I sent the following letter to the main Santa Cruz daily newspaper, the Sentinel, last week, and they published it today--though it hasn't appeared yet in the on-line edition of the paper.
Those who want to write letters of support can do so at editorial at santacruzsentinel.com .
Punishing homeless people under the Rotkin-Coonerty Sleeping Ban is like arresting medical marijuana patients for doing what they need to do to stay well.
Santa Cruz has no shelter for its 1500-2000 homeless people tonight. Except for PeaceCamp2010 at the courthouse.
Brave homeless campers there take in the most disturbed and disabled. Don't blame them for the bizarre behavior of the few.
Survival sleeping is a necessity not a choice.
Look past recycled myths from frightened politicians about "a magnet effect", campground "unsustainability", and shelter availability. Paranoia about the “unsightly” is understandable but can't guide public policy.
Dump the “homeless get out” laws designed to sanitize public spaces. Do what Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, Richmond, and Laguna Beach have done: lift the Sleeping Ban in “clean and responsible” camping zones.
Responsible leaders must bite the bullet and recognize we all need to sleep. Not anywhere. Not everywhere. But somewhere.