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May 7-14, 2008

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Letters to the Editor

Take Back the Sidewalks!

THE SANTA CRUZ City Council does not have its hands tied regarding making a Mission Street safe bike corridor ("No Sign of Help," Nu_z, April 23). All it has to do is pass an ordinance exempting Mission Street from the rules that state no bicycles on sidewalks in commercial zones. Simple enough. A little paint, some signs about courteous behavior and some public education and there is no reason why Mission Street sidewalks could not work with foot traffic just as West Cliff Drive does. I don't see that many people walking on Mission Street anyway.

And since when are bicyclists not aware of the Santa Cruz motto "Question Authority?" If the city doesn't declare the sidewalk a bike path, then just ride there anyway. Who's going to be out ticketing bicyclists, given the recent horror of two fatalities on this street? The city needs to stop passing the buck to Caltrans, which is never going to do anything.

Dan Dickmeyer,
Santa Cruz

Paradise Paved

OK, OK, I know it's "Keep Santa Cruz Weird," but why does the city of Santa Cruz officially celebrate Earth Day on an asphalt parking lot? When I first saw the ads I wanted to bring my jackhammer to join in the celebrations. Well, maybe a sledgehammer. OK, my hoe, a few seeds and a watering can, to try and scrape beneath this sadly superficial celebration. Joni Mitchell said it best in the '70s:  "Don't it always seem to go ...  they paved paradise and put up a parking lot." How true.

San Lorenzo Park (our beautiful, if underused, Central Park), on the other hand, was virtually empty on Sunday. More empty than I'd like. In fact, the City Parks Supervisor recently cut down a number of beautiful old trees by the duck island stage in order to better see/expose the homeless "problem" and reduce unsightly leaf litter. Go figure! Keep SC Weirder? I had to scoot to the edge of the grassy knoll last Saturday to find much-needed shade while watching live music at the weekly Saturday Market in the Park. I am looking forward to celebrating Bike to Work-Live Week (May 10-17) and the River Arts Festival (May 17-18), a great community arts celebration in San Lorenzo Park (now, with less trees!).

I hear that if you want to contest the cutting of an old-growth tree in the city of Santa Cruz it now costs a concerned citizen $500 to appeal the chainsaw's cry (until a few months ago it cost $50 to fight the ax). Are we going backwards? More Hummers humming? I think it's time to start running! To the return of the Lorax (and the reasons we moved here in the first place).

Santa Cruz

Vegan for World Peace

IT'S BEEN the leading story in major newspapers and TV news programs for the past week. More than 100 million people are being driven deeper into poverty by a "silent tsunami" of rising food prices, according to World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran. A dozen countries have experienced food riots and strikes. Prices for basic food staples such as rice, wheat, corn and soybeans have skyrocketed in recent months. They are driven by rising fuel and fertilizer prices, diversion of corn to produce biofuels, drought in key food-producing countries, soil depletion through overgrazing, and growing demand for meat in China and other developing nations.

The resulting hunger afflicts nearly 1 billion people, mostly women and children. It kills an astonishing 24,000 per day. It's not just a problem for strangers in faraway lands. It affects millions of Americans, and some U.S. stores are already rationing food.

The good news is that even a small shift toward a plant-based diet in the U.S. and other developed countries would free up enough land, water and fuel to feed everyone. More than 80 percent of U.S. agricultural land grows animal feed. A plant-based diet requires only 16-20 percent of the resources of the standard American diet. Every one of us can start abating the scourge of world hunger today, by reducing our consumption of meat and other animal products and by supporting food distribution agencies. (For more information, see

Steven Alderson,
Santa Rosa

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