Sunday, September 29, 2013

Santa Cruz attacks independent arts, culture and artisan vendors

Human Rights abuse in itty-bitty Santa Cruz [link]

* HUFF Cafe upholds, defends and restores inDIYpendent culture (if for only 2 hours) [link], which also details the threatening presence of armed police and intelligence agents...
* Santa Cruz Police terrorize elderly lady selling scarves in downtown, 2014-02-21 [link]
* 2014-02, Santa Cruz attacks another respected street performer: The Great Morgani [link]

Graphic from "HUFF - Santa Cruz":

"Shrinking Sidewalks and the Permit Fantasy"
2013-11-09 by Robert Norse:
The attack on street performers, activists, and artists downtown to seems to me directly related to the ongoing sub-humanization of the homeless population through Drug War smears, "lazy bum" stereotypes, and "public safety"  scare stories.   Many of the street performers are themselves homeless or travelers.  There is a fundamental push to Carmel-ize Santa Cruz by right-wing groups which have always had this agenda (the Downtown Association, the SCPD, Santa Cruz Neighbors, etc.).  We need a broad coalition of artists, performers, unhoused folks, renters, workers, and bankster victims to fight back, or get picked off.
With the suffocating reduction of sidewalk art and performance space under the modified Downtown Ordinances that went into effect in Santa Cruz on October 24th, repression apologists are reassuring those facing a matrix of exclusion that all the need to do, if they want to play, table, display, or occupy more than 12 square feet (approx 3 1/2 X 3 1/2 feet) is to apply for a permit at the Parks and Recreation Department. This is camouflage and cover for a fundamental change in the downtown scene being orchestrated by those engaged in class and culture war to gentrify Pacific Avenue and use the myth of Poverty Crime and Clutter to trample Santa Cruz values & traditions of diversity & inclusion. Described below is what is actually offered in the "permit process".
In fact performers, other than those singly cramming themselves into 12 square feet downtown are now technically illegal. Those you see down there are either unaware of this fact or being temporarily ignored by the police (perhaps while protest heat subsides).   However the new laws are as clear as they are devastating.  It signifies the legal end to street performing as Santa Cruz as has traditionally known it.

 (These notes are based on the Parks & Recreation [P & R] office worker info on 11-7-13 as well as the City's Street Performance Downtown Santa Cruz website. If anyone has new info or corrections, please contact me).

 The only spots for which P & R will grant permits are
 (1) Compass Rose area near the post office;
 (2) Memorial Plaza near Jamba Juice;
 (3) Pacific and Cooper;
 (4) Pearl Alley;
 (5) Scribner Statue area.
 In other areas where performing for donation was traditional (say in front of New Leaf Market), it is simply banned with NO provision for any permit. This means from Laurel St. to Water St. there are a total of 4 spots to play with more than one performer, assuming the two aren't in a carnal embrace and playing harmonicas (i.e. have instruments like guitars that require at least some space).

 Permits can be filed only Monday – Thursday 8 AM – 4 PM at the P & R Office at 323 Church St 36 hours in advance of performance. So, if you want to perform with a fellow guitarist on a Monday, you'd better have applied on Wednesday or Thursday of the prior week. P & R worker Betsy assured me that two people playing could easily fit into 12 square feet—the maximum allowable space without a permit for someone with an open guitar case, cup, or other “display device”.. She must have been quite the rage at college phone booth stuffing events.

 Maximum time length allowed is 2 hours on Pacific and 3 hours in the alleys, one performance per day, and only between 11 AM- 10 PM. Additionally it's not clear when these rules will be altered given the new ordinances (and new bleak mentality to enable performance “regulation” by police, hosts, security guards, city staff, & merchants). Only one event per weekend. And only in the five spots indicated. Otherwise you are expected to squeeze your instrument, effects, companions and hynee's into 3 of those sidewalk squares.
 When Betsy checked, no one had applied for (and been granted) a permit subsequent to October 24, though 2 groups had applied for events in November before that date and been granted permits. Actually though I've only heard second hand accounts of smoking tickets being issued and none of sitting or "display device in wrong place" or "taking up too much space" citations, the number of performers down there has looked tome to be markedly less and those who are there are newbies who often don't know the rules. Today I saw two homeless people sprawled in "illegal" spots (but not blocking traffic, of course, just "illegal under the "merchant freeway" rules) and, I think, one performer--this was around 4 PM.
 Though the permits are free, if you're using a keyboard or any kind of “amplification” however minor, you've got to go through the SCPD and pay $33 with a much longer lead time. I've filed a Public Records Act request asking for specifics from them—which they're supposed to respond to in the next 10 days.
 I've also requested a list of the names and positions of the Hosts (the Hostile-aptaility squad) and the First Alarm thug patrols--no response yet.

