At the end of a long meeting, the progressive Santa Ana city council voted to deny OccupyOC an overnight camping permit similar to one approved 5-0 by the full Irvine City Council last month.
The OC Register’s Andrew Galvin did a nice job of summarizing the Occupy vote in his story in the Register.
From Galvin’s story:
Joe Straka, the interim city attorney, explained: “We have to enforce these statutes equally among everybody. If we apply the ordinances unequally and pick and choose who we apply the ordinances to, we would be subject to a … challenge.”
The city laws could then be found unconstitutional, he said.
The constitutionality of the city’s two anti-camping ordinances was upheld by the California Supreme Court in 1995 on an “as applied” standard, meaning that applying the law differently would be to risk a reversal of that ruling, Straka said.
That means no exceptions for the Occupy O.C. protesters, who have been sharing a patch of walkway with longer-term homeless habitues of the Civic Center. Four protesters intentionally got themselves arrested by setting up tents on Oct. 22 to make a point about freedom of speech and assembly.
However, the Council didn’t slam the door on further discussion.
“If you ask for a decision tonight, you’re probably not going to get a good one,” Councilman Vincent Sarmiento said. “But if you’re willing to sit down and discuss this, I think you’ll find some reasonable minds here. I hope we have some reasonable minds in the audience.”
While it appears the majority of the council supports the Occupy movement, they weren’t ready to back up their support with a vote in spite of Irvine paving the way with a very detailed agreement. The permit for the emcampment in Irvine is set to expire tomorrow but negotiations are underway to extend it. The OccupyOC movement in Irvine has been respectful but small. At times, there’s one protester but often we’ll see 20 to 30 people at the campsite. No trash or security concerns that Santa Ana officials fear and certainly no crime happening. OccupyOC could use more bodies. And remember, two conservative Republicans voted to allow the campsite on the grounds of free speech. Does that make Jeff Lalloway and Steven Choi more Liberal than Sal Tinajero and Michele Martinez?
I attended the OccupyLA event on Saturday. Tens of thousands of people, great speakers and about 20 satellite trucks for media around the world. There was some people activity whcih isn’t unexpected for a crowd that size, but the numbers don’t lie.
So it appears Councilman Vince Sarmiento will play a role in negotiations here. Let’s hope his reasonable approach is followed this time around, or we can simply state the progressive council majority isn’t as progressive as they say they are. They sure didn’t vote that way.