The Weekly Dump 7.6.18

Santa Cruz Survives Another 4th of July

It’s pretty ridiculous how the city refuses to have a city sanctioned fireworks display, which results in hundreds of illegal fireworks displays in literally every neighborhood in Santa Cruz. Instead of concentrating your pyrotechnic onslaught to one location, where everyone can enjoy it safely, the city prefers the anarchistic option of a free for all, where empty threats of high tickets and fines are laughably blown off like bottle rockets. It only happens every single year, so why should we expect anything different here? I really feel for all the animals out there, who are basically terrified for days because the city can’t pull their head out of their sphincter here. People lose their pets because of this. Dogs and cats run away terrified while drunken idiots become possible arsonists as they shoot flaming objects in densely packed neighborhoods. What goes up must come down, and nothing chafes the 4th of July buzz like a roof fire.

Personally, I’d love to know the percentage of tickets given to the number of fireworks related service calls SCPD receives. I’ll bet they don’t ticket 90% of the calls. I’ll bet they don’t respond to 90% of the calls (and I’m being generous here).

EDIT: And in late breaking, last minute, stop the presses news, I got the numbers for Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz Police reported 435 calls for service, with 74 being fireworks related. 15 triple fine citations were written, some of those were for fireworks (per KION). I wasn’t actually far off. More than 80% of their service calls for fireworks received no citation. The county was even worse. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office received 282 calls for service during the holiday, with 130 of them being fireworks related. 15 citations were handed out for fireworks violations. Basically, 90% of fireworks calls in the county got no citation. 

The Worst Kept Secret in Santa Cruz

There’s a good article in the Senile this week. It talks about the daily parade of bad behavior that merchants and their employees deal with working and owning a business downtown. I’m actually surprised to read this in the city’s unofficial mouthpiece. Here are a few “vibrantly honest” quotes from local downtown workers from the article:

“You don’t really know who will steal from you. It seems like everyone steals,” a downtown surf shop manager said. “The rate we catch people is ridiculous. Just the other day, we got stolen from and had to chase the guy out the door. Once they get to the (San Lorenzo River) levee, they’re gone. That’s where they run 100 percent of the time”. You mean to the site of the former Camp Coonerty?

“Managers of two businesses in the area declined to provide their names in fear of worsening problems with theft, drug use in bathrooms and other disturbances.One store manager said shoplifting is “constant” and drug use in its bathrooms resulted in at least two cases of potential overdoses. An owner of a business on Cedar Street said a man frequently comes inside and hangs out inside while drinking wine. She also said she feared retaliation if she was identified while discussing prevalent problems with thefts.”

Someone needs to tell the local Emperors (Bernal and Mills) they aren’t wearing any clothes.

The Homeless Shelter Nobody Wants Next Door

The city of Santa Cruz can’t find a home for a new homeless shelter (that nobody really wants anyways), and campers at the Hobonip are facing an inevitable return to the street.

About 50 people have been camping on a city owned, dirt parking lot on River Street since the city booted them out of Camp Coonerty, the misguided failure of a solution brought about when the city manager and the chief of police illegally misappropriated San Lorenzo park from the community at large and turned it into a makeshift homeless camp for over 6 months this past winter. In the span of four months, at least two people died there from drug overdoses. These people have been given a two month extension while officials hopelessly look for a new location that can serve as a 150 bed “bridge” site between the camp and a permanent new homeless shelter. When the Santa Cruz City Council next meets on August 14th, if no site has been identified, campers will have two weeks to vacate the property, with no next step offered.

I have a better idea. Why doesn’t the city stop meddling in the responsibilities of the county? And why do we “need” a new homeless shelter within the city limits? We already have one! That’s one more than every other city in the county except Watsonville.

Remember that black hole of bad behavior at 115 Coral street? The “Homeless Services Center”. We drive by it every day, navigating the walking dead meandering in traffic at Highways 1 and 9. The place with the giant iron gate protecting it from the street barnacles living on the sidewalk of the worst street in Santa Cruz. Yeah, that place. The place that pays the city something like a dollar a year for the next 50 years in rent, in the mother of all sweetheart deals from the city. Back when Don Lane sat on their board and nobody questioned the obvious conflicts of interest there (or didn’t have the guts to point it out). So I’ll ask again. Why do we need ANOTHER homeless shelter within the city limits? We don’t.