 Contrary to what rule#7 at reads at the Street Performance Downtown Santa Cruz city website (“no commercial sales”), recent court decisions acknowledged by the City Attorney's office allow you to both sell and price tag your own original work (if written, audio, or video)--though this is not explicitly acknowledged (and not respected by some police).
 The published decision is Steven C. White v. City of Sparks. It can be found at []. There's a news story at [].
 The City's Street Performer website has also not been updated to indicate that a permit is required for any space more than 2' X 6' (not 4' X 6' as it now reads).
 What you don't read in the latest cheery Street Performing Downtown Santa Cruz hand-out being passed on by police and hosts (from their unmarked HQ at 607 Front St.) is the alarming (and absurd) clarification that the 12 square feet is only 3 “sidewalk squares”--difficult for one performer with an instrument and its case, impossible for more than one.

 MC 5.43.010 only limits "a display device for noncommercial use ON ANY PUBLIC SIDEWALK" [emphasis mine]-- so if the device itself doesn't sit on the sidewalk, but on you, it arguably isn't covered by the ordinance. So one alternative for performers is to attach a cup to your clothing and have no display device at all. Perhaps add a small sign “City law forbids me to place this cup on the sidewalk.”
 This has the additional benefit of arguably allowing you if you perform while standing to do it anywhere and everywhere and still get donations from those brave enough to approach. The 14' setbacks only apply to sitting, display devices placement, (and panhandling—which is explicitly defined differently than performing for donation).
 I include below copies of the Permit Application, the Permit "Rules" from the City website, the Santa Cruz Performers Guidelines flyer being pushed by the Hosts and cops, and a flier that outlines the information I've outlined above.

The site at has not been updated. So the sentence "The performance requires a space greater than 4 X 6 feet" has now been amended to read "greater than 2 X 6" or more accurately, 12 square feet.

(click on image for clarity)

(click on image for clarity)

