On Conversational Traps: A Formula for Responses

We had a very rewarding dialectic with our fellow traveler this morning, on a subject that was very painful for her, and centered around characters with whom she has a situation that she doesn’t feel is changeable. That is to say, she doesn’t feel she can work on the problem by making necessary demands of the other characters. We arrived at this topic because she reacted to something we said, and we were present enough to be generous and ask our way deep into her motivations, arriving at the situation suggested above. Our conversation led us indirectly to become aware of an extremely frequent mistake of conversation that results in the misinterpretation of a response, which we would like to reveal. We hope that some renowned language philosopher hasn’t done it yet, and will refrain from looking until after we’ve written it out.

People who use language to communicate don’t really ever understand each other, and it is a high attainment to understand each other’s language, which is as close as we can come to knowing the other’s spirit. A flexible but clear language between two or more people, founded on a few well-rehearsed moves that show not only motivation but agreement to work on certain terms, is a badge of a profound relationship.

We would like to make our argument in a simplified way, not making specific claims about prosody (tone of voice) or choice of words, such as using “why” when a simple “what” would keep the interlocutor going. The rapid exchange of dialectic results several times a minute in the following, which is responsible for language moving in the wrong direction, and therewith the topic, the speakers’ motivations, and ultimately the speakers’ emotions moving in completely unnecessary directions:

For assertion (A) there are, in an infinite set of responses, responses (B1) and (B2), in which

(B1) = Speaker is thinking out loud, organizing thoughts in response to (A), reflecting with words upon the impact of (A) upon his/her own thinking.

(B2) = Speaker is making a completed response (after the process described in (B1)) that contains a judgment of something contained in (A).

and in which speaker of (A) hears the response and mistakes one of the (B)s for another; the most disruptive response is to confuse (B1) for (B2). Arguably, in a sensitive and generous dialectic, the more frequent response would be (B1), which is a necessary thing for many people. This writer finds it next to impossible to think silently when engaged in a conversation. But our brains are obsessed with all responses being of the type of (B2). So we get “butt hurt” when we get a response that we consider to be an inappropriate judgment, and furthermore a premature one.

The ambiguity in the language used to make (B1) and (B2) can be cured through generous and clear use of language. A response (B1) can be uttered, qualified by including a statement such as “and that’s just my thinking, I’m not demanding anything of you by that.” In this way the speaker of (A) will understand that the speaker of (B) is not judging or pushing forward prematurely, as well as better understanding speaker of (B)’s intentions and perspective. It also takes away the ultimately destructive motivation by either speaker to tolerate something hurtful from the other. That tolerance is what we found at the core of our fellow traveler’s problem in the conversation that started our thinking about this.

Again, this doesn’t fix understanding of the other; it fixes a problem of one’s own understanding of what one is getting from the other. But the real truth in the formula is found in the fact that the fix depends on the generosity of the other speaker. The true culprit in this ambiguous situation is selfishness, and to get around the ambiguity we have to place our contributions a little bit into the interests of our interlocutor. This simple clarification is instinctual in the conversations of children, who are often occupied with seemingly lower-level tasks, like juggling the very meaning of the words in a conversation.

Let’s now think of our topic from this morning’s conversation: if the other speakers who are causing the hurt used generosity, she wouldn’t have to make the demands on their language use that she feels she can’t make, even though their language keeps her in a hurtful place.  To be aware of the confusion described above, and to use such a solution as the one we’ve proposed, should work to slow our reaction speed, check our emotions, and look for the common ground in conversation, like children and foreign language learners do.

Finally, we’d like to point out that the ambiguity we’ve examined bespeaks a real existential problem. It is mathematically possible that up to one hundred percent of our misery is caused by when we want something that isn’t there. We find this explanation to be sufficient because the thing’s non-existence can be caused by us individually or can be visited upon us by others, the latter of which most agree gives the right to be upset. When the speaker of (A) hears a response from an infinite set that includes (B1) and (B2), the fact that one mistakes (B1) for (B2) demonstrates that (B2) is not really there, within fairness assuming that the speaker of (B) is sympathetic. Anger arises out of nothing -the insult is not really there -and the conversation can begin to turn around an axis of anger/hurt for no good reason.

