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The Clean Team 'Celebrates' a Year of Picking up Hypodermic Needles and Trash

For a year these volunteers have spent Saturdays cleaning up the most disgusting and dangerous garbage left by junkies.

Brian Davis and son Mason spent Saturday cleaning up after junkies.
Brian Davis and son Mason spent Saturday cleaning up after junkies.
Elly Chapman got motivated to clean up Santa Cruz the hard way - her husband stepped on a discarded hypodermic needle and had to undergo seven months of painful treatments to make sure he didn't contract a fatal disease.

"I had to do something," she said. "Kids are finding needles every day. They take it for granted. It's sad that we can't let our kids play barefoot in a sandbox."

Chapman, along with 18 others, gathered at the county health building at Emeline Street Saturday at 9 am. and spent the next two hours following a path that was something out of a horror movie along Highway 1. There were piles of human feces, hypodermic needles, half-eaten cans of beans, more needles, beer bottles, discarded clothes...even a $1 bill.

They call themselves the Clean Team and today their members included Mayor Lynn Robinson and Councilman Pamela Comstock, both of whom are regulars. Others who spent the morning trekking through parts of Santa Cruz that few with homes and jobs will ever see included five members of the local Church of the Latter Day Saints, an off-duty California Highway Patrolman and a bunch of people who said they wanted to bring back the clean, safe Santa Cruz they knew years back.

They have picked up tons of trash and thousands of needles the past year. They keep a log of what they find. One entry last December reads:

"In addition to 550 pounds of garbage, the team found a sex offender's ankle monitor with associated paperwork, 7 needles, 5 gallons of urine, a fender, mailbox, fireplace grate and artwork."

And it isn't just Santa Cruz. A 5-year-old stepped on a hypodermic needle at Anna Jean Cummings Park -- nicknamed "Blue Balls" park -- in Soquel recently and has to undergo painful treatments.

Saturday kept up the sad tradition, they said, with a truckload of trash, condoms, needles, beer bottles and disgusting piles of feces.

"My perfect little bubble of Santa Cruz was popped," said Meriah Campbell, who joined the team after hearing about Chapman's husband. "I was born and raised here and I feel like we just have to do something about it."

Some of it seemed plain out of control. There's a methadone clinic at the Emeline site, but they said, there are also people in a camper who sell the junkies heroin right outside it. They've seen it the transactions.

Parents brought kids and made it a family affair. They policed an area along Highway 1, which they said was greatly improved because CalTrans had recently cut down trees and brush. But for the first timer, it was still disgusting and blighted. 

CHP officer Bryce Danenhauer came to the clean up because his church asked him to. It was sort of a busman's holiday.

 "I spend my days cleaning up these people, putting them in jail, and they are back out the next day," he said. "You'd like to feel like you are accomplishing something, but you see the same people over and over again. I'd like to see Santa Cruz the way it was when I was growing up. I used to skateboard at Beach Flats. You can't even go there now, with all the gangs."

Saturday began with a moment of silence for the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings and some said they honored the parents by getting out and doing something to help the community.

One man said he likes to walk two hours a day, and this was a way to help make things better during his walk.

Another thought of it playfully, in a macabre way, saying "It's a scavenger hunt--the worst scavenger hunt ever -- other there."




