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Feb 08th
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Environment

News - Environment

Riding Smart

Riding Smart

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.”

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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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On the Run

Is there hope for California’s salmon?

 

Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey

Monday, Feb. 8, is Aquarius new moon (19 degrees) and Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey (an imaginative, intelligent and vigilant creature). Monkey is bright, quick, lively, quite naughty, clever, inquiring, sensible, and reliable. Monkey loves to help others. Often they are teachers, writers and linguists. They are very talented, like renaissance people. Leonardo Da Vinci was born in the year of Monkey. Monkey contains metal (relation to gold) and water (wisdom, danger). 2016 will be a year of finances. For a return on one’s money, invest in monkey’s ideas. Metal is related to wind (change). Therefore events in 2016 will change very quickly. We must ponder with care before making financial, business and relationship changes. Fortune’s path may not be smooth in 2016. Finances and business as usual will be challenged. Although we develop practical goals, the outcomes are different than hoped for. We must be cautious with investments and business partnership. It is most important to cultivate a balanced and harmonious daily life, seeking ways to release tension, pressure and stress to improve health and calmness. Monkey is lively, flexible, quick-witted, and versatile. Their gentle, honest, enchanting yet resourceful nature results often in everlasting love. Monkeys are freedom loving. Without freedom, Monkey becomes dull, sad and very unhappy. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), the Chinese official title of Marquis (noble person) was pronounced ‘Hou,’ the same as the pronunciation of ‘monkey’ in Chinese. Monkey was thereby bestowed with auspicious (favorable, fortunate) meaning. Monkey years are: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 5

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Wine and Chocolate

West Cliff Wines gets its game on, plus a brand new chocolate cafe on Center Street

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster

 

Dancing Creek Winery

New Zinfandel Port is a ruby beauty

 

Venus Spirits

Changing law could mean new opportunity for local spirits