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Opinion November 15, 2017

Plus Letters to the Editor

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

Maybe it sounds weird to say this, but getting to be part of Santa Cruz Gives has become one of the things I most look forward to for the holidays. I’ve said before that I don’t think there’s anything more important that we do all year, and with each annual edition of our holiday giving drive, that seems more and more true. Nothing else combines community outreach, philanthropy and our hyper-local philosophy of news coverage like this. Beyond the thousands of dollars raised for worthy local causes, nothing else provides our readers with a window into what people throughout the county are doing to help the people in their communities. I learn so much, too, because it’s the one time every year that I get to sit in a room with people from almost three dozen of the county’s top local nonprofits and talk with them about what they’re doing and how we can help them do it.

I particularly like this Santa Cruz Gives kick-off issue, because you get to read about exactly what they’re doing, in their own words. I guarantee that if you read the cover story, you’ll find at least one group you want to support. In fact, what we’ve found over the last two years is that when people go to santacruzgives.org, they often end up supporting more organizations than just the ones they initially planned to give to. I get into some of the numbers in the introduction to the cover story, but I could ramble on and on about all the results that have wowed me.

Please do, said no one ever!

OK, fair enough, but before I let you get to it, I want to thank our partners in this project, the Volunteer Center, Santa Cruz County Bank, Oswald and Wynn Capital Management.

Oh, wait, and one more thing: the analytic numbers for Santa Cruz Gives were up immensely year-to-year for every category we could think to parse them in: number of donors, individual donations, challenge grants, largest donation, average donation, multi-gift donations, and so on. That’s not because of us, that’s because of the incredible generosity of our readers. I urge you to read about the nonprofits selected for this year’s program, and then go to santacruzgives.org and be a part of it. Because this thing is just getting started.

STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Letters to the Editor

Grave Review

Re: “Grave Situation” (GT, Oct. 25): Brava to Maria Grusauskas on her coverage of greener options for end of life. There is a large network of people who are working on natural deathcare in the Santa Cruz community, including the creation of a green burial conservation woodlands. I hope Maria can dig up more on the topic.

Julie Esterly | Santa Cruz

Rents Don’t Raise Themselves

In poetry, inanimate objects and ideas can do things by themselves. Rents can go up by themselves, “the market” can set its rate. But in real life, such things have to be done by people. The owner of the Logos building says, “because I’m trying to retire, I need to get at least a reasonable market rate for the space.” Why? “So he can spend more time playing music and golf,” according to the Good Times of July 18. And the owner of the building where Pergolesi was wants his tenant to maintain the building he owns, according to the GT of Oct. 11.

So before we wring our hands about this seemingly out-of-control situation of high rents, let’s remember clearly that each individual landlord in this town is deciding how much to charge, and in fact is demanding it. Renters and landlords understand, even if no one says it out loud, “If you don’t like the rent, you can move out. I have 100 more people behind you glad to pay it.” The Old Testament term for this—and I think it is an apt one—is “greed.”

We hear about victimless crimes. This is a useful term. I believe that “rents” and “the market” are not the things causing people to go homeless, and making the rest of us suffer. Yes, “suffer”: from overwork, or having to leave our home town of decades for some other unknown place, or to live like “refugees in place,” or even just watch helplessly as a beautiful town that wants to stay weird turns into another Carmel. Does anyone really believe this happens by itself? But everyone talks about it as if it were a perpetrator-less crime.

How can we bring rents down in this town? Easy! All the landlords get together and say, “Hey, this is bad! Let’s cut rents in half.” It’s simple. Why won’t they? I’m asking you this honestly. Give it a think.

So before we build more buildings, destroy habitat, fill our town with construction noise, we need to ask this question: if somehow five hundred units of studio apartments at $800 a month were to magically appear tomorrow, does anyone really believe that besides those 500 people, the rents will go down for anyone else? Because if not, maybe we have to consider the likelihood that besides retroactive rent control—actually legally binding reduction—there is no way that more construction will change “the market.”

Human consciousness—a change in it—is the only thing that will make that happen.

Andy Couturier | Santa Cruz

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