The Weekly Dump 11.24.17

Happy Thanksgiving!

Living in Santa Cruz, we have a lot to be thankful for and that’s no snark. It’s a beautiful place to live, a special place with lots of friendly cool people living here. It’s gets tons of accolades and it also gets lots of grief from people who actually live here (like me) about how it could be so much better. I know I probably come across as snarky and bitter (some of that’s an act by the way…) but living here for a long time now, I’m fiercely protective of this town and anyone or anything that tries to tear it down. It’s why this weekly brain dump happens each week. It’s a labor of love for a place I love and I’m thankful and blessed to live in. So thank you Santa Cruz for being weird, kind, frustrating, endearing, overbearing, eclectic, predictable, unpredictable, enigmatic, and most of all vibrant.

City Manager Addresses Camp Coonerty at Public Safety Committee Meeting

This week, the Public Safety Committee of the Santa Cruz city council brought in City Manager Martín Bernal to question what if anything the County was doing to find proper space for homeless people to spend cold winter days indoors, and sleep overnight. They could have just asked me, or just about anyone who lives here, since it’s pretty obvious what the county is doing about it. Nothing. Bernal said city and county management representatives had met three times since Oct. 31st to discuss the San Lorenzo Park encampment (otherwise known as “Camp Coonerty”), which sits within easy viewing distance of the county government center and Ryan Coonerty’s office. Later, Bernal said he believed the county’s goal of identifying a homeless day center site by Dec. 15th is “probably optimistic,” which he later amended to “probably very unlikely”. Of course it’s unlikely! Nobody wants to pay for it. The county has been ignoring the need forever. The city is sick of paying for everything and having it all end up within the city limits. Meanwhile, it appears people are doing more than just “sleeping” in the park.

Body Pulled From Camp Coonerty on Monday Morning

I heard from a number of witnesses that a body was pulled from one of the tents in Camp Coonerty on Monday morning. The scuttlebutt I got (from a very reliable source who was there) is the corpse was a 20 year old male who had just arrived in Santa Cruz a week earlier and apparently overdosed in one of the tents. I guess as soon as you arrive here, you’re officially “from Santa Cruz” as far as the compassionate cottage industry is concerned. The claim that the majority of our local homeless are “from here” is a such a bogus, manipulative lie. It’s propaganda to feed the machine. Most of these people came here from somewhere else. Here’s your “safe injection site”. Coonerty Park. Once for kids, now for skids.

Even the popular former Chief of Police is calling people out over this.

SCPD Rescues Human Trafficking Victim

Last Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a large police bust went down at the Ramada on Water street. A K9 was brought in from Capitola and SWAT was allegedly involved as well. Reports indicate the bust was related to prostitution and drugs, as well as possible child trafficking. Of course when a SWAT team is deployed, you’d expect to read about something like that on the news. Of course this is Santa Cruz so this wasn’t mentioned by any of the mainstream news media outlets. But I heard plenty of witness reports on social media, and Chief Mills sent out some odd, cryptic tweet about it. Hey, maybe instead of just tweeting about it, you put out an actual press release? Is that too much to ask here?

Morning Stabbing in Front of Trader Joe’s

In a related story (in that it also wasn’t reported anywhere), I heard about a stabbing in front of Trader Joe’s on Front street that took place around 3AM Monday morning. It was originally reported as a DOA but apparently the victim did manage to initially survive and was flown over the hill to Valley Med trauma center. I have no further reports on the victim’s condition or whether a suspect was caught or arrested, because once again, the public hears nothing about most of the crime that takes place in this town including this one. Why does SCPD even have a “media spokesperson” anyways if you never hear anything from them about the actual crime taking place in this town?

Tagged For Being Stupid

This past Tuesday, SCPD apparently was executing a traffic stop involving an expired registration. After pulling the car over and running the driver’s identification, it came back with an outstanding warrant attached to it, and the passenger in the car was also on parole (of course they were on parole!) and initially gave out false information. Oh, and they also found meth in the driver’s pocket. If you’re someone with an outstanding warrant, why on earth would you drive around town in a car with expired tags? It’s like driving around with a “pull me over please” sign taped to the back bumper. And the parolee I suppose deserves everything they got here. These folks are the flies our mierda attracts here. We’re a magnet.

Someone Needs a Better Excuse Already

Monday night around 8PM, two people were arrested for prowling after Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies were called out to a home on Big Basin Way for a report of people prowling on private property. The property owners confronted the suspects and were told the suspects were looking for their lost dog. Hey that story sounds familiar! The suspects tried to leave but their truck wouldn’t start and they were chased out of the area. A short time after deputies arrived, the suspects rode up on a dirt bike. The female suspect got off the bike and waited with the deputies, but the male suspect ran into a creek and then to a nearby home where he was confronted in a tree by the homeowner. Eventually the suspect climbed off the roof of a carport which was near the tree and was arrested by deputies. Both suspects were booked into the Santa Cruz County jail. More details on the previous arrest here.

