END SANTA CRUZ CITY MANAGER MARTIN BERNAL’S CRUEL WAR ON THOSE WITHOUT HOUSING
Join us Tuesday, May 23rd at Santa Cruz City Hall
809 Center Street,Santa Cruz, California 95060 - Dinner at 4:00 PM Sleep-out all night.
END THE BAN ON SLEEPING OUTSIDE FROM 11PM TO 8:30AM
Call City Manager Martin Bernal at 831-420-5010 or email him at mbernal [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Santa Cruz Manager, Martín Bernal made a number of policy changes that are having a tragic impact on those without housing. Park rangers arrived to City Hall this morning and ordered those standing outside to leave claiming it was even illegal to be on the sidewalk. The desperation expressed by those being forced out to neighboring sidewalks is heartbreaking. It is difficult to understand how Bernal could be so cruel.
Bernal never brought up plans for his stepped up campaign against the homeless at the May 9th City Council meeting where the Homelessness Coordinating Committee Santa Cruz City Council Subcommittee issued it’s Final Report and Recommendations. Several City Councilors report Bernal did not talk with them about his plans.
Bernal posted signs on May 12th claiming it is illegal to be at City Hall from 6:00 PM to 7:00 AM Monday through Friday and has closed all of the City Hall grounds on Saturday and Sunday. The signs also claim to ban personal property on sidewalks, walls or pathways, bicycles or sitting, lying on sidewalks, walls, pathways or courtyard areas. Signs limiting the homeless from existing are being enforced at a number of other city buildings and parks in Santa Cruz.
Library staff have also reported that City Manager Bernal will be removing the benches outside the library and stationing two or more police officers at City Hall.
Bernal also lobbied union leaders representing city employees to express fear of the homeless and back him on his campaign. Bernal appears to have circulated a couple of isolated and exaggerated stories of homeless violence giving the impression this was a crisis threatening all city employees working at or near City Hall. This seems to be the exact same strategy used to justify the fence around the downtown Post Office.
The Freedom Sleepers campaign inspired an attempt by Councilpersons Don Lane and Micah Posner to seek a change in the camping ban in March 2016 to make it legal to sleep outside, ending the law that made it a crime to sleep outside or in a vehicle from 11:00 PM to 8:30 AM. Their proposed change failed to gain enough votes. In response to pressure from the Freedom Sleepers the council did create a Homelessness Coordinating Committee whose report was introduced at the May 9, 2017 City Council meeting. No discussion of City Manager Bernal’s new campaign to drive the homeless from Santa Cruz was mentioned by any city officials during the meeting.
Local unhoused people started their own nightly protest at City Hall the night after the Winter Shelter closed. They are referred to as the Survival Sleepers.
An anti-homeless fence was installed around the Santa Cruz Post Office’s exterior on March 9, 2017. People sought shelter under the awnings at the post office when the emergency shelter was closed.
These are just a few of the recent efforts by City Manager Bernal to torment those without housing hoping to make it so uncomfortable that they leave.
“Eighty-four percent of homeless survey respondents reported they were living in Santa Cruz County at the time they most recently became homeless, an increase from 72% in 2013. Of those, over half (60%) had lived in Santa Cruz County for 10 years or more. Five percent had lived in Santa Cruz County for less than one year.” Source: Applied Survey Research. (2015). Santa Cruz County Homeless Survey. Watsonville, CA.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL THE FREEDOM SLEEPERS AT 831-515-8234
Santa Cruz’s response to downtown homelessness: Closing city hall to public on nights and weekends