Dick V., a downtown resident, has noted a number of vehicles parking in permitted (and posted) no parking areas after the designated times. He commented on how some of the people parking after hours are going to local bars and generally disturb the peace when they come back to their vehicles. He wanted to know if the police department could address this issue.
I appreciate hearing about this issue downtown. Concerns over parking in posted no parking areas without enforcement are all too common. However, this is the first we have heard of concerns in your specific neighborhood. I have asked our downtown lieutenant, Larry Richard, to ensure that some extra patrols come through your neighborhood to address your concerns. I believe that it will only take a few tickets to send a message to people to not park there. I will also let our parking enforcement team (they work for Public Works) know about your problem. We can do more to work with parking enforcement to address these concerns throughout the city. Thanks again for letting us know.
Chief of Police
Janet is also a downtown resident and wrote Chief Vogel regarding the river levee. She spoke about her concerns of safety on the levee and a belief that it is being used for drug and other criminal activity. She asked whether any additional laws need to be enacted and what the community could do to help.
Thank you for your thoughtful email. I must say, you are not alone in your concerns about levee safety and quality of life issues surrounding our river. Over the last few years there has been a concerted effort to improve the levee by the Police Department, Water Department, Parks and Recreation and Public Works. Improved lighting has gone in, landscape improvements have been made and our parks unit joined with park rangers to add additional patrols. However, we are in full agreement that is hasn’t been enough. I recently authorized the hiring of First Alarm security to also patrol the levee area to add an additional uniformed presence. Community groups like Santa Cruz Neighbors and Take Back Santa Cruz have organized clean ups and helped provide a positive presence in the area. But more could be done – and a lot of it will take a community-wide solution. We need to encourage positive usage of the levee, from biking to walking to family friendly trips down the path. At this time I don’t believe we need additional laws to address the issues, but I appreciate the suggestion and will ask our parks unit to look into the current codes to see if there is something missing. Our City Council has been extremely supportive of cleaning up the levee area from an environmental degradation standpoint and a public safety standpoint. I would encourage you to partner with these neighborhood groups to do exactly as you say – clean up the space and ensure that it is claimed for our entire community, not just a select few that want to use it for criminal behavior.
Chief of Police
Charlie is a business owner in the Seabright area. He has seen that alcohol-related issues tend to come from late night/early morning drinking and suggested moving bar closing times to midnight (from the current 2 am).
Thank you for your suggestion. Alcohol-fueled violence is an on-going problem for our community. Did you know that we have over 50 alcohol outlets in less than one square mile downtown? It’s rare that we don’t see alcohol as a contributing factor in violence or inappropriate behavior. In fact, public intoxication arrests are one of the most common arrest types at our agency. Whether or not a reduction of the service time (from 2:00 am to midnight) would have a reduction on these incidents is up for debate. But I do think that it’s important that we start a greater discussion about responsible drinking, over-service (or over-sales) by some alcohol outlets and the role alcohol plays in criminal and quality of life activities in our community. We are in the process of applying for a grant through the state Alcoholic Beverage Control agency to provide additional overtime to work on alcohol issues in our community.
Chief of Police