And The City Wants To Build Another Parking Garage?

Due to a technical glitch in equipment upgrades at the downtown Santa Cruz River/Front parking garage, parking was free to daily and hourly users for the past month and a half according to recent reports. According to City Parking Programs Manager Marlin Granlund, hourly customers were able to park at the 450 space garage for free at the city’s expense during that month and a half due to “equipment upgrade failures”. The city lost an estimated $24,000 in customer parking fees during that period, funds typically put toward downtown garage and restroom maintenance, sidewalk cleanup and garage debt repayment. And what kind of deficit are we looking at again? What programs do we need to cut again?

Student Arsonist Arrested at UCSC

A UC Santa Cruz undergraduate student was arrested last Saturday on one charge of felony arson after he reportedly burned a poster inside a college dorm’s third floor, according to police reports. He was arrested and taken to Santa Cruz County Jail, where his bail was set at $25,000. Six intentionally set fires have scorched bulletins and posters at Oakes College this month. Saturday’s arrest was linked to only one of the fires. The suspected student lives in one of the dorms subjected to the fires.

SCPD Launches U Visa Program

SCPD just launched a new U Visa program to help undocumented victims of crime. The U Visa status is for undocumented people who have been victims of certain crimes and help law enforcement and prosecutors with the investigation. The city wants undocumented immigrants to know they can report violent crimes without fear of deportation under the U Visa. There are specific stipulations involved in qualifying for the program. The person has to be a victim, only certain types of crimes apply, they have to have been physically or psychologically hurt and they have to cooperate with law enforcement and prosecutors. Examples of applicable crimes include kidnapping, human trafficking, certain sex crimes and domestic violence.

Grand Jury Report Criticizes Santa Cruz County Jails

And what does the county do? Shrug it’s shoulders and say meh mostly. Last week, the county response acknowledged the Grand Jury findings and agreed with one point. One point! That the Main Jail lacks equipment to scan inmates for nonmetal contraband. The Grand Jury report was issued back in June and found most detention facilities are aging and crowded. The Blaine Street Women’s Facility, the only detention center that actually had spare room is closed. The Sheriff’s Office is seeking money to convert their operations there after applying for a grant in February and being turned down. The Grand Jury found the reason the Blaine Street facility is vacant is the result of poor planning. Hard to argue that but obviously that’s the county’s position and the county always knows best, even when it doesn’t. In other findings, the Grand Jury report questioned whether officers were breaking the rules for inmates placed in protective, padded cells. The Grand Jury also asked for data showing the outcomes of jail programs and proving whether the programs reduce recidivism. This data was not provided and the Grand Jury questioned whether the lack of documentation would affect funding. The county is less than transparent? You don’t say!

Pining For The Partridge Family Life

Anyone who grew up watching the Partridge Family in the seventies will recall a show about a free spirited hippy family band that travelled around in some kind of Mondrian inspired former school bus. They were “clean” hippies, didn’t seem to do drugs or drink alcohol or even get in any kind of trouble, and their TV show was blockbuster huge when it was on. Anyways, with the death of David Cassidy this week, it got me thinking about how would the Partridge Family be received in Santa Cruz today? As Gypsies? Bums? Probably. Certainly the bus would set off red flags as soon as they drove into town (off the beach road Highway 1 from the north of course). If the town wasn’t completely overloaded already from decades of over tolerance, maybe local folks might embrace the Partridge Family and their funky bus and free lifestyle. But not so much these days. Today they’d be parked along West Cliff or Natural Bridges, or busking their songs along Pacific Avenue and most locals would see them as just transients living off our city streets, taking advantage of our generosity and tolerance. That’s what too much of a “good thing” does to you. Makes you jaded. It’s not so much “not in my backyard” but “no mas” already. We still like weird here, but we have plenty of homegrown weird. We don’t need any more transplanted weirdness.

Nice article in the New Yorker about Cassidy and his immaculate feathered hair.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office Initiates Bait Box Program

Starting this week, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies will begin placing fake “bait box” holiday gift packages in front of homes to try to catch the annual problem with mail thieves stealing packages from resident’s homes and apartments. The bait boxes will contain a GPS tracking device, allowing the Sheriff’s office to track the thief and the package in real time and arrest them with the package. Packages will be planted in front of houses owned by residents who agree to participate in the program. More than anything, it will hopefully act as an additional deterrent to stop the low hanging fruit that prey on innocent people and steal their holidays by stealing their packages.

