Santa Cruz County Sheriffs Cracking Down on Illegal RV Camping on North Coast?
Friday night I drove up to San Francisco and back along Highway 1 and noticed what seemed to be fewer RV campers along the highway, specifically from the city line near Western Drive to the county line just past Waddell Creek. It’s still a problem. When I drove back around 8PM, I counted 18 vehicles that I’d call “homes on wheels”, some of which were mobile and some were not. Some cars, some vans, mostly RVs, and a few detached campers. There were 7 between Waddell and Davenport, and 11 between Davenport and the city line. And I’ve seen it much worse. Just for perspective, Davenport is about 10 miles from Santa Cruz and Waddell Creek is about 20 miles away. So all of this area is a quick and easy drive for anyone living in “homes on wheels” to park out here at night and be in Santa Cruz within 20 minutes the next morning. Some of the non-mobile campers have cars they also park next to their campers or RVs, and just use their cars to go back and forth into town, leaving their “home” parked somewhere along the highway.
Remember this? I posted it in the Dump a couple months ago. This is on Highway 1 as you enter the city of Santa Cruz. The city line is maybe a hundred yards from this location. You can see the blue sign welcoming people to the “City of Santa Cruz” on the right if you look hard enough from this spot. Notice how quickly the fire spreads to the nearby dry grass in the field. This is how infernos start. If this had happened in the middle of the night, or farther from Santa Cruz, it could have been a local disaster.
WARNING: Unless you’re a Dead Kennedys fan, you might want to mute your audio before playing the above video
One of the most notorious spots for me is a pullout along the highway just past but almost directly across from Swanton Berry Farms on the coast side before Scott Creek. The pullout isn’t big, it normally can hold maybe 2-3 cars parked parallel to the highway. But for months, there’s been a makeshift RV campground living in that pullout. It had at least 4-5 broken down RVs, all of them either parked perpendicular to the highway or blocking the entrance. They had a fire pit set up in the middle of it all with lawn chairs. Make yourself at home here folks! But tonight they are GONE! The pullout was clean and empty! I did a double take while driving. Driving home, I noticed a Santa Cruz Sheriff ‘s Office trailer parked at the Davenport beach parking lot, with an SCSO car parked out front, and I noticed another car parked at the Bonny Doon beach parking lot a few miles down the road. With the recent death of a transient hit by a car last week near Davenport, and the increasing number of homeless campers in the area where the person was hit, it appears the SCSO is finally starting to crack down on the homeless camping problem along the North Coast. Long time coming. Way overdue. It’s a really bad look for the city and county to have one of the most beautiful drives in the world look like a shit show as soon as people hit the Santa Cruz County line. Speaking of bad looks….
Taking Advantage of the Mentally Ill is a Really Bad Look
There’s a woman who is probably well known to the people that live and work downtown, as well as the Park Rangers that patrol downtown and SCPD. I’m not going to mention her real name but for the sake of this article, I’m going to refer to her as “Moon”. Moon is homeless, and apparently living out of a beat up van that she moves and parks around the downtown area. I’m not really familiar with her backstory or why she’s homeless but I am curious about it. One thing I’m fairly certain of, based on witnessing her public behavior first hand, is that she’s probably suffering from some sort of mental illness. Whether it’s been exacerbated by her homelessness or caused it isn’t really important. It’s manifested itself and likely keeps her from finding help. I’m talking about real professional help, not “help” from the likes of the Freedom Sleepers, or Food Not Bombs, or any of the other “non homeless for the homeless” advocates who like to clutter up town. Moon needs professional help. Where’s her family? Who is really advocating for the mentally ill that live on the streets of Santa Cruz?
The sad part is the people she thinks are helping her are just using her. Narcissists like Robert Norse. And the “Freedom Sleepers”. The people behind the Freedom Sleepers are a great example of the really bad form that local progressives are using to push their agenda by using the mentally ill as their “poster children”. The campouts, or protests, or whatever you want to call their Tuesday night lawn parties at city hall are made up of 90% non-homeless “homeless advocates”. People with no skin in the game and no skin on the sidewalk after dark. They show up in the afternoon and they set up their tables and displays. Then they try to make a big scene that gets either media attention or SCPD attention. Then 90% of them leave when it gets dark and go home to their nice warm homes to sleep in their nice warm beds. Moon isn’t one of them. She’s one of the 10% of the actual homeless that show up. Mostly because misery loves company and most of them have nothing better to do or a better place to go. They might get a free meal. Maybe they get some free clothes. And they hang out and enjoy each others company. It’s usually pretty civil and uneventful.