"Host Assault Occurred in the Midst of a Peaceful Protest Against the Sidewalk Snatchers"
2013-10-08 by Robert Norse:
The incident portrayed on the video happened about an hour or so into the 2-hour protest in front of Forever Twenty-One (and then crossing Soquel to the New Leaf Market corner.
 It reportedly began (as also documented in the video) when the Host or Hospitalilty (or Hostile-apitality) worker told the two women that they were sitting illegally against Forever Twenty One (though not blocking traffic or causing any problem). One or both of the women responded by videoing the event, enraging the Host, who then engaged in behavior that seemed to me to be an aggressive assault. If any homeless person had done such a thing with a tourist, he would have been at least cited, and probably arrested. Not here, of course, this was Authority expressing rage that it was being Held Accountable through a videocaming. I was not present when all this happen but standing across the street.
 I was standing next to a didgeridoo player with a sign that read "On October 24th, this will be illegal" in front of New Leaf Market to dramatize the disappearance of performance space . That spot will become a "forbidden zone" for musicians, artists, vendors, political tablers, those who want to sit down on the sidewalk, or panhandlers on October 24th. That spot will be illegal because the entire area is within 14' of either the kiosk, the crosswalk, the trash can, or the building--prohibited under the new MC 5.43.020.
 The same will be true in that entire block from Soquel to Cathcart up and down Pacific Avenue. Take a walk downtown--measure out the area by using the squares imprinted in the sidewalk (approx 2' X 2'). Performance, vending, tabling, sitting, & art space does not exist there.
 The point in 2002, when an earlier version of this measure was rushed through was to criminalize panhandling and sitting in most places downtown (see The Alarm coverage for July, August, and September 2002 at ). Ironically, this was in the face of two public hearings at that time which found the major concerns were selective enforcement of the Downtown Ordinances (against youth, homeless-looking people, minorities, and activists) and police harassment (similarly).
 Angry shouts drew my attention to the scene across Soquel at the site of the protest tables where Lyrical Eye (Isaac Collins) was rapping and others were giving out flyers and collecting signatures. Then an angry woman in a Hospitality uniform crossed Soquel, followed by several women. The Hospitality worker was screaming at the women, refused to give her name, and stalked off. I described the situation later as an assault, due too the intensity of the rage and the close distance.
 Another Host (or "Hospitality" worker, as they style themselves) arrived--who I think was the screaming Host's superior. She refused to give her name nor the name of the screamer. Officer Albert, who arrived a few minutes later, along with other First Alarm security guards ultimately refused to take a citizen's arrest for this behavior. This seemed to me an obvious example of selective enforcement. As mentioned in the article, none of the Hosts were wearing nametags. Though it strains belief to suggest that their identity was unknown to Officer Albert, who works with them regularly, he refused to provide their names to the victims. Neither of the asssilant nor of her cover-for-the-employee boss.
 Otherwise the protest secured more signatures than either of the two prior protests downtown.
 A hopscotch matrix was chalked on the sidewalk with erasable chalk, which Officer Albert noted was "graffiti".
 Another chalked area marked the 12 X 12 square feet which would drive away all but the tiniest performers or apprentice contortionists.
 One donor left two sponge cakes.
 And more protests are in the offing. Come to the HUFF meeting Wednesday at 11 AM at the Sub Rosa (703 Pacific) to plot and plan.
 The attached flier is an updated version of one distributed.
Text of the Flier:
Save Our Santa Cruz Sidewalks from Stupid Laws
 On October 24th, new Downtown Ordinances will:
* FORBID PERFORMANCE, TABLING, ART DISPLAY, VENDING, SITTING, AND SPARECHANGING on 95% of downtown sidewalks & 100% of sidewalks near buildings elsewhere.
* FORCE ALL SUCH ACTIVITY TO THE CURB creating conflict with arriving motorists leaving their cars, unhealthy space for street performers, & a move to drive out vibrant street life.
* LIMIT IT to a handful of constricted 12 square feet spaces per block.
* LIMIT IT to 1 hour per day in any of the now very limited spots
* REQUIRE ADDITIONAL12' SEPARATION SPACES between these activities on the sidewalk
* REQUIRE DAYS OF LEAD TIME AND SPECIAL PERMITS for any exceptions to this rules.
* GIVE CONSERVATIVE STAFF & POLICE A VETO over who uses the public sidewalk.
* SET UP HUGE “WALK THROUGH ONLY” ZONES within 14' of buildings, street corners, intersections, kiosks, drinking fountains, public telephones, public benches, public trash containers,
 directory signs, sculptures or artwork, ATM-style machines, outside street cafes, vending carts, and fences.
* EMPOWER POLICE AND HOSTILE MERCHANTS to write $200-400 citations for traditionally innocent street presence, prescribing up to $1000 fine and 1 year in jail for 2nd “offense”.
* INCREASE VISIBLE POLICE SQUAD PRESENCE to pressure, cite, and/or arrest violators.
* SELECTIVELY TARGET MINORITIES, HOMELESS PEOPLE, & POOR FOLKS who don't “fit in” with the Downtown Association's vision of a proper “safe” Santa Cruz.
* BAN BOUNCING A BALL throwing a Frisbee, or hackeysacking downtown.
* BAN USING ERASIBLE CHALK whether for art or political messages.
* BAN SPREADING OUT A BLANKET on the sidewalk, traditional and necessary for the poor.
* BAN SITTING NEXT TO A BUILDING even if closed or vacant.
* FALSELY LABEL AS “SAFETY CONCERNS” traditional friendly Santa Cruz activity to empty the sidewalks of uses that don't involve buying in stores or restaurants.
* CREATE A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT for poor and homeless folks and deny them the rights others have to use the public space to assembly, rest, communicate, and enjoy.
* GIVE CRANKS A VETO ON STREET MUSIC by simply complaining.
* EMPOWER POLICE to expand enforcement—which originally created these laws.
* FALSELY SPREAD THE “PUBLIC SAFETY” MYTHOLOGY that Take Back Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Neighbors, the SCPD, the DTA, Needle-Free Zone, & other right-wing special interest groups are using to paint a scary picture downtown that encourages further repressive action.
* DRIVE AWAY ARTISTS & PERFORMERS leaving only the militant and the mercenary.

