Friday, September 24, 2010

Recent Indybay Updates

Underworld Updates: Meet the Councilettes Today & Thur; New Attacks on PC2010
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Sep 22nd, 2010 8:41 AM
I and Robert Facer were found guilty of "unreasonably disturbing" a day sleeper on Pacific Avenue in mid-afternoon with political songs in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz. Peacecamp2010 continues its nightly testimony against the Sleeping Ban. Councilmember Katherine Beiers will be meeting with HUFFsters and other interested folks 1:30 PM today in front of City Hall; Councilmember Don Lane meets with us tomorrow at 2 PM at Joe's Pizza (across from New Leaf Market on Pacific Ave.) And coming back on the City Council agenda is the final reading of the "Tickets for the Shelterless" Sleeping Ban changes on the 28th.
I'm still digesting the fanciful and vindictive verdict of Commissioner Kim Baskett in the Sinister Sidewalk Singing Case (see and follow the links for background). I'll be playing an audio of Baskett's ruling and analyzing it on my Thursday 9-23 show at 6:30 PM. We are currently assessing legal resources as we consider an appeal.

The public is invited to attend the two meetings--which will be recorded for broadcast on Free Radio Santa Cruz. The issues to be focused on concern the recent Pacific Avenue crackdown, the closing of public spaces, accessing public records, the upcoming Sleeping Ban ordinance, and other matters that particular impact poor and homeless people. If you can't attend but want certain questions asked, please forward them to me at rnorse3 [at]

With the first four misdemeanor "lodging" citations hitting the courts for arraignment today (Curbhugger Chris Doyon has 1; 72-year old Collette Connolly has 3), police cracked down last night with more citations for people who have no legal place to sleep. They also ticketed attorney Ed Frey for solidarity sleeping with the protesters and for bringing a portapotty (the City has no public bathrooms open at night). More details on this later. I'll also hope to post a report from Curbhugger Chris on how court went this morning--the two face misdemeanor charges and jury trials for their peaceful protest at the County Building in July. Connolly is still on the waiting list, but still getting tickets from the City.

The Council's legal cover for the City Attorney and the SCPD in their continuing campaign to harass homeless people who have no shelter will be buffed up next Tuesday (See "Camping Ordinance Revisions Pass at City Council" at ) The ordinance puts Homeless Service Center bureaucrats in the catseat to decide who gets an early dismissal of their ticket from the City Attorney's office and who doesn't. I've invited Monica Martinez, Executive Director of the HSC, to come to the Beiers and/or Lane meetings today and tomorrow.

More Homeless Human Rights Updates
by Robert Norse
Thursday Sep 23rd, 2010 2:47 AM
Some brief comments on Councilwoman Beier's meeting with folks on the sidewalk in the "forbidden zone" next to the library...the upcoming Robert "Blindbear" Facer appeal of his Sleeping Ban convictions today at 4 PM...More tickets and arraignments for PC2010...HUFF is heading for UCSC next Wednesday in support of Steve Pleich for City Council and Outreach to the Students--Stevenson college 2 PM 9-29....Councilmember Lane's upcoming meeting today 1:30 PM at Joe's Pizza on Pacific Avenue

In the recent past, Councilmember Beiers supported the anti-homeless expansion of Forbidden Zones on Pacific Avenue in early 2009 (increasing the "security space" around statues, directory signs, benches, and other obstructions on Pacific Avenue. She supported the "don't pay off three ridiculous infractions". and the City Attorney canc charge you with a new "Failure to Pay" misdemeanor crime. In July, she backed the "ignore three sleeping tickets" and the fourth becomes a misdemeanor--even though there's no shelter space.

And yesterday she refused to commit herself to changing any of these votes. She also declined to promise that she'd agree to allow the public to discuss consent agenda items as they do in other cities. She insisted that Homeless Services Center Monica Martinez had provided verbal confirmation that there were 2-3 walk-in spaces per week at the Paul Lee Loft (meaning that each month there are walk-in spaces for a total of 12 people not on waiting lists for a total of 1500-2000 homeless in Santa Cruz, with 40-60 of those currently on waiting lists for shelter).

On the plus (?) side, Beiers took notes and agreed to ask our new City Fuhrer (City Manager Martin Bernal) for the paperwork and rationale behind his latest closing of City Hall, the Library grounds, and the police station grounds at night without the required legal participation of the Parks and Recreation Commission (and in the case of the library, without the authorization of the library board). However she said she didn't want to bring up the matter publicly at City Council.

When asked if she'd sponsor a real modification of the sleeping ban that might read: "“Police shall call the HSC during business hours to determine if there are any beds available. If there aren't, they shall issue no citations that night under MC 6.36.010 unless provision MC 6.36.070 is violated" ]Proposed MC 6.36.070: "An individual who sleeps, camps, or sets up bedding on any public properrty in the City of Santa Cruz between the hours of 11 PM and 8:30 AM is responsible for assuring that area is clean and free of litter and debris of all sorts. If a radius of 15' around the person's sleeping area is not free of such debris, that person is guilty of an infraction." ...she said "no--not without a second."

She agreed to "get back to us" on a number of matters, but since I originally e-mailed her last year on some of these and other issues, again in March, and again this summer, it may be long fall before we get any answers at all, much less substantive ones.

In her favor, she was a amiable as ever, hung out without self-consciousness, and sat down with the riffraff. Perhaps a last memorial sitdown before the library benches begin to disappear along with the rest of the downtown benches in the city's attempt to "thin out" the homeless population downtown and disperse all First Amendment protest at night.

She patiently listened to a lot of criticism, but expressed no willingness to change her positions--as far as I coiuld see.. I'll be playing our discussion on Sunday morning Free Radio Santa Cruz at 101.1 FM ( probably around 8:30 AM.


Attorney Ed Frey will be taking the two convictions of Peace Camp 2010 musician and activist Robert "Blindbear" Facer to a 3-man appeal court today at 4 PM--I think it's Dept. 5, but show up and check the calenders. Hmm, I got that info from Frey (pronounced "fry") himself, but it's my understanding that the courts usually close at 3 PM, so call the courts to confirm this info. The Facer case was discussed at "Baskett and Barisone Bludgeon the Bums: Shoring Up the Sleeping Ban in a Court Trial " .


Even as Collette Connolly and Chris Doyon had pre-trial dates set, taking on Ed Frey as their defense counsel, Collette and Gary Johnson (whose arraignment is today at 8:30 AM) got tickets two nights running. Sleeping ban tickets on nights when there simply is no legal shelter for the overwhleming majority of those outside. Tickets that will be dismissed by the necessity defense, even if the city attorney/service provider's new tactic is to insist you have been on a "waiting list" to have a letter issued or a city attorney dismiss your ticket. Instead, victims will simply have to subpoena shetler bureaucrats to testify that they had no space that night.


