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LOCAL Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights

Tulare Homeless Under Fire

Green Party activist David Silva reports on the harassment of the homeless in Tulare in the Central Valley. Silva will be speaking on the issue between 11 and noon Sunday September 12 on Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.1 FM or at The show will be archived at .
The following report is from Green Party activist David Silva, who attempted three times to put before the voters a Sleeping Ban Repeal Initiative in Santa Cruz when he lived here in the late 90's.

He will be speaking on Bathrobespierre's Broadsides on Free Radio Santa Cruz Sunday September 12th sometime between 11 AM and noon.

--Robert Norse

---------- Forwarded Message ----------

Julie, good luck with your article on homeless issues downtown. It certainly is one of the most difficult issues to handle correctly. Usually most communities find that cities are burdened with responsibilities that counties refuse to take up and the homeless are left unserved except for the random help from a few stubborn religious people that must ignore threats by politicians. Here is the letter to the editors I sent in a couple of days ago. Maybe there is something in it that will help your approach. I forgot to mention in the letter to the editor that communities are required by law to open their Armory for sleeping. In rainy season it must be opened by Oct 15th and in regular winter it must be opened by Nov. 15th. I don't think we are using this legally required option here. There was a move in the State Assembly to make it mandatory year round but I don't know if that got through or not.

Here is the somewhat over-the-top and angry article in response to the TIP report at Tuesday nights City Council Meeting:


There was a remarkable scheduled citizen presentation at the Tulare City Council Tuesday night. The format did not allow for public input so it seems natural for me to turn to the editors and try to inform the people of some incredibly shortsighted mistakes made in the city’s name of an unabashed criminal nature.

The citizen introduced by a staff person and representing the actions of TIP (Tulare Improvement Program) gave his presentation. It was a report of their great but mysterious success in getting rid of, disappearing, not knowing what happened to the two-thirds of the homeless that used to bother them. Their success story goes something like this: “We simply went from store to store and business to business and explained to them that if they give food to homeless people then they are enabling them and we’re trying to do something here to get rid of them, you see."

The intimidated store keepers were, I guess, hesitant to respond, but since not that many really gave food to the homeless on the downtown streets anyway well then that part of their POGROM was in place. They managed to close most of the shelters, round up bedding and personal property "just everywhere that was very dirty"; they threatened to ticket church people who fed homeless in the most obvious park. And viola. “ We don’t know where they went but they’re gone.? Talk about avoiding the problem and having it bite you in the rear later.

It is hard to believe that so many crimes were committed and openly bragged about in our City Council. Despite repeated refrains that they were always taking the dignity and respect of the homeless into mind, I don’t know when they practiced those lacking virtues in their deeds.

Hopefully, next Tuesday when the citizen-designate speaker from the Vineyard Church reports on their experiences with the homeless and their good deeds, then we will begin to have some reality upon which to base some sane approach to engaging the homeless. Not only must we remember that veterans are one of the most prominent groups of the homeless but the homeless are very diverse, with many survivors of cancer and other family tragedies and with many former small businessmen amongst their ranks.

Federal, State, and local services do not kick-in for people who bottom out but still have resources like a second car. Consequently many small businessmen and their families live in RV’s and if not caught by some safety net end up split up and dislocated. This diverse community could include anyone of us. Compassion must find its way beyond words and work through actions and good deeds.

I call upon the good citizens of Tulare to stop the “purge? of the homeless and to insist that the city, the county and the agencies that represent them make it easier for the homeless to get back into the main flow if they so desire and if they are ready. So many have been ready for some housing for so long. Continual shelters are not an end but a means to transition. To shut down shelters and to criminalize the religious who serve food is worst than Stalin. Done ever so politely and with such small minded self righteousness it is hard to shake these agents of the pogrom awake. I am counting on the good citizens of Tulare to ask the city leaders what they are doing to help the situation not bury and hide it.

There are many positive programs that can help homeless in transition. Community Gardens that allow membership for their labor at their availability are always very successful in getting homeless back in to housing. It is amazing when you are both centered around the tasks of a community garden and not having to worry about food for you and your family continually you can actually see clear to a job interview.

Thrift stores and community groups can sponsor clothing for job interviews. Friends of the city can provide phone message services for the homeless so they can leave job resumes. Many, many more positive easy things can be done. First we must stop this “clean-up? of downtown of “undesirables? and all roll up our sleeves and help not hide the homeless.

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Re: Tulare Homeless Under Fire

Thanks to David Silva for this report on the Tulare homeless. In Santa Cruz we determined through the 2000 homeless census and the 2000 Needs Assessment Survey that as many as a third of homeless people are minors under age 18. We don't expect minors to have jobs when they should be in school. Many of our homeless are disabled, either physically or mentally and cannot work. Since it is so difficult to apply for and to recieve social security benefits---even when eligible---many have no income while they are waiting for the bureaucracy to catch up with them.

The Santa Ana Eichhorn decision reported that only 8% of homeless people are able-bodied and not looking for work. Pretty much, if they can work, they are working.

