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Sep 02nd
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Environment

News - Environment

H2O in Limbo

H2O in Limbo

After postponing vote on desal, Santa Cruz moves forward in water supply discussions

While the City of Santa Cruz has hit pause on a proposed desalination plant, many are still wondering what that will mean for the city’s involvement with CalDesal.

CalDesal is a pro-desalination advocacy board comprised of numerous water agencies, with a mission of advancing the use of desalination in California. Bill Kocher, the city’s long-time Water Department director, was a founding member. But Kocher retired earlier this year, raising questions as to whether the city would continue its membership with the organization.

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News - Environment

A Change of Plans

A Change of Plans

After Santa Cruz’s reset on plans for desalination, the Soquel Creek Water District assesses its options

The City of Santa Cruz has paused plans for desalination in the wake of community opposition, but the option could still be on table for the Soquel Creek Water District.

Looming threats of seawater intrusion in its aquifers have the district—which serves about 38,000 customers from Capitola to La Selva Beach—seeking a number of possible solutions to the problem of maintaining its water supply on a long-term level. There’s also the additional, ongoing threat of drought. These problems have prompted the district’s board of trustees to plan a series of public meetings over the next four months to explore its options.

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News - Environment

A Tarplant Tale

A Tarplant Tale

A look at the plant that took the spotlight during the Arana Gulch debates and what its well-being says about the area’s larger ecosystem 

In the middle of Arana Gulch, a 63-acre greenbelt of rolling meadow and oak woodland nestled between Live Oak and Santa Cruz's Eastside neighborhood, there are about a dozen tiny yellow flowers, each about the size of a nickel. And while they are small, mostly dried out this time of year, and aesthetically quite simple, the plants tell a much bigger story than their appearance suggests.

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News - Environment

Confronting the Future

Confronting the Future

Marine scientists gather for a hearing on top threats to the California coast

Many of the critical threats to the California coast and the ocean environment—such as sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and toxic run-off—are causing harm incrementally over the course of decades. Meanwhile, large-scale response and prevention initiatives by the government to these accumulating, long-term hazards—called “adaptation”—are substantially hindered, largely due to the relatively shorter time frames in which government and politics operate.

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News - Environment

Uniting the Community with Color

Uniting the Community with Color

The Mural Alleyway Project works to beautify the City of Watsonville

Although graffiti is sometimes considered art, it can also be a problem when it becomes a financial burden to property owners or breeds fear in a community.

Painting over the gang signs and tags and monitoring high-risk areas has been the solution for cities such as Watsonville for years. But recently, a band of local artists came up with a new way to abate the problem: murals.  

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News - Environment

Should the Rain Not Fall

Should the Rain Not Fall

The City of Santa Cruz reverts back to basics in confronting water supply issues and community engagement

When it comes to solving and engaging the public on Santa Cruz's water supply problems, it's becoming increasingly clear to local leaders that the way to begin is not by spearheading solutions, such as transfers with other districts, new conservation tactics, or the highly contentious desalination plant, but rather to start with the basics: what are the city's water sources, and what are the problems it faces?

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News - Environment

Burial Grounds

Burial Grounds

The state moves forward with funding for new veterans cemetery at Fort Ord

For the tens of thousands of veterans who have lived and passed away in recent years in the Monterey Bay Area, as well as their families, the nearest national veterans cemetery is almost a two-hour drive away in the San Joaquin Valley.

Some veterans' families, dedicated to burying their loved one in a state or national cemetery but reluctant to inter them in a place so far from home, have kept cremated remains and are waiting for a new veterans cemetery to open that won't require so much travel, says Arnold Leff, commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Santa Cruz.

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News - Environment

Crop of the Future?

Crop of the Future?

California legalizes industrial hemp, setting the stage for hemp production should it become legal on the federal level

Hemp advocate Richard Dash, owner of the Dash Hemp Santa Cruz retail store, is quick to point out the irony in the federal government's longstanding ban on the cultivation of industrialized hemp.

The DEA, he explains, associates hemp directly with marijuana despite its non-psychoactive properties, while the sale of bagels with poppy seeds—the base source of opium—is perfectly legal.

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News - Environment

The Center Cannot Hold

The Center Cannot Hold

Why the environmental and social justice movements must come together

Reverend Deborah L. Johnson and author-entrepreneur Paul Hawken met about six months ago and realized they had a lot in common.

“We resonated a lot,” recalls Johnson, founder of Inner Light Ministries in Soquel. “I was particularly moved by Paul’s involvement in the civil rights movement. Most people know him as an environmentalist but he was a journalist during that time. I thought our voices combined could bring a unique perspective in helping the more progressive types come together.”

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News - Environment

Civil Conversations in Uncivil Debates

Civil Conversations in Uncivil Debates

How two of desal’s most vocal figures came to understand—and respect—one another despite their differences

In recent years, plans for a controversial seawater desalination plant in Santa Cruz landed retired electrician and environmental activist Rick Longinotti and former mayor and councilman Mike Rotkin on opposite sides of the aisle. Both became leading voices for their respective sides—Longinotti as the founder of opposition group Desal Alternatives, and Rotkin as a once-desal opponent-turned-supporter from years of looking at the issue. The men didn’t know each other well before the desal episode—in Rotkin’s words, their “first real connection was on different sides of this important local issue.” Yet, despite their roles in one of Santa Cruz’s most divisive and heated episodes, they say they not only managed to communicate well, but also grew to enjoy it.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Foodie File: Beer Thirty

Cups runneth over at Soquel’s new beer garden

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

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

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.