Councilmember (and backer of anti-homeless laws) Don Lane meets with homeless advocates today at 1:30 PM at Joe's Pizza in another recorded conversation to be rebroadcast later. That's downtown on Pacific Avenue next to the Pacific Cookie Company, at Soquel and Pacific.

HUFF hits UCSC next Wednesday at Stevenson College with an outreach meeting to mobilize the somnolent student population in support of restoring public space, public dialogue, public accessibility, and civil rights, as well as backing lone civil libertarian Steve Pleich, whose underfunded campaign is looking for support. Pleich is on Facebook at and needs money!


Appeal Denied; Peace Camp 2010 Back at the Courthouse
by Robert Norse
Friday Sep 24th, 2010 4:50 AM
A three-judge panel of Symons, Burdick, and Marigonda turned down an appeal by attorney Ed Frey on behalf of "sleep criminal" Robert Blindbear Facer yesterday in Department 3. The panel refused to accept Frey's new Constitutional arguments, saying they hadn't been included in the original briefs. Frey responded that he hadn't heard from the Court regarding the latest challenge from City Attorney John Barisone. The Court's original postponement of the Facer case prompted Frey and others to begin a protest in front of the Courthouse July 4th which subsequently came to be known as Peacecamp2010. In response to the court's refusal to uphold Facer's right to sleep outside on a night when there was no indoor shelter, PC2010 has moved back to its original focal point at the Courthouse.
Frey informed Free Radio Santa Cruz of the Camp's relocation by phone around 7:40 PM last night during my regular "Bathrobespierre's Broadsides" broadcast. That decision and the discussion it provoked with City Council candidate Steve Pleight and former camp stalwart Curbhugger Chris Doyon is archived at .

PC2010 sleeper Gary Johnson was jailed last night around 3 AM after receiving two tickets for "continued sleeping" on the sidewalk in front of City Hall. The City Hall grounds have been barred to protesters at night, as has the library grounds across the street--though there were no reports of vandalism or any other crimes there. Johnson was arrested, caught a nap on a bench in the jail, and was released two hours later, at which point, he says, he returned to the City Hall sidewalk to resume his night's rest.

This may indicate a new strategy by the SCPD, to arrest sleepers protesting the City's anti-homeless Sleeping Ban, if they continue to sleep after having been wakened by police. Since shelters are full, police have no place to send sleepers, and some have called the wake-up's a direct violation of the right to privacy, a form of torture banned by international law, and a transparent "drive the poor out of sight" tactic designed to reassure merchants searching for convenient scapegoats in the current depression.

Gary was also arraigned earlier yesterday on charges of "illegal lodging", the state penal code (647e) being used to harass and criminalize the Sleeping Ban protesters. Art F., who had been held in jail on bail for "chronic sleeping" was able to get the judge to modify his OR condition, which for a month had banned him from protesting at City Hall and the Courthouse along with other PC2010 because of his "criminal" nighttime sleeping there. Ed Frey now has 5 "illegal lodger" cases including Gary, Chris, Collette, Art, and himself. Public defenders are also reportedly extremely interested in the cases.

PC2010 supporters have held hour-long discussions with Councilmembers Beiers and Lane in the last two days, to be aired Sunday on FRSC (Beiers at 8:30 AM, Lane at 10:30 AM, or possibily on a later broadcast). Neither Councilmember has given a commitment to expose and correct police and city staff abuses such as closing down public spaces illegally, seizing homeless property, confiscating political signs and tables, and setting up sleep-destroying klieg lights at night. Both Councilmembers voted for harsher penalties for the homeless for repeated violations of the Sleeping Ban and refused to reverse those votes--which essentially make the Sleeping Ban a misdemeanor offense if 3 tickets have been sent to "Failure to Pay" status.

A new "dismissing tickets only for those on the shelter waiting list" amendment to the Camping Ordinance is coming up for a final vote at City Council on Tuesday.
Lane and Beiers indicated they wouldn't support Frey's demand that police be required to contact the HSC each night to see if there are actually beds available (which the HSC has acknowledged is infrequently the case) and then not issue citations if there are no beds. The rationale here is that tickets would be that the court dismisses ticket under the "necessity defenses" anyway because of the ongoing lack of shelter, so the issuance of those tickets in the first place is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Such was determined to be the case in the Jones case in Los Angeles in 2007. The city is under court order not to enforce its Sleeping Ban, as is San Diego. Santa Cruz's City Attorney, City Council, and new City Manager have refused to change the City's law to stop police harassment of the homeless community at night.

In an extended phone conversation yesterday, Homeless Services Center Executive Director Monica Martinez said she would take a number of concerns back to her staff and Board--including the proposal that the HSC issue receipts indicating that a person was on their waiting list, a clarification of what excludes you from the waiting list and how many are excluded, as well as other concerns.

Martinez did not acknowledge that the HSC's new requirement to be on a waiting list was added after the establishment of PC 2010 as an apparent anti-protest response. She said she would confer with her staff and Board of Directors regarding restoring the old policy (though she said she'd thought that had always been the policy). The Board of Directors regular monthly meeting was last night. Martinez asked that I not distort or misstate her position, though she provided no specifics as to where this had been done in the past. I suggested that I'd be happy to correct any errors if they were brought to my attention.

The HSC has so far refused to provide a broader letter--requested by PC2010 supporters at the HSC Board meeting in August. The letter would acknowledge that from April 15 to November 15, there are generally no beds available for "walk-in"'s The waiting list, according to Martinez is 2-6 weeks and 40-60 people long. There may be 2-3 walk-in's beds available each week if staff can't find people at the Center to take them. That makes an average of 60 beds over the 4-15 to 11-15 period (each available only for a period of three months total for any person during that time) fpr an estimated 1500-2000 homeless population in Santa Cruz, all of whom face potential ticketing under the 11 PM to 8:30 AM Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010a).

In response to the Facer appeal and perhaps to increase their visibility, PC2010sters have relocated back to area in front of the Courthouse, where they had previously slept and protested for a month. The downtown's only all-night portapotty moved with them and will be available there. The City staff closed the portapotties set up by Bathroom Task Force in 1999 (affectionately known as the Krohn Krapper Kommission) and never established public bathrooms as proposed by the City Council a decade ago.

Claims by Mayor Rotkin and others that vandalism, drug use, and prostitution stop the city from providing adequate sanitation facilities seems to be belied by PC2010's experience. I've never heard of any of those problems there (though the thing does get so much use it becomes quite funky in the 24 hours before it's emptied each week).

