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Eviction Notice Posted for Santa Cruz Benchlands Hooverville

by Free Speech Matters
After being rousted from downtown Santa Cruz and given San Lorenzo Park, homeless people are being told to move again.
The Hooverville-type camp on the benchlands in San Lorenzo Park now faces eviction. A notice was posted closing the park for "maintenance" on Thursday 9 November 2017.

Homeless people began occuping the benchlands after the Santa Cruz police vowed to "clean-up the downtown area". When asked were they could go, the police told the homeless that they could go to San Lorenzo Park. Police Chief Andrew Mills declared, From the Clock Tower to Laurel Street, from Front to Center Streets, SCPD will spend the resources needed to ensure order. "

Now the City Parks Department says it is time to move along.
§Hooverville-type Camp Santa Cruz Park Benchlands
by Free Speech Matters
Homeless people moved here after being rousted from downtown
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by unblurred photo
I had thought the San Lorenzo occupation was secretly organized by homeless activists. Now I discover Neo chief of oinks actually behind it.
Recently hired over lower ranking piglets who were expecting to move up and now won't. So he needs to build a power base with bold moves like trying to create a sanctuary at the park. Of course staff doesn't like and this eviction will send the homeless into residential neighborhoods since downtown is off limits.
by Anon
Time to go back to the post office if displaced from park.
by Robert Norse
The danger that this is an eviction and not a one-day relocation for "park maintenance" is real.

It's not really clear what kind of "maintenance" is required here. I've never heard of the park being closed totally to the public (other than the usual privatized-for-a-day financial scams) for this purpose.

I suppose it could be a genuine "clean up" operation since San Lorenzo hasn't seen so massive a continuous occupation since the Occupy movement of Fall 2011.

However there's been no reassurance (whatever weight that would really have) from Police Chief Andy Mills and Parks Czar Mauro Garcia--much less from the City Council--that the "maintenance" will be followed by restoration of the campground tolerance (and portapotty/washing station/trash pickup support).

So this could be a dress rehersal for an evict-and-deport operation timed to operate with the opening of (as usual very limited) Winter Shelter program on November 15th.

This also comes at a time when Berkeley's successful "Sanctuary Village" style encampment "Here...There" (earlier known as First they Came for the Homeless) was driven off last Saturday by BART goon squads after a peaceful period of ten months there with community support.

See "No Justice. Just Law. A Tale of Homelessness and Eviction." at, "Homeless Eviction Farewell Party to South Berkeley " at

See also,

On the upside, note the unusual order by the federal judge Alsop.

While denying the camp's call for a stay of execution, he also demands of Berkeley and the campers that by late November they come up with "a practical plan for shelter for its homeless during the coming winter.... Do not simply recite the programs the City purports to offer, for they are admittedly insufficient. Submit a plan that will shelter substantially all of Berkeley’s homeless. ..Be specific. Name soccer fields and open spaces [that could be converted].. to tent cities."

This is a rare call for information from an otherwise-hostile Federal judge (he denied the campers attempt to stop the BART demolition of the camp).


In Berkeley the Here...There camp had a history of being stalked and attacked by police agencies over a dozen times.

City authorities finally realized--as Portland authorities did with the Dignity Camp that became Dignity Village in 2002--that they weren't going to destroy the integrity and determination of the camp. So for ten months, they stopped the police raids, even yielding under pressure to allow a nearby portapotty to be set up.

Now displaced camp residents have already set up camp again at City Hall. See . The determination not to end the protest-and-survive camp has been renewed with community support.

In Santa Cruz, the same support kept the Freedom Sleepers going for 2 years until City Manager Martin Bernal unilaterally declared new "laws" banning constitutional protest there after dark.

Food Not Bombs, newly strengthened with volunteers, has brought food to the Freedom Sleeper encampment every Tuesday. Some activists there have discussed solidarity with the campers when the police come to remove the survival campers on (or before) November 9th.

Weekend warriors can e-mail Mills at amills [at] and Garcia at mgarcia [at] Not to mention citycouncil [at] .

Of course, the more direct course is to go down to San Lorenzo Park and offer support and solidarity to the campers themselves.

Or contact Food not Bombs at the Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs facebook page. You can also reach HUFF at 831-423-4833.
by Observers Fresno, City Council passed an anti-camping ordinance in September. So far, only two people have been arrested for violating it. However, the police chief recently distributed a letter to protesters warning them that they could/would be charged with criminal conspiracy if they “camped” or otherwise protested against the new rules.
by Sylvia
If this were honest maintenance, it could at least have been scheduled for the following week, after the winter shelter opens on November 15. So it's poor overall government coordination, or, as it seemed to me, a hostile move from Parks against SCPD. I was so sad and discouraged when I saw the sign yesterday.
by Fox News (posted by Norse)
Jury Rules in City’s Favor: Sacramento’s No-Camping Ordinance Does Not Discriminate Against Homeless

FOX40 Web Desk

SACRAMENTO -- The verdict is in for the trial on the legality of Sacramento's no-camping ordinance.