paul mendoza December 17, 2013 at 04:39 PM
True, Pat. Thats why we need laws to protect the people who may get harmed by rogue organizations like the Clean Team. I would make harassing the homeless a hate crime, and also we need a better recovery system for certain types of hazardous waste so that people don't hurt themselves (or others) when they clean. Also, I think permits should be required for your organizations to do clean ups that require you to handle homeless possessions. You should never grab someone's stuff without some sort of permit or credentials from the county, and only after long-term advanced notice is given. Cleaners should be trained and certified, and held accountable. Also, cleaners shouldnt be so politically biased....it could lead to crimes being committed similar to the one in the Skindog video.
Pat Kittle December 18, 2013 at 01:27 AM
Paul John Mendoza Colby: You want a bunch of laws enforced, do you? Excellent! Let's enforce all the laws your bums break. The forest could be restored if we did that. Starting with tonight.!
Hubba Bubba December 21, 2013 at 01:57 PM
I participated with the clean team for the first time this last saturday andIm surprised to see all these negative comments after the experience I had. We were not herassing homeless but literally picking up trash. I believe we found 23 needles that day. I have friends who have found them on the beach as well. I would not like my 2 year old son or anyone to step on one. When it comes down to it, it doesnt really matter what people believe. What matters is what they do, and people that choose to volunteer to clean up santa cruz to make it a nicer/safer place is good enough for me.
Buzz Lightyear December 21, 2013 at 03:58 PM
All the negativity comes from one recently evicted unsuccessful, ineffective 'homeless advocate' who has nothing positive in his resume.
Robert Norse December 22, 2013 at 01:22 AM
"Hubba Bubba": Where did you find the needles? Any reason you're not using your real name?
Buzz Lightyear December 22, 2013 at 11:52 AM
Probably so he won't get stalked by your sycophantic John Colby, recently booted from CFABSC for his paranoid ravings. He's been posting as 'Paul Mendoza' in this thread, but I think you know that.
Robert Norse December 22, 2013 at 04:01 PM
"Hubba Bubba": Where did you find the needles? Any reason you're not using your real name? Ditto with you, Buzz.
Buzz Lightyear December 22, 2013 at 04:18 PM
I'm not a media hound, Robert and I, unlike you, open my wallet to charitable causes. If your buddy, John Colby knew my actual identity, he would stalk and harass me to the ends of the earth---the same behaviors that got him evicted from his section8 apartment. He begged for help, but you didn't lift a finger to help!
Pat Kittle December 22, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Robert: Is it true that your pal "Paul Mendoza" is really John Colby? Why does he use a fictitious Latino name while he's trolling?
paul mendoza December 22, 2013 at 05:48 PM
Listen to Buzz say I am John Colby. I am not John Colby. Buzz isn't even commenting on the article at all. What a troll.
paul mendoza December 22, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Pat Kittle...how do you know John Colby isn't Latino? Why are you interrogating people about their ethnic background? Are you a racist?
paul mendoza December 22, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Pat Kittle do you greet new Clean Team members by asking them their ethnic identity? If they don't look Latino to you do they have to prove it to you somehow? Do they have to show you their papers?
Pat Kittle December 22, 2013 at 08:41 PM
John Colby/Paul Mendoza: If you aren't Latino don't pretend you are. It's not fair to them. BTW, you've removed any remaining doubts we had about the mindset of illegal slobs in our greenbelt. Thanks for that. We're now going in circles. You can have the last word. Goodbye.
paul mendoza December 23, 2013 at 01:43 AM
Pat, you are a racist....here is the background of the Mendoza name. It is of Basque origin, which in case you didn't know, is European. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mendoza Feel free to have the last word, you racist, lying troll.
Petra Kropotkin December 24, 2013 at 12:40 PM
I'm wondering why Santa Cruz Patch moderator, Brad Kava isn't moderating this forum and is letting personal attacks happen? I thought SC Patch was supposed to be a quasi-legitimate local forum.
Joe Kerr December 24, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Internet arguing is juvenile. What is this the 3rd grade?? I agree with Petra on this as Brad should delete some of these comments.
Pat Kittle December 24, 2013 at 06:48 PM
This uncensored unsanitized comment thread provides an honest insight into a festering blight. Here we see the Sisyphean frustration of those who clean up after those who resent their efforts. (As a matter of principle I've never even once tried to have anyone's comments banned online, even when my name was hijacked and used in obscene ways.)
