The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Tis the season for gifts and “Camp Coonerty” is the gift that keeps on giving locally. It keeps giving us a public park that isn’t really usable by the public since the city appropriated it as a makeshift homeless camp. It keeps giving us buckets of dirty needles that are picked up by city staff paid for by our tax dollars. It keeps giving us raw sewage seeping into the San Lorenzo River. It keeps giving us a stream of excuses from city and county “leaders” with no solution in sight.
Speaking at this week’s city council meeting, Santa Cruz City Manager Martín Bernal said the bum camp affectionately dubbed “Camp Coonerty” might need “some limited extension” past December, while a site for a new indoor shelter is sought. Again, I ask for the UMPTEENTH time, why is the city taking the lead on this? Homeless social services are a county responsibility. Where’s Ryan Coonerty here? Where’s the city’s advocate on the county board of supervisors? Probably out glad handling the public at some feel good photo op. He’s more interested in the abandoned Cemex plant than he is in the festering human sewer that sits outside his office window. The one he looks at every day.
Best quote I read all week came from Richelle Noroyan: “The idea, to me, of cutting core services or doing anything to cut from trying to keep our open spaces and our parks safe in the city for all of us to be able to enjoy, it really doesn’t appeal to me. When you think of social services like PACT, that fact that we would need to cut what I think is the number one city service so we could backfill social service programs that I think the county has been woefully lacking in providing is a little bit of a bitter pill for me to take.”. Choke on that Ryan Coonerty.
Ben Lomond Man Found Shot to Death
Santa Cruz Sheriff’s office is investigating a homicide that happened around 4:30PM last Sunday afternoon on the 100 block of Ridge Road in Ben Lomond. An unidentified male was found shot to death. The initial caller told dispatch he shot his adult son in the upper body after his son attacked him. The son died at the scene, according to information provided by the sheriff’s office. No arrests have been made, and neither man has been identified. An investigation is ongoing in coordination with the District Attorney’s Office. But very few details (as usual) have been released to the public or through the mainstream news media.
Three Men Busted With Drugs and Loaded Gun
Last Saturday around 2PM, SCPD was patrolling on the 800 block of Water Street when they noticed three suspicious subjects in a late model Buick. As officers made contact with the men, the suspects attempted to conceal drugs and drug paraphernalia inside the vehicle. The three suspects ranging in age from 20-23 were arrested. A search of the vehicle revealed methamphetamine, as well as prescription pills, and a loaded concealed firearm. One suspect was arrested for possession of the loaded firearm, while the other 2 suspects were both arrested on drug related charges.
Holiday Parade Draws Nice Crowd Downtown
Last Saturday morning saw the return of the annual downtown Holiday Parade along Pacific Avenue. Thousands of folks turned out and lined both sides of Pacific Avenue from Laurel to the Clock Tower. It’s always a good time and great for the businesses along Pacific Avenue. I know I report on a lot of bad stuff that happens downtown but it’s not all bad. Far from it. The annual holiday parade is always a terrific event for families that brings out the best of Santa Cruz.
Hit and Run Fatality Off Soquel Drive
Saturday night around 8PM, I heard about a fatal hit and run that apparently took place near the 5200 block of Soquel Drive. The 86 year old woman was walking across the street near Soquel Drive and Rosedale Avenue when she was struck by a woman driving a blue 2002 Lincoln LS, says Sgt. Jason Grimm. The car fled the scene but the license plate was left behind. CHP caught up with the 21 year old female driver from Watsonville at a parking lot a short distance from the scene. She was taken into custody and faces charges of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, among other charges. Apparently, she had also previously been arrested for a DUI recently.
Saturday Night Brawl on Birch Lane
Saturday night around 7PM, a report came in that a brawl involving a dozen people fighting was going down at Pacific and Laurel. Witnesses reported seeing them scatter as SCPD arrived. The fight was actually in Birch Lane and Pacific according to a nearby store employee who witnessed the fight. Sounds like the fight involved 2 different groups of people and was probably gang related.
Wednesday night around 8:30PM, I heard a report about a fight on the 100 block of Errett Circle. Witnesses reported seeing two men beating up another man. The victim was found unconscious by a witness after the suspects left in a white Toyota Tundra, but the victim regained consciousness when SCPD arrived.