The River Street Camp costs the city $90,000 a month to operate. FOR FIFTY PEOPLE. Do the freaking math here! That comes out to almost $2000 PER MONTH PER PERSON to let people basically pitch a tent in a dirt parking lot. This is how the city WASTES your tax dollars. We could HOUSE these people individually for that much money. Who in the hell is approving this ongoing waste of city money? The city manager. The city council. Remember that in November when it’s time to vote. In May, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness issued a short paper addressing communities similar to Santa Cruz. Here’s a quote:

“Before communities make the decision to create such environments, it is important to weigh the costs and consequences of that action, and the impact on the community’s systemic efforts to end homelessness. People staying within such settings are still unsheltered, still living outside, and remain homeless — and oftentimes, these settings are not providing them with a truly safe, healthy and secure environment”. The report warns that though a sanctioned encampment may look like action is being taken, it may have little impact on ending homelessness. Gee, that sounds like our city administrators! Do something that looks like you’re taking action, despite the obvious failure. The report also notes that the sanctioned camps can be costly in money, staff time and effort, can prove difficult to manage and maintain and can prove difficult to close once they open. Workers at neighboring businesses near the River street site have voiced complaints since it opened.

So can someone explain why we’ve been doing this for almost a year now?

Local Perv Strikes Verve

Last week, people were shocked to find out that a hidden camera was found inside the bathroom of a popular Santa Cruz coffee shop on 41st avenue. An employee from Verve Coffee Roasters found the device in the bathroom on June 21st. The sheriff’s office determined the video camera had been placed in the bathroom about three hours before it was found. The recording device was pointed towards the toilet, and over a dozen videos were captured on the device, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. With the help of outdoor surveillance, detectives were able to identify the suspect as 35 year old Capitola man, who was not an employee at Verve. Last Friday, detectives served a search warrant at the man’s home on the 800 block of 41st Avenue and found additional evidence linking him to the crime. He was arrested for sexual exploitation of a child, burglary, and using a camcorder in a restroom. His bail was set at $100,000.

Probation Compliance Checks in Santa Cruz County Result in Three Arrests

Three known gang members were arrested during a series of compliance checks at homes in south Santa Cruz County last Thursday. 19 felons were visited by the Santa Cruz County Anti Crime Team’s Gang Task Force and officers from the Santa Cruz County Probation Department. A 27 year old Watsonville man, who was on probation for prior weapons violation, was found near his car and during a search, officers found ammunition. He was arrested for being a felon in possession of ammunition and violating probation. When they searched another 21 year old Watsonville man’s home, they found a loaded .40 caliber semi-auto firearm in his car. The gun had been reported stolen out of Monterey County. He was also arrested and taken to Santa Cruz County Jail. Another 17 year old Watsonville boy was arrested for violating probation after gang paraphernalia was found in his home. He was later released to a family member.

Bail is Just a Reason to Commit More Felonies!

Last Saturday night, deputies from the Santa Cruz County Sheriffs Office responded to a residence on Jolon Drive in Watsonville for a shooting. When deputies arrived, they learned 2-4 suspects in a Honda CRV followed the victim’s vehicle to that residence. As the two victims got out of their car, they were confronted by an armed suspect who began shooting at them. Detectives were able to identify a 20 year old man as the suspect who fired his handgun at the victims. They obtained an arrest warrant for the man and he was taken into custody without incident from a Freedom residence. Arrested in Freedom? Seems like an oxymoron. The man was booked into jail on charges of attempted murder, shooting at an occupied residence, committing a felony while out on bail, and using a firearm in the commission of a felony. His bail was set at $250,000 dollars.

