Mary Sesnon Porter is a name that I saw pretty much every day as I was walking to and from classes at UCSC, and then all over later when I was covering the South County for the Register-Pajaronian. In all that time, I never once stopped to think about the woman behind this ubiquitous presence in Santa Cruz County. But that’s how it usually goes, isn’t it? We never usually find out what was so important about the people whose names are on our art galleries, civic buildings and schools (other than, we assume, they donated a lot of money to the right people).
This week, though, we get to find out, in Geoffrey Dunn’s cover story about Porter. And now having read it, I can’t believe I had never even heard of Pino Alto, the fascinating Porter estate that is the stuff of local legend.
Also this week, Jacob Pierce gives us part two of our series on issues surrounding the rail trail, with a look at Progressive Rail’s bid to operate the local lines. We got a lot of insightful feedback after the first story in our series last week; please keep it coming!
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
Railbank Our Resource
Lately there has been some controversy about allowing E-bikes on the Westcliff pathway. This same controversy will be magnified if the rail trail is built (GT, 4/18), because it is not wide enough to allow for separate bike and E-bike lanes for those that want to commute to work at faster speeds; plus, the rail trail deviates onto high-traffic surface streets at critical junctures. Only the Trail Only/Greenway Vision provides enough room for bike commuters (and other high-tech alternatives), which has the benefit of reducing the number of cars on our roads. The best scenario is to railbank the corridor and tear out the tracks now so we can all start using this transportation resource within our lifetimes.
Buzz Anderson | Santa Cruz
What About the Wildlife Commute?
The Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line Right-of-Way, whether inflicted as trail only, as advocated by Greenway, or rail and trail, as advocated by Friends of the Rail & Trail, is a false engineering “solution” to a sociopolitical and existential problem: mainstream environmentalism’s absurd assertion that we must further “our way of life” with its delusional premise that we can infinitely expand our civilization—through population growth, economic growth, boundless urbanization and habitat destruction, boundless energy and materials consumption—within a finite system, Earth. Consequently, we have exceeded our carrying capacity, the sixth mass global extinction is well underway, and civilization’s implosion is accelerating.
Both groups promote a myopic “solution:” if only we had a trail or rail-trail corridor, we could continue to populate our county and accommodate our ever-growing commuting “needs.” Rather than building more transportation infrastructure to further their environmentalist pipe dream of a forever-expanding “green” civilization, Greenway and Friends of the Rail & Trail should promote decivilization, including depopulation and steady state economics. They might begin by ripping out the tracks and converting the corridor to grassland, so that coyote people and deer people can use it to commute, and pledging to not have more children.
Nigel Self | Santa Cruz
Re: Rail Trail
There’s something really, really crucial here that I hope to see in future installments: what do the people of Watsonville think? This is perhaps the most valuable insight that could be provided to Good Times’ audience, which is Santa Cruz-based. I’m not sure many of us actually get over there that often. The current political power center in Santa Cruz is choosing policies that push young people who want to put down roots to put down those roots in Watsonville, not Santa Cruz.
What does Watsonville think of Santa Cruz’s plans to gentrify it? Do current commuters from Watsonville see a train as a possibility that’s better than 45-70 minutes of Highway 1 traffic each way, each day?
— Nigel V
The loss of right of way, missing trestles and damage to the RR road bed between Felton and Glenwood makes the restoration of the train line very unlikely. OTOH, restoring the two long tunnels between Glenwood to Laurel and from Laurel to Wright’s Station (Lexington Reservoir) would result in a near-level route that would allow buses to use existing roadways to avoid climbing 17 over the summit. This would have clear advantages in bad weather and when traffic is backed up. It would require building some new roadway at the Lexington end, but otherwise the bypass could connect to Hwy 17 at Glenwood at Los Gatos. The tunnels are only wide enough for one direction at a time, but the daylight section in the middle could allow for passing. With speeds of 30 mph it would only require a two-minute wait in the middle. Otherwise the entire tunnel section could alternate directions every five minutes or so as needed. This could be a low-cost solution for a Bus Rapid Transit system.