I’ve worked on a lot of Best of Santa Cruz County issues, and while they can be grueling to produce, there’s an undeniable pride that I always feel when they hit the stands, because they’re always the biggest and—if I may be so bold—most spectacular issue of the year.
With that in mind, let me say this: there’s never been a Best of Santa Cruz County issue like this one, and there probably won’t be again. It’s not just about the sheer number of local businesses and individuals who’ve been recognized in these pages (although there are almost a thousand), or the design and photographs (although they’re fantastic). There’s just a different feeling this year, of something bigger that connects this issue to the community in a deeper way.
Early on, we decided to honor Santa Cruz artist Doug Ross, who passed away in December, in this issue. It wasn’t rocket science, considering how beloved he was here, but a few elements did have to come together. First, Maria Grusauskas had been wanting to do a story that would both honor Ross’ legacy as an artist and celebrate the part of him that fewer people know about—his passionate, innovative work as a marine activist. Second, I’ve been struck many times this year by how hard his loss hit this town—reminding us, I think, that sometimes one person can play a far bigger role in the identity of our community than we realize. Doug Ross was that person.
Third, and most importantly, you voted him Best Artist this year, a moving tribute in itself. I hope you’ll read Maria’s story and discover why Ross was not just the best artist, but also one of the best all-around people in Santa Cruz County. Our heartfelt thanks to Ginger Mosney, his wife, both for her insights in the story and for working with us at a devastating time to provide the artworks by Ross that made this tribute complete.
The Best of Santa Cruz County issue has been a lot of things over the years, but reading the story about Ross and looking at his art on the cover and throughout these pages, it’s the first time that I’d describe it as emotional. We hope you enjoy it.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
In the March 8 issue of GT, Steve Palopoli refers to the fact that Santa Cruz’s reputation as “a safe haven for countercultural ideals” might be exaggerated in the collective memory. ’Twas ever thus.
In 1980, I served on a commission of the City Council where it was explained to us by politicians and business leaders that the reason we had so many homeless people was because the town was over-generous in welcoming the “bums” and “trolls” with city services and such. The police chief was recommending a crackdown on street performing, and county supervisors voted to (illegally) cut people off of food stamps if they couldn’t prove that they had a place to live! Despite the fact that we were among the last to allow a homeless shelter to open (San Jose and Half Moon Bay had shelters before Santa Cruz) we were (and are) told that we’ve always been just too generous.
Yeah … that’s our problem.
Deconstructing the Garage
Thank you for the timely and comprehensive article in last week’s Good Times (GT, 3/8) on the critical issue of a proposed five-story parking garage. Here are some of the thoughts that came to me as I read it.
First, the idea of building a new library needs to be de-coupled from the proposed garage and examined. When so many of us voted for Measure S in June, we voted to refurbish the existing downtown library. There was nothing on the wording of the ballot about building a new one. If I, and many other folks I know, had known Measure S would potentially lead to a monstrous parking structure where we currently enjoy the Farmers Market, we certainly would not have voted for Measure S.
Consider, too, the flow of traffic on the streets around the proposed garage’s perimeter, streets already in need of maintenance from overuse. And consider what a five-story building will do to block sunlight in that area.
What’s more, I find it hard to believe that a permanent structure would be built for a weekly farmers market, when space is at such a premium. Where would it be? And what would happen to the monthly antique fair?
Far better to use that $35 million (though it could well be more than that) to encourage people to leave their cars at home when they come downtown. All Metro buses currently end up right on Pacific Avenue, and they need more riders.
Most likely, people don’t use the bike lockers we now have because they are intimidating. People are afraid they won’t be able to get their bikes back out. Bike lockers that are friendly in operation, and uniform throughout town, would be a great enticement.
Brodie Hamilton told the audience during his visit here that parking and transportation at Stanford are under the same department and budget. The popular bus service in Boulder is paid for by parking fees. We could move into a more contemporary transportation culture if we followed their example.
So, hold your horses, I say. Let’s think about what kind of town we want. One that is bound by car traffic, or one that encourages a walk-able, bike-able, bus-able town we can enjoy for many years to come. We don’t want to be left with a white elephant sitting in the center of our town with car ramps that can’t be re-purposed for something more worthwhile like affordable housing.