Pair From Freedom Arrested for Stealing Their Own Car

Two people from Freedom have been arrested for stealing their own car out of a tow yard, after the car was towed from a parking lot near the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz by Santa Cruz-Aptos Auto Towing and brought to their storage yard off of Winkle Avenue in Soquel. Sometime between 11PM last Friday and 2AM on Saturday morning, the pair are suspected of breaking into the tow yard and stealing their car back. Deputies were able to track a phone number they gave the tow company back to the woman, who lived in Freedom. When deputies went to her house, they found the car that had been taken there. Both suspects confessed to entering the tow yard to get their car back and now face several felony charges including vehicle theft, conspiracy, burglary and vandalism. Gee, you think it would have been cheaper to just pay for the tow? What is it with people getting arrested in Freedom?

Soquel Vacation Rental Ransacked and Burglarized

A vacation rental in the Soquel Hills was rented recently using credit card information stolen in Florida. When Santa Cruz Sheriffs deputies began investigating this, they found that the suspects had left some personal belongings inside the house. When a 20 year old female and a 37 year old man were seen driving away from the property,  deputies stopped them and found stolen property from the residence inside the car. Both were arrested for residential burglary. Talk about your AirBNB nightmare. I wonder how often stuff like this actually happens around here. We have lots of vacation rentals with absentee owners living outside of Santa Cruz. Definitely a crime of opportunity. It’s like giving thieves a key to your house.

Early Morning Coast Guard Rescue Near Wilder Ranch

Around 6:30AM last Sunday morning, the Coast Guard rescued two fishermen after their boat hit something which caused it to break apart and sink. A jogger saw the two men stranded on a rock off Wilder Ranch State Park. The fishermen were wearing life jackets when they were rescued and brought to shore by helicopter.

It Seemed Inviting at the Time

Monday morning around 9AM, a report came in about a transient sleeping on a couch in front of the Salvation Army. Apparently someone dumped the couch on the sidewalk, probably a student moving out, and Salvation Army staff reported someone sleeping on it under the cushions with their feet hanging out. They didn’t feel comfortable rousting them so they called SCPD.

El Circo del Ayuntamiento

It’s July, and that means the candidates running for the city council will become much more visible soon. You’ll start seeing their signs popping up around town. You’ll see them at community forums debating local topics. Filing dates for candidates begin July 16 and close August 10th.

People I’ve Heard Who Are Running:

  • Paige Concannon
  • Justin Cummings
  • Drew Glover
  • Cynthia Hawthorne
  • Dave Lane
  • Michael Mahan
  • Donna Meyers
  • Richelle Noroyan
  • Ashley Scontriano

People I’ve Heard Who Are NOT Running

  • Brent Adams
  • JM Brown
  • Cynthia Chase
  • Steve Pleich
  • Steve Schnaar

People I’ve Heard Might Run

  • Robert Singleton

I’ll be following all this in more detail as we get closer to November. Stay tuned!

DeCinzotized – Classic Steven DeCinzo

Free Rose Royce Concert at the Boardwalk

Formed in Los Angeles and known universally for their hit “Car Wash” from the movie of the same name, these Grammy Award winners sold millions of records and charted hits throughout the ’70s. The R&B funksters will light up the Boardwalk with all their hits, including “I Wanna Get Next to You” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”. Free shows at 6:30 and 8:30PM.

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  1. idk which photo is worse- the beach after 4th of july or the local park after it was a homeless camp- people can carry all their crap in but they cant carry it out?! way to celebrate america- just throw some garbage at it!

  2. Yes I will be running for city council !! Sick and tired of being sick and tired of all the lawlessness, needles, paying a ton of money for a camp when we do in fact have a homeless service center, you can add anything else you would like to add to the list.
    Thanks for all your work !! I appreciate the reality of it all. Paige Concannon

    • I, too, am sick and tired of the hideous morass this city has become. The Council, Mills and Bernal share the blame for this escalating mess. Thank you, Paige, for being willing to step in to make some very necessary changes!

    • Thanks Paige! I wish you best of luck and truly appreciate your desire to run and make a difference. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your ideas. I know you are a strong supporter of public safety, and I hope you bring that up in any debates or candidate forums to encourage a broader discussion on the matter.

