Members of Santa Cruz United (SCU) have been petitioning throughout the city since June.
Their goal is to gather the 8,500 signatures needed to hold a recall election of City Council Members Chris Krohn and Drew Glover by Oct. 22. If the campaigners reach their goal, Santa Cruz residents will engage in a direct vote. Krohn and Glover would lose their seats if they don’t garner a majority of votes.
According to their website, SCU formed in response to alleged breaches of the city’s workplace conduct policy and poor legislative choices of Chris Krohn and Drew Glover. Among other assertions, they argue Krohn and Glover kept the Ross Camp open after negative public safety and health effects were publicized.
Both Glover’s and Krohn’s campaigns centered on protecting houseless residents and increasing affordable housing options. Recently, Glover and Krohn supported expanding bathroom access to the public, extending availability to the houseless.
“Drew and I are trying to channel more city resources toward the most vulnerable people in the community, and it’s not just us doing it,” Krohn said. “Sandy Brown and Justin Cummings — the four of us have a different agenda.”
Glover and Krohn testified at a federal court hearing in support of keeping the Ross Camp open. SCU Board Member Peter Cook argued their testimony contributed to the camp staying open two months past the Santa Cruz Fire Chief’s recommended closing date.
“The top county health official, as well as the city of Santa Cruz Fire Chief, declared it to be an imminent health and safety issue and said that it needed to be closed right away,” Cook said. “I personally went walking through the Ross Camp and the conditions that people were living in were horrific.”
SCU cited five deaths, three fires and two injuries requiring the use of burn units as public health and safety impacts.
Krohn and Glover worked to temporarily relocate individuals to San Lorenzo Park while the Ross Camp underwent cleaning and zoning. SCU has not proposed an alternate plan to help houseless residents.
“There are seven people on the City Council., Iit would be impossible for council member Glover and myself to keep the camp open on our own,” Krohn said. “There were votes that took place to stave off closing the camp because there wasn’t a place for 300 people to go.”
While an initial motion to sustain the Ross Camp passed in a 4 to 3 vote, a second motion brought to the council floor failed to pass, with three votes for and four against. The city subsequently went to court to disband the Ross Camp.
In a Facebook statement, Glover criticized SCU for using Ross Camp casualties to paint an inaccurate picture of the situation. Glover could not be reached for comment at time of press.
“The Ross Camp operated from November 2018 until May 2019 and had five recorded deaths, some of which were from natural causes and not substance use,” Glover said in the statement. “Anyone dying while living outside is unacceptable, but to suggest that there was a higher rate of death in the camp is misleading.”
SCU called into question Krohn’s and Glover’s behavior, alleging they have harassed women in the past. The City Council substantiated two breaches of workplace conduct policy — Krohn reportedly laughed at council member Cynthia Mathews and Glover was cited for antagonizing council member Donna Meyers at seperate city council meetings. Six other allegations by SCU against Glover were unsubstantiated. Glover called SCU’s word choice false and misleading.
“There was no harassment,” Glover said in the statement. “Only one out of the seven claims was substantiated and it was due to a communication issue combined with the mishandling of the conflict by the other party involved as they did not come to speak to me first before filing a complaint.”
Due to these substianted breaches, a motion to censure Krohn and Glover 一 an official expression of disapproval 一 was placed on the council’s agenda in late September, but was tabled in a 4 to 3 vote. As of Oct. 8, a second motion to censure Krohn and Glover failed to pass the council floor.