County health officials warn about the threat of West Nile virus
Santa Cruz nonprofit MAPS could complete the first study of therapeutic whole-plant marijuana in 40 years
While stacks of independent research have affirmed the medicinal potentials of the cannabis plant, none received the official approval of the U.S. government. But soon we could be looking at the first federally sanctioned research to take place on marijuana in 40 years, outside of limited research by government organizations.
People Power teams up with UC Santa Cruz students for bike commuting workshop series
With severe drought conditions plaguing California, the recent patter of raindrops should have been a welcomed sound to the citizens of Santa Cruz County. But when one has recently committed to trek to work or school each day via bicycle, a morning downpour can be the cause of a rising dread and the subsequent decision to drive. That is, unless one has acquired the knowledge and gear necessary to transform a gloomy bike trip in the rain from a dismal chore to an energizing joyride.
“It can be really hard for folks to learn how to ride a bike for their daily commute,” says Amelia Conlen, director of local nonprofit People Power. “I got into biking through friends telling me what I should wear, what kind of bags to get, and what to do when it rains. If you don’t have a person like that, it can be daunting to do something entirely new without much support.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”