What are you doing to protect the environment?
In light of the ongoing efforts of the San Lorenzo River Alliance, what are your chief concerns and ideas, and those you are hearing from your constituents, about improving the San Lorenzo River?
The San Lorenzo River Alliance recognizes how essential the river is to the environmental health, economic vitality and public safety of the valley and the entire river corridor. I met recently with representatives of the alliance, whose members include the Valley Women’s Club and Resource Conservation District—both of whom have been active in watershed protection of the upper San Lorenzo River for years. We have much to learn from other communities that have restored their riverways, the results of which speak volumes about the potential for the San Lorenzo River. We have an opportunity to make tremendous improvements in water and environmental quality while significantly contributing to the regional economy due to increased access and recreational use.
What can be done in the short- and longterm to address water shortage issues for Santa Cruz County agriculture?
Access to clean water is the lifeblood of our agriculture industry. Since the start of this recent drought, I have been in constant contact with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on ways we can help growers now and ways we can mitigate the impact of future droughts.
Legislation you recently introduced would change the way mobile home owners can sell their homes. What is the purpose of this bill?
In the Monterey Bay Area and throughout our state, mobile homes offer an affordable avenue to home ownership for many buyers, especially for seniors and fixed-income families. In fact, more than 700,000 people live in California’s 4,734 mobile home parks. However, a mobile home owner whose home is located in a mobile home park does not own the land the unit sits on, and he or she must pay rent and fees for the land and any community spaces. In order to sell a mobile home located in a park, potential buyers must be approved by park management. Home owners trying to sell their home are therefore reliant on park management to approve the buyer so that the sale can be completed. Park management are not limited in the number of potential buyers they can reject, which places pressure on home owners to find a buyer that qualifies under the standards set in place by park management. Most standards are not set or regulated by the state and can vary widely from park to park. As a result, responsible and trustworthy potential buyers can be unfairly turned away.
What should locals know about the water supply situation in the Pájaro Valley, and what are your ideas for how to address the problems?
We have a major, underreported problem in the Pájaro Valley. Years of drought are worsening our already depleted aquifer and the less rain we receive the more water we have to pump from it.
Whereas Santa Cruz captures surface water, the Pájaro Valley has had the historic luxury of a humongous aquifer below our feet. This has allowed our area to be one of the most productive agricultural producers in the world. Residing in a specialized climate, we can grow valuable crops like strawberries and raspberries, making us formidable international players on the world market.