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Daily Grind

Practically every kid in Santa Cruz totes a skateboard around and yet everywhere you go in public, you see the ol' circle with a slash: No Skateboarding. After spending a decade or so hearing merchants complain about skateboarders, a couple of Santa Cruz cops--acting strictly off-duty--convened a group of local skate enthusiasts to lobby for a new skate park where kids can ride legally without bothering tourists, merchants, drivers or anybody else. "[Officer] Dan Flippo and myself--we saw a lot of problems in the downtown lots and garages," says police Officer Jim Howes, "and we thought, 'Hey why don't we get some of the people in the skateboard community together and do something?' "

Local skate folk were more than willing to do that something, since the idea of a new facility has been tossed around for years. Howes, who doesn't skate, and Flippo, an avid skater (Howes calls his skating co-worker "a total psycho"), met with Skateworks owners Jason and Bill Strubing, Consolidated Skateboards co-owner Steve Keenan, and landscape architect Ken Wormhoudt, who has designed several municipal skate parks. The skaters will bring their wish list to the Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday, supported, they hope, by a sizable crowd of young Steve Caballero protégés. "Anybody who wants to help assure we have a skate park here in the future should show up at that meeting," Keenan says.

Skaters say there's a great need for a centrally located park that would give youngsters an alternative to skating in business areas. "Santa Cruz is looked at as one of the centers of skateboarding," says Bill Strubing. "People

come here from all over and ask, 'Where's the skate park? There's Derby Park, but it could no way be viewed as an up-to-date, modern skate park."

"It's embarrassing when people come here from places like Australia and their facilities back home are better than what we have here," Keenan adds.

Keenan points out that a tennis court costing about $70,000 to build can accommodate only four people at a time. "You go to Derby on a Saturday or Sunday and there'll be 75 kids," he says. "Skateboarding makes way more sense."

City Parks and Recreation has been considering such a project, but local skaters stress that the city needs their input if it wants a desirable park. "Cities like to act on their own, but skateboarding has so many little things that, if you don't skate, you don't even know they exist," Keenan says. "For example, cities think grindable edges are more dangerous than non-grindable edges. Skaters know better. If it's round on top and you don't know where the top is, that's when you'll flip and land on your ass! We want something for beginners and experts and something that will help alleviate street skating that thrashes the local business areas, and also to support the youth. That's the most important thing." The City Council meets on Tuesday at 7pm at 809 Center St.


Quit Screwing Around

Is it just me or is it getting crowded in here? Established in 1969, the aims of Zero Population Growth--to educate the public about the population explosion and its impact on available resources--are even more crucial almost three decades later. "The population is growing about 90 million a year," says ZPG's new executive director, Peter H. Kostmayer. Or, as Dan Miller, chair of ZPG's Santa Cruz/Monterey chapter, puts it, "We are at a world population of 5.7 billion and it's doubling every 42 years."

So, it seemed like a good time for Miller to invite Kostmayer out to this neck of the woods for a little talk, titled "The Politics of Population and the Environment," to be held at UCSC Monday night. Kostmayer, a former member of Congress, won high ratings for his congressional voting record from national environmental groups. It was a natural jump for Kostmayer to the helm of this grassroots organization, which now claims 55,000 members. Explains Miller, "We are as much about environmental issues and women's rights as the population."

According to Kostmayer, things ain't gettin' any better, to say the least. "The Congress sitting now has the worst environmental record of any Congress in history," he says. For example, Congress recently cut funding for the international family planning assistance by 87 percent, yet gave the Pentagon $7 billion more than it requested.

Such a wise decision, since most of those 90 million new hungry mouths are popping up in developing (i.e. poor) countries. But the problem ain't just "over there," Kostmayer reminds us. "These issues are more salient in California, because of the growth California faces." The lecture takes place on Monday at 7pm at UCSC's Applied Sciences Building, Room 152. Get there early and beat the crowds.


Fish Story

Metro Santa Cruz isn't the only recent award-winning paper in town. Fish Rap Live! up on UCSC's hill just bagged a few nice ones in the first annual Campus Alternative Journalism Awards. The little paper took first place for anti-sexist reporting, plus honorable mentions for general reporting, design and sense of humor (City on a Hill Press needs a lesson in that category). "We were really psyched about it because we have a really small staff and we're putting out a paper that can win awards," says Fish Rap's Queen Salmon Jennifer Maerz.

The judges included some big names in the alternative journalism world, including syndicated columnist Norman Solomon and Mother Jones managing editor Patti Wolter, who, according to a Fish Rap press release, described the UCSC paper as "lively, smart, funny, and thought-provoking."

The semi-underground campus paper, now in its sixth year, has been voted the most-read campus publication for two years running in a campus survey. The popular rag is indeed funny and irreverent, and manages to pump out some decent journalism between wisecracks.


Grease Increase

Although the city of Santa Cruz's much-maligned and recently abandoned plan to place local homeless people in the area's state parks once again made the city the butt of national jokes, it did have some positive results. After reading reports of the city's proposal and subsequent hot-potato drop in San Francisco newspapers, Steven Sachs, director of Community Planning and Development for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, wrote the Santa Cruz City Council about the availability of additional funds for homeless assistance, and invited the city to apply. Yup. This city is one squeaky wheel, but we get the lube.


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From the May 9-15, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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