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Jan 27th
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Homeless on the Home Front

Homeless on the Home Front

Homeless veteran numbers are down, and a veterans housing assistance program picks up steam
Half of the 274 homeless veterans counted in Santa Cruz County earlier this year fought in the Vietnam War. The same proportion has no more than a car or sidewalk as their bed at any given time.

Forty years after returning from combat in the United States' second longest war, these veterans are being joined on the streets by soldiers returning from the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers coming home from tours in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom account for 30 percent of the homeless veterans in the county, according to the 2011 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Mark Stone

Town Hall with Supervisor Mark Stone

The results from the 2011 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey were released recently. What did you learn about homelessness in your district?
The report was just released and is very comprehensive. There’s a lot to digest, and I’m still reviewing it to better understand the full gravity of our homeless situation as it exists today.

If you looked at this issue on a district-by-district basis, the picture’s incomplete. For instance, the data for the San Lorenzo Valley shows that homelessness has actually decreased significantly from previous years, though the number of homeless for the county as a whole has risen. This tells me that we need to keep working on a countywide basis with local governments and nonprofits to reduce homelessness.

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Environment

The Science of SmartMeters

The Science of SmartMeters

Exactly what is known about the safety of SmartMeters?
Penelope Joaquin has been a kindergarten teacher in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District for 15 years, and, this past year, she thought the stress was finally getting to her.

“I started to get this noise in my ears,” she says. “You know, that noise you get right before you go to sleep or like champagne bubbles? It’s hard to explain. It’s not even that loud, but it’s all the time.” The sensation Joaquin noticed turned out to be tinnitus, which is usually described as a ringing noise, high-pitched whining, electric buzzing, hissing, humming, tingling or a number of other continuous or intermittent noises in the ear.

“It was the end of the school year and I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep and so forth so I thought, ‘Oh it’s probably just because I’m overworked, tired and stressed,’” Joaquin recalls. “I figured as soon as the school year ends and I start getting some sleep I’ll be fine and it’ll go away.” The school year ended and Joaquin’s tinnitus persists. Having eliminated stress as the cause of her fairly mild symptom, she started looking elsewhere. 

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Environment

End of an Era

End of an Era

We have entered the last year on the Mayan solar calendar. Now what?

Super volcanoes erupt as earthquakes tear the Earth’s crust apart, and meteor showers rain down on cities around the world. These are the visions of Dec. 21, 2012 promoted in the media, with the History Channel and 2012forum.com leading the way.

The prophecy, according to doomsday believers, comes from an inscription on a structure known as Monument Six at Tortuguero, an archaeological site in Tabasco, Mexico. The last eight words of the epitaph translate roughly in English to, “The deity of the end of this cycle will oversee ceremonies on the last day of this cycle.” It is considered the only known inscription referencing the end of an era in 2012.

Most Santa Cruzans, however, aren't preparing for the end of times, even as humanity moved into the last complete year of the Mayan solar calendar on July 25. The calendar is called the Haab, and has 13, 28-day months. The 365th day, a day belonging to none of the 13 months, is left as a day to reflect on hopes for the future, which the Maya called “a day out of time.”

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Environment

Capitola Looks Forward

Capitola Looks Forward

From begonias to possible FEMA relief, the city moves on from the floods

Capitola has a couple different things to look forward to these days, including both the 59th Annual Begonia Festival, as well as the possibility of receiving federal relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help repair damages it suffered from flooding in March.

The damage done in Capitola was due to a series of storms that raged throughout California, altogether causing about $44.5 million in needed repairs—just above FEMA’s $44 million requirement for damage caused by any one event. However, FEMA soon determined that the storms were isolated incidents rather than one larger disaster, and announced in June that they would not be giving relief. This left Santa Cruz County with an estimated $17 million in damages.

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Local News

Homeless Census Unveiled

Homeless Census Unveiled

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE
Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey reports growing numbers

Every two years, early on a cold and dark January morning, a small army of volunteers and trained homeless guides canvas Santa Cruz County to take a headcount (or point-in-time count) of the area’s homeless population. This year, on Jan. 25, a grand total of 2,771 homeless persons were counted.

 

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Local News

A City Divided

A City Divided

Congressional redistricting could split Santa Cruz down the middle

UPDATE: Draft maps of California’s new congressional districts reportedly reunified Santa Cruz in a single district through changes made last weekend. The changes will be visible on the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission’s website Thursday, July 28. As recently as last week, the line on the map split the city down the middle. In meetings last weekend, however, the commission moved the lines to the north just enough to reunify the city in Rep. Sam Farr’s district while still honoring restrictions posed by the Voting Rights Act and Marin’s demand to be completely free of influence from San Francisco. The new lines still divide Santa Cruz County, with Davenport and portions of the San Lorenzo Valley remaining in Rep. Anna Eshoo’s district. At 1 p.m. on Friday, July 29,  the commission will vote on the most recent update, according to commission spokesperson Rob Wilcox. If this map is approved Santa Cruz City Hall, UC Santa Cruz and the police department will remain in the same district. Stay tuned for further updates.

