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LOCAL Commentary :: Poverty & Urban Development

A Letter to the Santa Cruz City Council

Santa Cruz City Council
809 Center St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Dear Mayor Mathews & Council:

Item Number 19 on the January 10th agenda is bad in and of itself. You are rushing it forward prior to Downtown Commission examination on January 26th. This haste simply mirrors the “put it on the afternoon agenda when no one is looking¨ process used last month for La Bahia, the Coast Santa Cruz Hotel, and, of course, the notorious Downtown Ordinances which have already cost the city time and money in its losing lawsuit with John Maurer (also on your afternoon agenda).

All this is being done without any clear police stats that show any real problem. We are asked to take Chief Skerry’s views ¨?on faith?. After the disgraceful performance of the SCPD in our own ¨?spying on the public? scandal, we deserve better.

This is being proposerd without any prior public meetings with homeless people and homeless service providers.

We´ve already seen the spectacle of homeless people being ticketed for "trespass" for huddling under the Borders eves in the rain. Now the police are being given the power to run off the public after ten minutes.

So when a homeless vet takes refuge in a parking garage, the SCPD and their friendly helpers,the Hosts, will give them ten minutes to leave (to non-existent emergency shelter) in winter weather? How low are we going to bend in Santa Cruz to gentrification schemes, hatched in dark places and set loose on the population?

The staff report is mistaken in supposing there will be no additional financial impact. Clearly there will need to be more money for increased police enforcement. This will be particularly true if the public asserts its right to use publicly-funded space for more than ten (!)minutes or to show solidarity with the poor. You may remember the cost of enforcing the Mathews-Rotkin “no sitting? law in 1994.

The police department is a poor judge of public policy if it acts without meaningful public input.
It is also little short of outrageous to use staff “fears? as justification for

Why was this report written on December 14th and only released several days before the Council meeting´s first reading of the law? Where is a copy of the ordinance for the public to read? (Only the staff report is on line).

Was Sentinel watchpoodle Shanna McCord intentionally misinformed that this issue was coming up in February, as she writes in her February 7th article?

Why aren´t you waiting at least until the Downtown Commission investigates the matter on January 26th? As it now stands, the Council´s second and final reading of the ordinance (whatever it says), ONE DAY LATER.

It seems clear again the Police Chief and City Manager have the inside track on ramming what is pretty clearly special-interest legislation through the Council in record time at an afternoon session.

Clearly citizens need to speak out against this gentrification-socialcleansing ordinance, deafened as you seem to be by the highpaid highhanded staff. And if this is passed, we need to resist it.

Please save us all time and trouble by (1) requiring real statistics and real problems rather than vague SCPD and staff fears, (2) holding real public hearings that involve consultation with the people affected (i.e. the homeless, staff, merchants), (3) after doing so,allow the Downtown Commission to investigate the matter,and finally (4) not slipping the matter onto an afternoon agenda after misleading the public through the Sentinel when it will be coming up for discussion.

May the public make you responsible, if you refuse to be so yourselves.

Sincerely,

Robert Norse
rnorse3 (at) hotmail.com
423-4833
 
 


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