By JULIE JOHNSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Nobody got any shut-eye at a “Flash Nap Protest” held Tuesday on the lawn outside Santa Rosa City Hall.
For the third time in four months, Occupy Santa Rosa members staged a flash-mob of nappers to protest a city ordinance prohibiting sleeping outdoors, which they say unfairly penalizes the homeless.
But pillows and blankets went unused Tuesday, with the grumbling buses at the temporary First Street transit stop, the blazing sun and 20 singing protesters.
And that may — unintentionally — have been the point.
“Every day is a struggle to live,” said Katherine Zagainoff, 49, who said she’s been homeless for the last year. “People beat you up … you have to buddy up with people. It’s not the most relaxed sleep, not the best sleep.”
Santa Rosa adopted an ordinance in 1994 that prohibits camping on city property, aside from public campgrounds, without a permit.
In 2004, Sonoma County banned camping without a permit or sleeping in vehicles after residents and business owners in Guerneville complained about squatter encampments.
The laws have left people who can’t get into shelters, or don’t care to, without an alternative, said Attila Nagy, 65, of Santa Rosa.
“Imagine this: you just lost your home, your relatives are far away … so what do you do at night? Where do you sleep?” Nagy said.
Kenneth Spangle, 61, said he received a citation from Santa Rosa police earlier this month for sleeping in his car near Santa Rosa’s Rural Cemetery.
“I told police to cite me,” said Spangle. “I want to challenge the law, I want to go to court.”
Spangle said he’s been homeless since March, when he was no longer required by his probation terms to have housing and wanted to stop spending his money on a hotel room.
“As long as you’re not in front of someone’s house … it’s the freedom of living,” Spangle said.
The “flash naps” were conceived by members of Occupy’s Dorothy Day Working Group and have been held in April, May and again Tuesday. The group plans to convene informally at the Aug. 7 City Council meeting.
City staff agreed to hear the group’s case for putting their demand before the City Council to rescind the ordinance, said Occupy member Carolyn Epple, 54, of Forestville.
“We are demanding they listen,” Epple said.
One person managed to get a few moments of shut-eye.
Joan Linney, 57, of Santa Rosa, stretched out with a green pillow and plaid blanket.
“There are just so many people who don’t have housing,” Linney said. “If they can’t at least sleep in their cars … it’s just wrong.”