We know hundreds of homes were lost in the CZU Lightning Complex fire this summer, after tens of thousands of people in the Santa Cruz Mountains were evacuated. Even on their own, those are huge numbers to wrap our minds around. But they only scratch the surface of really understanding what we’ve lost as a community—and why it’s so important for all of us to stay engaged with the long recovery process that’s barely begun.
As Aaron Carnes writes in his cover story this week, the Santa Cruz Mountains are home to countless local artists, who are drawn there by the promise of creative space—both physical and mental. So we shouldn’t be surprised that so many musicians lost their homes in the fire. Carnes profiles a few of their stories in his piece, and I have the feeling that no matter what era of local music you most relate to, you’ll be familiar with at least one of them. In an area that so values its music scene, it’s shocking and disheartening to read what they’re going through. But I, for one, was relieved to read how dedicated they are to staying here and rebuilding. Like nature itself, creative expression abhors a vacuum.
As for keeping the effort to help these fire victims front-of-mind, we are lucky that there are some amazing people leading that charge. First among these is no doubt Community Foundation Santa Cruz County—its Fire Response Fund is the best thing we have going to help those affected. The Love You Madly: Artists for Santa Cruz Fire Relief campaign has been working to encourage donations with weekly videos and now a livestream on Dec. 5; you can read my story about the latest developments with that on page 30, then go to santacruzfirerelief.org to donate.
Another way to help fire victims—and everyone in need in our county—is to support one of the 40 nonprofits in this year’s Santa Cruz Gives campaign. I can’t believe that after just two weeks we have raised more than $436,000, but we want to do so much more to help these groups that help those in Santa Cruz County who need it most. Go to page 14 to read Jacob Pierce’s story about several of the groups participating in Santa Cruz Gives, then visit santacruzgives.org and donate today!
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR
Letters to the Editor
Why Passenger Rail is Best
GT’s recent article failed to adequately explain why Electric Passenger Rail was chosen over Bus Rapid Transit as the locally preferred alternative for public transit on the rail corridor. The latest study from the Regional Transportation Commission tells the rest of the story.
Consider people: Rail will be twice as fast as bus, saving South County users 40 minutes of commute time each way, 1 hour and twenty minutes every day. Rail will also be twice as reliable so folks can get to work on time, every time. Rail guarantees level boarding at every stop, while only 24% of bus stops offer same. Rail will also accommodate far more bicycles and have far more ADA accessible seats.
Consider planet: When it comes to fighting climate change, rail just can’t be beat. Rail will reduce both vehicle miles travelled and GHG emissions 31% more than bus, be 23% more efficient in using energy and have 86% more passenger capacity during peak travel times when needed most.
Consider prosperity: Rail will be four times safer, produce 29% more permanent jobs, cost 21% less per passenger mile, offers more than three times the potential to create affordable, car-free transit oriented developments and is the only option that guarantees the entire rail corridor will remain intact speeding completion of the Rail Trail now under construction.
Mark Mesiti-Miller | Santa Cruz
Tig-M Will Be a Winner
I think the Good Times did a disservice to its readers by having, on the lead page of the transit article, a photo of a light rail system that would probably not be used by the county, mostly because of costs. Next year, when the pandemic ends, a demonstration of a Tig-M will occur on the tracks, already approved by the SCCRTC last year. Tig-M is a Chatsworth, California firm that makes light rail vehicles that carry either 30 or 50 people, and are self-propelled using electric batteries, much like an electric car. There would be no need for a third rail or overhead wires, then, which would greatly decrease the cost of running a light rail system on the proposed rail line between Watsonville and Santa Cruz. When citizens see that Tig-Ms are quiet and have no CO2 emissions, it’s sure to be a winner. Also, the profile of a Tig-M is somewhat lower than a bus and isn’t much wider than the width of standard rail track. The largest cost of running Tig-Ms would be the upgrade of the tracks to class 2, and that cost would be a fraction of adding more lanes to the freeway.
Perhaps the Good Times needs to contact Tig-M and get permission from them to actually print a photo of what one looks like, as well as present some information on how they work and where they already are in use: Aruba and Dubai and a few places in Los Angeles County. The prospect of having the county contract them to run a light rail service is, I believe, the best way to run a passenger rail service in this county, one that will certainly be needed when the pandemic ends and business returns to normal. Short of that, I encourage anyone to visit the Tig-m website.
LD Freitas | Aptos