By Angelina Sang and Noe Herrera
SANTA BARBARA, CA – Judge Clifford R. Anderson in Santa Barbara County Superior Court here Monday dismissed an “unlawful camping” charge against an unhoused man after the judge learned Mark Edward Standard had demonstrated an effort to find housing.
Standard was cited on June 18 and charged with a misdemeanor for camping in a public area, an offense prohibited by Santa Barbara Municipal Code.
Standard appeared in court alongside Deputy Public Defender Jenny Andrews and City Net Case Manager Kyle Mayl. Both characterized Standard as an extremely cooperative man actively seeking permanent housing.
Andrews added, “He’s done everything that has been asked of him, it’s just a matter of going through the process. I don’t think that an extra court date in this particular matter would be fruitful or necessary.”
However, Deputy District Attorney Denny Wei felt the case should stay open.
Wei argued that leaving Standard’s case open would provide an incentive for Standard to continue his efforts to find housing. Wei brought up the fact that Standard originally declined a ride to People Assisting the Homeless (PATH).
Programs such as City Net and PATH “help people find permanent housing and provide case management, medical and mental healthcare, benefits advocacy, employment training, and other services to help them maintain their homes stably” according PATH’s website.
PD Andrews rebutted, arguing that there is no reason to believe Standard would not go through with the housing Process and that Standard already had a strong incentive to find housing before he was cited.
Mayl was able to explain the reasons for Standard’s initial reluctance to accept a ride to PATH, saying, “A lot of clients, if they have hesitation initially, are just scared for their personal being because a lot of different things can go on there, but he was ready to go as soon as possible when we had a transport for him on the 18th, and then on the 5th from PATH to the [Ala Mar] motel.”
Mayl argued that leaving the case open would not provide an additional incentive for Standard to find housing as Standard had been actively searching for housing many months prior to his charges.
After hearing the reasoning from both sides, Judge Anderson ultimately decided to dismiss the charge “in the interest of justice.”