San Francisco

Santa Cruz Withdraws Needle Distribution Application After Pushback

A national needle exchange program that applied to the state to expand into Santa Cruz County abruptly withdrew its application with the state health department after a lot of community pushback.

The petition to stop non-profit Harm Reduction Coalition declared a victory Wednesday as the application was withdrawn on the eve of a key state deadline after 2,300 people signed the petition.

Some of the criticism of the plan is that one of four proposed locations for mobile services was right next to Felton’s historic Covered Bridge County Park.

"The Harm Reduction Coalition of Santa Cruz County wants to operate a free needle distribution program in locations in our community," the petition read. "Including less than 100 feet from the playground at Felton Covered Bridge Park and blocks away from a school in Pajaro."

One county supervisor said that because it is separate from the county-run needle exchange program, it would have no local oversight.

In the Bay Area, there are at least 19 communities served by syringe services including Oakland and San Francisco who are served by Harm Reduction Coalition.

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