Thursday, April 13, 2017

Open House Meetings on Accessory Dwelling Units

Press Release from the County of Santa Cruz:

Open House Meetings on ADU Regulations

The Santa Cruz County Housing Advisory Commission is hosting two public open
houses to provide county residents with an opportunity to learn about recent
changes to the regulations governing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in the
unincorporated county, hear the results of a recent public survey regarding
ADUs, and learn about the County’s efforts to simplify getting permits and
support applicants as they move through the process of design and financing
ADUs.

The meeting will also provide an opportunity for discussion about the use of
ADUs as a source of long-term rental housing in both the urban and the rural
parts of the county, and an opportunity for participants to ask questions of staff
and provide focused feedback regarding ADUs.

The meeting dates, times and locations are as follows:

April 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Ss. Peter and Paul
Orthodox Church, 9980 Hwy 9, Ben Lomond

April 26, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Simpkins Family Swim
Center Community Room, 979 17th Ave., Live Oak

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

San Lorenzo River Symposium Set for March 4th

2017 State of the San Lorenzo River Symposium focuses on flow 

PLEASE ATTEND THIS FREE EVENT!  

The San Lorenzo Valley Water District, City of Santa Cruz Water Department, the County of Santa Cruz, the Coastal Watershed Council and the Resource Conservation District will host the third annual State of the San Lorenzo River Symposium on Saturday, March 4

Flow in the San Lorenzo River Watershed is critical to our local drinking water supplies and wildlife. Learn the importance of flow to some fish species, how flow has changed overtime, and how flow relates to groundwater, climate change and more.

Local experts will present on the science, history and policies related to flow. Keynote speaker John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources, will close the event with a talk about State and Federal policies and ramifications for restoring the San Lorenzo River Watershed. An interactive tour on the river will be offered immediately following the symposium.
 
The event is free and will be held 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Louden Nelson Community Center Multipurpose Room, 301 Center St. in Santa Cruz. The tour begin at 1:15 p.m.Please RSVP for the tour.

Event organizers are still seeking applications for "lightning talk proposals" — short presentations given under 5 minutes —  on the topic of flow. Lightning talks can range from story-telling to more traditional presentations on scientific work. Everyone is encouraged to submit a proposal. Deadline is Sunday, February 5



Thursday, January 12, 2017

Supervisor McPherson To Request $2 million from Reserve Funds for Road Repairs

Supervisor McPherson Seeks Reserve Funds for Road Repairs

Supervisor Bruce McPherson is requesting $2 million from County reserve funds next week to repair three of the most urgent storm damaged roads. “This is why we have reserves,” McPherson said. “These roads are critical for our communities.”

Bear Creek Road lost a travel lane in this week’s storm and Soquel-San Jose Road lost a travel lane several weeks ago in a previous storm event. Both roads serve as alternative routes to Highway 17 and carry traffic volumes in the 4,000 to 8,000 vehicles on an average day. Both roads see significantly higher volumes when they are used as emergency routes when Highway 17 is closed for any reason. Additionally, Cabrillo College Drive also received significant damage to one lane of travel due a failed drainage system. Cabrillo College has traffic volumes of around 4,000 vehicles a day.

With an estimate of up to $6 million or more in damages to County public roads, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday declared a state of emergency and asked the Governor, as well as the California Office of Emergency Services, FEMA and Caltrans, to follow up in support of the emergency declaration. Those declarations would allow state and federal aid to assist the County is restoring much of the storm damaged roadways.

Supervisor McPherson said that we cannot wait for the state and federal declarations and that we need to get a heads start on repairing the County road system. Because Bear Creek Road and Soquel-San Jose Road are considered federal aid routes, the funding for repairs could be partially funded by the federal government, with the local match supplied by the County. The County would do the work to fix the slip-out, with the Federal Highway Administration paying up to 75 percent of the repair work, and the County would pay for 25 percent.

The section of Bear Creek Road that washed down the hill, about .2 miles from Boulder Creek, will cost an estimated $1.5 million to fix. Soquel-San Jose Road will cost about $350,000 and Cabrillo College Drive will cost an estimated $200,000, based on current estimates from the County Public Works Department.

McPherson said that even using emergency reserve funds, due to the geotechnical work, meeting design requirements, bidding, and construction timelines, it will take probably until the end of summer or longer to fully restore both roads. McPherson’s request is expected to be considered by the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 24.

