Sunday, July 27, 2014


Santa Cruz attacking houseless people: [link]
Santa Cruz's panhandling law has had one successful court challenge:  However the law is massively overbroad and discriminates against the homeless [See full law below]. 
MC 9.10 severely restricts panhandling times and places.  
MC 5.43 further restricts "display devices" (such as a donation cup). 
MC 4.04.010 and MC 4.04.015 add additional penalties for not paying the outrageous fines of hundreds of dollars for each begging incident and deepen the criminalization of those charged (even if not convicted) of the MC 9.10. 
An intensive campaign against "chronic offenders" has combined police, D.A., probation, and psuedo-social service workers in a  massive vendetta against the poor in Santa Cruz in the so-called Downtown Accountability Program.  The City has put in large prominent red change-collecting machines around which it is illegal to sit or panhandle within 14'.  These provide a cold steely "alternative" to panhandling (i.e. give your money to a machine and let bureaucrats decide who will benefit) are are marketed under the chilling label "Real Change Not Spare Change". 
The local ACLU has so far declined to make any public statements about this law, overtly abusive though it is to the rights of poor people (and those who want to donate to their survival). 
* "Santa Cruz ACLU ignores Human Rights abuse against those without homes in Santa Cruz" (2013-06-27) [link]

The especially egregious and unconstitutional sections of the ordinance are emboldened.  However the massive sweep of the law so restricts the place, time, and manner of the laws as to make illegal peaceful non-threatening non-obstructive forms of sparechanging.   The "forbidden zones", for instance, created for panhandling both in time and space leave very little opportunity for making donation requests.   Asking a friend for  money is illegal, for instance (and has reportedly been charged in the past if the person looks homeless enough and the cop wants to drive the person away).  People have spent months in jail panhandling.  Particularly misleading is the title of the law "Aggressive Solicitation".  Only 3 of the 28 provisions of the law [MC 9.10.040 b, c and d] can be reasonably considered restrictions on "aggressive" panhandling.  The rest seek to wash poor people from the sight of tourists and residents.

9.10.010    Definitions.
9.10.020    Time of solicitation.
9.10.030    Place of solicitation.
9.10.040    Manner of solicitation.
9.10.050    False or misleading solicitation.
9.10.060    Misdemeanor.

For the purposes of this chapter:
(a)    “Solicitation” means any verbal request, or any non-verbal request made with a sign, by a person seeking an immediate donation of money, food, cigarettes or items of value. Purchase of an item for an amount far exceeding its value, under circumstances where a reasonable person would understand that the purchase is in substance a donation, is a donation for purposes of this chapter. A person is not soliciting for purposes of this chapter when he or she passively displays a sign or places a collection container on the sidewalk pursuant to which he or she receives monetary offerings in appreciation for his or her original artwork or for entertainment or a street performance he or she provides. This chapter does not apply to peddling and soliciting activity governed by Chapter 5.40.
(b)    “Person” means any individual person, group of persons or organizations.
(Ord. 2009-05 § 3, 2009: Ord. 2002-51 § 1, 2002: Ord. 2002-39 § 1, 2002: Ord. 2002-32 § 1, 2002: Ord. 94-10 § 1 (part), 1994).

Any person who solicits after sunset or before sunrise is guilty of an infraction.
(Ord. 94-10 § 1 (part), 1994).

Any person who solicits in any of the following places, or any person who solicits when the person solicited is in any of the following places, is guilty of an infraction:
(a)    At any bus stop;
(b)    In any public transportation vehicle or facility;
(c)    In any vehicle on the street;
(d)    On private property, unless the solicitor has permission from the owner or tenant;
(e)    Within fourteen feet of any building other than those buildings referenced in subsection (f). Where any portion of a building is recessed from the public sidewalk, the fourteen feet shall be measured from the point at which the building abuts the sidewalk;

(f)    Within fifty feet of any bank building or other financial institution buildings, including their outdoor automatic teller machines;
(g)    In the parking lot of any bank, savings and loan, or other financial institution;
(h)    Within fifty feet of any ATM machine or cash disbursal machine, or any other outdoor machine or device which disburses or accepts coins or paper currency except parking meters and newspaper vending machines;
(i)    Within fourteen feet of any fence that abuts a public sidewalk;
(j)    Within fourteen feet of any drinking fountain, public telephone, public bench, public trash compactor, information or directory/map sign, sculpture or artwork displayed on public property, or vending cart;
(k)    Within fourteen feet of any street corner or intersection;
(l)    Within fourteen feet of any open air dining area or cafe extension; or
(m)    Within fourteen feet of any kiosk.

(Ord. 2009-05 § 4, 2009: Ord. 2002-39 § 2, 2002: Ord. 2002-32 § 2, 2002: Ord. 94-10 § 1 (part), 1994).

Any person who solicits in any of the following manners is guilty of an infraction:
(a)    By coming within three feet of the person solicited, until that person has indicated that he or she wishes to make a donation;
(b)    By blocking the path of the person solicited, or other pedestrians, along a sidewalk or street;
(c)    By following a person who walks away from the solicitor;
(d)    By using abusive language as part of the solicitation or following a refusal that is directed at the specific individual or individuals being solicited;
(e)    By soliciting in a group of two or more persons;
(f)    While under the influence of alcohol or any illegal narcotic or controlled substance; or
(g)    By soliciting while in the immediate possession of a dog, by leash or otherwise.
(Ord. 2011-08 § 9, 2011: Ord. 2006-06 § 1, 2006: Ord. 94-10 § 1 (part), 1994).

(a)    Any person who knowingly makes any false or misleading representation in the course of soliciting a donation is guilty of an infraction. False or misleading representations include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1)    Stating that the donation is needed to meet a specific need, when the solicitor already has sufficient funds to meet that need and does not disclose that fact;
(2)    Stating that the donation is needed to meet a need which does not exist;
(3)    Stating that the solicitor is from out of town and stranded, when that is not true;
(4)    Stating that the solicitor is homeless, when he or she is not;
(5)    Stating that the solicitor is soliciting on behalf of an organization which does not exist or which has not authorized the solicitor to seek donations on its behalf.
(b)    Any person who knowingly solicits a donation stating that the funds are needed for a specific purpose and then spends the funds received for a different purpose is guilty of an infraction.
(Ord. 94-10 § 1 (part), 1994).

Any person who violates one or more of the sections of this chapter twice within a six-month period is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(Ord. 94-10 § 1 (part), 1994).

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