As a student of existentialism, which has aided our investigations of language immeasurably, this writer would like to encourage all readers to put these principles into action. The reader will find that the language we use to accomplish it is not so important; when our motivations are clear, the language will reflect that.

To go further from this article: search “prosodic phrase boundaries.” You will likely need access to an article database to view the results, sorry!


What it means: Toxic Waste is better than Green

Note: this piece is a continuation of “On the Psychosis of the Grocery Store,” to be read after the latter.

With the evidence presented in the piece above in mind, let’s now observe its currently popular workings, namely the so-called Green Revolution marketing campaign. The title of this piece is not a work of irony, but a conclusion based on the evidence of the introductory piece above and on the evidence to be presented below. Right now the entire US, on one level or another, is embroiled in the latest consumer fad of going “green.” It seems every major industry is encouraging us to go green by using their products -even SUVs have little perverse green leaf badges on their rear ends, right above the exhaust pipe.

This means, by a definition compiled from all the products and services that I’ve seen marked “green,” that the product or service is less harmful to the environment with regard to its ingredients, construction, business practices, und so weiter. We shall take the scare quotes away from “green” for the rest of the paper to avoid being annoying, and take pains to avoid describing anything below that is in fact colored green, except when describing packaging on materials that are supposed to be “green.” You get the idea.

For instance, my credit card is green because I can get a statement online rather than a paper envelope containing a paper account that must be delivered to me by airplane or truck. My household cleanser is green because it’s made of plant-derived chemicals found naturally in the earth, so it theoretically shouldn’t harm the ground that I empty the mop bucket on, nor contribute harmful chemicals to the sewer system. One of my Spanish 1 students retorted to my hemming and hawing about consumerism by showing me that the plastic cap on her plastic water bottle is green because it’s smaller than it used to be (indeed its label, which is usually red and white, was now green). I noticed right away when she showed me, because one’s hands memorize a bottle cap.

As we discussed in the introductory piece above, our symbols are undergoing modification to protect us from the concept of starvation or harm; they are symbols protecting symbols from other symbols. We now have this green symbol that protects us from the symbol of environmental disaster, which threatens our symbol of selfish satisfaction and prosperity. That’s not a blame on anyone; that’s a report on reality. However, as we suggested toward the end of the piece above, these products are still produced in the exact same way as the more harmful products, yea, even side by side with some. Similarly, the credit card is still a piece of plastic made in a factory and loaded with information enlivened and managed by coal, gas or nuclear powered computer systems, and the people who manage it still commute to work through the usual methods, und so weiter. The most dramatically stupid example of this scam may be cars, which are extremely destructive to produce, but recycled packaging for convenience food items is just as culpable.

We want to talk here about the productivity of our symbols. The fact is that the green revolution is a desperate shift in marketing and production that protects our most valuable anti-hunger symbol, that of the unshakable presence of consumption. Consumption protects us from hunger, and now environmental crisis threatens consumption. Green means that we can keep driving individualistic cars (to be discussed in our next psychosis essay, if we ever finish researching it), keep buying packaged food and goods, keep doing things exactly as we do, as long as it’s green. Greenness is ordering us to keep consuming, and most of us are eating it up like hungry dogs. But what about our behavior modification proposed above, that of reconnecting to all things through growing our own food, and so forth? If we grow our own food, as discussed above, we get the understanding of our seasonal lifecycle, and so forth. If we buy green, we’re still buying.

We’re experiencing a huge resistance to the green revolution by many consumers, even though this shift is barely different at the point of purchase -that is to say, they sit on the same shelf and we pick one -and certainly not an effective solution to our environmental crisis. This is because greenness is not effective enough a symbol for our above-demonstrated symbolic economy. Toxic waste is an excellent symbol, as even the lousiest of our high school history books tell us (see Loewen, “Lies my Teacher told Me, usw). No one likes toxic waste, no one wants to swim in a polluted body of water, no one wants to live next to a dump. Therefore, to ditch the green scam and go back to paying attention to toxic waste would be a much more effective symbol for driving behavior modification. But of course greenness is far more profitable for those selling the products; toxic waste is only ever a liability. As long as we’re in a consumerist mindset, any consumer-oriented brainwashing will be effective on us.