What you can do:
1. Attend the Board of Supervisors meeting January 24th.
2. Send an email supporting this effort to bruce.mcpherson@santacruzcounty.us
3. Send a letter supporting this effort to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors 701 Ocean St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Now is the time to act to get this road stabilized and repaired.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

SLVWD Manages Storm Issues


San Lorenzo Valley Water District Sustains Water Service During Storms

BOULDER CREEK, CA – The San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) today announced is has no current storm-related disruptions in water service, despite recording more than 8 inches of rain since the storms started on Saturday.

The District has received 8.17 inches of rain since Saturday, bringing the total rainfall for the current water year (Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2018) to 42.56 inches. During the 2015-16 water year, the District recorded 49.47 inches of rain.

“So far, so good,” Operations Manager Rick Rogers said Tuesday. “Right now we have no water outages and no special use restrictions.”

The most significant storm damage the District sustained since storms began pummeling the San Lorenzo Valley on Saturday was a rupture to a main pipeline running under Bear Creek Road. The pipe was damaged when a large section of the road was washed away Sunday night. SLVWD crews rerouted water service in the area through a bypass pipe that connects around the damaged area of the water line. Rogers expected that work to be done by end-of-day Tuesday. A permanent fix will be put in place when the County repairs the road.

District crews also have been managing power issues in some areas, relying on generators to operate key equipment during power outages. Some pumps normally controlled by automated systems have been damaged by the storm and are being operated manually. Crews also are navigating around downed trees, but no roads essential to providing water service have been closed.

Surface water intakes were shut off earlier in the week due to turbidity (typical as a consequence of muddy river water) and the District is relying on well water to supply customers. Rogers said District water tanks remain more than 75 percent full and there are no water quality issues or special use restrictions affecting customers.

Customers are encouraged to prepare for water emergencies by conserving water during power outages because water pumping is powered by generators at that time and is limited. During an outage, water should only be used for health and safety purposes. The American Red Cross recommends storing 1 gallon per day, per person of water in case of emergency, and for people to have a three-day supply of drinking water available.

The District will work to keep customers updated about water emergencies during the storm through its website, www.slvwd.com, and Facebook, www.facebook.com/slvwaterdistrict.

ABOUT THE SAN LORENZO VALLEY WATER DISTRICT
The San Lorenzo Valley Water District is located in the mountains of northern Santa Cruz County. The district serves more than 7,800 metered connections. Established in 1941, the district supplies water to the communities of Boulder Creek, Brookdale, Ben Lomond, Zayante, Scotts Valley, MaƱana Woods and Felton. For more information, visit www.slvwd.com or www.facebook.com/slvwaterdistrict.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

COALITION OF LOCAL CANNABIS BUSINESSES FORMS IN SANTA CRUZ


Santa Cruz, CA January 5, 2017  After several months of discussion and planning a local trade association of cannabis related businesses has formed in Santa Cruz.  Green Trade™ Santa Cruz , is launching at a public event on Tuesday January 10th, 6pm at the Old Freight Building in Depot Park, Santa Cruz.


Businesses, organizations and individuals intending to operate in compliance with local and state regulations are being invited to join together to promote and foster a safe, legal, environmentally responsible and socially conscious cannabis industry.


Green Trade™ will operate as an advocacy and trade association, promoting the positive economic, social and therapeutic benefits of cannabis in general and Santa Cruz cannabis in particular.


Santa Cruz has been blessed with a long and rich cannabis history, our reputation for high quality and innovative practices will make us a leader in the new post prohibition era.” said Pat Malo, Executive Director of the new organization.


Malo, 35 is a lifelong local resident and was a respected and outspoken member of the County’s Citizen’s Committee on Cannabis (C4) and the co-founder and leader of the Cannabis Advocates Alliance (CAA) the county’s largest cannabis advocacy organization that includes patients, caregivers and producers.


The CAA will continue to exist to support the rights of patients as well as those shut out of the new legal landscape.” he said.  Green Trade™ will focus on the shared interests of Santa Cruz area businesses and organizations who have chosen to enter into the regulated marketplace, from research and cultivation to processing, distribution and sales.”


Over a dozen local businesses representing a variety of sectors have signed on as Founding Members and more are expected before Tuesday’s event which kicks off a membership drive.  


Malo is joined in the venture by Jim Coffis a retired business consultant, Attorney Trevor Luxon and CPA Naseem Nangoli.

More information is available at their website: GreenTradeSantaCruz.org or by emailing info@GreenTradeSantaCruz.org.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Santa Cruz County Evacuations Lifted #LomaFire


PRESS RELEASE 9/28/16 3pm
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
Sheriff-Coroner


Evacuations have been lifted for Santa Cruz County residents displaced by the Loma Fire. There is still an active wild land fire in the area and the Sheriff’s Office encourages residents to remain vigilant. Vehicle traffic in the previously evacuated areas will be limited due to a high number of emergency vehicles on the roadway. It is advised that residents limit travel on the roadway in an effort to reduce gridlock. California Highway Patrol may restrict access to non-residents at check points.



