Last year a group of community organizers got the University of California at Santa Cruz to house 18 undocumented students without the funds to find their own places.
It also got the Monterey County Board of Supervisors to adopt a local preference policy, which gives a 5 percent advantage to locals bidding on projects.
Sunday, the group known as COPA – Communities Organized for relational Power in Action – will meet with the top local elected officials to set its new agenda, called "Stand Up and Take Charge." The meeting is at the Fox Theater in Salinas, which gives an idea how big this activist group has grown.
It is made up of 24 nonpartisan organizations, including congregations, synagogues, schools and nonprofits. The meeting will address housing, the economy, safety, opportunity, health and education.
Some of the items include:
- Advocate and support policies within the sheriffs’ offices of Monterey and Santa Cruz counties that will reduce deportations of people without significant criminal records.
- Encourage and protect immigrant youth through activities that support dream act students.
- Develop local preference policies for procuring goods and services by public agencies to support locally-based businesses.
- Simplify and streamline commercial zoning ordinances and regulatory processes to reduce cost and speed permitting of new or expanding businesses.
- Provide local funding to establish a workforce development project focused on careers in marine science and eco-tourism, in partnership with local employers and educational institutions.
- Support Safe California on November ballot to convert Death Penalty to Life without Parole, which would divert millions of dollars yearly to public safety.
- Support an ordinance in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties requiring mandatory mediation before foreclosure between banks and homeowners.
- Support the ongoing development of affordable Housing projects across the region including: Senior Housing at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church (Santa Cruz), Minto Place (Watsonville), Canterbury Park (Seacliff), Aptos Cottage (Aptos) and a Senior Housing Project in (Marina).
Members of the group were happy with last year's accomplishments.
“We’ve raised $150,000 in scholarships over four years, obtained an agreement with UCSC administrators to provide affordable housing for 18 freshmen who lack documentation, provided a mentor for any student who requested one, and are supporting local high schools with outreach activities,” explained Mary Male, of First Congregational Church in Santa Cruz, in a press release.