The jury delivered a verdict in favor of the city, meaning homeless people will continue to be cited for camping out on the streets.

After deliberating more than three hours, the jury returned a 9-3 verdict that went against civil rights attorney Mark Merin and plaintiff John Kraintz, saying the city's no camping ordinance did not discriminate against homeless people.

The lawsuit claimed the city of Sacramento ordinance was unconstitutional because it selectively enforced against homeless people to keep them on the move and out of sight. Other residents who are not homeless and who routinely "camp out" to get special retail deals at shopping malls are not threatened with arrest.

A lawyer for the homeless argued people who camp out for concerts, movies or new shoes don't get ticketed -- so why should the homeless?

Despite the loss, Merin called it a very positive experience and said they have something to build on.

"We have to just stop the police from using the anti-camping ordinance as a way of driving homeless people away from the public so that the public then doesn't even consider it or discuss the issue. And the next step for us is Federal Court," Merin said.

Merin said he plans to build on the fact that the public is now starting to really understand the problem with the no-camping ordinance and will take the case to federal court in about 30 days.

"They are spending a fortune, and uselessly, driving homeless people away ... prosecuting them. If they took even a portion of those funds used for the criminalization of homeless people and put it into trying to solve the problem, providing safe grounds. That's what we are looking for, and I think it's coming. It's got to come," Merin said.

"I think people are going to have to watch this thing with an open mind and try and think of realistic solutions, rather than just punishment." Kraintz said.

The city released the following statement:

“We are pleased the jury returned a verdict in favor of the city. The city and its dedicated police officers respect the rights of all individuals, and do not unlawfully discriminate against the homeless or those who advocate for the homeless.

Ordinances are adopted and enforced for the benefit of the public— the community as a whole. When an ordinance is intended to preserve the peace and welfare of the community, it is only right that the city enforce it, when persons knowingly and willfully ignore the city’s warnings.”

Kraintz doesn't agree and gave out his own warning.

"When you don't choose someplace for people to go, you've chosen everyplace for people to go by default. Because they aren't just going to evaporate. And we can't push it on to our neighbors because they've already got their own homeless problem to deal with," he said.

["Does Sacramento unfairly apply its camping ordinance against the homeless? Jury to decide"]
["Homelessness on trial: Legal challenge may finally put Sacramento’s camping ban before a jury"]
by Steve Pleich (posted by Norse)

A delegation of the emergency shelter working group which included Rabbi Phil Posner, Sherry Conable, Steve Pleich, Jim Weller and Debbie Bates just finished and hour long meeting with the Chief.

The Chief reiterated his commitment to decriminalizing sleep. He also said told us that the evacuation of the Benchlands will be for one night only and that the campers will be able to return on Friday. He is instructing his officers to tell folks that they can stay overnight Wednesday in public spaces of their choosing but no single spot has been designated.

He also told us that on of the things that will happen on Thursday is a the creation of designated sleeping spaces within the Benchlands.

The Benchlands will be continue to be an approved camping area until December 15 when, it is hoped, a safe, dry, indoor sleeping area will be created.

On that front, our group is suggested the Locust Street Garage basement. The Chief was generally not supportive of that location and suggested instead that we look at the vacant Goodwill building in Harvey West. The Chief suggested we talk to the city/county group that is working on a Day Center which would provide services and may also be located on Harvey West. Specifically, they are looking at the building next door to HSC. This group is only working on a day center and not a nighttime, overnight shelter.

I am asking Chris Krohn to arrange a meeting with Martin to discuss our overnight shelter proposal.

Everyone at the meeting, including the Chief, appreciates the importance of creating an emergency nighttime shelter in a time frame that will allow for a smooth transition when the Benchlands are no longer suitable either because of weather or pressure from the community.

Everyone will be kept updated about a meeting with Martin.

In solidarity,

by Brent Adams (posted by Norse)
Posted 11-6 at

"I spoke with Park's Director, Mauro Garcia this morning. He said they're doing a "one-day parks improvement project" to make camping congregants more safe, adding "snow fencing" along the river, adding bike racks and creating a more definable space to allow more tents.

The bummer here *is* that there is no fall-back place for people to camp on the night of Nov. 8. Parks Director Garcia stated that people can move to state property behind Ross for the night. They won't be allowed in the upper areas of SL Park. Garcia promised that park congregants may return in the evening of Nov. 9 to resume camping. Though every month-or-so the parks dept. will have a removal and clean-up day. Anyone familiar with every single other city in California where camping is allowed, there is a "clean-up" day when tents must be removed and then replaced the day later."

Posted later that day:

Further posts may be forthcoming in his Homeless Outside Santa Cruz facebook page.

Thanks, Brent.
by Robert Norse
I sent the head of Parks and Recreation (Garcia) an e-mail yesterday asking details of the November 9th Maintenance clearing of San Lorenzo Park. Would the displaced be allowed to return the next day? Where could they store their stuff in the interim? Where could they go on the night of the 9th.

