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Apr 17th
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Business

Worker Worries

Worker Worries

AFSCME workers wonder how UC budget cuts will further impact their jobs
Budget cuts have meant cutbacks for nearly every area of the UC Santa Cruz campus, impacting students, faculty and staff alike. For some workers the reality of just how deep the past several years of cuts have been has never been more obvious or unnerving than now. Along with furloughs and increased costs for everything from healthcare to retirement, some UCSC workers are also facing the dual pressure of an increased workload and the fear of losing their job in the next round of layoffs.

One UCSC employee of more than 20 years, who wishes to remain nameless, says she has watched her work as a custodian become increasingly more difficult over the past few years. She is now required to clean twice the number of areas she would have cleaned two years ago in the same amount of time.

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Local News

Holistic Holdup

Holistic Holdup

California nutritionists’ ongoing fight to maintain legal legitimacy
What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian? This may sound like an menial question to some, but ambivalence about this distinction sent holistic health professionals across California into a flurry of phone calls, letters, and public consternation regarding a piece of recently proposed legislation know as Assembly Bill 575.

Due to sizable disapproval over the written logistics of AB575, which was proposed by Assemblymember Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward), it was tabled on May 4 for revisions. However, the debate it sparked brings to light an ongoing controversy in the world of nutritional healthcare.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Ellen Pirie

Town Hall with Supervisor Ellen Pirie

After several recent hearings, the Board has established requirements for medical marijuana dispensaries in the county, and will establish a working group to review other issues, including whether testing of marijuana should be required. With these decisions in mind, what is the Board’s long-term vision for medical marijuana business in Santa Cruz County?
While there is no cap on the number of medical marijuana outlets allowed in the unincorporated county, they must operate as nonprofits. Advertising, labeling, and record-keeping will be regulated. Further, an 800-foot buffer is required between two dispensaries, and dispensaries must be located at least 600 feet from schools.
Once established, a medical marijuana cooperative must meet certain performance standards. Doctors or other medical professionals will not be allowed to write recommendations on-site, and on-site use of the medical marijuana products is prohibited. A working group will be established to consider testing and other issues for possible addition to the regulations at some future time.

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Local News

Santa Cruz’s Idol Returns

Santa Cruz’s Idol Returns

Thousands gather to welcome back James Durbin with open arms

Judging by the surging crowd and the number of squeals heard outside Louden Nelson Community Center Saturday afternoon, tourists might have thought Justin Bieber was in town.

But every local knew—Saturday was Durbin Day.

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Local News

Border Crossings

Border Crossings

A long journey from undocumented immigrant to legal resident
When Samuel Garcia first came to the United States in 1999, he paid a “coyote” to help him sneak over the U.S.-Mexico border. In the middle of the night, he crossed the Sonora Desert into Arizona with hopes of finding better paying work than was available in his hometown in Oaxaca.

On April 19 of this year, Garcia became a legal U.S. resident. He lives in Santa Cruz with his wife and 1-year-old daughter—both U.S. citizens. However, Garcia’s path from undocumented immigrant to legal resident has been difficult and complicated, not unlike the experience of many other immigrants to California.

