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Mar 02nd
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Town Hall With Supervisor Zach Friend

zach friendGov. Jerry Brown recently announced that the state’s budget outlook is finally looking brighter. How could this impact Santa Cruz County?
Many don’t know that more than 50 percent of the county’s operating funds come from the state and federal government. As such, we are highly dependent upon the state’s economic condition to fund our local health and human services, law enforcement, roads and more. Gov. Brown’s state budget proposal is good news in that it stops some of the local hemorrhaging, however it doesn’t appear strong enough that we still won’t face some tough decisions in our local budget. While it is still a few months until the county budget will be prepared, I would expect there will still be cuts in some sectors this year. Hopefully we can minimize the impacts of those cuts on the community.


While running for Supervisor last year, you cited maintaining vital programs in the face of funding troubles as a priority. Where does the county stand on this, and what are your plans to address it?

Much of the county budget, including health and human services and the recent prison realignment (AB 109), are mandates from the state. It is important to me that of the funds we do control, they are allocated in a way that reflects the values of our community. Budgets are often value statements. They reflect a community’s priorities and philosophies. Not all cuts are equal and it’s my intention to take a balanced approach to budgeting. I believe that too often budgets are politicized and taken as either/or. Meaning you can either fund this or fund that—a process that doesn’t see the interrelationship between programs or services. I’d rather look at the connections between programs and see how cuts in one sector impact another and how to minimize impacts by looking at these interrelationships.

 

Please explain your stance on the Board’s 45-day moratorium on gun shops, and the resulting input you’ve gotten from constituents.

Recently the Board of Supervisors considered a temporary (45 day) moratorium on new gun shops within the unincorporated areas. The issue was raised when Supervisor John Leopold learned of a shop opening in his district. Supervisor Leopold learned that there are no county zoning regulations that apply to gun shops and wanted the county to have the opportunity to review and possibly propose regulations pertaining to gun shops. Other cities in the county have such regulations and the proposal was supported by the local Sheriff’s Office.

I received nearly 100 comments on the issue and we had more than 100 people attend our meeting. The issue is clearly an emotional one and it can be difficult to have a balanced and reasonable discussion on emotional issues. Many people simply don’t support the sale of firearms in our county and others didn’t want any regulations. In essence, the discussion focused more on gun rights than on what was actually before the Board—which was whether we should consider this as any other land-use application and allow the Sheriff’s Office and others to have input in the process. I voted for the moratorium but made it clear that I did not support this as an indefinite measure and that I expect something concrete will come back in 45 days. I also spoke to the fact that we have a number of firearms sellers in our county that have been responsibly selling firearms and accessories for quite some time. In addition, these resellers are all subject to very stringent state and federal guidelines. My hope is that the county review will add some sensible additional regulatory mechanisms that includes local law enforcement input but doesn’t attempt to place a de facto ban on these shops from opening. I think that we can be balanced in our approach to this issue.

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