From our office windows along the San Lorenzo Riverwalk, Nuz has noticed many a ragamuffin ducking under the city’s bike and pedestrian bridge to meet with Santa Cruz troll folk. GT reps have even spotted junkies dealing drugs and shooting up immediately after walking out from under that very bridge, which is going on two years old and sits near a children’s playground.
The typical thinking around levy improvements like this one is that they activate our public spaces by putting more eyes on the trail. While that may be true, this particular bridge, which first opened in the fall of 2017, has also provided a perfectly shaded hiding spot for junkies to shoot up—it’s easily accessible, mostly concealed from view. And yet when the Coastal Watershed Council moved in as GT’s neighbor last year, we spotted the nonprofit’s staffers frequently walking over to politely ask the under-the-bridge urchins to move along.
Now, a new city sign next to the bridge says that the area is “temporarily closed.”
Temporarily … right.
A sign reading “No Shooting Up/Drug Deals” or just “Christ, People, There Are Kids Around!” would have been more to the point.
Honestly, it’s a controversial stance to espouse as you prepare for a huge career move. But hey, California’s population is growing, with UC Merced and UC Riverside already picking up more than their shares of the slack. It’s also worth noting that before the campus opened in 1964, UCSC was planning to grow to 27,500 students by the year 1990.
With the benefit of hindsight, we can now plainly see that such growth would impact Santa Cruz’s already nightmarish housing market. But if you were a UC regent looking at the numbers, and you saw a California coastal city repeatedly failing to plan for growth that your predecessors laid out 45 years earlier, how sympathetic would you be?
CALL IT LIKE IT IS
Discussions about recalling the two Santa Cruz councilmembers aren’t new. They go back to the fall of last year. And let’s be honest: a recall effort that begins before one councilmember even takes office is, at least on some level, disingenuous.