.Opinion November 2, 2016


Driving from Northern California to Southern California for a short vacation in July, it seemed like the entire state was on fire. The Soberanes blaze that started north of Big Sur burned more than 100,000 acres, and the Sand fire that had just started north of Los Angeles—and would go on to burn nearly 50,000 acres—had us fleeing Interstate 5 for the windy cliff roads above Santa Clarita. Skies were dark from the smoke along parts of the freeway.

I’ve had plenty of experience with wildfires in California—including watching a 10-foot wall of flames come over the top of the hill behind my family’s home on the Central Coast as a kid—but the sheer scope of what happened this summer was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

I heard and read a lot of people blaming it all on the drought in a very unspecific, unscientific way, as if it was enough to say that less rain equals more fire. Personally, I wanted to understand the real reasons—why exactly has the drought made our fire seasons so much worse—and now that I’ve read Kara Guzman’s cover story this week, I do. I hope that you’ll read it, as well, as it’s the single best story I’ve read on the new reality we’re facing with wildfires both here in Santa Cruz County and around the state.

Finally, one last time: Vote on Nov. 8!



Read the latest letters to the editor here.

Big Money Funding D

Big Money is trying to influence local politics.

The campaign to pass Measure D reports raising more than $380,000. As far as I know, that’s a historic high for spending on a Santa Cruz County ballot measure. Ninety-eight percent of these funds come from contributions of $1,000 or more.

Nearly a quarter of Measure D funds would go to widen Highway 1 for auxiliary lanes. So it makes sense that half of Yes on D funds come from construction interests. Topping the list of contributors is the “California Alliance for Jobs,” which describes itself as representing “more than 2,000 heavy construction companies.”

I was flabbergasted to read the Yes on D mailer make the claim that “This is not about widening Highway 1.”  The mailer also claims that auxiliary lanes on Highway 1 will reduce congestion. But Big Money can’t change last year’s Caltrans report that any congestion relief would be “very slight.” See WideningWontWork.org for details.


Measure D Boosts Vital Services

As the Board of Directors of Community Bridges, we are imploring you to vote “yes” on Measure D.

Why? It is the bridge that helps provide the vital transit services for our seniors and people with disabilities. Transportation services like “Lift Line,” one of the many life-sustaining programs under Community Bridges, will be able to continue and expand the vital services that currently ensure more than 80,000 paratransit medical door-to-door rides annually free of charge. Your half-penny increase will go toward not only improving our local roads and light rail system, but also enabling increased transportation services for our populations of seniors, people with disabilities, and our infirmed—without which many of them would miss life-saving medical appointments or remain homebound, feeling desperate in their isolation. Your support for Measure D will generate about $500 million over the next 30 years; it will alleviate our congested roadways; it will invest in the public process to determine if rail service is a good fit for our community; and most importantly, it will expand transportation for the elderly and the disabled. So what can half of a penny do? It will save lives and it will buy personal dignity and life-saving independence for our mothers, our brothers and our neighbors.  

There does exist a segment of our community that opposes any type of increase. As board members, we know it is our obligation to extend our hands to help serve those most in need and we seek to reach out to those community members who will simply oppose because it’s an increase with the following plea: We know what can be done. We know what should be done. It is up to each and every one of us to do it.

Please join our board by voting “yes” on Measure D in November!

Linda Fawcett | BOARD OF Directors, Community Bridges

Reasons for D

I want to live in a way that honors the oneness that connects people, the planet and our fellow species. To achieve this, we need to shift how we live and work. We as individuals have incredible power to create such change. That is why I’m excited to support Measure D, the greenest transportation measure on the California ballot this year. More than 30 percent of Santa Cruz residents do not drive; Measure D will prevent cuts to Metro bus service and expand Lift Line services that keep seniors connected with family, grocery and medical services. Mountain lions and other wildlife need a safe way across Highway 17, which Measure D will fund. And, last but not least, more than 60 percent of Measure D funds will go to bicycle, pedestrian and other sustainable transportation projects, which will empower each of us to make safer, healthier and (honestly) more fun choices for ourselves and the planet.

Kirsten Liske | Live Oak

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As locals grapple with how to address homelessness, the Calvary Episcopal Church will host a discussion on the subject. The red church on Center Street downtown has long been known for supporting the homeless, whether with food distribution or a warm place to sleep on frigid nights. The chat at the church’s Parish Hall from to 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12 will include a short video and stories from former homeless people. Space is limited.


From our Working On It, But Not Quite There Department: Cowell Beach topped Heal the Bay’s list of dirty California Beach Bummers once again, but this year bacteria was 50 percent lower than last year, city and environmental leaders have announced. They attribute the drop to efforts from the Seaside Company and the City of Santa Cruz to cut back on waste and reduce the amount of bird poop entering the water.


“I’d rather fight 100 structure fires than a wildfire. With a structure fire you know where your flames are, but in the woods it can move anywhere; it can come right up behind you.”

-Tom Watson


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