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 52 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 52
For reporting period 52 (3/9/2017-4/8/17), 239 needles found in public spaces were logged. This count includes citizen reports, community group reports and reports by City workers. 32 needles were found by citizens and community groups; the other 207 needles were found by City workers.
Eleventh Confirmed Needle Stick Injury
We have confirmed yet another needle stick injury. In March, an elderly woman who was doing volunteer work was stuck with a needle when she was tending to the landscape at the lawn bowling area of San Lorenzo Park.
Significant Finds For Reporting Period 52
- A citizen found a needle at Evergreen Cemetery. (1502N)
- Needle finds by the Leveelies Team are increasing.
- A man found a needle in his driveway near Oceanview Park. (1516N).
- A woman found two needles in her yard on Grant Street. (1503N)
- A 7-year-old found a needle loaded with heroin on the sidewalk next to San Lorenzo Park. (1505N).
- A needle was found in the Toys R Us parking lot. (1521N).
- Our parks continue to be infested with needles. Locations include Oceanview Park, Depot Park, Neary Lagoon, Harvey West Park, Laurel Park, and Riverstreet Gardens. By far the park with the most needles found was San Lorenzo Park.
Hot Spot NIPS Locations for Reporting Periods 52:
- San Lorenzo Park;
- City Hall;
- Depot Park;
Needle Pick-Ups by City Workers vs. County Workers
Thank you to the County for its increased transparency, including posting its counts for needle pickups by its workers. See: http://health.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/Portals/7/Pdfs/SSP/2017Needles%20Found%20Report.pdf
However, given the fact that many of the discarded needles in our community are originating from the County’s SSP program, it seems inappropriate that the City of Santa Cruz continues to bear the bulk of the burden of needle clean-up. The number of needles picked up by City workers far exceeds than those picked up by the County.
Overview of Last 52 months
- Total Number of Needles Reported Found: 13,543
- Average Number of Needles Found Per Month: 260
- 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 11 cases of people being stuck by needles (including 5 children) in the last 52 months.
- The County must operate a true 1:1 exchange to ensure that no needles from the Syringe Services Program are ending up in our public spaces. Former SSP clients whom we’ve interviewed stated that they regularly received clean needles without exchanging dirty ones. Furthermore, discarded needles are regularly found with other items from the SSP, such as sterile water capsules.
- The County must bring itself into compliance with the Health and Safety Code and the Brown Act by giving proper, timely notice and an opportunity to the public to comment on the Syringe Services Program and its biennial report. The public is currently being denied that opportunity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4LJcnNUg8s&feature=youtu.be
- The County must allow the public to comment on the SSP without censorship of criticism.
- Consistent with its goal to reduce the transmission of disease, the County should establish a fund for needle stick victims who do not have insurance to cover their treatment.
- The County should place more emphasis on rehabilitative services (according to the SSP’s 2014 report, less than 1% of SSP clients went into rehab; according to the SSP’s January 2017 monthly report, only 5% of clients were given drug treatment education).
- As a community stakeholder, Take Back Santa Cruz’s Needles Solutions Team asks that it be directly advised of the next open Board of Supervisors meeting where the Syringe Services Program will be discussed.
Best regards – Needles Solutions Team
Attachments: NIPS workbook, City Parks & Rec needles log for March 2017, Photos