Hit and Attempted Run on Pacific Avenue
Friday night around 10:30PM, reports came in that a woman was being physically restrained from leaving in front of the Coldstone Creamery after an apparent hit and run accident where the suspected runner was stopped trying to leave the scene. The victim also reported they thought the suspect was DUI. The accident involved the suspect hitting an open car door of the victim. The suspect was driving on a suspended license and had 2 previous DUI convictions. And here she is, drunk and hit and running along Pacific Avenue yet again! Good thing she didn’t hit a person.
Possible Break In Burglary at Enterprise
Thursday night around 9:30PM, reports came in about a possible break in and burglary at the Enterprise car rental on the 900 block of Ocean street. There were witness reports of a prowler and when SCPD arrived, they found a broken window at the business.
Monday afternoon around 2:30PM, I heard a report of a man in a wheelchair waving an axe handle like a baton along the pedestrian footbridge. I looked the guy up. He’s been arrested 15 times locally. SCPD said he likes to twirl the ax handle like a baton and didn’t seem alarmed or felt he was a threat to say, I don’t know, anyone walking across the pedestrian bridge unfamiliar with his long and colorful history with law enforcement.
Who Needs Camp Coonerty?
Monday morning around 4AM, I heard a report that a man walking his dog near Bay and California was approached by a transient male wrapped in a blanket who emerged from the bushes in front of a nearby church and threatened to stab him. He then returned to the bushes, I guess to go back to sleep. I don’t think he went to jail.
City Council Meeting: December 5, 2017
The afternoon session of council rolled out quite smoothly. It was delightful to see Just Chip get the Jim Howes Community Service Award for his involvement in getting the Downtown Streets Team started in Santa Cruz. This is a well-deserved award. Members of the team attended the meeting to show their support and it was delightful to see. I have high hopes for the DTST. Give those folks a shout out, a thank you, or a high five next time you see them, they are working hard to make a difference for us and for them. Another award recipient was victim’s rights advocate Julie. Thank you for your 28 years of service to those that need it most. I have watched you support victims in court and have always been inspired by you. Since afternoon council agenda wielded no controversial topics, there was very little public comment. Council went on recess and returned for Oral Communications at 5:30. Nothing worth mentioning
Chambers were packed for evening session on affordable housing. I know Mayor Chase and staff worked long and hard on the report that was presented. A reminder you can find supporting materials of any council agenda item on their website. I encourage you to take a look. Council endured one hour of public comment. Most people were from the “hey we need more housing but don’t build anything near me ok?” group. These same people booed a developer that came up to share at the podium and the mayor leveled them for doing so. I enjoyed it. There was a special meeting on December 6th to swear in our new Mayor Terrazas and Vice Mayor Watkins. Welcome and good luck you two. I will start lighting candles for you now. Outgoing Mayor Chase was ill and could not attend so the 6 person council discussed mid-year budget cuts without her. One thing I was pleased to see is that council declined to cut security patrol in parks and spaces. For the geniuses, public safety is a good thing. Parks were designed for families to picnic, play, host events, BBQ, walk their dogs, relax, and have fun. What Santa Cruz is currently experiencing in parks right now is anything but. What we are seeing are encampments, bike chop shops, drug deals, prostitution, garbage, feces, needles, drunkenness, people passed out, fights and an all-around WTF atmosphere. So yes we need added security because SCPD and rangers have their mitts full. When I was a kid rangers showed us paw prints, tree rings, different kinds of foliage, they took us on little hikes and told stories about the native people, showed us where the deer like to graze and told us what the raccoons like to steal from ice chests. Our rangers wear bullet proof vests. They are not teaching children about the monarchs and harbor seals, they are teaching adults to not throw their needles on the ground, to not fight, to use the toilet that is provided for them and to stay out of the playground area because it is for kids. Once a week our rangers are cleaning up after the people living at the bench lands because apparently some of them can’t clean up after themselves. So thank you to council for seeing to it that the parks and open spaces keep the security that they so desperately need.
Pleasure Point Crime and Safety Meeting
This took pace this past Wednesday at Simpkins Swim Club’s community room. I didn’t attend but I have a friend who went and sent me their meeting notes. See below.
Voiced concerns: Homeless people camping on the beach at 26th. Needles on the beach. Feces on the sidewalk. Multiple abandoned vehicles. Dealing drugs in the Eucalyptus grove. Bike parts and trash everywhere. Moran home invasion when a minor was the only one home (some guy just walked in and started taking things from the kitchen) – he was arrested and is now in San Quentin.
