This is the weirdest time ever to release our first Best of Santa Cruz County magazine. But I also feel weirdly thankful that after years of talking about it—and long before the phrase “COVID-19” even existed—we picked this year to transform our annual Best of Santa Cruz County issue into a standalone glossy magazine.
You see, the Best of Santa Cruz County is always our biggest undertaking of the year. It takes months to go from collecting the ballots to counting the votes to creating the winners lists, articles, art and ads that make up the issue. It always makes a splash when it hits stands, but there’s also something that seems just plain wrong about the fact that it’s only out on stands for a week.
This year, it would have seemed infinitely worse. Thankfully, the Best of Santa Cruz 2020 magazine will be on stands all year, so if you’re feeling too sheltered-in-place to get yours now, it will still be there when you’re ready. It’s gorgeous and packed with all of Santa Cruz County’s best, and we couldn’t be prouder.
One of the winners you’ll find in the magazine is Ellen Bass, who readers voted Best Local Poet. Bass’ journey to her current iconic status (she was also Artist of the Year in 2019, among many other accolades) is a fascinating story that Wallace Baine tells in the cover story this week. He also explains how her newest collection, Indigo, is a moving reflection of our times. I hope his excellent piece on Bass will also be a reminder of how much we need our artists right now (for a more sobering reminder, check out my story in this issue about Santa Cruz Shakespeare cancelling their summer season). Even in hard times—maybe even more so?—it’s a thrill to celebrate the best of Santa Cruz.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
Keep the Beaches Open
Re: “How Long?” (GT, 4/15): The Santa Cruz County Health Officer’s order to close all beaches and ban surfing last weekend made no sense. Surfing is a solitary sport, and by nature, there is adequate social distancing for current public safety restrictions. Why were the beaches closed? Frequently, when the water quality at popular surfing spots is unhealthy, the County Environmental Health Services staff posts those beaches with signs, warning that contact with the water is unsafe due to high bacterial levels. However, even though there is a known health risk, the beaches have always remained open.
Instead, Santa Cruz County closed all beaches, cordoned-off the parking areas near the beaches, and sent local law enforcement out to issue tickets that cost violators $500/hour for surfing, and $1,000 for not following the restrictive rules. County Sheriff Jim Hart publicly admitted recently during a teleconference Town Hall meeting with Supervisor Zach Friend that his deputies issued 254 such citations.
This violates citizens’ individual rights under the First Amendment. These personal freedoms are to be guaranteed and preserved in all times of peace. When peace exists, the laws of peace must prevail.
Becky Steinbruner | Aptos
An Earth Day Plea
COVID-19 seems to have the whole world on hold. We can all admit that this crisis will last a whole lot longer than many of us anticipated, making us increasingly likely to accept any measures at any expense to handle this crisis, even if that means putting other serious issues in peril. But this shouldn’t be the case—eventually this will pass and a plethora of other problems will come back to haunt us.
Recently, many grocery stores across California have reverted back to using single-use plastic bags over reusable bags in accordance with a study funded by single-use plastic bag manufacturers that showed using reusable bags can lead to cross-contamination of food via bacteria. Since COVID-19 is a virus, it goes against logic to apply the study to our current situation, (especially given that COVID-19 has been found to remain on plastic for longer than any surface) and more speaks to the desire for many single-use plastic manufacturers to take advantage of the public’s disorientation during this crisis to abandon their environmental responsibility.
We cannot allow our previous environmental victories to be trounced by special interests. Single-use plastics still pose a threat to our coasts and marine life and that has not changed. Our obligation to our planet still remains, that is why it is important to pass SB 54 and AB 1080 in the California legislature to end single-use plastics from polluting our environment. A crisis should not be a time to abandon our principles to protect the Earth, but to stand firmly by them.
Bijan Ashtiani-Eisemann | Santa Cruz
Re: Domestic Abuse Calls
Thank you for writing this to help raise awareness of abuse victims.
— Ann Livingston
Re: Downtown Businesses
Thanks Wallace for this story. Santa Cruz is blessed with a variety of creative retailers that distinguishes our town. Let’s support them all we can! It’s up to us to keep them here.
— Annie Morhauser