There is of course a graduation of actual effectiveness of these green products. As mentioned above, my household cleanser actually can be dumped in a cold compost pile without hurting the stuff living in the compost. The dust and crap I clean off my surfaces is probably more harmful. When the cleanser runs out every three years or so, I wash the plastic container out and either get it refilled with a new natural cleanser (I’m spoiled by living in northern California) or I throw it in the curbside recycling.

Furthermore, it could be argued validly that we need some things, like toilet paper and soap. Those of you who make your own natural toilet paper and soap are welcome and encouraged to knock this section down a peg. These products are nevertheless prime candidates for one hundred-percent recycledness. Of course we can make natural soap -we’ve been doing it for centuries. Of course we can make waste paper into toilet paper. It’s all paper, unless it’s one of the heavily treated kinds.

However there is an opposite and ridiculous side to this. In my district they’ve outlawed polystyrene packaging, and vegetable starch-based fast food packaging has become the mandatory rage. So I got breakfast a few sundays ago and took it to the beach, which I almost never do. When the food was gone, we were stuck with a biodegradable plasticine bag, a potato-starch paper carton, and potato-plastic forks -which could not be thrown in the recycling because they’re biodegradable. The alternative: throw them in the regular beach garbage can, which is lined with an old-fashioned plastic bag. So the biodegradable mass still won’t ever biodegrade, because it’s now stuck in a plastic bag in the garbage museum. In this way, the green revolution will cause more garbage and threaten the funding for recycling, which encourages us not to recycle, but rather to stay lazy and wasteful unless we have a compost bin at home for the packaging.

More important than arguing the validity of green products is recognizing how fast the introduction of greenness has set up a tyrannical rule over our perception of environmentally harmonious living. Ten years ago “organic” was still a relatively new idea for most people, and now there’s a “certified organic by whomever” sticker on almost everything in the store to help us use our new green symbol. Has anyone asked a Navajo in the desert or a Bavarian high in the mountains how they’ve managed for so long? Of course not. They don’t have the “organic” sticker, and we mean that literally. A piece of cave-aged cheese from France from a provincial farmer can’t be organic, because it’s natural, and hence doesn’t need to be graded by the organic police. I was talking to a Mexican man I know who works up here and then spends what time he can at his family’s ranch in the central Mexican mountains. At home he does everything “naturalmente,” a description I eagerly encouraged him to use. He at first said “organico,” but I assured him that I understood that he meant natural, and the conversation went on with a wonderful easiness of understanding.

In colonizing our consciousness, Green has made us as scared of naturalness as the processed food titans of the twentieth century did. A solution: begin to connect to all things by raising even the smallest bit of food for oneself. We must realize that we’re scared of tradition because we’re supposed to be doing this increasingly ridiculous “progress” thing. Organic and green are not a solution to the side effects of progress. Dwelling on toxic waste will just make us scared, but what action we take when confronting fear will have a much greater longterm effect than action taken from delusion. I’m not qualified to argue that point; one may look up the civil rights movement for a good dramatization.

We can conclude by reflecting on how easy it’s been, for those of us who have gone green, to go green. Anyone who thinks that they’re going to save the environment (“save” being the egotistical active word) through consumption is gullible. Hitler used simple semantics and rhetoric to convince drunk laborers in the beer halls that, given we=poor and jews=in germany, then of course jews/(#jobs – #us) is a function f(x) when x=the regression into poverty of us. This was one of his simplest ones, but you get the idea. Similarly, Jackson argued that, since there was so much gold in Georgia Territory and so many Indians in that territory blocking the white man from getting at that gold because it was under their homes, then the Indians were guilty of keeping the white man in poverty. The above examples are identical to the present argument that toxicness and wastefulness are keeping us from feeling good about our rampant consumption. So, like Hitler and his mentor Jackson, we march toxicness and wastefulness off on the trail of tears with our mighty weapon greenness. Like the Indians and the Jews, toxicness and wastefulness are nevertheless still here, and we’re not addressing the issues around them realistically.

