Santa Cruz IMC
Santa Cruz IMC
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

The Fierce Urgency of Now

by Santa Cruz City Councilmember Drew Glover
This Wednesday I went to the “Ross Camp” with some of the interns that work with me at the Resource Center for Nonviolence to get an update on the situation and to engage people in a conversation about poverty. As we arrived we met Mel Nunez, a dedicated advocate for the poor and representative from our local faith communities. [Photo: The view of the Ross Camp from the River Street side.]
We joined him in passing out anti-microbial “Bombas” socks, fresh apples, salad greens, spinach and water. It was almost immediately after we arrived that people began to approach us expressing their need for food, materials and clothing.

One man asked if we had any bandages. We replied, “no, we are sorry” as he proceeded to gently lift up his pant leg to expose a hole in his shin, about the diameter of a tennis ball. The oozing wound had been painted over with what looked like plaster in an attempt to protect it from infection. I had to look away because it was so bad. We encouraged him to go to the Homeless Persons Health Project to get treatment and then we continued to walk through the camp.

As we reached the far end, Mel showed us the hole that had been cut in the fence by residents for additional access and fire safety. Community members from the surrounding area have suggested moving the main entrance off the river walk and over to River Street, but after assessing the terrain it seems like that may be difficult.

As we walked back though the camp and distributed the last of the apples, the glaring reality that we had an insufficient amount of materials on hand was clear. I am encouraged to see many private citizens and non-profit groups have stepped up to offer mutual aid, harm reduction and compassion to the people in the camp. As a City, we need to be doing more.

We need action NOW in Santa Cruz, not more reports or updates. Conversations and brainstorming is always important, but now is the time we need action. That is why I have been working for the last three weeks, alongside fellow Councilmembers, interns, advocates and people experiencing homelessness, on creating actionable policies that can be implemented now. We have solutions for the camps, solutions for RVs and car camping, solutions for zoning and the bureaucratic obstacles that have slowed action in the past. We have solutions for access to bathrooms and hygiene facilities, survival materials and more.

There are those within the City Council that support the items for action at this next Council meeting on February 12th, and I applaud them. However, there are those who are slowing us down. Specifically, it is the Mayor that is making it difficult for us to take any action at the next City Council meeting.

After having submitted the attached items for the agenda, Mayor Watkins refused to agendize the issues citing the reason that it would make the meeting go “too long” into the evening. Instead, we will hear a report from the City Manager’s office and the Homeless 2x2 Committee made up of reps from the City and the County. After speaking with staff, it is my understanding that these report-based agenda items will not allow for any action by the City Council other then to instruct staff to look into additional research.

I believe that this illustrates a severe lack of urgency regarding this issue. Instead of taking action that can help alleviate the pressure our communities are feeling from the results of homelessness, and the suffering being experienced by those who are currently unhoused, the Mayor has agendized more discussion. I can understand what they Mayor may be trying to do and I think she is a good person, but needless to say, I am disappointed.

So, now, I turn to the community for support.

Join me. Join me in demanding action. What I need from you is to write letters to the Mayor, and the rest of City Council, urging them to prioritize the items that I submitted. Let them know that now is the time for action and continued delays will only exacerbate the problem. Your letters will go on record and provide me with the support I need to help encourage my colleagues to act.

You can see all of the draft agenda report and draft ordinance language here:

Email them at this address: citycouncil [at]

Thank you for your compassion. Thank you for your energy. Thank you for your dedication to equity, justice and to ensuring people, no matter their economic status, are ensured their basic human rights.

In community and solidarity,
Councilmember Drew Glover
City of Santa Cruz
dglover [at]
by Santa Cruz City Councilmember Drew Glover
Mel Nunez and Resource Center for Nonviolence interns Bernardita and Jannike distribute materials and food to people at the camp.
§Emergency Access
by Santa Cruz City Councilmember Drew Glover
Mel shows Bernardita, Jannike and I the hole in the fence at the back of the camp that has been created to provide additional fire safety and an emergency access point.
Add Your Comments

Comments (Hide Comments)
by Posner and Norse (rnorse3 [at]
Download and Distribute
by York and Ibarra (posted by Norse)
For those without the $3 to buy the Sunday edition (on-line edition is often not available), Jessica York and Nick Ibarra wrote a profoundly misleading story published yesterday on-line.