Garcia called me (a first) and said the move had a true maintenance function (something about dealing with hoarding as well).

He said there's be a storage facility provided for that day and night so folks could leave stuff behind and pick it up--if I understand correctly.

He also said that the portapotties and handwashing stations along the paths through the park would be open--not sure if he meant during the night and also during the day, but probably both.

He said that folks could return to the park after the clean-up the next day and might consider going to Sycamore Grove or some other spot during that night.

He also noted that Police Chief Mills had stated there wouldn't be sleeping tickets on public property at night without further cause, but advised folks not to return to the post office or downtown to sleep.

He also gave no firm cut-off date for nighttime camper accessibility to the park. He did say shelters would be opening up in November and more in December, and that rain might make the park untenable.

He noted there was generally a good relationship between most campers and his ranger staff.

He sounded quite reasonable. I presume with so many reassurances given out--to me, to Pleich's group, to Brent Adams--it would be embarrassing for him to renege on these statements. This, however, is the first extended conversation I've had with him. The track record of the P & R in the past--in terms of supporting bad laws--has not been a good one.

However it may be that authorities are being dragged kicking and screaming--at least in the short run--to recognize the reality of folks sleeping visibly on the streets. It would also seem counter-productive to drive folks into the neighborhoods and downtown if the goal is to hide poverty and make the tourist town seem all bright and pretty.

Anyway, that's my report.
by am i on an alternate timeline
bike racks. hopscotching jurisdiction on state land. That's MY tactic. Fucking city better at protesting than activists.
Btw if homeless provided with protest signs at state property at Ross. State trespass law defeated with 1st amendment activity. And case law holds a single night stay insufficient occupation to be construed as lodging.
by Jessica York (posted by Norse)
Santa Cruz’s benchlands homeless camp to be vacated for a day

Steps away from the County Government Center, a homeless camp is growing, causing the city to add more toilets and wash centers in hopes of staving off the recent hepatitis A outbreak. (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel file)

Steps away from the County Government Center, a homeless camp is growing, causing the city to add more toilets and wash centers in hopes of staving off the recent hepatitis A outbreak. (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel file)

By Jessica A. York, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Posted: 11/07/17, 7:59 PM PST | Updated: 6 hrs ago
Homeless people are camped in the San Lorenzo Park benchlands from Water Street to the footbridge. (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel file)
Homeless people are camped in the San Lorenzo Park benchlands from Water Street to the footbridge. (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel file)

SANTA CRUZ >> The city Parks and Recreation Department is asking denizens of a recently expanded homeless encampment in San Lorenzo Park’s “benchlands” area to evacuate for about a nearly 24-hour stretch, beginning 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

The park’s temporary closure, which will not apply to paved pathways, is designed to allow city workers to cleanup and bring order to a space the city is tacitly endorsing for temporary homeless use. In the past month, the city has responded to the population growth by installing portable toilets, hand-washing stations and large metal trash bins.

Immediately prior, people at a nearby encampment in front of the downtown post office were rousted by police, as Police Chief Andy Mills simultaneously announced he would not enforce the city’s overnight camping ban unless subject to complaint, on private property or while other crimes were being committed.

City Manager Martín Bernal said the one-day park closure is unlike recent past homeless encampment crackdowns at Santa Cruz City Hall, the San Lorenzo River levee and post office.

“We just sort of push them back and forth between the levee, between downtown — that’s not, obviously, helping. We just sort of determined that’s not working — we need to have a change, here,” Bernal said. “But San Lorenzo Park, clearly, it’s not, from the city’s perspective or my perspective or even the police chief’s perspective or anyone’s perspective, an appropriate place to have an encampment over the long term.”

On Monday afternoon, concerns over the park’s use as a homeless encampment were raised by the public at the city Parks and Recreation Commission meeting. Coastal Watershed Council Executive Director Greg Pepping said he and others want city leaders to publicly explain who is in charge of the camp, when it will end and what is the comprehensive management plan for the situation. The commission directed Bernal to update the Santa Cruz City Council about the public concerns.

City officials have said they will not prevent campers from returning to the benchlands after the cleanup. Garcia, however, said the encampment has its limits.

“We’re setting up an area that is not infinite. If we start approaching the limits of that area, we’ll have to restrategize with the leadership of the city,” Garcia said. “There’s nothing official, but we anticipate by mid-December the shelters will be available and the rains will come.”

Thursday’s San Lorenzo Park closure and cleanup will be multifold in its purpose, said Parks and Recreation Director Mauro Garcia. City crews will clean up areas otherwise difficult to reach while the area is inhabited, a perimeter will be erected around the encampment and around 15-foot by 15-foot individual encampments sites inside. The plastic “snow fencing” border will cut in half the amount of space campers have been covering along the benchlands, and allow the city to better track how many people are inside and in need of services, Garcia said. The outer fencing is also designed to keep campers from littering in the nearby San Lorenzo River or trampling park vegetation, he said.