* E-mail City Council at citycouncil [at] .and demand these ordinances be reconsiderred for cost, effectiveness, impact, and unintended consequences by citizen committees with input from those impacted.
* Use your video phone to show the new harassment on the streets downtown. Post on Santa Cruz Indymedia & You-Tube, e.g. []. Send to HUFF: info [at]
* Spread opposition; Write local papers; Use Facebook & Twitter;. Ordinances become final on October 24th. Support Businesses who Support Public Space for all; Don't Support those who would privatize & sterilize.
* Post your own accounts of discrimination downtown. Document Host & Police Abuses. Coffee Roasting Co. & Starbucks recently banned large backpacks; New Leaf & Verve reportedly banned homeless-looking customers.
* Come to HUFF 11 AM every Wednesday at 703 Pacific to plan for the protests ahead.
* Witness and support other street performers when they face harassment from authorities.
* Get familiar with the Downtown Ordinances, often misquoted by police and hosts. Copies available on-line at [].
 Flier by Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833 [] 309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz 10-8-13
Text of the Petition:
PETITION to City Council - Restore Sidewalk Space For Everyone
 We, the undersigned, support open sidewalks. We oppose unnecessary restrictions. Sitting, performing, art display, political tabling, and peaceful panhandling are innocent and traditional practices. Severely restricting them destroys a friendly, creative, inclusive & welcoming climate downtown. Laws should encourage adequate room to pass & ban harassment against anyone, rich or poor. Sidewalk restrictions become worse on October 24th. They will reduce allowable space to less than 5% of the actual space. We wish to preserve the spontaneous, diverse, and colorful downtown. Restore voluntary street guidelines for performers, artists, vendors, and others. End the artificial space and time limitations. They require costly and unnecessary policing. They discourage tourists & community members from coming downtown and create a sterile scene.
 ANYONE who agrees can print name, sign, leave name and contact info.
 You do NOT have to be a city resident, registered voter, adult, or non-felon to sign.
 Please include contact information and skills to help with subsequent action such as a lawsuit, peaceful protest, boycotts, theatrical satire, letters to the media, etc.
 Petition by HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833 309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz 10-4-13
Text of the Flier:
 GET ready to resist
 Stop the Sidewalk-Snatching
 speak up WITH the poor: Mondays 5-7 PM Red Church Cedar & Lincoln Sts.
 speak up to city council: 5 PM Tuesday October 8th 809 Center St.
 speak up with the activists: 11 AM Every Wed 703 Pacific
 speak up to the hostile: 6-9 PM October 9th 315 Poplar St.
 speak up to the sympathetic: 7 PM October 10th 4-15 Walnut St.
 speak up on the street: Support Street Culture w/eyes, ears, & video!
 Sing, Sit, and Celebrate ! Save Santa Cruz Color and Street Life !
 Flier by Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833 10-7-13

"Coming Sunday to a Shrinking Santa Cruz Sidewalk Near You!" []: Funday Frolics - Sunday, October 06, 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM. On the sidewalk in front of Forever Twenty One on Pacific Avenue near Soquel in downtown Santa Cruz...  Petition, paint, play, and perform to dissolve the disagreeable Downtown Ordinances in a healthy wind of happy laughter! These are the hippie-hostile laws that reduce street assembly space to the vanishing point turning Pacific Avenue into one big entranceway to the knickknack shops! More background: [].

 The "activist" event is the HUFF meeting at the Sub Rosa Cafe on Wednesdays.
 The "hostiles" are Mayor Bryant's "Public Safety" Citizens Task Force being held at Branciforte Middle School Cafeteria (instead of its usual Community Room of the Police Station location)--a "public comment" session for once.
 Agenda: []
 Staff Report: []
 The "sympathics" are the Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp Forum being held at the Santa Cruz High School. See [].

 This issue is also being discussed on another thread, Steve Pleich's Citizens for a Better Santa Cruz at [] I'm glad that Pleich is allowing this issue to be discussed there (though I've been banned "for life" for posting the Ken "Skindog" Collins video in violation of his wishes) and also that Brent Adams has posted the incident, though he notes that in his Sanctuary Camp of the future I'd only be allowed in on a "visitor's pass" or somesuch.
 What's instructive for me is the graphic demonstration of selective enforcement and official cover-up that goes on. Gina Ramirez was apparently the Host higher-up who refused to give her name or the offending Host's name. Ramirez breezes around Pacific Avenue with smile on her face and a walkie-talkie in her hand, ready to snitch on someone sitting next to a building, or sitting 13' from a bench, or not moving when told to do so. This is friendly fascism that has nothing to do with public health and safety and certainly nothing to do with hospitality. Yes it's "her job". But it's our job to expose, ridicule, and resist these abusive laws.

 These laws are designed to condition people to abandon their right to use the public spaces as they traditionally have in Santa Cruz in innocent ways. That this ways displease some merchants or conservative visitors, does not give them the right to impose their aesthetic and preferences with taser, baton, and ticketbook.
 Additionally enforcement of these merchant privilege laws inordinately impact homeless people. It's ironic that the "high crime rate" that Deputy Chief Clark darkly denounced among the homeless is a function of these phony citations (for sleeping, sitting, vending, being in the park after dark, etc.--no to mention, of course the toxic Drug War).

 It's most important that folks post more videos documenting the lengths police, hosts, and security thugs go to to command compliance with unreasonable, unconstitutional, and abusive ordinances. Also interesting, of course, is the cost of this kind of Stupid Law enforcement. Raising the issue sharply is one way to take it "out of the closet" and into the light. My thanks to the videographer(s) involved and here's hope there will be many more.
 Peaceful public disobedience documented by video and posted on line is an important way to show abusive and absurd the situation is.