So Moon has been identifying with these Freedom Sleepers who don’t really sleep outside and aren’t really homeless. Moon does really sleep outside and she is really homeless. And Moon suffers the consequences in ways that Robert Norse and his friends don’t suffer. In less than one month, she’s been arrested now 8 times for the same thing. I’ve seen her mugshots. She was arrested on July 19th, 20th, 23rd, 24th, 26th, and 30th, as well as August 1st, and August 7th. I’d call that a “serial recidivist”. It’s all a big game for Moon. She can’t help herself. She’s a homeless, middle aged woman likely suffering from mental illness who has put all of her hope in the hands of manipulative and opportunistic people that want to prop her up, use her as their “homeless poster child”, then take pictures of her as she sleeps outside and post them online so they can try to validate themselves as “photo journalists”. People like Robert Norse who use her and parade her in front of the city council to try to make their point. None of these people are truly trying to help this woman. They have failed this woman in every way. There’s nothing progressive about taking advantage of mentally ill people, yet it happens from the self proclaimed “compassionate progressives” every day in Santa Cruz. When will it end?
Homeless Man Stabs His Wife Outside of Costco Parking Lot
A domestic disturbance between a homeless couple got ugly in the Harvey West park neighborhood on Tuesday night as a man stabbed his wife outside of the Costco parking lot. He then ran towards the Pogonip area. SCPD set up a perimeter in the area to try to catch him. They confirmed through his wife he was living out of his car parked on Sylvania Ave. and waited there for him to return. No word on whether he was caught or his wife’s condition.
Man Locks Himself in Safeway Bathroom to Get His Meth Fix
I heard about an incident at the Morrissey Safeway Wednesday afternoon where a “tweeker” (if the name fits use it) locked himself in the bathroom at the Safeway on Morrissey about 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon. After the manager heard the man yelling and screaming inside the bathroom, he was able to get him out where the tweeker threatened staff and left his needles and kit behind in the bathroom as he ran out of the store into the neighborhood. SCPD was called out to deal with him. No word on if he was actually arrested. Or found.
Where There’s a Will There’s a Way
So apparently the city of Santa Cruz isn’t going to just roll over and take this loss to Robert Norse and the Coastal Commission lying down (sorry but I love bad puns – BD). I’m hearing from multiple sources now that the city has a “Plan B” here. I’m hoping “Plan B” is actually better than “Plan A” because “Plan A” pretty much sucked. I can’t exactly reveal any details at this time to this new plan and even if I could I wouldn’t, but let’s just say it doesn’t involve the Coastal Commission. And it more or less accomplishes what “Plan A” was trying to do. The encouraging thing for me here is that certain members of the city council did something about it, but then again certain others didn’t. I’m not naming names yet. But I know who you are and what you did or didn’t do here. Thanks to the ones who made the effort. It’s obvious you put the community’s concerns first and truly advocate for them. The others can still support “Plan B” or they can hear me name drop them here when they don’t.
Can We Point This Guy to Robert Norse’s House?
This is the kind of thing that we can expect to see pretty regularly now that the Coastal Commission has neutered the city of Santa Cruz and their RV ordinance. This was passed along to me by a Dump reader living on the westside.
“An RV just parked out in front of my house on Getchell. 4 barking dogs inside. I caught the guy before he left his vehicle. He was going to the end of the street to syphon gas from someone’s car. Said he’d move it as soon as he got enough gas. He left with a gas can. Then his RV caught fire. The neighbor put it out with a fire extinguisher.”
Just take some gas from the car down the street. Everything else is a big free for all.
Sure it’s easy to just blame the Coastal Commission for their stupid overreach here, but the blame really falls squarely on the city manager.
He’s obviously doing a pretty lousy job managing the city if he lets Robert Norse beat him.
Are Tourists Really to Blame For Needles Found on Public Beaches?
