Before I get into this week’s issue, I want to acknowledge Hugh McCormick, who did a fantastic piece for us about the impending closure of the Second Story Peer Run Respite House (“The End of the Story,” GT, 9/12). You may not have noticed one detail briefly mentioned in our follow-up story last week: the private donors who came together to contribute enough money to pay off a state loan on the Aptos property and ensure the mental health facility will remain open specifically credited Hugh’s piece as the reason they did so. What I loved about that article was the way he laid out exactly what the human cost of the Second Story closure would have been, and clearly the donors felt the same way. It’s great news! Congratulations to the hard-working staff who support Second Story.
Also, I want to mention that we’re looking to satisfy your thirst for knowledge about the hows and whys of our county’s natural world. In a new collaboration with the Science Communication Program at UCSC, GT is inviting readers to submit science or environment questions for the program’s grad students to answer as a course assignment. We’ll publish their responses to the best questions. Send yours to me at [email protected]
OK, now to the issue at hand. All I have to say about Wallace Baine’s cover story this week is it made a Jaron Lanier believer out of me. After hearing the title of his latest book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, I was skeptical. After all, a lot of people are telling us all to get off the internet, for a lot of reasons. I wondered if he had anything truly new or insightful to add. But as it turns out, he absolutely does. Give the story a read, and see if you agree.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
Re: “Up in Smoke” (GT, Oct. 3):
I was just reading the e-cigarette article in the latest issue, and I had to come write immediately to ask how it’s possible that GT could publish such a biased piece? How could Hugh McCormick not even touch on the great numbers of teens who are addicted to e-cigs, and the egregious fruity-flavor marketing campaigns of the manufacturers? Well, he did touch on “scary stories about … grade schoolers getting hooked,” but in a brushing-off way. If Hugh wants to enlighten the public on their smoking cessation benefits, he needs to tell the whole story about e-cigs. Hugh just gave an endorsement of e-cigs, and now people can feel good about their vaping choices since they read about their safety and benefits in the Wellness section of the local free paper.
Open Streets, Closed Minds
Wouldn’t it be nice if our community was safe for biking, walking, and skateboarding every day instead of a few times a year?
Santa Cruz County ranked first for wrecks with cyclists involving injury or death in 2015, the latest rankings from the California Office of Traffic Safety.
Considering these bicycle safety statistics, it’s disconcerting that Bike Santa Cruz County’s (BSCC) vision states, “Bicycling in Santa Cruz County is a safe, respected, convenient, and enjoyable form of transportation and recreation for people of all ages and abilities.”
Greenway acknowledges that our county is not yet safe for biking. We need to look beyond painting the street, giving helmets to children, and teaching bicycle safety, and focus on physically protecting bicyclists.
The City of Watsonville has adopted a Vision Zero goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing safe, healthy and equitable mobility for all. The City of Santa Cruz has considered Vision Zero but has yet to approve it.
While BSCC and Greenway both envision a climate-friendly community where more people choose bikes and public transit over cars, Greenway is advocating for more realistic, affordable, and meaningful solutions with the potential to help alleviate gridlock soon.
If we table the unfunded passenger rail idea, we could railbank the corridor, recycle the tracks, and build a greenway designed to separate faster and slower modes with money already allocated in Measure D. This wide, effective trail could become the backbone of a countywide bicycle and pedestrian network. Such a network combined with a modern, effective bus system would be a cost-effective, achievable transportation plan for our county.
Greenway was not at last Sunday’s Open Streets. We were again denied participation in this Bike Santa Cruz County (BSCC) event. The fact that BSCC, a nonprofit operating a program on public streets with grant funding from the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC), should pick and choose who should be allowed freedom of speech shows how RTC funding of local nonprofits is leading to censorship and watering down local bicycle advocacy efforts.
The RTC hopes to approve the Unified Corridor Study (UCS) deciding the fate of the rail corridor and steering county transportation options for decades on Dec 6. RTC Staff will likely recommend Scenario B (Passenger Rail) on Nov 15.
It’s no surprise that local advocacy groups with strong ties to the RTC and FORT are advocating in unison with the RTC. However, if we hope to address our near-constant traffic congestion and the fact that cyclists and pedestrians are dying on our streets, we need to ask the RTC to slow down and take the time to come up with sustainable, realistic solutions we can afford to implement and maintain over time.
Visit sccrtc.org to view the Unified Corridor Study and get information about the Oct. 15 and 16 UCS workshops and the next public meeting on Oct 18. Share your thoughts with the RTC at [email protected].
Gail McNulty | Executive Director for Santa Cruz County Greenway