    • I would love to see the topic of affordable housing brought up. Why are we creating a space for homeless who most likely aren’t from Santa Cruz, when we have so many locals who’ve been waiting year after year to get into affordable housing. I got on the list in 2011 and had to find places to stay while I continued to wait and rents increased. In 2014 I became disabled and still couldn’t get anywhere near affordable housing, since they hadn’t got to the year I applied yet. I finally found a tiny shacky little cottage that took all my income. Upon moving in I met a neighbor in another cottage who was granted housing on the 180/180 program. She was from out of state and had been homeless in Santa Cruz for a little over a year by choice. Shouldn’t we be helping people from our own community first. Those who’ve actually been good citizens, worked hard and fell on hard times? I unfortunately was evicted from my cottage in 2016 because there was a bad mold problem that caused me and my dogs to become ill. The property manager failed to repair, so I contacted the owner who said she would help and gave me an eviction notice a week later. Apparently someone had reported them to the city and they figured it was me , so I had to go. The next person who complained was also evicted shortly after me. How can property owners get away with this. I reported online to the city and called and have never received a return call or email. I’m disgusted with how good people in he community are treated. I hope you’re able to make change for the better.

      • Angela—your story shows what the major problem is in Santa Cruz. Local homeless are not prioritized and the non-local ones know this because the word is spread throughout the US.

        Of course, to be considered a “local” homeless, some government programs insist you have been here from a year all the way down to a week. Our very successful housing program for our local vets is being usurped by non-local vets because they hear how great it is.

        The seven-year study by UCSC and Robert Singleton shows that 50% of our “homeless” arrived homeless to Santa Cruz.

        When is Santa Cruz going to turn off the Welcome sign to any and all who take advantage?

      • The problem with the list of those who gets subsidized housing, including the Tannery….is the only way they get off the list is by being successful. If you cant prove yourself, get up off your poor status in like 5 years, it should go to someone who needs the temporary help VS a lifetime lottery of cheap rent or creative efforts to hide income. Its simply too easy and attractive to never get off. Tannery, be a successful artist or find another job.

  3. It’s one thing for Mills to make Park Rangers into a more enforcement-oriented arm of the Santa Cruz police, but it doesn’t work if the revolving door in the courts remains open. There should be a Joe Arpaia-style tent city where these people are sentenced when they violate the rules. Mills’ new Ranger Rick team is already in place to do the police work at no extra cost. DeCinzo hit the nail on the head [and I am so happy Ben that you’re giving him a regular platform], because this Santa Cruz misguided socialist liberal compassionate Free Stuff bunch of town clowns is doing nothing other than destroying the city. A “Joe Arpaio style Tent City” would rid the streets of the bad-behavior homeless addicts, and get them sobriety and keeping them off the street, and prevening them from destroying downtown businesses, beaches and parks.

    Santa Cruz is reaping what it’s sowed. And until the “free stuff with no police enforcement” system turns into a “free one-way trip to a Joe-Arpiao-style Tent City Jail” system – it will continue.

  4. Ben – another great column – thanks.

    I would love to see your take on each of the prospective candidates. With the exception of the current council members I’m sure most people are not familiar with the others on the list. I’d love to see a profile on each of the new faces so we could get an idea of where they stand on changing this city.

    Paige- your comment makes me optimistic that there will be some fresh perspectives available in the race.

    One more request: Please tell me that Dave Lane is not related to Don Lane. We’ve had enough inherited monarchies in this area – the Coonertys, the Panettas, etc..

    • Thanks Pablo. If you go back in the archive to this time in 2016 (the last election), I added profiles and my thoughts on each candidate, and I’ll probably do the same again. Most likely starting around or after July 15th (when the filing period opens). I try to have fun with it, and keep it “vibrantly honest”. And it’s funny you mentioned Dave. I was wondering the same thing! Inquiring minds want to know!

  5. “And why do we “need” a new homeless shelter within the city limits? We already have one! That’s one more than every other city in the county except Watsonville.”