Frey also announced that the protest would be a nighttime only affair. An 8 PM to 8 AM protest that would be gone by dawn (or soon thereafter). As of 4:40 AM, I'd received no reports of sheriff or police harassment. Prior the sheriff crackdown at PC2010 in early August, the area provided a safe sleeping spot for dozens of homeless people with no legal place to go.

More info may be available at . Those seeking to restore the right to sleep legally in Santa Cruz can also be contacted directly at PC2010 at 701 Ocean St. in front of the courthouse from 8 PM to 8 AM.

More info and critical commentary at

Saturday, September 18, 2010

One Woman's Reaction to the Sentinel's Coverage

Let Them Eat Waiting Lists!

Travellers, Transitioning and Homeless Citizens:

City of Santa Cruz' City Attorney Can Now Dismiss Superfluous Criminal Sleep Tickets, Yet Will Do So Only for Listed Homeless Clients for Pet Service Provider Wait-lists

SANTA CRUZ -- The City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to give homeless people a break if they are on a shelter wait list when they receive a citation for overnight camping.

Current rules allow the city to waive such tickets when the winter shelter at the former National Guard Armory site is full. It doesn't cover times when other year-round shelters are full, but the long-standing practice of the city attorney has been to dismiss citations written when such shelters are full.

Robert Norse, a longtime advocate for the homeless who has sued the city over First Amendment protections, called the change "a minor step forward."

But he and others argued that it does little to reverse a camping ban that criminalizes homelessness and sleeping outside. Critics said the rules also create a burden for homeless to visit the shelter every day to check on the wait list.

"It does no good to say you are on a waiting list because you still have to sleep outside," Norse said.

Norse suggested the council add a requirement that those on a wait list receive a receipt that could be shown to an officer, who would then be prohibited from writing a ticket.

Monica Martinez, director of the Homeless Services Center, said she supported the change because it makes the camping ban "more compassionate."

She said her center could issue some sort of verification that people are on a wait list but cautioned that a person, rather than taking advantage of a bed when it becomes available, could keep the receipt indefinitely. She said it would be too onerous for staff to give the same homeless person a wait-list receipt every day.

The council's decision left details about wait list verification for the city attorney to work out with shelter providers.

Earlier this week, City Manager Martin Bernal acknowledged a key aim of the ordinance change is to determine, "are people actually making an effort" to find shelter. He said the change is not in direct response to PeaceCamp 2010, a protest organized by Norse.

The demonstration against the camping ban began July 4 at the county courthouse lawn but was moved outside City Hall once it was clear that city police had no intention of citing participants on county property.

Since then, police have issued 107 citations, the majority of which are for the ban against camping from 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. Officers have also made 21 arrests for ignoring demands to leave the property and an array of other charges.

Linda's Hearth note: I like to write my own headlines so this blog indulges me. the article was originally published 09-14-2010 with this head: Citations waived for homeless on shelter list: Santa Cruz camping ban altered to cover more than winter refuge Honestly, I can't tell which is worse ~ mine ot he paper's? Also I was sad to see the lead give Robert Norse such singular leadership billing, when Ed Frey is the true hero in terms of helping create and contributing to sustain PeaceCamp2010.

Norse's contributions are quite important and indespensable, to be sure. At the same time, we all want to value most those among us who can DAILY carry on. Just think of the hours of devotion involved with the porta-potty's responsibility alone. The demonstrators are so fortunate in this. Back in my day, as it were, we had to carry our own "outflow" bottles.

We are all in this together and we all need to remember to TELL THE REPORTERS what they need to know, and not to expect them to figure out the best questions. Unless they have also lived in bedroll-burb or car-parking-land or share-the-floor-shire for longer than a weekend.

I really appreciate Ocean's wonderful dramatic lessons, hope he's OK wherever he now is? But I digress. Intended to share this: praise and validate whose-ever's doing the daily work ~~ at least daily praise and gratitude.

Tell those reporters we don't have any bedbugs down on the sidewalk!

The morning after this article announced the latest evisceration of the City's potentially deadly sleep-camping ban, the women at Peace Camp 2010 shared hot coffee with night's survivors and the 7am hidden sleepers checking in.

It was almost the first night nobody got awakened or cited for sleeping, camping, covering or laying on the sidewalk. We celebrated by launching a movable cafe co-op. Nine people joined us; campers, supporters, a guest from Westside Santa Cruz came downhill and compared notes and created a caring poster during our check-ins. Attorney Frey came by, passed on the caffeine, as did two others. Everyone washed their own mug, hoping to upgrade cafe coop each time.

Comment from Robert Norse: I've taken the liberty of snatching this story from Linda Lemaster's blog, which has numerous stories, poems, and news items concerning the homeless civil rights struggle in Santa Cruz. It can be accessed at .

Lemaster is a long-time homeless activist, supporter of PC2010, recent victim of the police crackdown on PC2010, former chair of the City's Homeless Issues Task Force, former chair of the City Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women, and former City Council candidate (whew!).

I've already commented on the inaccuracy of J.M. Brown's story. See "Three Updates on City Council's Latest Camping Ban Cover-Up" below.

The receipt, which Martinez agreed, could easily be given when a person signed up for the shelter waiting list, would become invalid after that person's name reached the head of the list. It was Madrigal who suggested a daily wait-list check in, which Martinez accurately noted would be too onerous for both the homeless person and the shelter. Since the City Attorney is going to check with the HSC anyway to see if the person with the receipt is on the waiting list, the possibility of a "bogus" receipt isn't relevant anyway.

As mentioned in my prior article, creating the illusion of caring by providing waiting lists that go nowhere in the short run, and then punishing people for not signing up, is contemptible.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Peace Camp 2010 votes to continue protest

Gary Johnson sleeps legally at 10:30AM at Peace Camp 2010, one-half hour before the Sleeping Ban goes into effect. His protest includes signage saying "Legalize Dreaming" and "Sleep is not a Crime!" August 20, 2010 photo by Becky Johnson

by Becky Johnson
September 16, 2010

Santa Cruz, Ca. -- After the Santa Cruz City Council passed a modification of the Sleeping Ban at its September 14th meeting, Peace Campers held their own council meeting. At that meeting, the question was asked "Shall we disband our protest because of the action of the City Council to dismiss citations written to those on the Homeless Services Center waiting list?"

The vote was 7 - 0 with 2 abstentions to continue the protest. The general consensus was that forcing people to register for the waiting list did not meet our demands to have the Sleeping Ban and Blanket Ban suspended or repealed and past citations ( to the extent it is practicable) be dismissed.