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  1. Johnny at the Harbor

    Just to let people know my wife got a jury duty summons the other day telling her to report sometime in December. She told me yesterday there is no way she will get any where near that courthouse with all those drug addicts and bums camping all over the place down there. She said she fears for her safety not only from potential violence but from fear of catching a disease from even being near that area…i.e. feces, needles etc

    • Ugh. What a nightmare. Sorry for her.

      • I served last month and the police are ALL OVER the grounds and assured me it was “safe” to eat my lunch out behind the courts. There’s still too much litter, but no more than anywhere else around here, unfortunately. I was proud to serve for our community. But we are all different 🙂

        • There’s something a bit disingenuous being assured the area is “safe” while police are “all over the grounds”. There’s no reason or excuses that potential jurors should have to walk through a criminal mine field to do their civic duty and serve the community.

          • Bingo! If there is Police presence, Rangers, it is not a safe place to be or to go to or there wouldn’t be a need for law enforcement of any kind!
            Laurel Park (Louden Nelson Community Center) has Ranger because it’s extremely unsafe there

  2. Our Mayor is the one who is running the programs at the jail. I really would like to know if the programs are reducing recidivism as the grand jury would also like to know.
    (I always felt that the Mayor working at the jail was a huge conflict of interest. Just my opinion though.)

    Thank you for another wonderful dump !!

    • Thanks Paige. You actually bring up a good point that’s always bugged me. The fact the mayor works for the county probation department (or maybe it’s the jail?). But both programs are run by the county and here we are doing the county’s work for them. It’s certainly in her best interest (Chase’s) to make it appear that recidivism is down in the city because that’s what her other job performance is all about (some kind of programs director for parolees). It’s pretty convoluted and dubious in my opinion, but this the same city that let Don Lane vote on funding for the Homeless Services Center while he served on their Board. Or there’s Micah and his long history of slumlord non disclosure. Many of them (not all) are obvious opportunists first and it doesn’t take Einstein to do the math here. And like you said, the failure to provide answers to questions about the effectiveness of recidivism reduction programs is strikingly similar to their failures to provide feedback or answers on the efficacy of the “syringe services program”. In both cases, there’s a complete lack of transparency with not just the public but even the Grand Jury.

  3. Ben – it was another terrific piece of reporting although the topics were certainly more Santa Cruz Sally sad-pants moments. We are now at the point where the NIMBY will begin – because there is no one that is going to let the now hoped-for homeless pernanent housing to be built in their backyard. ? As our resident genius CC member Rachelle Noroyan said today “it’s now okay for the campsite to be there”. which is exactly what our Handy Andy Chief Mills said when HE took the law into his own hands and instructed his people to move the homeless from the downtown and post office camping to benchlands “camp Coonerty” camping! Whoa Tilly – There’s power for ya! 1) The police chief alters the existing law and then 2) council member Noroyan says that that’s JUST fine and 3) then you got ex Mayor Don Lane (clinging to his obsession to remain relevant) saying they’ll have permanent warm “indoor” and legal housing figured out in 4 weeks flat by mid-December, when there’s no chance of anything happening ? So this means – we’ve got a defacto permanent campsite in the benchlands- that all our judges have to see everyday on their way to work at 701 Ocean – and that gives jurors the perfect excuse to avoid jury duty (because of fear of safety from Hep A and homeless crimes) in the jury meeting room which is mere feet from the campground -AND to top it all off – there will be an endless NIMBY fight and no chance of progress being made whatsoever. But there’s good news — because the citizens of this town have some efficiencies going for them. They’ve got the homeless going to jail which is right next door to court, and then after court they get to go back to the benchlands “Camp Coonerty” because they’re not being put in Blaine Street – which is a perfectly good “indoor” facility to house people -but due to city incompetence it’s been kept closed for a long period of time. But there’s more good news in that recreational marijuana is happening January 1, 2018 – so everyone can get high as a kite and watch this great circus stoned — for the pure and wonderful entertainment that it is!

    • Thanks Gracchus. I don’t think Richelle likes or accepts Camp Coonerty and I think she was just saying “they’re here. do something more than talk about it”. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes on this right now. It’s basically a pissing match between the city and county about money and responsibility for homeless services. The county doesn’t want to pay for it, or pay as little as they have to. The city always wants to pay for it but now the city is looking at a general fund deficit of over $2 million dollars this year, and that number is likely to grow. So guess what’s getting cut? Redundant social service programs for the homeless that the county should be primarily responsible for anyways and paying for. The fact that they’re camped behind the county building isn’t “Camp Coincidence” either. It’s the city’s way of saying “yes, in your back yard” to the county Board of Supervisors.

