Sleeping Ban Lawsuit Update 3-25-08
Many people don’t know that Santa Cruz homeless rights advocates and well known civil rights attorneys are preparing a lawsuit against the city of Santa Cruz for anti-homeless laws that violate constitutional rights. For those who have been following the issue you will find this important information.
For year’s efforts by many community members who lobbied local law makers to do the right thing for the homeless, not just the easy thing fell on deaf ears.
In early 2006 we began an outreach program to national legal organizations that support legal actions on homeless issues. This was slow and it became obvious results would not soon be forthcoming. A key turning point in our effort accrued when the U.S. 9th. Circuit Court ruled against Las Angles Camping ordinances. With this hopeful decision in L.A. in early 2007 we began to contact local legal council in a grass roots effort to bring relief from these same types of laws, and the harsh enforcement in Santa Cruz.
We now have attorneys David Beauvais, Kate Wells and Brett Bennett interviewing people that have received citations under the Santa Cruz “Camping Prohibited” laws in preparations for the law suit. These restrictive laws include 6.36.010(a) the Sleeping Ban, 6.36.010(b) the Blanket Ban and 6.36.010(c) the Camping Ban.
The largest problems with these laws are that they criminalize the homeless for using public spaces, and sleeping and camping at night. It is well documented that there is a lack of adequate emergency shelter in Santa Cruz. People are being criminalized when they make their own shelter or try to form protective groups. Other outward problems are lack of adequate medical care, community prejudice, political cowardice and rigorous Police enforcement. It’s not quit clear how homeless people are expected to live.
Our focus is on defending, restoring, and establishing civil rights for homeless people rather than lobbying for more services. We believe people should be free from police, state, and community harassment. Free to organize and to form self-help communities. It is to these ends we are willing to spend time and effort. We are looking forward to hearing from anyone about whatever legal help you can bring to the issues or questions you have.
We are looking for volunteers to work with attorneys and plaintiffs, help with community education on the issue, write letters and make phone calls.
We are in need of funds, any donations (tax deductible) can be sent to the address below.
Community Defense Inc.
For: Santa Cruz Anti-Sleeping Lawsuit
P.O. Box 7649
Santa Cruz, CA 95061
Santa Cruz Human Rights Organization (HRO), www.humanrightsorg.org
(831) 425-4467 or 345-9685
Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom (HUFF), www.huffsantacruz.org
Housing Now! In Santa Cruz, Linda4homes4all@sbcglobal.net
Humanity for Homeless, http://humanityforhomeless.blogspot.com/
This update was compiled by Bob Patton HRO and legal committee member.