The measure still calls for police to awaken, to detain, to cite, and to move-along sleepers even if no shelter exists. The policy ONLY calls for the City Attorney to dismiss citations if the person cited can prove they were on the waiting list for shelter at the Homeless Services Center. This is clearly NOT what Peace Camp 2010 is about.

If, when said and done, the policy requires police to skip or not cite those with a receipt for the waiting list, then this would be an improvement, however minor. But, unfortunately this is not. As Assistant City Manager Tina Schull said on Tuesday, "Any person cited who is not on the waiting list would not have their ticket dismissed." This, even if no shelter was available that night! Leave it to the City Attorney to more narrowly define what elements a homeless person is entitled to under the necessity defense!

Police cite Collette Donally, age 72 at 10:30AM for
"setting up a campsite with the intent of spending the night."
August 19, 2010 Photo by Becky Johnson

Sleeping itself should not be a crime. Sleeping harms no one. Denying sleep to a person who will ultimately be found innocent robs that person of their sleep, and causes immediate and irreparable harm.

"Not only is Peace Camp 2010 going to continue, but we're also going to start holding Koffee Klatches on occasion in the mornings," reports Linda Lemaster, a housed Peace Camp 2010 supporter.

Three Updates on City Council's Latest Camping Ban Cover-Up

Sleeping Ban at Council: Trade Your Constitutional Rights for a Place on Our Waiting List?
by Robert Norse
Monday Sep 13th, 2010 3:45 PM
Item #28 on Tuesday's Afternoon City Council Session (no evening session, which disadvantages those who work) is a modification of MC 6.36, the City's notorious anti-homeless Camping Ordinance. It has been the subject of scores of protests over the years and thousands of signatures urging its repeal.

Other major cities have had their Sleeping Bans overturned by the courts or by the threat of court action (Richmond, Los Angeles, San Diego, Laguna Beach, Fresno) and bans are being challenged in other cities (Sacramento, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara).

The ongoing Peacecamp2010 sleep-out on the sidewalk in front of City Hall is demanding the City repeal the law and dismiss all past citations. Instead police and city authorities have continued to ticket and harass, introducing new measures banning protest at night, using other laws to attack protesters, and getting courts to impose OR conditions that ban protesters from returning to the protest.

Perhaps in response to the Jones and Spencer settlements in southern California a few years ago, perhaps in defensive response to the questions raised by Peacecamp2010, City Council has quietly put on its afternoon agenda at 3 PM the first modification of the Camping Ordinance in 8 years.

This is the first substantive one in 11 years. Acting Mayor Ryan Coonerty (Mayor Rotkin is reportedly away on vacation in Italy) is likely to limit discussion of the ordinance to 2 minutes per speaker.
The amendment being proposed (by City Attorney John Barisone) reads as follows:


BE IT ORDAINED By the City Of Santa Cruz As Follows:

Section 1. Section 6.36.055 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code is hereby amended to read as follows:


(a) A person shall not be in violation of this chapter if, at the time of his or her citation for a violation of this chapter either: the winter shelter at the Santa Cruz National Guard Armory is filled to capacity; or the person is currently on the waiting list for shelter service through one of the shelter programs offered by the Homeless Services Center or the River Street Shelter in Santa Cruz.

(b) Any citation issued for a violation of this chapter shall be dismissed by the city attorney in the interest of justice if, at the time of citation issuance, the winter shelter at the Santa Cruz National Guard Armory is filled to capacity or the recipient of the citation demonstrates that on the date of the citation he or she was currently on the waiting list for shelter service through one of the shelter programs offered by the Homeless Services Center or the River Street Shelter in Santa Cruz.

Section 2. This ordinance shall take effect and be in force thirty (30) days after its final adoption.

The ordinance requires two readings, so it will likely be passed at the earliest on September 28th and go into effect a month later. It is likely a done deal as it was proposed by the City Attorney, and usually what he, the City Manager, the Police Chief, the RDA head, or the Head of Parks and Rec proposes--goes.

On the positive side.
1. There may be a shorter journey to dismiss ticket. The new law seems to slightly shortcut The Long Dusty Road to Getting Tickets Dismissed by requiring the City Attorney to dismiss them the (instead of making the Sleeping Ban victim go back to the Homeless Services Center [HSC], then go back to court). The City Attorney's office is more centrally located and has longer hours than the courts and is more accessible generally. The City Attorney, however, may not want homeless ragamuffins coming in and out on a regular basis, and so may reroute them to the more distant HSC.
2, This new provision explicitly requires the City Attorney to dismiss tickets during the late spring, early summer, and early fall--when the Winter Armory Shelter is closed--provided you're in the good graces of the HSC and on their waiting list at the time of the citation. This is a meaningful change from the current law which mentioned on the Winter Armory Shelter.
3. This law shows the power of direct action and civil disobedience to force bureaucrats, politicians and poverty pimps to rush to cover their asses. It also exposes their unwillingness to address the real problem. It may be an indication that more pressure will produce more results.
4. If people are willing to register under this system (which many may not), it may show more sharply the dimensions of the depression here in Santa Cruz.
5. It puts on the agenda a taboo subject which has always been regarded as political poison, perhaps opening a forbidden door, which once opened, will be harder to close again.