Sheriff’s Office Presentation: Possession of meth is a TICKET. No jail time. We can take them to jail IF there is probable cause for SALES. Key is follow through by witness. If the witness doesn’t file a report, due diligence, etc the DA can’t do as much. Private property can not be cleared out by SCSO. What are the options? SCSO has a ghost car to park in various areas. Apparently homeless know about it now so perhaps it’s not effective.
More voiced concerns: 7-11 is a disaster. Drugs, gangs, homeless, etc. No security. The people get their drugs at 7-11 and then migrate to Moran Lagoon and pass out on the beach. Owner of 7-11 is also the owner of the one on Ocean Street. Basically doesn’t care and refused to acknowledge issues when brought to him. SCSO was there on patrol 35 times in November. People are asking if the parking spots can be painted red. Stop signs, mailboxes have been taken. Street lamps knocked over. The interesting part to me was the owner of both 7-11’s apparently is a shitbag that doesn’t care about community concerns. People were asking if the County can just shut him down. County is not doing enough maintenance in the groves and the tree cover provides for encampments and other shady shit, seemed to be a common concern.
Musical Chairs at the City Council
This last week saw the final city council meeting of 2017 and the end of Cynthia Chase’s reign as the latest in a long line of relatively nice (but ineffective) mayors. I’ll admit I’m not a Chase fan. She’s not offensive, just the opposite. She tries too hard to be nice to everyone. She’s just not effective, hasn’t really demonstrated an ability to lead the city through visionary leadership, and she just represents the same old status quo failure of reactionary ad hoc policy. And that description certainly applies to Martin Bernal and his long tenured staff at city hall.
David Terrazas will be taking over as mayor in 2018, and I believe Martine Watkins will be the new vice mayor next year. I like both of them and have high hopes for the next couple years, but then Chris Krohn and his blather bring me crashing back to reality.
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Then there is this from a neighborhood group, why is it that only those of us who pay taxes and live by society’s rules are having to live by the law, and those who don’t are given a pass?
I’ve been here 19 years and I work downtown. Today, I got a parking ticket on River Street. Later I noticed a beat up RV taking up 2 spaces in the same place that hadn’t paid for either spot and was there all day. I found a meter maid to find out what was going on and she basically admitted that they no longer ticket these RVs and other beater cars because they just don’t pay the tickets. If I don’t pay a ticket, the City will report me to DMV and I lose my registration. She said it isn’t worth their time. So clearly there are 2 sets of rules – 1 set for those that live by them and 1 set for those that don’t.
Later in the day, I was walking my leashed, licensed and vaccinated dog in San Lorenzo Park (aka the Benchlands). A cop approached me to tell me that dogs weren’t allowed in the park (I didn’t know that and frankly think that’s ridiculous, but that’s for another post). But when I pointed out the 50 people just feet away illegally camping, doing drugs, and yes, hanging out with their dogs, he just shrugged his shoulders. Once again, 2 sets of rules.
This is ridiculous. It’s ok for some people to openly engage in illegal activity but not others? Where does this end? Who gets to decide?
First of all- we have absolutely no idea if the post you are referring to is either accurate or truthful. Is there a problem in SL Park? You betcha. Camp Coonerty is there for all to see. Is there a double standard? Unknown.
Second- I would urge anybody who believes a “double standard” exists regarding enforcement of civil codes, state law, etc. by either the SCPD, Traffic Enforcement, or City Park Rangers to file a complaint with the Santa Cruz County Civil Grand Jury:
Anything else is just bitching.
We’ve been known to bitch a lot here. He came to the right place.
Thanks for sharing your completely dysfunctional and wrong experience with the city of Santa Cruz. I have no reason to doubt your story. It sounds exactly what I’d expect.
The BIG BANKS should be PAYING LARGE for the homeless situation. They are the one’s who made and profited from the situation.
Thanks for reading and commenting Tom. I don’t disagree that big banks made money off people who couldn’t pay their mortgages (and never should have been approved in the first place). But it’s more complicated than to be able to blame just one group or one instance of something happening to create the problem. And it’s been proven over and over that the homeless problem is magnified and exacerbated locally in Santa Cruz through an over tolerant, “progressive” level of acceptance with open arms and open wallets. We need to say “no mas” more often, especially when another redundant homeless social service non profit pops up and comes around the city council looking for a handout.
Excellent post Brent. Getting hassled about your dog while standing there looking at camp coonerty…must have been one of those times you wanna laugh and cry at the same time.
Austin, Ben and Brent, I couldn’t agree more with the three of you. Glad to see some common sense in this city…