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Don't Want to Live Like an Effigy: An unhappy puppet scowls at the Friends of the River protest.


Metro Santa Cruz Endorses Measure X

If you haven't already done so, it's time to dig through those credit card bills and Lasik surgery fliers, locate that ballot you've been meaning to get around to, and be part of Santa Cruz's first ever mail-in election. At stake is a single initiative, Measure X, which has a single goal: to restore crucial city funding lost as a result of recent lawsuits filed around the state by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

On July 1, the city began losing $200,000 a month when it was forced to stop collecting its municipal utility franchise fees, a surcharge that had been in effect for the last 40 years. That adds up to an annual loss of $2.4 million for the net general fund of a city already operating on $7 million less than it was five years ago. Credit that last bit to the trickle-down theory of economy ailment, for which you're welcome to blame George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mike Rotkin or that guy who keeps shuffling along Pacific Avenue in clown drag and umbrella (actually, we're pretty sure it's not his fault).

What is certain is this: Prior to the July 1 cutoff, 55 percent of the general fund went to public safety--meaning police and fire services--while the rest was spent on parks and recreation, public works and other quality of life services that help make Santa Cruz a desirable place to live. If Measure X does not pass, the loss of these services will impact the safety and upkeep of our parks, our streets and our neighborhoods.

Measure X does not ask us to pay anything we haven't already been paying. Rather, it helps to preserve already proven community services that are now being threatened by the whims of one particularly litigious special interest group. Reducing government to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub may be a catchy rallying cry for some. But for those of us who live and work in the real world, responsible stewardship of our community's interests requires that we preserve this vital revenue source.

For these reasons, Metro Santa Cruz urges you to vote Yes on Measure X.

For the Turnstiles

Former mayors CHRISTOPHER KROHN and BRUCE VAN ALLEN were among those hanging around the Trestle Bridge last Friday afternoon, where the ad hoc citizen group FRIENDS OF THE RIVER gathered to protest the SEASIDE COMPANY's pending application to replace an existing gate beneath the LOGGER'S REVENGE.

The existing gate at "Walkway 6" was installed without the necessary coastal development permit sometime around 2001. The new gate would subsume the triangular area bounded by the existing fence, the railroad tracks and the beach currently used as a pedestrian thoroughfare between the trestle bridge and Beach Street and/or the river levee. The new fence would also include turnstiles that would provide access to the Boardwalk only during operating hours.

DEBBIE BULGER sent Nüz an email saying the Seaside Company is "retroactively seeking Coastal Commission approval. This connects to the Seaside Company's lawsuit against the city regarding the tidelands at the mouth of the San Lorenzo."

The Seaside Company's community relations director KRIS REYES disagrees. "The furthest thing from the truth is that we're trying to impede beach access," says Reyes.

If the Seaside Company's plan is approved, the city has agreed build a new ramp connecting the trestle bridge to the river levee on the north side of the tracks, eliminating the need for trestle-borne pedestrians to cross over or walk alongside the tracks to get to Beach Street.

In a report concerning the Seaside Company's permit application, the Coastal Commission staff recommends approval of the permit, but with conditions, noting that "the Applicant's proposal will severely constrain, and in some areas preclude, the use of important coastal access routes that have been historically available for unimpeded use by the general public. ... The proposed development would further impede public access by replacing the preexisting 12-foot-wide gate used for ingress and egress to the Boardwalk and Main Beach with two, one-way turnstiles that will impede access for the handicapped, visitors with small children, and the elderly. ... In summary, the Applicant's proposal unnecessarily restricts the public's ability to use established vertical and lateral coastal access routes, and does not maintain and enhance non-automobile circulation, and is therefore inconsistent with Sections 30210, 30211, and 30252 of the Coastal Act."

Still, the Seaside Company is pursuing its plan, justifying it with reports from both the current and former chiefs of police--HOWARD SKERRY and STEVE BELCHER, respectively. Skerry specifically recommended that access via Walkway 6 remain closed, citing public safety concerns. A survey conducted by the Police Department determined that the area is not subject to "the natural surveillance" of the other walkways because of its relative seclusion, and is therefore more vulnerable to criminal activity.

Apparently, the Coastal Commission staff isn't buying it, writing that "the Applicant has not provided adequate evidence of significant public safety hazards or criminal activity, nor effectively addressed the option of providing increased security and management to address such concerns, in a manner that justifies the restrictions to vertical and lateral coastal access proposed by the project."

The matter is scheduled to appear before the Coastal Commission in October.

First in Print Media Division

Once again, Metro Santa Cruz dominated the Print Media Category of the 2005 ALOHA OUTRIGGER RACES. Just as in previous years, no other newspapers dared enter the fierce competition to risk getting splashed and taunted by the ruthless mariners of Metro Santa Cruz, leaving TEAM 'KI-I' ("land fish") to shut out the rest of the running dogs of the press by default. The team advanced all the way to the quarterfinals through sheer willpower, teamwork and an overwhelming desire to wait until the sun came out before ordering the first cocktail. All of the contestants benefited from the expert steering and coaching of veteran rowers from AKAU HANA, the local outrigger canoe club who organized this 13th annual day of racing and Pacific Island culture at the wharf (www.akauhana.org).

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From the August 24-31, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

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