The Weekly Dump 12.7.18

Living the Nightmare in Santa Cruz

Who knew extortion is such a lucrative side hustle locally for bike thieves? I saw this posted this week on a social media site. I condensed and cleaned up some of the details for privacy and length of the OP but the story is worth sharing here. Read it and weep. Notice the lack of response from SCPD.

“Tuesday around 4:15AM, my dog woke me up barking, and I exited the bedroom and saw security lights were on in front of the house. Looking out the window, I heard noises, went into the kitchen, and noticed the garage door ajar and my shop lights on! Opened the door to see the garage door wide open and $6K mountain bike gone, along with other items. Police showed up within a few minutes. They drove around a bit and found nothing. I got a cup of coffee and went for a drive in my truck to look for the bike. It’s 5am now. Drove all around usual areas (levee, Costco, Ross lots). Found a mobile bike chop shop open on a sidewalk and pulled up with high beams on them. Walked up and didn’t see my bike, they asked what’s up and I informed them, they already knew about it! One guy “Extortionist” followed me to the truck to say that he could get it back. I offered a reward. 6am I get a call he’s got my bike! I Call police on way to meet “Extortionist” at Dennys. I park he’s on my bike, I toss bike in truck and kill time waiting for police. Extortionist informs me that if he doesn’t pay off guys who are waiting they’ll “kill” him and do God knows what to his girlfriend. No cops don’t show in time, and I end up driving Extortionist to the bank and give him $360. He says he needs more. I drive home with bike at 7am. I call the officer who took my case report and leave long message. After getting texts and calls from Lucky at jury duty all day, I meet him again at Denny’s and forgo another 150 bucks. He tells me all stolen property ends up at Tent City by Ross or similar encampments. Also not to worry because my house is on the do not burgle house list? This morning around 4:15AM, dog goes off and security lights go on!!! They stole my garage door opener on Tuesday and were no doubt trying to get the bike along with more of my property! Still haven’t heard from officer I left message with”

Welcome to the reality of living in Santa Cruz.

“He has a history of assaulting and injuring officers”

There is so much wrong with that one short sentence. A “history”? Why is he out wandering around in Santa Cruz making more history here? Why is he not in STATE PRISON? Around 2:00AM this past Tuesday, SCPD officers noticed a white PT Cruiser parked on the 1000 block of Branciforte which they thought was associated with a man who had outstanding felony warrants for fighting with members of the Santa Cruz Police and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s department. He was also wanted by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office for a recent felony evading charge. When officers began questioning a woman who was sitting in the driver’s seat, an officer noticed a man hiding in the back seat. After the woman refused to get out of the car and had to be physically removed, the male hiding in the back seat jumped in the driver’s seat and attempted to drive away, dragging one officer with the vehicle and hitting another officer with the car, and nearly hitting a third officer, before ramming into a parked police car. After he too was physically removed from the vehicle, the man continued to fight with officers and was tased and detained. The 28 year old transient man was booked into county jail for his warrants, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon on an officer, felony DUI, probation violation, and evading and resisting arrest among the numerous charges. He has a history of assaulting and injuring officers in Santa Cruz County and Santa Clara County. The 37 year old woman was also arrested for resisting arrest and being an accessory to a crime.

Waving a Gun Around at the Wharf is a Bad Idea

Last week, Santa Cruz police responded to the Cowells Beach parking lot for a report of a man inside a van with a gun. A number of witnesses at the scene reported seeing the man waving it around so they called the police. When SCPD arrived, they conducted a high risk stop on a vehicle and located a loaded 9mm gun. The man was arrested.

Credit Card Skimmer Found at Local Gas Station

Last week Santa Cruz police found a credit card skimmer at a local gas station on Mission street. SCPD isn’t naming the gas station. I’d love to find out which gas station it is so if anybody knows, please share. It irritates me that they won’t name the gas station. How does that help protect the public, or anyone whose credit card information may have been compromised? The skimmer was found after customers complained the card reader was giving therm a bad pin or zip code error message. Sounds like their credit card data may have been compromised. Were customers notified? I doubt it. Until I get more on this story, as in where it happened, I will not use a credit card at ANY Mission street gas station for the immediate future.

City of Santa Cruz Shuts Down River Street Homeless Camp 

Last week saw the end of the former River Street homeless camp (which I dubbed “The Hobonip” around here), and no future plan seems to be plausible or even on the table right now. But it’s not as if these people left town. They just moved about a quarter mile down the road to squat on a piece of property behind Ross in the Gateway Plaza (which I’ve dubbed “Camp Bernal”).

