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Aug 30th
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Santa Cruz Area News

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Diverging Numbers

Diverging NumbersIs private funding an answer for fiscally-challenged services?

The economy has taken a toll on the Santa Cruz Homeless Services Center (HSC) in recent years.

Over the past three years, they have seen their funding from the City and County of Santa Cruz drop nearly 30 percent, while the 2011 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey compiled by Applied Survey Research says the number of homeless people in the county has jumped 22 percent since 2009. Fifty-two percent of the survey’s respondents reported that this was their first time experiencing homelessness, citing joblessness as the main cause—indicators, says ASR, of the recession’s influence on homelessness.

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News - Local News

La Bahia: Over Before it Started

La Bahia: Over Before it Started

The Coastal Commission’s ruling against the La Bahia Hotel project spawns a collective ‘Now What?’
After hours of public comment and deliberation, the California Coastal Commission voted 6-4 against the plan to build La Bahia Hotel, a 125-room hotel and conference center, at their Thursday, Aug. 11 meeting.

The hotel, a project of Barry Swenson Builder, would have gone in the Beach Flats neighborhood where the iconic—but currently dilapidated—La Bahia apartments have stood since 1926. The hang-up that led to the commission’s ruling was the height of the proposed hotel: 15 percent of the planned building would be 14 feet above the Local Coastal Program (LCP) limit.

Plans for the hotel were in the works for more than a decade, with Barry Swenson Builder spending about 10 years and $2.2 million working on it. The city council approved the plan in 2009.

“We’re extremely disappointed,” Mayor Ryan Coonerty tells Good Times. “This was a very good project that would’ve created jobs and was consistent with the values of Santa Cruz.”

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News - Local News

What We Lost With La Bahia

What We Lost With La Bahia

A guest column from the city’s mayor: For 20 years, the City of Santa Cruz has worked on a plan to transform the beach area into a year-round destination that showcases our incredible community, creates jobs and ensures a stable tax base.  Millions of dollars, thousands of pages of reports and studies, and hundreds of hours of public testimony were invested.

Sadly, last Thursday afternoon, Aug. 11, after a one-day hearing at which the Santa Cruz community overwhelmingly showed up in support, the Coastal Commission rejected the necessary amendment to our coastal plan to develop La Bahia on Beach Street from a shabby residence to a beautiful 125-room conference hotel. 

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News - Local News

Homeless on the Home Front

Homeless on the Home Front

Homeless veteran numbers are down, and a veterans housing assistance program picks up steam
Half of the 274 homeless veterans counted in Santa Cruz County earlier this year fought in the Vietnam War. The same proportion has no more than a car or sidewalk as their bed at any given time.

Forty years after returning from combat in the United States' second longest war, these veterans are being joined on the streets by soldiers returning from the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers coming home from tours in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom account for 30 percent of the homeless veterans in the county, according to the 2011 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey.

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News - Local News

Homeless Census Unveiled

Homeless Census Unveiled

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE
Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey reports growing numbers

Every two years, early on a cold and dark January morning, a small army of volunteers and trained homeless guides canvas Santa Cruz County to take a headcount (or point-in-time count) of the area’s homeless population. This year, on Jan. 25, a grand total of 2,771 homeless persons were counted.

 

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News - Local News

A City Divided

A City Divided

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.

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News - Local News

Feeding More than the Meter

Feeding More than the Meter

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.”

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News - Local News

Santa Cruz to Gaza

Santa Cruz to Gaza

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.

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News - Local News

Attached at the Hip

Attached at the Hip

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.

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News - Local News

Bark Less, Wag More?

Bark Less, Wag More?

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.

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The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual