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Apr 18th
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The Ticker

Housing Authority Looks to Cut Water Waste

The Housing Authority of Santa Cruz is looking for new ways to fight an old problem. The group has announced that it is installing water meters in 213 rental units in 13 housing complexes that it operates between Santa Cruz and Watsonville.  Executive Director Ken Cole listened to suggestions that locals cut water usage by 15 percent, but expects the procedure to cut water usage by as much as 20 percent. The meters, which were paid for by last year's economic stimulus package, will not only make tenants more aware of their own water usage but also allow authorities to detect possible leaks.
The Ticker

The Pink Umbrella Councilman?

One notorious Santa Cruzan is vying to snag one of three seats that will open up on the Santa Cruz City Council in November (those currently held by Mayor Mike Rotkin, Cynthia Mathews and Lynn Robinson): Robert Steffen, perhaps better known as “The Pink Umbrella Man,” has shed his infamous pink garb and announced his candidacy. It’s a little premature, but with such a quintessential Santa Cruz character already in the mix and more to surely follow, let the race begin!

Staycation

The Orchard Garden Hotel

The Orchard Garden Hotel

San Francisco’s chic green boutique
I love to travel (who doesn’t?), but I’m also pinching pennies (who isn’t?) and I am increasingly conscious of the carbon footprint I leave behind when embarking on my beloved adventures (who can’t be?).

In light of these facts, but unwilling to twiddle my thumbs at home every weekend, I set out to have a swell staycation (read: a vacation at home, or in your area; a trend that’s growing as the recession toils on) with an environmentally friendly twist. So, one weekend just before Thanksgiving, I found myself at The Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco—a boutique hotel that completely breaks the mold. Their tagline, “At our hotel, boutique doesn’t mean small,” is right on: the hotel towers beside the Chinatown gate on Bush Street, just above Union Square, and has a grand total of 86 rooms. With rates ranging from $169 to $369 a night, the hotel offers snazzy “green” accommodations for a reasonable amount.

Ours was a Standard King on the 9th floor, a large room with copious amenities. In addition to the insanely comfy bed, oversized work desk and enormous flat screen TV, there were soft robes and slippers, all organic, natural toiletries (I’ve almost used them all up, and want to go buy more from the brand, EO, a CCOF certified company in Marin), and sparkling water, chocolates and wildflower seeds waiting for us. Large glass doors led out onto a nice deck with sun chairs and a patio table that overlooked the bustling street below and the skyline of the city. We arrived at sunset, and were able to watch as a pink and orange blanket of sky sunk over the rooftops of San Francisco. The bathroom was large and simple, with a powerful overhead shower to remember.

Most notable were the energy-efficient aspects of our lovely, temporary dwelling. Each guest’s key card also serves as an energy control system; upon entering one’s room, you merely stick your key in a small box beside the door and then turn on lights as you please. Take your key with you when you leave, and the lights go out. As one of California’s first hotels to be built according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) stipulations, the Orchard Garden also uses chemical-free cleaning products, natural lighting for its lobby, soy-based inks, recycled paper and maintains a 100 percent tobacco free environment.

Between the chill and drizzle outside and the enthralling coziness of our room, we were tempted to never leave it. However, we did manage to mosey back to the lobby floor for our reservation at the hotel’s award winning organic restaurant, Roots. San Francisco Weekly bestowed it the honor of the 2009 Best Organic Restaurant in San Francisco, and we soon learned why: not only was the staff friendly, attentive and charmingly quirky, the food was truly decadent. The menu boasts of entrees like monkfish, flat iron steak and smoked trout salad (all naturally raised meat and sustainably caught seafood), but, as two vegans, we bypassed the carnage and, instead, were treated to an off-the-menu vegetarian feast.

The chef, Jason, was testing out his vegetarian Thanksgiving options and we were happy to be the guinea pigs. The long and adventurous meal began with Natura water (the result of an in-house water filtering system that produces “the cleanest water in the country”) and oven-warmed bread. Next was an arugula and fennel salad with toasted walnuts and cranberries, followed by a vegan tamale pie that Jason based on his Grandmother’s recipe from the depression era (he gracefully transformed her meaty, canned goods meal to a vegetarian delight with organic, local heirloom beans, red peppers, Chanterelle mushrooms and vegan cornbread). We were stuffed by the time the gluten-free butternut squash risotto came, but did our best to take advantage of the delicious dish that was so creamy you’d never know it was dairy-free.

