Dear City Council Members,
Take Back Santa Cruz’s Needles Solutions Team is writing in support of Agenda 18 on the September 24, 2019 City Council Agenda. Specifically:
· We support the City’s acceptance of additional sharps waste disposal kiosks from the County (at the County’s expense), with the caveat that the City conduct outreach and consult with neighbors and neighborhood organizations prior to installing kiosks in residential neighborhoods.
· We agree that there should be no “safe injection” sites located within the City or County of Santa Cruz. First, we note the disastrous unintended consequences to the neighborhoods surrounding the sites located in other countries. Second, Santa Cruz should not be the first in our nation to risk experimenting with hosting such sites.
· We do not support “secondary syringe exchange.” As you’ll recall, there was widespread community opposition to a local “harm reduction” group’s application for state certification. Not only that, the heads of every law enforcement agency in the County (with the exception of UCSC PD, which per UC regulations is not permitted to take a stand) strongly opposed this secondary exchange group. Despite its lack of certification and huge opposition, to this day this “harm reduction” group continues to obtain thousands of syringes from the County and distribute them at various locations in the City of Santa Cruz without authorization from the City. This group’s operation has resulted in a drastic decrease of clients utilizing the County’s Syringe Services Program, meaning that there are fewer addicts receiving medical attention and being exposed to rehab opportunities. After this group handed out up to 600 needles per day in the Gateway Encampment (“Ross Camp”, City workers ended up having to clean up thousands of dirty needles.
· We agree that the County should establish a 24/7 needle litter response program. First, community members continue to find other items from the County SSP along with discarded needles (e.g., blue water capsules), indicating that many of the dirty needles found in public spaces originated with the SSP. Next, a 24/7 needle litter response program is consistent with one of the SSP’s stated goals, to reduce the prevalence of dirty needles found in the community.
From December 8, 2012 to the present, we have logged over 36,000 needles found in public spaces. We have confirmed 15 needle stick injuries. The discarded needle epidemic in Santa Cruz unfortunately remains a huge problem.
We would like to thank Council Members Meyers and Mathews for their work on this issue, and for drafting such a well-reasoned proposal.
-Needles Solutions Team
Take Back Santa Cruz