 It's then quite understandable how a Host, saddled with an abusive and crazy job doesn't want to be videoed doing it. They'd prefer to have everyone pretend that it's okay-dokey to abandon 95% of the sidewalk under the pretext of a "public safety" or "trip and fall" absurdity. When they're confronted--even with simple questions or a refusal to move, or--Heavens to Betsy!--a protest, that's not the kind of swift compliance that Friendly Fascist Training had led them to expect. Folks are supposed to say "yes, sir; yes sir" and do whatever the authority tells them to do.
 I actually felt some sympathy for this woman, given a ridiculous and degrading job which naturally makes her the target of ridicule, resentment and hostility. But since these folks are the ones giving out the $200-300 citations to hapless poor people, they need to be called out for what they're doing.
 The real blame, of course, lies with city staff, the city attorney, the city manager, and the city council. But since there's no real public process for dealing with these insulated powers on most issues (and particularly on homeless issues) raising the issues publicly downtown seems to be one of the few ways for ordinary people without massive legal or political resources to oppose the creeping police state.

 Santa Cruz Weekly reporter G. Perry was also at the protest for much of the afternoon. Not sure if this report is from her, but there's a thread of comments on the Weekly website at [].
 I'll be playing audio of the protest and the encounter on my radio show 6-8 PM Thursday October 10th and it'll (hopefully) archive at . I also hope to have the victims of this assault on Sandra Leigh's Community TV show Issues soon.

 Incidentally, Wikipedia definition of "assault": "At common law, an assault is an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact." So, yes, putting someone in fear particularly from a position of authority--and anonymous authority at that--is a particularly serious form of assault. Especially when it's rubberstamped by higher-up's and police.

 I've requested a list of the names of all Hosts and; First Alarm Security guards hired to harass folks outside downtown, at the library, in the parks, around City Hall and have yet to receive a reply. I will eventually. And will post it. A list of SCPD officers with badge numbers and names can be fond at It's somewhat outdated, and I'm still waiting for the update from the SCPD.

"Santa Cruz "Hostility" worker account"
2013-10-08 by Tania []:
Santa Cruz "Hostility" worker account from Oct 6, 2013 during a street demonstration on Pacific Avenue. Includes a link to a 41 sec youtube video documenting the encounter.
On Sunday Oct 6, 2013 I witnessed a city worker in a "hospitality" role threatening a friend. We were peacefully demonstrating the new Santa Cruz city ordinances aimed at clearing street vendors, musicians, and homeless from Pacific Avenue. I tried to get the "Hospitality" host's name but was verbally assaulted instead. I then tried getting her name from a supervisor, who also refused to comply. It seems to me that people employed by the city (especially) in a "hospitality" role should:
 1. be hospitable
 2. be accountable for their behavior
Refusing to give their identity is unacceptable. How am I to now have recourse for the assault? At least I have the video [].
But should all citizens carry video cameras around to protect themselves? It angers me to think that my tax dollars pay for this woman's salary. I have indirectly paid for this woman's harassment, yet have no recourse.
How would a police officer be reprimanded in this situation? If the hospitality workers went through the same training as a police officer, I question if this woman would have been able to complete the courses as it seems one would need more discipline. In any case, I believe it is clear this employee is in the wrong role.
My transcript of the video:
Worker: ... (unintelligible) get in my face and try to record me (unintelligible) record all this. Make sure you got this (down on?) tape. You are fucking with the wrong person, I'll tell you that right now. (turns and walks away)
Male - someone else: I didn't catch all that
(Becky and I running to catch up to worker)
Me: Now hold on, hold up!
Becky: Is that what you said? You said you were fucking with the wrong person?
Me: I didn't get your name! What is your name? Excuse me!
Worker: (unintelligible) get (out???) (slaps at me)
Becky: You think I have something against you? You approached me ma'am. I didn't approach you. You approached me.
Becky: You should quit lady. You're in the wrong profession.

"Santa Cruz Hostility from a city "Hospitality" Host" 
2013-10-06 upload to "" []:
If anyone knows the name of this city employee please let me know. I want to file a complaint but need her name. Any suggestions for actions I can take to escalate this issue?   
Background: We were peacefully demonstrating that the new Santa Cruz city ordinances would no longer allow people to sit on the sidewalk. The woman on the ground was holding a sign that said "this will be illegal Oct. 24th" and was harassed by the Santa Cruz "Hospitality" host. I don't think the behavior exhibited by this city employee is justified under any circumstance and she needs to be held accountable.
Comment from Becky Johnson: This host first approached me while I was hopscotching & told me I could be cited for "graffiti". (Yes, SIDEWALK CHALK on a SIDEWALK!) She walked off & stood about 30ft away & it looked like she was calling for backup. I approached her w my tape recorder on in plain sight & asked if there'd been a complaint. She ignored my question but got upset that I was tape-recording her response. Later she verbally assaulted me saying "You've fucked w the wrong person!" which I took as a threat.
Comment from JohnnyThund3r: First, none of us were begging. 2nd, I'm not homeless. We were protesting the banishment of artists,craftsmen,&musicians on Sept 24th when the new law goes into effect. This host (w no name badge) is working in uniform for the Downtown Mgmt. Corp. w our permission. No one should behave this way under color of law. She should be fired.

