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Indybay Feature
Yet Another Tightening of the Noose: City Council "Meets" Again Tuesday
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]
Sunday Aug 23rd, 2020 9:10 AM
City Council is slated to rubberstamp more power in City Mangler Martin Bernal's hands, a slamdown of Beach St vendors, a rise in fines for "being in a park after dark", the ability to hire more enforcement personnel, no discussion of the police (or any other part of the) budget, gentrification of Front St., and authorization of the Mayor to "respond to" the Grand Jury's critical report on homelessness.
Continuing its less-than-consistently-audible not-accessible-to-the-public-not-to-mention-the-poor shuttered Council meetings, City Council will be broadcasting from the comfort of their homes (while they still have them). The "meeting" will inevitably ratify staff and City Manager recommendations and edicts Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.

Prior to that in an even more opaque Closed Session, the Council will arrange to buy up Front St. properties in its slamdunk drive to gentrify the downtown and expropriate small businesses as well as eliminate Food Not Bombs from Laurel and Front St.

For those wishing to see the details of the Council's dark doings....

Check out items 1 and 3 of the 11:30 AM Closed Session. You may make a brief shriek for 2 minutes at the start of the session by phoning in (or banging on the windows of the City Manager or his Council underlings).

Then observe in dismay as the following are rubberstamped:

The City Manager and City Attorney's reports (these foretell what the two de facto dictators in town have in store for you).

Consent Agenda Item #7 Ratifying the City Manager's August 14th Executive Order Banning Beach St. vendors and severely restricting those in other locations. Street vendors are also banned from the Wharf, the Main and Cowell Beaches, and Westcliff Drive until October 1st. "Physical distancing" is a new requirement that bans vending on sidewalks less than 16' wide and requires they be 30' away from business entrances. Good luck, Latinx!

Consent Agenda Item #8 Establishing infraction violation (i.e. no jury, no public defender) fines and doubling misdemeanor fines for violating Bernal's orders as they spew forth from his pen (2.20.220 (1)(b)

19;05.0110 Establishing fines for fires that may be used against homeless folks for safe survival fires used for cooking and/or warmth even on safe surfaces.

13.04.011C Nearly doubling harassment (and unpayable) fines for homeless folks sheltering in parks after dark.

Consent Agenda Item #9 Tailwagging for the City Manager's latest attacks on the homeless and expansion of his hiring power: 2020-17 – Closing All Off-Trail Open Space Areas within Pogonip and Sycamore Grove. • 2020-18 – Temporary Modification/Suspension of Personnel Policies

Consent Agenda Item #12 What may feel repressive to some and inadequately protective to others is a Labor Weekend closing of beaches except 4-8 PM and crossing the beaches to swim, surf, wade, or splash.

Consent Public Hearing #17 Restoring with a few changes the severe restrictions on downtown vendors that were lifted by the Jan 2019 state law prohibiting cities from using such laws that discriminate against the poor. It reimposes the "be in the disc-ed sidewalk area boxes", the "move along" law, (with times extended from 1 hr to 4 hrs), the hundreds of dollars in fines, the ban on "creating art" or volunteering services such as massage, etc.

This seems like the opening salvo of Chief Mills' Return of the Camping Ban pack of policy changes he was pushing prior to the COVID crackdown includes 1) Banning Tents During the Day, (2) Making Possession of Syringes a Crime in Public Places, (3) Declaring Pacific Avenue a “Park” to Allow Police-Initiated Stay-Away Orders, (4) Criminalizing Bike Repair in Public Places, (5) Driving Away Vehicular Homes from West Cliff, (6) Increasing Legal Pressure on Homeless “Crime”, (7) Shopping Cart Criminalization.

Check out my critique of this "Drive away the Downtrodden" package at

Agenda Item #22 "authorizes" the anti-homeless mayor Justin Cummings to "respond" to the Grand Jury's critical report on inadequate city homeless services.

The brief blip of Oral Communications on items not on the agenda is at 7 PM and lasts for half an hour. Folks are typically given 2 minutes or left.

To reiterate, there are NO items demilitarizing the police, defunding this armed band, or otherwise considering budget items as some thought would be the case--at least as far as budget analysis went.

The nationwide George Floyd protests, real concerns about the City's unaccountable entrenched police department, and the continued refusal of police to respect either the Constitution (Martin v. Boise decision) or the CDC's shelter-in-place guidelines are all so much excludable background noise for the Santa Cruz City Council.

Meanwhile police pressure on the poor outside is mounting. Particularly striking to me was Abbi Samuels' video of Cooper and Russell, who have reestablished their lone tent outside the Post Office on the broad sidewalk.

They previously had their property snatched by police at Depot Park, arrested for Failure to Appear on a Smoking ticket and got 5 citations in one day a few days ago from the amped up "help squad" of Parks and Recreation Ranger Rousters, recruited by Mills several years ago. There is more to this horror story at Abbi's facebook page in this 13 minute audio posted a day ago. (See:

Free Radio Santa Cruz (FRSC at is down but not out. Evacuation orders have required the removal of the FRSC computer, so our net service has been interrupted until we find a new place to set it up, or the prior location has been declared safe.

I will be posting interviews on this website from time to time as I usually do on my Thursday and Sunday shows. They may also be posted on the HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) website at as well as on the HUFF facebook page. HUFF and FRSC can still receive messages and reports at 831-423-4833.
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