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Oct 01st
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Environment

News - Environment

High Voltage

High Voltage

Proposed power line revitalization irks South County residents

A draft environmental impact report is under way for a proposed power line project that initially was determined as not needing one. 

Neighbors worry the plan by Pacific Gas & Electric to replace its aging infrastructure between Watsonville and Aptos with more reliable power lines will mar the rural nature of the area and blight the view.

PG&E has proposed an additional circuit connecting the Green Valley Substation outside Watsonville to the Rob Roy Station. Doing so involves converting more than seven miles of single-circuit high voltage power line into a double-circuit by replacing existing wood transmission poles with new tubular steel poles. It also includes constructing a new 1.7-mile-long single circuit power line along Cox Road and Freedom Boulevard, including the installation of four new seek poles and the replacement of existing wood poles of about 39 feet with new ones that are 89 feet in height. From Green Valley Road to Cox Road, 100-foot steel poles will be installed, and a new 1.7-mile segment will be added down Cox, Day Valley and McDonald roads and Freedom Boulevard.

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News - Environment

The Fukushima Fallout

The Fukushima Fallout

Has the truth about radiation arriving on the California coast been muddled amidst mounting concern?

When the Japanese coastline where the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant sits was pummeled with a massive tsunami and earthquake in March 2011, three of the site’s nuclear reactors melted down. Unprecedented quantities of radioactive materials—coolant, mostly—began seeping into the Pacific Ocean.

Almost three years later, that radioactive contamination is the source of widespread concern around the world, including in Santa Cruz County.

“The Fukushima disaster was just horrendous,” says Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer on nuclear policy at UC Santa Cruz. “We’ve never had a nuclear accident before that released this amount [of radiation] into the sea.”

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News - Environment

The Final Compromise

The Final Compromise

Local experts and organizations react to the recently passed, and long overdue, federal Farm Bill

Although no one involved in the shaping of the latest Farm Bill was entirely sated with the finished product, it seems that most are pleased with the fact that after nearly three years of delays and debate, a new bill has been agreed upon and passed into law.

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News - Environment

Taking the Reins

Taking the Reins

Santa Cruz’s new water director steps in at critical point

Rosemary Menard has her work cut out for her as she steps into the role of water director for the City of Santa Cruz.

Menard fills the vacancy left by Bill Kocher, a vocal proponent of desalination who had served as the city’s water director since 1986. Kocher retired in September, passing the torch to deputy director Linette Almond to serve as interim director until her own retirement in January.

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News - Environment

Coming Up Short

Coming Up Short

An agricultural labor shortage plagues Pajaro Valley farms

Abandoning acre upon acre of fruits and vegetables that are ripe and ready for harvesting because of a shortfall in laborers is a scenario no farmer expects, especially in an economic environment with high levels of unemployment. But according to a number of growers in the Pajaro Valley, such as Tim Driscoll, farm manager at Su Talun Farms, this has become the status quo in recent years.

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News - Environment

Water Boarding

Water Boarding

City of Santa Cruz begins selection of new Water Supply Advisory Committee

In October, in the wake of a decision to hit pause on desal talks, City of Santa Cruz officials directed city staff to develop a detailed community engagement program for the examination of the city’s water supply issues. That included the formation of a professionally facilitated Water Supply Advisory Committee.

Officially, the stated objective of the committee is “to explore, through an iterative, fact-based process, the city’s water profile, including supply, demand and future threats; analyze potential solutions to deliver a safe, adequate, reliable and environmentally sustainable water supply, and to develop strategy recommendations for city council consideration.”

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News - Environment

Puff or Pass?

Puff or Pass?

One month down for UCSC’s new smoke- and tobacco-free policy

UC Santa Cruz senior and literature major Thomas VanGilder enjoys a cigarette now and again.

But starting Jan. 1, the school became smoke- and tobacco-free—a change VanGilder believes is out of step with its character.

“I think there’s a hypocrisy in the image that the school is trying to create for itself, like there being the Grateful Dead museum that honors the legacy of Jerry Garcia—who drank and smoked cigarettes until the day day he died—and the ’60s era, and a student movement that began here at UCSC,” VanGilder says. “That was an era that defined pleasure; you had the sexual revolution and the re-imagining of what drugs really are.”

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News - Environment

Neighbors Resist Planned Hotel

Neighbors Resist Planned Hotel

Lower Ocean residents feel they weren’t given enough say in Hyatt plans

Despite fervent objections from many residents in the Lower Ocean neighborhood, a planned Hyatt Place Hotel is moving closer to fruition.

The Santa Cruz City Council approved initial plans for the hotel, to be located at the space formerly occupied by the Unity Temple, back in 2011, and approved modifications to the plans earlier this month. The project was originally approved for 111 rooms but has been downgraded to 106. The original plan also called for an underground parking lot and five designated employee parking spots, but developers sought approval to switch to all valet parking, with cars stored using elevator-like lifts.

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News - Environment

Rallying for the River

Rallying for the River

New alliance takes aim at making over the San Lorenzo River

Could the San Lorenzo River become a draw to Downtown Santa Cruz, offering opportunities for recreation, picnicking, and more? A quick look at the riverfront in its current condition certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence. In recent years, the San Lorenzo River has become a sore spot in the Santa Cruz community with a reputation for being dirty and crime-ridden. But a coalition of local community and environmental leaders and organizations wants to change that perception and remake the area into a riverfront we can all enjoy and be proud of.

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News - Environment

Out in the Cold

Out in the Cold

Local group works on providing the homeless with warm spaces on the coldest nights

When the cold snap hit in early December, resulting in the deaths of four homeless people in Santa Clara County, a group of concerned locals decided to take action to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in Santa Cruz County.

“We thought it would be nice to have a set of known places where the homeless could go in extreme weather,” says Janie Yett, a lecturer at UC Santa Cruz.

With this in mind, longtime homeless advocate Brent Adams and a group of about 25 other Santa Cruz citizens, including Yett, organized the Residents for Coldest Nights Warming Centers, also known as The Warming Group. The group’s goal is to establish a series of “warming centers,” or spaces that become available to the unsheltered on nights when precipitation and extreme cold are predicted to occur.

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Reflecting Glass

Composer Philip Glass’ first trip to Big Sur was by motorcycle; little did he know that he’d establish a music festival there six decades later.

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Wurst Case Scenario

Venus Spirits releases agave spirit, Renee Shepherd on planting garlic, Sausagefest 2014, and wine harvest in full swing

 

Do you think you are addicted to technology?

Santa Cruz  |  Unemployed

 

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

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”