Restaurant Week letters
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Opinion: October 10, 2018

Plus letters to the editor

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

When we started Santa Cruz Restaurant Week 10 years ago, it was a very different time. The city was right in the thick of the Great Recession, and in some ways SCRW was more of a necessity than a luxury. It gave restaurants a way to bring in locals who were not going out as much, and it gave those same locals an affordable way to get back out to their favorite spots, or discover something new. It felt like different parts of the community helping to pull each other up in a difficult time. And it was a really fun way to do it.

Ten years later, the economic situation has changed, and Santa Cruz Restaurant Week is twice as big as it was back then, but I still love the same things about it. It’s still a great way for the community to come together, it still guarantees a lot of great meals, and it’s more fun than ever. I love to go out to the restaurants that are part of SCRW and see how busy they are over the next seven days. You can find everything you need to plan your own Restaurant Week adventures in this issue. Thanks to Lily Stoicheff for talking to every chef, restaurant owner and manager who would give her the time of day about their Restaurant Week memories and their menus for this year. Take a look, and then get out and eat! See you there!

STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Letters to the Editor

Re: “Night and Day” (GT, 9/26):

Every single day when I leave my home in Watsonville, I see addicts walking the street aimlessly, almost getting mowed down by traffic. On Main Street from Rodriguez Street all the way to the Crossroads Shopping Center, there may be as many as a hundred addicts walking around, emerging from the bushes where they live. I happen to recognize many of these individuals, who also frequent the mental health county clinics and services. And every single day I have the same thought: these people need help. But by looking at the sheer numbers in my daily environment that help just does not seem to be arriving.

I know there’s an opioid crisis in this country because it’s parading in front of my door. Maybe if you’re not living near the areas where these addicts are living and sleeping, you might conclude we don’t have much of a problem here. But I’m telling you, we do. What are we doing here in Santa Cruz County to help these people? Have we become so jaded that they are part of the landscape?

More than 115 people in the United States die every day after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The misuse of and addiction to opioids (heroin, prescription painkillers and fentanyl) also costs the country $78.5 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And 80 percent of people using heroin started their habit by first using prescription opioids, according to the National Institute of Health.

So far in 2018, Santa Cruz County ranks 16th among 58 California counties for its high opioid overdose death rate. High housing costs, homelessness, income disparity and inadequate access to treatment all contribute to this local epidemic.

I talked to several counselors at Se Si Puede who said there are a couple of things the ordinary citizen can do. For starters, we can advocate for affordable housing. Secondly, we can help educate people about the challenges of addiction. Maybe most important is training ourselves not to prejudge addicts and make them feel invisible; they already feel out of place.

Some years back there was an assigned county mobile unit, which would provide basic curbside medical and/or mental health screening, basic hygiene items, and when appropriate, referral services for addicts, homeless, and people with mental health needs. This mobile unit would focus on specific crisis areas of the community in Watsonville. I’m not sure where the mobile unit has gone, but we need it now more than ever before.

Treatment is one-third the cost of incarceration. More than 90 percent of Santa Cruz County residents who need treatment for substance use disorder do not receive it, according to my friend who works at Janus.

The impacts of this unaddressed epidemic are profound. The local justice system reports that 60 percent of all bookings in 2015 were related to drugs or alcohol. I bet that number is even higher today. It is estimated that substance use disorders and treatment cost Santa Cruz County about $207 million per year. So please, can we all come together to help our neighbors?

Jaime Molina | Watsonville

Re: William McCarthy

We were lucky enough to see Billy play an intimate pop-up gig in a village pub in Yorkshire (U.K.) around two months ago. Having seen him play with Augustines more than a dozen times between 2012 and 2016, it was a night of complete and utter joy to witness him, sitting right in front of just 30 of us, singing his heart out as though performing in front of 3,000. He is, as the band was, the best live act we will ever see, and we cannot wait to see the film.

— Phil Dodsworth

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