Occupy Santa Ana Camp Request to Be on Council Agenda

The weeks-long battle between Occupy Santa Ana coordinators and the city of Santa Ana over whether protesters can camp at the Civic Center will get a public airing at Monday’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman Michele Martinez has vowed.

“It’s not being stonewalled. It’s going to be on the agenda,” Martinez said Thursday.

Occupy Santa Ana leaders are hoping that the City Council will be influenced by the Irvine City Council’s decision last month to allow Occupy OC to camp at its City Hall complex.

“We’re trying to follow the progressive precedence of Irvine,” community organizer Alicia Rojas said.

Rojas and others from Occupy Santa Ana will have to persuade council members to suspend the city’s camping ordinance, said Jose Gonzales, the city’s public information officer. Gonzales said city staff laid out the administration’s current position at a recent meeting with Occupy protesters.

“We explained that if the city allowed camping during this demonstration it would undercut its authority to enforce the law against other persons who violate the code. We emphasized that the city is only regulating conduct and not their First Amendment rights to demonstrate,” Gonzales said.

Councilman David Benavides, the only council member who has paid a visit to the protest site, said any change “has to be policy change from City Council.”

“I’ve been out there myself on a couple of occasions and seen firsthand the efforts of what’s going on there,” Benavides said.

Rojas said she is optimistic about Monday’s meeting.

“At least they’re trying to work with us,” Rojas said. “We’re asking the council members to step aside from the political rubble and connect with our community.”