“There’s plenty of room within that area. They’re just so spread out, there’s a huge impact,” Garcia said of the benchlands. “That would hopefully allow people to still use the pump track, still allow people to use the disc golf course area. Right now, it’s pretty intimidating for people to get down into the benchlands, as things are spread out right now.”

As the sun set on Monday evening, dozens of men and women trickled over the footbridge stretching above the grassy park area, populated with more than 30 tents and a population reaching as high as 70 people on a given night, by Garcia’s count. A city notice posted on an orange and white striped sawhorse alerted campers to the upcoming temporary closure, which will run through Friday morning. Local homelessness issues activist Brent Adams, who manages the emergency Warming Center Program and was an early advocate for creating public homeless camping facilities, handed out donated jackets and blankets while discussing the closure. Adams then gathered a handful of remaining campers around him to ask them what their concerns and needs were. Answers varied from safety from theft to cleaner toilet facilities.

Campers will be offered plastic storage bins to have their possessions stored and watched over by city workers during the eviction, Garcia said. Conversely, items left untended in the benchlands will be disposed of, he said.

The Warming Center will welcome homeless people for the evening, opening at 10 p.m. Thursday at Calvary Episcopal Church, 532 Center St., with sleeping pads and soup provided, Adams said. Interested volunteers can sign up to help by emailing Adams at compassionman [at]

by Andrea Patton (posted by Norse)
The longest story with the most coverage of survival camper opinion is from the current issue of Good Times at

Homeless Camp in San Lorenzo Park Stirs Controversy, Hope

Mack Palmer, a soft-spoken 43-year-old man who struggles to get around, was one of the first people to move to the benchlands area of San Lorenzo Park after a citywide effort to clear the downtown post office of homeless campers living there. Before that, Palmer slept by the library, and before that, near Santa Cruz City Hall.

“Mack’s appearance has a lot to do with how people treat him,” says Brent Adams, Palmer’s friend and a local homeless advocate. “He’s huge and dark, yet upon speaking with him, he’s soft and quite vulnerable.”

Sitting on his collapsed green tent, with a towel covering one of his bare feet, Palmer tells me that he has been living outside for three-and-a-half years, since his downtown apartment was foreclosed on, and he was evicted. He briefly moved in with his mom, who was sick and appreciated his help in taking care of her, Palmer says, but her landlord informed them that they were breaking U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rules, so he was out on the street.

“I haven’t been stable since,” he says.

Until recently, he was sleeping on concrete with only a sleeping bag. His living conditions have improved since being allowed to set up a tent at night and take it down during the day, in cooperation with a new moratorium on the sleeping ban that SCPD chief Andy Mills announced in a GT op-ed last month. In the days that followed, many others set up camp in San Lorenzo Park. The city brought in portable toilets, wash basins and extra trash cans.

Palmer has high blood pressure and sleep apnea. Last year when it started raining, he got sick three times.

“I don’t think I could do that again,” he says. “I was put in the hospital in intensive care three times. I have to sleep with a sleeping mask, but out here I can’t sleep with one. And I really need to have that, because I stop breathing.”

Déjà Vu

Controversy is already swirling around the San Lorenzo Park encampment—and this isn’t the first time. It’s an area that—not unlike the homeless population itself—city officials have never exactly known how to manage. Occupy Santa Cruz, an offshoot of the larger Occupy protests that began on Wall Street, was started in San Lorenzo Park in the fall of 2011 by twentysomethings who said they were fed up with corporate abuses and a financial system that protected institutions it deemed “too big to fail.” That camp’s main hub was above the benchlands and closer to the Santa Cruz County Government Center than the current one. As it swelled in size over time, Occupy Santa Cruz—like similar movements in other cities—grew into a gathering place for local homeless in search of safety and community. Unsubstantiated rumors spread through the media about a disease outbreak, and feces dumped on the other side of the river. Not long after, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department served the campers with an eviction notice. A day later, before dawn on Tuesday, Dec. 6, officers from all over the county, dressed in riot gear, rousted the remaining campers.

“There are those who think I’m enabling. They want to see rigorous enforcement on the homeless. What does that look like? We’ve written thousands of tickets, literally, for camping. Boy, that’s worked well.” — SCPD Chief Andy Mills

Adams says the Occupy camp was vastly different from the current situation, and City Manager Martín Bernal, who’s been with the city for 20 years, agrees. “First, the numbers were much bigger,” Bernal says. “The purpose was totally different, and the situation was totally different in terms of what caused it to come into existence.”

In the six years since, city leaders, along with local nonprofits and clubs, have taken steps to make both the San Lorenzo River and park more inviting to Santa Cruz residents and visitors, in the name of “activating” the area. The Public Works Department installed lighting on part of the lower part of the riverwalk, and opened a new footbridge. Parks and Recreation workers installed a nine-hole disc golf course on the benchlands in 2012 with the help of the Delaveaga Disc Golf Club, hoping that if sports enthusiasts were there throwing discs, it would dissuade the homeless from hanging out.

