Halloween issues are always fun, but usually we write something about ghosts, hauntings and other things that go bump in the night. This year, we thought we’d delve into a different rich vein of spooky fun: aliens. The trick is that Wallace Baine’s cover story about Frank Drake, the founder of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is actually a serious and thoughtful look at the state of our understanding of the universe. NBD! The treat is … well, that it’s a serious and thoughtful look at the state of our understanding of the universe. And that Drake himself is such a fascinating figure. And that SETI is experiencing a rebirth right now, and the future is bright for the science of interplanetary relations.
This week is also our final installment of the election guide that we’ve been doling out over the last three weeks. Kudos to Jacob Pierce and the whole news team for an excellent job on a huge task. Don’t forget to vote Nov. 6!
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
Points at the Heart
I think a lot about the housing situation of the many people I depend on to make my life work well. I depend on the medical assistant at my healthcare clinic, the server at my favorite café, the young teacher at my niece’s school, the worker who maintains my favorite parks, the farmworker who picks the vegetables I eat, and the ambulance driver who might someday assist my family.
I want my neighbor’s daughter, who’s lived here her whole life and helps disabled seniors, to be able to remain here. If these family members and neighbors and service providers aren’t able to live somewhere in the county, the quality of our lives will be diminished. These points are at the heart of why so many, including homeowners like me, support Measure H, which will provide affordable housing for working families and vulnerable people in our community. Vote Yes on H.
Effects of Rent Control
Google the long term effects of rent control and you will find studies that show that after a few years it reduces the supply of rentals, which leads to higher rents. Having lived through the inception of rent control in Santa Monica in the ’70s, I can agree with that and some other findings. Landlords gravitated to the most affluent tenants who would often pay for their own maintenance. The weekly papers which preceded Craigslist had many ads offering “key fees,” thousands of dollars for referrals to rent-controlled apartments. Apartment buildings were abandoned, unpainted and landscaping non-existent. And some folks on fixed incomes or low incomes were allowed to stay.
Santa Cruz needs lots of new affordable apartments. Compared to other coastal cities, we have lots of vacant land and low-rise buildings. The city government can make this happen by expediting the permit process and taxing vacant land and providing public housing for the poor. Telling someone what to charge for something they own is cumbersome and counterproductive.
Hold Officials Accountable
Now that election time is here, I’m thinking back to a piece Jacob Pierce wrote months ago about the Grand Jury and the work it does looking into problems in our government (GT, 7/3). One of their reports released in May focused on San Lorenzo Valley Water District, investigated for various misdeeds, including lack of appropriate oversight reporting on assessment funds and mishandling of projects, poor communications skills and an adversarial response to the public on a variety of issues, including trying to stifle the public’s right to speak, and in continuing to use cancer-linked glyphosate in our wellfield watershed. This report was preceded by a district scandal about board actions and misuse of funds, (GT 12/21/16), and a 2013-14 Grand Jury investigation which blasted the same water district for “lack of financial and operational oversight.” This is sounding all too familiar for weary SLV ratepayers, saddled last year with perhaps the highest water rates in the county, and a board who cannot get a grip on sensible budgets and spending.
The Grand Jury has no enforcement power, and thus five months after their report, the water district board has yet to follow up or enact any of the corrective actions they agreed to in their required response to Judge John Gallagher. The Grand Jury says we as citizens must be the watchdogs that hold our government agencies accountable. For SLV ratepayers, that opportunity comes this November election, breaking the cycle by retiring incumbents out, and voting in three new highly qualified board candidates experienced in sound financial oversight, to carry on important district work into the future. I’m grateful we have a Grand Jury, and thankful we can bring about positive change in our local governments- by the power of our vote.