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Supervisor Neal Coonerty

neal-coonertyYou are co-sponsoring a Dec. 11 reception honoring Celia and Peter Scott. Which of their accomplishments will be highlighted?
Many of us think the environmental amenities we enjoy have been protected from development forever. Wilder Ranch, Lighthouse Field, Pogonip, Grey Whale Ranch, Coast Dairies Ranch and the Santa Cruz Greenbelt provide spectacular scenic, environmental, recreational and even economic benefits to all of us and, in many ways, define the kind of community we are.

But the permanent protection of these resources for the public has only come about over the last 30-plus years. It resulted from the hard work, tenacity and perseverance of a relatively small group of community activists and elected officials who at times engaged in bitter political fights as they mobilized the broad based public support for the preservation of these incredible community assets. And, at the forefront of many of these and other environmentally related battles were Celia and Peter Scott.

Celia and Peter have consistently and effectively led efforts to preserve our environment and improve our quality of life. From protection of the north coast to opposing new and expanded highways, they have been deeply involved in acting on their environmental values.

On Dec. 11, the Campaign for Sensible Transportation will honor the contributions Celia and Peter have made to our community. As we appreciate the incredible beauty and environmental richness of our city and county, it is important to recognize and honor people like Celia and Peter for the role they have played in our community's history.

There were two meetings on the North Coast about County Fire in the last week. What are these meetings about and why should area residents attend?

For the next two months Santa Cruz County Fire/Cal Fire will be hosting a series of meetings in the county fire area so that residents can learn more about fire protection, emergency response, and what the future holds for fire service in your community.  The first meetings were held this week, two on the North Coast and one in Corralitos.  More will be scheduled, please see santacruzcountyfire.com for more details.

Santa Cruz County Fire, also referred to as County Service Area 48 (CSA 48), covers the unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County that are not served by another fire district. Communities such as Bonny Doon, Davenport, the Summit area, and Corralitos are all rural areas that are served by County Fire. The county currently contracts with Cal Fire to provide fire service to these rural areas; however, because of a unique and beneficial partnership with the State of California, local taxpayer revenue from CSA 48 residents accounts for only about 40 percent of the cost of fire service in CSA 48 while the state currently provides the rest of the funding. As a result of this cost-share relationship, Cal Fire firefighters, along with the dedicated volunteer firefighters in these communities, are able to provide the critical emergency services to residents in the CSA 48 area at a low cost.

As we all know, our county has had five major wildfires in recent years, all five of which burned in the CSA 48 area. We learned during those fires how critical our partnership between the State, Cal Fire and our local volunteers is to our rural communities. In the past few years as revenue has decreased and costs have risen, County Fire has had to make some difficult budget choices. Engine staffing has been reduced from three firefighters to two firefighters per engine from November to May and equipment and vehicle replacement has been deferred. We need to work together to limit the impacts of budget reductions and find solutions to maintain service. All parts of the county's local firefighting team, including community members, county government and the state will need to do their part to maintain and enhance local fire protection and emergency service.

Please come to a community meeting in your area to learn more about County Fire and what the future holds for fire protection in the CSA 48 area. For a full list of meeting dates and times please visit santacruzcountyfire.com.

Comments (1)Add Comment
citizen
written by Andy Paulin, December 10, 2010
I have been traveling up to Bonny Doon on Empire Grade for the past couple of years and have gotten to know some of the volunteer fire fighters. They are a great bunch of people who really have banded together as a community to be responsive and provide emergency care for people in areas that are sometime hard to find.
Lately the mood has changed. Negative politics by people who have no respect for the hard work on the part of volunteers. Cal. Fire's power posturing has left a bad feeling in the community.
There were road closed signs on empire grade for a week after a small tree broke and closed the road for a couple of hours. Usually community volunteers would have had this cleared, but now the attitude seems to be, "watch and observe the disfunction" The tree still is in the bike lane waiting to be hit.
Why can't Cal. fire embrace, encourage, and work with the volunteer base? These are people working for nothing, who know the area roads, are vested in the community, and they are being slowly shut out and disrespected by...politics? politicians?



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