Sean O’Neill, president for Delaveaga Disc Golf Club, says the course never got much use, though, for two reasons: design and safety. He says players often found trash and syringes littered about. “It’s not exactly a place that an experienced golfer is looking to play because of its simplicity, and it’s not that inviting. It’s geared more toward a beginner player, and it makes it harder to, say, introduce children to disc golf at a place where you can potentially find needles,” he says.

Right to Sleep

Mills says he made his announcement out of a sense that it’s the right thing to do, both morally and for the good of the whole community.

“My personal belief system—as well as [what] the courts are ruling fairly consistently—[is] that people have a right to sleep,” says Mills, who’s been chief of the Santa Cruz Police Department since August. “And so I want to make sure we are treating people well. I think people are healthier, make better decisions, have the potential of getting out of some of the circumstances they are in, when they have sleep. I couldn’t imagine being in a place where I could sleep for one hour at a time, in the cold with yelling and screaming and all the other things that happen in that environment. Sleeping on rocks, or sidewalks, or bus benches.”

Mills, 60, adds that, at his age, it’s hard enough for him to sleep in a bed.
homeless camp in San Lorenzo Park homeless couple

Bryan Flint and Amberly Pennock built a tent out of camping gear they found, like tarps and umbrellas. In the background sits a nine-hole disc golf course that never caught on. PHOTO: KEANA PARKER

Adams, who is also executive director of the Warming Center, sees uninterrupted sleep and the allowance of tents as “rung one” of a ladder to improving the homeless situation in Santa Cruz. He’s traveled the state touring homeless encampments three times, interviewing more than 400 people in 40 cities for Out of Sight Out of Mind, his documentary on West Coast homelessness.

“When we demonstrate dignity, people behave in more dignified ways,” says Adams, who also leads the Coalition for Homelessness and the Downtown Bathroom Task Force. “When people are desperate, they start behaving more desperately.”

Mills will be the first to admit that the benchlands encampment is not a beauty to behold. But he says he has been closely following court rulings around homelessness. “And then the courts, and housing and urban development have given some very clear guidelines that you need to have enough beds for those who are without shelter, and until that takes place, I don’t know how I can thoughtfully and rigorously enforce a camping ban,” he says.

Mills has heard that employees working at the county building near the tents haven’t been thrilled by the current situation, and he is aware of the need to maintain a functioning city where everyone feels safe.

Jason Hoppin, Santa Cruz County’s public information officer, says there have been ancillary issues that employees have noticed.

“One of the unfortunate side effects of having that population over here is there is a subset of them that engage in behaviors that are basically unacceptable,” he says. “It’s drug use, it’s public intoxication, it’s prostitution. We’ve had employees that have witnessed those types of activities,” he says, clarifying that such activities aren’t necessarily entwined with the homeless population at large.

“They don’t necessarily go hand in hand. The law-abiding homeless persons who are over there now shouldn’t have to witness that either,” he adds.

The county has added two sheriffs to patrol the area, along with increasing alarm security at the county building. Hoppin says county workers are also in the process of removing two large storage lockers on the back lawn that he says people are hiding things under.

Mills says some of his critics have doubts about his approach, although they don’t always address the chief directly, and that members of Take Back Santa Cruz have been particularly vocal.

“There are those who think I’m enabling,” Mills says. “They want to see rigorous enforcement on the homeless. What does that look like? We’ve written thousands of tickets, literally, for camping. Boy, that’s worked well. I’m much more concerned with effectiveness than efficiency. I can write thousands of tickets, but if it’s not doing any good, then let’s figure out something else to do.”

After Mills’ announcement, one Take Back Santa Cruz member wrote on Facebook, “Poor SanLo park and those families that try and enjoy it.”

Another complained about police officers shooing away some suspicious drugged-out men carrying nice leather purses who he felt should have been questioned. “I give up, no more calling police,” the man wrote, tagging Chief Mills.

Analicia Cube, who started Take Back Santa Cruz nine years ago with her sister and friend who are also mothers, says Mills absolutely got pushback on their site, because many of its 17,000 members are scared and disturbed by the situation, and don’t see the San Lorenzo encampment as a viable alternative.

But what Mills is bringing to the table is at least an attempt at a real solution, she says.

“Our children and our elders are afraid to wander the streets,” Cube says. “We have to just believe. I know it’s going to be really hard for everyone, and I know that after everything we’ve been through, and the compassion fatigue we’re all feeling, that this right here is just another ask. But for the first time, I feel like somebody else is asking me. At least it’s something new, it’s not, ‘oh, it’s OK. Just keep walking, mama. Don’t worry. We’re not headed in the wrong direction …’ Someone in a leadership, authority position is looking me in the eyes and saying, you’re right. This is bad.”

So for now, Mills has Cube’s wary support. “As long as the chief is prepared to show us some positive outcomes and get us to checkmate, then I believe that Take Back Santa Cruz supports him 100 percent,” she says.

This is the kind of dialogue that Mills wants to see. He’s glad that his op-ed piece started a conversation about the issue.