“Area Closed”. Who the hell do they think they are kidding? 

And once again, the city (and of course the county) basically look the other way, as they have no clue how to deal with the problem they’ve made exponentially worse than what almost every other community in this country has to deal with. When the city finally came to their senses and closed “Camp Coonerty”, a city sanctioned homeless camp in the middle of a public park downtown, it threw money at the River Street Camp to the tune of almost $100k per month. For about 50 people to pitch a tent on a dirt parking lot the city already owned. I think we know where that money went. Services. We SERVE the local homeless well. If we reduced the number of homeless, we’d have to reduce the number of people serving them. City manager Martin Bernal had this grand vision of transitioning the local homeless to an indoor “temporary” day and night shelter for the next few years, while the city looked for a more permanent site. Not in my back yard screamed pretty much everyone at every city council meeting this was discussed at. What Bernal failed to understand (just one of many things he fails to understand) was nobody wanted this in the city. And why should we? We ALREADY HAVE A HOMELESS SHELTER IN THE CITY. Why do we need yet another one, when most of the other cities and unincorporated areas of North Santa Cruz County have ZERO shelters The council will get a formal update on the camp’s closure and other homeless shelter related information at its next meeting on December 11th.

Santa Cruz City Parks Tentatively Open Again After Closures

City Manager Martin Bernal announced last week that a number of city parks would be open again after “temporary” closures. San Lorenzo Park will again be accessible to the public, but the “benchlands” area will remain closed. Grant Street Park also will reopen on weekends. Both parks were recently closed after ongoing public safety issues forced the city to close them, after SCPD and the city was unable to properly provide safety to the community in the parks. What’s different now? I have an idea. The rain. It rained a lot. It was like a big flush. And it’s telling they keep the benchlands closed. There will be no “Camp Coonerty II” this fall and winter. The damage the last one created is still being felt and mitigated.

Stick in the Mud

Saturday around 2:30PM, I heard from an eyewitness who was walking along the San Lorenzo River levee crossing the footbridge near “Camp Bernal” when they saw some sort of altercation at the camp. They reported seeing a violent transient fight, where one person was violently beating another person in the face or head with a stick or tree branch. Did SCPD bring them a hot cup of soup? I know what they didn’t bring. They didn’t bring the hammer down. Here’s your new “Camp Bernal” for you. We’re not solving anything here. We’re playing our usual game of willful ignorance, with a lot of money being spent on servicing an ever growing problem. Speaking of “Camp Bernal”, here’s what shoppers at Gateway Plaza had to look forward to seeing the other day. Nothing to see here folks! Just another dead body.

Homeless Services Center Collateral Damage

Friday night around 8PM, I heard a report about a woman who was described by witnesses as “unconscious and barely breathing” on Coral street at the railroad tracks. Santa Cruz fire and medics responded. With as many service calls as they make to that block, Santa Cruz Fire and medics should just stage someone there. It would cut down on response times significantly.

Dell Williams Jewelers Downtown Burglarized and Robbed

Honestly, I take no glee in hearing that the Coonerty family business downtown was burglarized and robbed recently. It sucks. By all accounts I’ve read and heard, it’s a beloved local institution downtown. Of course, I didn’t hear or read the story in the Senile or anywhere on the local news, or on the SCPD social media accounts. I heard it from a source and then I noticed something was posted on the Dell Williams facebook page which basically confirmed the story I’d heard. By the photo they had posted, it appears at least one window was broken.

Juego de Tronos

While seemingly every other midterm election for anything that took place about a month ago seems to have been long settled, in Santa Cruz it appears we might finally have some results from that city council race that has been too close to call. It appears the people I liked and supported lost (go figure) and the people I really disliked won (again go figure). At least I’m consistent. I realize I’m mostly a minority here. I think the best I can do is be “vibrantly honest” with my positions and who I support (and detest). I can’t say I’m surprised by any of the results here. It was obviously going to be a battle of ideologies and agendas, with a lot of gray area separating the 2 sides. Let’s face a hard truth. Of the top 5 candidates who finished with the most votes, all of them basically self identify as “Democrat”, and they are all basically liberal, “progressive” Democrats. The “gray area” is what actually separates them (not much). Justin Cummings self identifies as a “progressive liberal Democrat”. Isn’t that basically what Donna Meyers is? Ask anyone outside our little beach bubble and see what the world thinks. Third place is a toss up between Greg Larson (backed by the local liberal progressive Democratic machine) and Sweety Muffin Top (backed by the OTHER local liberal progressive Democratic machine). And Richelle fits the same profile.

