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Nov 28th
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Business

Living in a Rental Paradise?

Living in a Rental Paradise?

The debate over a county vacation rental ordinance continues
It’s 3 a.m., you’ve got a big meeting in the morning and the tourists staying in the vacation rental next door are rocking out to “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” You could call the Sheriff’s Office, but since the homeowner lives out of state, it’s unlikely that your simple reprimand will be the end to your sleepless nights.

Scenarios like these are becoming more and more common in Santa Cruz County, where there are a known 570 vacation rentals. With the advent of the Internet, it’s not hard to see why it’s a goldmine industry.

But along with the tourists and supplemental income have come neighborhood complaints of increased traffic, excessive garbage, late night partying and limited street parking. In response to the grievances of locals, Santa Cruz County First District Supervisor John Leopold proposed a Vacation Rental Ordinance to the Board on June 15, 2010.

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Local News

There’s an App For That

There’s an App For That

Downtown Santa Cruz parking goes hi-tech
Originally slated to take effect in time for the holidays, the trial run of a new parking program in Downtown Santa Cruz has been postponed until mid-January.

The program will allow people who park downtown to pay for parking and add more time to their parking lot spot or meter via cell phone. The City of Santa Cruz hopes the new program will encourage more people to shop downtown and reduce shoppers’ likelihoods of receiving parking tickets.

The program was designed by Parkmobile USA of Atlanta, Ga. The Parkmobile program keeps users from running out of time by sending a text message when 15 minutes is left on a parking space or meter. Users have the option of extending their parking time by using their cell phone to either call Parkmobile or by using the downloadable smart phone application to pay for an extension.

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Environment

California’s Green Facelift

California’s Green Facelift

Santa Cruz’s Ecology Action is at the center of new program designed to save money and the environment
Just in time for the New Year, the Energy Upgrade California Program (EUCP) is announcing its plans to keep the environment green and clean while putting a different kind of green back into the pockets of the state and consumers alike.

A collaborative effort between nonprofits, utility companies and the California Energy Commission (CEC), the program will use federal stimulus funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA). It will allow homeowners and commercial businesses a unique opportunity to make their buildings more energy efficient by providing rebates and monetary incentives for upgrades. What makes this program different from others, is that it is a statewide program that will allow all 58 counties to participate in reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions providing more benefits than just monetary. At the cornerstone of the project is Santa Cruz’s own Ecology Action.

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Local News

A Tale of Three PENS

A Tale of Three PENS

Local preschool teachers receive community hero award and fight to keep their schools open
The go-to source for Santa Cruz statistics was released last month. Along with providing a plethora of data, the Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project Report (CAP) honors dedicated citizens who contribute to the community’s social health. This year, a group of teachers from a network of parent-interactive preschools have received recognition for their betterment of early education. But, honors aside, the preschools are facing economic woes  that threaten their survival.

The CAP Report is an annual almanac that reports the x, y and z’s of Santa Cruz County. Since 1994, the report has supplied citizens with raw data concerning a variety of community interests, such as public safety, health and education.

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Town Hall

Congressman Sam Farr

Congressman Sam Farr

Congress recently passed an extension for Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians. How long will the extension last, is there talk of extending it further, and how will it impact the Central Coast specifically?
This is a great question, and it is an issue I have been working deep in the weeds for more than a decade. To answer the immediate question, congress has passed a series of extensions for Medicare reimbursement—the current extension expires on Dec.31, 2010. But Democrats worked out a way to guarantee a longer extension, one that will last through 2011. That bill is on its way to President Obama for signature, thus assuring that doctors will not face a 23 percent cut on Jan. 1.

But the Central Coast also faces another important issue looming over Medicare reimbursement in our region.

As many of you may be aware, doctors in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties receive a lower payment from Medicare than do doctors in neighboring Santa Clara County.

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Environment

Taking Action

Taking Action

Local nonprofit heads to Haiti to offer aid and support
Having only five members hasn’t stopped fledgling humanitarian nonprofit Action Santa Cruz from delivering aid and supplies to a whole arsenal of worthy causes. The small group formed shortly after the 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010. On Dec. 9, the group will take flight to Haiti, where its members will embark on a search for the project that will define them.

And if their resolve is tested, Action Santa Cruz has the inspiration they need to fall back on, a Haitian saying which has already carried member Mary Anne Kramer-Urner through one challenging trip to Haiti:

“Piti, piti, zwazo fe nich.”

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Local News

History Buff

History Buff

GT sits down with 2010 Historian of the Year Marion Pokriots
When I meet 2010 Santa Cruz Historian of the Year Marion Pokriots at her Scotts Valley home, where she’s lived since moving to the area in the 1950s, I find the dining room table stacked with volumes chronicling her own rich history. The books she’s authored, including “Some Early Santa Cruz Families: 1797-1847,” “The Joseph Majors Story,” “The Hitchcock-Patterson Saga” and the most recent, titled “Remembering Scotts Valley,” are piled alongside research projects or booklets she “just puts together” like one about Mount Carmel Cemetery and a scrapbook of press clippings by and about her from over the years.

