.From The Editor

ednote stevePlus Letters To the Editor

I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with GT publisher Jeanne Howard—even more so than usual!—as she’s put together the gazillion details that went into the debut of Santa Cruz Gives, our new holiday giving campaign. Or how impressed I’ve been with the people, groups and companies in our community who grasped right away how big this idea was. The folks at the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, for instance, just got it instantly. Ditto Santa Cruz County Bank. Not to mention all the nonprofits that submitted a project in the hopes that you will fund their goal this holiday season.

Personally, I’m excited because GT has a long history of promoting holiday giving. With this new Santa Cruz Gives campaign, which runs through Dec. 31, the number of nonprofits we can help fund has already grown exponentially just in this first year. In our cover story this week, you can see who they are, and what projects they’re asking you to donate to this holiday season. Read them all—I’m positive you’ll be as blown away as I was by the ambitious work these groups are doing to help the members of our community who need it most. Then go to santacruzgives.com to support your favorite projects. Let’s all be part of Santa Cruz giving.


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Redefining Downtown

The Downtown Association recently held a series of events titled something like “Defining Downtown.” Meaning re-defining what it is … lots of good businesses, good restaurants … empty storefronts, empty lots, flea market and campground.

Some ideas: our local newspapers (which run stories about which dog runs are open) could ask why other coastal towns do not have empty lots and stores dotting their downtowns.

We could have events on our main street like other coastal towns do—we are probably the only one not doing an art and wine fair and a first night (with all of our abundant artists and musicians and wineries). To be fair, we have some parades and a snowball (with ice) night that get a few people out. The dance night is an example of what we should be doing more of.

Get rid of the red meters that suggest that a quarter is going to help someone get a home and that we have more panhandlers than Aptos.

Get rid of the safety patrol (“downtown hosts”) and the rent-a-cops who make us look like we are trying to contain our reputation. Put more regular cops downtown walking around or on bicycles and pay for them by replacing our famously top-heavy police department’s captains (200k a year with health benefits for life) with beat cops.

Find a place for our homeless to go—Jordan can house 2 million migrants, we can’t house 2,000. I told the council about the UC Berkeley school of architecture itching to construct some temporary housing, with no response. A well-regulated campground (as opposed to the unregulated camping around town) is a no-brainer … wouldn’t it be humane if someone could walk around town asking lost souls if they need a place to stay? With all the money in this community we can’t keep the armory open year round?

Paul Cocking, Santa Cruz

Company Town

Re: Beach Flats Garden: The purpose of corporations is to make money. Every penny they spend works toward this goal. In the budgets of many companies are “donations” or “contributions” to worthy projects within the cities where they’re based or do most of their business. This money is not given out of generosity. It is given to build relationships with organizations, like the Scouts, who can help promote the company, and to maintain a positive public image for the company so that it can rely on the support of “grateful” citizens when its actions are challenged. Especially “grateful” are those involved directly with the local institutions that the companies fund, like schools or cultural organizations; in these cases, people can sometimes be actually censored.

There is nothing evil or sinister about any of this. It’s just the way the system works; it’s naive to think otherwise. Short of completely changing the system, the best we can do is organize to limit the power such companies have over our communities. In extreme cases the situation approaches a company town, as in Richmond, where a corporation operates like a separate unelected branch of government. It has taken years for a citizens’ organization, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, to begin to challenge the power of Chevron in Richmond.

Obviously the situation is not yet that far along in Santa Cruz. But, in the conflict over the fate of the Beach Flats Community Garden, we are now seeing the benefits to the Seaside Company of their donations over the years. Money well spent! No one knows what they plan to do on the land (they don’t have to tell us because they’re not government, and it’s “their property,” after all), but as long we all remain “grateful” to them for all their contributions, they will do whatever they want, as far as I can tell.

Michael Gasser, Santa Cruz

Not Sustainable

Kudos to Bonnie Linden (GT, 11/18) for her efforts to lead us all to a more sustainable future with less waste. I did a similar thing with my waste stream only to get hammered by the Santa Cruz Utilities Department when I asked to not be charged for the service that I did not receive. When they refused my request I responded by refusing to pay the bogus (non) trash/recycling collection bill. I also refused to take the trash and recycling carts they wanted to give me. They responded by threatening to shut off the water supply to my property!

This seems like true extortion. Rather than encourage sustainability and waste reduction, the city bureaucrats act like the Mafia with their “My way or we break your leg, one size fits all” policy. Good luck with that promoting innovation in helping to build a sustainable future!

Drew Lewis, Santa Cruz Sustainable Living Center, Santa Cruz


Due to an editing error, GT reported last week in our “Waste Line” story that the city of Santa Cruz and county may partner up in a new garbage contract. The two groups may partner in food waste, not in garbage collection. Also, two actors were misidentified in the photo accompanying the review of ‘Guys and Dolls.” Left to right in the photo are Lucas Brandt, Christopher Reber and Diana Torres Koss.

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photo contest


PAWS TO REFLECT We all suspect our cats are looking down on us, but this is a more literal example. Photograph by Alison Gamel.


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Miranda Lopez, a fourth grader at Madonna del Sasso School in Salinas, grew a 23-pound cabbage in her garden, watering it a couple of times a day and picking out bugs and weeds with her hands. Now she’s the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program’s California State Winner. Miranda was selected by the California Agriculture Department and will receive a $1,000 savings bond toward education.

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Over 800 county businesses are participating in Small Business Saturday this weekend. The county Economic Development Department is working with local chambers of commerce and has created a Facebook page to help promote the event. Saturday will be a day for people in search of unique, creative gifts, as well as procrastinators who miss the better-known Black Friday shopping spree the day before.



We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill


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