This week’s cover story gave me an unsettling case of déjà vu. When I was starting out at the Register-Pajaronian in the ’90s, I did some reporting on the fight against the use of the methyl bromide in the Pajaro Valley strawberry fields. There was a lot of activism in and around those fields back then; I covered huge United Farm Workers marches that pushed their way onto the front page every day with the thousands of workers and supporters they drew to the streets of Watsonville, and the dangers of pesticide exposure was one of their central concerns.
What made it so frustrating to report on methyl bromide back then was the general lack of scientific understanding about how pesticides affect human health. Workers feared that they were in danger, and that their health problems were related to pesticide use, but there wasn’t a lot of research that wasn’t done by chemical companies with an obvious conflict of interest.
Watching Georgia Johnson do exhaustive research on her cover story this week, trying to get concrete answers about the problems teachers in Pajaro Valley perceive with their close proximity to pesticides, I realized that some things have changed since then—but some things haven’t. Yes, methyl bromide is mostly out of circulation; and yes, there is now some startling medical research about pesticide danger. But what struck me most is what hasn’t changed, especially the fear and uncertainty that people who work close to the fields still feel. It’s a powerful and important story, and I hope we’re not writing it again in another 20 years.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
Measure L appears as an advisory measure in support of a bicycle and pedestrian path over the Capitola Trestle. By itself, that would not be a bad thing, although it is an expensive way to support something the approved Regional Transportation Commission Master Plan already envisions. Unfortunately, Measure L also ties the hands of the elected Capitola City Council when it comes to planning what bike riders and pedestrians will be able to do until the trestle is made safe enough and wide enough to carry some form of transit and the bike/pedestrian path. Trail users will just have to decide for themselves what to do when they are riding or walking on the trail and it comes to the Capitola Trestle. If Measure L passes, Capitola will be prohibited from doing any planning or spending any money on signage, temporary road or sidewalk improvements. Vote No on L.
Mike Rotkin | Santa Cruz
ALTERNATIVES MUST CO-EXIST
The letters last week regarding the railroad tracks suggested that the sensible thing to do would be to pave over the tracks, and also that trains are of the past and not the present and future. Both assertions are wrong.
The sensible thing to do would be for this county, in a public/private enterprise, to improve the tracks so that a modern light-rail system could operate on it. Anyone who would want to take the time should look at Campaign for Sensible Transportation’s website, in which there are videos which portray the latest state-of-the-art electrically operated rail vehicles and cars that are currently in use in various cities in the nation and Canada. The need is for real alternative transportation to automobiles, and a bike-and-walk trail certainly can co-exist with the tracks along much of the branch line.
If someone stole or destroyed Bird scooters, are they destroying or stealing private property? Is it a crime? If I left a bunch of my things all over the city, and gave everyone instructions on how to use my stuff, can I expect the city to guard my stuff? I’m curious what sort of weird precedents will come from legal battles on this topic.
My wife and I rented these in Jack London Square in Oakland last month, and went around Lake Merritt. Though we were on paths most of the time, we did have to get into a bit of traffic. These things do not have shocks, and they don’t provide you helmets, though everything you signed releases liability of an accident. But don’t hit a pothole! They can reach up to 18 miles an hour, so they tend to tick off pedestrians if you’re at the higher speeds. Especially on West Cliff, if we started mixing up electric scooters, too many Jump bikes, pedestrians, dog walkers with leashes, joggers and baby carts, we are going to have more accidents and aggression on what should otherwise be a lovely stroll. I am super all for these alternative forms of transportation, but we need designated paths for them instead. There’s enough aggression on the roads between anybody who drives these days, whereas walking on the cliffs should be relaxing. Often, Jump bikes are ridden by tourists, that don’t have a lot of regard for pedestrians. I’d like to see them off heavily traffic paths, as they’re too fast here.
— Brian Anderson