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Restraining order temporarily blocks sweep of San Lorenzo Park homeless camp

Stop the sweeps sign at San Lorenzo Park
A "Stop the Sweeps" sign posted at San Lorenzo Park in Dec. 2020

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) Late Wednesday afternoon a judge approved a temporary restraining order that pauses the clearing out of the once growing homeless camp at San Lorenzo Park.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday morning cited the supreme court ruling Martin vs. Boise, and the plaintiffs argue the city has not provided a place for all of the homeless people to go therefore they are not allowed to clear out the camp. The CDC recommends not moving homeless camps during the pandemic. The lawsuit also cites County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel as saying she would have advised against the sweep of the homeless camp.

“They’re not giving these campers anywhere designated to go after the fact. We’ve all been moved here from parks, from spaces, and pushed to one location. They’re perpetuating this cycle,” a woman who identified herself as Pan that lives in the camp at San Lorenzo Park said.

“We, as many organizations, formed one unified group called stop the sweeps, because that is our main goal now,” Pan said.

The city admits there is not enough shelter space for all of the homeless, but says the growing camp led to a spike in calls related to vandalism, theft and trespassing.

“We were going to go out with a plan for hotel vouchers today, but have paused on that given the judicial action," City of Santa Cruz spokesperson Elizabeth Smith said. "Our hope is we can continue and we can offer those temporary hotel stays for those camping there.”

Wednesday afternoon police cleared out a fence that the city says protestors put up to block police from entering.

Pan and other homeless activists say the real solution is allowing several designated spots in the city where homeless can set up camp.

“Where it will not be swept every other week like every campsite is. Where we can push the resources to instead of trying to take away the resources from, which has happened not only here at San Lorenzo park but other camps too.”

The temporary restraining order stops the city from sweeping the camp until at least next Wednesday, when there will be a hearing for both sides to argue the case.

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Drew Andre

Drew Andre is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.


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