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May 04th
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Santa Cruz News

Environment

A Salty Vote

A Salty VoteWith desal heading toward the ballot, the debate rages on

In Santa Cruz, which relies almost entirely on surface water, scarce rainfall and a warm winter have water department employees and residents, alike, worried about the year’s water supply. The recent dry spell tied in interestingly to the prevailing debate over the city’s proposed desalination plant, which they insist will be necessary to protect the city from inevitable droughts.

The proposed Westside desalination facility—a joint effort of the Santa Cruz Water Department and neighboring Soquel Creek Water District—would produce 2.5 million gallons of water per day by removing salt and other minerals from seawater and making it safe for human consumption. But many are worried about the project’s impacts on both the taxpayer’s wallet and the environment.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Ellen Pirie

Town Hall with Supervisor Ellen Pirie

The Regional Transportation Commission has several big projects in the works, including on Highway 1. What will these accomplish, and when can residents expect completion?

There are several important projects under way through the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC). One is the Soquel Avenue/Morrissey Boulevard auxiliary lanes project on Highway 1. That’s a project that will add one lane on each side of the freeway between Soquel Avenue and Morrissey Boulevard. On average, that section of Highway 1 is used by more than 100,000 vehicles per day. The expectation is that these auxiliary lanes will reduce congestion and make entering and exiting the freeway safer in that area.    

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Local News

‘Spring’ into Action

‘Spring’ into Action

Local orgs push ways to help after the holiday-giving rush

The war against hunger is at its peak in the first three months of the year, says Danny Keith, chief development and technology officer at Second Harvest Food Bank Of Santa Cruz (SHFB). He says donations to SHFB “atrophy” between January and March, as the press coverage received during its holiday food drives dies down.

“After the holiday period everybody goes through this retraction,” says Keith. “I don't think it's intended. It is more of a reflection of how the economy has been built for the last hundred years. January, February, [and] March is hard for everyone.” But as giving slows down and the weather gets warmer, hunger doesn't retreat.

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Local News

Shift Happens

Shift Happens

The woman behind Santa Cruz County’s lauded maneuvering of prison realignment

Santa Cruz County, and its longtime chief administrative officer Susan Mauriello, in particular, has received statewide recognition for its effective response to state-mandated requirements for prison realignment. Last year, Mauriello spent a good deal of time in Sacramento explaining to CAOs, sheriffs and chief probation officers from other counties how Santa Cruz County has managed to reduce county incarceration rates, save tax dollars and improve public safety in the process. They’ve looked to her for advice on how they, too, can meet the challenges of the new state law, AB 109, also known as the “Public Safety Realignment Act.”  

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

You will be giving the keynote address at the first-ever Central Coast regional health summit, the “Health from Field to Sea” event on March 9. What will your message be, and what are your near-term hopes for health policy and action in the Santa Cruz area?

The regional “Health from Field to Sea” Summit is a new collaborative effort to support healthy eating and active living, and my keynote address will be to provide an update on the state budget, Medi-Cal, federal healthcare reform implementation in California, and the promotion of health and wellness.  

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Environment

Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch

Twenty-year plan for Ocean Street in jeopardy

The corner of Ocean and Barson streets in Santa Cruz is flooded with tourist traffic in the summer, and drowned by average rainfall most winters (although this year has been dry). But the state's decision to close the more than 400 redevelopment agencies across California, including Santa Cruz’s, could mean that residents of the Lower Ocean neighborhood have to wait more than a generation for much-needed improvements around their homes.

The city's redevelopment agency has 37 projects listed as “under way,” meaning they are already funded. However, their ambitious 20-year plan for the Ocean Street area is an example of how unclear the road forward is, even for those items pegged as under way. The city currently has $2.5 million in bonds to spend on this project over the next five years. But City Councilmember David Terrazas says that's a small fraction of the money needed to complete the many ideas in the Ocean Street Area Concept, which was developed by Berkeley consulting group Design, Community and Environment.

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Local News

Oral Health Without Fluoride

Oral Health Without Fluoride

A look at the future of dental health in the wake of the Watsonville fluoridation debate

Ten years of debate over whether or not to add fluoride to Watsonville’s public water supply came to an end on Wednesday, Feb. 1 when the California Dental Association Foundation (CDAF) withdrew its promise to fund the fluoridation project.

“The CDA Foundation notified the City of Watsonville that its planned fluoridation facilities were too costly to be accomplished within the required time frame,” Alicia Malaby, director of communications for CDA, writes in an email to GT. She goes on to say that the foundation would have had the funding necessary if the bids came in at $1.6 million, the estimated cost determined by the original design firm. “Unfortunately, construction bids were significantly higher and additional funding could not be secured within the time frame of the contract,” she adds.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

What was your reaction to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in January? What do you think the take-away message was?

