SANTA CRUZ, CA – Santa Cruz City Council passed an ordinance this week to set new rules for street campers, but it is unclear when they will take effect.
The rules, known as the Camping Services and Standards Regulation, were passed by a 5-2 vote on Tuesday evening. Councilors Sandy Brown and Justin Cummings cast the dissenting votes on concerns that additional community input would be required and that the regulation could face legal challenges as some members warned the public that a civil rights lawsuit might be imminent.
Here are some highlights of the new regulation.
- Camping is prohibited from one hour before sunset to one hour after sunrise, as long as shelters are available.
- The city will create a warehouse and safe sleeping quarters for those who are not housed. The city administrator can set up daytime sleeping places if necessary.
- Day camps are prohibited if shelter or storage space is available.
- Articles stored there remain there for 90 days.
- People cannot camp in a city park for more than three nights in a 12 month period.
- Open fire is not allowed.
- The bearings must be kept hygienic in an area of 12 x 12 feet.
- Campers and camps cannot cause direct damage to the natural environment.
- The city must announce the camps at least 24 hours before a planned eviction.
A $ 20 fine may be imposed for violating the regulation. A person who refuses to comply within a reasonable time could face an administrative offense and any items seized during an arrest must be kept in city warehouses.
The rules come into effect on July 9th at the earliest – 30 days after the ordinance is passed. The city must still provide necessary programs, which are set out in the regulation, such as safe sleeping places and storage facilities.
Safe sleeping places can be set up in areas such as city parking lots, closed sections of public paths or on private property, as long as these areas are not close to neighborhoods or schools; According to the ordinance, exceptions apply to “religious gathering uses and school programs”.
“We still have some work to do to get these things working,” said Lee Butler, the city’s planning and community development director, at the meeting on Tuesday.
The adoption of the regulation comes months after the Council called another controversial proposal. Local residents argued that more community contributions from local residents and homeless advocates were needed before it could be passed.
The ordinance is also issued two years after the US 9th Court of Appeal in the landmark Martin v. Boise has ruled that the Boise Police Department would only enforce the city’s sleep ban if there was enough shelter for all the homeless in the city. The Martin v Boise ruling forced Santa Cruz, like many cities, to repeal its previous ordinance and look for a new solution.