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Sep 01st
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Community Choice Aggregation gives local energy a chance

Come June, the public will be let in on a secret. It's the secret to buying and selling renewable energy at a competitive price.

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is a local government-run electricity program that operates as a nonprofit entity, according to the Santa Cruz County Commission on the Environment. CCA agencies can aggregate local, renewable resources generated in a consortium of counties and cities and sell it back to these districts, which form a joint powers authority.

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Business

Marching for Justice

Marching for Justice

California lawyers walk from San Diego to Sacramento to raise awareness of the wrongfully convicted

In 1993, William Richards returned home from work after midnight to his remote community in San Bernardino to find his wife lying half-naked on the ground brutally murdered.

Frantic, he called 911. Homicide detectives arrived hours later, but waited until the morning to investigate and failed to secure the crime scene. Since the detectives did not find evidence of any other suspects at the time, Richards was charged with his wife’s death. After three trials, Richards was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison despite his plea of innocence.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Rep. Sam Farr

Town Hall with Rep. Sam Farr

Your 20th anniversary of being elected to congress is coming up. What have been your proudest accomplishments and your biggest regrets or mistakes from your tenure?

First off, let me say thank you to the entire Central Coast for allowing me to serve them for nearly 40 years in elected office, the last 20 in Congress. [My wife] Shary and I will be forever grateful for this amazing opportunity and I have truly enjoyed my time in Congress working for you.

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Environment

No Big Surprises

No Big Surprises

The highly anticipated draft Environmental Impact Report for desal is finally out. Will it change anything?

When scwd2, the group pursuing the proposed joint desalination plant for the Santa Cruz Water Department and Soquel Creek Water District, set up a booth at the Santa Cruz Earth Day festival in 2012, its reception was less than warm.

Signature gathering for Measure P, the “right to vote” on desal ballot measure, was in full swing, as were tensions over the controversial project, which would produce up to 2.5 million gallons per day of desalinated water and cost an estimated $100 million. What were representatives of an energy-intensive desal plant doing among the recycling and conservation booths? That was the attitude Melanie Mow Schumacher, public outreach coordinator for scwd2 (pronounced “squid squared”), remembers sensing.

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Environment

Growing Berries Without Bromide

Growing Berries Without Bromide

Researchers test a new alternative to a controversial chemical

The scarecrows perched in Santa Cruz strawberry fields do little to scare away the birds, much less the insects and fungi harbored in the soil. Everything likes to eat strawberries, which makes growing them a risky business.

This predicament led UC Santa Cruz professor Carol Shennan to take an unconventional approach to pest management. Nine years ago, the fatal plant disease Verticillium wilt was wiping out strawberry plants at the university farm. Chemicals hardly phase the pathogen, and Shennan saw little improvement with crop rotation, which is typically used to treat infested fields. A visiting plant pathologist from the Netherlands recommended a little-known organic technique called anaerobic soil disinfestation, and, with so few other options, Shennan decided to give it a try. 

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Mark Stone

Town Hall with Assemblymember Mark Stone

What are some of the persisting safety issues with drinking water in the state, and what would the Freshwater Protection Fund change?

More than 16 million Californians get at least some of their drinking water from groundwater, which comes from both public water supplies and private wells. The state regulates and tests our communities’ public water systems, but private domestic wells are unregulated and untested. As a result, many neighborhoods throughout California, especially those in agricultural areas, currently lack safe drinking water due to nitrate-contaminated groundwater. This contamination comes primarily from nitrogen in fertilizer used to grow crops. If consumed at a dangerous concentration, nitrate contaminated water can put individuals, especially pregnant women and infants, at a particularly high risk for serious health problems and even death. Newborns can suffer from “blue baby syndrome,” where there is not enough oxygen in their blood, and adults can experience gastric problems. 

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Business

The Maya-Ixil Move Forward

The Maya-Ixil Move Forward

Local nonprofit works to educate and create opportunity for indigenous communities in Guatemala

In an isolated region of the Guatemala mountains called Ixil, the indigenous Maya population was devastated by a civil war between the government and leftist guerrilla factions that spanned 1960 to 1996.

During that 36-year war, the Guatemalan military eradicated entire Mayan communities. In what amounted to genocide, soldiers burned Mayan farmlands and homes, raped and tortured the people, and scattered families. By the end of the war, 200,000 Mayans had been killed, 7,000 of whom were Maya-Ixil.

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Local News

Public Thinking

Public Thinking

Watsonville teens host TEDx event

Santa Cruz County is no stranger to the TED brand. TED—which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design—talks have come to the area through independently organized events 10 times since 2011. This month, the gathering returns to the county with a new twist, thanks to the Watsonville Youth City Council.

TEDxYouth@Watsonville, which will take place Sunday, May 19 at the Henry J. Mello Center for the Performing Arts in Watsonville, will feature only speakers younger than 19 years old and will traverse topics from racial stereotypes and renewable energy to traditional Mexican dance.

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Local News

Bringing the Message Home

Bringing the Message Home

Former mayor and UCSC student recap their experiences at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women

While traveling to New York for the 57th United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), seasoned local activist Jane Weed-Pomerantz had a notion of what to expect. But, with the vast scope of worldwide women’s rights violations presented at the commission, she knew she would still be taken aback at times.

“I was worried because I had a feeling I would be finding out what I did find out about women and girls in the world,” says Weed-Pomerantz. “I was trying to brace myself for the knowledge of the reality, because we are really very protected in this country.”

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Local News

Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels

Can the debate over homeless services come to terms with the need for drug and alcohol treatment? 

Over the last few months, sharp disagreement on what needs to done about crime and homelessness has polarized the city council, homeless service advocates and neighborhood safety groups, not to mention the larger community.

With total arrests for all types of crime up more than 50 percent between 2011 and 2012, and with 42 percent of offenders booked in county jail being homeless, transients, or having given the address of the Homeless Services Center (HSC) as their residence, Santa Cruz Deputy Chief of Police Rick Martinez says the city is at a critical “tipping point” in addressing drug addiction and homelessness.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

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

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.