Who’s that guy in the purple shirt? Birds of a feather flock together. One big, unhappy, dysfunctional family. 

My point is the reality is the differences between all of these people is fairly minor. Maybe the way they want to go about getting the things they want differs. Maybe some of the things they want differs. But we aren’t talking about Republicans winning a seat on the “non partisan” Santa Cruz city council. We aren’t even talking about true moderates winning here. We already know they lost. So what we’re getting here is “more status quo liberal lite progressive Democratic” people or more “far left liberal progressive Democratic” people. Either way, I fear we’re just getting a lot more of the same no matter who wins.

Blood on the Tracks

This past Saturday morning, I heard from a friend of mine that one of his friends and co-workers was out picking up trash on the railroad tracks on Coral Street next to the Homeless Services Center when he was assaulted by a transient badly enough to require hospitalization. The word I got from my friend (who is an impeccable source) is that the victim was out cleaning that area of the railroad tracks for the “Holiday Train”. Only in Santa Cruz.

Car Thieves Return to Waiting Deputies

Thursday night, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies noticed a stolen car parked in a lot near Aptos Village. Instead of just impounding the stolen car, the deputies decided to wait for a bit and see if anyone returned. Sure enough, they did. After two men returned to the car, with one in possession of the keys, both were arrested and taken to jail for car theft.

At Least Stash Your Drugs Next Time

Earlier this week, Santa Cruz Sheriff’s deputies were on patrol in the Live Oak area when they found a man sitting in a parked car at the end of 26th Avenue. After witnessing drugs in plain view next to the man, deputies searched the vehicle and found methamphetamine, marijuana, and evidence of drugs for sale. The man was arrested and taken to county jail.

This Week’s Lousy Dad Award Goes To…

This dingleberry of a dad, who was already on probation with an ankle monitor, was arrested by Scotts Valley police on drug and weapon charges after they found meth and an unregistered gun in the home he shares with his 4 year old son. Officers responded to a residence for a welfare check on a small child that possibly had access to a firearm. When they searched the residence, they found an unregistered handgun and methamphetamine. Dad was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of meth, probation violation, and child endangerment. Scotts Valley police contacted Child Protective Services, who put the child in the care of relatives.

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  1. I also dubbed the camp, Camp Bernal and I am already talking to CDC, OSHA and Sacramentos Public Health and Safety team about all the BS, Just like I did for cleaning up the post office. So much disgusting behavior going on here. Let’s see what the CC does about it all. I won’t hold my breath on that one. Since, I did not win the election, you all know public safety and health is now on the back burner, and it will get worse.
    I feel really bad for the person who was assaulted to the point of being hospitilized while cleaning the tracks up for our lovely Christmas train. Heartbreaking in fact! Dell Williams being ripped off was horrible. Thieves got away with a ton of watches…they broke a bunch of cases also. I actually went in and talked to them after the incident and gave them some safety ideas. Again heartbreaking. (
    Sweetie muffin top has already posted that he helped UCSC students vote his way.)
    What a week of crazy.. .?.
    District votes could help us out, and voting for Mayor would be awesome ! Thank you for letting us know what is happening in our community.

  2. Another week, another mierda. God help us. Thanks for the thorough reporting.

  3. hope ur friends friend heals up quickly! too much violence here- :/

  4. Vibrantly depressing newsletter. But all pretty much on the mark.
    Two things I take issue with and hope you’d give some thought.
    One, the now closed “Hobonip” camp looked pretty no-nonsense, and I bet, cost aside, was much lower crime, much lower demand for emergency services location than what we now have.
    Two, I think you are too dismissive of political differences. I heard from multiple sources that the incumbent that lost, lost because she was successfully portrayed as a law and order conservative. What did she do to anger the “progressives”? They didn’t see her as liberal progressive, even if you do.
    I’d argue that looking beyond election results, there’s a lesson for next election cycle: get organized, build a base. Fo sure that’s what the progressives did.

    • Possibly a smaller factor than one might realize re:Noroyan. She angered the No on M crowd by casting the deciding vote on rent freeze etc. and suggested an exemption that excluded herself from some of the restrictions and then stood out as being in the minority during the yes/ no portion of the community forums. I also heard from a reliable source that on the student/ progressive side that there was a strategy circulating to only vote for Cummings and Glover and not cast the third council vote.