Residents are encouraged to monitor Cal Fire http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents for current fire information. If residents observe fire or other activity that may need an emergency service response, please call 911 or Sheriff’s Office Dispatch (831)471-1121. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for current events.



The Sheriff’s Office wishes to thank residents for their patience and understanding over the last few days. We also wish to thank the outpouring of volunteer and community support which ultimately helped enhance the services we were able to provide to those affected by the Loma Fire.




Friday, September 23, 2016

County Cannabis Czar Named, Cultivation Registration Program Revamped

Online Registration Program Back Live With Anonymous Option, Lower Fee


Daniel W. Peterson, a water resources engineer for Yuba County (pop 73,000) will become the first Santa Cruz County Cannabis Licensing Official it was announced today. He is expected to begin work in mid-October.   


He will oversee the newly created Cannabis Licensing Division "including staff management, community outreach and coordination with state regulators."  


In a prepared statement County Administrative Officer Susan Mauriello is quoted as saying  “Throughout the hiring process, Mr. Peterson stood out as someone ready to work with neighbors, growers and patients to strike a balance and achieve a medical cannabis regulatory system that works well for everyone in Santa Cruz County.”


According to the County spokesman, Jason Hoppin, Peterson worked for CalTrans and Sutter County before his current job in the Yuba Department of Public Works.


“I am humbled by and excited about this opportunity to work with the County of Santa Cruz to navigate the complexities of a unique regulatory environment. I look forward to being a part of this team and helping to develop a program that best serves the interests of all members of the community while maintaining a positive path toward the future," Peterson said according to the County press release.


He is said to be familiar with Santa Cruz County’s current regulatory environment and how it relates to the state and the activities of other California counties in this emerging area of law.


Meanwhile major revisions to the County’s Cannabis Cultivation Registration Process went into effect today.  Applicants can now open an account online without having to identify themselves or their location.  


The County is encouraging everyone who wishes to operate in the regulated market in the future to register  ”... even if they think at this time their site might not qualify for licensing under the proposed ordinance so that you can preserve your ability to apply for a license.”


The account creation page has been changed to allow cultivators to register using only an email address, a username and a password. You will not have to provide your name, address, APN or cultivation site information in order to set-up an account and you will have the option to opt out of providing this information on the registration form as well.


You will need to pay $500 and complete and upload the registration form by midnight Nov 6 to be eligible for licensing in the future.

Those wishing to provide all of the requested identifying information can still do so.  A new process, separate from the registration, will begin sometime in November at which time registrants can choose to identify themselves and their parcel, complete additional forms and pay $2500 to receive feedback and consultation from County staff regarding readiness for licensing.  

Anyone wishing to register should go here: https://scccannabis.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/

Friday, September 2, 2016

Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission Splits $7 million on 15 projects

$7 million approved for local transportation projects 

Press Release from SCCRTC
Sept 1, 2016


 At its meeting today, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) selected projects to receive $7 million in local shares of federal transportation funds.

Following a public hearing, the RTC approved funds for 15 projects including:

 Major pavement repairs on local roads in Ben Lomond, Happy Valley/Carbonera, Santa
Cruz, Scotts Valley and Watsonville - $3 million
 Bus: Funds to replace an old diesel METRO bus with a low emission CNG bus - $500,000
 Highway 1/9 Intersection modifications: add turn lanes, bike lanes/shoulders. Intersection is used by over 80,000 vehicles per day and all METRO buses - $950,000
 Highway 1 Corridor Environmental Review and Analysis: Complete environmental review documents including response to public comments and questions and updated traffic
analysis of auxiliary lanes, bicycle/pedestrian overcrossings, and carpool lanes on Highway 1, including detailed analysis of auxiliary lanes on Highway 1 between 41st Ave and Soquel Drive and a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over Highway 1 at Chanticleer Avenue - $830,000
 Aptos Village: Turn lanes, sidewalks, improved bicycle lanes, and pavement repairs on Soquel Drive and other roadways in Aptos Village - $650,000
 Traveler assistance programs: Tow truck safety freeway service patrols on Highway 1 and Highway 17 that assist drivers, remove collisions, and clear obstacles that impede traffic flow; Cruz511.org which provides information about traffic incidents, carpooling, taking the bus, and park-and-ride lots - $550,000
 Environmental review and preliminary design of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network (MBSST) Rail Trail along the north coast near Davenport - $300,000
 Safe Routes to Schools Youth Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Education programs provided by Ecology Action in second and fifth grade classrooms – $50,000

After considering testimony from members of the public, Commissioners committed $10,000 for an Open Streets event in Watsonville. Additional information on the approved projects and the related staff report, are available on the Regional Transportation Commission's website:
www.sccrtc.org/funding-planning/project-funding/ and in the meeting agenda packet:
http://sccrtc.org/meetings/commission/agendas/.

