It’s the Winter Solstice edition of the Weekly Dump! In the penultimate edition for 2017, we’re over the winter hump, ramps vs. tramps, Camp Coonerty moving to River street, we obviously have nothing better to do here, trio arrested in Soquel, the problem with local storage units, the hole gets filled, Winter and Spring programs at P&R, 75 River finally gets a new tenant, and more!

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We’re Officially Over the Winter Hump

Yesterday (or maybe today, depending on when you read this) was the Winter Solstice, the day with the least amount of daylight for the year. It’s the shortest day of the year because the Northern Hemisphere is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun and the sun’s position is at its most southerly point, directly over Australia. It all looks sunnier and brighter from here on out. I wish I could say the same for Santa Cruz and all of it’s ongoing, systemic, “progressive” problems and issues that continue to plague the community year after year. Homelessness. Dirty needles being found in public spaces. Rampant recidivism of “nuisance crime”. A lack of ordinance and code enforcement by “Law Enforcement”. We need a serious paradigm shift here.

But chin up! The days are getting longer and we get to see more of it!

It’s Good Enough For Camp Coonerty!

Well this is interesting. Apparently the Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation department (most likely under marching orders from city “manager” Martin Bernal) has relocated the bike “pump track” from the benchlands to the upper park area of San Lorenzo Park. The publicly stated reason for this was because “The benchlands area is located within a flood plain, and a permanent facility cannot be constructed there because of flooding and regulatory concerns”. So it was moved due to “flooding and regulatory concerns”, but the city manager and the chief of police have no problems or issues about moving homeless people into the same area? And they were allowed to move in and set up their permacamp (Camp Coonerty!) when concerns are at their highest for “flooding and regulatory concerns”? The city moves a bunch of harmless, safe, inanimate, plywood ramps out of concern for the impact on the environment, yet they have no problem dumping masses of homeless people into the exact same area at arguably the worst possible time of the year. How visionary! Your Santa Cruz leaders doing exactly what they do best. Poorly reacting to issues that are the repercussions of decades of bad city and county policies instead of solving those issues with any kind of vision or pragmatic idea.

Camp Coonerty Moving to River Street

Not in my back yard. That seems to be the sentiment coming from the Board of Supervisors, who are likely tired of the growing number of squatters who have taken up “residence” in San Lorenzo Park, directly behind the county building. “Camp Coonerty”, which was misappropriated by the city manager and the chief of police without community input or approval in early November is currently home to probably close to a hundred homeless campers adjacent to the County Governmental Building. It was originally supposed to be cleared out by December 15th but obviously that hasn’t happened and who knows when it will actually be cleared out now.

As a “temporary” replacement, a vacant, city owned gravel lot at 1220 River Street will become the new “Camp Coonerty” for apparently the next 3-4 months. The new camp is expected to include “rules, security, social services, storage and transportation” according to city officials. Last year, the dirt lot served as an intake site for the county’s winter shelter program, but was relocated this year because the lot was “wholly unsuitable,” stated Assistant City Manager Tina Shull at the Nov. 14th Santa Cruz City Council meeting. “They had a lot of issues with client access there, being that there were not sidewalks leading to the site, it was a gravel lot and it also flooded when the river came up” Shull said.

So if I understand the city’s line of thinking here, it’s not good enough, or safe enough, or adequate enough for homeless people to wait for a bus at, but it’s fine for homeless people to camp in for the forseeable future. The level of dysfunction at the city level never ceases to amaze me. You can’t make this stuff up. The site is adjacent to a recently-built townhouse development at Vernon Street (good luck selling those units now!), across from the Santa Cruz Metropolitan District administrative offices and its maintenance yard. People staying at the new camp on River street will reportedly be shuttled in from several pickup points around the city to lessen the impact on the neighborhood of a walk on site. City Manager Martin Bernal said the city’s long term plan is for the camp to serve as a stepping stone while a temporary indoor shelter site is found, and finally a new permanent shelter is created. More in the Senile. Again, I ask everyone, why is this the city’s responsibility? Social services is a county responsibility, yet once again the city seems hell bent on taking the lead here (and paying for it).

Oh, and by the way, there was another overdose this week in Camp Coonerty. Many witnesses reported it on social media, including a Santa Cruz Ranger who was there. Apparently the person didn’t die but was sent to Dominican for an overdose from injecting heroin. Another week, another overdose in Camp Coonerty. And these are just the ones we learn about from social media. There’s bound to be more we don’t hear about.

And in late breaking, stop the presses news, I heard a report of another OD in Camp Coonerty on Thursday night right before I was about to publish this week. Around 8:30PM on Thursday night, a report came in that a female was overdosing and dying in the camp area, possibly near the footbridge across from Trader Joe’s. Witnesses reported that she mixed Xanax and heroin. That’s at least 2 more this week. Isn’t it time to just call this what it is? A shooting gallery sanctioned by our city manager and chief of police that has taken over our largest public park in the middle of downtown Santa Cruz. 

