On July 3, 2009, a busy pre-holiday afternoon in downtown Santa Cruz, numerous stores were displaying a declaration printed by local homeless rights advocates. The pledge reads, “This business does not discriminate. We support Human Rights for the homeless community, including the right to sleep at night–not anywhere and everywhere–but somewhere.”
Since around mid-June, homeless rights advocates, including HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom), have been approaching local businesses and asking them to support human rights for the homeless by displaying the pledge either outside or inside their store. It is possible that some stores could see the pledge as little more than a cheap marketing opportunity or perhaps as something as simple and socially-accepted as a peace-sign. However, the stores are taking a stand against backers of a Santa Cruz Municipal Code known as the “homeless sleeping ban.” The influential backers of the sleeping ban include City of Santa Cruz bureaucrats, the Santa Cruz Police Department and the Downtown Association of Santa Cruz, which claims to represent hundreds of Santa Cruz businesses.
The sleeping ban prohibits the act of sleeping between 11pm and 8:30am anywhere outdoors or in a vehicle on both public and private property within the city limits. Homeless rights activists are dedicated to ending this ban and finding what they say are real solutions, such as “Safe Sleeping Zones” for vehicles and campers.
Crossposted at Indybay.org.