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Apr 17th
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Environment

News - Environment

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EDITOR’S NOTE: PG&E restored power to the homes in this story via a short-term solution after this article went to press. 

SmartMeter drama leads PG&E to shut off residents’ power

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is known to make exceptions around the holidays for customers who are delinquent on payments. If it’s close to Christmas, the utility provider channels the “goodwill toward men” sentiment and leaves the power on for those tardy patrons. But this seasonally inspired leniency didn’t apply to at least four Santa Cruz County households who had their power disconnected by PG&E in the week before Christmas.

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News - Environment

Gulch Goes Forward

Gulch Goes Forward

Coastal Commission approves Arana Gulch plan, opponents fight on

The 10 to one vote of “approval with conditions” by the California Coastal Commission at their Dec. 8 meeting given to the City of Santa Cruz for the newest version of their Arana Gulch Master Plan was seen as a victory for supporters. It was the commission's third review of the plan in two years. With slight changes each time, the basic idea is still to pave selected trails and build two bridges over portions of the 68-acre greenbelt between the Eastside of Santa Cruz and Live Oak north of the Upper Harbor.

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News - Environment

Patchwork Plans

Patchwork Plans

Recent land acquisitions indicate the Land Trust means business
Right off of Highway 129, hidden in the Pajaro Hills, lies Star Creek Ranch. Half of its 1,200 acres are in Santa Cruz County, while the other half rest in Santa Clara County. All of it, however, was acquired by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County (LTSCC), in the first of many new land acquisitions by the group.  

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News - Environment

Getting Crabby

Getting Crabby

Civility goes under as crab season opens

Santa Cruz crab boat captains who break strikes being held by the Half Moon Bay Fisherman's Association (HMBFA) risk having their equipment cut loose at sea and their boats sank, according to some fishermen.

This is what some think happened to skipper Chris Eatinger's vessel, Tonita, on the night of Nov. 12 while it was docked at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay. It was three days until crab season opened and a strike was not yet confirmed. Those who suspect foul play say the act was likely in retaliation for Eatinger crabbing during past strikes.

“There was clearly criminal intent,” says Eatinger. “This could cost me more than $50,000 to rewire everything, and I might have to pay fines for oil spilled into the harbor. The worst part is I catch red rock crab, which is a commercially unimportant species.”

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News - Environment

The Desal Divide

The Desal Divide

The debate continues ...

What started as a public Water Study Session on Nov. 1 shifted into a continuation of the longstanding debate over building a desalination facility on the shores of Santa Cruz.

“It felt like for the first time in a long time there was actually a civil discussion that was focused on the issues,” says Bill Kocher, Santa Cruz Water Department director. “It was great.”

But not all participants came away as satisfied.

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News - Environment

The Plot Thickens

The Plot Thickens

Some unhappy SmartMeter recipients take matters into their own hands

If there is one indisputable fact about Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E)’s SmartMeters, it’s that the rollout of the new technology, which began in mid-2010, hasn’t gone smoothly—especially in Santa Cruz.

In response to mounting opposition to the wireless meters—alleged health effects are chief among the concerns—the utility provider implemented a delay list in April, soon after submitting a proposal for a SmartMeter opt-out plan to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Assemblymember Bill Monning (27th District) advocated for the opt-out plan and interim delay list with PG&E and the CPUC based on complaints he was hearing from constituents. “Although I feel the verdict is still out on whether these meters pose a threat to human health, I believe if people feel strongly [that] they do not want to have one on their homes, they should be offered an alternative,” he says.

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News - Environment

The Plastic Influence

The Plastic Influence

New state textbooks contain pro-plastic bag phrasing

California schools officials edited the new Education & the Environment Initiative (EEI) curriculum to include positive messages about plastic shopping bags in textbooks and teachers’ guides. This followed pressure from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an interest group representing U.S. chemical companies, including the plastics industry.

Santa Cruz City Schools is among the 19 districts that have implemented the new EEI curriculum, according to California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA). Cal/EPA, in tandem with the Department of Education, is tasked with overseeing the EEI curriculum.

“What ended up getting into textbooks was a section on the advantage of plastic shopping bags,” says David Gamburd, who works with the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) on the UC Santa Cruz campus to educate students about the harmful environmental impacts of plastics.

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News - Environment

Water in the Works

Water in the Works

Why the approval of the Urban Water Management Plan was postponed

On the evening of Oct. 3, as the first rain of the season trickled down from darkening skies, the Santa Cruz Water Commission met with community members to publicly review the Draft 2010 Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP).

As a public water supplier, the City of Santa Cruz is required under California law to adopt a UWMP, which must be updated every five years.

The UWMP’s 351 pages, prepared by the Santa Cruz Water Department, outline the existing intricate water supply situation, and point to the future installation of a seawater desalination plant as the most viable way to supply the City of Santa Cruz, and partnering Soquel Creek Water District, with a stable water supply.

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News - Environment

Meters on the Mind

Meters on the Mind

SmartMeter installations raise questions about enforcement in the county

Forty-three counties in California have voted to oppose PG&E’s SmartMeters, and more than 10 counties have officially banned the installation of the meters.

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors passed a one-year ordinance, 5084, on Jan. 11, 2011 banning the installation of this new wireless technology. According to Section II of Ordinance 5084, it is a potential misdemeanor to install the meters within the unincorporated portions of the county:

It reads, “No SmartMeter may be installed in or on any home, apartment, condominium or business of any type within the unincorporated area of the County of Santa Cruz, and no equipment related to SmartMeters may be installed in, on, under, or above any public street or public right of way within the unincorporated area of the County of Santa Cruz.”

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News - Environment

Berry Battles

Berry BattlesThe long-running fight to ban methyl iodide takes a new turn

Cancer, late-term miscarriages, thyroid disruption, kidney damage and destruction of the developing brains of children are what’s in store if strawberry farmers begin fumigating their fields with the pesticide methyl iodide, said a panel of experts at a public forum in Salinas on Sept. 29.

The panel included Assemblymember Bill Monning, Dr. Kathy Collins, professor of microbiology at UC Berkeley, Dr. Robert Gould, president of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Jim Cochran, president of Swanton Berry Farm, a Santa Cruz-based organic strawberry grower. It was hosted by a coalition of organizations determined to raise awareness of the public health risks presented by the pesticide, as well as what they say is the state’s negligence in correctly analyzing scientific data they argue clearly illustrates its dangers.

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Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.
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Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

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

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.