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Apr 28th
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Environment

Desal Deliberations

Desal Deliberations

With desalination on the horizon, the debate deepens
When it comes to the debate over desalination, there isn’t much of a middle ground.


While opponents to the plan for a 2.5 million gallon per day desalination plant stand by the idea of increasing conservation and cutbacks and exploring other alternatives (like maximizing use of existing water sources), city and water department officials unfailingly revert back to their matter-of-fact claim that “conservation and curtailment simply isn’t enough,” and that desalination has proven to be the only feasible route to augment the water supply. Representatives from scwd2, the joint agency formed by the Santa Cruz Water Department and the Soquel Creek Water District to pursue the project, claim there are no significant marine impacts. Opponents say there are. Scwd2 says the resulting water won’t be any different than normal drinking water; critics agreee it will be safe, but point out inherent differences.

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Local News

Planned Parenthood Revisited

Planned Parenthood Revisited

A look at the environmental consequences of family planning budget cuts
This year the Earth’s population will hit seven billion, and this number will climb to nine billion by 2050, according to United Nations (UN) reports.

Even though the United States will produce fewer children than developing nations, our growth will have disproportionately detrimental environmental impacts. By the time Americans hit age 16, it’s not unusual for iPods, camera phones and personal cars to be added to the list of needs that includes food and shelter. In fact, according to the Sierra Club, the average American child uses as many resources as 35 youth in India.

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Local News

Town Hall with Supervisor Neal Coonerty

Town Hall with Supervisor Neal Coonerty

Will there be cuts to the METRO bus system this year?
The bus service provided by the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (METRO) is a lifeline for many in our community. METRO buses take middle and highschoolers from the communities of Davenport and Bonny Doon to school in Santa Cruz. Many people rely on METRO buses to take them to work, to medical appointments and to the grocery store. Utilizing public transportation rather than traveling in a single-passenger vehicle is one of the keys to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We must support a robust system in our community.

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Local News

Drops from the Bucket

Drops from the Bucket

Habitat Conservation Plan will protect fish, but mean less water for Santa Cruz—ramping up the city’s call for desalination
The topic on hand at the April 5 special Santa Cruz City Council meeting drew an impassioned crowd. They gathered to watch (and speak up) as the council heard the Water Department's presentation for a proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The federally mandated plan would limit the amount of water the city can take from streams that are home to endangered and threatened species, including Coho and steelhead salmon, and set a plan for water operations in Santa Cruz for the next 30 years.

Following public comment, the council voted unanimously to allow the department to enter into HCP negotiations with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An approved plan is required to bring Santa Cruz into compliance with the Endangered Species Act before the city can continue taking water from the San Lorenzo River, Newell Creek and the North Coast streams.

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Local News

Distressed Market Deals

Distressed Market Deals

Short sale and foreclosure buyers talk about their recent Santa Cruz purchases
When Gary and Sara Strands took possession of their home, everything from the kitchen stove to the air conditioner was missing. Kitchen cabinets, doors, and lighting and plumbing fixtures were all gone. There were holes in the walls and the toilets were backed up because the previous owners had also taken the water pump.

The Strands purchased their Santa Cruz home from the bank a year and a half ago, after the previous owners lost it in a foreclosure. They recently had the home appraised (so that they could refinance and drop their interest rate down from a 5.25 to a 4.25 percent fixed rate), and found that the house appraised for $300,000 more than their purchase price of $525,000. The owners who lost the property in foreclosure owed the bank $879,000, and Wells Fargo Bank took a $354,000 loss on the transaction.

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Environment

When It Rains, It Pours

When It Rains, It Pours

How ready are you for a flood?
Marilee French’s family has owned a vacation home in Capitola for 67 years. During that time, the house never flooded. But the downpour of torrential rain on Saturday, March 26, caused a pipe in Noble Gulch Creek to burst and a flash flood sent French frantically arranging for the transportation of her immobile 92-year-old mother, Eleanor, away from a rapidly flooding house.

“My mom and I came down for a nice quiet weekend at the beach to get away from the snow and we end up in a flood,” French says with an ironic laugh, noting thankfully that, despite property damages, all turned out well in the greater scheme of things. “This isn’t New Orleans for crying out loud—and it’s not Haiti, and it’s not Japan—so we’re grateful in a lot of ways, but sad for those who have had losses.”

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

What were your feelings when the U.S. entered into the military action in Libya? Would you consider it “war,” and, if so, what does it mean that the decision was not approved by congress?

There has been much debate, and equal amounts of confusion, about what the U.S. military intervention in Libya means. But no matter what you decide to call our involvement or how you define it—military intervention endangers the lives of our brave men and women in uniform and that of civilians on the ground. And, sadly, too often the inevitable outcome is that innocent people are killed and injured.

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Environment

Will Hunters Have to Bite the Bullet?

Will Hunters Have to Bite the Bullet?

New findings out of UCSC shed light on lead poisoning among condors

Almost all of the 100 free-flying condors in California have suffered from severe lead poisoning at least once. Treatment is expensive and stressful for the birds, as they must be removed from the wild and sent to zoos and veterinary hospitals. After re-release, many get sick again and find themselves back in captivity.

Now, researchers from UC Santa Cruz have confirmed that lead ammunition is the most plausible source of exposure, and demonstrated that lead causes chronic, long-term effects as well as acute poisonings. The findings were presented at the March 6 – 10 annual Society of Toxicology meeting in Washington D.C., and may help spark conversation about a more stringent lead bullet ban.

Myra Finkelstein and her colleagues from UCSC analyzed 70 blood samples taken from 49 condors. Using a technique called lead isotopic composition analysis, the researchers identified the chemical fingerprint of the lead found in condor blood. They compared this to the lead signatures of 71 different ammunition samples—most collected in the field.

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Local News

Connect More

Connect More

Project Homeless Connect provides a cornucopia of services for homeless and low-income people
Tuesday, March 22 dawned cold but cloudless in Santa Cruz. The reprieve from five days of rain was a gift for three homeless men waiting outside the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.

One of the men huddled under a blue sleeping bag, beneath a sign announcing the Second Annual Project Homeless Connect. “There’s going to be a long line,” he replied when asked why he was there three hours before the doors opened.

Inside the auditorium, dozens of volunteers were busy hanging posters above 40 booths that offered free services for homeless people, including help with employment, housing, driver’s licenses, and medical/dental care. The volunteers—representing local government agencies, nonprofits, businesses, and churches—totaled more than 440 by the day’s end.  The volunteer pool included 150 professional service providers; others served as escorts.

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Local News

Talking About Sex

Talking About Sex

Local therapist wins award for sexual health work in Uganda
The people of Uganda don’t believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In their version of the myth, if you touch the rainbow, you die. Local family and sex therapist Melissa Fritchle was working in Uganda when her students told her this story, and it had a deep poignancy for her. “We talked about how interesting it is that even something beautiful is a fear story,” she says. “Those kinds of cultural stories carry through and it means something. What we tell ourselves a rainbow means, says a lot.”

As she describes her experience in Uganda, it’s hard not to see the rainbow as a metaphor for some Ugandan attitudes toward sex and sexuality—attitudes Fritchle worked to shape and inform during her month there. In February 2010, she helped to create Uganda’s first human sexuality curriculum for professionals, and she trained counselors to lead discussions about sexuality.

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We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Dark Magic

40 years on the movie beat in Santa Cruz
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Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

If you could live in Santa Cruz in any era besides now, which would you choose?

Probably the ’70s, because Santa Cruz is such a fly-your-freak-flag place. That was when free love and hippiness was in vogue. Shane Reber, Santa Cruz, Caretaker

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise