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Photograph by Sarah Phelan

Crazy for Fliers: All the complicated regulations surrounding whose fliers get torn down and whose don't is enough to drive you nuts. Luckily, help is only a cross-street away.


Mission: Unpaperable

What do Vincent's Ear, the Christian Life Center and Circus Chimera have in common with chemtrails and a missing black cat with frostbitten ears who goes by the name of Leonard?

They're all featured in signs stapled to the utility poles on Mission Street, signs which some might see as signs of community and culture on a street whose treeless monotony is otherwise interrupted only by ones that advertise gas stations, banks and fast-food outlets.

Still, as the Rotary Club of Santa Cruz has been pointing out in an ad campaign it is running in the Senile, signs posted on utility poles are illegal if they promote a commercial event--a law that applies to everything on our abovementioned list, except perhaps for the chemtrails and definitely the cat (whose name is pronounced Leee-nerrd, and who, fear not, has since been reunited with his human food-servant).

Describing illegally posted signs as "unsightly, distracting to motorists and eventually becoming litter," the Rotarians do note that "offenders must be caught in the act to be prosecuted." Which, of course, nicely complicates matters, since poster posters, like taggers, know to work in the wee hours, when no one is around.

That isn't, however, deterring longtime local resident and Rotarian Robert Rudolph, who turns 80 in October, from pushing forward with the campaign, which he describes as "a follow-up to the beautification work we did around the Town Clock, which caused quite an uproar." (Presumably, he means the planting of shrubs at the site where peace activists had hoped to build a park.)

Indeed, according to Rudolph, the Rotary Club is "trying to organize the city to make it very unproductive for people who benefit, so they'll have to take them down, but this City Council doesn't seem to take the bull by the horns and make laws so we can go after the people who benefit from being promoted in this way."

Clarifying city law, Julie Hendee of the city's Redevelopment Agency says it isn't illegal to post a sign if you're a nonprofit or advertising a political or civic event, but it is illegal to post a commercial sign and/or use staples. "You're supposed to use tape," explains Hendee. "And don't put more than one sign up on a pole--with the largest dimension permissible being 14 inches--and you can't post on any utility poles downtown."

Rudolph encourages people to take responsibility for cleaning up the utility poles in their immediate neighborhood.

"Imagine if you're on a tour bus along Mission Street and look out at the utility poles and see all those commercial signs piled on four or five signs deep. It's a disgrace. Do that in Carmel, and they'd nail you right then and there and escort you out of town."

Appetite for Obstruction

Donna Meyers has seen some strange things in the San Lorenzo River in the time she's been working as an analyst for the city of Santa Cruz. Tents, ice chests, even a swing set or two, have rushed past during heavy rains, and then there's that giant fish sculpture (Nüz, March 17), which mysteriously appeared and disappeared this spring.

So as far as she's concerned, the dam that Granite Construction is currently building in the river parallel to the Laurel Street Extension is not so much strange as unique. As unique, say, as the tidewater goby, a small but endangered fish that biologists discovered in the San Lorenzo for the first time ever last week.

The discovery was made as crews worked to build the dam, which is intended to temporarily divert water while workers build a 900-foot wall along an unstable section of riverbank along the Laurel Street Extension.

Indeed, even as the tidewater goby's discovery is being hailed as a sign of the river's returning health, it spells obstruction for Granite Construction, which must wait and see what if any extra conditions are required to protect the health of the tiny fish.

As Granite Construction's Jack Angel explains, the dam was chosen "because it has minimum impact to the stream and fish, and the levee work needs to be done by October, which is when salmon run, and rain returns.

Complicating this already complicated picture is the fact that any day now, the river mouth will get closed off by a naturally occurring sand bar, which will elevate water level, though nobody knows by how much, especially given the daily fluctuating effect of tidal influence on the river's water level.

"With the sandbar, there'll also still be some tidal inflow and outflow," says Meyers, noting that the city has never measured tidal influence at the Riverside Bridge, but has at Jesse Street, where it can raise levels by as much as 7 feet. All of which means, says Meyers, noting that the dam is 10-12 feet high, "that there'll be a few mornings when we'll be holding our breath."

Boxing Barbara And Diane

Outraged by the images of prison torture? Wondering about the Guantanamo Bay detainees? Asking why Nick Berg (whose family sued Donald Rumsfeld on April 5) was decapitated while wearing an orange U.S.-prison-like jumpsuit the day after the abuse scandal rocked the world?

Join the many residents of our great little town who are asking these and many other related and equally disturbing questions. While we don't yet have the definite answers, we recommend you contact U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who decided the images of prison abuse should be released after she heard Rummy defend the interrogation techniques used in Iraq.

"The people have a right to decide whether these rules--which included a disregard for the Geneva Conventions prohibitions on inhumane treatment--led to the abuse shown in these photos," said Boxer, who also found it appalling that some would suggest that there is an overreaction to the abuse.

"Those who are 'outraged by the outrage' or who liken what happened to a frat-house hazing do not understand the full scope of sadistic brutality that went on in this prison," said Boxer, who was outraged at the outrage over the outrage. "Let the American people decide who is right."

Also worth calling: Sen. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is demanding an investigation into the prison torture scandal and said of the prison images: "If someone wanted to plan a clash of civilizations, this is how they'd do it. These pictures play into every stereotype of America that Arabs have: America as debauched, America as hypocrites."

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the May 19-26, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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