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HUFFing and Puffing: A Warm Wind from Berkeley
by Robert Norse
Sunday Nov 27th, 2016 8:56 AM
I recently forwarded an article that contrasted principles and policies elsewhere with those of Santa Cruz authorities--which I caustically denounced in an accompanying "Notes from Norse". I believe these Notes are a useful update to some of the brutal practices ongoing in Santa Cruz and so pass them on for readers.
NOTES FROM NORSE: The new Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguin has sent out an important Announcement regarding Emergency Measures to Address the Homeless Crisis. It is printed in its entirety below.

Meanwhile in collusion with the heavy hand of City Manager Martin Bernal, Mayor Mathews’ lame-duck City Council have voted over $200,000 to fund homeless-harassing "Parks and Recreation" Rangers.

Their 'recreation' seems to be patrolling Pacific Avenue--as though it were a park. They will be handsomely paid for harassing people for sitting down near a building, playing an instrument outside the tiny "performance pens" delineated by brass discs on the sidewalk, and generally intimidating poor people who do not follow their orders. This latest salary boost includes surveillance cameras and was voted unanimously by the "liberal" outgoing Councilmembers Lane and Posner.

Unable to find or even look for emergency money for the winter shelter crisis in Santa Cruz, the Council's response to the arrival of several hundred protesters on November 22nd was to encourage staff to expand next year's budget, but do nothing to expand shelter or rein in police attacks on homeless people sheltering themselves this winter.

A report from an RV activist who lives in her van noted a Thanksgiving night incident. Officer Calhoun, she writes, knocked on the RVs and made contact with whomever would answer, (most did not) telling RVs to move along. "I pointed out to Calhoun", the activist continues, " that the signage said I was legally parked. His reply after confirming the fact was that he "Imagined" I am living in my rv and habitating a vehicle in santa cruz is illegal. This was about a half mile from the beach."

While the absurd anti-homeless Sleeping Ban does ban sleeping in your vehicle, outside, or in any non-residential building after 11 PM, there is no such law regarding "habitating a vehicle" in the City. The California Coastal Commission, in fact, specifically declined to okay Councilmember Richelle Niroyan's anti-RV law, and such abuses are illegal. We'll see if Niroyan insists her friends on the police force respect the rights of those whose only shelter is their vehicle and follow the law as she and her Take Back Santa Cruz friends shrilly demand of the homeless. If so, a public statement clarifying that police have no business harassing people in RV’s at night is in order.

The 50 shelter spaces available on 7th Avenue for emergency shelter in December for 1000-2000 homeless are clearly a joke solution.

Santa Cruz could easily and justifiably adopt some of the measures that Berkeley's Mayor proposes. Demand they do so at citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com or 831-420-5020. Or you can leave a message for the real power in the City and contact City Mangler Bernal at mbernal [at] cityofsantacruz.com or 831-420-5030.


BERKELEY'S LATEST PROPOSED RESPONSE TO THE WINTER SHELTER CRISIS

Emergency Measures to Address Homeless Crisis
Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguín
Friday November 25, 2016 - 10:50:00 AM
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I have placed the following on the Berkeley City Council Agenda for December 13:

Take the following actions to implement emergency measures to address our growing homeless population:

1. Direct the City Manager to provide an update on staff and Council actions discussed on November 1, 2016 to respond to the homeless shelter crisis.
2. Direct the City Manager and Chief of Police to permit camping on designated public property, unless conditions arise posing an imminent threat to health and safety.
3. Establish an ad-hoc subcommittee to work with the City Manager to explore emergency solutions, including short-term Navigation Centers.
4. Refer to the City Manager and City Attorney to develop a formal city policy modeled after the proposed amendment to San Francisco’s Police Code.
5. Adopt an Ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 7,449-N.S., which restricts the placement of objects on sidewalks to a 2 square-foot area.

