Tell City Council: Vote NO on "Outdoor Living Ordinance"

City Staff is proposing a new ordinance to prevent the use of public property in light of the ongoing housing crisis. Call in and tell City Council to support Santa Cruz Residents and stop criminalizing houselessness.

Tuesday, 4/13 @ 5:30pm

To watch or call into the meeting, follow these instructions:

Or: Call any of the numbers below. If one is busy, try the next one.

  • 1-833-548-0276 (Toll Free)
  • 1-833-548-0282 (Toll Free)
  • 1-877-853-5247 (Toll Free)
  • 1-669-900-9128
  • 1-253-215-8782 

Enter the meeting ID number: 946 8440 1344

  • When prompted for a Participant ID, press #.
  • Press *9 on your phone to “raise your hand” when the Mayor calls for public comment.
  • It will be your turn to speak when the Mayor calls on you. Press *6 to unmute yourself. The timer will then be set to 2 minutes.

    Here are some talking points and key facts you can use for public comment. It’s recommended that each speaker should be sure to mention problems and solutions, but not go over each bullet point. Be selective in how you piece your argument together. Personal examples and stories can make a strong impact when speaking, so if you have a particular incident you can refer to, that can help make a more lasting point.

Key Facts about the Outdoor Living Ordinance

  • The ordinance bans all outdoor vehicle and tent camping between the hours of 8am and 8pm.
  • Large swaths of city open space are now designated off-limits for camping. See the map below. Even areas not indicated as off-limits by the map (i.e, city sidewalks) are largely off-limits due to laws against blocking access to pedestrians, residents and emergency services. 
  • The proposed changes by council members Kalantari-Johnson and Brunner to add shelter spaces do nothing to address the core problem with this ordinance, which is that it criminalizes poverty and puts undue burdens on unhoused people, creating even more barriers to access supportive services.

Additional Talking Points

  • This ordinance will increase the power of the police to conduct camp sweeps without building alternatives.
  • Where the city fails, many mutual aid groups, including DSA’s Love Boat, step in. By forcibly dispersing the unhoused, this ordinance will make it more difficult for community groups to provide essential services to houseless folks. 
  • Citing and ticketing the unhoused traps them in a perpetual cycle of criminalization and poverty. Over time, citation costs can pile up to thousands of dollars and impose a huge burden of debt on folks who may never be able to pay them off. 
  • The city’s argument that homeless encampments contribute to environmental degradation is disingenuous. The environmental effects of outdoor shelters pales in comparison to the carbon footprints generated by the city’s wealthy residents and businesses. The city has no problem approving the development of luxury apartment buildings in the same areas where the ordinance would ban camping due to “environmental concerns”. 
  • The ordinance emboldens vigilantes and marginalizes the unhoused. Labeling those who seek shelter outdoors as creating community safety hazards and degrading the environment puts a target on the back of a vulnerable group already subject to vigilante violence. The ordinance will also move the unhoused from seeking shelter in downtown and parks to residential neighborhoods, where they are more vulnerable to harassment and violence from residents. 
  • Donna Meyers, the mayor of Santa Cruz, wrote to the governor requesting state assistance for the city’s housing crisis. Though requesting state assistance is a necessary step to addressing the homeless crisis, in light of the ordinance, this reads as a disingenuous effort by city officials to make it appear as though they are addressing the crisis when in fact this ordinance makes it clear they lack the political will to enact real solutions.
  • This ordinance entrenches the “move-along” approach to homelessness that has failed to address the crisis for decades. City officials are trying to push the unhoused out of sight and out of mind without providing solutions.
  • The ordinance is based on inaccurate myths about the origins of the local homeless crisis. Police Chief Andy Mills stated that the ordinance will encourage the unhoused to “go back to their original homes”. This reveals the real intent behind the ordinance, which is to reduce the visibility of homelessness without providing solutions, and is based on false myths that the homeless are out-of-towners who have a home to return to.
  • Despite homeless activists winning a federal court ruling which found that “camp sweeping” the houseless constituted “cruel & unusual punishment” unless alternative shelter options are offered, the SCPD shamelessly violates the spirit of this progressive landmark decision and continues to bully the houseless into constantly relocating. They destroy their survival gear and impound the vehicles they use for shelter-- even during a global pandemic, and even in spite of their explicit promises to not engage in this kind of policing.
  • The ordinance opens the city up to legal liability. Due to the ordinance’s questionable legality, it will inevitably be subject to legal challenges. The city would prefer to pay the costs associated with these legal challenges rather than fund real solutions to homelessness. 

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