From: Tamzen Cannoy <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 21:35:53 -0700
Subject: Only in Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz council backs resolution for more tourist-friendly downtown
By Ken McLaughlin
Mercury News

They like their colorful characters; they just want them to behave.

So while lauding the range of artists and musicians who gather
downtown, Santa Cruz City Council members Tuesday night agreed to
move forward with an aggressive program aimed at making the downtown
more comfortable for shoppers and other visitors.

Unswayed by a group of topless women blowing bubbles and waving a
copy of the ``Mammary Manifesto,'' the council unanimously passed a
resolution calling for a ``downtown free from harassment, anti-social
behaviors, and criminal activity,'' while designating the downtown as
a ``social and entertainment center with an extraordinary diversity
of artists, musicians, and social and political activists.''

Council members in recent months have been barraged by complaints
from merchants, shoppers and other residents about dozens of downtown
problems, including partial nudity, taunting and sexual harassment of
women and gays, graffiti vandalism, and public urination and
defecation. Some merchants petitioned the council to ban
bare-breasted women, hackysackers and panhandlers who ask people for
spare change while they're waiting in movie lines.

The council will meet at 1 p.m. PDT Monday to decide whether the city
needs to amend old ordinances or create new ones.

Although the majority of speakers Tuesday night castigated the
council for listening too much to business people and not enough to
musicians, artists and street people, some residents talked of an
increasing lack of civility downtown -- a rudeness they say is
driving shoppers to the Capitola Mall and other more traditional
retail areas.

``There's an overwhelming amount of bums in the downtown,'' said
resident Henry Donnelly. ``It's a persistent, pernicious problem.'

A coalition of activists for the homeless and women defending the
right to go topless, however, insisted that the problems have been
exaggerated by merchants and other critics. They said the council
risked taking the color out of the downtown -- and thus discouraging
tourists from coming.

To make her point, Jasmine Byron, her hair styled in a multi-colored
Mohawk that reached toward the sky, appeared at the speaker's podium
and quickly removed her shirt, displaying a copy of the newly written
``Mammary Manifesto.''

The manifesto was written by Samamantha Sushima, supreme commander of
the Areola Rebel Forces. It blasted Candi Jackson of Jackson Shoes,
who led the merchants' petition drive, for seeking to ``rid Santa
Cruz streets of not just poor people but artists, musicians, hippies,
bare-breasted women.''

The document praised the city's long history of bare-breasted
protests, noting the day in 1981 that Nikki Craft and other local
activists ``organized a demonstration of brave topless sisters'' at
the Santa Cruz police station to defend the right of women to go
bare-breasted on area beaches. In recent years, the Bare Breasted
Bandits have blocked the sidewalk in front of the Gap, protesting
`sweatshop merchandise.''

Councilman Scott Kennedy was not amused. He asked Community
Television's camera operators not to show Byron's chest, so she and
two other topless women who spoke before the council were shown only
from the back. The women had, a pro-topless,
pro-artist Web site, written on their backs.

But Kennedy's order didn't stop the camera from showing a
bare-breasted woman with glasses and long blond hair blowing bubbles
throughout part of the meeting, until Vice Mayor Emily Reilly told
her to knock it off because the liquid might stain the walls of the
council chamber. Reilly didn't tell the woman to put her shirt back
on, however.

Although some merchants had proposed a ban on toplessness, a council
committee on the downtown consisting of Reilly and Councilman Ed
Porter didn't include it among their recommendations after two public

Although the council still has the option of passing an ordinance
against baring breasts downtown, it doesn't seem likely. Councilman
Mark Primack, for one, said he didn't find Tuesday's topless
demonstration relevant to the main issues at hand. The audience
``spent a lot of time talking about it, but it doesn't have anything
to do about breasts that I can see,'' he said.

And bubbles?

Reilly and Porter had urged the council to ban ``liquid substances''
that ``become airborne.'' But Porter told the audience that it was
all a misunderstanding. Let downtown bubbles blow, he said.

Porter, Reilly and the rest of the council seemed to agree, however,
that the downtown was no place for playing hackysack, football,
baseball, Frisbee and tossing a beach ball. They said they were
particularly concerned that seniors walking down the street would be

``Sports activity . . . is not what the downtown is envisioned for,'
Porter said. ``If my mother had a collision with a hackysacker . . .
it's something she should not have to endure.''

The council also agreed to send a letter to the presiding judge of
Santa Cruz County Superior Court asking judges to send a strong
message about civility by not tossing out tickets for minor

The council also agreed to share with the county the cost of a
full-time social worker for the central business district. Because of
budget constraints, a social worker hasn't worked downtown for six

Councilman Tim Fitzmaurice said he hoped the city would root out the
``largely male, territorial behavior'' manifested in sexual taunting,
booming cars stereos and revving motorcycles.

``A community needs to say we've had enough, and we're not going to
take it anymore,'' he said.

Reply via email to