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Party Hearty: Will a Party BARge be allowed to anchor at the municipal wharf?


Development Thumbs Up

Following the collapse last week of WESTERN HOTEL PROPERTIES' $100 million plan to build a conference center at the site of the COAST HOTEL (reportedly because the hotel owners were turned off by the divisive fight that sprang up in the Cruz after the City Council narrowly approved the project in February), rumors have surfaced of a new proposal to build a similar, but even more massive structure at the SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL site.

Under the new proposal, the Senile offices would be demolished immediately without compensation to the paper or its parent company; in fact, the Senile would be forced to pay for the demolition and, later, for 100 percent of the entire project. In turn, the developers plan to build an 18-story parking lot on the ruins of the newspaper's office, on the top of which would sit the new conference center. The Senile would be forced to move its operation to a subterranean slave-labor camp underneath its current site, to be built and overseen by evil extraterrestrial mastermind GENERAL ZOD. Under the terms of the new proposal, the newspaper's management will be probed extensively and painfully each day by their new alien masters, and will surrender their First, Fourth and Sixth amendment rights in perpetuity.

After learning of the proposal, the Senile ran an emergency editorial giving the plan its complete and unqualified support. The editorial also complained that this new project is not moving quickly enough, though the proposal exists only as a barely legible series of hash marks that a low-level Western Hotel exec scrawled across 450 cocktail napkins at the Red Room last night.

"It looks like JOHNNY AND JANEY NO GROWTH are having their way with the future of our grotesquely underdeveloped city once again," said the Senile's editorial.

"JOHNNY AND JANEY BURN OUT might think it's 'groovy' to fight 'The Man' over 'development,' but the truth is, we've never seen a better project in all our however-many years! Eleven thumbs up to the newest best thing ever to happen to Santa Cruz in all of recorded history! Let's just hope the RED CHINESE ECO-NAZIS on the City Council don't cave in to JOHNNY AND JANEY MARXIST on this one."

Political gadflies seemed stumped by much of the proposal, which requires that the conference center cater exclusively to leprechauns, and City Council members seemed to immediately dis the new proposal.

"Don't forget I once authored a study to determine how this city could better serve leprechauns," said ED PORTEUR, who opposed the Coast Hotel project, in explaining his opposition to the new plan. "But this proposal isn't right for Santa Cruz or leprechauns."

MAYOR MIKE ROTWEILER, who supported Western's Coast Hotel project, also seemed unimpressed by the developer's follow-up proposal.

"I don't know about that General Zod part. That's pretty lame," said Rotweiler. "Isn't he still trapped in the Phantom Zone?"

In response, another Sentinel editorial shot back, "Once again, Marxist Mike doesn't 'get' it--General Zod is the best part. All hail our new master, General Zod!"

Though insiders expressed disbelief at the drunken incoherence and sheer implausibility of the new conference center plan, few were surprised by the Senile endorsement. A source inside the paper revealed that the headline for an editorial planned for next week is "If Somebody Does Not Build Something Right Now, We Are Going to Seriously Lose Our Shit." A memo obtained from a Senile insider also suggests future editorials on the subject of development may be produced in the form of rubber stamps.

Barging Through The Deficit

Meanwhile, many other city revenue-enhancing options remain on the table-- city worker pension-pooling investment schemes, big box store infill on the underutilized SAN LORENZO RIVER bed and nuclear-waste storage facilities on city-owned greenbelt lands--but the most promising project is a recruitment effort by the CITY UNDERDEVELOPMENT AGENCY. Citing "blight" in the Monterey Bay, plus a year-round demand for alcohol-drenched boating adventures, the agency is conducting feasibility studies on a larger version of the popular tourist sailboat, the CHARDONNAY--a much larger version. City officials hope to close a deal by fall 2005 on a three-floor, 20,000-square-foot industrial barge, which has been converted into a floating upscale nightclub. Based on the popular "PARTY BARGE" concept, the barge--dubbed "BARge"--is parked in the San Francisco Bay and operates out of the PORT OF OAKLAND MARINA.

Initial estimates indicate that the barge will require significantly fewer city funds than the $30 million in bonds earmarked for the Coast Hotel Project, and all city employees will drink for free. Patrons will be treated to a dinner show featuring tastefully nude acrobats performing above a dolphin filled, self-flooding inboard pool, followed by stunning pyrotechnic displays.

But the plan has a few drawbacks. The barge will likely be anchored at the SANTA CRUZ MUNICIPAL WHARF--and a group of West Side homeowners has already formed a coalition called SANTA CRUZANS LEARNING TO ELIMINATE REALLY ODD SCHEMES TO INCREASE SOCIAL SERVICES (SCLEROSIS). Worried about property values and more tourists, not to mention the possibility of circus performers roaming the streets after dark, SCLEROSIS publicly cites environmental and social concerns to sink the project. Meanwhile, city officials think everyone should just shut up, have a drink and enjoy the show.

If the barge deal falls through, officials are optimistic that subaqueous storage facilities in the bay could also prove viable for the city, thanks to the recent glut of giant crime-fighting robots in need of secret hideouts now that YUCCA MOUNTAIN, Nevada, is being used for other purposes.

Seriously in Salinas

What follows is not another April Fool's joke. Seems BILL MURRAY's generous, spontaneous donation of $12,500 a few weeks ago wasn't enough to save the SALINAS PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM from financial crisis. To avoid the system being shut down in December (which is what will happen if its $500,000 fundraising goal isn't met), politicians, activists, comedians, writers and bookworms will gather outside the CESAR CHAVEZ PUBLIC LIBRARY in Salinas this weekend for an EMERGENCY 24-HOUR READ-IN (1pm, April 2, to 1pm, April 3) to raise awareness/funds for the beleaguered Salinas public libraries. "We're telling people to bring their tents, sleeping bags and favorite books," says EFREN BAJARAS of the UNITED FARM WORKERS. "We'll be here all day and night to show our determination to keep our libraries open."

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From the March 30-April 6, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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