It came to my attention that when Ryan Coonerty, District County Supervisor for the city of Santa Cruz, responded to a concerned citizen about the recent needle stick injury suffered during a city sanctioned Little Guards competition for children, he seemed to direct a lot of the blame on “tourists” for the problem. Wow. That’s only the SINGLE DUMBEST EXCUSE I’ve heard so far (and I’ve heard a lot of excuses here).
Unless he’s referring to homeless “tourists” who have come to Santa Cruz to visit. For the free needles! If this is how he and the rest of the Board of Supervisors deflect blame on this issue, we really have no hope here.
Here’s Ryan’s response to a concerned citizen:
“I saw the report of the stick. I agree it is unacceptable. My kids and I are on that beach and in our parks all the time, so I completely understand how angering and scary it can be when these kinds of incidents occur. I met with our interim public health officer last week. We are working on implementing the series of changes that I outlined below. I do not believe that shutting down the needle exchange is an appropriate response for a number of reasons: (1) we have tens of thousands of drug addicts in this county. Stopping them from exchanging free needles twice a week at Emeline during limited hours will not stop them from using drugs according to every public health report I’ve seen (as I mentioned before, we are working on expanding accountability and treatment programs — which could reduce addiction), (2) Santa Cruz beaches have more than 5 million tourist visits annually. Even if you assume that only 1% of them are heroin users (the number is likely significantly higher) and they have 3 needles each that is 150,000 needles being brought into our community each year. We need a way for these people and others to safely dispose of them, and (3) the consequences of not having access to clean needles is increased disease and impacts on our already burdened health system. As you may have heard, Indiana is the latest place to experience this scenario. We have an addiction crisis in this community. Needles in public spaces are a result of it. We, as a community, have to address both with new policies and resources. All the best, Ryan“
First he says “we have tens of thousands of drug addicts in Santa Cruz County“. He knows this for a fact or is this just more stupid rhetoric? Cite the source. Then instead of assigning any culpability there, he ASSUMES (also known as “more stupid rhetoric”) at minimum 1% of our tourists are junkies, and seems to blame the 1% junkie tourists and the 150,000 needles they bring with them! It’s not the fault of the COUNTY RUN FREE NEEDLES FOR JUNKIES PROGRAM (which Ryan glows about and defends above).
UCSC Plans Camper Park Overhaul
UCSC housing officials recently announced a plan to replace aging RVs at Camper Park with university-owned RV’s, a move to increase access, affordability, and safety. Camper Park is an on-campus trailer park set up 30 years ago to help house financially strapped students. Since 1984, students have rented space in the park from the university and passed along the increasingly old trailers that inhabit it from student to student, generation to generation. Although rent ranges from $575 to $650, the students must buy the trailers from the previous owner. Depending on their size and condition, the trailers can cost from $1,500 to as much as $7,000.
UCSC wants to replace the now student-owned RVs with university-owned RVs, and instead of year-round occupancy, students would be required to move out during breaks and summer. Those residency restrictions have some students concerned. Now a number of students have begun a movement to lease the land through a third party nonprofit and build 42 tiny homes on the property. First of all, a 3rd party non-profit doesn’t own the land. The university owns the land, so in essence, the public (state) owns the land. It’s probably not for sale. They want to build 42 tiny homes and pay rent? Go make it happen then! Go buy a parcel of land and build it yourself. The university is always going to do what’s in the best interest of UCSC. I’ve also been told that because Camper Park sits on top of long ago installed sewage and water lines put in for future construction, and the trend is to put new buildings on top of already “developed” sites (because that greatly lowers the chance of finding an endangered species or Indian burial site that shuts the whole thing down), this is a big part of what’s driving UCSC to re-boot this project. (Thanks for the info DW)
While I can appreciate UCSC wanting to help cash strapped students, it’s kind of odd that these students own the trailers in the first place. Having the students own the trailers has obviously been what’s lead to their general disrepair. If these are low income students, they can’t really expect to take on the responsibilities of a home owner, even if that home is a trailer parked on state property. Trailers in disrepair are fire hazards. One trailer fire could start a major wild fire that could burn down the university. So it does make sense for UCSC to take control of this situation before something catastrophic happens here.