Natives Petition Obama to Honor Treaties

First of all, read this:


This was the very first piece I dug up through a blog when I searched Google for current work on honoring the treaties. Now that you’ve all read my arguments in favor of doing that, you must get involved with your little typing fingers and sign their petition. If you already did while reading the piece, gold star for you. Should the above link not work for any reason in the future, the petition itself is to be found at:

At 2 PM on saturday 27 February, there are 314 including mine. Give them a damned hand! I want those of you who read this to comment me, at the end of two weeks, how many people you told and how many people did it. Keep records! It may become of some use for me to report this to the American Indian Genocide Museum.

Bloggers: copy the links and keep it going.





It’s official – country to change name to Insurance-Industan

What it actually means:

You thought it would never happen, especially not after our pal Obama was elected! Beside no candy falling from the sky, we also now have, under the language of the healthcare bill expected to pass in the senate, created a consumer dictatorship in which the health insurance companies have first priority to our money. According to several news sources, the “encouraging” bill, which the president has called a victory for the country, mandates that everyone has to have private health insurance or pay a fine, with no option to get it from the government like seniors can. According to te New York Times on 19 Dec, the senate version carries the following penalty:

$95 a year per person in 2014; $350 in 2015; $750 or 2 percent of a household’s income, whichever is greater, in 2016 and beyond. No penalty if the cost of cheapest available plan exceeds 8 percent of household income.

Think of it as King Insurance Industry the Cruel, and the federal and state governments are now the sheriff of Nottingham, running around strangling taxes out of working people.

The same article as above indicates that your all’s friends the democrats in the House would have the poor -who’ll need to get subsidized as in (2) below -barred from abortion coverage under the pretense that the feds won’t subsidize elective abortion. This assures the middle that there’ll be plenty of poor and ignorant in the future to do the lifting.

I predicted this years ago. Soon we’ll have a situation in which you’ll be fined or jailed or beaten for not buying Starbucks and Budweiser every day or not having a receipt for it. We’re already spiritually forcing ourselves into a consumerist state of being, now all we need is the material obligation to buy -buying at gunpoint, imagine. In this report I won’t even get into how individual senators are about to get away with money to put in their pockets and reportedly into their states for lending their vote to the bill, but will stick to the physics of health insurance coverage.

They’re already doing this coverage-or-fine system in Massachusetts, and guess what? Lots of people are paying the fine, because it’s cheaper than insurance. Duh! And it’s not just individuals, but small business owners as well. Now imagine how much money the government will be able to make by fining the fifty million people who don’t do the insurance thing now $100 a year to remain barred from getting affordable health care, money which they’ll use to escalate invasions of other countries. Hell, screw fixing the budget deficit, this windfall could be the dealmaker on invading Venezuela by 2014.

Anyhow, here’s the core of this report, a set of simple flow charts, with the arrow being your money, describing our options under the new bill.

1. You get health insurance:

You—-> Insurance company

2. You can’t afford to get health insurance, so you apply for financial help from the man under this new bill:

You—> Government (taxes)—–> You (aid)—–> Insurance company

3. You don’t get health insurance, and the proposed eye in the sky finds out and fines you:

You—> Government —-> Insurance companies (see help for people in 2.)

According to analysts on KUSP yesterday, the bill as it stands now was definitely written by lobbyists. All this won’t even come into effect, excepting the taxation that has to happen to pay for it, for approximately four years, so the next president will take the flak for what Obama did while you were all sleeping, just like usual, just like before you all elected Obama in your fit of religious elation. Too bad you didn’t have the foresight to elect non-asshole representatives.

But all is not lost. For one, we don’t know how the government will find out whether or not you’re insured. We do still have this thing called the fourth amendment. Perhaps insurance companies will offer a McDonald’s-scale plan with all the new business.

For another, the bill evidently makes it illegal to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Now they have no choice but to charge you thousands a month to cover your diabetes so they don’t lose any money, and you now have no choice but to bend over and pay it and be thankful, damn you, that now it’s illegal for them not to extend you the privilege.

