Take Back Santa Cruz

Needles in Public Spaces Report, January 2016 (updated)

Needles in Public Spaces January 2015

To: Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and the Santa Cruz City Council

January 2016

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 37 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 37

For reporting period 37 (12/9/2015-1/8/16), 242 needles found in public spaces were logged. This count includes citizen reports, community group reports and reports by City workers.  81 needles were found by citizens and community groups; the other 161 needles were found by City workers

Significant Finds For Reporting Period 37

  • A man who lives on Market Street found a needle in his driveway, and another in a jacket in a tree on his property (1046N, 1047N)
  • 8 needles were found outside Safeway on Morrissey. (1062N)
  • A nine-year-old found a needle in her front yard at her home in the Morrissey neighborhood. (1062)
  • City workers found two needles in the Rose Garden at City Hall. (December 2015 City Workers Log)
  • There were numerous reports of needles found on Seabright Beach. (1041N, 1048N, 1050N, 1054N, 1056N, 1060N, 1064N, 1065N, 1066N, 1067N, 1069N, 1070N, 1071N). This includes a find by a mother and her two children while they were making a drift wood fort on the beach.
  • Many of the photographs associated with these reports show that SSP water capsules were also found along with the needles.

Hot Spot NIPS Locations for Reporting Periods 37:

  • Seabright Beach was hands-down the “hottest” spot for citizen needle finds this month.
  • Depot Park
  • Harvey West Park
  • Levee
  • San Lorenzo Park restrooms
  • Beach Street restrooms
  • Cowell Beach Rivermouth

Report of Child Stuck by a Needle in Corralitos Park (see Update below)

We are working on confirming a report of a child stuck by a needle at Aldridge Park in Corralitos. The needle stick has not yet been included in the NIPS log.


Take Back Santa Cruz’s Needles Solutions Team has confirmed that an eighth person (fourth child) has been stuck with a needle left in a public space in Santa Cruz County.  In contrast to previous other needle stick victims, she will not have to undergo any blood tests or take any anti-viral medications. While she feels lucky her daughter was not seriously injured, the mother expressed concerned for other needle stick victims. (.01% means one in ten thousand,  our position is “no acceptable level of risk.”)






Aldridge Park is located approximately 5.3 miles from the County’s Syringe Services Program (SSP) located in Watsonville.

NIPS Finds In The Past Year+

12/9/15-1/8/16: 242
11/9/15-12/8/15: 217
10/9/15—11/8/15: 297
9/9/15-10/8/15: 231
8/9/15-9/8/15: 223
7/9/15-8/8/15: 238
6/9/15-7/8/15: 221
5/9/15-6/8/15: 145
4/9/15-5/8/15: 204
3/9/15-4/8/15: 210
2/9/2015-3/8/15: 340 (Note: Quantity increased by a conservative estimate of 200 after the Needles Team obtained additional information concerning City needle finds through Public Records Act Request.)
1/9/15 – 2/8/15: 187
12/9/14-1/8/15: 170
11/9/14-12/8/14: 156

Overview of Last 37 Months Total Number of Needles Reported Found:

9,694 total needle finds logged in a 37 month period

Average Number of Needles Found Per Month: 262

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 7  8 cases of people being stuck by needles (including 3  4 children).

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