City Council Election Watch
We’re half way through August now and the race is heating up. Last week I covered the first city council candidates forum and it was pretty enlightening! All of the candidates showed up and I managed to stay awake long enough to make it through everyone’s elevator pitch. I give much respect to all of the candidates here, as it’s a difficult, thankless, emotionally draining job they are competing for. And did I mention the pay really sucks too? At least you get free parking downtown. And bragging rights I guess. If you’re into that kind of thing. A few of the candidates have been seen walking the hoods, knocking on doors wanting to chat. None of them bite. Chat them up. Ask them why public safety isn’t their top priority? Because really, what’s more important than being safe? Nothing. I think being alive and healthy tops my personal wish list.
I’ll share what I know. It’s mostly opinion. I’m still going to rate them on what I’m calling my “Progress-o-meter”. 1 being a Trump Republican. 10 being Don Lane. And I’ll add casual observations overall every now and then.
UPCOMING CANDIDATES FORUMS:
- August 27: Democratic Women’s Club Candidate Forum, 155 Center St.
- August 29: People’s Democratic Club Candidates Forum, 301 Center St.
- September 21: Democratic Central Committee Endorsement Forum, 740 Front Street, Suite 165
- September 22: Downtown Association Candidate Forum, 307 Church St.
So this week I’m going to start endorsing candidates. I’m going to endorse a different candidate each week for the next 4 weeks. – BD
NOTE: Those of you who subscribe to the Dump by email got an email dated for September that showed all 4 endorsed candidates. This wasn’t supposed to go out until next month. Doh! So I guess that’s one of the benefits of signing up to get the Dump delivered to your email! You find out before everyone else does. – BD
This week’s endorsement goes to: Martine Watkins!
I’m endorsing her for a number of reasons. She has a masters degree in public policy so she’s not just someone with a bunch of grand ideas with no substance and no ability to make it happen. She seems pragmatic. She works for the County Office of Education so she’s already doing public service work that really does benefit not only the community but the less fortunate as well. I realize she’s not actively selling “public safety” as part of her campaign, and that’s a concern for me. But I think she understands what needs to be done there without the need to spell it out yet. I really like what I saw at the first candidate forum. I think she was the best speaker. She didn’t read from a script but seemed to be very well prepared. She’s raising 2 young kids. I’m sure she can handle the kindergarten atmosphere of most city council meetings like the adult in the room. I have little doubt that she’d do a fine job on the city council. I might not agree with all of her positions, and I’m fine with that. I’m not always right. Just most of the time.
Other Candidate Profiles: (updated)
Brown is a former reporter for the Sentinel. He works in communications and brand management with a successful local firm, and has an impressive list of endorsements. He is currently serving as a City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Commission member and a member of the Santa Cruz County Housing Advisory Commission. He did ok at the first candidate forum, but nothing he says really stands out or differentiates him from anyone else. It’s like he’s a safe bet for a lot of people. He seems really nice, down to earth, seems to want to please everyone. Not sure how well that will work for him. But he’s been the leader in raising donations (by far) so his message is resonating with his donors at least.
Progressometer Rating: 7
Sandy Brown is an assistant professor at the University of San Francisco and University of the Pacific. She previously worked for the local Community Action Board, and has taken part in the city’s Living Wage Advisory Committee, the Citizens’ Police Advisory Board and Santa Cruz County Women’s Commission. She also doesn’t like city hall. She was a mess at the recent candidate forum. It’s like she thought she could just wing it and appeared scattered, unprepared, and clueless. I’m sure she’s smart but she didn’t express it well.
Progressometer Rating: 9
Jim writes jingles for KPIG radio. And he likes cool hats. He looks every bit like a rock star. I’d call him the “Average Joe” candidate but his name is Jim. I know he thinks the city doesn’t do nearly enough for the homeless and he’s disgusted by all the needles found in public spaces. So he’s a definite wild card. He can be BOTH very progressive and very moderate. Now that’s an anomaly in Santa Cruz. (Update: An astute Dump reader just pointed out that Jim got arrested yesterday for a DUI. The black eye in his mugshot isn’t helping here! – BD)
Progressometer Rating: 8
Founder of “Project Pollinate”, a community activism group that likes to throw parties 4 times a year in San Lorenzo Park. Works for the resource center for non-violence. Has never held public office before. Good speaker but talks really fast to fit all his ideas in. Seems to really love the color purple. Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called “life”.