BACKGROUND:
Our city is experiencing a homeless and shelter crisis. On January 2015, the nonprofit organization EveryOne Home performed a point-in-time count of Berkeley’s homeless population, which showed a 53 percent increase in the unsheltered homeless population since 2009, and a 23 percent spike in homelessness overall, from 680 to 834 homeless people in total. Currently the number of homeless individuals in Berkeley far exceeds the amount of shelter beds and transitional housing opportunities available. Additionally, our city’s Storm Shelter at the 1st Congregational Church was destroyed in a fire, even more greatly reducing our shelter capacity.

In response to the worsening conditions on our streets locally and regionally, the City Council voted unanimously on January 19, 2016 to declare a homeless shelter crisis, which was just renewed on November 15 for another year. Although extending the resolution was an important step needed to minimize the red tape of potential solutions, it is in and of itself not a solution. And as our city’s residents, service providers and homeless individuals and families can attest to, shelter is needed now, particularly as winter conditions worsen.

As recommended by the Community Health Commission, the City should be immediately focused on saving lives, which can be accomplished by calling for a moratorium on the eviction of encampments until a plan is developed. Additionally, adding specific language similar to San Francisco in our Police Code regarding encampment relocation procedure will further protect our most vulnerable and their possessions.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Kyle Wentowrth
Sunday Nov 27th, 2016 2:50 PM
You forgot to point out that ordinances that criminalize sleeping i.e., no sleeping in vehicle are unconstitutional. Time and place requirements or limitations on sleep are also unconstitutional.
by talltalk
Monday Nov 28th, 2016 6:15 AM
communist oligarchs fight poverty by eliminating the poor. this is horrendous behavior, totally unnecessary to target people like this. totally horrific.

yet most people are fine with this. very sad that society is this callous and uncaring.
by and public lands.
Monday Nov 28th, 2016 7:47 AM
I support additional ranger patrols. The destruction of our public lands by homeless encampments is unacceptable. And in addition, they are magnets for crime.

Example: Neary Lagoon. Recently cleaned out of 2 dumpsters of garbage and abandoned materials...along with 2 dumptrucks full of stolen bike parts. The camp was a chop shop for criminals.

Example: The river camps behind the Tannery Arts Complex. The Tannery houses some of our more liberal citizenry, a significant percentage of whom are lower income. Hardly the type that Huff can construe as the 1%. Yet even the Tannery population has said "Enough!". They've complained vigorously about the camps in their vicinity. The drugs being regularly shot up there. The all night drinking and fighting. The trash being strewn into the river and along its banks.

Example: The examples are endless. You can paint a benign picture here of how innocent homeless camps in our parks are, but in the real world, we see them for what they are. Garbage dumps, chop shops, and shooting galleries.
Homeless encampments are survival refugee camps that rise in the absence of housing or shelter.

Note how our newly-funded (to the tune of $200,00+) rangers and associated surveillance devices are helping "public safety".

See Brent Adams excellent video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3bor47iHXM .

This is how the police-happy Mathews Council is spending our money as it encourages shrinking social services to fight over scraps. This is the legacy of Take Back Santa Cruz, the Martin Bernal-Scott Collins era as City Managers, and the Bryant-Robinson-Mathews-Niroyan Council faction.

Brent's suggestion that we contact City Council at citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com is fine.

However the delusion that City Council will take any action without massive visible pressure is hardly comforting.

Particularly since there's only half a regular Council meeting left--an afternoon session on December 13 (the evening is taken up with self-congratulatory speeches by outgoing and incoming politicians).

So we must act now before the politicians retire for their Xmas vacations--not to return until the second Tuesday in January. Of course, the Council could throw a special or emergency meeting if Mathews or the new Mayor--likely Cynthia Chase--in adequately moved by sweet reason, freezing weather, or a rising tide of protest.

But, let's be honest, it's really City Manager Martin Bernal who has his callous fingers on the purse and the personnel. Perhaps if enough folks presented themselves in person at his offices a and spent the day there supporting a little sense and sanity, we'd see some action.

Brent's suggestion of a centralized location for reclaiming "abandoned" property is good. But don't we already have a very well-funded Bearcat-enabled police department that already has a staff charged with that job. The only problem is that they are shy about opening--only four hours a week (Tuesday and Thursday from 12:30 to 2 PM). Perhaps a large continent of reasonable voices and shivering bodies in the lobby might be a helpful educational tool. Blankets not bullets?