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Environment

The Missing Piece

The Missing Piece

Santa Cruz looks at filling the last remaining hole left downtown by the Loma Prieta Earthquake
It’s been 22 years since one of the most destructive earthquakes in our nation’s history rocked the foundations of Santa Cruz. Nowhere, perhaps, was that devastation more acutely felt than downtown on Pacific Avenue, where the collapse of the historic Pacific Garden Mall killed three of the six people who lost their lives in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. Though the 6.9 magnitude quake lasted only 10 to 15 seconds, the destruction it wreaked can still be seen today. Destruction is fast—it’s recovery that takes time. But despite the recent economic downturn in our country and state, the final touch to restoring the face of Pacific Avenue is starting to get under way.
“It’s been 20 years since the earthquake,” says Mayor Ryan Coonerty. “We’ve worked hard to rebuild and that’s the last piece left.”
The piece of land that Coonerty refers to is the lot at the north end of Pacific Avenue, at 1547-49 Pacific Ave. and 1110 Cedar St. The lot is mostly vacant, the last remnant of downtown vacancy that is a direct result of the Loma Prieta quake.
A centrally located spot, the lot has housed several companies, including Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company, Kelly’s Bakery, Asian Rose, and Oswald’s. All of these companies relocated to other parts of the city, and all (with the exception of Asian Rose, which moved in with its sister establishment, Malabar) are still in operation.
Coonerty remembers when Bookshop, his family’s business, was located on the site, as well as when it was destroyed in the earthquake. Though the owners had insurance, the rebuild never happened and the bookstore moved to its current location close by on Pacific Avenue. Since then, the city has been trying to rebuild on the optimal piece of real estate but has faced several obstacles.
On Thursday, May 5 the Planning Commission recommended that the city
council adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration (meaning that they would agree that there is no apparent evidence to suggest a negative impact on the environment as a result of construction) and approve a Development Agreement based on findings to continue consideration of Design and Planned Development Permits for a building in that spot. While this may not seem like a huge step forward, it is a start, and in the downtown area of Santa Cruz that’s saying something.  The building, now in the beginning final stages of planning as a five-story residential/retail unit, was originally approved as a seven-story building with upscale senior residences upstairs and retail downstairs.

“As soon as we approved it [the first time] the housing market collapsed,” says Coonerty. “Now we’ve been through a couple iterations and are ready to move forward.”
In addition to the financial challenges facing construction downtown there are also aesthetic and structural guidelines that must be strictly adhered to. The Downtown Recovery Plan (DRP) that was adopted in 1991 to address the reconstruction of downtown states:
“As a result of the earthquake, much of downtown will be rebuilt in a single generation. This puts a particular burden on the Recovery Plan and its design guidelines to maintain the unique townscape character and to avoid the creation of monolithic ‘projects’ that destroy the human scale and pedestrian quality of the downtown.”
Part of these guidelines include an ordinance stating buildings may not exceeding five stories, or 50 feet high, as to not cast Pacific Avenue’s popular promenade in perpetual shade. The DRP also requires new buildings in the neighborhood to use architectural styles that “emphasize a human scale and warmth that provides a common vocabulary,” an ambiguously poetic bit of building code that could be interpreted in any number of ways by those opposed to a project.
It has been a long time coming, but the first (of many, admittedly) hoops have been jumped through and in a town with a very vocal and civically minded populace the new five-story project is uniquely unopposed. The building itself will be comprised of 66 to 70 condominium units above a total of 4,510 square feet of commercial retail space and a parking area with 66 spaces.
“They call this one the missing tooth in the smile of Downtown Santa Cruz,” says William Brooks, president and CEO of Brooks Properties who is representing owners of the lot, Park Pacific LLC, with Norman Schwartz. “I’m trying to fill that hole so we can finish up the last build that was a consequence of the earthquake.”
The building has changed since its first imagining, scaling down in height and reducing the number of units proposed to better fit a troubled city budget. The upside of this is that the units themselves will be more affordable than was originally thought.
“We redesigned the units so they’re a little smaller than the previous units, will make economic sense, and will service the rank and file type of folks,” says Brooks. “It will have a lower price point whereas the old building would have had a much higher price point.”
However, former city councilmember Mike Rotkin counters that making the new housing cheaper isn’t necessarily a benefit for downtown. “It no longer guarantees to bring lots of discretionary income to downtown,” as the high-end senior living would have, he writes to GT via email. “Almost all of the housing we have built downtown after the earthquake—and there was quite a bit—was for low-income residents who have little in the way of discretionary income.”
He does, however, agree that the changes to the project have made it less contentious. Part of the success of this proposal so far no doubt lies in the benignity of the space. Unlike the five-story parking garage once proposed for Cathcart and Cedar streets that would have displaced the beloved farmers’ market, this building faces no such obstacle. Also, by creating more housing downtown, the city is promoting a greener Santa Cruz by further centralizing the populace, if only by a small degree.
Also, while it’s been 22 years in the making, it would mean that Downtown Santa Cruz would finally mend the scars left by the ’89 quake.

