SANTA CRUZ (KPIX 5) — On Tuesday, Santa Cruz city council members will discuss whether to install four additional syringe disposal kiosks in the county in response to finding thousands of needles left in public places.
Right now the county has three kiosks–two in Santa Cruz and one in Watsonville–that have collected nearly 6,000 pounds of sharps in a two year period.
But city leaders said thousands of syringes and needles continue to be left on streets, parks and even beaches. Between July 2018 and May 2019, the city reported finding about 6,000 syringes citywide. A city report also said that the Parks Department picked up 4,171 needles in 2018.
Jan, a long-time resident of Santa Cruz who didn’t want to give her last name, said that she almost warned a family she spotted on Main Beach last week to go somewhere else.
“All I could think of was, ‘Please watch out for needles,'” she said. “I so wanted to tell that family, ‘Don’t let those kids be doing that, go play over there and it will be much better.'”
According to city leaders, they picked up 530 needles on Main and Cowell Beaches last year alone.
“Kids go down on the beach, put two and two together, it could be a bad scene,” said Santa Cruz resident Karl Anderle. “We’ve found needles everywhere up and down this beach.”
City council members haven’t said where they would put the additional red kiosks if the county agrees to oversee them. They already maintain the three existing boxes, which are outside of the Santa Cruz Clinic on Emeline Avenue, the Watsonville Health Center on Crestview Drive and the Government Center on Ocean Street.
“I’d rather have them in a box than on the beach,” said Jan. “The drugs are here, the needles are here, drop them off in a safe place.”