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Opinion: December 26, 2018

Plus letters to the editor

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

Recently, I decided it was time to use Santa Cruz Gives to give my eight-year-old daughter a lesson in how philanthropy works. So I gave her a copy of the Santa Cruz Gives cover story we ran a few weeks back that listed all of the groups participating and their projects, and suggested she read about all of them and then pick “two or three” that she’d like us to donate to as a family. “Just circle the ones you like the most,” I told her.

When she handed it back to me, she had circled absolutely every single group—all 33. “Uh, sweetie,” I said. “I think it might make more sense to consolidate how much we’re going to give into a few groups. They get more money that way.” Well, that’s when she started explaining why each group she had circled was important. If you can come up with a good counter argument to something like that, you’re a stronger parent than me. So … sorry, groups that got $5-$10 from us. But we really had to spread it around.

I hope you will, too—maybe not quite that spread around, but whatever moves you. This is the last week of the campaign; you have until midnight on Dec. 31 to go to santacruzgives.org and make your donation.

Meanwhile, as you prep for New Year’s Eve, allow us to be your guide. My cover story this week is on Robyn Hitchcock, who plays in Soquel on New Year’s weekend. I’m a longtime fan and in conversation he was as funny, interesting and thoughtful as I’d hoped he would be. Happy 2019!

STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Letters to the Editor

Not the Right Project

I’m writing in response to the article about development at 1930 Ocean Street Extension. The article was, on the whole, balanced in its overview of the CEQA issues. But, as a resident of the street, I want to draw attention to what was not addressed in the article: 1) rezoning for high density—environmental review was required because the parcel was zoned for nine residential units, not the 40 the developer sought; 2) access—the only access to the entire street, including for large emergency vehicles, is via Graham Hill Road, and urban high-density development on a single-access parcel within the wild land interface is precisely what fire safety officials advise against (think about the Camp Fire catastrophe); 3) traffic safety—the road fronting the project is narrower than the minimum width required by the city’s fire ordinance, and the proposed changes to the intersection at Graham Hill make it more dangerous by sharpening the curve, reducing the line of sight and shortening the left exit lane onto Graham Hill; and 4) flooding—what wasn’t addressed was the additional impact the project would have on the significant storm runoff in this area that currently causes flooding to Crossing Street.

The EIR is admittedly a long and complex document, and given the pressures to increase housing and close relationships between city planners and developers, it received less than close scrutiny. Most homes and farms on Ocean Street Extension are in the county; the city’s decisions have a direct impact on the safety of both this rural environment and commuters using Graham Hill Road. This project is inconsistent in every way with the city’s General Plan for development—it’s just not the right project for this space.

Carla Freccero | Santa Cruz

Re: New City Council

What I truly feel good about is that we now have real conservatives on the council. You read that right! By conservative I mean in a “conserver” sense; that is conservation, based on environmental principles. Cummings especially brings scientific credentials to the council. We now have a majority on the council who care for a community of all living things, not just humans. I see council decisions that will lead Santa Cruz into a near future with care for San Lorenzo River wildlife habitat, care of all City open spaces to preserve, not “activate,” what’s left of the natural world, care that will minimize destruction of the night sky with overlighting, development actions based on repurposing and rehabilitation of existing city structures, rather than demolition and always building new. I look forward to creative and compassionate ways to house people without destroying the homes of other species. I think it can be done and this New Council seems qualified to do it. Congratulations all.

— Jean Brocklebank

Re: RTC’s Gary Preston

I’m very hopeful that Mr. Preston will not stake our future on antiquated rail technology. As he said, “Have the routes going to where the trips are going to be generated.” A 19th-century abandoned rail line does not go to education, government or employment centers in Santa Cruz County. Put the transportation solution right in the line of sight of the congestion, and that is with Bus Rapid Transit/Bus on Shoulder. Commuters will be able to easily see the busses passing them, and they are easy to adjust based on where people want to go. Rail simply cannot do that, and will be a huge mistake for Santa Cruz.

— Jack Brown

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Lawrence Denis Freitas

    January 1, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    Jack Brown is wrong to say that the rail line in the Santa Cruz area does not go to where there is education or work. Cabrillo is very close to the rail line. Many people work along places near the line, whether downtown Santa Cruz or Seascape Resort, plus the Boardwalk, 41st Avenue’s retail shopping, Capitola Village, and the Yacht Harbor. The other added benefit is that the rail line goes through neighborhoods, so it’s access to walkers and bikers is obvious.
    I would like to add that using a rail-bus sytem on the tracks for passenger rail service would be much cheaper than creating a light rail line. A class two upgrade of the tracks would be necessary, and purshasing rail busses. They used to be used in this country. They are in India, and a firm builds them there. Rail busses could use much of the track, but also use parallel roads as well. Some neighborhoods where the rail corridor is narrow could be by-passed, then, and nearby roads used instead. One thing is certain: there are far more places for recreation, shopping, and work than along the freeway, and passenger rail service is hardly “antiquated!”

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