Progressometer Rating: 8
Hard to take Nate seriously. No website. Sometimes he has a few good ideas, and I think he really cares. In reality, he has little to no chance of winning a seat. He did bring color and laughs (no flair, that would be Jim Davis) to the first forum.
Progressometer Rating: 9
Another former mayor and city council person comes back to try to haunt us. He is the Internship Director for the Environmental Studies Department at UCSC. He was elected to the Santa Cruz City Council in 1998 and was mayor of Santa Cruz in 2002. He’s been out of city politics for 14 years. The Santa Cruz Weekly actually described him as “one of Santa Cruz’s most famously leftist former mayors”. He would be the reincarnation of Don Lane. He gets the Perfect 10 on the Progress-o-meter. Even Mike Rotkin, notorious local socialist who previously served with Krohn on the city council, said “If you ask my opinion, I don’t think he’d make a great council member”. I guess that rules out his endorsement here.
Progressometer Rating: 10
Current mayor. Long time city council member. She’s been involved in Santa Cruz politics since the Pacific Garden Mall days. She has had a history of leaning progressive but has become more moderate in recent years. She seems to have the best interests of the entire community in mind, even though I still think she leans too far left much of the time. I just feel like she had the opportunity as mayor to make a real difference this year but I just didn’t see it. I saw a lot of pandering but I didn’t see any major changes for the better. Hell, we can’t even get a parking ordinance passed under this city council this year. Junior guards getting stuck by needles. Trashcans spilling garbage as they are washed out into the ocean from Main Beach. That’s not a “vibrant” look.
Progressometer Rating: 6
Steve seems to be everywhere now that the campaign season is in full swing. He’s all over social media. Every photo-op you can likely find Steve ready to photobomb it. He loves attention. He loves the limelight. He loves to hear himself talk. He is running mostly on what I’ll call the “homeless” platform, bent on repealing the sleeping ban and other homeless issues. I’m sure he’s hoping to tap the old SCAN crowd once again but how many times can they go to the well and find it empty yet again.
Progressometer Rating: 9.9
Founder and director of the Santa Cruz Fruit Tree project, and a volunteer mechanic for the Bike Church. I really like both of these groups, although the Bike Church has had a stigma for supporting bike thieves. Long time social activist. Has had previous issues with SCPD and the city council (mostly related to the Bike Church). Married to Stacy Falls, longtime progressive advocate for homeless issues and co-founder with Brent Adams of the sanctuary camp project. I know he comes across as pretty soft spoken but his positions can be pretty extreme (and he seemingly has a tendency to take rejection personally when it comes to dealing with the city, much like Micah does now).
Progressometer Rating: 9
Robert Singleton is a co-founder of Civinomics. He serves as a policy analyst for the Santa Cruz County Business Council, and was recently appointed to the Santa Cruz Downtown Commission. He’s smart, ambitious, and idealistic. He’s not afraid to tackle sensitive subjects and try to identify better solutions. He seems both progressive and pragmatic. I think he tries to stay “in the middle” much of the time, which is a good thing. Being in the middle is kind of the definition of “moderate” (as in “not extreme”). And I like that he doesn’t come across as a reactionary person, but someone who considers and chooses his words thoughtfully and carefully.
Progressometer Rating: 6
Free Concert with Smash Mouth at the Boardwalk!
Hey now, you’re an all star. Get your game on.
Formed in San Jose, California in 1994, the American rock band Smash Mouth has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide.
Along with their number one hits “Walkin’ on the Sun” and “All Star,” they have consistently impacted radio with other hits like “Then the Morning Comes,” “Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby,” and a cover of The Monkees’ classic “I’m a Believer,” which was prominently featured on the Shrek soundtrack.
Shows at 6:30 and 8:30 as usual.
The Downtown Seen
I’m starting a new feature on the Weekly Dump I’m calling “The Downtown Seen”. 10 of my favorite random images from downtown Santa Cruz that week. Kind of a rotating weekly “Week in the Life of Downtown Santa Cruz” in pictures. – BD
What did I see this week?
Weekly shoutout to the guardian angels who helped talk down the suicidal woman on the 41st avenue overpass on Highway 1 yesterday.