On the negative side:
1. There is nothing in this law requiring the HSC to put anyone on a waiiting list. What are the criteria for getting on it? How long is it? When I spoke with Daniel White, the Shelter Intake guy, he told me the list is 25 names long. Considering there are far more than 1000 unsheltered people in Santa Cruz, this seems a very tight squeeze, unless it is expanded to include hundreds of names.
1a. People with behavior problems, disagreement with HSC staff, users of medical marijuana, those dodging warrants (for such things as the wonderful Sitting Ban, Smoking Ban, and other Ban tickets downtown) who don't want their names recorded, will still be facing these abusive tickets for life-sustaining behavior.
2. Does this mean that one need only sign up for the waiting list and then feel okay bringing tickets to the city attorney for dismissing? Or are there check-in requirements?
3. What kind of ID is going to be required? How about those whose ID have been taken and not returned by the police (as in the recent raids on Peacecamp2010?)? Or ID lost or stolen?
4. According to long-time activist and former Homeless Issues Task Force Chair Linda Lemaster, the HSC until a few months ago was regularly issuing "we were full on that date" letters to people who came in and requested one (at which time you were put on the waiting list) whether you had been on the waiting list when the citation was given or not. After Peacecamp2010 started, the policy suddenly changed, and the HSC refused to issue letters to many PeaceCamp2010 people until they threatened to bring the media with them. The key point, the elephant in the living room being ignored by HSC and city is: THERE HAS BEEN NO WALK-IN SHELTER AVAILABLE ANY NIGHT SINCE THE ARMORY CLOSED ON APRIL 15TH AND WILL BE NONE UNTIL IT OPENS---IF IT DOES-- ON NOVEMBER 15TH.
5. Though Linda, Ed Frey, and I urged the HSC Board to issue a simple letter stating that they had waiting lists 4-6 weeks long, space in their Paul Lee Loft for only 48 people, and no walk-in emergency shelter available for the time period mentioned above, they declined to do so. They also wouldn't discuss the issue at their Board meeting (even though they could have done so informally because they had no quorum). Such a letter would have put the police on notice that there was an emergency lack of shelter and deterred them from writing tickets. Instead dozens of tickets have been written since then--in spite of the 'no shelter" reality--many of them to drive away the protesters from City Hall. The public nature of this letter would also pressure the City Council and SCPD to act reasonably and do what other cities have done: stop ticketing for life-sustaining behavior like sleeping.
6. Ed Frey's original demand to the HSC and the City was that the police not cite people unless a shelter bed was available on any particular night. The HSC Board said it had a security guard at their shelter at night who perhaps could give that kind of answer to the police, but there was no rush to set it up as a regular system. Sally Willliams, the HSC Board of Directors Chair, did agree to meet with me, Ed Frey, Linda Lemaster, and attorney Kate Wells at a later time. This meeting has not yet happened. However the fact is that as of today, the HSC will not issue "no shelter for the summer" letters exposing the broad dimensions of the shelter emergency nor set up a clear system that clarifies for police on any particular night whether there is a shelter bed.
7. This ordinance change still allows police to wake up, interrogate, ID, warrant check, search, ticket, and even arrest homeless people on a charge of sleeping, covering up with blankets, or camping. These abuses will happen even though the police, the HSC, and the City Council know full well that those being harassed are factually innocent--given the lack of shelter space. Other cities have simply told the police to not issue tickets at night.

It's the same demand as 22 years ago when people slept outside of City Council just like they're doing now: Ticket people for littering, for taking a dump or a piss in public (though after you've opened up some public bathrooms!), for disturbing the peace, for despoiling the environment: but not for sleeping, covering up with blankets, or camping.

This ordinance change, in spite of being incrementally positive, begs the question, justifies collusion of the HSC bosses with the ongoing harassment of homeless people under the Sleeping Ban, and misses the point--which even neanderthals in Los Angeles and San Diego have picked up on: it violates a basic human right and need to arrest someone for sleeping when there is no legal place for them to go. It is cruel and unusual punishment, banned by the Constitution.

Historically, the City's own Homeless Issues Task Force [HITF] came out against it in 1999. (See

What's needed is to lift the ban on camping, sleeping, and blankets as recommended by the HITF and to set up reasonable regulation of camping. A main objective of business and conservative up-scale residents, preying on exaggerated fears of "crime", is to run homeless people out of sight if not out of town (while pretending they're getting them into non-existent or woefully inadequate programs). Hence reasonable solutions have had little leverage against the anti-homeless scapegoating (and violence) going on. Instead the City has been closing down one public space after another, making laws more punitive, adding more police, etc.--all an absurd response to dealing with the inevitable reality of the human need to sleep--not anywhere and everywhere, but somewhere at night.l

There was no discussion of this proposed change either with the Peacecamp2010 protesters or other homeless activists. There has been no mention of it in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. It's another piece of stealth legislation being slipped through.

Perhaps in response to the Jones and Spencer settlements in southern California a few years ago, perhaps in defensive response to the questions raised by Peacecamp2010, perhaps in response to the reality that the courts will acquit camping tickets based on the "necessity" defense, so the business of ticketing sleepers is really a kind of nasty bluff.

To get some idea of the small amount spent on homeless shelter, consider that the entire amount spent on the Homeless Services Center is less than $170,000 annually; 8 new police positions were filled in a behind-closed-doors Council meeting in May at a cost of $1 million; the Council is planning to pass a $4.1 million contract to Camp, Dresser, and McKee--whom human rights groups call war profiteers over in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The change comes from the offices of City Attorney John Barisone--who has recently been trying unsuccessfully to convict Anna Richardson and Miguel de Leon of "camping" because they've fallen asleep on several occasions in the last year while hauling their stuff around the downtown (See "Jail For Sleep Permanent Injunction Trial Resumes" at ).

The staff report can be found at

The wording of the ordinance change is at

PR for current token homeless shelter services:

City Council should be contacted at 831-420-5020 or e-mailed at citycouncil [at] .

More important: Peacecamp2010 has nightly meetings at 8:15 front of City Hall. Its website is . Kick down for blankets, sleeping bags, food, and other survival items.

Support HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) with volunteer time by callling me at 423-4833 or e-mailing me at rnorse3 [at]


by Robert Norse
Monday Sep 13th, 2010 11:58 PM
J.M. Brown's Sentinel article only mentions the Camping Ordinance change in passing---and misunderstands or deliberately misstates the proposed change. In the last paragraph of a story headlined "Santa Cruz City Council to weigh desal design contract: Opponents believe voters should decide project's fate" at, Brown writes:

"Also Tuesday, the council will consider amending a camping ban to dismiss citations only if a violator was on a shelter wait list. Presently, the city attorney dismisses citations if shelters are full, but the new rule would put greater responsibility on the homeless to actually place their names on a wait list"

Actually, the one virtue of the proposed law change at City Council is that it explicitly requires the City Attorney to dismiss citations from April 15 to November 15 when folks are on a shelter waiting list (i.e. the Paul Lee Loft at the Homeless Services Center [HSC] is too full to take them). This was not the case before, even though the HSC did give out letters on request when someone brought in a camping or sleeping ticket without requiring that person to be on a waiting list. Such letters didn't prompt any action from the City Attorney, but did prompt the judges to dismiss cases prior to trial.

The new policy as of a few months ago--perhaps prompted by the many tickets gotten by Peacecamp2010 residents--was to require prior waiting list status on the date of a ticket. That HSC policy is now being written into city law with this ordinance.

Peacecamp2010 protesters, led by attorney-activist Ed Frey have been taking citations, arrest, theft, and other forms of abuse from the police in order to expose the fact that THERE IS NO SHELTER IN THE SUMMER MOST OF THE YEAR for the homeless community. Hence requiring letters or status on a waiting list is irrelevant, superfluous, and misleading.

It all goes to the illusion that the City has some meaningful and appropriate shelter system and that those outside deserve to be ticketed if they aren't in shelter. This is a straight lie.

