What you are holding in your hands right now is, as far as I can tell, the largest issue of Good Times in our 44-year history. And I think I speak for everyone here when I say: let’s never do this again.
Just kidding! Of course, we’re incredibly proud of finally presenting what started with the ballot that thousands of you from all over the county began voting on way back in December. That kicked off a process of tabulating the winners and documenting them in these pages. I was trying to figure out the other day how many minute information points required checking and rechecking over the last two months, but when my calculations got too far into the thousands, I gave up, because UCSC creative writing degree. Let’s just say it’s a very large number, and my biggest kudos go to the entire GT staff, to the winners we’ve been obsessing over for all this time, and to every reader who voted for making it all possible. It truly took a village to make the Best of Santa Cruz County 2019 issue.
We’ve tried to make it as user-friendly as possible, and I hope all the guidelines are clear (like, for instance, more than one winner listed—or two runners-up—means there was a tie), but if there’s anything you think we can do to improve things next year, let us know. Now all that’s left to do is enjoy our biggest issue ever!
Letters to the Editor
DRIVERS WON’T QUIT
Susan Cavalieri, on behalf of the Climate Action Network, makes a strong case for our county supervisors and Regional Transportation Commissioners to go farther than simply a climate action resolution (Letters, GT, 3/20). Now is the time to direct taxpayer money to undertake actions that will make a difference sooner rather than later. I agree with her that bus-on-shoulder is something the county needs to initiate on Highway 1, enabling METRO buses more expeditious use of the highway, although she neglects to give consideration to the bridges that cross the highway and limit the ability of the shoulders to serve as an unimpeded throughway. For this, some of the bridges need to be retrofitted and the highway needs to be widened in key locations.
The sustainable transportation supporters seem to think that folks will quit driving on Highway 1 if it becomes more congested and thus they will manipulate people into more climate-protective travel. Unfortunately, making highway travel more difficult will not stop people from driving on the highway (witness the situation we have now). But, as has been the case in many other cities, HOV lanes for buses, electric cars, and cars with more passengers will encourage better transit habits, and possibly pay for these improvements.
Finally, if we want our county supervisors and commissioners to act quickly to reduce greenhouse gases, then a lawsuit to prevent the construction of auxiliary lanes (not likely to begin construction for several years, as things stand now) will not speed things up. Instead, let’s work together to find viable solutions in the near term, like substantial improvements to METRO services (more electric buses, more routes, and more trips, in addition to improved online access) that can be done soon, and with a lot less money.
WIDEN HIGHWAY 1 NOW
I would imagine that the folks from Santa Cruz Climate Action Network never have to use Highway 1 during the morning or afternoon commute, or on any summer weekend. If they did, they’d realize how woefully inadequate it’s become in servicing the needs of the county’s growing population. Most of us would agree that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to fight global warming. If they want to be taken seriously, the folks from SCCAN will need to think more realistically about possible alternatives to current modes of transportation.
The idea that buses could use the freeway shoulders to bypass slow-moving traffic is ridiculous. The shoulders aren’t nearly wide enough in many places to accommodate a bus. And if the shoulders are widened, how is this any different from adding additional traffic lanes that could be used by everyone?
I don’t see how this proposed bus service would help the thousands who commute along Highways 1 and 17 to jobs in the Bay Area anyway. And the same goes for PRT (Personal Rapid Transit). While it may be great for scooting around a college campus, it cannot adequately address the needs of long-distance travelers. Most daily commuters and weekend tourists who clog our freeway cannot utilize public transportation, ride bicycles, use PRT, or benefit from any other pie-in-the-sky ideas for getting where they need to go. Electric vehicles are the best hope for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the near future, but they need roads to travel on.
Highway 1 is long overdue for an upgrade. Gridlocked traffic is spewing huge amounts of pollutants into the air every day with no upside, so let’s stop preaching that everyone should just ride the bus or use a bike, and get real about our transportation future. Our infrastructure needs to keep pace with new high-density development policies aimed at attracting even more people to the county. The freeway needs to be widened, and it needs to happen soon.