundreds of garden supporters, the City Council voted unanimously to direct city staff to “negotiate with the goal of acquisition of the current Beach Flats Garden property,” even going so far as to identify funding sources and define an early spring date for report-back on progress.

Instead, over the last four months, City staff has prioritized forcing gardeners, through a series of increasingly threatening letters, to endorse a lease that cuts the cultivated portion of the garden by more than 40%, with the entire garden reverting back to the Seaside company in three years.

Most recently, City Manager Martin Bernal threatened to "remove" (presented inaccurately as “eliminate” in the city’s Spanish translation) any gardener who did not return the City’s letter, to bar them from gardening in a Beach Flats Community Garden in the 2016 growing season, and even to initiate legal eviction proceedings in court, despite no tangible evidence of resistance on the part of the gardeners. In contrast, the gardeners have provided the city with multiple letters reiterating their desire to “join in productive conversation” and their “wish to continue growing food” in the Beach Flats Garden (see attachments).

Even as the gardeners signed the letter, they added a list of specific actions they hope the City will undertake to demonstrate its long-term commitment to this vulnerable neighborhood.

In a joint statement, the gardeners assert that the letters were signed under City pressure and threats, but that they hope that the whole garden can still be protected permanently and that mature perennials such as fruit trees and nopales not be disturbed before they produce this year.

They also request that several long-standing problems with the garden space be addressed, including providing facilities such as water pipes that do not leak, functioning hose faucets, a bathroom, and outdoor light fixtures. In addition, they ask that the city work directly with a committee of gardeners in the ongoing management of the Garden.

Finally, gardeners emphasized that it is time to protect the whole garden. Their February 16 letter to the city concludes, “The struggle to keep the garden open will continue. It is time to start the "long-term process."

Asked what would constitute a good faith effort by the city to begin this long-term process, garden supporter Michael Gasser replied, “The obvious first steps would be for the city to involve the Office of Economic Development in negotiations with the Seaside Company, and to authorize an appraisal of the site.”

# # #

February 16 Letter from Beach Flats Gardeners to City of Santa Cruz:

Nosotros, los jardineros del Jardín de la Playa, estamos firmando la carta adjunta bajo presión y amenazas de la ciudad. Para dar respeto a nuestro trabajo en esta tierra, quisiéramos solicitar que:

● la cerca nueva se traslade al otro lado de la parcela de DonEmilio (con el ajo), siguiendo la línea de nopales entre las parcelas de Pancho y Luca, terminando en el punto en la cerca de bordo donde se encuentra el rótulo "Respeten el trabajo de otras personas."

● se cambie la reunión con la ciudad para rediseñar la parte reducida del jardín hasta las 12 a 2 de la tarde, domingo, el 21 de febrero.

● los nopales queden donde están hasta el junio por lo menos y los frutales hasta septiembre, para poder cosechar antes de que se mueven.

● se instalen bancos atractivos ,un baño y una luz en el sitio.

● se compongan las tuberías y llaves de agua que estén rotas o que goteen.

Además, solicitamos que los jardineros estén incluídos en el manejo del Jardín en el futuro; proponemos que se haga un comité de jardineros para mantener la dirección y gobernanza del Jardín con la colaboración y apoyo de la ciudad.

Finalmente, insistimos que se proteja permanentemente el jardín entero al comprarlo como parque público. La lucha para mantenerlo abierto continuará. Ahora es el momento para empezar el “proceso de largo plazo.”

- - - - -

We, the Beach Flats gardeners, have signed the attached letter under pressure and threats from the City. In respect for our work on this land, we would like to request that:

● the dividing fence be moved to the far side of Don Emilio’s plot (the one with garlic growing), following the line of nopales between Pancho’s and Luca’s plots, and ending at the point on the border fence near the sign that says "Respeten el trabajo de otras personas."

● the meeting between the gardeners and the City to redesign the reduced garden be changed to 12 to 2 pm on Sunday, February 21.

● the nopales be left where they are until June at least and the fruit trees be left until September, in order to obtain one last harvest before they are moved.

● attractive benches, a bathroom and a light fixture be installed on site.

● leaky and broken water pipes and faucets be repaired.

We also request that gardeners be included in the management of the Garden in the future; we propose that a committee of gardeners direct and govern the Garden with the collaboration and support of the City.

Finally, we insist that the whole garden be permanently protected by purchasing it as a city park. The struggle to keep the garden open will continue. It is time to start the "long­term process."
§Coalition Urges City to Drop Threats to Gardeners, Seek Creative Solution
by Beach Flats Garden Coalition Wednesday Feb 17th, 2016 2:08 PM
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