J.M. Brown--as usual--isn't helping the situation by first ignoring and then misstating the issue.

It does have the effect of making the City look "tougher" (i.e. by supposedly "put(ting) greater responsibility on the homeless to actually place their names on a waiting list". Though this shouldn't be required since it's general knowledge there's no shelter anyway, the law does specify for the first time that tickets will be dismissed and the camping ordinance will not apply to those who are on that waiting list.

I've informed Acting Mayor Coonerty I want 5 minutes to speak for HUFF on this issue, but not received any response.

Camping Ordinance Revisions Pass at City Council
by Robert Norse
Thursday Sep 16th, 2010 4:40 AM
City Council, after allowing restricted public comment, asked a few questions of Homeless Services Center [HSC] Executive Director Monica Martinez. It then passed the ordinance as written in spite of objections by Peacecamp2010 founder Ed Frey and others. Frey pointed out (again) that waking sleeping homeless people when they've committed no crime (since the necessity defense given no shelter makes them innocent at trial) is a form of cruel and unusual punishment where there is no crime and no victim (except for the sleeper). I suggested amendments that would require the HSC to have anyone sign up on their waiting list and provide a written receipt at the time which could then be taken immediately to the City Attorney to have the ticket dismissed.
Martinez agreed the "receipt" idea could be done, and Councilmember Madrigal supported it. Whether it will be done or not, however, seems largely in the hands of the City Attorney, who was given the authority to set all the parameters.

What's needed, of course, is to dump the ban entirely as recommended a decade ago by the City's own Homeless Issues Task Force--see and go to the Introduction. See also "Homeless Issues Task Force Recommends Repeal of Camping Ban in Santa Cruz"

Short of that, the City needs to require police not to issue camping tickets when presented with the receipt or--better--adopt the Frey proposal that requires the police to phone HSC before their ticketing expeditions on any night to determine if there is any shelter available. If not, don't wake up and ticket homeless people. Frey, Linda Lemaster, attorney Kate Wells, Councilmember Katherine Beiers, and I are supposed to be meeting on this issue. However since the meeting was scheduled in lieu of the HSC's agreeing to issue a general letter acknowledging their utter lack of walk-in-emergency shelter from April 15 to November 15, it seems more like an HSC dodge than a real search for solutions.

Mayor Coonerty ended up allowing HUFF (whose spokesperson at the meeting was Becky Johnson) 4 minutes. However, in an apparent punitive move he demanded to know who in the audience were HUFF members and how many of them would "give up" their time. This is a policy unique to Coonerty which again cuts back public comment time. Rotkin, the lame-duck Mayor whose term ends in November, was absent, and Coonerty's comment cutback may indicate how he intends to run things in the likely event that the Council selects him as Mayor in November.

The Sentinel did a small story on the Camping Ordinance amendments, which were voted through without modification--though there was some discussion. (Sentinel article at ("Citations waived for homeless on shelter list: Santa Cruz camping ban altered to cover more than winter refuge"

Sentinel writer J.M. Brown told me it was his impression that the City Attorney already dismissed citations in the summer if shelters were full. I found this unlikely since shelters are almost always full and I've not heard of a ticket being dismissed by the City Attorney in this manner. Instead the usual procedure was for the Homeless Services Center [HSC] to issue letters when someone comes to them with a ticket. That letter is then taken to the courts, who fairly routinely dismiss the citations.

Recently, as I mentioned above, the HSC apparently changed that policy--perhaps under pressure from the City Attorney--it's not clear. The more restrictive policy now requires a person seeking to have a ticket dismissed through getting a letter documenting full shelter on the night of the ticket needs to have been on their waiting list on the date of the ticket. The new ordinance, if voted again in two weeks, will go into effect a month later. It will require the same "waiting list" status on the date of the ticket. And will also require the homeless person to contact the City Attorney with proof s/he is on the waiting list.

It's possible this latest minor loosening-of-the-screws was done under pressure from the courts, who recognize the unnecessary court hearings, given the overweening ever-present reality of no shelter. However since it is a nightly reality, allowing police to issue tickets at all is abusive or, as was said in the Jones decision and settlement "cruel and unusual punishment." It may be that the City Attorney may also be nervous about a law suit against the City for the Sleeping Ban.

Frey made the further point that those who choose or need to sleep outdoors should not be punished for that choice if they sleep in places that don't cause anyone else a problem.

Councilmembers Krohn and Sugar proposed a similar measure years ago in December 1998. "Mo stops or tickets for blankets or sleeping without a health-and-safety concern"" was the phrasing.. It was voted down by Rotkin, Matthews, and Beiers among others. See " Activists fight Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban" at & .

I'll be playing audio today from the City Council hearing and from interviews afterward with Monica Martinez, Executive Director of the HSC at 6 PM today on 101.1 FM and It will be archived at

Also on the air will be Rocky Neptun of San Diego talking about the Spencer settlement. That settlement is supposed to stop police from issuing citations at night to homeless people on the streets. There and in Los Angeles, homeless people aren't required to prove they made diligent efforts to find a shelter bed, or to prove there was no shelter that night by letter or show they were on a waiting list. The fact that there is never enough shelter pn any night is general knowledge This was enough to get the settlement that supposedly requires police to lay off. "Supposedly" because, according to preliminary info from Neptun, they are NOT laying off--in violation of the settlement.

In Santa Cruz, the situation is the same, but the City Attorney and his compliant City Council continue to turn a blind eye to the reality. Why? They need "tools" to drive away homeless people, even the City's own homeless as the domestic depression deepens. And so the city continues to quietly consume itself under cover of darkness.

Meanwhile, Peacecamp2010 activists are the real heroes whose 100+ tickets have forced the situation into the limelilght. They still need blankets, legal support, and food and can be found nightly (and daily) in front of City Hall on Center St. Also check out their website at and this website for updates.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Citations waived for homeless on shelter list: Santa Cruz camping ban altered to cover more than winter refuge

NOTE TO READER: The title to this article is misleading. Tickets are not "waived" but issued and require a homeless person to STILL be awakened, cited, moved along, and charged. However, they can then take their citation to the City Attorney for dismissal IF they can prove they are on the waiting list. What we need is a policy which LEAVES THEM ALONE if they are on the waiting list. --Becky Johnson, Ed.

SANTA CRUZ - The City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to give homeless people a break if they are on a shelter wait list when they receive a citation for overnight camping.

Current rules allow the city to waive such tickets when the winter shelter at the former National Guard Armory site is full. It doesn't cover times when other year-round shelters are full, but the long-standing practice of the city attorney has been to dismiss citations written when such shelters are full.

