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Saying No to the "Punish the No-Permit Protesters" Law
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]
Monday Jun 21st, 2021 9:18 PM
Keith McHenry's Food Not Bombs facebook page has a one sentence descriptive protest against the permits-for-protest law. Its 2nd reading is coming up as item #40 at City Council on the June 22nd afternoon agenda. Likely around mid or late afternoon. I also include Keith's quoting of some sections of the law, and my earlier commentary on the law from 2013.
I didn't like the look of this law when I saw it on the "City Council" agenda two weeks ago. "City Council" is in quotes because I think it is meeting without justification without the public. The semblance of any kind of real democracy here is illusory.

I suggest that most protests in the last decade, and certainly in the last year, would have been illegal under the law--both as it currently stands and as it will be rubberstamped at the Council meeting. The fact that police and city pencilnecks haven't used it is not a good reason to continue it.

I wrote about this law as it's currently on the books back in 2013 at "New Public Assembly Restrictions Up For Initial Vote Tuesday 11-26 at City Council" at

A followup article was at ("Constricting and Restricting Public Assembly Back at City Council ").

Since City Council increases the police budget, ignores public comment, and rolls along on its own merry way, my best suggestion is to ignore this ordinance and remember that the First Amendment is your permit.

For those who worry about legality, judge for yourself whether you want city bureaucrats to have the kind of power specified in the newest iteration of this law.

On the Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs facebook page, Keith McHenry quotes at length from the upcoming law. He then sums up his concern: "PUBLIC PROTESTS IN SANTA CRUZ WILL REQUIRE PERMISSION FROM THE CITY PERMIT OFFICER"

Read the selections below and weep...

2nd Reading and Final Adoption of Ordinance No. 2021-13 Amending Chapters 10.64, 10.65, and 4.02 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code Pertaining to Special Events (PR)

Motion to adopt Ordinance No. 2021-13 amending Chapters 10.64, 10.65, and 4.02 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code related to Special Events.

As used in this chapter, a “public gathering and expression event”, consistent with the definition in 10.65.040, is a noncommercial public assembly, the primary purpose of which is the exercise of the participants’ constitutional rights of free speech and assembly:
(a) Which is scheduled to take place on public property; a city sidewalk, alley or other right-ofway; city park; city beach; and/or city facility; and/or
(b) Which is likely to obstruct, delay or interfere with the normal flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic; and/or
(c) Which due to the crowd it generates, restricts access to or use of sidewalks, parks, beaches or other public areas; and/or
(d) Which will result in the placement of structures or objects on streets or sidewalks exceeding twelve square feet in size or six feet in height; and/or
(e) Which may result in donations for non-profit organizations; and/or (f) Which will have more than fifty participants; and/or
(g) Which may require additional temporary toilet and sanitary facilities if such facilities already available will be inadequate to meet the need created by event participants; and/or ORDINANCE NO. 2021-13 20
(h) Which will be scheduled for longer than one hour; and/or (i) Displays and/or gatherings that are scheduled for longer than one day, which are scheduled overnight, or which require a street closure shall be governed by Chapter 10.64; and/or
(j) Rally and/or marches to be conducted on a city street rather than a city sidewalk require a street closure and are subject to the conditions of Chapter 10.64.

10.65.060 PERMIT REQUIRED. Any person or organization intending to conduct a public gathering and expression event in the city of Santa Cruz shall first obtain a permit from the permit officer.

10.65.070 EXCEPTIONS. A permit is not required for the following events:
(a) An event held exclusively within a city park:
1) Which does not have the potential to cause or is not anticipated to cause an impact as described in Section 10.65.050. Although a permit under this chapter may not be needed, applications, reservations, fees, and other conditions may be required by the city’s parks and recreation department in order to use a city park, beach, facility, and/or other areas within the parks and recreation department’s jurisdiction.
2) The permit officer shall determine if the proposed event nonetheless has the potential to cause an impact such as that described in Section 10.65.050 to require a permit. The permit officer shall make this determination and inform the event organizer as soon as reasonably practicable from the time the permit officer is notified of the proposed event so as not to frustrate the purpose or timing of the event when time is of the essence. The permit officer may then require the event organizer to comply with the provisions of this chapter or to submit an application pursuant to Chapter 10.64.
(b) A public gathering and expression event which in the estimation of the permit officer, and for which the event organizer makes the following guarantees to the satisfaction of the permit officer that the event:
1) Involves less than fifty participants;
2) Participants will assemble and/or march only on sidewalks;
3) Participants will cross streets only at crosswalks in units of twenty-five or less allowing vehicles to pass between each unit;
4) Participants will provide adult monitors who will assist in crossings as needed;
5) Participants will obey all traffic controls and regulations; ORDINANCE NO. 2021-13 21
6) Participants will not obstruct sidewalks or otherwise impede the orderly flow of foot traffic on sidewalks;
7) Participants will not place structures or objects on sidewalks exceeding twelve square feet in size or six feet in height between sunset and sunrise;
😎 Participants will obey all applicable laws, statutes and ordinances;
9) Participants will not obstruct necessary maintenance and cleaning of streets, sidewalks, or other public facilities;
10) Adequate toilet and sanitary facilities are available. If in the estimation of the permit officer toilet or sanitary facilities will be inadequate to meet the need for such facilities created by event participants, the organizer of the event shall meet with the city department responsible for the public facility where the event is to take place and reach an agreement for the provision of additional temporary toilet and sanitary facilities, or otherwise provide for adequate facilities;
11) Any signage used will not be of such a dimension or used in such a manner that such signage may impede or obstruct pedestrians on sidewalks or vehicles on streets.

The event permit shall be issued when:
(a) The application has been approved;
(b) The applicant has agreed in writing to comply with the terms and conditions of the permit;
(c) All other applicable requirements of this chapter have been satisfied.
The permit is not assignable or transferable. The permit does not entitle the permittee to any vested property rights.

A police officer or city staff may revoke the event permit during the event if he or she finds either:
(a) That the event has deviated from or will deviate from its approved route or area; or
(b) Event participants are violating the law or permit conditions. City staff shall not revoke the permit for either of these reasons unless the city staff first advises the participants of their
route deviation, law violation or permit condition violation and provides them with an opportunity to correct same.

AYES: Councilmembers Watkins, Kalantari-Johnson, Brown, Cummings, Golder; Vice Mayor Brunner; Mayor Meyers.
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