"The Latest Street Menace--Chess"
2013-09-30 NOTES BY NORSE:  The suppression of sidewalk chess in San Francisco is a mirror example of what is being done in Santa Cruz--removal by edict of public assembly on the sidewalks though the behavior is innocent (indeed positive), traditional, and serves not only "homeless" people but the community as well.  The only people complaining (and its not clear whether any real presentation of complaints versus commendations has been made) are some merchants.
Ditto with Santa Cruz.   Performers, vendors, artists, political tablers--indeed anyone who wants to sit down on the broad Santa Cruz sidewalks (and don't even  mention anyone who wants to peaceful, even silently sparechange)--already face an absurdly contracted space, high fines for sitting outside the designated areas, and huge fines for doing so (not to mention the threat of ail for repeated offenses).   The aggressors here are the same group of self-entitled gentrification maestros and economically-anxious merchants who are attempting to sanitize business districts throughout the country. 
Liberal on the outside, homeless-ophobic and streetlife-hostile underneath, places like New Leaf Market, Coffee Roasting Company, Verve--to mention only a few--are banning backpacks and homeless-looking people inside and (in New Leaf's case) supporting their removal even from the public sidewalks outside.  Streetlife is considered to be a "draw" or--in the current crypto-fascist language--"an enabling" or "welcoming" aspect to the sidewalk and so needs to be either regimented or removed entirely.  Ironically this "clean up" campaign threatens the vibrancy and color that actually draws tourists to the overpriced Pacific Avenue with its skyrocketing rents & knickknack shops. 
Simply wailing the business blues isn't enough in Santa Cruz (and SF), so merchants, cops, cranky conservatives, and paranoid residents hook up to generate the mythical "Public Safety" menace.  In Santa Cruz this takes the virulent and retrograde Drug War shape with politically resurgent groups like Take Back Santa Cruz, the Green Team, and the new Needle-Free Zone fear-mongers beating the drums for attacks on anyone who looks homeless (See ).  Deny them services; deny them space; criminalize them with absurd laws, and then use that criminal status to drive them away.
In Santa Cruz it will also become difficult if not impossible to play chess on the sidewalk without a permit.  Try and do it in 12 square feet and see.   Protests continue against these spirit-suppressing laws next Sunday (See and related articles at ).

"Festival of Fun Draws More Police Surveillance" 
2013-09-29 by Robert Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) [831-423-4833] [], posted to []
An hour and a half protest against the latest turn of the screw choking off street performers, artists, vendors, and tablers drew singers, poets, chalkers, a cop, and even a long-winded critic. Activists have put out a flyer announcing a second protest next Sunday October 6th.
Saturday night some of us came together for the first street protest in front of Forever Twenty-One last night since the passage of the Downtown Ordinances on September 24th. Activists bravenly chalking their outrage on the sidewalk and informed passersby of the new shrunken space street performers will be allowed.
 For those who know the downtown, that will be three of the 2' X 2' squares on Pacific Avenue within which a performer (or tabler or vendor or artist) will be expected to confine instrument, body, chair, table, and accompanists). Since this is clearly impossible in many cases, it will mean that to be legal you need to get a special permit.
 To do this requires 3 days to a week notice, is reportedly free, but may only be permissibble in a few spots downtown (though it wasn't clear from my conversations with the Parks and Rec Department last week whether the special permits were limited to that area). Obviously arriving to play spontaneously (if you wish to have a guitar case or other "display device" out--will be a thing of the past. Unless folks ignore this law and continue their traditional practices.l Having any "amplified sound" whatsoever supposedly now requires going through the SCPD and takes 2 weeks, or such was the info from P and R.
 The new rules also require 12' distances between those those busqueing, tabling, displaying artwork, or vending on the sidewalk as well as none of this activity at all within 14' of any building, any change-dispersing machine, any fence, any bench, any drinking fountain, any public telephone, any public bench, any public trash can, any information or directory sign, any sculpture, any “no panhandler” meters, any vending cart, any sidewalk cafe, any street corner, any intersection, or any kiosk. Sitting or sparechanging is also restricted to those tiny patches of ground. Any cup, cap, or guitar case is defined as a “display device”.
 The Saturday night protest focused on the absurdities of the new laws as well as older ones that ban bouncing or throwing a ball downtown, hackeysacking, using a squirt gun, or chalking on the sidewalk with erasable chalk. Sports fans brought a basketball and a small football. Bubble-blowing--which is permitted--was also provided as a legal interlude. Hopscotch enthusiasts brought sidewalk chalk. A "Box of Crime" was displayed and offered to the police as a form of "crime control".
 Office Headley arrived with camera to stand with arms folded taking occasional snapshots of those giving out flyers of the chalkked sidewalk delineating the small "permitted" zones that go into effect on October 24th. When asked if he were there on complaint or to give out citations, he smiled broadly and said nothing. Such picture taking has been used in the past to later cite peaceful activists like Wes Modes who was dragged into a full-blown trial for walking in the parade along with hundreds and hundreds on New Year's Eve 2010 (See ).
 On my radio show today, I played some of the audio of the protest, which included poetic performance by Lyrical Eye (Isaac Collins), speeches by Becky Johnson, and others, and spirited conversations with surprised locals, baffled tourists, and irate critics (though fewer of those). Most passed by swiftly en route to their Saturday evening activities.
 I did get wind of larger protests being planned by more "respectable" folks--and some of these may be discussed at the next HUFF meeting (Wednesday 11 AM Sub Rosa Cafe 703 Pacific Ave.).
 I was impressed with the determination to restore First Amendment rights downtown--some activists began to chalk, though the area was under surveillance and they might later well be subject to fines of hundreds of dollars. Others sat on the sidewalk in "illegal" locations.
 Another Sunday "Funday Frolics" protest has been announced for next Sunday afternoon.

