Letters to the Editor
Plus Letters To the Editor
This week’s cover story about the scarcity of public space in Santa Cruz started with a conversation about lunch. Specifically, about why there’s hardly any place to just sit down and eat one’s lunch in downtown. Cat Johnson told me she’d been frustrated by this time and time again—and if you know Cat, you know she is not the type to get frustrated easily. Knowing the first phase of the Abbott Square renovation project was to be unveiled this week, she was inspired to dig deeper into the public space issues here. Why does Santa Cruz have them in the first place, and what hope do we have of changing them?
Her cover story this week contrasts this city’s bleak track record on public space with the success—so far—of MAH’s Abbott Square effort. Though the space in question is just one project on one corner of one downtown street, Cat’s story asserts that sometimes all it takes is one plaza, one town square—one place where people can eat their lunch—to change a community’s relationship with its urban space.
She also looks at some of the changes developers are making in Santa Cruz’s downtown designs, and how that might shift our creation and usage of public space.
And lastly, there’s a bit of history that puts this issue in context, proving that it takes only one thoughtful vision to change downtown Santa Cruz. If you never knew how our “Pacific Garden Mall” got its start, read this story.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Put Out The ’Cat
In March, the Santa Cruz City Council approved the purchase of a highly militarized vehicle, the BearCat, for the Police Department. Though I have asked the Mayor, the City Manager, and a Council Member approximately when it will arrive, and how it will get here, none have answered. The community has a legitimate right to know these things.
Now there is an even bigger picture, created by President Obama’s recently issued executive order that intends to stop the flow of militarized equipment into local law enforcement agencies.
Once again, it is time for Santa Cruz to consider simply rescinding the order for the BearCat. The vehicle and its capabilities fall into many of the categories prohibited by the new directive from the president, and the contract with the manufacturer states clearly that it can be returned, even after it gets here!
Let’s support this attempt to stop the increased racial targeting and violence to the American people that this kind of equipment has unleashed!
Sherry Conable, CodePink Santa Cruz
[See page 14 this week for news on how President Obama’s executive order on police demilitarization may affect the BearCat debate.—Editor]
Landscapers Making Drought Worse
While the City ignored my motion for a groundcover initiative in early 2000, many residents, properties and park workers responded on their own. Most home and garden folk know healthy plants and trees come from healthy soil. Landscapers routinely blow it all away or rake it down to the roots, then drive it to the dump in plastic bags. Exposing bare topsoil to sunlight releases water out of the ground … all the water! This negatively impacts your neighbors as well, inviting infestation and dry conditions.
Property owners are stewards of the little piece of Earth they are entrusted to protect for their little time in this world. They cannot continue, everywhere in town, to rake and blow everything down the street just to look busy or neat. Save water, mulch your yards, retain groundcover. This will also attract songbirds and salamanders that eat ticks, mosquitoes, snails, etc.—and feed your plants and trees. The water you keep in the ground around your house will also keep your porch cool. Be cool, save water… teach your landscapers.
Bill Quealy, Santa Cruz
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IT’S GOT A PEEL Taken in the photographer’s backyard in Pleasure Point. “First year the frost didn’t get to my banana tree,” he writes. “Looks like I will be eating homegrown this year.” Photograph by Rick Ward.
Books for Bucks
We all know reading a good book is its own reward. But the Santa Cruz Public Library has thrown in some added treats for kids who read this summer. By reading when school ends they can earn ice cream cones, comic books, skate and surf accessories, bagels, pizza, art supplies and more, donated by local merchants. All they have to do is get to a local library and pick up a summer reading log, fill it out and live it up.
UCSC is installing cellular beacons on every campus water meter to better monitor water use around campus. Users will be able to track water use—by the day, week and month—to help plan how to further reduce their consumption, officials say. Each new cellular device takes about 20 minutes to put in, and installation will be completed this month.
“In a quality city, a person should be able to live their entire life without a car, and not feel deprived.” – Paul Bedford