Occupy Santa Rosa camping permits could lead to evictions

Santa Rosa last week agreed to give camping permits to protesters occupying City Hall, but many of them may still face eviction.

The city estimates that 100 to 120 tents are currently pitched on the north and west lawns of City Hall as part of the Occupy Santa Rosa encampment.

But the city has mapped the area and is planning to grant permits for 57 camping sites on the property, meaning half or more of those now camping might not get permits and will still be forced to leave. The city hopes to begin issuing permits today on a first-come, first-served basis.

"This is the best system we've been able to identify," Assistant City Manager Jennifer Phillips said. "We feel that it's fair and open and it protects the health and safety of those who chose to camp as well as those visiting City Hall to do business."

It has been a challenge for the city to develop a system to accept and review applications, issue and track the permits and find the staff to perform the work in such a short period of time, said Phillips, who worked on the project over the weekend.

"This is a massive undertaking," said Phillips, who is in charge of the permit effort.

Details of the program were still being worked out Monday, including time and location where the permits will be processed.

One protester predicted the limitation will not be well received, especially given the hesitation many protesters initially showed about limiting the duration and size of the encampment.

"Let the games begin," said Ricardo Roybal, a 27-year-old Santa Rosa Junior College student. "I think people will not want to leave, and they'll hang out until someone makes them leave."

The city met with representatives of the group Monday to discuss the permit procedure and requirements.

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