“This battle is taking place of ‘what do we do with these people,’ and some of this is kinda forcing us to have that conversation as a community,” Mills says. “I think people are so entrenched in their minds, they’re not willing to listen about homeless issues. Everybody has their little stake in the ground and if you pull that stake out, you feel like you’re giving ground. Well, that’s not necessarily the case. People say, ‘I want rigorous enforcement.’ Okay, wait a second here … so rigorous enforcement, but just on the homeless, not on everybody else. Now wait a second, that doesn’t make any sense to anybody, does it? It doesn’t to me. We’re going to take one class of people, the poorest of the poor, and we are going to do rigorous enforcement on them?”

Future Tents

As clouds roll in and the rainy season gets underway, no one can say for sure how long the encampment—or the relaxed enforcement—will be around.

If SCPD receives a complaint from a property owner, officers will still enforce the ban on a case-by-case basis. Mills says he is concerned for everyone’s safety, including that of the families who use San Lorenzo Park, especially, up by the playground. And as much as he might mock “rigorous enforcement” for a class of citizen, he says he is certain to employ it for crimes and behavioral issues. “Defecating, urinating, stealing, smoking dope downtown, spreading trash all over the driveway of Wells Fargo, that doesn’t work. I completely get that,” he says.

He’ll also be waiting to see what happens when the winter shelter opens on Nov. 15. If many beds go unused, Mills may take another look at the moratorium. “That changes the perspective a little bit,” he says. “If there’s 100-plus beds and people aren’t taking them, then perhaps enforcement does become a significant option, so people need to avail themselves of the help that’s available to them, and we’ll do everything we can to point people in the right direction.”

Whatever the future of the benchlands in the short term, Bernal says San Lorenzo Park won’t work as a permanent encampment.

“It’s a facility that gets used for events, so people can’t be there all the time anyway. The uses aren’t compatible with what’s there. And it floods in the winter, so it’s not a good long-term solution. We need a more permanent solution. We’re working on that,” Bernal says.

While traveling the West Coast, Adams has seen all kinds of so-called “tent cities”—including ones in areas like Los Angeles, where people are allowed to sleep outside in tents any place that isn’t privately owned.

“The problem with an encampment with no rules, no boundaries and admitted use of illegal addictive substances,” Adams says, “is that there may begin to be dangerous interactions based on the acquisition of substances and the means to afford them, which can include illegal, coercive, and exploitive behavior.”

Adams points out that so far, things at San Lorenzo Park have been surprisingly peaceful and he says the number of overdoses have been declining in the park. He sees the encampment as surprisingly successful, but believes there are ways it could be improved by developing clean, safe and dignifying sanctuary-type camp programs, safe parking programs and authentic, safe sleep zones.

“I applaud the chief, Andy Mills, for all the tents, portapotties, garbage collection, no enforcement of the camping ban. All of those things are amazing, and I celebrate them,” Adams says. “And yet, whether the police department or the city does it or not, this will become uninhabitable at some point. But what is the plan? My organization has lots of plans. Lots of ideas. Can we work with the city on those? I hope so.”

Sleeping Bagged

Adams has followed recommendations from the city’s Homeless Coordinating Committee as closely as anyone, getting the word out about the list of 20 ideas and suggesting modifications.

Mills and the county are both on board with the recommendations to get people a day-use facility where the homeless can receive services designed to get them out of homelessness and participate in constructive activities while addressing mental health or addiction as well as hygiene.

The questions are how to do that, and who will foot the bill. The city points to the county and state as typically being providers of health and human services. Hoppin, on the other hand, points to cities like Los Angeles, which set aside $176 million of their own dollars to address their much larger homeless population.

Mark Hemersbach, a 58-year-old Santa Cruz resident of 35 years, has been homeless for two years. He’s been living in a tent at the benchlands for the last six months. “It only took ten days to go from heaven to hell,” he says.

“Relying on the state to pay for everything is somewhat of a fool’s errand,” Hoppin says. “I think there’s going to have to be some skin in the game locally to get this done. We don’t know what the funding formula is going to look like yet, but like I said, it’s a good thing that everybody is moving in the same direction.”

Hoppin, who works with County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios, says he’s still waiting from the city for a clearer indication of the next steps in the process. “We are not alerted to what the city’s plans are, and we still don’t have a handle on what their plans are, what’s their exit strategy here, where this is going. We’ve been meeting with them and asking for that. We don’t have a clear picture yet,” he says, noting that there’s no evidence that homeless people are drawn to services from out of the area.

Palmer, the homeless man who’s been on the streets since being evicted from his apartment, has a Section 8 housing voucher that is set to expire next month. Jenny Panetta, executive director of the Santa Cruz County Housing Authority, said at a meeting last month that about half of voucher holders aren’t able to find housing before their Section 8 expires.

Palmer faces many challenges as he searches, including what to do with his few belongings while he is away from them so that they don’t get stolen. He would like to stay close to his mom in Santa Cruz, but there are fewer low-income housing options in North County, and so he says he will probably have to move to Watsonville.

