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Don't Fence us Out!

As the City of Santa Cruz is poised to move the railing at the Costa Brava Planter on Pacific Ave., HUFF activists begin staffing informational tables, organizing protests, and have called for a boycott of the nearby Pacific Trading Company for its complicity in this attack on peaceful assembly.
Santa Cruz, Ca. -- In what critics call a behind the scenes process, City Manager Dick Wilson has approved the fencing out of the public seating area at a planter located downtown on Pacific Ave. at Walnut Ave. No public hearings were held on the removal of seating space for 30 people and at an expense of between $7000 and $12,000 during an extreme budget crisis.

HUFF has called for a boycott of the nearby Pacific Trading Company for pressuring City officials with a blatant, anti-homeless agenda involving the loss of a valuable public resource. The manager had been supplying RDA analyst Julie Hendee with three months of a daily log of activities at the planter and near her store as "evidence" of a public nuisance at the planter. Activist Thomas Leavitt said "This will not even solve the problem. People will just move to some other place."

HUFF began tabling today (June 4th) at 1:30PM near the Costa Brava Planter and will continue each afternoon thru Friday when some individuals are planning on chaining themselves to the planter fence to oppose its removal and replacement with the new fence. Parks and Rec staffer, Steve Hammack said the purchase order has already been cut and the new railing is under construction right now, and ready to install next week.
Planter 015-02-EMail.jpg


In February, 2002, the City's Redevelopment Agency privatized the planter near Sushi Now! in order to banish those who gathered there. Workers at Rosie McCann's Irish Pub commented that all the problems began right after the planter near New Leaf Market was privatized.

A petition will be available at the HUFF table for those who oppose the fencing out of the public seating space citing the expense, the lack of a public process, the futility of the effort, to oppose the trend of privitization of public spaces, and the anti-homeless bigotry which motivated moving the fence in the first place. Those who oppose the loss of public seating are urged to call Mayor Emily Reilly at (831) 420-5020 and voice their opposition.

for more information: call Becky Johnson at (831) 429-8529 or leave a message on the HUFFline at (831) 423-HUFF

Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom is an all volunteer organization which advocates for the civil rights of homeless and poor people. HUFF meets every Wednesday at 8:30AM at Baker's Square Restaurant at 1107 Ocean St. Santa Cruz, Ca.


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Re: Don't Fence us Out!

what planter/seating are you refering to?

if possible, could you post a photo up here?

that would be nice.

thank you

-Boulder Creek

Update on the War Against the Poor

The planter in question is in front of the Pacific Trading Company, the Costa Brava Restaurant, and Rosie McCann's at Walnut and Pacific on Pacific Avenue.

Moments we arrived around 2:15 p.m., the Pacific Trading Company called the police to complain we were "blocking the sidewalk." Since we were not, we declined to move.

Police Officer Wendy Bines, on her own initiative after going to City Attorney John Barisone, then threatened to give me a $162 ticket unless I moved at least 100' away under the Rotkins-Matthew "Move Along" law which requires political tablers to move every hour and not return for twenty-four.

I moved up the street to Borders and a second group of activists set up their table in the spot I'd left and began circulating an identical petition. They were threatened with a ticket after 60 minutes.

Those interested in merry-go-round tabling and/or going to jail to challenge the latest "petition to restore public space, get hassled" city council law, contact HUFF at 423-HUFF.

To help with tabling on Thursday June 5th or Friday June 6th, contact Becky Johnson at 429-8529. The removal of the fence is due to begin June 6th, according to Assistant City Manager Martin Bernal.

just change the name

I know Robert and all the rest of y'all mean well, but "Homeless United for whatever" is a group that's always been run by people who have probably never been homeless and are certainly not homeless now. It's a great thing to agitate for human rights, but you can't speak for homeless people unless -we- pick -you- as spokespeople.

Just change the name. Thanks.

Cooperative solutions

This kind of difficult situation brings into question the very basis of supporting one's community. All of the alternative economics lessons I've received encourage patronization of local businesses to encourage community growth and keep anti-competitive, anti-cultural, profiteering chain stores out of the picture.

What to do when that indispensible value conflicts with other community interests? There aren't many independently owned clothing stores anywhere in America these days. My social conscience made me a customer of Pacific Trading Company, because I wanted to do the right thing for my Santa Cruz economy. (I am also a frequent customer of Costa Brava, though the article didn't seem to directly implicate them as unsavory.)

I simply wish that the owners of the store could see that this kind of heartless attitude towards their own community gives small business a bad name. An organized boycott of stores such as Pacific Trading Company will simply funnel more customers into the corporate swine at Capitola Mall, creating much worse global social consequences than shopping at a store that's unfriendly to the homeless.

Human rights are paramount, and such violators should be held accountable. However, instead of this antagonistic mob drive to boycott an extremely rare and economically desirable local business, the Santa Cruz civilian and economic communities should unite to enlighten such belligerent stores as Pacific Trading Company that, by hurting the homeless, they are hurting themselves.

Then, hopefully, the boycotts can be redirected to more legitimate and threatening targets: Borders, Gap, and Starbucks. :-)

Call me idealistic, but there is always a better way.

Matt Melzer
Senator, UCSC Colleges Nine and Ten

Re: Don't Fence us Out!

That was a pretty thoughtful comment, Matt. I think the "antagonistic mob drive" comment was a bit overstated, though - I remember leaving my torches and pitchfork behind before the leafleting/tabling/picketing. As you know, size isn't always everything, and some "corporate swine" have better policies towards employees and customers than A FEW of the smaller businesses, where the "shopkeeper mentality" allows the biases of the owner to creep into managerial policy, without regard to basic human rights.

