The following letters to the editor were published on July 9, 2010 in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The letters can be found online at: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/letters/ci_15474508
Stop the loitering
Neither the homeless nor anyone else should be sleeping on public property, whether it is considered city, county, state or federal property. The property does not belong to a select few to do with as they please. Once officials let this go unchallenged, others will join this sleep-in and the numbers will soar. Oh, and by the way, sleeping or not, the group who hangs out on the levee are also too much. My husband and I used to walk there on a daily basis. We no longer do that. Once again, the sleepovers and loiterers seem to have more rights than the rest of us in Santa Cruz. This mess needs to come to an end.
Lillian Puccinelli, Santa Cruz
Homeless are people, too
As a kid growing up in New York, I remember seeing winos passed out on the sidewalks and people just hurrying by as if they weren't there. Now it's 2010 and we have homeless people. People still hurry by as if they weren't there. We label them lazy, drug addicts, mentally ill; they are no longer human beings in our eyes. We wish they would go away. Imagine waking up one day and finding you can no longer afford your comfy lifestyle. There is no place to go but the streets. And now that Santa Cruz has a camping ban, I recall the quote in the Bible by Luke: "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." We are all the sons and daughters of man. We should all be able to have a place to rest.
Martha Dolciamore, Soquel
Take humane approach
In the July 6 article, "Homeless, their advocates sleep at county courthouse to protest Santa Cruz's camping ban," Vice Mayor Ryan Coonerty is quoted as saying, "If they think it's unconstitutional, they should challenge it." Isn't that what they are doing? I hope Mr. Coonerty doesn't think an expensive lawsuit is the solution. The 2009 Santa Cruz Homeless Census and Survey report states, "It is hoped that the 2009 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey will help policy makers and service providers to develop effective programs to serve the county's homeless population." The complete report can be found at http://sccounty01.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/PLN_pdf/homelesssurvey.pdf. The annual estimate of homeless people in our county is 4624; 55% had at least one mental-health issue; 34% had a physical and/or developmental disability; 31% had a chronic health condition; 73% had a disabling condition. The No. 1 reason for homelessness in our county was due to loss of a job. The report cites the majority of the people who were homeless at the time of the survey were living in Santa Cruz County when they became homeless.
Since the tickets are allowed to be dismissed anyway, wouldn't a more effective, humane and constitutional policy be to drive a homeless person to a shelter, if a bed is available, or just let him/her sleep?
Carla Sikan, Santa Cruz
Advocates off base
I agree 100 percent with the Sentinel's editorial regarding the sleeping-ban protesters. Such advocates do more damage than the poor homeless. My questions to such homeless advocates is why aren't you and the plethora of homeless legal representatives taking actions that could directly help the homeless rather than going for your own media glory? Actions such as petitioning for portable toilets in select areas that you will clean. Requesting more trash cans within and outside city limits that perhaps you will have to empty. The possibilities of real, productive, meaningful help for us all is unlimited if only such advocates would get out of the way.
Teren Ellison, Santa Cruz