In Santa Cruz, 40% of our homeless are employed and 10% are employed fulltime.

Perhaps as many as 30% have some sort of alcohol or drug dependancy. This still means that the majority of homeless people do not have a problem with alcohol or drugs.

As many as 75% of our homeless last had housing in Santa Cruz County. They are not "flocking here" from all over as Mike Rotkin likes to say. They are our own economic refugees---who could not keep up with the low wages and and the high cost of housing.

We as a people, are responsible for helping them. Every major religion teaches this. Even the "Godless" Communists take care of each of its citizens. But only in wealthy American communities has it become okay to disrupt, displace, deny, drive off, diss, and villify those who need our help more than any of our other citizens. Downtown merchants close off bathrooms so homeless people can't use them. Julie Hendee of the City's Redevelopment Agency, ON OUR DIME!!, has been pressuring church groups to not feed the hungry and homeless downtown.

Ed Porter (up for re-election) put forward the "move-along" law which mostly affects political tables which become illegal after only one hour's time.

Mayor Scott Kennedy actually wrote me a letter claiming that the Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010 A) which criminalizes homeless people if they dare to fall asleep between 11PM and 8:30AM ANYWHERE in the city limits inside of a vehicle or out of doors ACTUALLY HELPS HOMELESS PEOPLE!!!

How can NO SLEEP and a $54 ticket HELP homeless people to function, to get a job, or to get into housing? He's up for re-election too!!

For more info: come to a HUFF meeting. We meet every WED. at 8:30AM at Baker's Square Restaurant on Ocean St. Free coffee if you are homeless!!!

Re: Tulare Homeless Under Fire

"We as a people, are responsible for helping them. Every major religion teaches this. "

You say "as a people", but the solutions you propose create a burden for us as individuals.

No one is responsible for anyone else, except parents for their children. If your religion teaches you otherwise, kindly respect my right not to follow YOUR religion. The Crusades ended a long time ago, buddy.

How much money do you donate to the poor each year? Yeah, that's what I thought.

And yet how much money do you try to extort from the working middle-class via coercive taxation, to give to the poor?

Nevermind the rich. They have tax shelters, that's why they're rich. It's just us middle-class working shmucks who get screwed by Robin Hood socialism in the end.

The poor dont even get that much out of it. Fucking bureacrats in the welfare machinery soak most of it up. But that never stops liberals from wanting to pour in more of what isn't even theirs.

Re: Tulare Homeless Under Fire

September 22, 2004

Arrests cap downtown, park drug sting
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — A dozen drug-dealing suspects were jailed by day’s end Monday as Santa Cruz police neared the end of a 30-day undercover operation targeting drug sales in San Lorenzo Park and on Pacific Avenue.

Police are still searching for 13 street-level marijuana dealers for whom they have warrants, Lt. Steve Clark said Tuesday.

The operation targeted the sale of marijuana, which police say is the most prevalent drug being sold in the problem spots, though heroin and methamphetamine are also available. On Pacific Avenue, the sales were made near the corner of Soquel Avenue and near the Metro Center, said Sgt. Tony Parker, who launched the program.

"I would have liked to get more, but we achieved our goal, and we’ll definitely consider doing it again," Parker said. "We want to make sure we pass on the message that downtown Santa Cruz and its parks are a place for kids, families and others, but not for drug dealers."

Arrested Monday on suspicion of selling marijuana, a felony, were Mark Kulus, 44, Kenneth Reaves, 32, Christopher Kinman, 28, Sterling King, 19, Jonathan Cothran, 19, Tazmanian Crimmins, 24, Mario Sanchez, 25, and Kenneth Botts, Michael Licata and Robert Tilman, all age 18.

Additionally, an unidentified 17-year-old girl was arrested and Ivan Usow, 29, was arrested for conspiring with others to sell drugs.

Most of those arrested have no fixed address and were selling drugs daily, police said.


Typically, the sellers used lookouts or associates who would lead buyers to the sellers, Clark said.

Parker launched the operation after noticing brazen drug activity in the park and downtown while on patrol this summer, Clark said, adding that officers get complaints about both areas. The sting was accelerated after two recent stabbings in the park, he said.

"We wanted to make a significant number of arrests as quickly as possible due to the escalating level of violence in the park," Clark said.

Officers reported "unusual ease" in conducting the blatant sales, he said, and noticed that a group of sellers traveled back and forth between Pacific Avenue and the riverside park, selling at the park during the day and later on the avenue. Officers were able to buy drugs on Pacific Avenue during the day as well, police said.

Grant funds paid for the overtime hours, Clark said.

He noted the aesthetic damage associated with some of the dealers.

"They leave all kinds of trash behind, and I don’t know what they do to the sidewalk, but it looks like a herd of gypsies lived there when they leave," he said.

"You can be poor and you can be homeless, but it’s not OK to treat the city streets like that, and it’s not OK to sell drugs on our streets."

Contact Cathy Redfern at credfern (at)


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