To: Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and the Santa Cruz City Council
Please find the Take Back Santa Cruz Needles Solutions Team Needles in Public Spaces (NIPS) report attached. This is a log of citizen reports of needles found in public spaces for the last 43 months. The log was created as a reference so that someone can use the data to:
- Keep the County and City aware that there is an ongoing problem;
- Determine if the needles found in public spaces are increasing or decreasing;
- Provide data to the City and County so that “hot spot” patterns can be identified for City/County cleanup; and to
- Give the community a place to log their finds.
Total NIPS Finds for Reporting Period 43
For reporting period 43 (6/9/2016-7/8/16), 266 needles found in public spaces were logged. This count includes citizen reports, community group reports and reports by City workers. 96 needles were found by citizens and community groups; the other 170 needles were found by City workers.
Ninth Confirmed Needle Stick Injury – Twin Lakes Jr. Guards
- A 15-year-old boy was stuck by a needle during a Twin Lake Jr. Guards session. Twin Lakes Jr. Guards is a state-run program. This incident marks our ninth confirmed needle stick injury (and fifth child).
Needles also found by Rio Del Mar Jr. Guards and Santa Cruz Jr. Guards
- Children participating in two other Jr. Guards programs also found needles on the beach during sessions. Like Twin Lakes Jr. Guards, the Rio Del Mar Jr. Guards is a state program. The Santa Cruz City Parks and Recreation Department runs the Santa Cruz Jr. Guards program at Cowell Beach.
- Both Jr. Guards programs are to be commended for their transparency and efforts to address the ongoing problem of discarded needles on our beaches.
Other Significant Finds For Reporting Period 43
- Of the 170 needles found by City workers, 97 were in the levee area;
- A citizen found a needle in front of New Brighton Middle School (1251N);
- A resident on Canfield Avenue found a needle at the bottom of his apartment steps as he was taking his kids to the Boardwalk (1248N);
- A jar of 15 needles was left in a bathroom of a local coffee shop (1240N);
- A needle was found near Nob Hill supermarket in Scotts Valley (1228N);
- A needle was found outside of Toys R Us (1262N)
Hot Spot NIPS Locations for Reporting Periods 43:
- San Lorenzo River/Levee
- Depot Park
Overview of Last 43 Months
- Total Number of Needles Reported Found: 266
- Average Number of Needles Found Per Month: 258
- Source of needles: Again, based on the frequent presence of other items from the SSP such as water capsules, cookers, and alcohol wipes, we conclude that a significant number of needles found in public spaces likely originated from the SSP (and obviously were not returned for exchange.) However, there are other needles being found that do not match those given out by the SSP, so there are presumably other sources of discarded needles.
- Needle Sticks: We have confirmed 9 cases of people being stuck by needles (including 5 children).
Needles in the Media
6/12/16: KSCO – Used Needles Still Prevalent in Santa Cruz
6/29/2016: KSCO 1080AM – Hour Local Show with Neil Pearlberg
7/1/2016: Good Times – What can we do about needles on the beach? http://goodtimes.sc/columns/can-needles-beach/
County Health Officer’s Biennial Report & Public Comment Set for 2017
Pursuant to Cal Health & Saf Code § 121349.3, the County Health Officer is required to compile a report on its syringe program every two years. A meeting allowing public comment – with ample notice to both the public and stakeholders – is also required. The last Biennial Report with public comment was in 2014. The Biennial Report with public comment set for 2017 is not in compliance with the Health & Safety Code requirements.