Petra Kropotkin December 24, 2013 at 10:06 PM
I flagged several posts which I felt were personal attacks and NOT fact based discussions. Personal attacks have no place on a serious discussion board. And yet, I still see the comments here, so I am wondering if the moderation of boards on SC Patch is even in play or if Brad Kava saw the flags but chose not to act on them. Is anyone familiar with Brad and how seriously he takes his duties as moderator?
Pat Kittle December 25, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Petra: You expect everything you don't like to be censored and are shocked when you don't get your way. Perhaps Noam Chomsky put it best -- "If you don't believe in freedom of expression for those you despise you don't believe in it at all."
Petra Kropotkin December 25, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Hey PhatAss Kittle-<<< I would expect a comment like what I called you to be addressed for example. Maybe you are used to or like a community where bullying is the norm, but I'd rather it stop. And if SC Patch wants to be known as more than the next place that AOL.com will cut when their next cutbacks come, and Brad Kava wants to be known as more an editor journalist vs a small town hack, then yeah, I'd expect some better moderating at least in terms of cleaning up personal attacks.
Buzz Lightyear December 25, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Hey, Krapatkin! You just became what you condemned: nasty and name calling. It makes you a hypocrite. If you wish to post on a highly censored, one-sided forum, stick to IndyBay. I doubt your absence will be mourned.
Petra Kropotkin December 25, 2013 at 11:56 PM
Hey Buzz, it was an example of how do YOU like it when people come after you? It was an example (do I really have to explain this are you SO dense you don't get it)of how a thread becomes not about the subject but rather the people. But quite frankly, I don't care what you think because after reading this thread I can see you are nothing more than a vile troll. What I am interested in, is how long it takes for a flagged message to be reviewed and what action is taken by people in charge of the site. So far, we're at 2 days and counting.
Pat Kittle December 26, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Petra: You can call me anything you want, no matter how inaccurate, and I won't flag you. When I call someone something unflattering it is nevertheless accurate.
Pat Kittle December 26, 2013 at 01:25 AM
Petra: You just called Buzz "...SO dense..." and "...a vile troll." You did not call him that as "examples" of what you want censored. Thank you for enlightening us with insults you deem acceptable. Any others?
Buzz Lightyear December 26, 2013 at 10:39 AM
Pat, I think she's so 'dense' she doesn't get it. I've also never flagged anyone else's post. If I don't like something I don't participate. Could she be related to Paul Mendoza-Colby?
Pat Kittle December 26, 2013 at 01:40 PM
"Petra Kropotkin" sounds like an alias (Robert Norse, take note). Look up "Peter Kropotkin" if you're not familiar with his "anarchist villages."
Buzz Lightyear December 27, 2013 at 12:58 PM
You may have a point, Pat. Norse usually sticks to IndyBay where any posts that criticize him are swiftly deleted. When he ventures into other forums he tends to get savaged. Why is it a trust fund millionaire and one per center won't use any of his own funds to help the homeless, but demands it of others? He does share 'hypocrisy' with Krapatkin.
Pat Kittle December 27, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Buzz, it's a bit embarrassing getting dragged into this inane exchange with those who demand much yet give nothing. Nevertheless, it does expose their true nature better than any sanitized version we'd see anywhere else. A tip of the hat to Brad Kava for making it possible. Happy new year folks.
Eric Rowland December 27, 2013 at 06:07 PM
Buzz is a dangerous stalker who has implied he is a TBSC member. He says he is a school teacher who works with at risk youth, but he spends most of his time stalking homeless advocates online. He is lying about Robert Norse. Norse is not wealthy. Buzz also stalks homeless advocate John Colby, and Buzz especially accelerated the pace of that stalking after Colby appeared in a debate with Santa Cruz Mayor Don Lane about homeless issues on community television. Buzz is known for making incest jokes and false allegations of incestuous relationships. You can read more information about him here: Scotts Valley "Buzz" is a danger to students http://www.topix.com/forum/city/santa-cruz-ca/TILCECM2N5T67BJHK Buzz may possibly be one of Pat Skittle's online pawns.
Eric Rowland December 27, 2013 at 06:10 PM
No mention in this article of accused child molester Dylan Greiner being a Clean Team administrator?

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