What we can rely on, however, is that the poor will be blackmailed with this new law, since the poor have to show more paperwork than the rest of us. The government, under precedents existent today, can:

1. Make proof of insurance a necessity in getting food aid

2.Make proof of insurance a necessity in getting a driver’s license (hi kids!)

3. Make proof of insurance a necessity in getting a passport (hi tourists and students!)

4. Make proof of insurance a necessity in applying for financial aid or even to post-secondary schools

5. Make proof of application for insurance a necessity in getting a work visa (should take care of the immigration problem)

Anyone who can think of something even nastier gets a prize.

But what do you care? You’re sitting in front of a computer reading a blog and trying to find a decent recipe for capuccino, you’re not poor. But you may become deeper in middle-class consumer debt if you can’t get a job because the health insurance costs are killing all the nice little local businesses that constitute your community.

Now, as you all know from my other posts, I may talk nasty, but all of this is the straight truth and I’m putting it out here to help you. We have to plan how to undermine this law, and otherwise how to be able to work it into our expenses until it can be fixed. Don’t take my word for all this, look it up:



Can I raise some questions? Does it matter to anyone that this started as an attempt to get health care for all in an organized, public fashion? And do we really need the president’s top-priority domestic policy to be a show of business’ dominance? I though we already knew that business was in charge. And how does the bill handle  homelessness? The last time I looked at the bill at any length it was the really long earlier house version, but I’d love to hear from anyone who has more details than I do who can sharpen the picture.

Happy holidays, schmucks!


Happy “Thanksgiving” -now honor the treaties.

Cartoon by Ron Cobb

Well, those of us fortunate enough to be able to sit around and read blogs will likely also be glutting ourselves on some form of food or another this week in a permutation of the Thanksgiving tradition, which has been proclaimed in individual years since 1789 and has been a national holiday since 1863.

We celebrate thanksgiving because our northern European ancestors, who had no idea what living in the wilderness or potatoes or tomatoes or chocolate was, and who weren’t in steady contact or truce with the Spanish in the south, were incompetent at survival on the eastern seaboard of Turtle Island, a land of some twenty million people in 1600 now referred to as the United States of America. Our intrepid settler ancestors (not mine, I’m a child of broke Germans who probably came to the US in the 1880s to avoid war or starvation) were bailed out from a quick extinction by the locals.

Since then the United States government has made and broken 371 treaties with Indian tribes -all of them, in fact, except for a rumored intact agreement between people in Texas and the high plains Germans who still live way out there. The thing is, honoring these treaties would have been so simple, but the white people have all gone money-simple, and it has always ended up with the natives first being killed and then the survivors being moved so that the white people can go after resources. Native peoples’ downfall is that they’re too kind because for millennia they haven’t had to deal with this kind of aggression. In the film Paha Sapa, an elder explains how the Sioux people allowed the Europeans to pass through their holy lands with open arms, “as long as you don’t stop.” Those whose families had been destroyed by white violence themselves became violent and Indians certainly have murdered Europeans, but I must emphasize the idea that, as found by our best archeologists of today, for ten thousand years there was not a single major war on the north American continent. You American Christians and Muslims, as you step daintily between the grocery store and the policeman, hating each other over disagreements in dogma and the aggregate heat of circular revenge, imagine ten thousand years with no war. You can’t, can you? Who among any of us can?

Below are some of the more recent examples of the violence mentioned above.

The trail of tears: goldrush in Georgie Territory

Little Bighorn, basically every tragedy in the midwest in the 1800s: railroad land rights, hunting, cattle roads

Texas: oil

Dakotas: gold and ore mining in the Black Hills, the Jerusalem of the northern plains peoples

Arizona: mining and energy production to light up Phoenix, Los Angeles and Las Vegas

California: California. There’s an Indian head on the back of an 1860s penny because you could get up to $5 for each Indian you killed in Northern California and all you had to do was turn in a scalp. Could have been a Mexican’s scalp for all anyone would know. That goes for in Yosemite too.