      • If that’s true– you certainly have the skivvy Ben. Well done and very eye-opening to alert everyone to the pissing contest. So are you saying that Handy Andy is the chief cow herder but not the owner of the ranch? Are you saying he was told by someone else to herd them over to the county building? I wonder who could have hatched that elegant strategy to have Chief Handy Andy “head em up and move em on over” to Camp Coonerty to embarrass the county into paying and start the pissing contest that we’re now enjoying daily. I guess I’ll just have to stay tuned for more mierda as the rains come. Yuck. Gonna get stinky down there.

        • I honestly don’t know who’s idea it was to herd the homeless down into San Lorenzo park from the Post Office and downtown in general, but I know who’s idea it wasn’t. It wasn’t the city council’s idea. It wasn’t the Board of Supervisors idea. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t suggested by the directors of Public Works or Parks and Rec. So that only leaves a couple obvious choices. Bernal, his staff, and Mills. Mills works for Bernal. Personally, I think it was Mills idea but he had to sell it to Bernal (which he successfully did). And together, they’re selling it to everyone else (with mixed results).

          • Definitive Ben – I like the way you think. Very interesting here from a legal point of view is that it’s one thing for a city to enforce its own rules against sleeping and trespassing and to throw the homeless OUT of a particular place. But it’s another thing to welcome them IN to the benchland camp community, (get it out vs in ?) because the city then takes on all legal obligations of a landlord, AND MOST FUN OF ALL is that the homeless in Camp Coonerty become tenants of the city covered by all of the laws of tenant landlord relationships. Now that Camp Coonerty is here) ) however, one could argue possibly that the city has an obligation to care for the homeless that they herded into the campgrounds and then stupidly took all of these landlord like alactions such as providing bathrooms, maid service Parks and Rec clean up) hand washing stations etc etc ? and I’m just waiting for some young lawyer homeless advocate to bring this action. Discovery would be amazing because we could then determine whether it was City Manager (turned landlord) Bernal or Chief Handy Andy Mills who made the call to 1) illegally apropriate public land and then 2) to herd people into the appropriated public land (housing) with an implied obligation to care for them. In a court action under this novel tenant landlord legal theory, the city could then be compelled to continue this tenancy into local motels as the rains come! Note that they would probably willingly do this because they don’t want to be exposed to a half million dollars in special damages in tort action). It would be no different than a court ordering a landlord to fix a leaky roof right? Also, landlords have a positive legal obligation to prevent their tenants from being exposed to crimes which doesn’t seem to fit well with the police cars showing up at the Camp Coonerty – all the time – so there’s just a whole bunch of legal issues and potential tort actions that can happen here and Robert Norse should get the $320 together to file a tort for negligence on this legal theory if he really wants to find housing for the homeless –
            instead of just jacking his Jaws to the city council all the time. Can’t you just see the headline now – Court orders Santa Cruz to house homeless in local hotels. Novel implied tenancy legal theory prevails. New police chief’s and city managers cowboy creativity backfires on City Council big time”. Welcome to Santa Cruz!

  4. Thanks for serving it fresh!
    That’s quite a hot mess to report on a Thankgiving night! Hope you had a good one!

    • haha, thanks! It’s a hot, vibrant mess every week. I did have a good one. Lot’s of turkey, stuffing, and some of that yummy crab mac and cheese from Whole Foods, and blueberry pie. Tryptophan inducing naps and football. Can’t complain (but I still do!).

  5. Ben, thank you for the year of local unadulterated mierda. When a bear takes a dump in the woods, it is you who hears it. Looking forward to more next year.

  6. Raven on a Wire

    Have you ever noticed that even before Camp Coonerty, there’s always some bloke with a suit and briefcase jaywalking across Water Street to get to the Courthouse? Is there something wrong with using the path under the bridge? I gotta keep my eyes peeled for these lawbreakers jumping a median obscured by redwoods, because the same people in that Courthouse are complacent with homeless sleeping under the bridge, but would rather step dangerously into traffic outside a crosswalk than see the homeless up close?
    I think it would be neat to photograph these jaywalkers and post “Wanted for Jaywalking” Posters, at the corner Starbucks… see how long it takes for them to make their way to the crosswalk at Starbucks to notice XD

  7. I have worked for the City of Santa Cruz for 16 years. In that time, it has gotten worse!

    I love that someone is exposing what is REALLY going on!

  8. Just the Facts

    Handy Andy should still be on probation as he is a “new hire” for the City. If another employee had caused a s**t storm like this so soon into their career they be gone last week! Could be time to focus that energy on getting rid of someone who won”t enforce the laws he swore to uphold.

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