By this point we were brimming over with satisfaction—we’d also indulged in two interesting cocktails, the Zentini ($12), a blend of organic green tea liqueur and vodka, and (my favorite) the Roots Buzz (also $12), which fused Vive Acai Liqueur, organic agave, and caffeinated Blue Lotus Vodka. But when they brought out the house-made pure pear sorbet, we managed to find a little extra room. “It’s like a fresh pear melting in my mouth,” said my impressed companion, drool pooling at the corners of his mouth. “I think I’m having a peargasm.”

I left the hotel the next morning feeling refreshed and pampered, which is a hard thing to come by when traveling on a budget. And not only had I experienced a genuinely zen, luxurious night away from home, I felt as if I’d given a nod to my good friend Mother Earth in the process. Essentially, for the eco-minded vacationer, the Orchard Garden allows you to take your values with you when you travel. Affordable, just over the hill, posh, and as green as they get, this Downtown San Francisco gem is perfect for your next staycation getaway.

The Ticker

Santa Cruz Reduces Emissions

The city of Santa Cruz has successfully reduced its green house gas (GHG) emissions to 8 percent below levels in 1996. Residential homes showed the largest reduction in GHG emissions with a 29 percent reduction since 1996. The key actions responsible for this impressive decrease include purchasing efficient appliances and lights, installation of an estimated 2,170 kW residential solar photovoltaic panels, and conscientious lifestyle choices.
The Ticker

Goodbye Sloppy Joe, Hello Granny Smith

On Wednesday, Dec. 15, Congressman Sam Farr introduced legislation that would greatly increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in our country's cafeterias. The legislation, the Children's Fruit and Vegetable Act (H.R. 4333), includes provisions to increase USDA spending on fruits, vegetables, and overall cafeteria infrastructure by more than $100 million over the next few years to promote health and combat childhood obesity. The proposed legislation also has a focus on promoting local foods via a farm-to-cafeteria program ($10 million per year for two years) which could simultaneously increase health and stimulate local economies.

The Ticker

Goodbye Sloppy Joe, Hello Granny Smith

In Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Dec. 15, Congressman Sam Farr (D-Carmel) introduced legislation that would greatly increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in our country's cafeterias. The legislation, the Children's Fruit and Vegetable Act (H.R. 4333), includes provisions to increase USDA spending on fruits, vegetables, and overall cafeteria infrastructure by more than $100 million over the next few years to promote health and combat childhood obesity. The proposed legislation also has a focus on promoting local foods via a farm-to-cafeteria program ($10 million/year for two years) which could simultaneously increase health and stimulate local economies. "The federal government talks about the food pyramid and healthy eating, then spends billions on unhealthy food," said Congressman Farr after introducing the bill. "It's time we put our money where our mouth is and address the poor quality of food in our schools."

CultureBeat

For the Fan Who Has Everything

For the Fan Who Has Everything

Christmas time is here again and for anyone faced with the daunting task of figuring out that perfect gift for their comic reading loved one, I've put together a small list of some of this year's hottest items. From DVD gift sets to the most recent video game releases, there are plenty of ways for comic nerds to get their superhero fix.

Read more...
The Ticker

Introducing EcoCoupons

SANTA CRUZ - Twenty-four-year-old Eric Ressler, with a little help from his folks, has just launched a new online service that will benefit his fellow Santa Cruz residents, local businesses, and the environment: the site is ecocoupons.org, and it’s all about paperless coupons. Instead of receiving piles of coupons in the mail (and constantly throwing them away) ecocoupons.org allows its visitors to select what coupons they want, when they want them, and then download them to their phone or another mobile device. The project is endorsed by the Downtown Association and has more than 30 local businesses participating so far.

The Ticker

H1N1 Public Option

As of Thursday, Dec. 10, vaccinations for H1N1 have been available in Santa Cruz County to the public beyond target groups, or those at highest risk from the disease, due to improved availability and the belief that many in the target groups have already been vaccinated. 56,290 doses of the vaccine have arrived in Santa Cruz County as of Dec. 7, an additional 12,000 on top of what was expected.  Public Health has administered over 9,000 vaccinations to those in target groups and has held four walk-in clinics. "We are committed to provide this vaccine as soon as possible to those who want it," says Health Officer Dr. Poki Namkung. For more information visit Santa Cruz Health Center, 1080 Emeline Ave. or call (831) 454-4574.

The Ticker

Meet Those Goals

SANTA CRUZ - At Tuesday’s city council meeting, the Campaign for Sensible Transportation addressed the council about the city’s greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. They noted that emissions need to drop 38 percent from 2008 levels in order for the city to meet its reduction goals of 30 percent reduction by 2020. They recommended that this reduction be reached through reducing vehicle miles traveled, offering six  recommendations for reducing auto trips drawn from the city’s 2003 Master Transportation Study. Visit sensibletransportation.org for more information.
 
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Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

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Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.