Santa Cruz’s Westside/Eastside surf rivalry has serious competition in the business of dividing Santa Cruz into illogically small worlds. In fact, in the eyes of some, the surf community may have done a better job of splitting the city than the new Citizens' Redistricting Commission in Sacramento that was put in charge of drawing California's new congressional districts.

While local surf lore identifies the very visible landmark of the San Lorenzo River as the rivalry’s border, the new district line drawn by the 14-member commission is harder to make sense of.

Beginning at the Dream Inn on West Cliff Drive, the line runs down the middle of Downtown Santa Cruz via Center Street, with a short detour onto Washington Street, before curving back to Pacific Avenue at the clock tower.

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Local News

Feeding More than the Meter

Feeding More than the Meter

Imagine Positive Change meters pop up on Pacific Avenue
The City of Santa Cruz calls them Imagine Positive Change meters. To Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Don Lane, the small red receptacles are a chance to educate people. Downtown Association Executive Director Chip believes they’re “providing a way for people to help that’s sustainable and compassionate.” And founder of Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom (HUFF) Robert Norse mockingly calls them “gentrification meters.”

As for Leo Brown, he hasn’t even heard of them.

Brown has been homeless for about a year and a half now. He had a job doing landscaping but lost his employment due to the recession, and has been unable to find new work. Now he can be seen standing on Pacific Avenue, tall and silent, with headphones in his ears and a cardboard sign with only two words on it: “Diabetes” and “Change.”

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

With both parties heavily debating deficit reduction, what do you think is the best way to get the debt ceiling passed?

We all agree that getting our country’s fiscal house in order is not a question of if we do it, but how we do it. Deficit reduction is not an issue exclusive to Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, but rather is an issue that affects us all—and one we need to face together as a nation.

But as families continue to suffer from the lingering effects of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, we also have a responsibility to address our deficit through a balanced approach that does not place the sole burden on the backs of seniors and the middle class, or hinder economic growth and  job creation.

Secondly, and separately, we have an obligation to pay our bills, and to adequately adjust the federal debt ceiling to avoid default—the same way it has been done on over 70 occasions by presidents of both parties.

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Local News

Santa Cruz to Gaza

Santa Cruz to Gaza

A local woman’s experience aboard the Audacity of Hope
Debra Ellis recently returned to Santa Cruz from Greece. While abroad, she joined 36 passengers, nine journalists, and four crew members on a U.S. flagged ship named The Audacity of Hope, in a nonviolent effort to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza as part of an international flotilla. The flotilla, entitled “Freedom Flotilla Two—Stay Human,” set out primarily to draw attention to what supporters deem the illegal occupation of the Gaza Strip region by Israeli forces.

Ellis works at UC Santa Cruz and has traveled and lived among refugees in the Middle East in the past. She returned home from this trip on Friday, July 8 with mixed feelings.

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Force of Nature

Santa Cruz’s Carlie Statsky brings her love of the natural world to the hyper-personal art of wedding photography

 

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

The magical time of Mercury’s retrograde cycle is here once again, until Feb. 11, and then some. The Mercury retro cycle actually lasts eight weeks when we consider its retrograde shadow, giving us six months a year for review. We know the rules of Mercury retro: Be careful with everything; cars, driving, money, resources, friends, friendships, groups, interactions, thinking, talking, communications. Avoid big purchases, important meetings and important repairs. Mercury retrograde times are for review, reassessment and rest. Our minds are overloaded from the last Mercury retro. Our minds need to assess what we’ve done since October—eliminating what is not needed, keeping what’s important, preparing for new information in the next three months (till mid-May). Mercury in Aquarius retrograde … we reinvent ourselves, seek the unusual, we don’t hide, we’re just careful. We live in two worlds; outer appearances and inner reckonings, with both sides of our brain activated. Yet, like the light of the Gemini twins, one light waxes (inner world), the other (outer realities) wanes. Like Virgo, we see what’s been overlooked—assessing, ordering and organizing information. It’s an entirely inner process. When speaking we may utter only half of the sentence. We’re in the underworld, closer to Spirit, eyes unseeing, senses alerted, re-doing things over and over till we sometimes collapse. Because we’re in other realms, we’re wobbly, make mistakes, and don’t really know what we want. It’s not a time for decisions. Not yet. It’s a time of review. And completing things. Mercury retro: integration, slowing down, resolution, rapprochement.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of January 23

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Bye Bye Benten!

Benten closing, plus Award-winning gin, a massive burrito and chocolate review

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Scanning the shelves of Deluxe Foods of Aptos, which carries an impressive selection of local and imported wines, I picked up a bottle of Trout Gulch Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, described as “a local favorite” by the busy market.

 

Cremer House

What’s old is cutting-edge again in Felton

 

How are you going to make a tangible difference in your community this year?

Spread more kindness and compassion.