President Obama delivered a State of the Union address with a blueprint for the future of our country that is not Republican or Democrat, but a common sense plan that is simply American. The time for partisan agendas has long ago come and gone, and now these uncertain times call on us all to rise above partisan politics to face the dire issues facing our nation.

As the president delivered his speech in the U.S. Capitol, the unemployment rate continues to hover around double digits in some areas, the housing market continues to operate in disarray and reckless Wall Street investments continue to haunt our financial system and consumer confidence. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. We are also failing to prepare a future workforce that is ready to enter the 21st century economy; our transportation corridors are in desperate need of improvements; and an out of balance tax code is disproportionately benefiting the most fortunate at the expense of those less well off.  

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Local News

Crowded and Strapped

Crowded and Strapped

Schools dig through sloppy budget for solutions

Back To School nights aren’t just a way for parents to learn how their child is performing anymore. At local schools, they have also become a chance for teachers to post wish lists of essential supplies, including paper and printer ink that the school can't afford to buy.

Teachers wish the situation were different. But because state contributions to the k-12 system have plummeted 18 percent in the last three years, and because more bad news is expected in Gov. Jerry Brown's 2012-13 budget, they say they have no choice but to seek out donated supplies.  

Many teachers even resort to paying out of pocket to keep their lesson plans rolling forward.

“I have always liked to supplement textbooks with handouts, but there have been times over the last few years when the administration has said 'We're out of paper,’” says Mark McConnell, a math teacher at Soquel High School.

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Local News

Predictive Policing in Practice

Predictive Policing in Practice

GT rides along with the SCPD to test acclaimed new policing program

Is it realistic to predict crime and stop it before it happens, or just a science fiction-esque impersonation of Minority Report? This was one of the questions I pondered on a recent ride-along with Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) Deputy Chief of Police Steve Clark. Little did I know I was about to witness a poignant first-hand example of how the “predictive policing” method can be successful.

The department’s adoption of the technology-based predictive policing program has received national and international attention in recent months, with a reporter from Popular Science jetting to Santa Cruz to see it in action and a nod from TIME magazine, which named the fledgling program one of the Top 50 Innovations of 2011. GT set out with these accolades in mind to see for ourselves the result of the department’s six-month evaluation of the predictive policing program, which wrapped up in January.

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Mountain Mystic

When Cora Evans died in Boulder Creek in 1957, her thousands of pages of religious writings hadn’t yet been published. More than a half a century later, Evans’ fiery visions and spiritual devotion have inspired a crusade within Catholicism to make her the Santa Cruz Mountains’ first saint

 

Wesak (Water) Taurus Solar Festival, Buddha Blesses the Earth

A most important celebration occurs Sunday, May 3—the Wesak Taurus Buddha Solar Festival/full moon. At the moment of the full moon the Buddha’s presence enters the Earth plane for eight minutes. He brings the Will-to-Good from the Father, which, when reaching humanity becomes goodwill (Mother Principle). Held yearly in a valley hidden deep within the Himalayas, the Wesak festival is prepared for for months in advance (beginning at Winter Solstice). On festival day, amidst pilgrims, disciples and Holy Ones gathered in the valley, the Buddha is invoked through movement, symbols and mantrams. At the moment of the full moon, hearing the words, “We are ready, Buddha, come,” the Lord of Illumination (brother of the Christ) appears in the clouds above the altar to emanate forth the will and purpose of God to earth. The blessing of the father is then held in safekeeping for distribution at the June full moon Goodwill Festival. The day of Wesak (May 3, 8:42 p.m. West Coast) all disciples (east and west) place crystal vessels filled with pure water outside (in gardens, on rooftops, porches and steps) under the heavens. As the Buddha blesses the world, all waters, including waters within our bodies, are blessed. The Buddha is accompanied by the Forces of Enlightenment to illuminate humanity’s minds. Humanity then begins to express new constructive, productive and beneficial ways of the Art of Livingness. Wesak covers five days—two days (before) of dedicated preparation, the actual festival “Day of Safeguarding,” and two days (after) distributing goodwill (the NGWS to humanity). Join us in the Valley by reciting the Great Invocation, mantra of direction for humanity.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of May 1

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Latest Comments

 

Hole in the Wall

Popular Aptos spot opens for dinner

 

How do you connect with the natural world?

My connection to the natural world is through my art. I totally feel it there very physically in nature and even right here on the street. Jonathan Rosen, Felton, Pastor

 

Hess Collection Winery

My friend Emma from London came to visit for a few days in early March, so I took her wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains—a rare treat for her, as there aren’t too many vineyards in the middle of London. Her visit reminded me how fortunate we are to live in this paradise of ultra-fresh produce, with grapes growing in wild profusion.

 

Springtime Walkabout

May Day Flower Festival, free tours of the UCSC Farm, and a nondairy chocolate indulgence