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Occupy Santa Rosa In Dispute With City Over Camping Permits

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An Occupy Wall Street encampment at Santa Rosa City Hall. (CBS)

An Occupy Wall Street encampment at Santa Rosa City Hall. (CBS)

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SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — Occupy Santa Rosa protesters Tuesday are claiming city officials have disregarded their suggestions regarding the issuance of permits for the group to continue camping on City Hall property.

“It is nothing like the permit that we poured our hearts out for at the City Council four days ago,” the group said in a statement Tuesday.

The Santa Rosa City Manager’s Office began issuing 57 camping permits Tuesday morning, half the number that was negotiated on Thursday, according to the group’s statement.

There will actually be only 51 spaces available for camping because six spaces will be taken up by the camp’s food preparation area and other campsite infrastructure, Occupy Santa Rosa member Ben Browner said Tuesday afternoon.

The campsite infrastructure previously was located on a concrete area at City Hall and city officials said it has to be relocated to the camping area on the grass, Browner said.

“None of the core ‘Occupy’ members have applied for tent permits today,” Browner said. “Thirty people who are not ‘Occupy’ participating campers applied for the permits,” he said.

On Thursday the City Council voted 5-2 to issue 15-day, individual camping permits. Some Occupy Santa Rosa members told the City Council Thursday the encampment has drawn homeless residents and some people in need of mental health services that are not available in Sonoma County.

The demonstrators took residence at City Hall property at First Street and Santa Rosa Avenue on Oct. 15 and first pitched their tents in violation of a city code prohibiting camping without a permit on Oct. 29.

Occupy Santa Rosa members also said their rights and their families’ rights to safety and privacy are in jeopardy because campers are required to display their pictures, full names and addresses outside the tents.

“Anybody who has an issue with the movement can walk by and find out everything about Occupiers,” the group said in its statement.

The group also said there are no fire or safety hazards associated with the tents being in 5-foot aisles as was previously proposed by the City Manager’s office.
“We believe this, and other restrictions to be a ploy to create division within our group, and frankly, it’s NOT going to work,” the group said.
“We have come to the conclusion that this is NOT a permit issue. It never HAS been,” the group said.
Browner said city officials made it clear the permit conditions are the final offer.
“What is required is non-compliance,” Browner said.

“This governing body seemingly has the inability to negotiate with this living system within their parameters. Truth and justice will rise up and continue to grow,” Browner said.

Occupy Santa Rosa members plan to attend Tuesday City Council meeting, possibly march Tuesday evening and again on Saturday, Browner said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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