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Santa Cruz prepares to move homeless from San Lorenzo Park

San Lorenzo Park Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) - The recent announcement to move the homeless within a Santa Cruz park has left some of the unhoused concerned as the city prepares for the relocation.

The relocation has been an issue for all parties involved in Santa Cruz, including residents of San Lorenzo Park, residents in the nearby neighborhood and the city as they all try to find a balance amid the homeless crisis.

"We feel besieged-- besieged-- is it going to take an act of violence to one of our seniors before anything is done?" says Joan Quilter of Santa Cruz.

A move is coming for residents of San Lorenzo Park, down to another section of the park known as the "Benchlands."

That's better news for nearby residents, but they're still frustrated with the noise and reported drug use. They also feel no one understands their safety concern.

"I really got the feeling that judge, who doesn't know our neighborhood at all or the city, the mayor, they're very dismissive to seniors," says Quilter.

The city says they will be moving people from the park to the Benchlands in an orderly fashion, but there's still some planning that needs to happen first.

"There will be a permit program that will allow us to know who's in the park and also do some enforcement around behavior issues as they come up," says Elizabeth Smith with the City of Santa Cruz.

The rule, though, is causing concern for the residents of the park.

"The most obvious example is that you can't swear. Obviously, adults can swear. It's a first amendment right but it's a code of conduct rule they have," says Keith McHenry with the National Union of the Homeless.

There's also major concern about how long this move will last.

"We for example don't know how long people will be in the camp but I know a lot of the people are worried about moving down to the Benchlands only to be moved 30 days later," says McHenry.

According to the city, the plan is to eventually clear the park entirely of unhoused residents.

"This is also just a temporary move until the injunction is lifted and we can clear people from the park," says Smith.

The move from the park to the Benchlands is set to happen in the next couple of weeks.

Central Coast / News / Santa Cruz / Santa Cruz County / Top Stories / Video
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Max Tarlton

Max Tarlton is a morning anchor at KION News Channel 5/46.

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