Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey reports growing numbers
Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey reports growing numbers
Congressional redistricting could split Santa Cruz down the middle
UPDATE: Draft maps of California’s new congressional districts reportedly reunified Santa Cruz in a single district through changes made last weekend. The changes will be visible on the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission’s website Thursday, July 28. As recently as last week, the line on the map split the city down the middle. In meetings last weekend, however, the commission moved the lines to the north just enough to reunify the city in Rep. Sam Farr’s district while still honoring restrictions posed by the Voting Rights Act and Marin’s demand to be completely free of influence from San Francisco. The new lines still divide Santa Cruz County, with Davenport and portions of the San Lorenzo Valley remaining in Rep. Anna Eshoo’s district. At 1 p.m. on Friday, July 29, the commission will vote on the most recent update, according to commission spokesperson Rob Wilcox. If this map is approved Santa Cruz City Hall, UC Santa Cruz and the police department will remain in the same district. Stay tuned for further updates.
Santa Cruz’s Westside/Eastside surf rivalry has serious competition in the business of dividing Santa Cruz into illogically small worlds. In fact, in the eyes of some, the surf community may have done a better job of splitting the city than the new Citizens' Redistricting Commission in Sacramento that was put in charge of drawing California's new congressional districts.
While local surf lore identifies the very visible landmark of the San Lorenzo River as the rivalry’s border, the new district line drawn by the 14-member commission is harder to make sense of.
Beginning at the Dream Inn on West Cliff Drive, the line runs down the middle of Downtown Santa Cruz via Center Street, with a short detour onto Washington Street, before curving back to Pacific Avenue at the clock tower.
Imagine Positive Change meters pop up on Pacific Avenue
The City of Santa Cruz calls them Imagine Positive Change meters. To Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Don Lane, the small red receptacles are a chance to educate people. Downtown Association Executive Director Chip believes they’re “providing a way for people to help that’s sustainable and compassionate.” And founder of Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom (HUFF) Robert Norse mockingly calls them “gentrification meters.”
As for Leo Brown, he hasn’t even heard of them.
Brown has been homeless for about a year and a half now. He had a job doing landscaping but lost his employment due to the recession, and has been unable to find new work. Now he can be seen standing on Pacific Avenue, tall and silent, with headphones in his ears and a cardboard sign with only two words on it: “Diabetes” and “Change.”
A local woman’s experience aboard the Audacity of Hope
Debra Ellis recently returned to Santa Cruz from Greece. While abroad, she joined 36 passengers, nine journalists, and four crew members on a U.S. flagged ship named The Audacity of Hope, in a nonviolent effort to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza as part of an international flotilla. The flotilla, entitled “Freedom Flotilla Two—Stay Human,” set out primarily to draw attention to what supporters deem the illegal occupation of the Gaza Strip region by Israeli forces.
Ellis works at UC Santa Cruz and has traveled and lived among refugees in the Middle East in the past. She returned home from this trip on Friday, July 8 with mixed feelings.
The county’s Public Works and Parks departments merge
The County Department of Parks, Open Spaces, and Cultural Centers became an orphan last month after the Board of Supervisors chose not to replace retiring director Joe Schultz.
The decision was part of their plan to erase a $14.7 million deficit for fiscal year 2011-12—a General Fund hole mostly gouged by the sudden disappearance of $12 million in Redevelopment Agency (RDA) funds at the stroke of Gov. Jerry Brown's pen. Nerves were running high as Public Works Director John Presleigh worked 16-hour days the last week of June, learning as much as possible about Parks' operations, which he will now be overseeing.
Santa Cruz deliberates on whether to loosen the leash on its downtown dog ban
The Santa Cruz City Council will consider at its July 12 meeting whether or not to temporarily alter the city's ban on dogs downtown. This comes after a recommendation by the Downtown Association, which voted back in March 2010 to support lifting the ban for a trial period of six months with various stipulations. These include limitations on leash length, the number of dogs gathered in close proximity, and the time of day dogs will be allowed downtown, as well as restricting panhandling with dogs.
The existing ordinance, which bans dogs from Pacific Avenue, has been in place since 1976 with additional restrictions for Locust Street, Church Street, Walnut Avenue and Lincoln Street between Cedar Street and Front Street in place since 1985. Dogs are also not allowed on some public beaches, the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, or in San Lorenzo Park.
Controversy over growing downhill biking craze reaches boiling point
Law enforcement was jolted to take action on issues related to downhill mountain biking recently, thanks to a group of particularly perturbed Felton residents.
Residents of the Forest Lake community in Felton held a heated meeting on Tuesday, June 14, aimed at putting the controversy between residents and downhill riders on law enforcement’s radar.
Santa Cruz dishes out its first annual city report to residents and businesses
The City of Santa Cruz is broke. It’s also anti-business, too strict (or too lenient) with the homeless, is controlled by UC Santa Cruz, and has an unsafe downtown. In Mayor Ryan Coonerty’s eyes, these are the five biggest myths about Santa Cruz.
In part, he believes that these ideas are perpetuated because they are “stories we’ve been telling ourselves for a long time,” that, although untrue, help “simplify the world.” But he also blames them on the city’s poor communication skills. “I don’t think we have done a good job of communicating what we’re doing,” Coonerty says.
He’s been attempting to debunk these myths at his Mayor’s Academy workshops (the last of which is on July 27 at 7 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce), and also has a new trick up his sleeve for reaching out to the public: the city’s first ever State of the City report, which will arrive at every city household and licensed business on Friday, June 24.
City hopes to integrate technology with government through partnership with nonprofit Code for America
Code for America, a nonprofit aimed at “helping governments work better for everyone with the people and the power of the web,” announced earlier this month that Santa Cruz made the list of finalists for its 2012 city partnerships.
Santa Cruz joins nine other cities, including Austin, Texas, Detroit, Mich., New York, N.Y. and Macon, Ga. as finalists for the CfA partnership, beating out Balboa Park in San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Clarita, Calif., as well as the U.S. Department of State, among others. However, Santa Cruz is not yet guaranteed a spot; following a fundraising period, CfA will narrow down the finalists and announce the selected five to eight cities this fall.
With adoption of the next fiscal year budget on the horizon, the city asks residents what they think
The city wants your help. Council members will adopt the Fiscal Year 2012 city budget next month and, in the meantime, need to figure out how to make up for the looming $2.8 million shortfall. Officials have some ideas (see Good Times’ May 5 interview with City Manager Martin Bernal at goodtimessantacruz.com), but the council is also opening it up for public discussion.
"We're trying to do more to engage the public in helping the city council make decisions about the city budget," Vice Mayor Don Lane says. "We are eager to have people communicate their priorities for the budget."
And a well-informed citizenry makes better decisions, he adds.
It was with these sentiments in mind that Lane, Bernal and Finance Director Jack Dilles broke down the budget at a community budgeting workshop on Tuesday, May 31. They walked whoever would listen through where revenue comes from, how it's spent and why we're in a $2.8 million deficit this year, all in the hopes of getting some helpful feedback. It was the first meeting of its kind for the City of Santa Cruz.