Storage facilities are one of the short-term fixes that the city’s recommendations identified as a need. Bernal says some steel shipping containers and plastic bins that the city ordered for this purpose have arrived, and they’re being set up on the city’s parcel on River Street that served as a staging center for the winter shelter last year. Adams has been pushing for storage containers in several of the spots where homeless people already congregate to make it easier for them to use the facilities. Adams would also like to see a mobile shower trailer where people can get clean, part of an idea he calls “pop-up homeless services.”

Falling Through the Cracks

Mark Hemersbach, a 58-year-old Santa Cruz resident of 35 years, has been homeless for two years. He’s been living in a tent at the benchlands for the last six months, after what he calls a “set of bad circumstances” involving the collapse of his marble and stone contracting business, he tells me, when a large developer didn’t pay the bills and he didn’t have the resources to fight them in court.

“It only took 10 days to go from heaven to hell,” Hemersbach says. He had 25 employees and had invested his life savings in the company. Hemersbach says that a nearby storage facility would help provide homeless people some peace of mind, while cutting down on theft from a population that doesn’t have much to their name to begin with.

“It would give the people a sense of organization if they can maintain it, and in the end it would give people a little more hope,” he says.

These days, Hemersbach has become something of a mediator among the community benchlands, sometimes settling disputes, and other times organizing morning cleanup efforts to make sure the camp stays as tidy as possible. “We don’t want to be an eyesore for the public,” he says. “We understand this is a park. It’s not supposed to look like a run down beat-up litterbox, and we don’t want it to look that way.”
by Santa Mierda (posted by Norse)
The Weekly Dump
November 10, 2017

The rain couldn’t wash away the stench of Martin Bernal and his lack of vision this week, as we discuss the needles found in San Lorenzo park, Sacramento has the sack that Santa Cruz lacks, the drug bust in Scotts Valley, the fire in front of the former Radio Shack, break ins at Ocean Pacific Lodge and the El View Lodge, the stuff of life, van hits a couple kids on Soquel, it’s hammer time, bloody Peets, more “nuisance crime” in Harvey West, assault on Pryce street, bicyclist sent to trauma center, picking on the disabled, why rent control is a bad idea, bring on the crab, Academy of Arcana closing, and more!

San Lorenzo Park “Campground” Full of Dirty Needles

San Lorenzo Park has now been turned into a complete espectáculo de mierda, thanks to city manager Martin Bernal and Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills. Congratulations! If you didn’t think Santa Cruz could get any worse by the spineless and clueless actions of city “leaders”, you were proven wrong today. Is anyone really surprised here?

After a one day “eviction” notice was posted to clear the park, at least 80 drug needles were found while crews were clearing out the homeless encampment in the area behind the county building along the San Lorenzo river levee, which of course used city resources and was paid for by your tax dollars. Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation workers, along with the Santa Cruz City Rangers and other city workers spent most of their day on Thursday cleaning up the toxic HAZMAT mess left behind by homeless “campers”, all with the blessing of our city manager and police chief. In another one of his “no duh” moments, Bernal stated “while this is not a good area for a permanent homeless encampment, it is necessary for the city to manage it for the time being. We are designating areas where tents can be again to kind of allow for the area to be better managed so people aren’t spread out all over so there’s more organization in respect to where people are placing there belongings”. What an idiot this guy is. He turns a public park into a human sewer, advocates polluting the San Lorenzo river, and expects the majority of the city residents to be fine with this ridiculous idea. Hey, paddle boarders on the river can’t be allowed due to the sensitive environmental impact, but it’s fine to let bums fill the levee and river with trash, feces, urine, and dirty needles. How do we fire this guy already? He obviously has no clue how to deal with this.

And where the hell is the county response to all of this? Where the hell is Ryan Coonerty, the city’s rep on the Board of Supervisors? He’s obviously nowhere to be found (as usual). God forbid Ryan Coonerty does something actually useful and beneficial for the people of Santa Cruz. I remember one time Fred Keeley, who despite our philosophical differences I have a lot of respect for, once told me “social services are a county responsibility, not the city’s responsibility”. So why in the hell is the city forced to bear the burden here, and why the hell is the county doing nothing about it, despite the obvious fact that this human cesspool sits directly behind the county building? The inmates are truly running the asylum here.

The whole toxic weekly report on the shit-laden website: > Not sure if "Ben" deletes or edits the comments, but there is space to comment there.

Keep tabs on what the homeless-hating crowd is up on the ever-anonymous Weekly Dump at
by Observers
“Ben” moderates the comments. He bans people critical of his blog.
by Jessica York (posted by Norse)
New rules for Santa Cruz benchlands homeless camp at county government building
Posted: 11/09/17, 7:02 PM PST | Updated: 1 day ago
95 Comments [see for photos and comments]

Park rangers cleaning up abandoned campsites in San Lorenzo Park on Thursday find used syringes and needles strewn about the benchlands. After city workers clean the area and erect fencing, cordoning off individual campsites, campers are invited to return Friday morning. (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)

What: Salvation Army shelter site.
When: Nov. 15 through April 15.
New 2017-18 services: Twice-weekly onsite visits, including health screenings and vaccinations, from the Homeless Persons Health Project and benefit enrollment services by the Santa Cruz County Human Services Department.

