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Letters to the Editor

Triumph Over Plastic

YOUR ARTICLE "Shell Shock" (Cover Story, Dec. 16) on the difficulties of opening theft-proof plastic packaging was right on, especially with all the Christmas gifts enclosed in such dangerous-to-the-fingers materials. Knives, box cutters and scissors are all dangerous to use. Garden pruning shears are an improvement, but they still have sharp blades. The best solution, which I discovered year ago by accident, is what is called "aviation snips" in the hardware stores, where name brands are about $10. These are heavyweight, comfortable to hold; and, best of all, their jaws are dull. If you are patient, once you latch onto a seam or punch a small hole in the plastic, you can easily, quickly and safely make short work of these vexing hard plastic packings. And don't forget to recycle them!

Richard Lynde,

Santa Cruz

Desperately Seeking Logic

ONCE AGAIN the city has done something that leaves me utterly mystified (last time it was the lunch hour sidewalk sweeper). There is a parking lot on the ocean side of West Cliff Drive, just up from the lighthouse, that had for years been a gathering spot for a group of folks who pretty much hung out there all day, effectively declaring the space for their own. We're talking about beat-up old campers and vans that serve as living spaces as much as transportation. The air was somewhat communal, if not always friendly. Due to this co-opting of this particular lot, it was not typically used by tourists, beach goers, surfers or pretty much anyone else.

When the city embarked on its West Cliff repaving project, this lot was closed and used for parking heavy equipment and materials. I pass that lot a couple of times each day, and I noticed that it remained closed well after the project was completed and all the other lots had been reopened.

Just recently the lot was reopened but with one big difference: All the curbs had been painted green and signs had been posted restricting the parking time to 24 minutes. Given the fact that there is really nothing anyone can do in that area that takes only 24 minutes, (I mean, how many people go to the beach for 24 minutes?), it seems obvious that this was the city's attempt to discourage the return of this ad-hoc community. Here's the problem: Where, exactly did they think these folks were going to go? Did they imagine that they would simply disappear or "go home?" No—they liked being down by the ocean, so they simply moved their rigs down to the lighthouse lot, taking up valuable parking in a highly used tourist destination or down to the Lane where they take up spaces, often more than one per vehicle, used by the local surf community. So, whereas before "they" were all nicely grouped together in one spot that wasn't being used by anyone else, now that lot is completely empty all the time and "they" are taking up spaces that were being used by others.

Can someone explain the logic in this?

Doug Springs,

Santa Cruz

Colombo Calling

I READ your food critic's article about Pearl of the Ocean ("Pearl in an Ocean," Epicure, Oct. 28) because I have often eaten there. I have always felt that a critic should have a basic knowledge, hopefully more than my own, of that which is being criticized. I feel your writer has missed the mark. To compare Sri Lankan "pan" with Middle Eastern "pita" is the same as comparing tortillas with Wonder bread. The only thing they have in common is that the former are both breads of Asia while the latter are breads of North America.

The article made a huge deal out of the fact that the wine was served in between several of the appetizers. Sri Lanka does not have a wine culture. Ordering wine with Sri Lankan curries caters to the need some Americans have to order an alcoholic beverage with their meal. That's like going to an Italian restaurant in Tokyo and ordering sake with your spaghetti. Expecting a server to know wine in France is one thing, but to expect the same from a Sri Lankan is another. And isn't that why we explore foods from around the world, to experience something different?

The article left me feeling that your writer has never been to Sri Lanka, and therefore, does not have the authority to criticize its food or its culture.

I just came from lunch at Pearl of the Ocean. My inner critic just wanted to share with you that the squash curry was outrageous!

Russell Downing,

Santa Cruz


I AM WRITING in response to Mike Speviak's Bullhorn article ("The Trouble With a Bike Boulevard," Dec. 9) discouraging the King Street Bike Boulevard. As someone who works with Mission Hill Middle School, I find the argument that there are too many cars on the Westside for a bike facility to be possible particularly upsetting.

Until Santa Cruz really commits itself to prioritizing noncar transit, there will always be too many cars getting in the way of our quality of life. I appreciate greatly the work that the city does to make Santa Cruz as bike-friendly as it is, but the King Street corridor, surrounded by schools, is a glaring problem.

I teach an after-school Bike Club at Mission Hill Middle School. I have been riding with children for years, and King Street is one of the most stressful corridors on which I have led them. It is a great place to teach my students how to navigate a too-narrow, congested, often hostile throughway. The volume of traffic makes it feel extremely treacherous, and the folks using it as a shortcut are in a hurry. I have had trucks speed around a group of children, and drivers have yelled at us to get off the road. King Street is absolutely not a "Safe Route to School." A neighborhood route to school should not be an alternative route for a highway. So I ask, with so many schools in the neighborhood, including 500-plus kids at Mission Hill, why is moving more cars faster more important than our children?

I think when we align our priorities with our true values, not convenience or the status quo, we can have the kind of community we truly want.

Carolyn Jett,

Santa Cruz

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