The following was issued as a flyer during the 2013-09-28 Funday Frolics.
"Shafting Non-Shoppers: Expanding the Destructive Downtown Ordinances / Merchant Monopolization of Public Spaces Marches On"
2013-09-14 by Robert Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) [831-423-4833] [], posted to []:
A protest will also be held 9-22 at 1:30 PM in front of "Forever Twenty-One" on Pacific Avenue near Soquel Ave. []
In a disguised attack on the entire non-commercial street scene, City Council voted to restrict still further the very limited public space currently allowed the community downtown. Under the guise of health concerns, reducing congestion, and preventing a "trip-and-fall" hazard (none of which is documented), the reactionary new laws crowd street performers, vendors, homeless people, tablers, local residents, & tourists together & sterilize 95% of the sidewalk as “forbidden zones” for resting, vending, or performing.
This is a merchant/right-wing attack on the street counter-culture. It has nothing to do with “bad behavior.” It's about “bigot aesthetics”--clearing away visible poverty, traditional Santa Cruz diversity, and political activists. Council staff showed no input from those impacted (other than merchants) and had no info on costs or stats documenting problems.

 The new law changes:
 +++ Extends the Smoking Ban to the side streets one block in either direction from Pacific Avenue, including all alleys & side streets and to to all surface parking lots in downtown between Laurel Street and Water St. perhaps private parking lots as well (Julie Hendee, one of the authors of the law wasn't sure!).
 +++ Requires street artists, street vendors, panhandlers, and political activists to provide “freestanding” display devices such as tables or boxes on which to hoist above the sidewalk anything with them. This bans tarps & blankets now used to display jewelry, artwork, political fliers and likely laying objects directly on the sidewalk. This includes panhandler's cups and caps as well as street performers' guitar cases and change bowls.
 +++ Reduces the total display device space to 16 sq ft now to include all the person's personal possessions;
 +++ Requires a 12' distance between display devices, isolating community members.
 +++ Reduces available space 4/5 to include 95% of the sidewalk by expanding the “forbidden zones” to 14' from buildings, street corners, intersections, kiosks, drinking fountains, public telephones, public benches, public trash compactors, information/directory signs, sculptures or artwork, ATM-style machines, outside street cafes, vending carts, and fences. This bans sitting on any sidewalk that is narrower than 14' (stops use of all sidewalks in other business & beachfront districts).
 +++ Defines “display devices” as any kind of container "capable of being used for holding...tangible things"—which may include a backpack or sleeping bag, making likely its use against homeless people.

 When added to the frequent merchant expansion of their displays onto the sidewalk in front of their shops this exclusion of non-commercial activity will be nearly all-embracing. This, of course, suits those whose objective is to drive away the once-vibrant street scene in Santa Cruz and 'Capitola-ize” the Avenue.
 The resulting congestion will have people competing for the public spaces (when there is actually room for all). It will severely crowd not just those using display devices, but others trying to sit down in the few remaining spots available whether these be elderly residents, homeless locals, visiting travelers, UCSC students, or naive tourists (who will, of course be selectively ignored or courteously directed to pay-cafes). And either drive such people away or produce a hostile response and more conflict downtown.