The headline reads "Camp End on the Horizon" suggests that the end of the Ross Camp is a done deal. It completely ignores the fact that the proposal is a bait-and-switch number cooked up by the City Manager that requires a majority City Council vote.

The bait was the promise that there'd be a full discussion of the Progressive Coalition's proposals (listed above by Glover); the switch was the reactionary dispersal-and-deportation of the Ross Camp substituted by the City Manager.

It includes lots of glitzy false promises, familiar to regular Council watchers that have already been betrayed by Bernal's lackays Susie O'Hara and Tina Shull.

I give my perspective in the flyer posted in a prior comment.


Santa Cruz homeless camp’s end on horizon as new options arise

City, county partner to find alternative havens for homeless

The homeless encampment behind Ross in the Gateway Plaza has grown to more than 150 people.


PUBLISHED: February 9, 2019 at 3:00 pm | UPDATED: February 9, 2019 at 4:23 pm

SANTA CRUZ — In something of a sequel to 2018, residents of a large and highly public unsanctioned homeless camp will be told this week they have 30 days to relocate to expanded city-sanctioned shelters — pending separate city and county lawmaker approvals Tuesday.

Among several sheltering alternatives planned by March 15 for more than 150 estimated unsheltered camp occupants is the likely reopening of the former city-operated River Street Camp. Previously a highly structured program housing fewer than 50 tents inside a small fenced city-owned lot, the $80,000- to $90,000-a-month encampment was closed in November after several time extensions. The unmanaged tent camp sprung up shortly after its closure along the San Lorenzo River levee behind Gateway Plaza.

An overnight parking program is also being explored as part of a “creative combination” of short-term sheltering options, according to Santa Cruz County Homeless Services Coordinator Rayne Marr.

“Right now, we’re hoping to hit a target of 150 or more shelter beds that we can bring online, and have solidly online, by March 15,” Marr said.
Tannery Arts Center resident and artist Linda Cover, for one, said she would welcome the transition, even if it includes the reopening of the former city-run camp closer to her front door and carries a higher price tag for local government in oversight and operation costs.

Resolving the region’s homelessness issues — due in part to shelter and housing shortages — is not a cheap or easy matter, Cover said.

“You can be a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) if it’s done poorly, but you can’t be a NIMBY if it’s done well,” Cover said of government-run shelters. “You have to have the foresight to look forward and I think maybe the government might be doing that.”

Safety options
A resident of the River Street Camp, which first opened in March 2018, looks out from his tent. (Shmuel Thaler — Santa Cruz Sentinel file)
Fellow Tannery resident Yasmina Porter, a Tannery leadership council member, said neighbors are asking city officials to provide security patrols for the complex’s campus in coming months, similar to what was provided when the River Street Camp was last active. She said rules, security and law enforcement are key for the housed and unhoused alike, who all struggle with some “bad actors.”

“This proposal that they have on the table, we’ve looked at it and we think it’s a good balance with compassion and security — it’s not just doing one or the other,” Porter said. “We’re going to be paying close attention. If anybody votes against this, we’ll remember it.”

The River Street Camp reopening is one of several stop-gap sheltering options contemplated by city and Santa Cruz County officials in a joint strategy document released Friday. Making immediate use of about $1 million of a combined $10 million in emergency state homeless grant funding coming to the county, officials hope to extend and expand existing seasonal shelter options through June 30 for about $600,000; increase public health and safety infrastructure for $300,000 and launch communications and public engagement efforts for $100,000.

If the plan is approved, Santa Cruz police and rangers will be tasked with stepping up presence and enforcement around the unsanctioned camp prior to its closure, supported by law enforcement from neighboring jurisdictions.

A syringe disposal kiosk would also be installed, and additional portable toilets and hand-washing stations “as appropriate,” according to the plan.