Monterey, California (near where I live): Fort Ord was to be given back to the Salinans, et al., after the war was over, under the same broken statute about disused federal and state land that gave rise to the occupation of Alcatraz 1969-1971. Not! Now there’s a college on the land, CSUMB, but that doesn’t excuse anything.

It’s not too late. The native peoples are not extinct; they’re all over the place, in your city and town, and in the armed services. It’s hard for most people to imagine what it would look like if we had to actually admit that something is wrong and start to make amends. Most people my parents’ age say “It happened a long time ago.”

For one, it didn’t happen a long time ago. It’s happening right now. For another, the time since contact, in which cultures ten thousand years old have had to adjust to a very sudden and violent disintegration of their lives, does not excuse anyone of anything.

The Germans had to recognize their holocaust, which was quick and fierce and done with ovens; they now have laws to prevent such a thing from happening again. The United States have never had to recognize our holocaust; it’s done slowly with laws and tax rights and religion and silence now, no longer with guns and knives and bombs. For now there’s no Europe or America from across the ocean forcing us to admit that we let this happen, as was the case with the Germans.

Like I said, honoring the treaties would be simple. You probably won’t have to move out of your state or your town or your house. Simon Ortiz said,

“Like a soul, the land was open to them, like a child’s heart.

There was no paradise,

but it would have gently and willingly

and longingly given them food and air

and substance for every comfort.

If they had only acknowledged

even their smallest conceit.” –From Sand Creek 79

Ortiz isn’t just talking about the “we were here first” argument that most Europeans pin on Indians. It’s also about the conceit of being dependent on the land, which the Pilgrims or whatever on the first Thanksgiving knew well by their first November. It’s about the conceit of being dependent on each other as humans; we can destroy Indians and Muslims and Communists but eventually, if we keep up that attitude, there’ll be the one tiny tribe with the formerly greatest might left, starving and alone. If that’s okay with you, then don’t do anything about any of this.

Otherwise, here’s what you can do. Don’t take my word for all this, look it up.

Use the internet. It’s packed with resources about treaties and tribal history. Here’s some:




That’s just the ones from the top of the Google list. Educate yourselves about why they broke the treaties. If any of their justifications are still running rampant in your heads, chase them out. Then start telling your friends, writing your congressman, and so forth.

If you live in San Francisco, show up at the observation of the Alcatraz occupation on Wednesday the 26th. See http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/11/22/18629963.php for info.

Read native American literature. Indian people have been writing for a solid hundred years or so in English, and their writing about what’s happened since contact -and what happened before -is simple, compassionate and beautiful. As we talk about what needs to be done for the Indians, we must not trip on the usual white trap of trying to explain it in terms of and for the benefit of Europeans. We must use the Indians’ terms, voices and stories or it won’t make any sense, or worse.

Just a few writers:

Ella Cara Deloria

N. Scott Momaday

Linda Hogan

Vine Deloria Jr

Daryl Babe Wilson

Darcy McNickle

Simon Ortiz

Stan Rushworth

Leslie Marmon Silko

Do you like metal? I know I sure do. Check out native metal bands like Native Blood and Black Circle on youtube. Because, really, you’re too old for Dimmu Borgir and Metallica -barf.

Look back a year from now, as you dutifully trudge off to your family or neighborhood engagements, and reflect on how much you’ve grown in the past year toward demanding that the treaties be honored.

Don’t you get tired of hearing wealthy people on the radio and on TV complaining about the price of gas and new appliances? There must be room in our over-optimistic plans for fixing this country for honoring the treaties we have with our native neighbors. As I’ve written before, some of us need to be prioritizing our own visions while the people who’re stuck in the right now work to solve the problems they started, like the finance crisis and all the wars we’re in. Not all of us can have a major role in that process, so we need to find our own gigs. The recognition of the legal reality of these treaties with the Indians must grow exponentially among common people and in all strata in the next five years if we’re going to ever get this thing started. The FBI and CONTELPRO came down on people in AIM like John Trudell and Leonard Peltier really hard, and all they did was talk. So those of us who aren’t in direct danger, us comfortable Europeans, have to lend our voices.

Thanks folks!


