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Terrace of Dreams

During a recent press event to unveil the new, improved Terrace Point development to the public, its champions spent a great deal of energy assuring reporters that this was a kinder, gentler development than the original, so-called "PBR" plan that met with so much community opposition. The new plan would have more open space, increased wetlands protection, less housing, a neighborhood of residential homes with the charm (its backers claim) of a new cozy Seabright neighborhood, space for community gardening--it all looked pretty nice, if you accept the premise that the land should be developed in the first place.

But apart from the old "jobs and city revenues" argument, backers didn't adequately address why Santa Cruz really needs a burgeoning marine research center on the North Coast, nor who is going to make it burgeon. "I heard that there was a rumor going around that nobody wanted to move here," jokes Alec MacCall of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), adding that he'd been invited to the press conference to allay such fears. But there was too much truth in his statement for it to be particularly funny. NMFS is the sole agency that wants to locate at the site, and it currently doesn't have the money to make the move.

Environmental planner James Pepper and others tout the project as a potential "Woods Hole of the West Coast." Woods Hole, a Massachusetts biological research community located near Cape Cod, includes the U.S. Geological Survey , the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , and Woods Hole Research Center, Marine Biological Labs and Oceanographic Institute. All are largely government, academic or nonprofit research institutions, although there have been a number of biotech spinoffs from research conducted there.

"If we build it, they will come," Pepper insists, adding that commercial tenants would be welcome at the new development.

But who, exactly, will come? Would this new Terrace Point, now elegantly titled Santa Cruz Coastal Marine Research Center, end up as a biotech park, where secrecy is the rule and research results are jealously guarded while patents pend? Or would it be a bona fide, academically oriented research community dedicated to the advancement of science and protection of the sanctuary?

And would the City Council even seriously consider approving a project without tenants? Doubtful.

Berth Defects

Boy, between the call-box thing and the kayaks, surfers have become the next wave (sorry) of political activists. In preparation for the now-annual Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival taking place Thursday through Sunday at Cowells and Steamers Lane, a group of disgruntled board-riders known as Surfers for Safe Berth have taken an ad in local water-sports publication The Juice, protesting the presence of kayaks invading their surf.

If this year's festival is anything like last year's, expect a few altercations between boaters and surfers competing for the breaks. What's that? Oh, our mistake--kayaks no longer are called "boats." Under the recommendation of city parks chief Jim Lang, the City Council redefined them in 1990 as "Water Sports Devices." To the great chagrin of some local surfers, this stipulation exempts kayaks from the city's "safe berth" law, which requires boats to stay 900 feet from the cliffs.

Many surfers resent the presence of the kayaks, which, they believe, are heavy and have dangerously poor maneuverability. A kayak abandoned in the surf by its pilot is hazardous, the surfers contend, because the boat--uh, water sports device--can fill up with water and wash heavily through the lineup.

Dave Johnson, a spokesperson for the state Department of Boating and Waterways, says that the Harbor and Navigations Code precludes local governments from defining a kayak as other than a vessel, but notes that his department did not push the issue because the city could accomplish the same result by other means. "Our opinion is that a kayak is a vessel and to define it otherwise isn't quite proper," says Johnson, who has recently spoken with city attorneys on the issue. "They have a different opinion."

Johnson says Boating and Waterways encourages municipalities to establish special-use areas for competing water sports where there is a conflict. The surfers group, led by James Hart (a local surfer who was involved in past skirmishes at the Kayak Festival), has petitions out in local surf shops and along West Cliff Drive hoping to do just that. Naturally, however, the surfers' plan calls for Cowells and Steamers to have this designated use: Surfers Only.

Family Trials

It's interesting, sometimes, the twisted little sordidness that tries to mask itself as the latest cause celebré. A press release arrives over the wires asking us to look into the case of one Patrick Lancelin, who was arrested outside Juvenile Hall. According to this earnest release, Lancelin was filming a documentary, For Kid's Sake, on abuses in the family law system in Santa Cruz County, when attorney Lee Ann Gulliver, who had a restraining order against Lancelin, walked too close to him on her way out to the parking lot. Lancelin was arrested and held six days in county jail before being set free. Warns the release, "This action has a chilling effect on a journalist's constitutional right to freedom of the press."

So, look into it we did. Turns out Gulliver is an attorney involved in Lancelin's divorce proceedings, a rather acrimonious affair that, according to court documents, includes accusations of everything from spousal abuse to hatchet-wielding. And not only Gulliver but also all the attorneys in her office took out restraining orders against Lancelin for storming into the office, yelling, making threats and, finally, challenging another attorney in the office to a fight. Says Lancelin's attorney, Ed Frey, "[Gulliver] alleges that he came into her office and spoke loudly. But Patrick thinks she has done everything in her power to frustrate his visitation rights with his children."

Apparently, it's not only attorneys and ex-wives who get a bit nervous when Lancelin comes around. According to court documents, court mediator Michelle Samis filed for a restraining order against Lancelin, claiming he left threatening messages on her machine. Then court mediator Melissa Berrengé filed for one. Rounding out the growing list of those who seek protection from the aspiring filmmaker and unhappy father is Glen Fitch, director of a child visitation and chaperone service, Safe and Sane, who claims Lancelin spat at him.

Says Frey: "He is a father who has been victimized by the whole system of litigation."

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From the March 14-20, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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