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Jan 27th
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Santa Cruz News

Town Hall

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Assemblymember Bill Monning

You were recently named chair of the Assembly Health Committee.  What does the role entail, and what bills will the committee be taking up in the near future?

The Assembly Health Committee is one of the busiest in the legislature and one that will play a pivotal role in guiding California’s healthcare policies in light of the new federal law. Many questions remain about how to pay for the expansion of healthcare coverage, as well as how insurance exchanges will be managed, and as Committee Chair I look forward to helping shape the state’s healthcare policy.

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Environment

Grid Fever

Grid Fever

Desalination plant gets green light. Will energy use spike water rates?
The Santa Cruz City Council has unanimously endorsed an agreement for a desalination plant, sparking community concerns about energy and environmental impacts.

Their March 23 decision gave the green light for project design and planning, but does not commit the city to construct the plant, says Mayor Mike Rotkin. The agreement also outlines a water-sharing plan with the Soquel Creek Water District, giving Santa Cruz primary rights to use the facility.

“The city council is on record at this point for moving forward with the desalination plant, although we won’t approve construction until we have seen the environmental review,” says Rotkin.  

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Local News

Hope on the Horizon

Hope on the Horizon

Crusaders fighting to save state parks propose a plan for funding
Across California, state parks have been faced with an onslaught of financial uncertainty. Much to the chagrin of residents and tourists, parks have been forced to cut hours and services and even close their gates due to a $14 million cut from the state last year, leaving local agencies to recoup the costs. Maintenance has been neglected and many state parks have bridges down, bathrooms closed and popular trails unapproachable because of downed trees and abundant overgrowth.

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Town Hall

Congressman Sam Farr

Congressman Sam Farr

Can you describe a few scenarios where the healthcare reform bill will affect regular people on the Central Coast?

It’s no secret that I’m very proud of my vote to reform the health insurance system to provide stable, affordable insurance for all Americans. This reform will help all Americans, even those who already have insurance.

Let’s start with the owner of a small business. She employs 15 people and currently can’t afford to offer coverage. This is all too common. Only about 45 percent of small businesses can afford to offer health benefits, with costs up 129 percent since 2000.

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Environment

Something Wilder

Something Wilder

Cherished state park offers a window into the past and sheds light on energy solutions

“It’s something that you’re never going to see anywhere else, and it’s totally unique,” says Wilder Ranch docent Mike Dalbey. He’s talking about the water-powered tools in the Wilder Ranch State Park, which is home to a 19th century saw mill, lathe, drill bit, coffee grinder, and grindstone—all powered by Pelton Water Wheels.

Wilder Ranch's water-powered machine shop dates back to the 1890s and is the last one operating in the State of California. Dalbey, who has helped to restore some of the tools himself, says his favorite part is the lichens growing on one of the wheels—something he calls “high technology as the substrate for organic life.”

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Environment

Hatch and Release

Hatch and Release

The Monterey Bay Trout and Salmon Project is back in the water after a few dry years

Following three years of no salmon and no salmon fishing, local fishermen can once again take up their poles on April 3. Among those excited for the opening of salmon season is the Monterey Bay Salmon & Trout Project (MBSTP), which plans to recommence its King Salmon release program after a three-year hiatus.

Founded in 1976, the MBSTP is a non-profit run almost entirely by volunteers (there is only one paid staff member) with the mission of restoring, conserving, and enhancing native Coho salmon and Steelhead populations and their habitats in the greater Monterey Bay area. MBSTP Treasurer Larry Wolf says that the voluntary aspect makes it “an uplifting program,” and he describes the MBSTP as “one of those programs that was instituted because people thought they could do a better job than government could to take care of our local environment.”

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Town Hall

Supervisor Neal Coonerty

Supervisor Neal Coonerty

The Santa Cruz County jobless rate has risen to a new high of 15 percent—higher than both the state and national averages. How can Santa Cruz begin recovering from this slump?

High unemployment is a severe problem nationally as well as in Santa Cruz. While actions can be taken on the local level to respond to this crisis, changes at the state and national level will have a much greater impact.

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Local News

A Gulch in Limbo

A Gulch in Limbo

The Arana Gulch Master Plan faces another round of review
There’s something spellbinding about Arana Gulch. Its wide-open spaces, sprawling oaks and seasonal wetlands exist in perfect harmony with the dense urban setting that surrounds it on all sides. It is uncommon to find such a natural, relatively untouched space surviving in a city, but Santa Cruz has managed to preserve Arana Gulch’s inherent beauty since the city purchased the land in 1994. The city has been planning to use this space to connect the Eastside with the rest of Santa Cruz with a bike path ever since, but has yet to gain full approval.

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Local News

Spray-Free Santa Cruz?

Spray-Free Santa Cruz?

Pesticide ban targets LBAM sprays, but may not fall within city jurisdiction
An ordinance banning the bulk application of pesticides within City of Santa Cruz boundaries is inching closer to a vote, sparking debate over the rights of local governments and private landowners when fighting state chemical campaigns.

Motivated by the state’s program to eradicate the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM), local activists met with city council members last week to revise the proposed ordinance. Written by a citizens’ group called People Against Chemical Trespass (PACT), the rule could prevent aerial spraying of pheromone as well as the application of ground sprays in neighborhoods and yards. 

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Local News

Getting Tourism to Take Off

Getting Tourism to Take Off

Tourism took a hard hit in 2009. Will 2010 be any better?
With spring on our doorstep and summer soon to follow, Santa Cruz is once again entering tourist season. While not a favorite time for some residents, the City of Santa Cruz hopes to see more tourists heading here from over the hill or up the coast on Highway 1 into town as the days increase in length and the sun begins to peek from behind the clouds. The travel sector is counting on this summer to be stronger than the last, which recorded a 7 percent decrease in hotel occupancy and a 10 percent decrease in rates compared with the previous year.

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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

 

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