Local News

We All Scream for Cycling

We All Scream for Cycling

XTERRA triathlon comes to Santa Cruz
After two years of working with the Department of Economic Development on special projects, such as bringing the Amgen Tour to Santa Cruz, Jennifer Karno wanted to do more to promote Santa Cruz as a destination for natural beauty and year-round outdoor adventure.

“Some people move to Santa Cruz because it’s a place where you can work hard and play hard, but we're not known for promoting it, so many don't realize that we have one of the biggest bike industries really in the country,” Karno says. "I'm passionate about bringing off- season tourism here in a sustainable way, because in that time between October and June our economy suffers.”

After a year and a half of consideration, an upcoming event that marks a public-private collaboration between XTERRA and the City of Santa Cruz, state parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks aims to do just that. Santa Cruz's own Wilder Ranch State Park will host the 2011 XTERRA triathlon Pacific Championship, including one of six regional championship races in XTERRA's America Tour.

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Local News

Anatomy of a Budget

Anatomy of a Budget

GT sits down with the city manager to check the city’s fiscal pulse
City Manager Martin Bernal inherited a less than favorable budget situation when he took over the position in 2010.

In 2009, then-City Manager Richard Wilson told Good Times that, in his three decades at our fiscal helm, he had seen “nothing even close” to the financial crisis the city was facing. The last time the city even hoped to break even was in 2001, he added, and budgeting should be tough for some time to come. Having served as assistant city manager under Wilson for 13 years, Bernal knew what he was in for when he succeeded him—but that hasn’t made it any less hectic.

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Local News

Marking History

Marking History

The Blue Plaque Program piques fresh curiosity about Santa Cruz County’s ever-present past
On Saturday, May 7, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) will be holding the 38th Annual Blue Plaque Program (BPP) awards to honor local sites of architectural and historical significance. The plaques themselves, though, are just a hint—a tip-of-the-iceberg insinuation—of the surprising, entertaining, and sometimes shocking stories about these sites that would otherwise stay obscured by the opacity of time.

“It’s really meant to highlight historical structures in town both for architectural and historic reasons,” says Amy Dunning, archivist at the MAH, as she walks slowly between the graves and mausoleums of the Old Holy Cross Cemetery. “It’s the story of our community, it’s beginnings, [and] an understanding of our own neighborhoods and downtown areas throughout the county.”

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte has chosen to honor you as one of their 2011 “Voices for Change”—dubbing you the “Voice for Freedom.” What are the biggest obstacles facing Panned Parenthood today, and how are you working to address them?

I am honored and humbled to be recognized by Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, and I am equally proud of the work we have done to protect issues of women’s health. But as the last few weeks have shown us, there is still much work to do.

Hidden behind straw man arguments, Republicans have launched a full-on assault on Planned Parenthood and women’s health. They have armed themselves with misguided rhetoric and false information—citing the opposition to the use of federal funds for abortions as the base for cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood. But in reality, not one penny of federal funding is used for abortions. For that reason, I voiced strong opposition to Republican attempts to drag Planned Parenthood and women’s health into a debate about fiscal responsibility.

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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.

 

Lens Crafter

Secret photographer’s talent exposed in ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ Talk about a treasure hunt. In 2007, John Maloof, a real estate agent in the Chicago area, bought some miscellaneous boxes at an estate auction across the street, hoping to find some material for a book about his neighborhood. Disappointed not to find anything he could use for his project, Maloof had, instead, stumbled into one of the greatest discoveries in 20th century photography—the previously unknown but amazingly prolific work of amateur street photographer Vivian Maier.
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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.