The unfortunate fact is that some of the more aggressive businesses have managed to get Council to pass a whole set of ordinances which are shockingly repressive and unconstitutional. They basically want Pacific Avenue to be run like a private mall (where the Supreme Court has ruled that free speech does not apply - Pruneyard decision), except with services, parking, and most policing paid for by the public. Until they buy the street, sidewalks, utiltiies, and police from us, they shouldn't have the right to impose their will on the public's use of OUR space.


Goodbye, bench.

This AM, Wednesday, June 11, contractors working for the City started the expensive removal of this seating space under police guard.

Ugly Architecture from even Uglier Motives

Re: "former Santa Cruzan still homeless"'s comments. I and other HUFFsters are mostly non-homeless--true. Though we're usually pursuing homeless civil rights causes suggested by homeless people who come to our meetings. I've never claimed to be homeless (not for some years now) nor a representative of homeless people. The name was chosen (in 1989) when a majority of the members were homeless.

By the time this is written, the ugly $7200 anti-homeless architecture will have been installed (Saturday afternoon). The contractor putting it in gave a public interview in which he acknowledged he had heard about the project only the day before he started it, and had no inkling of the social implications.

He also noted that he had not been hired to "repair" the railing in any way, as Assistant City Manager Martin Bernal told me and Thomas Leavitt. Simply to move it several inches out so that people could no longer sit there.

Bernal's original reason for not going through City Council was that the railing needed "repair", a claim disputed by an ironworker who gave his opinion that the fence was quite serviceable as is. Apparently the "repair" concern was a pretext to speed it along and justify a backdoor process.

Regarding Matt Melzer's concerns about boycotting local businesses---I share them.

I encourage people to go into the Pacific Trading Company and ask Carolyn (the owner) what provision she has made to replace the seating space that her lobbying took away (20-30 seats).

People can also call the PTC at 423-3349 and suggest that you'd like to shop locally and will resume doing so at her store, when she supplies benches along the storefront, accessible to the public, which make up for the seating she and the City Manager's office have destroyed.

It is particularly important to resist this, since it is likely that other planters are targeted for hostile action. The Downtown Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee (a closed group of city staffers) notes on their October 9th agenda Item 2 Review Follow-Up Items from Previous Meeting c. "Planter in front of Costa Brava--Pacific Trading Company--Proceed with Redesign of Planters.

This written information dovetails with information from street activists who overheard conversations from city planners measuring the planters that the plan to eliminate seating was proposed as far back as September of last year.
All with no mention to the public, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the City Council, etc.

Particularly sinister is police action criminalizing a political table along the sidewalk for more than one hour. This means that any labor dispute lasting for more than an hour can't include a table or other "display device".

I encourage people to work together to resist these and the other anti-homeless, anti-activist laws that reflect the national repression (though they actually antedate it).

If you're mad about Ashcroft, then you should be mad about Rotkin, Kennedy, Reilly, and the City Council.

Give a call to 423-HUFF if you want to help. Bring up the issue at your own organization and ask for a resolution urging repeal of and resistance to the "Move Along" law downtown--as well as merchant seizure of public space.

Sitting on the fence itself (though it is now even sturdier than before) is $162 fine, and up to $1000 and six months in jail for the second offense. Doesn't mean you can't lean, of course.
Various protests under consideration: a "lean in", a "bring your own chair" sit-in, a mass protest at the City Manager's office, more tabling to urge a clear and vocal boycott of the Pacific Trading Company (until it replaces the seating space), and whatever other colorful ideas we can come up.

Also helpful is to bring a camera, tape recorder, and notebook downtown and document what the police are doing. Just pick a pair of them and follow them around. Then post your observations.

Re: Don't Fence us Out!

Matt thinks there is a "better way" than boycotting the Pacific Trading Company. As the public loses right after right at the bequest of merchants who already think they own the public streets, there are few alternatives left.

We have lost the right to peacably assemble at the Costa Brava Planter. We have lost the right to petition our government for a redress of grievances---or at least we've lost that right, according to City Attorney John Barisone's time, place, and manner restrictions, for 23 out of 24 hours. We've lost the right to freedom of speech, unless we "move-along" every hour when the uniformed police offers orders us to.

The City Council ignored massive public input in opposition and instead, catored to the tiny minority who wanted the "move-along" law. One meeting testimony was 35 to 1 with the council voting unanimously for the interests of the one.
When it came to moving the planter railing, they didn't even bother with any public process.

The Pacific Trading Company formalized their complaints of the activities of people who sat at the planter for months with daily loggings all sent to a redevelopment agency analyst as "evidence" of the "problem." Nearby Costa Brava restaurant manager, and the manager of Rosie McCann's Irish Pub, which both had problems with some of the people who hung out at the planter, opposed moving the railing. Only the Pacific Trading Company wanted it.

I am not against downtown businesses. I want them to be prosperous, and profitable. I want them to have ethical behavior in how they treat their employees and the community at large. But balance out our support for a business which has the Mayor as a longtime customer, the police chief paying for fencing to remove the public's seating area near the store, and a record of supporting ordinances which have turned Pacific Ave. into a gauntlet of "no-no's" which only the poor seem to fall victim to.

Witness, Tom Noddy arrested today (June 26th) for juggling three lemons.

What would you do? I guess you are doing it. You are criticising those who have taken action to fight for your rights. Oh, that will bring our rights back real quick. You just watch.


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