The effort is a prelude to the larger effort to open a year-round, 24/7 shelter for at least 100 people by July 1 — if a site and operator are found that can meet that deadline.

Familiar refrain
A year ago, Santa Cruz heard a three-part plan that began with moving a similar large and partially managed homeless encampment from San Lorenzo Park’s Benchlands area to the River Street Camp, at 1220 River St. Phases two and three, which were a temporary new shelter site and final permanent “navigation-style” emergency homeless shelter and day services center, never came to fruition, however.

The San Lorenzo Park Benchlands was still a vibrant homeless encampment as its closure was pending in March. (Shmuel Thaler — Santa Cruz Sentinel file)

The effort’s 2019 reboot, according to officials, has stronger footing with the backing of the emergency state grant funding. Potential homeless shelter and program operators have until Feb. 22 to submit their pitches for the multiyear funding. Officials subsequently are giving themselves until April to determine if a viable long-term shelter operator and site exist, with plans to launch the new year-round program by July 1. The River Street Camp will need to close by that same date for use as an equipment staging area for a Water Department project.

Operators for the temporary shelter options were given until Friday to request backing for temporary shelter options, such as expanding the Warming Center Program and faith-based rotating shelters.

Follow the leader
At the time of the Benchlands homeless encampment’s February 2018 camp closure, City Manager Martín Bernal sent out a public statement that it was unlikely that all residents of the unsanctioned camp would just pick up and relocate to the new city-run site.

Asked if the Gateway Plaza-adjacent camp residents were likely to relocate into chosen sites in the coming month, county spokesman Jason Hoppin said the idea that there are people who ‘would rather be homeless’ was untrue.

“I don’t know if everybody who is at the Gateway camp right now is going to end up in a shelter — that’s kind of up to them,” Hoppin said during an interview Thursday. “Ninety-eight percent of the population that is homeless would rather have a bed. There’s some people that can’t go into shelters because they’re a danger to others, but if we can take care of the other 98 percent, we’ll have a much smaller problem to deal with, and that’s where other programs might come into play.”

In addition to the River Street Camp’s return, officials also are looking to reopen about 40 beds at the Salvation Army on Laurel Street for dinner, breakfast and overnight stays for homeless families, women, children and those with disabilities. The Santa Cruz building was used as one of two North County emergency winter shelter sites for the previous two winters, though officials opted not to reopen it this year, effectively halving the year’s traditional winter shelter options.

If you go
Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meeting
When: 9 a.m., Tuesday.
Where: Governmental Center Building, 701 Ocean St.
Santa Cruz City Council meeting.
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Where: City Hall, 809 Center St.
At issue: Homelessness sheltering options.
by Grateful4AllKindActs
Thank you to all beings that are trying to help human beings without safe shelter, water & food. We appreciate the good work Robert & others have done in this regard. We are grateful for all acts of kindness & for the Earth, Sky & Water Protectors. One People One Earth
by Pat Colby
Study after study has proven the only solution to counter homelessness is housing. Why has Santa Cruz not yet built that solution in the form low income and truly affordable housing. They just keep throwing money down the drain with one failed model after another.

All the talk, idea rallies, and community meetings end up at the same point. Building housing for the gap of low income folks like the elderly, disabled and working poor is the solution. Yet Santa Cruz city continues to take up the last few morsels of land to build only luxury apartments without any form of affordable housing benefits. Not even the 6-8 units out of 200.

Shame on you Santa Cruz corrupt leaders. Time for action time for change turn the 10 million dollars into housing then those people won't be homeless anymore. Don't let the former status quo all in for developers, real estate and big money old city council corrupt steal from the people anymore.

If Mayor Walkins continues to violate the the laws and rules of her position by blocking the majority from going forward than recall her or sanction her. If she misuses her mayoral position to violate the "color of law" to exclude the people's civil rights and the will of the people than she needs to be reported to the proper federal agencies and removed. No more status quo it doesn't work.

Time for change, Time for action! Bigots and haters are free to move somewhere else. This town belongs to all its citizens!
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$60.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network