To the Santa Cruz City Council and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors:
Since their enactment in the city and county of Santa Cruz, the laws and ordinances that prohibit “camping” and/or “sleeping” have been wholly ineffective in addressing the environmental & social impact of survival sleeping by local homeless people. They have also been ineffective as a policy aimed at reducing the size and presence of the homeless population. Recent statistics clearly show that the number of people experiencing homelessness in both the city and county has increased despite the continuing enforcement of these laws and ordinances.
Additionally, the Santa Cruz Police Department, Parks and Recreation Department, the City Attorney, the Sheriff’s Office as well as the entire Santa Cruz County Superior Court judicial system continue to expend resources and funds in the enforcement and administration of these laws; resources and funds that could be more productively applied to addressing the very real challenge of ending or significantly reducing homelessness in our community. It is clear from these facts that criminalizing homelessness, and particularly the essential right to sleep, is a failed policy and one that must be revisited if we are to move forward and create truly positive outcomes for our unsheltered residents.
In consideration thereof, we call upon the Santa Cruz City Council and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors to agendize for consideration a One Year Moratorium on the enforcement within their respective jurisdictions of all camping and sleeping ban laws and ordinances between the hours of 10:00p.m. and 6:00a.m.
We further call upon the Santa Cruz City Council and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors to instruct their respective staffs, in cooperation with their respective finance departments, to conduct a fiscal review of the cost savings of the proposed Moratorium.
We call upon the Santa Cruz City Council and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors to instruct their respective staffs, in cooperation with their respective public works departments, to review the feasibility of establishing “safe space” overnight parking areas within the city and county as well as the development of a plan to increase the availability of and access to public restroom facilities at night.
We further call upon the Santa Cruz City Council and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors to designate ending homelessness as a legislative priority and to authorize the creation of a commission or committee singularly tasked with addressing homelessness within our city and county; such committee or commission to have full advisory authority to do all acts in furtherance of that task as provided by city charter and county code.
Santa Cruz Homeless Persons Legal Assistance Project