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Apr 24th
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Santa Cruz Area News

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The Center of Zen

The Center of Zen

Santa Cruz Zen Center welcomes new head teacher
Everything is impermanent. This is one of the central teachings of Buddhism, apparent in the constant changing nature of thoughts, people, and organizations. Nothing escapes, not even the Santa Cruz Zen Center (SCZC). The zendo (meditation room) was recently remodeled and there’s a new head teacher to welcome: Kokyo Henkel arrived in October 2009, previously having practiced Zen meditation and studied Buddhism at the San Francisco, Tassajara and Green Gulch Farm Zen Centers in the Bay Area and Bukokoji in Japan.  He replaces Katherine Thanas, who was head teacher since 1989 and remains as abbot. 

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News - Local News

Out of Reach

Out of Reach

Workshop series targets the need for more affordable housing in Santa Cruz
I used to dream of winning the lottery so that I could one day buy a house in Santa Cruz—one of the nation’s most desirable and expensive coastal markets. But my last search for a local rental was a wake-up call.

First, my prospective roommate called about the marijuana operation he wanted to start in the back shed. Yes, the landlord was cool with it, and permits would be obtained. No, I wasn’t interested, but I appreciated the info—it would have been a sad discovery to make after moving in. Better to stay away and save my $1,600 deposit and $850 in rent—an amount that would make a monthly house payment on a decent property in my hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah. 

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Future Uncertain for Vets Hall

Future Uncertain for Vets Hall

Community hopes for a speedy reopening

Much to the shock of local community members, county officials announced on Thursday, Jan. 21, that as of 5 p.m., the Santa Cruz Veterans Memorial Building would be closed indefinitely.

The announcement came after an architect and a structural engineer toured the building and recommended its immediate closure, stating in a report that it “presents a significant risk of injury or death to the occupants of the auditorium should a seismic event occur.” A week earlier, the building’s manager, Tim Brattan, had noticed loose falling stucco and requested a site assessment. The County Facilities Superintendent conducted a safety inspection, and the potential issues they identified prompted them to issue a purchase order for the structural assessment.

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Taking Prejudice Offline

Taking Prejudice Offline

Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper confronts Internet hate groups

“It’s there below the surface,” says Rabbi Richard Litvak, senior rabbi at Temple Beth El in Aptos, “as a constant that pops up from time to time.” He’d like to believe that anti-Semitism is a dead issue in Santa Cruz, but recent events remind him otherwise. There were, for example, the Nazi flags a resident at the St. George Apartments in Downtown Santa Cruz hung in his window in late November.

“The father of one of the people in our community came to visit and was shopping downtown with his daughter,” Rabbi Litvak recalls. “He is a Holocaust survivor. He saw those flags, and it was just so offensive and so hurtful to him, and to other people in the community.”

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Homecare Workers Fight for Funding

Homecare Workers Fight for Funding

Wage reductions may threaten vulnerable clients

One of Julee Costanza’s clients says she would rather be back on the streets than in an assisted living facility.

“She lives in a small one-room apartment now, but she was homeless for a period of time,” explains Costanza, a Santa Cruz-based homecare worker.  “Even though she might not make it on the streets, she keeps saying she would rather go that route than move into a nursing home.”

It’s possible that if state budget changes are approved, 2,000 disabled Santa Cruz residents will loose their homecare workers—domestic aids that clean, give baths, and make sure pills are taken at the right time within the comforts of the client’s home. In the 2010 budget, Gov. Schwarzenegger altered enrollment criteria for In Home Support Services (IHSS), a program that allows low-income elders and disabled patients to remain in their own homes with assistance.

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A Salty Situation

A Salty Situation

Desalination plant raises questions about water conservation potential

The rain gutter in Rick Longinotti’s backyard descends underground, carrying roof water to an underground storage cistern.

“It didn’t cost anything but sweat and muscle,” says Longinotti, a local environmentalist, founder of Transition Santa Cruz and member of bicycle advocacy group People Power. He believes conservation efforts could make the Santa Cruz Water District’s desalination plant obsolete—perhaps even before it’s built.

The planned plant will pull five million gallons of seawater from the Monterey Bay each day, using reverse osmosis to produce 2.5 million gallons of drinkable water. The remaining brine will be trucked to a water plant, diluted with treated wastewater, and released into the Bay. 

