By Casey Amaral and Stephen de Ropp
About 100 people filled the Santa Cruz City Hall Chamber on Oct. 13 to voice their dissatisfaction with the upcoming closure of the Beach Flats Community Garden. The future of the garden is threatened by the property’s owner, Santa Cruz Seaside Company, which plans to use the space for its own landscaping project. The garden wasn’t officially on the agenda for the meeting, but the City Council agreed to add the item to its Oct. 27 meeting agenda. Official agenda items discussed by the council during the Oct. 13 meeting included the master plan for city parks and public spaces, the city’s policies on renting out accessory dwelling units — additional houses or structures on the same lot as the original house such as back houses — and a RV parking ban on West Cliff Drive near the Lighthouse.
At the same time as the meeting, dozens of individuals who are houseless and activists assembled in front of City Hall to participate in the 13th Tuesday night sleepout. The group members call themselves the “Freedom Sleepers,” and have been camping out in front of the City Hall on the second and fourth Tuesdays in protest of the city’s camping ban. In response, police have cited people for sleeping in the courtyard, and the city has employed private security guards and large aerial lights to deter the protesters.