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Demonstrators Keep the Restrooms Open at Louden Nelson Center
by Alex Darocy (alex [at] alexdarocy.com)
Tuesday Sep 3rd, 2019 7:20 PM
Demonstrators staged sit-ins today in the men's and women's restrooms at Louden Nelson Center in Santa Cruz, effectively keeping the facilities open to the public for an extended period of time. Once open to all, the Louden Nelson restrooms have been closed to the public since 2018, which staff claims is due to complaints of vandalism and drug use. To enter the restrooms, a person must either be a patron or customer of the center, and punch in an electronic pass-code provided by the attendant at the front counter. Those at the demonstration were particularly concerned about the effects the restroom closures have had on homeless residents in the area, who often congregate in the park adjacent to the Louden Nelson Center where there are no other services. [Top photo: During the demonstration today, Rabbi Philip Posner occupies the men's restroom at Louden Nelson Center in order to keep it open to the public. Scroll down for more photos.]
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Demonstrators were able to gain entry to the restrooms today during the senior lunch service, when the doors are sometimes left open. They expected that attendants would arrive and lock the facilities back up after the luncheon was over, but that did not occur, and the public was allowed to enter the restrooms freely while demonstrators sat quietly by.

Gloria Rovay, who occupied the women's restroom for quite some time, noted that there were six stalls in that bathroom. She said that they would not see the same use now that the restrooms are being locked.

"This place has been around for a long time," Rovay said. "This is a community center. What has changed?"

Rovay said she believes the closure of the restrooms was motivated by a segment of the community that does not want to see or interact with homeless people.

"You can't cut out a piece of society," she said. "They don't want to see them anywhere."

As for reports of drug use, vandalism, and needle litter in the Louden Nelson Center, Rovay said the damage could have been done by anyone, and wondered how the center's staff knew it was from homeless people or drug users. She thinks that requiring members of the public to sign in at the front desk in order to gain access to the restroom code could be a quick and easy fix to the problem, as opposed to going to the trouble and expense of hiring bathroom attendants, which has been proposed by some in the community.

Rovay also thinks that public drug use has been on the increase downtown due to the remote location of the local needle exchange, which is presently operating out of the County Health Center. Rovay thinks there should be syringe services downtown, which would reduce the number of discarded needles.

Sharps disposal kiosks would also help reduce needle litter at the Louden Nelson Center, she said.


For more information about the effort to re-open the restrooms at Louden Nelson Center, see:

Santa Cruz County Homeless Advocates/Santa Cruz California Homeless Union
https://www.facebook.com/groups/SantaCruzCountyHomelessAdvocates/

Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom (HUFF)
http://www.huffsantacruz.org/
https://www.facebook.com/HUFFSantaCruz/


All photos copyright 2019 by Alex Darocy. Re-use is by permission only.
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by Alex Darocy Tuesday Sep 3rd, 2019 7:20 PM
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by Alex Darocy Tuesday Sep 3rd, 2019 7:20 PM
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by Alex Darocy Tuesday Sep 3rd, 2019 7:20 PM
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by Alex Darocy Tuesday Sep 3rd, 2019 7:20 PM
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by Alex Darocy Tuesday Sep 3rd, 2019 7:20 PM
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by Alex Darocy Tuesday Sep 3rd, 2019 7:20 PM
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§Louden Nelson Community Center Rules of Conduct
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Sep 3rd, 2019 7:20 PM
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Posted outside of the men's restroom.
§Literature Displayed by Demonstrators
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Sep 3rd, 2019 7:20 PM
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§Louden Nelson Community Center
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Sep 3rd, 2019 7:20 PM
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Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Rabbi Phil Posner and Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Wednesday Sep 4th, 2019 5:50 AM
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The flyer is a duplication of a petition presented by Posner at the last Santa Cruz City Council meeting in a plea to open the Louden Nelson bathrooms. He gathered the business signatures over a period of a few days downtown, showing the general agreement outside City Manager Martin Bernal's staff bureaucracy of concern that community restroom access be restored and unhoused people not be targeted for exclusion.

It was on the table at yesterday's protest and will be available at the Sub Rosa Cafe and at the Food Not Bombs and/or Santa Cruz Union of the Homeless tables at the Food Not Bombs meals 4-6 PM Saturdays and Sundays outside the main post office.
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Wednesday Sep 4th, 2019 6:00 AM
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Another flyer on the protest table outside Louden Nelson yesterday. Also available at the Sub Rosa and FNB events.

This flyer looks forward to future Direct Actions which may be planned today at the Conscience and Action meeting (11 AM Sub Rosa Cafe). Since it appears that only Direct Actions seem to have much impact in this community.

The action to occupy the bathrooms apparently did encourage the Louden Nelson staff to leave the bathrooms open. Though this could be coincidental with a two-week vacation reportedly being taken by "No Access for the Homeless" Supervisor Iseth Rae.

The CACH [Community Advisory Committee on Homelessness] met last night and took no action on Council's 8-27 motion sending the issue to them (for death by subcommittee apparently).

City Council's action and CACH's "bury the Glover homeless recommendations" response was naturally orchestrated by Chair Fred Keeley and Staff "Shadow Chair" Susie O'Hara. O'Hara moonlights as Assistant City Manager and has been a reliable voice for the false "we have lots of shelter" narrative pushed by the Mathews majority on the City Council.
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Wednesday Sep 4th, 2019 6:09 AM
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Another flyer distributed yesterday which looks forward to upcoming events.

In spite of the City Council's directive and the earlier afternoon protest, the CACH Louden Nelson discussion never emerged.

This was in spite of attempts by Serg Kagno to get the issue "on the agenda". Instead Susie O'Hara's proposal to focus CACH's timeline on feasibility and community input along with other generalities carried the day, thanks to a motion by Raphael ("Friends of the Depot Park") Sonnenfeld.
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