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Jul 31st
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Local News

Now What?

Now What?

Our intrepid reporter follows up on newly implemented parking fees

March has arrived and, with it, new downtown parking fees. From the talk about town and the impassioned comments in response to Good Times’ Feb. 18 article, “Pay to Park,” it appears that Cruzans are up in arms over the charges.

I spoke with Les Gripkey, who created a website in response to the parking fees that provides the contact information for city council members and some “Free Parking Talking Points” (gripkeys.googlepages.com/parking). A Boulder Creek resident who regularly shops in Santa Cruz, Gripkey says his main goal in starting the page is to dispense information.

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Town Hall

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Assemblymember Bill Monning

How does the proposed “gas tax flip” affect local transportation and how does it fit in to current budget negotiations?

The “gas tax flip” proposed as part of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s budget would eliminate the sales tax on gas and, instead, increase the excise tax on gas resulting in a 5 cent per gallon price reduction at the gas pump. However, the end result would have a devastating impact on local transit: an estimated $6.5 million annual loss to the Santa Cruz Metro Transit District. This 20 percent decrease to Metro’s budget would require a reduction in the number of bus routes offered, a reduction in the number of Para Cruz shuttles, which transport people with disabilities, and the loss of more than 200 union jobs that include health benefits.

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Local News

Sharp Thinking

Sharp Thinking

Local program collects used sharps and old medicines

What does one do with that medicine cabinet full of expired aspirin bottles, ancient antibiotics, and other colorful capsules whose origins are long forgotten? What is the proper way to dispose of used syringes? While tossing these items into the trash or flushing them down the drain may be a common response, such impulsive disposal methods can actually harm Central Coast residents and natural habitats.

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Local News

All the Rage

All the Rage

Why one local surfer wants to put the ‘Aloha’ back in surfing
Denise Garcia began surfing as a child growing up in Santa Cruz County. She got serious about it around the age of 16, when she and a friend bought a longboard to share. They would walk from their homes in Soquel to Pleasure Point, taking turns carrying the board on their heads.

Now 29-years-old, Garcia is a seasoned surfer and Pleasure Point veteran. But as much as she loves Santa Cruz and its waves, a recent life-changing experience has put local surf culture into question for Garcia—what she once accepted as a competitive and aggressive tradition she now fears is facing a dangerous departure from everything it claims to stand for.

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Town Hall

Congressman Sam Farr

Congressman Sam Farr

The president recently repeated his campaign pledge to repeal the Pentagon’s “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy that bars openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Do you agree?

The “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy is wrong, plain and simple. And it’s wrong for a lot of reasons.

Let’s start with some practical issues. We may be wrapping up our misguided occupation of Iraq, but at the same time we’re increasing our armed presence in Afghanistan. I remain opposed to our presence in those countries, but I find it curious to reject soldiers during wartime for their sexual orientation.

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Local News

The Methane Question

The Methane Question

Methane digesters are shutting down due to new environmental regulations. How will the controversy impact clean fuel projects in Santa Cruz?

Despite the 1,700 cows roaming the Fiscalini Farms barn, things are surprisingly quiet.

“Happy cows don’t moo too often, and these cows live in the lap of luxury,” says Nettie Drake, an agricultural engineer who helps dairies install renewable biogas systems.

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Local News

A Safe Spot

A Safe Spot

New start offers immediate and interim psychiatric care

For the past 27 years Dominican Hospital has been the go-to place in Santa Cruz for acute psychiatric services, or immediate, short-term care. However, when the county’s contract with Dominican’s Behavioral Health Unit is up in 2013, it will seek a new place to house many of those in need of psychiatric care. In the coming years the county plans to build a separate Psychiatric Health Facility [PHF] that will include 16 more beds than are currently available.

“It became clearer and clearer to Dominican and to their parent corporation, Catholic Healthcare West, that operating the psychiatric unit really didn't work for them financially and in business terms,” says Leslie Tremaine, director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “And that is not unique to Catholic Healthcare West. That's happening all over the country to general hospitals that have had psych units.”

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Town Hall

Supervisor Mark Stone

Supervisor Mark Stone

You are currently serving your first year on the California Coastal Commission. What has your experience been like, and what can we expect from the commission in the near future?

I was very honored last August, when Assembly Speaker Karen Bass appointed me to serve on the California Coastal Commission.  It is an amazing responsibility to represent the Central Coast on a body—with the stated mission to "Protect, conserve, restore, and enhance environmental and human-based resources of the California coast."

The Coastal Commission was established by Proposition 20 in 1972 and made permanent by the legislative adoption of the California Coastal Act of 1976.  Since that time the commission has had a primary function to protect the coastal environment for future generations. I am particularly pleased the commission will soon meet here in Santa Cruz for the first time since 1986.  We will meet from March 10 to 12 in the County Board of Supervisors chambers, giving local people a great chance to observe and participate.

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Local News

Pay to Park

Pay to Park

Two main downtown lots to start charging parking fees
As of March 1, two free downtown Santa Cruz parking areas will become pay lots. Anyone wanting to park in the Cedar and Church streets Parking Garage (Lot 3) or the Cedar and Cathcart streets Parking Lot (Lot 4) will have to pay $.50 an hour or $5 a day. These lots, more familiarly known as the two-story garage by Regal Cinemas (formerly Cinema 9) and the Farmers’ Market parking lot, were previously free three-hour parking areas.

According to Marlin Granlund, City of Santa Cruz parking programs manager, the new fees “will go to the parking district and will be replaced back into parking district services.” This includes the maintenance of public restrooms, streetlights and sidewalks, in addition to the parking garages and lots themselves. Part of the profit will also pay for an additional patrol officer.

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Local News

Crime Watch on the Web

Crime Watch on the Web

Controversial local website keeps tabs on stabbings

There are some things that shouldn’t be joked about—although, despite being taboo, even the most offensive of topics often end up as the theme of a “South Park” episode or a joke in some comedian’s stand-up routine.

Here in Santa Cruz, a serious subject has been given comedic life on the increasingly popular website StabSantaCruz.com. The site features a “Stab-O-Meter” that tallies the number of stabbings per year, a “Stab Clock” that keeps track of the number of days we’ve gone without a stabbing, and merchandise, like a T-shirt that reads “Stabalicious! Santa Cruz, California.” A purposely-tacky image tops the page, showing silhouetted figures running from a legion of disembodied knives with the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in the background.

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Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

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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

 

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