We Obviously Have Nothing Better To Do Here

And you wonder why nothing ever seems to get done around here?

The city and county of Santa Cruz on Wednesday filed 29 separate lawsuits in Santa Cruz County Superior Court against numerous oil, gas and coal companies alleging negligence on the part of the companies and seeking damages that could range up to hundreds of millions of dollars. How much is this costing the taxpayers? Who asked them to waste our money on frivolous, vanity project lawsuits? Is this their “grand scheme” to cover the budget shortfall in 2018?

“Today the county along with the city of Santa Cruz joined a growing number of communities standing up for residents in the face of mounting financial, environmental and public health costs tied to global warming,” said Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Leopold while typically grandstanding at a news conference on the courthouse steps.

New Santa Cruz Mayor David Terrazas added “Now is the time for cities and towns across the country to tell big oil and gas enough is enough. Making the taxpaying residents of coastal communities like ours bear the costs of rising sea levels is simply not acceptable.”

I’d say making the local taxpayers bear the costs of self serving, unrealistic, vanity litigation for grandstanding local politicians is unacceptable. Clean your house before you worry about saving the world. That’s my mantra.

Chevron called the suits “factually and legally meritless” in a statement. More in the Senile.

Trio Arrested at Storage Mart in Soquel

Three people were arrested Thursday after a Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputy spotted them inside the Storage Mart self storage facility in Soquel with a stolen truck. The deputy witnessed a flatbed truck pull into the parking lot and followed the vehicle inside the compound. Once inside, the deputy discovered three men inside the truck, which had been reported stolen. One of the men was already on probation (Probation!) for burglary and was just arrested the night before for being in possession of a stolen vehicle. Imagine that! Another man was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance. The third person, a woman, had an active felony warrant for her arrest and was also in possession of a controlled substance. Within the past 12 months, there has been 43 reports of burglary at storage locker facilities within the unincorporated county. And with that staggering number, we get this week’s most obvious news…

Local Thieves Prey on Storage Units

In some of the least surprising news I read about this week, it’s been reported that storage unit burglaries are on the rise in Santa Cruz. According to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, within the past 12 months, there have been 43 reports of burglary at storage locker facilities within the unincorporated county. “These (storage burglaries) account for nearly 10 percent of all burglaries reported within the county,” according to the report.

That Hole at the End of Pacific Avenue is Finally Being Filled

I mean, it’s only been almost 30 years since the earthquake. I remember the old Asian Rose Cafe, my favorite restaurant in all of Santa Cruz had to close shop for nothing.

Wednesday afternoon, Builder Swenson began the start of their new $35 million Park Pacific development that should offer 79 rental units as well as a ground floor level restaurant with completion expected in 2020.

Last month crews began construction at the site, which is next to Lulu Carpenter’s and Bank of the West, with the project expected to create up to 300 construction jobs. Barry Swenson bought the property in 2015 for $6.25 million. This past September, the City Council approved Swenson’s request to build 79 units at 1547 Pacific Ave. The project is expected to have 16 studios, 43 one bedroom units, and 20 two bedroom units available for rent.

Studios will have 450 square feet, one-bedroom units 700 square feet and two-bedroom units 1,000 square feet. Parking will be underground.

Parks And Recreation Winter and Spring Classes 

The Winter and Spring activity guide is now available online on the Parks and Recreation home page of the City website. The activity guide will be mailed to City of Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley residents on December 22nd. Registration begins January 4th online, or by walk in or phone. Scholarships are also available for Winter and Spring classes. The scholarship application period is from December 12th through January 8th. Applications are available online and in the Parks and Recreation Office.

75 River Street Gets a New Tenant

Santa Cruz County Bank will be moving into it’s new headquarters at 75 River Street next year. The former Wells Fargo Bank building has been vacant for nine years and was notoriously the site of a misguided “take over” squat, organized by a ragtag band of local wanna be anarchists. Some folks were arrested for the “occupation” and ultimately did community service, as well as receiving fines and probation and spending thousands on lawyers fees (as well as wasting thousands of dollars in court costs litigating this). Just another sad chapter in our local history of failed, misguided demonstrations and social experiments that ultimately accomplished nothing.

Feliz Navidad!

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Jose Feliciano – Feliz Navidad!

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23 Comments

The Weekly Dump 12.22.17

  1. I heard the 30year hole will be replaced with a building 5stories above ground, parking below. No other nearby buildings are that tall.

    1. I know density talk locally is a pretty contentious issue but it’s time for Santa Cruz to figuratively and literally “grow up”. I’m not saying we need 10 story buildings downtown but we’re not Mayberry anymore and haven’t been for a very long time. I have no issues with 5 story buildings downtown, if they are placed right. Sure as hell beats that ugly, fenced hole in the ground that has graced us for almost 30 years. Like I said, I miss the days when the Asian Rose was in back with Soif and you could walk through that alley. Thanks for reading and commenting Nic and happy holidays!

  2. You just can’t make this stuff up !! Deflect, deflect, deflect !! More court cases to make our already clogged system even worse, of course! Holy moly!
    Thank you Ben,
    Merry Christmas🎄

    1. Thanks Paige and I hope to see you running for city council in 2018. If nothing else, it will give you a platform to publicly get your frustrations across to a community of listeners and keep certain issues on the “public radar” (kind of like how I do here!). We need more folks like you to run. Happy holidays!

  3. 12/22/17 Camp Coonerty (homelessness)
    YOU’re showing your prejudices. You want people to stop suing Big oil for ruining the environment. Because Big banks gain from all the forecloses, creating homelessness. How do they even correlate.?
    I see a lot of criticism and no solutions. Maybe Big banks should donate to the homeless situation.

    1. If you’re accusing me of being prejudice about wasting our tax dollars (the city attorney’s time for starters, not to mention any additional staff time) on frivolous, self serving civil litigation that pushes the obvious red herring buttons that make local progressives salivate like Pavlov’s dogs, well then yeah, I guess I’ll plead the fifth there. You see a lot of criticism because that’s kind of what I do here. Criticize. And praise when it’s applicable! But criticism is more fun. Criticism is the catalyst for change. It might not happen immediately, but it’s how change begins. I don’t get paid to offer solutions here. We pay the city manager and his staff to do that for us. Thanks for reading and commenting and happy holidays!

  4. Okay- I’m done bein’ mad…here’s what I got: Can’t wait to see the “rules” for the gravel lot (aka: Camp Martin) will be! Will drug abuse be “allowed” or just not mentioned (lol). If people get kicked out- will they return to Camp Coonerty? With the benchlands clear of tents (and their view from the 5th Floor returned)- will the BoS resume to their policy of ABSOLUTE failure to address their completely dysfunctional county agencies?

    1. I have a feeling that what will happen here is that the people in Camp Coonerty won’t leave and the new River street location will just end up becoming a second camp option. The only thing that will clear out Camp Coonerty at this stage is mother nature. The river will eventually take back the space. It’s just unfortunate that we have to wait for it. And when the river floods Camp Coonerty, it will inevitably flood the new space on River at the same time. Thanks Big J and Happy Holidays!

  5. Since there will be several openings on the City Council in the next election, it would be great if some new people were to run for office so that we don’t wind up with more of the same. The slate of candidates last time did not inspire much confidence. Sure, it’s a thankless job but we need some people with vision (but not a narrow “agenda”). I hate to see things get worse in our once-lovely city.

    1. Amen. I agree with everything you said. Most likely, we’ll see a bunch of retreads (I’m guessing Posner will try to run again) as well as people who lost last time (Glover, JM Brown). I’m glad Richelle wants to run again. Hopefully Chase has had enough, as I’ve had enough of her. Give me some moderate candidates already! Thanks for reading and commenting Riva and happy holidays!

  6. Thanks for keeping this great coverage coming without blocking me as the Sentinel has. I don’t need a special ring or swear that I am not a computer with my hand on a stack of Mad magazines to follow 😀

    1. While I do moderate the comments, I don’t block anyone here. I’m aware I have plenty of critics and haters that read the Weekly Dump regularly. Some even subscribe to it. Masochists welcome. Thanks for reading and commenting Chris and happy holidays!

  7. Great job this year Ben! I appreciate very much that you are putting the gross incompetence of the city council and Board of Supervisors on display for all to see and to facilitate change by getting rid of the whole pack of them. This lawsuit against big oil is an enormous waste of time and it’s just astounding that these idiots would spend money on that instead of cleaning up the Camp Coonerty situation along with Camp Martin. Do you realize that each hour they pay a lawyer for the city $300, that it could house a homeless person for two days in a nice local hotel at $150 and day? How does stuff like that all of a sudden end up on the first page of the Senile with no public input? You or another Dumpster should be making this point at the next city council meeting?

    ALSO I recall that I’ve named the second Camp – Millsville which I prefer to Camp Martin. But whatever the name it’s certainly going to be a SECOND camp because the campers will not leave Camp Coonerty and Handy Andy will not herd them over to Millsville or jail anyone in this shooting gallery! He should put the adicts through forced withdrawal in The Slammer and then put them on disulfurian with Outpatient Treatment. He should also put the mentally ill and the genuine homeless [due to no fault of their own] at the Paradox and pay for it out of his $2M annual budget for over time which will be greatly reduced if he gets these people off the streets instead of herding them from one bad idea to another.

    But unfortunately we have an exploding shitshow to look forward to in 2018 and the horrible prospect of seeing Michael Posner on TV again – God save us all. Merry Christmas to you Ben and all your readers! I think you may eventually embarrass the CC and BoS enough to do something sensible.

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