.Letter to the Editor: Shortage of Shelter

The sweep of an encampment at San Lorenzo Park—per an executive order by City Manager Martin Bernal, and intentionally coincided with the city council holiday break to prevent city council from overriding the order—goes against CDC guidelines, and also goes against Governor Newsom’s shelter-in-place order.

The park is home to over 200 people, many of whom have come to the park after being pushed out of other encampments by the police and told they could relocate to the park. There are not enough shelter spaces for those being displaced, plus shelters are not preferred to isolation placements due to the pandemic, according to Governor Newsom’s March 18 press release. Hotel vouchers are scarce, with priority given to disabled and elderly people, and even for those demographics approval takes months, and their stay is temporary. The encampment is being swept in increments due to its size, and the excuses are that the park is being shut off to the public for cleaning and lawn restoration and that the encampment is a public nuisance. The park is clean, people pick up after themselves or help their neighbors by picking up their trash, and it has a real sense of community. Community members and organizations like Food Not Bombs came out on Monday to stop the police from entering the park to no avail, and the people in the portion of the park the police said they would sweep on Monday were kicked out of their homes and displaced. I am writing to expose the inhumanity of the action to the public, encourage people to pressure the city council to call an emergency meeting, and help bring more people to the park to end the sweep.

Katayun Salehi | Santa Cruz

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  1. Katayun is dealing in misleading and incorrect propaganda in concerns with the San Lorenzo Park “homeless” encampment. First of all, SIP does not apply to the ” homeless.” The CDC guideline is not a mandate. It is only a suggestion. This is a drug camp pure and simple. It is not clean, it is not organized, it is not community-related. It is violent, filled with trash and needles, with its inhabitants acting out due to their drug habit: using and stealing to support that habit. And then let’s talk about the noise and the open public sex activity, public defecation and urination. I could back this up if I was able to post a screenshot of a homeless advocate stating the same. It’s time that the city and county will not allow this to happen ever again.

    What is the definition of insanity again?

    • And if any of the ” advocates” posting in this forum page want backup of my assertions, please ask their friend Steve Schnaar what he posted on his Facebook page. Perhaps that would wipe the smug look off your face and quiet your sanctimonious tone.

      • Also ask another Advocate, Gillian Greensite, what she just posted on Bratton Online. Again, if I was able to post a screenshot of her comments, I would. It’s up to you to do a 0.5 second internet search to read it. She basically Echoes Schnaar in that the usual “advocates” are being misleading and that this is basically an out-of-control drug camp, much like the previous Camp Ross 1 and 2.

        Isn’t it interesting how the truth can be so humbling to a few people in this forum? I wonder how far away they live from this catastrophe?

  2. I have been down to San Lorenzo Park.
    There is some garbage stacked around the cans.
    The city should be providing more garbage pick up.

    If some of the 30 or so police officers that hang around at the park harassing people would help with the garbage pick up, the city might start to get their money’s worth from the cops who seem to not have anything much to do.

    As much as some people would like, it is impossible to legislate the poor people of the world out of existence.
    What would Jesus do?

    “Consistent with CDC recommendations, unless individual housing units are available (i.e. hotel rooms)
    communities should not be clearing encampments and dispersing people throughout the community.”
    It is not a mandate…but it is clearly what health professionals think is important. The recommendation does NOT say anything suggesting that if drugs or trash or poop are present at an encampment then the strategic approach should be different. One area where Mr. Honda and I agree is that we should avoid repeating the same errors… We need to designate places for people without shelter to spend the night safely and with sanitation facilities. We need to manage any/all of these locations. Most importantly, I hope we will stop designating people with addictions living outside as unworthy of anything but punishment. When housed people with substance addictions cause harm to themselves and others, we seem to be very comfortable with seeing treatment, help and support as the appropriate response. But put those same people outside in a park with a tent and suddenly they need to be punished and/or driven away. Insane?

  4. Mr Honda demonstrates a lack of human empathy to the “homeless” that is quite shocking, even apart from his exaggerations and fear-mongering. The Golden Rule — in Christian terms, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and most traditions have a version of it — is also not an enforceable legal mandate, but it’s a very good suggestion.

    • Both Mr Shanks and Lane believe that having drug addicts and mentally ill people living in squalor as being humane. Perhaps they should start reading some spiritual tracts and religious readings to get back on track. Also having some empathy for the victims of this camp, the violence, the noise, the destruction of the environment, the abuse of our elderly people living nearby, Etc would be applicable as well.

      I’m surprised the Good Times allows ad hominem attacks in the comment sections so therefore this comment should stay as well.

  5. I can assure you there are homeless people who absolutely don’t want to lift a finger to change their situation, think they have an absolute right to squat wherever they want, as long as they want, and want to forever if they can continue to get by by any means necessary. And yes, there are WAY TOO MANY ENABLERS. The answer is to move support out of town, and if they straighten up they can come back on their own terms. If not, beggars can’t be choosers. The national average for a town of 65,000 would be around 125 homeless people, or California around 215. We have possibly thousands and at least 1200 by last official count. That is over 10x the national average and the most anywhere.


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