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Picking a Fight

While the debate about the Coast Hotel rages on, councilmembers are unanimous in their opposition to UC-Santa Cruz's new Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), which cheerily calls for 6,000 more students, 1,620 more faculty and staff, 4 million square feet of new space and new housing for only 1,500 undergraduates, leaving thousands to fend for themselves in the crowded Santa Cruz housing mosh pit--er, market.

Citing a complete disregard for the "White Paper"--a document issued by the CAMPUS/COMMUNITY WORK GROUP addressing the impacts of UC growth on housing, traffic, transportation, infrastructure, city services and recreation and open space--the council voted unanimously to write a strongly worded letter to the university.

Only time will tell if the university pays any attention to Mayor MIKE ROTKIN's letter to JOHN BARNES, director of campus planning. The letter, which was actually composed by the pros at the City Planning Department and signed by the mayor, shames the university for its "premature embrace" of the 21,000 enrollment number, and the planned erection of a northern campus that stretches outside of the area for which the city has committed itself to water and sewage services.

The letter also points out other areas in need of attention, including housing and traffic concerns and secondary effects of increased population, and sternly reminds the university that, while the city or county may not have direct jurisdiction over any development at the old Wrigley building acquired by the university, "for your information, the City retains authority for the Local Coastal Program (LCP) compliance at 2300 Delaware; therefore, any required coastal permits will need to be approved by the City." So there.

More of the city's apparent leverage hinges on a favorable interpretation of the California Environmental Quality Act as well as a favorable judgment by the CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT in the case of The City of Marina v. Board of Trustees of the California State University, which prohibits universities from paying other public agencies for off-site transportation and fire improvements.

The city of Berkeley recently sued UC-Berkeley for underestimating the potential impact of its new LRDP. Rotkin and City Manager DICK WILSON plan to visit Berkeley Mayor TOM BATES to compare notes.

Yellow Brick Road to Pension Reform

Dutifully following the marching orders of House Minority Leader NANCY PELOSI and Majority Leader TOM DELAY, who both directed congressional representatives to get back to their districts and start stumping, Congressmembers SAM FARR, ZOE LOFGREN and MIKE HONDA went one step further by making the rounds together, looking very much unlike the TIN MAN, DOROTHY and the SCARECROW.

The three representatives appeared in the council chambers last Saturday for a standing-room-only town hall meeting, equipped with a shoddy recording of a Nightline episode debunking the Social Security "crisis." Honda, obviously out of his district, patronized with emotional talking points what turned out to be an educated and combative--albeit sympathetic--audience that took the reps to task on upper-division economic issues.

The trio's secret weapon, UCSC economics professor DAVID KAUN, fielded wildly divergent theoretical questions. But ultimately, the most significant unanswered question was a policy one: "What's our plan?"

Unlicensed Top 10

The measure to deny state benefits to illegal immigrants, led by CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT MIKE SPENCE, failed on Feb. 18. What follows is an unofficial Top 10 list from EDWARD HEADINGTON, press secretary to SEN. GIL CEDILLO (D-Los Angeles) about why Spence's campaign failed:

10. The vast pro-immigrant conspiracy is just too powerful.
9. Recent biblical rain caused too much trailer park damage and dampened recruitment.
8. A certain wealthy congressman spent all his time playing the new "Grand Theft Auto" game on PlayStation 2 and forgot to help out his anti-immigrant buddies.
7. The John and Ken Show is no match for El Cucuy and Piolin.
6. CRP never endorsed it, the governor wouldn't bless it and party mandarin Karen Hanretty didn't say anything clever about it.
5. Jerry's Sullivan's Magic 8 Ball-like predictions lowered morale and made outcome seem Calvinistic.
4. Too many volunteers signed up for the minutemen militia project in Arizona to help out with vigilante border security.
3. FPPC violations made organizers feel like "lawbreakers" and thus violated their personal driver's license philosophy.
2. Not enough mean-spiritedness and divisiveness left over from the Pete Wilson days.
1. Too many visits to Hometown Buffet on the campaign trail made activists lethargic and grumpy.

Celebrate the Muse

The perennially popular poetry reading, IN CELEBRATION OF THE MUSE, strolls gracefully into its 23rd year of featuring original, high-caliber poetry written and read by local women. Organizers and participants stress that, while only women read, many men thoroughly enjoy the event, and are certainly welcome to attend.

"It's such a joyous event," says MAUDE MEEHAN, who has been connected with the event since it began. "A lot of husbands and brothers and sons come too, and they seem to enjoy it as much as the women. It's a very heartfelt, funny, sad mix of extremely good writers speaking from their hearts."

Local favorites JEANNE WAKATSUKI HOUSTON, ROZ SPAFFORD and ELLEN TREEN, along with 17 other prose and verse poets, will each read for five minutes; proceeds from this year's event go to Cabrillo College's Fast Track to Work Program. It happens this Saturday, March 5, 8pm, at Cabrillo College Theater, 6500 Soquel Dr., Aptos; $15 donation.

War is hell ... for civilians

Italy used to be one of the world's largest producers of land mines, but thanks in large part to the work of DR. GINO STRADA, who has been treating victims of war since 1989, the Italian Parliament passed a law banning the production of land mines in 1997. Strada, a prominent figure in Italian pacifist culture, founded the humanitarian organization EMERGENCY in 1994, which continues to care for wounded civilians in Afghanistan. His book Green Parrots (a type of land mine disguised to look like a toy) details his experiences as a war surgeon. Organizers of this event will show clips from various documentaries about Strada, then Strada himself will discuss the current efforts to get medical help where it's needed most. The conference and booksigning takes place March 9 at 7pm at the Vets Hall, 836 Front St., Santa Cruz. For more information, visit www.emergencyusa.org.

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From the March 2-9, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

For more information about Santa Cruz, visit santacruz.com.




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