    Because we (and Watsonville) have roughly 5 times as many people as every other city in the county. We would need at least 1 or 2 more shelters before we would have a valid complaint about taking on too much of the burden.

    • Sorry but that’s just BS rhetoric. We already have a homeless shelter. They quit taking more people in because they couldn’t deal with the onslaught of people their magnetic presence was attracting to Santa Cruz. Build it and they will come. Don’t build and they’ll go somewhere else. If the county can’t grasp the idea of a “regional” response to this problem (and by that, I mean a homeless shelter in EVERY city in the county), then it’s obvious they’re using the city as a dump for homeless people, especially those with extreme mental health and substance abuse issues, who they fail to properly treat and run through a constant cycle of jail and the street. When you’re the county seat, you become the county’s ass by default in Santa Cruz.

  6. If every other city in the county had one shelter, then we (and Watsonville) will need five shelters (or a single shelter with 5x capacity of the other towns), if we are to carry our fair share of the burden.

    • What is this “fair share” bullshit?! Santa Cruz has more crime per capita than other cities its size, hardly its fair share. If we stop coddling the criminals and their criminal behavior by incarcerating them (I like Gracchus’ tent city idea), maybe we will no longer need an abundance of homeless shelters. Once again you, like many, lump all homeless into one category. I doubt many people, myself included, have a problem with shelter that is provided to people down on their luck and trying to better their lives. However, I have a really huge problem with those who choose homelessness as a life style and milk the system to support it. Remove that population from the city streets and our “fair share” drops accordingly.

      • I’m not sure where all of that came from. I didn’t mention crime, nor did I lump all of the people who sleep outside into one group. I addressed a single issue in the post, which is why Santa Cruz & Watsonville have shelters and other towns don’t. My answer to that is because we have more people.

      • Yes Julie, you are right. Each segment of the homeless needs a different solution.

        I am suggesting the Tent City Jail only for the homeless that Milk the system or out-of town-homeless to change the city to a “negative goal object” from the “positive goal objective” that Ben constantly talks about so correctly.

        For addicts – “long stays at Janus” or “ankle bracelets & antabus” [if they volunteer].

        Lockdown residential facilities already exist for out-of-control mentally ill.

        And the county can help the unfortunate by putting them up in hotels and motels as successfully happened under a judge’s order down South. The city and county can qualify for state money which is being made available for this.

        Motivation theorist Kurt Levin has a positive and negative valence construct and Santa Cruz currently is a positive goal objective. A highly visible Tent City Jail would be a negative goal object for the “milkers” you speak of, and differentiated strategies for other subgroups would change the sign on the gate from “Welcome to Santa Cruz and get free needles and drugs with no arrests”, to “Come to Santa Cruz and go directly to Jail or Janis.

    • Try some different arithmetic. County population is 262,382 (2017). Santa Cruz city, 65,021. Watsonville 54098. So, Santa Cruz and Watsonville make up 45% of the population but have the only shelters. When the rest the county matches Santa Cruz and Watsonville we can talk about more capacity in Santa Cruz.

      • Thanks Ken. Your post wasn’t lost in space. It was held in moderation. It happens to everyone the first time they comment. I agree 100% with you.

  7. Re: Dave Lane—quick google search shows this; maybe the same guy? If so, more UCSC.

  8. Really love your perspective and passion. The Sheriff did a much better job in the county of controlling the illegal fireworks and my dog appreciated it. I hope we as a society can figure out the right thing for the homeless-addicted-mentally ill problems. Answers like long-term hospitalizations and treatment are so politically scorned and reviled that the ” throw them out on the street or commit a crime and go to jail for a day or so” is all we do. So, I just read the mierda and join the hand wringing. And your column is a place to vent. I feel so sorry for the downtown merchants. Imagine, can’t even reveal their names for fear of retaliation. Just awful. Maybe we should all seek asylum in Mexico. Just sayin.

  9. only 250,000 people in the whole county and we are expected to shelter anyone who knocks on the door- there are no jobs here and housing is unaffordable- this is a social experiment gone wrong- hopefully they start letting districts elect their reps –

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