These grant funds come from the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG), a federal program created by the federal Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act or "FAST Act". Due to the volatility of gas tax revenues, delays in adoption of the federal transportation act, and the unreliability of State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funds, this was the first time the RTC has programmed funds to new projects since 2013. The region’s proportional share of Federal and State revenues continues to fall severely short of what is required to address the backlog of infrastructure repairs, safety, traffic congestion, bicycle and pedestrian projects that have been identified as priorities by the community. Measure D – a countywide November ballot measure – would bring in an additional $500 million through a ½ cent sales tax for priority local transportation projects such as fixing potholes, improving traffic flow on Highway 1, expanding safe routes to school and other bicycle and pedestrian projects, and maintaining transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities. Information on Measure D is online at: www.sccrtc.org/move.




Thursday, August 25, 2016

Major Revisions Made to County Cannabis Registration Program

Saying her goal was to “make this work for everyone” County CAO Susan Mauriello directed her staff to significantly reduce the paperwork required for cultivators to register their intent to seek a license from the County.


The $3500 registration fee will also likely be reduced to reflect less cost to the county to process.


Among the changes will be an elimination of the Live Scan and the very detailed background information request as well as a number of the other forms that were originally included in the August 8 roll out. A new registration form is being finalized and should be available by the end of the month.  Deadline for registration remains November 6.


Mauriello emphasized that much of the information sought was for the purpose of establishing a baseline of data for use in determining the potential environmental impact of the proposed new ordinance.  In addition she said the county’s goal was to provide applicants with information about the new rules so that they could ensure they were in compliance or begin to work on becoming compliant to be eligible for local licensing in time to seek a state license when they become available in 2018.


“Cultivators need to understand that there may be a number of hurdles they will need to overcome in order to obtain a local license and we want to give them the time and information they need to be ready.”  said Mauriello.  


While admitting that things will be probably be “a little weird” for a year - cultivators need to remain compliant with the existing 99 plant ordinance even as they submit applications for operations under a new proposed ordinance - Mauriello encouraged anyone who is eligible and considering becoming a licensed cultivator in the future to register.  “We are not going to deny anyone a registration.  We will tell them where they may be deficient or if they need to move their operation.”


A number of workshops to answer questions and assist cultivators with the registration process will be held throughout the County including one in Felton on Wednesday, September 7 between 4:00 – 5:30 pm at the Community Hall.

Contact Jim Coffis (jcoffis@gmail.com) for more information.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Santa Cruz County To Begin Registering Cannabis Growers

Santa Cruz County to Launch Cannabis Cultivation Registration Program


Santa Cruz County officials are expected, within days, to begin accepting registrations from eligible parties interested in seeking a local license to grow medical cannabis for sale. The online registration process could roll out as early as August 11th, sources say. A 90-day registration window for eligible existing cultivators is among the provisions in the proposed new ordinance, which the Board of Supervisors approved in concept.

While the ordinance has not yet been passed, County staff have been moving ahead with the program in an effort to identify those who "intend to seek a local license" in the future. The information gathered will also be used as a “baseline” for evaluating the environmental impact of the new ordinance.

Licensing priority is given to growers who were operating before December 2013. There are some exceptions for persons who are involved non-cannabis commercial agriculture.

A Licensing Official, who will have broad discretion in approving or denying registrants - with little public oversight, is expected to be hired soon. Over 100 applications for that $140,000 position have been screened and final interviews are being conducted.

The registration process, will require prospective registrants to create an online “account” with basic identifying information. Various forms will need to be downloaded and completed, then uploaded to the system.  It is anticipated that the entire process will require some time to complete and therefore only the initial account setup will be required to be completed in the 90-day window.

A site visit from yet-to-be-hired code enforcement officials will be part of the process. A non-refundable fee of $3,500 will be collected.

The County plans to offer workshops and other technical assistance for prospective applicants. Local cannabis advocacy groups are also planning on providing help once they see the forms and review the various information the County will require..

Priority for review and acceptance of registration will be based upon how complete and compliant the registration is and not the date when the account was initially created.

In other developments the County has taken steps to include a new cannabis tax measure on the November ballot which amends Measure K to include growers and other related operations to the list of businesses subject to up to 10% tax.