For the compassionate, but less motivated, the Freedom Sleepers still need support on their 73rd night in front of City Hall tomorrow night establishing a Safe Sidewalk Sleeping zone and demanding an end to the Sleeping Ban.

Donations of survival gear to replace that stolen by city officials would be particularly welcome as winter deepens.
by Leigh Meyers
Monday Nov 28th, 2016 6:43 PM
sm_img_0263_clip.jpg
This Coopers Hawk is waiting for "Duck Chops" (but it'll settle for your rat dog, yuppie)

Someone said:
"Example: Neary Lagoon. Recently cleaned out of 2 dumpsters of garbage and abandoned materials...along with 2 dumptrucks full of stolen bike parts. The camp was a chop shop for criminals."

I believe they come up with trash. The top area with the kiddie park is a well used PICNIC Area. However the "Chop Shop" is likely to be utter BS, Probably some kid wrenching on their bike rubbed some yuppie scumbum the wrong way. I hang out at neary's quite a bit and I've seen no activity like this nor have the park crews, whom I chat with regularly, said anything about it. I see traffic from Westside types pass through, but they're passing through not hanging out.

I don't know whose promoting that myth. It's simply wrong.

The worst thing I'm seeing is LOTS of dogs, which aren't allowed in the lower part of the park by the lagoon... MANY off-leash, and a few owners who actually allow, even encourage, their dogs to chase the ducks and other wildlife. They're mostly YUPPIES and in discussion with one of the rangers a few days back he mentioned how THEY are the most hostile people he has to 'deal' with about park rules. We were discussing it just as a pair of yuppies walked by with... Guess... Dogs, and yeah, he said hi, then escorted them out of the park

"Honest cop" ... He won't last
by and public lands.
Tuesday Nov 29th, 2016 10:29 AM
City of Santa Cruz Report, dated 1o.7.16 )http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/home/showdocument?id=56708):

Ranger staff and PD Parks Unit staff posted and oversaw a large illegal encampment cleanup this week at Neary Lagoon. Parks staff working in coordination with Labor Max Crews and Roaring Camp staff at Neary Lagoon, netted the following:

-5+ arrests.
-2 dumpsters full of trash.
-1 and 1/2 dump trucks full of metal bike frames.

Sorry if you don't want to admit it's happening, but it's happening. Or did they arrest five yuppies walking their dogs, and outright lie about a truck and a half of bike frames? That, sir, is a chop shop.

by Leigh Meyers
Tuesday Nov 29th, 2016 9:33 PM
I'm all over that park. It would have to be in the off-limits areas like the estuary running off it towards Laurel or the riparian areas. All I ever see is an occasional junkie or crackhead wandering through. I don't see anyone wandering around with bike parts either. How many years have those parts been collecting, and maybe more importantly, has ANYTHING been identified as stolen?

Just because some homeless person works on bikes in the woods doesn't make it a 'stolen bike chop shop' although I'M SURE the 'rangers; would say it was... To make it look like they're something more than a VERY expensive money sucking clean up crew... Until you asked them to verify that even one frame had a serial number on it reported stolen. They can't.
by Razer Ray
Wednesday Nov 30th, 2016 9:33 PM
I was just perusing the city dox linked above. That cleanup was by the railroad tracks nearer the boardwalk. Calling it Neary's Lagoon park is fallacious. There's no egress at all to the park there. It's really Big Tree's problem, most likely near the trestle. That's why Roaring Camp staff was involved. AAMOF I saw one of the trucks, and it contained other items than bikes when it was parked at the tracks near Depot Park.

Ps I used to work for a local charity as truck driver. We had a deal with the city to pick up all the scrap bikes the city collected over a year at the watsonville warehouse to use as Gang-intervention-diversion project. A dumptruck and a half full of bikes is roughly what the city collects in a year in the way of bike parts, so I'm VERY skeptical about the crew's ability to pack the bikes, which do not nest very well and leave much space unless one thakes their time, and I'M SURE the parts were just tossed in considering there's no way to easily access the bed of a dump truck as opposed to the box truck I packed with bikes.
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