7/22/14 Mayor Lynn Robinson City of Santa Cruz 809 Center Street, Room 10 Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Dear Mayor Lynn Robinson,
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I felt it was necessary for you to hear from me directly on account of my online post titled “Santa Cruz Is About To Make A Horrible Mistake”. I will assume you and the rest of our city council has read it.
I had originally intended to write you and other city leaders to demonstrate my opposition of any transient camp within or near Santa Cruz. But, after doing some research I realized this was an issue the people of this city need to know more about. I chose to post the message on my site to inform, not to create a storm of controversy.
I honestly expected a couple dozen emails to be sent from my readers to city officials. From what I understand, every office received an outpouring of emails and calls. I apologize if this created any inconvenience, but I believe the cascade of emails is a bell toll of our city’s current state. You’re not alone in having to manage this deluge. I personally have yet to answer all the emails I have received. My website has received 574,000 hits since the post went live. It has been reposted on Facebook, Reddit and several personal blogs. The site has been knocked offline twice due to excessive bandwidth usage. So, I can appreciate how difficult it can be to acknowledge all of the feedback.
What has awed me is the spirit of the people of Santa Cruz and their thirst for change. What has disenchanted me is the response from our city leaders. An unexceptionable opportunity for you, the Mayor of our city and every other city leader, wasted.
The feedback I have received and continue to receive is astonishing. Email after email of appalling transient interactions and experiences with local residents and business owners. Stories of families that have moved out of Santa Cruz due to transient crime. Business owners moving from one part of town to another to get away from the problem only to have it appear at their storefront again and again. Parents avoiding public parks, locals avoiding our downtown shopping district and even joggers changing their running route to avoid illegal camps in public spaces. These were the responses I received from readers.
The response from my city council and supervisors was mediocre. The city leaders that did reply (to a post read by thousands of people) were deliberate and unfruitful. I was told the post was filled with inaccurate information and I was nothing but a fear mongerer. I was told the camp proposal was not on any agenda and there are no plans to approve any camp. Of course I knew the proposal wasn’t on the agenda. But, there was no explanation to why Vice Mayor Don Lane has kept the door open to the idea of a transient camp if a location was put into the proposal. Why Councilmember Micah Posner has not only attended but has been on a panel during forums discussing the transient camp. But, what disturbs me the most was how you and your colleagues, who the people of Santa Cruz and the county have chosen to govern, won’t grasp at this opportunity to stand up for us and say enough is enough and make the bold decisions and changes the people of Santa Cruz expect and deserve. Instead, we were told by Councilmember Pamela Comstock to stop emailing her.
You see, the transient population isn’t the problem, it’s a symptom. Much like the gang crime, the theft of personal property, graffiti, prostitution and littered needles are just symptoms of our city’s disease. Our city, with its beautiful coastline and wonderful attractions, is gilded. Our sickness is the complete and obvious indifference to our city’s dignity. Our house is no longer respected by others. Instead of building our home’s reputation, we were asked to keep our city “weird”. Instead of cleaning the main corridor to our beaches and parks, we were told a homeless shelter and an atrocious River St. sign needed to be erected. We are no longer respected and have become more and more a dumping ground for crime. But, why should we be respected? Take a look at downtown, speak to small business owners on River St. or Mission, walk down Ocean St., yes, walk down the first impression on our tourists, and tell me if you feel safe and proud. Our concerns are mounting. Everyday we see our city slowly slipping away. This is our moment to change course, but it takes demanding and exceptional decisions.
I am asking, with all due respect, to have you and your colleagues send me decisions that have been made since you took office that have improved our city’s image and created an environment undesirable to crime. I will post your answers on my site. I remember when I was employed by the County of Santa Cruz my supervisor would hold me accountable for all my decisions, including mistakes. I have discovered the recent goto achievement of our county is the 180/180 program. I am ecstatic this program is succeeding and it will be included, although it is after all a national program. I believe posting your performance would be a wonderful system for the residents and business owners of Santa Cruz to see what accomplishments have been realized by our city leaders.
Councilmember Hilary Bryant Supervisor John Leopold
Councilmember Pamela Comstock Supervisor Zach Friend
Councilmember Vice Mayor Don Lane Supervisor Neal Coonerty
Councilmember Cynthia Mathews Supervisor Greg Caput
Councilmember Micah Posner Supervisor Bruce McPherson
Councilmember David Terrazas Chief of Police Kevin Vogel