      It would have been much better if after polling and fundraising trends, those near the bottom would have pulled out so those votes would have worked against Cummings and Glover who I believe are going to be a nightmare. I think this is going to be very contentious when the new council messes with rent control despite it’s loss. Expect recall petitions as property owners raise money to oust the worst Socialists.

    • Reality Check

      Hobonip may have had a lower demand for “emergency services”, but only because we were spending so much on security services. $80K/month for 50 people is insane and unsustainable and frankly showed that we have precisely 50 homeless in town that are willing to play by the rules if we sweeten the pot enough.

      • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m under the impression the $80/ month was for more than just security services. Regardless, I agree with you that cost for 50 people is way out of hand.

        But you miss my point that it was no nonsense. It was safe, secure, not polluting and taking over a public park. It didn’t strike me as sweet, nor do I think we have to offer anything more “sweet”.

  5. I’m fairly new to this area and as a woman, feel particularly vulnerable in so many areas of Santa Cruz where anyone should not even have to think about safety. If I walk down Pacific Avenue, I get hassled by drugged out, dirty homeless guys. If I go shopping at Staff of Life and park on the street there, I get hassled by the same types coming out of Burger King. Now, if I go to Gateway Plaza (or “Gateway Drug Plaza” as I now call it), same thing. I went to Ross last week and there were police cars outside dealing with some guy from the camp in the back. I went to PetSmart yesterday just to pick up some pet food and had to avoid some weird, dirty looking guy confronting people as they came out of their parked cars. I used to get hassled in the Trader Joe’s parking lot, but that seems better, at least for the moment. A few weeks after I moved here, by bike was stolen from my side yard, and my car was broken into, even though it was locked. They only thing I had in there were a couple of empty shopping bags for when I go to the store, but now I make sure they’re hidden away. I can’t believe how dysfunctional the town government is, and how unresponsive the police seem to be. People complain about the lack of housing but then shoot down every plan to build more, even at UCSC where the town really doesn’t have any jurisdiction. No wonder tech companies don’t want to spread the wealth down here, or any other viable businesses. It’s crazy!

    • Welcome to Santa Cruz! The town that keeps edging law abiding citizens to vigilantism to stay safe. My advice is to always be alert, have some sort of protection (pepper spray, etc.) and keep your valuables on lock down. You can’t count on the police to protect you. Other than that, enjoy the freak show. At least we still have the natural beauty that surrounds us.

    • Thanks Elsa. You might be new to area but you’re a quick learner. Be safe out there. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  6. I have complained multiple times to cops and park rangers about the blatant chop shop (and pharmacy) on the levee behind Ross, even before it became a “sanctioned” tent city (and pretty much a sanctioned chop shop and pharmacy). The response? Crickets. And the Water Street bridge? One drug addled bum under a blanket and 6 bikes under a tarp. The action on that is initiated by the security patrols at the county building – tell them what you see and they’ll call parks directly and have it addressed.

  7. when there are too many candidates, and no one receives a clear majority, you can hold a two round vote:

    wonder if we could do that here- at least in the mean time before district voting, hopefully district voting happens? wonder if we could demand that for this last election?

    some cops will say there is no organized crime among the transient camps locally but that is b.s. — multiple people have mentioned- you can see gang members there territorially guarding the place. they are all over the area near river st-

    i know when i have seen people chopping bikes there they are not starving disenfranchised homeless. they look like body builders. they do it in broad daylight even with 100s of people driving by.

    how horrible to be an employee forced to work nearby or a store owner. i wont shop there. how much more do these guys cost the city in lost business, lost revenue from taxes- this is an insult to people who show up to work, or who are really down and out on their luck.

    the socialists with their refusal to acknowledge the crime happening in broad daylight, do not represent the will of the people. could you imagine if one of these criminals were renting an adu next door, and played a ton of legal games to avoid eviction? or being forced to give one of these guys 5k at the end of their lease?

  8. Thanks for all you do Ben- it is always refreshing to have accurate info about what is going on here is Insanity Cruz.
    I especially appreciated all the research you did prior to the elections. I was actually shocked by the outcome, but I can be naive and idealistic at times…
    Quick question… I heard it rumored that Cummings/Glover were doing same day voter registrations at UCSC and facilitating transport for students to the polls. Is this true? Is that what tipped the scales in their favor?
    I’m also really sorry about your friend. I hope they heal quickly.

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