From: Tamzen Cannoy <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 21:35:53 -0700 Subject: Only in Santa Cruz.
http://www.bayarea.com/mld/bayarea/news/breaking_news/3638480.htm 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 frazadelic.com, 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 meetings. 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 injured. ``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 infractions. 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 months. 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.