We sift through the materials, journeying through her extensive adventures deciphering Santa Cruz County history, arriving at a thick packet of research on David Morrill Locke—a New Hampshire man who made his fortunes selling water to California gold miners and used it to settle on 1,100 acres in Scotts Valley. The project was for a Santa Cruz County history class she took in 1984 at Cabrillo College taught by esteemed local “history dude” Sandy Lydon. Her foray into the legacy of Locke launched her into an endless exploration of other notable Santa Cruzans from years past.

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Town Hall

Supervisor Neal Coonerty

Supervisor Neal Coonerty

You are co-sponsoring a Dec. 11 reception honoring Celia and Peter Scott. Which of their accomplishments will be highlighted?
Many of us think the environmental amenities we enjoy have been protected from development forever. Wilder Ranch, Lighthouse Field, Pogonip, Grey Whale Ranch, Coast Dairies Ranch and the Santa Cruz Greenbelt provide spectacular scenic, environmental, recreational and even economic benefits to all of us and, in many ways, define the kind of community we are.

But the permanent protection of these resources for the public has only come about over the last 30-plus years. It resulted from the hard work, tenacity and perseverance of a relatively small group of community activists and elected officials who at times engaged in bitter political fights as they mobilized the broad based public support for the preservation of these incredible community assets. And, at the forefront of many of these and other environmentally related battles were Celia and Peter Scott.

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Local News

’Tis the Season

’Tis the Season

Local orgs and causes to give to this holiday season
Santa Cruz Public Libraries
Needy Animals
Second Harvest Food Bank
The Walnut Avenue Women's Center
Brown Berets Toy Drive

If you’re stumped on what to get that special (or not-so-special) someone, or are just feeling particularly generous this holiday season, perhaps the answer is in lending your support to one of the many local organizations and causes that are in need of a little holiday cheer. Here are a few such ideas; now, let the real giving get going!

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Local News

Fighting Sex Slavery, One Computer at a Time

Fighting Sex Slavery, One Computer at a Time

UCSC cop plans to help a human trafficking safe house in Cambodia
The truth about the Cambodian genocide at the hands of the Khmer Rouge following the Vietnam War, as well as the current political situation in Cambodia, is hard to come by. But when local resident Jon D. Haro visited an orphanage in Northern Cambodia last year that provides a safe house and vocational training for young girls rescued from human trafficking in the Cambodian sex industry, he was hit by one, overwhelming truth: “[That] I’ve got to do something to help this place.”

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Good Times Holiday Giving

Giving Where It Helps

 

Giving Thanks: The Thought-Form of Solution

We are in the time and under the influence of Sagittarius, sign of the wanderer, good food, good music, and the joy (Jupiter as ruler) that occurs from giving to others while simultaneously giving thanks from our hearts. Having the Thanksgiving holiday during the month of Sag is not a mistake. No other sign understands joy (an aspect of the Soul) as Sag (except Pisces when not in despair). “Sag is a beam of directed and focused light. The beam reveals a greater light ahead, illuminating the Way to the center of the Light,” emitting the Ray of Joyfulness. Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude; in the form of prayers, thoughts, feelings, wishes, hopes and greetings. Gratitude is something we still need to learn. Gratitude creates goodwill. Together, gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution” for humanity and our world’s problems. Gratitude and goodwill are the prerequisites for the reappearance of the Christ, the Aquarian World Teacher. In Ancient Wisdom texts it is written, “being grateful is the hallmark of one who is enlightened.” Gratitude comes from the Soul—the characteristics of which are love and wisdom (Ray 2). Gratitude is scientifically and occultly (mental, not emotional) a releasing agent. Gratitude liberates us and everything around us. Also a service to others, gratitude is deeply scientific in nature, releasing us from the past and laying open our future path leading to the new culture and civilization, the new laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarian, the Age of Friendship and Equality. The Hierarchy lays much emphasis upon gratitude. Let us be grateful this year and this season together. And so now the days of light illuminating the darkness begin (December’s festivals and feast days). Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am grateful for all of you, my readers.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of November 28

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Round About Now

The glory of persimmons, plus Ivéta scone mix and lunch at Assembly

 

What charities would you like to see people support this season?

Judy Allen, Scotts Valley, Consulting

 

Big Basin Vineyards

I was just in the process of purchasing a bottle of Big Basin’s 2012 Homestead in Vinocruz when Matt Ryan walked into the store. Ryan manages the tasting room, sales and the mailing list at Big Basin, and, considering the popularity of their wines, he’s a very busy man.

 

Ashby Confections

Local chocolate maker talks chocolate and self control