.Opinion: May 6, 2020


In American culture, masks have generally been viewed with suspicion on any day other than Halloween (and sometimes even then; thanks, creepy clowns). Outside of hospital ERs, they’ve been the attire of choice for bank robbers, terrorists and other bad guys in our popular imagination.

But during this pandemic, they’ve taken on the exact opposite meaning—to see someone wearing a mask in public now means they are socially responsible. And now, as Wallace Baine writes about in this week’s cover story, we’re also seeing them become expressions of identity. And we all know no one is beating Santa Cruz to the punch on that, so get ready to meet the locals who are crafting some of the most interesting and innovative masks around.

Also, check out Jacob Pierce’s story this week on how the coronavirus is devastating city budgets in Santa Cruz County. It’s an essential look at how this pandemic could affect our community for years to come.

Finally, I’m so impressed with the way Event Santa Cruz has stepped up to support local musicians with their “Save Our Music” campaign this month. Check out my story on Chris Rene, whose livestreamed performance (from an actual club!) on May 8 is part of that, and go to eventsantacruz.com to see everything they’re doing in May.



Read the latest letters to the editor here.

Closing Coastline is Nutso

Re: “How Long?” (GT, 4/22): Rash decisions by fear-fueled government bureaucrats don’t encourage confidence or cooperation by the public. Closing 31 miles of beach coastline from Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz to Monterey is nutso! More than 90% of the coastline is deserted. With the exception of a handful of places—i.e. Main Beach in Santa Cruz, Capitola, and by a stretch of the imagination, Rio Del Mar Beach—there is hardly anyone out there. This week I walked Zmudosky Beach; there were fewer than 20 people along a mile-and-a-half stretch. The other day I walked two miles from Portero to Molero beaches—four fishermen! 

When I visited Rio Del Mar, where about 10 percent of the people were not socially distancing I watched two State Park employees driving up and down the beach and not once informing those breaking the rules to behave responsibly. A short conversation and the threat of a ticket would have solved all of those situations.

Rather than close the beaches, those responsible for enforcement should be informing people about options for sunbathing and beach enjoyment.

And by the way, whichever fool put police tape up at three spots along West Cliff Drive, forcing pedestrians to walk in the street for 50 yards until they were past the roped off distances should be given a job at the DMV. 

Jay Dravich | Santa Cruz


If You Have the Time

If you have the time, bandwidth, an interest in transportation, and a sense of humor, the “Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis” survey may be just the ticket! It’s online until May 11 at surveymonkey.com/r/TCAA_Virtual_Meeting and is sponsored by the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission.

It largely deals with proposed uses of the rail branch line, the 32 miles of right of way that wends through the county, and would make a perfect active transportation corridor. Instead, you will see no reference to walking or biking or running or skating in the survey, but you will be offered the choice of gondolas or hyperloop and other transit alternatives. Even the Regional Transportation Commission’s straw man, the so-called “Rail Trail,” has been thrown under the bus or maybe into the hyperloop. Nary a mention of the Rail Trail, much less a real trail.

In lieu of a business plan from Executive Director Guy Preston or RTC Commission Chair John Leopold, here are some ideas. In RTC-speak they might be called preferred local alternative analysis alternatives. Let’s take a shot.

Alternative A: Allocate the eight percent Measure D money devoted to the rail corridor to a fund to repay the state its $11 million. It would take four or five years on layaway.

Alternative B: Seek relief from the legislature in a bill recognizing the three failed good faith attempts to meet the proposition 116 requirements and to forgive the debt. Many legislators would recognize that Prop 116 was a poorly drafted one-size-fits-all solution and that Santa Cruz County is held hostage to this “solution”.

Alternative C: Engage counsel to explore whether or not the county has satisfied the requirements of Proposition 116. As Commission Paul Van Konynenburg suggested: “Maybe at some point in the future we can get an opinion as to what requirements have been met and what haven’t.”

It has taken wallowing leadership to get us to the place of gondolas and hyperloops as solutions. An additional alternative that deserves analysis: It is time for RTC Executive Director Guy Preston and RTC Chairman John Leopold to go.

Greg Becker | La Selva Beach


The inscription on this bench overlooking New Brighton Beach in Capitola reads “This Too Shall Pass” and “Courtesy of Amsden Family 2020.” The photographer writes, “I don’t know who the Amsden Family is, but those of us who walk regularly on Park Avenue love this resting place.” Photograph by Kit Hein.

secure document shredding

Submit to [email protected]. Include information (location, etc.) and your name. Photos may be cropped. Preferably, photos should be 4 inches by 4 inches and minimum 250dpi.



UCSC Athletics and Recreation is in the middle of a rebranding process. The school received more than 10,000 survey responses over the course of the academic year and has now selected finalists for the Final Slug Survey. Thankfully, the Fiat Slug, famed for its appearance in Pulp Fiction, is not going anywhere. This new brand identity will mostly be for sports. Vote by May 19. For more information, visit opers.ucsc.edu.



The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership awarded its annual Public-Private Partnership Award to health care workers representing the public, private and nonprofit sectors and all three regions of Monterey Bay. At the sixth annual Regional Economic Summit, three individuals accepted the awards on behalf of their teams. The recipients were Amy Mitchell Meza, a public health nurse for the Communicable Disease Unit at Santa Cruz County’s Health Services Agency, Rediet Taddesse, a family nurse practitioner at San Benito Health Foundation and Heather Bowers, an infection prevention coordinator at Community Hospital of Monterey County.


“Nothing is more real than the masks we make to show each other who we are.”

-Christopher Barzak


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