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News - Local News

Pink is Passé

Pink is Passé

Robert Steffen starts a brand new walk—directly toward a city council seat

Robert Steffen is looking to prove he can talk the talk, not just walk the (very slow) walk. Two years after Steffen, the prominent downtown Santa Cruz character formerly known as “The Pink Umbrella Man,” put away his parasol and pink clothing and ceased walking ever so slowly from one end of Pacific Avenue to the other, he’s announcing a run for Santa Cruz City Council in November.

“There are a lot of local ordinances that I think are completely wrong,” Steffen says. In fact, he hopes to repeal an array of local ordinances, such as those that prohibit panhandlers from being within 14 feet of building entrances, open-air cafés or crosswalks, and 50 feet from any bank or ATM. Steffen calls his political position a “progressive platform very strongly based in humanitarian ideals.”

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Changes in Language

Changes in Language

UCSC’s linguistics department answers old questions with new methods

What is a question? How do you ask one? How do you answer?

These are some of the many queries UC Santa Cruz’s linguistics department is trying to solve and they are using some innovative techniques to get at the answers.

“This is an exciting time in the field [of linguistics],” says Jim McCloskey, chair of the department. “The field is changing fast. The basic questions remain the same … but the methods are changing.”

Until recently, the focus in linguistics research was on informal methods, generally one-on-one talks with a native speaker, asking them questions about the language. Now the focus is shifting toward more large-scale, quantitative, and laboratory-based studies—methodologies more akin to those of the “hard” sciences. UCSC is unique in that it integrates both techniques.

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South County Man

South County Man

Watsonville’s mayor opens up about his hometown, pressing issues and running for state assembly

Meet Luis Alejo, mayor of Watsonville, holder of several degrees, hometown role model, and now a contender for the 2010 race for the 28th State Assembly District. Born and raised in Watsonville, Alejo left to obtain an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, a master’s in education from Harvard, and a law degree from UC Davis. Since returning home from his academic ventures, he works as a staff attorney with the Monterey County Superior Court. A new member of the Watsonville City Council, Alejo has also decided to shoot for a seat on the California State Assembly and has received endorsements from many local leaders, including the Santa Cruz City Council and Board of Supervisors.

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Santa Cruz Learns Self-Defense

Santa Cruz Learns Self-Defense

One local instructor talks about the psychology of an attacker, and what to do (and what not to do) if you're assaulted

It's easy to see why Leonie Sherman is a good self-defense instructor. She carries herself with a confidence and a sort of bottled intensity that's apparent even as she sits calmly at a table outside Lulu Carpenter’s on a crystalline winter morning. The strength she radiates isn't automatic, however, nor is it accidental, and for years she's worked in Santa Cruz to show would-be victims how they too can find their inner strength.

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Best of Santa Cruz County 2014

The 2014 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll Come on in, and have a look around. There’s a lot to see—hundreds of winners selected by thousands of GT readers across Santa Cruz County. So if some of this looks familiar, it’s probably because you helped make it happen. But there are always new things to discover, too—you could go to a different winner or runner-up every day in the Food and Drink category alone, and you’d be booked just about until next year’s Best of Santa Cruz County issue comes out.

 

Something Essential Disappears

Lunar and solar eclipses follow one another. Lunar eclipses occur at full moons, and solar eclipses at new moons. Two weeks ago at the full moon we had the blood red moon—a total lunar eclipse (the next one is Oct. 8). On Monday night, April 28 (new moon), as the Sun, Moon and Earth align, a solar eclipse (Sun obscured) occurs. Eclipses signify something irrevocably is changed in our world. The Sun is our essential life force. Monday’s new moon, 9 degrees Taurus, is also an annular solar eclipse when the Moon moves centrally in front of the Sun, yet does not cover the Sun completely. The Sun's outer edges, still visible, form a “ring of fire” around the Moon.

 

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.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

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Palate-Stretching 101

A wine education with Soif’s experts As a veteran of many weekend wine “seminars” at Soif, I have to confess that I’ve never known less (going in) and learned more (coming out) than I did last week at the Spanish Wine Tasting with ace rep Brian Greenwood. These are classy, casual events and it’s hard to imagine having this much flavor fun anywhere for $20.

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 One of my favorite wines is Sauvignon Blanc, and this one made by Martin Ranch is particularly lovely. Bright, crisp and refreshing, it’s perfect to pair with fish and shellfish—and good for picnics as it has an easy screw-cap bottle. There’s nothing worse than setting down your blanket, pulling out your sandwiches—and then realizing you don’t have a corkscrew.

 

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