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Feb 12th
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On The Horizon

news 12GT looks ahead at likely key local issues for 2013

The last half of 2012 seemed to revolve around the election. Before that, the year kicked off with the SmartMeter saga still in full swing, and Occupy Santa Cruz stealing headlines. What will be this year’s equivalent? For one thing, we will have transportation projects under way (Rail Trail, Highway 1), and continued struggles with unemployment, hunger and other symptoms of a struggling economy. But here are three issues that we suspect will unfold in particularly interesting ways in 2013.

HOMELESSNESS: Although homelessness is a perennial issue in Santa Cruz, community concern about it has peaks and valleys. The latter half of 2012 was one of those peaks: uproar intensified after two homicides in 2012 involved homeless people (the death of a homeless man at the hands of a group of other homeless campers, and the murder of business owner Shannon Collins by a transient). Potential answers to homelessness were discussed at a Creating Smart Solutions to Homelessness Summit, and put into practice with the implementation of the 180/180 project (which pushes for permanent supportive housing), the third annual Project Homeless Connect, and the growth of other, more grassroots efforts, like those by the Association of Faith Communities. In 2013, we’ll see what sort of impacts these various efforts are having, but also if any new solutions, perhaps more aimed at the roots, will spring up as a result of the community’s plea for change. The 2013 Santa Cruz County Homeless Survey & Census will certainly shed light (and useful data) on the subject.

CRIME: As GT reported in the Dec. 27 issue, the Santa Cruz Police Department had a record number of calls for service in 2012 (more than 100,000), and crime was up 6 percent in the city. Although robbery, aggravated assault and burglaries were down in 2012, there was a 46 percent increase in auto theft and a 9 percent increase in larceny, according to the department’s last Uniform Crime Report.

This year might be when we, as a community, start looking more seriously at the intersections of crime, drug use and homelessness—where they overlap and fuel one another, where they don’t, and what could curb the trends. Community action groups, from smaller neighborhood watch efforts to clean-up crews to more vocal entities, like Take Back Santa Cruz, mobilized like never before around these issues in 2012, raising their voices even louder as the year drew to a close. Concerned residents crowded a Dec. 17 Public Safety Committee meeting, as well as previous city council meetings. The momentum is such that we can count on it rolling over into 2013, and perhaps gelling into something tangible being done.

WATER: Thanks to Measure P and the Santa Cruz City Council’s earlier move to put desalination in the hands of voters, 2014—when desal could land on a ballot in the spring or fall regularly scheduled elections—might be the big year for the issue. But, in the meantime, 2013 promises to be chock full of new information worth paying attention to. If the project moves past the Draft EIR and citizens (not just in Santa Cruz, but probably also in all areas that would be affected by the desalination plant) do get to vote on it, 2013 could be the year to really study up on the decision. There are two forthcoming documents, in particular, that could sway things: The first is the scwd2 desalination plant Draft EIR, which is slated to be finished in March (although it wouldn’t be surprising if it gets delayed further). The second is the City of Santa Cruz’s Habitat Conservation Plan, which will be the culmination of a long negotiation with state and federal fisheries agencies over how much water must be left in local streams in order to protect endangered fish species.

Other water points of interest on the horizon:

1.      An in-depth study of potential water transfers between neighboring districts, conducted by County Water Resources Division Director John Ricker, is due to be completed in March.

2.      The city’s conservation potential will be laid out in its baseline conservation plan, which should be released early this year.

3.      The city will embark on its next water conservation plan this year, which will present a roadmap for the next 10 years of conservation. 


What do you think will be the big issues locally this year? Let us know by writing to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . PHOTO CREDIT: KEANA PARKER

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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