By Kara Guzman, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Coastal Commission votes against Santa Cruz’s RV ban

In local news, the commission voted 11 to 1 to investigate Santa Cruz’s overnight RV parking ban in a detailed hearing, at a date to be determined. The parking ban was passed by the Santa Cruz City Council in November, but enforcement has been postponed until a permit could be obtained from the commission.

The commission’s decision Wednesday was in response to an appeal by local activist Robert Norse, which contends that the parking ban targets homeless people and restricts coastal access.

After the decision, Santa Cruz City Councilwoman Richelle Noroyan yelled at commissioners as she stormed from the room, saying that Santa Cruz will be overrun with RV drivers.

“You’re applying the standards capriciously, and it’s not right,” she shouted.

In May, she pushed the council to enforce the ban without the commission’s permit, since other cities have done so.

Commissioner Effie Turnbull-Sanders told Santa Cruz city staff that if they were going to ban RV parking on city streets, they’d have to create somewhere else for drivers to go. Their alternative plan “” for drivers to park in church lots or existing RV parks “” was half-baked, she said. For example, city staff didn’t know how many church parking spaces were available, and or how much local RV parks cost.

“The fact of the matter is, a lot of folks can’t afford to live in homes, and the question is, what is the alternative? Do we want people to be pushed out of RVs and would you rather have people living on the streets?” Turnbull-Sanders said.

Commissioner Carole Groom called the city’s ban “onerous,” and Commissioner Mark Vargas called it “drastic and draconian.” Both agreed that the city didn’t have an alternate place for RV drivers to go.

Commissioner Martha McClure said she sees a statewide trend of communities criminalizing homelessness.

“To chase them around the city and make them stay up from midnight to 5 in the morning is absolute insanity as far as I’m concerned,” McClure said. “And I’m in a position, in my belief system, that communities need to stop running people out and start finding a solution.”