The Geography of Jobs

Hey hey, how about Phoenix, Arizona? Pretty big gains there. Do you all know what the Indians out in Arizona call the transmission towers that go from the power station torn out of their reservation towards Phoenix? The “white man’s gods.” No kidding.

What’s REALLY funny about this map deal is that some of those areas where jobs have been lost, like the central coast where I live, there never WAS shit for jobs. Someone told me last night that 80% of people between 18-24 are unemployed, that is to say, on the unemployment rolls. Anyone able to air out that claim?

The Geography of Jobs – TIP Strategies

Posted using ShareThis

“Camping” and other laws

Anyone’s wondering what I’ll be writing about next, here’s some real vagrancy laws from Santa Cruz, California, which I  had a hell of a time finding but eventually got from the municipal code at http://www.codepublishing.com/CA/SantaCruz. Since “vagrancy” law is too easy to fight (due to being bullshit) in the city councils, I had to be told by a lawyer that now it’s called “camping,” then I found all of it. Italics, etc. are my marks. Have fun.



No person shall camp anywhere in the city of Santa Cruz, whether on public or private property, except as hereinafter expressly permitted. “To camp” means to do any of the following:

(a)    Sleeping – 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. To sleep at any time between the hours of 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. in any of the following places:

(1)    Outdoors with or without bedding, tent, hammock or other similar protection or equipment;

(2)    In, on or under any structure not intended for human occupancy, whether with or without bedding, tent, hammock or other similar protection or equipment;

(3)    In, on or under any parked vehicle, including an automobile, bus, truck, camper, trailer or recreational vehicle.

(b)    Setting-up Bedding – 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. To establish or maintain outdoors or in, on or under any structure not intended for human occupancy, at any time between the hours of 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m., a temporary or permanent place for sleeping, by setting up any bedding, sleeping bag, blanket, mattress, tent, hammock or other sleeping equipment in such a manner as to be immediately usable for sleeping purposes.

(c)    Setting-up Campsite – Anytime. To establish or maintain outdoors or in, on, or under any structure not intended for human occupancy, at any time during the day or night, a temporary or permanent place for cooking or sleeping, by setting up any bedding, sleeping bag, blanket, mattress, tent, hammock or other sleeping equipment or by setting up any cooking equipment, with the intent to remain in that location overnight.

(Ord. 99-01 § 1, 1999: Ord. 78-29, § 2, 1978). -this is called “intent to cover” or “intent to protect” oneself -ac.


Camping may be permitted in the city of Santa Cruz only under the following circumstances:

(a)    Camping in public areas specifically set aside and clearly marked for public camping purposes;

(b)    Camping events authorized and permitted by the Santa Cruz City parks and recreation department;

(c)    Camping events authorized by the city council pursuant to Section 6.36.030;

(d)    Camping:

(i)    In the yard of a residence with the consent of the owner or occupant of the residence, where the camping is in the rear yard, or in an area of a side yard or front yard that is separated from view from the street by a fence, hedge or other obstruction; or       <– it’s illegal for a kid to camp on his or her folks’ front lawn -ac.

(ii)    Inside of a licensed and registered motor vehicle in the parking lot on the site of a religious institution with the written consent of such institution, where the driver/occupant of such vehicle is in possession of a valid driver’s license, provided that no more than three vehicles shall be permitted at any one location; or

(iii)    Inside of a licensed and registered motor vehicle in the parking lot on the site of a business institution in a non-residential district with the written consent of both the business institution and property owner, where the driver/occupant of such vehicle is in possession of a valid driver’s license, provided that no more than two vehicles shall be permitted at any one location;

(iv)    Inside a licensed and registered vehicle in a residential off-street driveway with the written consent of the owner and occupant of the residence, where the driver/occupant of such vehicle is in possession of a valid driver’s license, provided that no more than one vehicle shall be permitted at any one location. No particular location shall be used for camping under this provision for more than three days during any one calendar month.