Robert Norse, a longtime advocate for the homeless who has sued the city over First Amendment protections, called the change "a minor step forward."

But he and others argued that it does little to reverse a camping ban that criminalizes homelessness and sleeping outside. Critics said the rules also create a burden for homeless to visit the shelter every day to check on the wait list.

"It does no good to say you are on a waiting list because you still have to sleep outside," Norse said.

Norse suggested the council add a requirement that those on a wait list receive a receipt that could be shown to an officer, who would then be prohibited from writing a ticket.

Monica Martinez, director of the Homeless Services Center, said she supported the change because it makes the camping ban "more compassionate."

She said her center could issue some sort of verification that people are on a wait list but cautioned that a person, rather than taking advantage of a bed when it becomes available, keep the receipt indefinitely. She said it would be too onerous for staff to give the same homeless person a wait-list receipt every day.

The council's decision left details about wait list verification for the city attorney to work out with shelter providers.

Earlier this week, City Manager Martin Bernal acknowledged a key aim of the ordinance change is to determine, "Are people actually making an effort" to find shelter. He said the change is not in direct response to PeaceCamp 2010, a protest organized by Norse.

The demonstration against the camping ban began July 4 at the county courthouse lawn but was moved outside City Hall once it was clear that city police had no intention of citing participants on county property.

Since then, police have issued 107 citations, the majority of which are for the ban against camping from 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. Officers have also made 21 arrests for ignoring demands to leave the property an array of other charges.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Item #28 to alter Sleeping Ban on City Council Agenda

Costing $100 a night, noisy, and spewing exhaust fumes, the SCPD placed these bright klieg lights up every night for weeks in order to disperse the demonstration against the Sleeping Ban claiming they were necessary for "safety reasons." -- Photo by Becky Johnson Aug 18, 2010

by Becky Johnson
Sept 12, 2010

Santa Cruz, Ca.-- In what clearly is a victory for Peace Camp 2010, without any notice or press, Mayor Mike Rotkin has placed an item on the afternoon agenda this coming Tuesday, Sept. 14th which will change language in the Sleeping Ban for the first time in eight years. And during an election cycle too!

A homeless man sleeps legally at City Hall during the daytime. Sleeping is illegal in the City of Santa Cruz at night despite a thrice-declared shelter emergency. Photo by Becky Johnson

Plucky Peace Camp 2010 participants, Ed Frey, Collette Donally, "Scum", Todd Hill, Vamp, Robert "Blindbear" Facer, Sara, Jackie, Leigh no-last-name, and the irrepresible, Gary Johnson have been unshaken in their determination to violate the Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010 section a) each and every night literally on the Mayor's front lawn.

The City has responded with Sleeping ban citations, blanket ban citations, statewide "anti-lodging" misdemeanor law citations, new "trespass" laws at both City Hall, the Central Library, Klieg Lights, private security guards and smear campaigns in the press. Yet the motley crew persist. Now an item on the agenda.

Is there a crack in the shell?

"No trespassing" on public property signs were posted without notice, public hearings, or discussion at City Hall making City Hall off-limits to the public for the first time in over 150 years of existence. The first people cited under the new "trespass" law were members of Peace Camp 2010. Photo by Becky Johnson August 21, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Situation Grows Darker

by Robert Norse

This last week saw high-intensity klieg lights at night powered by a noisy noxious generator spotlighting sleepers at night, new unprecedented "closing hours" of the City Hall Courtyard precluding peaceful protest presence there, and heightened friction from a patrolling First Alarm security guard (who began to hassle medical marijuana users for the first time at PeaceCamp2010's nightly meeting).

Last week, the City Parks & Recreation boss Dannettee Shoemaker apparently okayed closing off the entire City Hall complex at night without any public input, public discussion, consultation with the P & R commission, or respect for the wording of the relevant Municipal Code:

MC 13.04.011 (a) reads in part:

"The parks and recreation director may, by regulation, establish hours during which any ... grounds, building or facility is open to the general public.... For purposes of this chapter, the area under the jurisdiction and control of the parks and recreation director encompasses without limitation ...[the] City Hall Courtyard,... The parks and recreation commission ...shall be consulted to obtain input on any proposed modifications to the hours of operation of parks and open spaces."

Police began warning and then ticketing PC2010 vigilers for simply being in that now-forbidden zone, previously open to the public for decades. Additionally neither Shoemaker, Mayor Rotkin, nor the new City Manager Martin Bernal offered any crime figures to justify the lights, the increased First Alarm surveillance, or the closing off of public space.

Three days ago city workers posted the front of the library on Church St. with a sign banning sitting on the benches in front of the library 9 PM to 9 AM where many homeless people and weary residents have traditionally sat. By Thursday, an identical 'No Trespassing at Night' sign had been posted defacing the side of the library on Center St. First Alarm security extended their harassment activities and time period to now harass PC 2010 activists who had moved across the street to continue to be "legal".

The activist were willing to be ticketed for sleeping, but didn't want the focus of the protest to be muddied with other charges. Additionally sleeping tickets given--either under the City's unconstitutional Municipal Code 6..36 or the state Lodging law 647e--can be probably be effectively fought by pointing out the City's well-known lack of legal shelter.

So City Sleepslayers have adopted a new tactic. The new signage, however unconstitutional, literally pulls the the ground out from under the feet of those protesting. The signage makes any kind of presence there, and now around the outside of the library illegal.

Since the police, P & R, and City Manager have presented no statistics showing any increased crime in these areas, other than the crime of "sleeping" (which actually has remained at about the same level), the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that this is a direct attack on the First Amendment rights of those trying to awaken the conscience of City Hall through peaceful civil disobedience.

E-mail demands to Shoemaker and Bernal asking for the public documents relevant to the new signage have been ignored by both the P&R and the City Manager's office. Shoemaker's P&R has long made the absurd claim that they have no paper record of the work they order, how the decisions were arrived at, who put in the input, what departmental discussions happened, --whether the issue be benches on the mall of this latest assault on public spaces.

To understand the magnitude of the threat here, note the further wording of MC 13.04.011 (which was amended in 2006 to eliminate the requirement that public space closure must first go through a vote of the P & R Commission: see my comments at the time at

The expansive powers of Shoemaker include closing power over: " ... all city parks and greenbelts, all city park trails and roads, all city park facilities and buildings, including Lighthouse Field State Beach, DeLaveaga Golf Course, Main Beach, Cowell’s Beach, Steamer Lane, Harvey West Pool, the Beach Flats Community Center, the Louden Nelson Community Center, the Teen Center, the Civic Auditorium, City Hall Courtyard, Mission Plaza, the Town Clock, the Natural History Museum, the Surfing Museum, Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, Pacific Avenue, West Cliff Drive (Pelton Street to Swanton Boulevard), the San Lorenzo River Levee and bike path, the San Lorenzo Benchlands, the inner banks of the San Lorenzo River within the City limits, the Branciforte and Cabonera Creeks within the city limits, Jessie Street Marsh, plus any other facilities or areas assigned to the parks and recreation department by the city manager."

