SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - As night fell on Santa Cruz, so begins the new Main Beach curfew. It's a rule designed to limit homeless tents popping up on the beach but Wednesday, those tents are still there. Under the policy, the dry sand portion of the beach here will be closed between midnight and now hour before sunrise, so they are allowed to be there the rest of the day. But the curfew is drawing mixed opinions from locals.
A couple visiting from the Sacramento area said they think the policy is a good idea.
“I just don’t feel comfortable on the beach especially when there’s a lot of homeless there,” Diana Leadham said.
She also had concerns about drugs ending up on the beach.
“You don’t want to walk on the beach and see a hypodermic needle or something,” Leadham said.
“I feel for the homeless, I do, but this is not the place for them to be,” Soquel resident Barry Belcher said.
But homeless people KION spoke with who stay here said there’s no where else to go.
“It’s really wrong because where would they put the people," Lawrence McGregor, who is homeless, said. "Where would they put any of us?”
McGregor used to live on Main Beach, but he said he was recently kicked off. Now, he struggles to find a safe place to live.
“Maybe the only thing to lay your head down without having someone else coming up and stabbing you is very hard because I’ve been attacked many times,” McGregor said.
The Santa Cruz City Council approved the curfew in a 6-1 vote, with Councilmember Drew Glover being the only one who voted against the curfew. He said despite caring about health, safety and environmental concerns that were raised by the public, the curfew is not a sustainable solution.
“We need to be doing this in a way so that we’re not only prioritizing the people that are currently housed but doing something proactively for the people who are sleeping outside. I’ve suggested transitional encampments and a variety of other solutions,” Glover said.
While there is no sign up at Main Beach Wednesday, a Santa Cruz Police spokesperson said they plan to ramp up enforcement and will give 72 hour notice to campers to vacate the area.
The policy will sunset in 6 months.