Celebrating the Twin Lakes Beachfront Improvement Project
The Twin Lakes Beachfront Improvement Project is done! This project, which is part of the California Coastal Trail and the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail, has improved coastal access by adding bike lanes, an accessible pedestrian path, and organized parking. Thanks to all who helped make it happen!
Measure G: County Sales Tax Measure
I’m proud that the County has worked hard to strengthen its financial foundation by reducing pension costs, increasing reserves, securing a stronger credit rating and saving millions by installing new solar arrays on County facilities, yet there are still critical unmet needs in the areas of behavioral health intervention, parks improvements, and homeless services.
In August, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to place a half cent sales tax measure --Measure G-- on the November ballot. Although the tax will be voted on Countywide, the tax will be levied only on sales within the unincorporated area (not within City limits). Measure G will bring the tax rate in the unincorporated area to 9%, the same as Capitola and Scotts Valley and lower than the Cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville.
The Board's stated priorities include funding the County’s Focused Deterrence Initiative. This program, to be run by the County Sheriff’s Department, will pair law enforcement with mental health and substance use clinicians to address individuals with escalating mental health and addiction problems. This team will serve the four cities and the unincorporated areas of the county, with special attention to the City of Santa Cruz, which faces the most acute impacts from those suffering from mental illness, drug addiction and those experiencing homelessness. This team will focus on individuals who cause severe impacts and refuse services.
In addition to the Focused Deterrence Initiative, it is the Board's intention to use Measure G revenues to help fund parks in the County including Leo’s Haven which will be the first all-inclusive park for children of all abilities in Santa Cruz County. You can find out more here.
Measure H: Local Housing Bond
High housing costs are inhibiting the sustainability of our community and our workforce. We all know workers, families, and seniors who are struggling to stay in the community they love.
In November Santa Cruz County voters will have an opportunity to increase resources for affordable housing needs and reducing the homeless population by passing a general obligation bond measure. Measure H, a $140 million bond, will create new affordable rental and homeowner housing units and assist existing low-income and vulnerable residents in need.
The measure includes an oversight committee to ensure that bond proceeds are being spent in compliance with the bond measure. You can find out more here.
North Coast News:
I’m glad to report that at my urging, Caltrans will be decreasing the speed limit in Davenport. The new speed limit signs have been ordered and should be installed soon. Residents and visitors regularly cross Highway 1 to access beaches and businesses in Davenport and a reduced speed limit should increase safety.
Meanwhile, I will continue to work towards securing funding for a crossing/signal in Davenport.
Downtown Streets Team Cleanups on the North Coast
I am happy to report that this summer the Downtown Streets Team
began conducting cleanups on the North Coast. The Downtown Streets Team is an organization that provides stipends to individuals experiencing homelessness who volunteer their time to clean local streets and neighborhoods. During budget hearings I was able to secure funding to develop a Downtown Streets team dedicated to cleaning Davenport Beach and other County Parks and beaches on the North Coast. The North Coast team cleans 3 times per week for four hours, and if you see them on the coast, give them a thumbs up!
North Coast Rail Trail
The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) has released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed North Coast Rail Trail Project. The public review and comment period is open until September 24, 2018.
The proposed Project is a 7.5 mile multi-use bicycle and pedestrian trail that would extend along the RTC- owned rail corridor from Wilder Ranch State Park in the south to Davenport in the north. The Project would include a variety of trail amenities such as benches, bike racks, informational and educational signs, restrooms, and trash, recycling containers, and parking.
While the proposed Project would locate the new multi-use trail almost exclusively on the coastal side of the existing railroad tracks, largely consistent with the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network Master Plan, other trail alignments are also evaluated in the Draft EIR.
The Draft EIR is online at www.sccrtc.org/north-coast. Written comments can be submitted via e-mail: email@example.com.
Reducing Barriers for Voters
Governor Brown signed AB 216 requiring that ballot envelopes be marked “postage pre-paid” so that stamps won’t be a barrier to voting. Two years ago, Santa Cruz County Clerk Gail Pellerin and I worked to implement pre-paid postage on ballots in Santa Cruz County because voting is too important to let a stamp (or 2) get in the way. I’m glad our county helped lead the state on this issue.