 +++ Use your video phone to show authorities harassing the public on the streets downtown. Post on You-Tube and . Send them to HUFF (rnorse3 [at] ).
 +++ E-mail City Council at citycouncil [at] .and demand these ordinances be reviewed for cost, effectiveness, impact, and unintended consequences by citizen committees and with public input.
 +++ Spread opposition; Write local papers; Use Facebook & Twitter;. Ordinances become final a month after a 2nd vote in two weeks (October 24) Support businesses who oppose, publicize those who don't.
 +++ Post your own accounts of discrimination downtown. The Coffee Roasting Company & Starbucks recently banned large backpacks; CruzioWorks refuses 24-hour service to Dan Madison for his homeless appearance.
 +++ Come to City Council 3 PM September 24th to oppose the 2nd Vote on these laws!

"Santa Cruz Street Performers Crushed In Under New Ordinances; Preliminary Update Focusing on the Impact on Street Performers"

2013-09-11 by Robert Norse []
Street performers will be severely impacted.
 Their allowable performance area will be reduced from the current standard--having an 18 sq ft table and being able to have other items outside that area--to 16 sq ft and having to have all their personal possessions (including musical instrument cases) inside that area.
 They will be required to provide stand-up tables or boxes on which to perch their stuff (actually creating more of a trip-and-fall hazard--one of the laughable undocumented excuses used to sugarcoat this attack on the street scene). In effect they'll be required to store their personal goods inside these devices
 How many poor people can actually afford to purchase such devices? How many homeless people can store them at night?.
 They will be required to be 12' away from each other—limiting still further the total available space (under the second phony pretext—also asserted without proof or documentation--that there were "conflicts").
 But most important, the 10' "forbidden zones" have been increased to 14'--something specifically rejected by extensive hearings in 2002 and 2003 when several committees and the City Council itself in repeated sessions debated the issue. Street performers then vocally and accurately pointed out that the expanded zones (which were at that time designed to corral and deter homeless and poor people panhandling and sitting) would severely impact the performers. The Downtown Commission as well as a Joint Council-Commission Task Force recommended and got the Council to limit the damage to 10'.
 This new expansion "no man's land" (the forbidden zones bans on tabling, sitting, sparechanging, vending, etc. essentially only consumer access to stores) cuts available performance space down to about 1/5th of what it was.
 How so? Rough estimates in 2002 were that the sitting and panhandling ban (which were increased from 6' to 14') eliminated 95% of the sidewalk for "legal behavior". The 10' forbidden zones finally settled on after extensive research and public debate eliminated 75% of the sidewalk for "display devices". Street performers will now be in the same position as sitters and sparechangers have been for the last decade—legal on only 5% of the street (as distinguished from the previous 25% (and that was a generous assessment).
 Since then, additional forbidden zone creators like "public art", directory signs, trash compactors, and other items have been added to the landscape. Additional bike racks have been put in creating less space for traditional Santa Cruz street activity.
 The new ordinance now proclaims that any street musician who performs with a cup or open guitar case (a "display device", to quote the ordinance, "anything capable of holding tangible things") will be illegal within 14' of a forbidden zone indicator.
 The forbidden zones extend within 14' of:
* buildings,
* street corners,
* intersections,
* kiosks,
* drinking fountains,
* public telephones,
* public benches,
* public trash compactors,
* information/directory signs,
* sculptures or artwork,
* ATM-style machines,
* outside street cafes,
* vending carts,
* and fences.
 (See under MC 5.43.020).
 The Council's claim that it wants to "avoid confusion" and "make things consistent" disguises the fact that this kind of consistency punitively sucks up the public space. Comments by City Council members (Robinson, Comstock, Mathews, Terrazas) seemed to indicate "aesthetics" (i.e. Get rid of the indications of visible poverty) and merchant sensibilities (more space for us and our customers) were the major indicators.
 No concrete evidence of "trip and fall", congestion, ongoing conflict problem, or any other real public safety concern was presented.
 But, of course, this ties in nicely with the City's redefinition of "Public Safety" as "Homeless Removal".
 Real public safety concerns might be aesthetically and economically "desirable" alcohol abusers lured by the city's nightlife, but hey--they pay good money for their raucous behaviors and "contribute to the economy of the city".
 The real issue is how to restore and reclaim the public spaces that the Downtown Association and Take Back Santa Cruz--operating through the City Council--have stolen...again. Perhaps a kazoo brigade? Perhaps chairs distributed to homeless people to sit (sitting in a chair anywhere on Pacific Ave sidewalks is legal if you're not blocking the sidewalk)? Perhaps link-ups with Palo Alto attorneys who have already committed themselves to challenging anti-homeless laws there?
 The law comes up for a second reading on September 24th.
 I'll be hoping to write more about this infuriating situation if I can find the steam.

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