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Indybay Feature

Freedom Sleep #58 In the Midst of Struggle Over RV Rights

Tuesday, August 16, 2016
5:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Event Type:
Keith McHenry (article written by Norse)
Location Details:
Bring bags, blankets, and bellies to the sidewalk and brick area in front of City Hall. Actual duration of the protest: until mid-morning actually around 16 hours.

Another overnight is slated for tomorrow night in the continuing saga of persistent homeless (and housed) resistance to the City's anti-homeless 11 PM - 8:30 AM Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010).

City Council returned from its summer recess last week, unrepentant as ever, with nothing on the agenda that would increase shelter or homeless services or restore the homeless right to be free from police persecution for life-sustaining behaviors. Mercifully, there will be no Council meeting this Tuesday night.

Salinas activists have sustained a more recent, but more intense (nightly) protest at their City Hall. See "Following the Chinatown Homeless Sweeps, A New Tent Community Thrives at Salinas City Hall" at .

Some local activists noted that the entire City Council candidate roguepack was present at the Association of Faith Communities Election Forum last Thursday night--though there was little if any talk about the Freedom Sleepers protest, the Sleeping Ban, or the criminalization of the poor.

Andy Carcello was evicted from the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center and reported getting pneumonia sleeping on the street in front of the HLOSC. Shortly thereafter he required heart surgery and reports being "dumped' in Salinas. Lucero Luna, a fiery Freedom Sleeper, has been in and out of jail for repeated defiance of the "stay in your blue box" Downtown Ordinances.

Last week the Coastal Commission against all odds refused to rubberstamp the City Council's nighttime RV ban, requiring the City to appear before a "de novo" hearing to justify their exclusion of RV's from the Coastal Zone (with particular emphasis on the impact on poor and homeless folks whose only housing is a vehicle). The Coastal Commission staff, reached today, had no predictions as to when or where that hearing would take place.

The actual Coastal Commission discussion (agenda item 16e) last Wednesday had strong speeches from Commission members suggesting the need to document the alleged "crime and nuisance" problems, as well as alternate facilities for RV's. Their questioning prompted the flailings and flounderings of Assistant City Manager Scott Collins as well as indignant outbursts from Councilwoman Niroyan that led to her eviction from the meeting. The video and audio are at[]=CCC (both audio and video).

The issues are further described at ("Unexpected Victory at Coastal Commission") and at ("Say No to the Nighttime RV Ban").

The struggle was technically about the right to park RV's at night in the City allowing public access to the Coast. The Coastal zone, I understand, extends about a mile inland.

Last May there were some intemperate demands at City Council (by Niroyan as well as some the more rabid anti-RV crowd) to implement the City-wide ban immediately, excluding the Coastal zone so the issue would not involve the Coastal Commission. This action, however, would likely encourage RV's to migrate directly to the Coastal Zone in the City, which would not please high-income residents with fancy homes.

The Coastal Commission commentary also tended to show sympathy for the needs of homeless folks to sleep in their RV's. This was not explicitly on the table. However if you can't park, you can't sleep.

It is not clear when the City's RV ban will appear on the Coastal Commission agenda, nor in what City the hearing will take place. "We'll let you know," they said.

The Sheriff's office reported that enforcement of a County-wide (excluding cities) overnight RV parking ban began on August 1 including the new allowance for 3-day permits given to RV's outside sympathetic residents. Extensive dialogue between the Sheriff's Office and mostly RV-haters
can be seen on the Sheriff's Website at under "Santa Cruz County RV Parking Permit" .

RV activist Julie Ann Shaul says she hasn't received any reports of citations or warnings yet.

The County's ban impacts many more people than the City's ban considering the County population is five times that of the City. It has at least the same problems as the City's law only more so: no documentation of the "public safety" need, no provision of alternative places for RV's to go, no study of the impact on those whose RV is their home. If the Coastal Commission turns down the City law as it may well do after a substantive hearing, it is even more likely to refuse the County law.

When I spoke with Coastal Commission staffer Ryan Morony, he was surprised that the County had not advised them and sought their approval. the County Planning staff person responsible is reportedly months overdue. The Board of Supervisors passed the law in its final form on March 15th; it went into force a month later; enforcement was announced as beginning August 1st. And the Coastal Commission has not been advised of the change in public coastal access.

"Chapter 9.70.620 Overnight parking of mobile homes and recreational vehicles prohibited.
It shall be unlawful to park a mobile home or recreational vehicle overnight upon any highway, street, or alley, including the right-of-way, except for emergency purposes.
Exception: A mobile home or recreational vehicle may be parked for no more than 72 hours on a highway, street, or alley directly adjacent to private property (the "host property") if the owner or driver of the vehicle has 1) the permission of a resident of the host property and 2) a permit issued by the Sheriff's Office that is kept plainly visible on the dashboard of the vehicle. the cost of the permit will be determined by the board of Supervisors and reflected in the Unified Fee Schedule."

A great website for following these issues and uniting to support anyone who lives in their car, van, or RV is at .

Freedom Sleepers note they've received no recent reports of RV sleepers near the weekly protests being cited or wakened. They invite folks with or without vehicles to come on down and share the struggle.
Added to the calendar on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 11:39PM
§Coastal Commission Archive Link Correction
by Robert Norse
For some reason, the audio and video link to the Coastal Commission doesn't work if you click directly on it. Instead, cut and paste it in, and you'll reach their archive. Sorry for any confusion.

Again, that link is[]=CCC as mentioned in the main story. And the agenda item is 16e.
§Second Correction
by Robert Norse is a better link. Sorry for the confusion.

4 hours and 20 minutes into that audio file is where the RV Ban agenda item begins.

4 hours and 54 minutes on Commission member Martha McClure speaks against the RV ban. Shortly thereafter Snta Cruz City Council member and RV Ban booster Richelle Niroyan speaks out from the floor angrily against the Commission's decision. It's hard to hear, but loud enough for the chair of the meeting to order her to leave.
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