Camping shall not be permitted under this subsection where it is conducted in such a manner as to create noise, inadequate sanitation, or other matters offensive to persons of ordinary sensibility; nor where the camping is of such frequency, intensity or duration as to constitute a use of land prohibited by any provision of Title 24 of this code; nor where the camping activity would be prohibited under any other provision of this code concerning use of mobilehomes; nor where any fee, charge or other monetary consideration is collected for the privilege of camping or for any services or the use of any facilities related thereto; nor where the covenants, conditions and restrictions of a duly organized homeowners association would prohibit the activity in the residential area subject to the covenants, conditions and restrictions.

(Ord. 2002-12 § 1, 2002: Ord. 2002-05 § 1, 2002: Ord. 99-01 § 2, 1999: Ord. 95-22, § 1, 1995: Ord. 78-29, § 2, 1978).


(a) The director of parks and recreation may issue a permit authorizing persons or groups to camp in the improved areas of Harvey West Park, the improved area known as lower De Laveaga Park adjacent to Branciforte Drive and San Lorenzo Park bench lands upon finding that the applicant has met the city’s requirements for:

(1)    Parking and traffic control;

(2)    Toilet and other sanitary facilities;

(3)    Security;

(4)    Liability insurance;

(5)    Garbage collection and cleanup;

(6)    Security and cleanup deposits;

(7)    Such other public health, safety and general welfare matters as may be raised by the camping application; and

(8)    Environmental compliance according to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the city’s CEQA Guidelines.

(b)    Except as set forth in subsection (c) no person or group may camp in a city park under authority of this section for more than three nights in any twelve months. No permit shall be required for security guards who camp in city parks incident to a lawful event.

(c)    Where the camping activity is taking place in conjunction with an authorized and permitted restoration or conservation project being performed by campers at or near the campsite, the director of parks and recreation may permit an individual or group to camp in one of the afore-referenced city parks for a period of time in excess of that prescribed in subsection (b).

(d)    To ensure the fair and consistent application of this section, the director of parks and recreation shall promulgate regulations defining the criteria for permit issuance contained in this section.

(Ord. 2002-05 § 2, 2002: Ord. 89-33 § 1, 1989).


Any person who violates any section in this chapter is guilty of an infraction and shall be subject to a fine of not more than twenty dollars. Alternatively any person who violates any section in this chapter, in lieu of a fine may, if that person so requests, be required to provide no more than eight hours of community service.

(Ord. 99-01 § 3, 1999: Ord. 79-41 § 1, 1979).


Any person who violates any section in this chapter, other than subsections (a) and (b) of Section 6.36.010, and is cited for such violation, and who within twenty-four hours after receiving such citation again violates the same section, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(Ord. 99-01 § 4, 1999: Ord. 79-41 § l, 1979).


Any citation issued for a violation of this chapter shall be dismissed by the city attorney in the interest of justice if, at the time of citation issuance, the winter shelter at the Santa Cruz National Guard Armory is filled to capacity.

(Ord. 99-01 § 5, 1999).


Any campsite established in the city in violation of this chapter is declared to be a public nuisance, and the chief of police, after consultation with appropriate city officials and upon a determination that such a campsite constitutes an immediate threat to the health, safety or welfare of persons in the city, including persons using the campsite, is authorized and empowered to remove any such campsite forthwith. If persons are occupying the campsite at the time, then before removing the campsite, the chief of police, or the officer designated by the chief, shall warn the person or persons occupying the campsite that they are in violation of this chapter and shall give them the opportunity to remove the campsite forthwith.

(Ord. 94-11 § 1, 1994).

And for all you hacky-sack playing miscreants (i know, that’s so 1996), you’ll get it too.

(e)    Notwithstanding subsection (d), individual bubble street performers and individual jugglers who otherwise comply with all applicable statutes and ordinances are authorized to blow bubbles and juggle in the C-C, C-N, C-B, CBD and R-T zoning districts. When in the judgment of the director of parks and recreation or the police chief, or their respective designees, said bubble-blowing or juggling activity will materially interfere with pedestrian use of the sidewalk or attract crowds which will create such interference, the city may require a bubble street performer or juggler to obtain a noncommercial event permit from the city as a condition to continuing or undertaking a bubble or juggling performance. This subsection shall not be construed to authorize hackysack activity in the referenced zone districts.