Sometimes important stories kind of sneak up on you. That’s what happened this week with Lauren Hepler’s report on the rise of whale entanglements in the Monterey Bay. It wasn’t originally planned as a cover story, even—we sent her out with the Whale Entanglement Team not knowing how much of a story was really there, but that the numbers on whale rescues in the Monterey Bay seemed to have jumped by statistically improbable percentages in the last five years.
What she brought back is a fascinating—and concerning—look at the future of the Monterey Bay ecosystem. It’s a complicated picture, and as with so many environmental stories, climate change plays a huge part. Within the fluctuations of the vast ocean off our shores, though, is a smaller but very dramatic story of two types of mammals trying to navigate around each other. One of them is 60,000 pounds, the other is roughly .002 percent that size. But as Hepler’s story shows, a few of those smaller mammals are dedicating themselves to saving the bigger ones, and making a huge difference in our waters. Their story is every bit as compelling, in its own way, as the larger picture here, and I hope this gives some much-deserved and needed exposure to their work.
Letters to the Editor
Most people would agree that the primary goal of a university is to educate. One method of educating is to illustrate by example. Thus, UCSC illustrated principles for building a university by constructing examples. The visions of our early administrators—think of Clark Kerr and Dean McHenry—taught us how to start.
They recruited first-rate architects and planners, such as John Carl Warnecke and Thomas Church. “Church and the architects were so struck by the beauty of the UCSC site they convinced the Regents to move the heart of the campus out of the meadow and into the trees, where the flora and terrain would be both a challenge and an inspiration.” (See http://50years.ucsc.edu/new-campus/.)
The current proposal for constructing the new 3,000-bed housing project on the UCSC campus includes seven apartment buildings ranging from four to 10 stories tall near Heller Drive and—even more egregious—15 acres of buildings in the East Meadow near the intersection of Hagar and Coolidge Drives. (See https://ppc.ucsc.edu/planning/EnvDoc.html for details.)
The project is a bad example, and therefore bad education. It fails to achieve the primary goal of the university.
If you ask faculty, staff, students and alumni why they chose to come to UCSC, you will find that a primary reason is the beauty of the campus and its close connections with nature—the views, the redwoods, the expansive meadows, and the amazing variety of wildlife. This “Design With Nature” philosophy is the primary reason we have such an excellent educational institution, and the reason that our faculty, staff and students don’t want to leave.
Please help us work to maintain the original goal set by our founders. The comment period on the Draft EIR was recently extended to June 27. Please sign the petition by the East Meadow Action Committee at eastmeadowaction.org/petition.
Not Good News
The local density topic meetings I attended left me dismayed and in strong opposition to what was proposed with the East Side corridor plan. It makes no sense to lift/revise current regulations which are in place to safeguard our neighborhoods and a resident’s right to park their car in front of their own dwelling, as well as revising current building permit regulations, making it easier for density construction. More buildings and more people and cars in Santa Cruz, yet insufficient allotted parking? A recipe for disaster.
Every East Side local should be aware, also, that the stated intention for said corridor plan is five-story structures without enough parking for whoever takes up residence. Where would all of these extra cars be parked? In your front yard, most likely.
I tell you, it makes no sense and is not good news for the local tax-paying residents of our beloved Santa Cruz hometown.
Nada J. Misunas
The Danger is Real
Re: Wildfire danger (GT, 4/11): I live adjacent to Willow Canyon, which in turn is adjacent to the Seascape Uplands Preserve. While I applaud the deals made to protect these lands, Willow Canyon has become severely choked with vegetation, much of which is weedy and non-native. When I first moved to this house 18 years ago, my dog and I would hike a loop through the canyon easily. Now it’s impossible without a machete. This is one of those areas in the county that would blow up so fast that at least 50 homes, a school, and a church could all be on fire before a fire truck could get here, despite the nearest station being only a mile away on Bonita Drive near Rio Del Mar Boulevard.
Whoever has been responsible for this property should have been working on reducing the fire hazard rather than ignoring the property altogether. As far as I’m concerned, and in this matter I think I can speak for all of my neighbors, all the owners of said property over the last 20 or more years will be held responsible for the devastation should a fire erupt here.