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Opinion: January 9, 2019

Plus letters to the editor

This week's cover story explores psychedelics and psychotherapy.

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

I always like to start the year out feeling good about Santa Cruz, which is why I look forward to getting the final totals from Santa Cruz Gives. That number is in, and all I can say is wow. You guys outdid yourselves in generosity over the holiday season, as we raised $234,426 for local nonprofits. That’s an 18.7 percent increase over last year’s total of $197,459. It’s so exciting to see this program keep growing every year, and I can’t stress enough how big a difference the debut involvement of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County made. Next week we’ll have a more thorough wrap-up, with feedback from our partners at the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, who always provide way more insight into what this all means than my low-level analysis, which is basically, “Yay Santa Cruz!”

Speaking of fresh starts, our cover story this week is about how Santa Cruz-based MDMA research may provide a whole new approach for mental-health therapy. (I know, I know, one of my resolutions for the new year is to work on my transitions.) The piece by Wallace Baine really brings home this idea of psychedelics-as-medical-science with a close-up look at one person whose life has been transformed by the work at Santa Cruz’s Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Letters to the Editor

Growth Industry

Although spread across four pages, your “Gimme Shelter” story (GT, Jan. 2) provided little new information about Santa Cruz’s homeless situation, except to say that the city is salivating over the $10 million in new funding that’s headed our way. Yes, tending to the homeless certainly has become a growth industry here in Santa Cruz.

I thought it was interesting that the photo chosen to accompany the article was that of a young, wholesome-looking couple instead of some grungy burnout that would be more typical of our transient population. Whitewashing the face of this problem won’t do anything to help ease it.

And what about this couple? He says that he came to Santa Cruz to get away from drugs in his hometown. Was he joking, or what? This area is awash in hard drugs and their easy access and low cost is a primary reason for the influx of drifters from near and far. It’s the last place anyone would come expecting to get away from that horror-show lifestyle. This area’s sky-high rents are also well known…just where does a person with few resources expect to be living once they get here?

How long must we continue allocating funds to support those who migrate here with substance abuse issues and little motivation to change their destructive habits? Having our city spend nearly $80,000 a month to shelter a relative handful of homeless transients was pure lunacy!

Instead of passing out much of that $10 million to the abundance of local non-profits involved with the homeless, imagine spending a similar sum on additional resources focused on suppressing our illegal drug trade. Addictive street drugs will never be totally eradicated, but a full-court press on the local supply will push prices up beyond the reach of many users.  If drugs become harder to come by, or significantly more expensive, Santa Cruz might just lose some of its appeal as a transient hang out. A reduction in drug use, in addition to saving lives and reducing crime, will also slow the drain on city and county services and help ease already-strapped budgets.

Instead of throwing money at problem that’s already way out of control, why not focus on trying to keep people from wasting their lives behind drugs and becoming homeless in the first place?

James S.
Santa Cruz

Re: Council Shakeup

I’ve lived in this county since 1971 and I have to say that I’m elated that a new city council dedicated to celebrating diversity, eco-active and concerned about the welfare of the working class and poor people in this city has been elected.

The time to make change is now and, in terms of the environment alone, we must not delay. We face huge challenges with drug/alcohol and opiod addiction and with growing homelessness and yet, we are one of the richest cities, per capita, there is. We can be humanistic leaders for the future of Northern California and I fully support Mayor Martine Watkins, Justin, Drew, Cynthia, Donna and Christopher in their role as the new leaders of Santa Cruz.

Let’s make some powerful changes; keep Santa Cruz liveable and retain our wonderful idiosyncratic take on living in America!

— Rick Walker

Re: Fiberhoods

“Santa Cruz’s biggest tech stories of the year somehow ended up flying a little under the radar.”

Might have something to do with so far the only residential customers to be hooked up to fiber are in one mobile home park…and that was 3 months ago. Cruzio has yet to share any info about any other residential customers being hooked up to gigabit fiber and not wireless-backed fiber.

—  Jim

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pat Colby

    January 17, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    In response to James S. The use of street drugs is not limited to the unhoused. The use and abuse of drugs is not a housing issue it is a drug culture issue. When ever I see people thankfully acknowledge the drug problems and insuring crimes in Santa Cruz they are alway linked directly to unhoused population. Just by logistics of being a larger amount of people—more housed people have drug abuse problems they also are responsible for more drug related crimes.

    The homeless population aren’t doing the systematic breaking in of all cars nightly. When this first started happening, I noticed a pattern. It started in the SAGE neighborhood on Grandview and Escalona on the Westside. From there it spread out. Going to the starting point gives you culprits and causes. It tells the whole stories. Please stop blaming unhoused people for everything bad in Santa Cruz. We also have race and surf gangs engaging in the drug culture.

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