What: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7263 shelter site.
When: Nov. 24 through April 15.
All intake: 4 to 6 p.m., daily.

Where: Monday, Wednesday, Friday-Sunday: Salvation Army, 721 Laurel St.
Where: Tuesday, Thursday: Louden Nelson Community Center, 301 Center St.

SANTA CRUZ >> Shortly after homeless campers packed up their tents and rolled up their sleeping bags Thursday morning, the outlines of 58 square campsites were spray-painted in white in San Lorenzo Park’s benchlands.

With the spectre of 2011’s two-month Occupy Santa Cruz encampment still in the minds of many officials, the Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department opted this week to get ahead of a growing homeless encampment at the same location through an organizational plan and trash cleanup, department Director Mauro Garcia said Thursday. Homeless campers were asked to vacate the site for 24 hours, a practice that will be repeated in three weeks and semiregularly afterward.

Returning campers will be “checked in” by city park rangers and asked to choose a single campsite to occupy, Garcia said. In addition to existing portable toilets, handwashing stations and dumpsters nearby, bike racks are also being installed.

“Tomorrow morning, as folks may be coming back, we’ll do it in a much more organized manner. We’re offering 15 by 15 (foot) square sites and folks will be asked to keep their belongings within their site and held responsible for whatever’s in there,” Garcia said. “If they get belongings outside of that square, they’ll be asked to correct that situation or move on.”

The make-shift homeless encampment is expected to dissolve naturally by mid-December, once rainy, cold weather arrives and emergency winter shelters become fully operational, City Manager Martín Bernal said. The Santa Cruz County-led North County Winter Shelter, operated this year by the Salvation Army in conjunction with the Association of Faith Communities, will open its first of two sites Wednesday at the Salvation Army’s Laurel Street building.

Local homeless issues activist Steve Pleich, who also serves as vice chairman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Santa Cruz County, visited the cleared-out campsite Thursday afternoon, predicting that the newly plastic fence-enclosed area spelled that “the end is nigh” for the encampment.

Pleich, counting 174 emergency homeless shelter beds already available in Santa Cruz, said he believed at least 300 spaces are needed. Pleich said that he and other local activists will meet with Bernal on Friday to recommend using empty building space in the city’s Harvey West Park industrial area for basic overnight shelter.

“What would our community be like if at night, a police officer responded to a homeless person’s question, ‘If I can’t sleep here, where can I sleep?’ with ‘We have shelter space and I’ll drive you over to it.’”

The San Lorenzo Park encampment, which began to grow in the past month after several other downtown concentration areas for the area’s homeless were broken up, lies on public park space between the San Lorenzo River and the County Governmental Center and county courthouse. Some 20 campsites remained early Thursday when city workers arrived, but were cleared out without incident shortly afterward, Garcia said.

Remaining debris, including more than 100 discarded needles, was thrown away and vacuumed up with a city cleaning vehicle, Garcia said.

For the enforced stay-away period, the city offered to store people’s possessions as a test run of a still-developing homeless storage program. Parks and Recreation workers provided plastic storage bins to those interested, then carted possessions over to large lockable cargo containers on a city lot on River Street, Garcia said. Warming Center Program operator Brent Adams also mobilized his volunteers to provide indoor shelter for the evening for those displaced.

Garcia said parks workers will be flexible to the needs of returning homeless campers traveling in groups or requiring special accommodations. While those with tents are asked to collapse the structures each morning, special allowance will be made for when it rains, Garcia said.

“In order for the rangers and police to provide patrols down there, to make sure that people are following the rules the best they can, we need to be able to see what people are doing,” Garcia said of the need for the camps to be collapsed.

What: Salvation Army shelter site.
When: Nov. 15 through April 15.
New 2017-18 services: Twice-weekly onsite visits, including health screenings and vaccinations, from the Homeless Persons Health Project and benefit enrollment services by the Santa Cruz County Human Services Department.

What: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7263 shelter site.
When: Nov. 24 through April 15.
All intake: 4 to 6 p.m., daily.
Where: Monday, Wednesday, Friday-Sunday: Salvation Army, 721 Laurel St., Santa Cruz.
Where: Tuesday, Thursday: Louden Nelson Community Center, 301 Center St., Santa Cruz.

NOTES BY NORSE: The needle-mania focus of the Sentinel article is pretty clear, so is the absence of clarity about the utter lack of winter shelter available for the majority of unhoused folks. York is immersing herself in the homeless-hostile narrative so familiar to those watching the City Council create new anti-homeless laws. One fears this is prep for a mass deportation of homeless people from the relative safety of campgrounds once the token shelter system starts up.
Brent Adams and I discuss the San Lorenzo campground and its reverberations at (50 minutes and 30 seconds into the audio file).
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