.Opinion April 18, 2018


The idea of a “progressive split” on local issues is nothing new—certainly the Santa Cruz political landscape is proof that progressives aren’t in the kind of philosophical lock-step they’re often imagined to share.

The debate over the direction of post-earthquake downtown Santa Cruz in the early ’90s could get pretty vicious—especially when it came to issues like chain stores and the sleeping ban. The desalinization issue was divisive a few years ago. But the way the question of what to do with the rail trail has polarized environmentalists somehow seems even more rancorous. The heated battle between those who want to see a cyclist-friendly trail-only solution and those who want “rail and trail” has spun off in many directions, and this week Jacob Pierce delivers the first in a series of stories about the issues involved. The amount of time he’s spent out in the field (as in, literal fields) with activists from both sides is remarkable, and the story reflects that depth of research.

I also want to take a minute to acknowledge the GT staffers, including Pierce, who were announced last weekend as the winners of 2017 California Journalism Awards. He won third place in the Coverage of Local Government category for his story on housing issues, “Building Material.” Georgia Johnson was a finalist in the same category for her article on the defunding of women’s self-defense classes, “Defense Spending.” Lily Stoicheff won a second-place award in the Enterprise News Story category for her cover story “Santa Cruz’s Restaurant Crisis.” And I won second place in the Profile Story category for my cover story on the Santa Cruz Symphony, “Maestro on a Mission.” Congratulations to all!



Read the latest letters to the editor here.

Festival Woes

Thank you for your article on the Santa Cruz American Music Festival, with the sad news that it may no longer be happening, and the fascinating memories and insights of Phil Lewis. This well-organized festival, in its lovely location, will be sorely missed if it is unable to return. The community will have lost a great way to welcome summer, especially lovers of live-music in outdoor venues—not to mention the many businesses that benefited from the Festival directly or indirectly.

The challenges of running a small music festival are well delineated in the article, clearly demonstrating how difficult it is to make a go of it. Those of us working on the Redwood Mountain Faire understand this, since we are facing many of the same challenges of ever-increasing costs. Only the fact that it is a fundraiser for more than 20 local community organizations ($300,000 in the first eight years) helps us deal with that—because that helps motivate over 300 volunteers to help run the Faire, and encourages many businesses to provide discounts and sponsorships.

Also helping are the many local fine arts and crafts vendors, the many children’s activities, and the low cost that make it both a great music festival and a fun family event. We hope that those missing their annual Memorial Day music festival will find that the Redwood Mountain Faire on June 2 and 3, at Roaring Camp in Felton, may help to fill the gap in their lives since we’ve all lost the SCAMF for this year and possibly longer. Thanks to Phil Lewis and the others who made it such a great event.


Class of ’65

I am a proud member of the first class ever to attend UC Santa Cruz when it opened in 1965. While all UCSC alumni care about their campus, those in my class, the “pioneer” class, have a special affection and sense of responsibility for this unique and beautiful California treasure.

For this reason, we and others were deeply dismayed to learn that UCSC’s administration had agreed to a hastily developed, ill-advised plan to build new student housing on inappropriate, historic, ecologically sensitive East Meadow of the UCSC campus (GT, 3/28). That meadow has been set aside for preservation from the beginning, in every one of UCSC’s Long Range Development Plans.

Accordingly, on March 25, I wrote to Chancellor George Blumenthal to inform him of a national petition to oppose the East Meadow development plan. The petition today has 51,980 signatures from concerned alumni, former employees, local citizens, parents, and grandparents.

Opposition to this ill-conceived plan is spreading rapidly, especially following the March 27 release of a 600-page Draft Environmental Impact Review (DEIR). This preliminary analysis happily identifies several options that are viable and desirable alternatives to destroying East Meadow.

The Chancellor’s response thus far, while explaining the campus process for the plan, unfortunately has not indicated willingness to consider a more thoughtful and deliberative process, offered how irreparable damage can be avoided, or how to address the concerns of these 51,980 people.

Today, therefore, I have written to the Chancellor again to tell him that all signers have been asked to request an extension of the public comment period so there will be time to consider alternative, less destructive sites for development.

Michael M. Gerber, Ph.D. | Professor (Emeritus), UC Santa Barbara


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We’ve all seen the signs in front of road construction that say “Your tax dollars at work.” Santa Cruz County’s taxpayers now have an opportunity to get involved in overseeing such work, as the Regional Transportation Commission is accepting applications from community members looking to serve on the Measure D Taxpayer Oversight Committee. The independent body will review how funds generated by the transportation sales tax are being spent. Measure D passed in November of 2016 with more than 67 percent of voters supporting it.


Young families should know not to play in the street, but apparently not everyone has gotten the memo. A mama duck and her nine ducklings were spotted crossing Highway 1 on Friday evening and causing a minor traffic buildup in the process. Mary Racioppi told KION that the mama stopped in the median, looked both ways and kept on walking. The news website also shared a photo of the adorably nerve-racking incident, and reported that the feathered family made it across the highway safely.


There is always a multitude of reasons both in favor of doing a thing and against doing it. The art of debate lies in presenting them; the art of life lies in neglecting ninety-nine hundredths of them.

-Hale White


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