Even though "consulting" with the P&R Commission is still required, there is no indication that Shoemaker did so before posting the signage at City Hall and the library. She gave no indication of that in response to the e-mail I sent her.

Meanwhile, the Homeless Services Center, which used to give out letters admitting there was no shelter there on any particular night of the summer, have changed their policy to require Waiting List status, possibly under pressure from city authorities concerned that protesters will be emboldened to assert their right to sleep on public property given the absolute lack of shelter space.

This HSC stonewalling strategy is counterproductive, considering their personnel can be subpoenaed into court in every case to testify that there was no shelter that night, even if the homeless victim ticketed didn't previously sign up (for non-existent shelter). The HSC's Board of Directors Chair Sally Williams, though agreeing to meet with homeless activists, has not yet issued a letter acknowledging the lack of shelter space and agreeing to provide a phone line with a recording that states "no shelter tonight" so that police can stop their futile ticketing or be guilty of clear harassment--as proposed by attorney-activist Ed Frey.

Meanwhile police are still holding such threatening items as the shoes of 72-year old Collette Connolly, the "End the Sleeping Ban" signs of protester Gary Johnson, and the community coffee megamug not to mention blankets, sleeping bags, two tables, several chairs, and political literature. Sara, nother pregnant homeless woman, has been driven away from the protest by the increased police harassment to sleep in a less safe area.

The expanded police state mentality and explicit statements of support from the triumverate of acting Police Chief Vogel, Vice-Mayor (and soon to be Mayor) Coonerty, and City manager Bernal are fawningly described in Jennifer Squires' Sentinel story at ,I reluctantly reprint it below lest it suddenly disappear from the archives and require payment to be accessed.

The story approvingly reports on the expansion of First Alarm goonsquad activity to Pacific Avenue with the vague inflammatory but unsubstantiated claims of "vandalism, vagrancy, and violence". In the current economic climate where people are criminalized for sleep and resorting to stealing food, increased police repression is likely to lead to increased violence. Or the silence of the police state.

Private security guards to supplement police patrols in downtown Santa Cruz

Posted: 09/03/2010 01:30:35 AM PDT

Click photo to enlarge

... (A downtown Santa Cruz foot patrol officer talks with two downtown hosts Thursday. Beginning...)

SANTA CRUZ -- Downtown visitors will see more uniformed officers patrolling Pacific Avenue this month, but the new faces will not be police.

A pilot program that puts private security guards downtown during the morning and early afternoon launches Saturday. The aim is to provide an increased police presence in the business district plagued by vagrants, vandalism and violence, according to police and city leaders.

Three First Alarm security guards trained in municipal ordinances and equipped with police radios will share the daily patrols, which augment regular policing in the area, according to Kevin Vogel, interim Santa Cruz police chief.

The one-month trial run begins Saturday and will cost $5,000, police reported. It will be funded by the police department.

"We are looking for more creative, less expensive ways to provide additional public safety resources downtown," said Vogel, who took over leadership of the police department Wednesday. "First Alarm will be down there to enhance the staffing we already have downtown."

However, the private security officers will not carry guns and have no police powers. They can detain people -- akin to a citizen's arrest -- and will notify police dispatchers of problems that require the attention of a sworn officer.

"It's a proactive stance," Vogel said. "We want them walking around, talking to people."

Chip, the head of the Downtown Association who goes by one name, said business ownerssupport the police initiative.

"The more of a presence of enforcement downtown, the more security people have," he said.

City Manager Martin Bernal said the security guards will help "change the culture so that bad behavior is not acceptable." Because an arrest can tie up an officer for four hours or more, the guards are needed to provide more eyes and ears on the street, he said.

There are seven officers and a sergeant assigned to patrol downtown Santa Cruz, but that unit typically works in the afternoon and evening when downtown problems ramp up. A community service officer assigned to downtown is on leave.

The security guards will work an early shift when there are fewer police officers in the area, Vogel said.

Bernal noted that the city has yet to hire officers to fill all of the eight positions recently approved by the City Council. While officer candidates are vetted -- a lengthy process that involves background checks and training -- the cost of the security guards is coming from the money budgeted for new officers.

Cal Horton, president of First Alarm Security & Patrol Inc., said his company often provides support services to area law enforcement and this latest assignment is an exciting opportunity for his staff.

The Santa Cruz Police Department hires private security guards to beef up staffing for major events and certain holidays, such as Halloween and New Year's Eve. First Alarm guards man roadblocks in the Seabright neighborhood on July Fourth and patrol city property at night.

Sheriff Phil Wowak contracted a First Alarm guard to watch over a protest in which homeless campers staked out at the county courthouse steps earlier in the summer.

One security guard will be on patrol downtown from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily though Oct. 3, then the supplemental program will be evaluated to determine if it should continue, Vogel said.

"I think it's a great experiment," said Ryan Coonerty, a Santa Cruz councilman and downtown business owner. "It's amazing when you walk along with police officers how everyone straightens up and crime goes away, so the more often that happens, the better."

Sentinel staff writer J.M. Brown contributed to this report.

At a glance

private security
pilot project
Begins: Saturday, continues for a month
Cost: $5,000, paid from police department funds
Patrol area: Pacific Avenue and side streets
Staff: Three First Alarm security guards will be trained; one will patrol each day
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
SOURCE: Santa Cruz police

Support PeaceCamp2010 in their legal and life struggle to awaken the conscience of Santa Cruz. Call 423-4833.

Demand that City Manager Martin Bernal (the most powerful official in the City) stop the crackdown on the homeless community and the peaceful Peacecamp2010 vigilers. Call 420-5030.

Demand acting Police Chief Vogel instruct his officers not to ticket sleepers unless they can guarantee there's a shelter space available. Call 420-5810.

Demand the HSC come clean on its absence of summer shelter & issue a public letter to that effect that homeless people can use to officially inform police. Call 458-6020.

Demand City Council change the Sleeping Ban law to a law prohibiting camping or sleeping in a littered area, which would require homeless people to clean up the areas they sleep in, but not criminalize them for the act of sleeping. Call 420-5020.

These are all 24-hour numbers.