This morning's Sentinel article on the latest ratcheting up of police pressure at Peace Camp 2010 has some significant errors---several of which I address here. The Squires story covers police harassment and whitewash over the weekend through Monday morning. It follows my comments, for those interested.
The "services offered" do not include shelter--except for 48 people in the Paul Lee Loft--which has a 4-6 week waiting list according to Daniel White.
White told me this in front of three witnesses and gave this information as his sworn testimony in Judge Volkman's court last Thursday at the end of the Richardson/de Leon Permanent Injunction Trial.
Deputy-Chief Vogel is mistaken on two counts. The City's Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010a) doesn't have any provision for dismissing citations if the summer shelters are full (only if the Winter Armory Shelter is full during the Winter).
But the judges recognize that the California Supreme Court in the Tobe & Eichorn cases required local courts to allow a "defense of necessity" in any camping case. This is a complicated and lengthy defense that consumes court time and money--which essentially boils down to "there was no shelter that night".
The court is required to allow it under MC 6.36 (the city ordinance) and PC 647e, the state "anti-lodging" law. San Diego police are no longer allowed to enforce that code at night under the Spencer settlement, following in the wake of the L.A. Jones decision overturning the L.A. Sleeping Ban.
Santa Cruz is spending lots of time and money citing, arresting, jailing, and trying people instead of acknowledging the shelter emergency and addressing it directly. Or allowing homeless people to address it themselves.
Abusive behavior, littering, urinating and defecating, despoiling the environment are already crimes. Enforcing laws against sleep or "lodging" is a futile and costly practice that is still likely to result in a successful lawsuit against the City and County.
Time for a new approach. The number of homeless people is growing because of the economy.
The folks at Peace Camp 2010 are determined to stay. 2 more arrests and 3 more citations only provoked indignation and a defiant if sleepy return to sleeping bags and blankets.
Jennifer Squires needs to do some research of her own. Visit the Homeless Service Center and ask how many beds are actually available tonight, last night, tomorrow night, last month, next month.
The answers she will learn probably won't stop her from swallowing Zack Friend's press releases whole, but maybe she can season them with a few relevant facts.
For anyone interested the Homeless Service Center's Board of Directors has its monthly public meeting Thursday night at 5:30 PM out at the HSC.