Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 26th
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From The Editor

ednote stevePlus Letters To the Editor

Green is everywhere. The supply of eco-friendliness has caught up to the demand, and everyone and their brother claims to be pro-environment. It’s the shift in attitude that activists at the forefront of the movement have been working toward for years.

But with the spread of green consciousness has come a certain fatigue, too. What’s special anymore about ecology-conscious businesses, products or science when everyone is trying to be greener?

I hope that this week’s Green Issue reminds us that ecological innovation still has the power to amaze. Certainly the research at UCSC that promises a cheap supply of hydrogen fuel from nothing but sewage and sunlight, as explained by Hanae Armitage in this week’s cover story, is incredible. It’s pretty much the ultimate recycling. The only downside I can see is that it led to some terrible joke headlines around the office that you will not see in the story, and which I won’t go into (OK, one was “Powering Your Car with Last Night’s Burrito”).

Also in our Green Issue coverage, Anne-Marie Harrison looks at a local invention designed to ease concerns about smart meters, and Maria Grusauskas hangs out with the Santa Cruz Fruit Tree Project as they bring the party to sustainability.

Steve Palopoli | Editor-in-Chief



Re: “Down the Drain”: Instead of wasting precious potable water, many California communities already are successfully using approved, affordable and abundant recycled water sources for golf courses and other irrigation applications. Why is Santa Cruz lagging so far behind?

The City identifies the two golf courses as among its largest irrigation revenue sources. The other irrigation accounts include UCSC, Dominican Hospital, Chaminade, the cemeteries, schools, and parks.

The golf courses use over 100 million gallons of potable water annually, equivalent to the proposed energy-intensive desalination plant operating 24 hours per day for 40 days.

Currently, the significant quantities of water regularly consumed by the city’s irrigation and landscape accounts is sold exclusively by its Water Department, where the revenue goes directly into an Enterprise Fund.

However, city taxpayers subsidize the entire cost of the water and associated energy used by the municipally owned DeLaveaga golf course and the adjacent park areas.

Yet in 1989, the City’s Water Master Plan identified the reuse of treated wastewater from Scotts Valley to be a viable cost-effective reclamation program available to Santa Cruz to irrigate golf courses.

When the City decided to v igorously pursue and promote the construction of a regional desalination plant over a decade ago, it also decided that the use of recycling water produced by the Scotts Valley and the city's waste water treatment plants to be either low or non-priorities.

For a water district of its size— along with the city’s cultural, economic and hydrological characteristics—no other single systemic alternative supply measure would so quickly result in a dramatic and permanent reduction in potable water consumption.

Concerning your recent article on the Grand Jury report about deaths in our county jail: in my view, these deaths are a tragic and unacceptable symptom of a disease. That disease is mass incarceration driven by the prison/industrial complex, and fueled by institutional racism, and several questions need to be asked if we are to honestly address this issue.

We need to ask why our country imprisons a greater percentage of its citizens than any other country in the world. We need to ask why Black Americans, who comprise 12 percent of the population, compose 40 percent ofallprisonpopulations. Weneedto ask why our county jail has decided to outsource its medical care beyond local control, when the federal court has found that medical care provided to state prison inmates violates their constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment. And, perhaps most immediately, we need to ask why our governor is designating millions in state funds for “brick and mortar” jail programs, and not one cent for the rehabilitative and support services.

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good work

Do you get excited about cracking a new pack of pens open and writing those first crisp words on a blank sheet of paper? Not everyone can relate to that thrill, but one local organization has spent five years trying to make it a possibility for homeless and low-income children in Santa Cruz County. United Way will hold a backpack and school supply drive through July 31, with a goal of amassing 1,000 backpacks.With an estimated 4,200 children in the county who are identified as homeless or "in transition," United Way is working to get them off the streets and into the classroom.

good idea

Last year the Department of Education found that 14 percent of the adult population were illiterate, and 21 percent read below a fifth- grade level. The local Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Cruz is doing what it can to combat these statistics with a program designed to prevent the summertime reading slump. Its 10-week program strives to engage youth with interactive activities and learning modules—trying to keep bored kids out of trouble and increase their reading skills to p repare them for the coming year. To learn more, go to


The environment, after all, is where we all meet, where we all have a mutual interest. It is one thing that all of us share.” — LADY BIRD JOHNSON

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