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Triple Trouble Tuesday: Trio of Terrible Items Scars Council Agenda

by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Bad news for buskers, street vendors, and rv-dwellers hits the City Council agenda Tuesday April 12th on items 24, 30, and 31 in yet another "public not wanted" Zoomed meeting.
A "strangle the street vendors" ordinance severely limits street vending, reinstitutes the "stay in your box" space restrictions on Pacific Avenue, and awards special-interest legislation for brick-and-mortar stores and in a return to the old regime

The backward-looking City Council laid out their "undo the Martin v. Boise" decision last summer with the CSSO restored Sleeping/Camping Ban. We witnessed a back-from-the-grave RV ban previously vetoed by the whole Coastal Commission in 2016 last fall. Last month it was the street vendors turn to feel City Council's bad-spirited backstab. as they slip past the legislature's 2019 law temporarily cancelling the City's repressive Downtown and Beach St. ordinances.

Now it's the turn of anyone involved in a public protest, parade, demonstration, or regular outdoors event to face a "no more Black Lives Matter or Food Not Bombs" events decree.
With the power to permit being the power to destroy, City staff under making a thinly-disguised preemptive strike on the power of people to speak out and walk out against its gentrification agenda.

THREE BAD LAWS: READ 'EM AND WEEP
The afternoon session begins at 1 p.m. (for those with computer access. The promise to restore public meetings, easily doable in the Civic Auditorium if COVID concerns continue) has been forgotten. None of the ordinance votes is scheduled for a time certain.

Item #24: (sometime after the Consent Agenda is rubberstamped)

2nd Reading and Final Adoption of Ordinance No. 2022-03 Repealing Santa Cruz Municipal Code ("SCMC") Chapter 5.81 ("Vending and Display Devices on City Property") and Adding SCMC Chapter 5.82 (CM)

Item #30
Public Gathering and Expression Events Ordinance Amendment (CA)

Item #31 (after Oral Communications at 6 PM)
City Council Review of the Planning Commission’s Approval of the Coastal and Design Permits to Authorize the Development Associated with the Amended Municipal Code Pertaining to the Parking of Oversized Vehicles and to Implement City-wide Safe Parking Programs for Unhoused City Residents Living in Oversized Vehicles in the City of Santa Cruz (PL)

TO VIEW THE AGENDA PACKET, GO TO https://www.cityofsantacruz.com/government/city-council/council-meetings

BAD NEWS BENEATH THE BUREAUCRATIC BABBLE:
On Item #24: The ordinance requires permits for vending any more than a few times a year, restores the constricted "boxes" on Pacific Avenue, and funds a restrictive bureaucratic system which discourages active street life to mention only a few problems.

On Item #30: In brief the new ordinance requires permits for any regular protests, gives wide powers to city officials and police to restrict such protests, bans walking in the streets without a permit or "obstructing" the sidewalks, requires protesters to provide sanitary facilities, and makes regular events at the Town Clock by Food Not Bombs as currently conducted a crime. It also provides for the punishment of anyone who knowingly joins such an unpermited protest.

On Item #31: There are no current provisions for Safe Parking but only aspirations to a future such program.

The City Council apparently plans to ignore the Planning Commission's minor liberalizations of the Oversized Vehicle Ordinance and pretend it's still on the fast track (to likely rejection at the Coastal Commission). The City Administrator refused to accept an appeal by Reggie Meisler and a homeless vehicle dweller--demanding another $700 to do so. However Councilmember Renee Golder's move to put the issue on the agenda breezed through free of charge.

NET RADIO DISCUSSION OF THE LAWS
The three ordinances are briefly discussed on my Sunday Free Radio Santa Cruz show, archived at https://www1.huffsantacruz.org/lost/1%20FRSC%204-10-22.mp3 (49 minutes into the audio file).

INCOMMUNICADO COUNCIL
I only made spotty contact with the City Council meeting on Zoom--much of it was jerky and impossible to hear in spots while trying to watch on Community TV. This was in spite of pleas to City Manager Bonnie Bush (who finally responded in the evening).

Transmission was better by Zoom, but still frozen at times. Still, the whole sealed-off meeting could have been held in the Civic Auditorium or even City Council chambers with speakers broadcasting into the courtyard. This could have been done throughout 2020 and 2021 as the Board of Supervisors has reportedly done.

Apparently the Council majority has the desire to work in a vacuum, and the Cummings-Brown minority has no wish to "upset" the majority by making restored public meetings a demand rather than a timid apologetic occasional suggestion.

AWAY WITH VENDORS, PROTESTERS, AND RVs
The votes felt pretty prefabricated and predictable: 5-2 passage of the "Venders, Vamoose!" law (now goes into effect May 14th or so); the first reading of the "Flush Away Food-Not-Bombs" Public Meetings law (comes back in two weeks for rubberstamping); and the "Rub Out the Reforms" treatment of the OVO design and coastal permits--appealed by the ACLU, Santa Cruz Cares, and the Disability Rights Coalition.

I'll be playing some of the City Council public input on my Sunday radio show--which will be archived at https://www1.huffsantacruz.org/lost/1%20FRSC%204-17-22.mp3 .

BENCHLANDS BALONEY
The City Manager's report-for me usually the most important part of the meeting, since it theoretically allows a fleeting glimpse into Matt Huffaker's latest schemes or sunny claims about homeless services and sweeps.

Huffaker announced that the Benchlands would be cleared in July with no indication of where folks were to go. In March, Huffaker had implicitly designated the Benchlands as a storage and shelter space which would allow enforcement of the CSSO. Though I haven't heard of any CSSO citations being given, there have been plenty of unnecessary sweeps: the Pogonip, Coral St. sidewalk, tent row in front of "Housing Matters", the 1st Hells Trail sweep,the extensive Camp Paradise encampment next to the cemetery, the 2nd Hells Trail Sweep, & the Levee sweeps.

Most of these sweeps were illegal-- being done in violation of the unmet storage/shelter provisions of the CSSO. All were constitutional--being violations of the Martin v. Boise ruling.

Huffaker's designation of the Benchlands as a "sanctioned" campground in March is a legal crutch to supposedly immunize City sweepsters from legal action by the ACLU and Disability Rights Coalition (perhaps the S.C. Homeless Union too---if it resumes activity). This assumes he's serious and isn't simply trying to appease the loud Westside "run 'em out of town" chorus with its new "caring" veneer.

For Huffaker's written statements regarding the Benchlands as CSSO-compliant campground and his intention of evicting it in July, see https://ecm.cityofsantacruz.com/OnBaseAgendaOnline/Documents/ViewDocument/Summary%20Sheet%20for%20-%20Homelessness%20Response%20Programming%20Quarterly%20Update%2C%20Homeless.pdf?meetingId=1867&documentType=Agenda&itemId=21767&publishId=29298&isSection=false
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