Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Safeground in Sacramento: Message by Lawyer Mark Mern + Forward!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gracias Brother Mark ~ Different people have different interests and priorities going on in their lives, but for me helping the homeless is a ministry I have long been interested in as a humane being, especially after I became homeless drug addict in the streets, got involved in the healing recovery process with the CASA 12-Steps Program and now I work at the Salvation Army Emergency Shelter as a Counselor-Caseworker. I do not here represent anyone but myself but am a long time humane rights activist.

Over the years I have learned a lot about the core causes of homelessness and the problems in life that many people have in general, whether they are homeless or not. These core causes and life problems involve our self-esteem, character defects and personal shortcomings. It is one thing to provide shelter for a homeless person and quite another matter to really help the homeless, especially the chronic homeless.

We want to teach people how to fish, not just give them a fish.

As I have stated before, the homeless are the canary in the mine for all of society to observe, witness and try to help with compassionate action.

I have provided links for you to Join Up! and help us spread the Message utilizing the Power of the Internet. Our tactics are only limited by our imagination and timely improvisation will give us new tactics.

I have suggested creating an online group, an online petition and creating YouTube videos to get the word out. Plus combining our online work with local community work. Politics is war without bloodshed and is ultimately local and personal.

I have included your Email from the other day for others to see and we will see what we will see. I received your phone call and am available for any kind of legal disposition, though my time is tight. We need to address these issues before the City Council, the Board of Supervisors and other official governing bodies. Plus, look at the next round of elections, register people to vote, raise consciousness and replace those cold callous elected officials who fail to respond to the human needs of human beings.

Education for Liberation! Venceremos Unidos!

PeterS. Lopez ~aka Peta

Sacramento, California, Aztlan

Yahoo Email:peter.lopez51@yahoo.com 



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From: Mark Merin <Mark@markmerin.com>
To: PETER S LOPEZ <peter.lopez51@yahoo.com>; H-R-A Group <Humane-Rights-Agenda@yahoogroups.com>; Sane-and-Sober Yahoo-Group <Sane-and-Sober@yahoogroups.com>; Net-Aztlan-News Group <NetworkAztlan_News@yahoogroups.com>; Activist-List Yahoo-Group <Activist_List@yahoogroups.com>
Cc: Talking-Circle Yahoo-Group <Talking-Circle@yahoogroups.com>; Issues-Online Yahoo Group <issuesonline_worldwide@yahoogroups.com>; Third-World-News Yahoo-Group <THIRD-WORLD-NEWS@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2009 12:44:41 PM
Subject: RE: 912: Homeless Refugees Report: ~Peta-de-Aztlan~

Dear all,

We have an emergency in Sacramento .  Homeless folks here created a movement for "Safe Ground," a place where homeless people could "be" outdoors (since there are not enough shelters available – nor transitional or emergency housing), without being harassed and arrested by the police for "camping" in violation of a City Ordinance.


The group pledged no drugs, no alcohol and no violence or threats of violence, and peaceably occupied a city-owned lot from which they were soon evicted.  They moved to another lot, out of the way and near a shelter run by Volunteers of America, and elected a "council of elders" to enforce the rules and settle disputes if any arose.  The police soon evicted them from that lot.  The group moved to another perfectly situated lot where they stayed for about 10 days before again being driven off by the police.  Finally, a local attorney who had a vacant downtown lot in a light industrial area "leased" the group the lot so that they could stay on it and service organizations got tents and sleeping bags for the homeless folks to use.


This private lot has now been raided three times and all of the people arrested, then cited and released for violating the city's anti-camping ordinance.  Lawyers are being lined up to appear and defend the arrestees on several grounds: unconstitutionality of the ordinance, its unequal application, the necessity of homeless people to "be" somewhere – living is not "camping."


Meanwhile, the city has filed an injunction action against the private landowner claiming that the use of the lot violates two zoning ordinances: one which prohibits operating a "campground" without a permit' and one which prohibits operating a "temporary residential shelter" without a permit.  Violations of the zoning ordinance are defined as nuisances.  A hearing on the injunction action (to abate a nuisance) is being held on September 22 at 2:00 pm in Department 53 of the Sacramento Sup. Ct.


The questions we have are the following:


1.                   Does anyone have any experience defending against the use of zoning ordinances to prevent homeless people from sleeping, under the stars or in tents, on private property?  ("Campground" in the ordinance, is defined as:  "any lot or parcel or portion thereof where one or more spaces are rented, leased, used or held out for rent, lease, or use to owners or users of tents and recreational vehicles and are occupied for temporary recreational purposes.")  Of course, our contention is that this use is not "recreational."


2.                   Does anyone have any experience defending against the use of a zoning ordinance which prohibits non-permitted "temporary residential shelters" where the

shelter is a tent, at most?  "Temporary residential shelter" is defined in the ordinance to be "a facility which provides short-term, temporary housing to individuals or families on free or substantially below cost basis . .. "  Again, we think that a vacant lot, at most with a few tents on it, cannot be a "facility" but we would like to know if you have any experiences with interpreting such a statute.


This is an urgent request.  We must file our opposition to the petition for the preliminary injunction by this Thursday, September 17.


Thanks for any insight, help you can offer.


In solidarity with the homeless struggle for a more compassionate world.


Mark Merin  


Key Links:







How To Advocate for the Homeless! ~ CLICK LINKS!

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