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No Room at the Inn? Residents of the Dolphin and Lee apartments, above, worry that a new housing project will leave them homeless.


Tenacious Tenants

The city of Santa Cruz may want to move forward with the Dolphin-Lee housing relocation project, but the Beach Flats tenants say they're not going anywhere.

"We want low-income housing, but we want to be involved in the planning," says Nena Ruiz, a member of Residentes Unidos, a group of some 50 families from the two apartment buildings. "We've heard a lot of promises, but we haven't been given any guarantees."

Last week, all 16 Lee households and 30 of the 32 families who live in the Dolphin signed a petition demanding the city provide permanent housing for 100 percent of the existing tenants.

Until they get some guarantees, they're not going to budge, Ruiz says.

The city plan would demolish the 63 housing units at 124, 126 and 136 Leibrandt St. and relocate 80 to 100 families into temporary housing while a new 48-unit apartment complex is being built. Dolphin and Lee tenants would get "priority" on their rental applications, but the tenants say first dibs doesn't cut it.

Ruiz says the new housing project only supplies homes for half of the current residents, and some tenants worry that factors like income, immigration status, credit and family size would keep them out.

"We want no immigration check, we want a place to live and we want a legally binding contract that holds up in the court of law," Ruiz says.

Elizabeth Vogel, associate director of housing development for Mercy Charities, a nonprofit that manages the city's low-income housing, says a draft agreement doesn't require immigration status and credit reports.

She adds that Mercy won't know how many tenants may be displaced in the new 48-unit complex until Dolphin and Lee residents allow the

relocation committee to interview and count the current inhabitants.

"A number of families have indicated they would like to use their relocation money to buy a house and they won't be moving back," Vogel says.

The relocation funds would otherwise cover the cost of renting apartments while the new apartments are being built.

NTP! Deux

Two weeks ago Nuüz suggested that S'Cruzans help UCSC rename Terrace Point, where the university has a secret plan to build something that will inevitably start a controversy. The responses to our Name That Point! contest have been pouring in, many coming from people who obviously placed last in their second-grade spelling bee.

Eric Fawcett suggests "Moot Point"; Joan Seybold delivers with the eyeball-twisting "Dewyahava Point"; Axius G'Acha, if that is your real name, who knows a thing or two about spelling, suggests "Wutzur Point," followed by Fay Levinson, who weighs in with the more strait-laced "What's the Point?"

UCSC alum Steve Allen, who with a name like that should have a dry sense of humor, suggests "Ifail Point."

Other entries include Point Counterpoint, Mute Point, Besides the Point, Point of No Return, Pointless and Missed the Point.

Announcement of the T-shirt winner will come one of these days. In the meantime, keep those cards and letters coming!

Mobile Candidate

Fed up with what she sees as a City Council sell-out of mobile home park residents, Capitola mobile home park resident Gail Levey decided over the Memorial Day weekend to run for council.

Two likely opponents will be incumbents Tony Gaultieri and Gayle Ortiz.

Levey, president of the Cabrillo Mobile Home Estates owners association, accuses the current City Council of siding with absentee park owners and undermining city rent-control ordinances.

"I couldn't sit by and watch," says Levey, a website designer. "There's no room for low-income people in Capitola."

Levey says she is upset by one council proposal to change the city's rent-control formula to one based on income. Levey says this will encourage park owners to keep out low-income residents.

Hammer of Justice

Rushing to the defense of their non-union brothers and sisters, Carpenter's Local 505 has taken to the streets (and the Boardwalk) to protest Slatter Construction's hiring practices.

This week, union carpenters will be leafleting Santa Cruz Medical Clinic, the Boardwalk and Ocean Street's Holiday Inn--all Slatter Construction projects--distributing anti-Slatter fliers. Slatter, a Santa Cruz-based, family-run construction company, doesn't hire union workers. And they don't pay their workers enough, according to union reps.

"Although the Medical Clinic receives substantial business from workers covered by [the] union health plan, the clinic has chosen to give its business to a company which does not provide the same," the flier reads.

It's not only the non-union carpenters who lose in this deal, explains union president Ned Van Valkenburgh.

"Our objective is to level the playing field in the construction industry and cause Slatter to pay their workers better," Van Valkenburgh says. "By raising non-union wages, we raise all carpenters' wages."

Co-founder and CFO Christine Slatter says her company treats its employees just fine, thank you.

"It's not true," Slatter says. "We do not pay substandard wage and we give full benefits. The employees of Slatter Construction are our first priority. Lots of contractors are under fire right now by the unions, especially small contractors."

Union members say they will keep up the fight "until we see some changes," Van Valkenburgh says.

Quack Back Block

Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush can rant all he wants about political cabals and partisan witch hunts. He's up to his undies in alligators, and one of them is named Fred Keeley.

Our local assemblyman has scheduled hearings for the Assembly insurance committee for June 6 to 8, and he's got a few questions for Quack.

Q-Bush allowed insurance companies accused of short-changing victims of the 1994 Northridge earthquake to set up nonprofits in lieu of paying hefty fines. Keeley says those nonprofits then paid vendors--who turned out to be Quack campaign consultants--to produce campaign-like public service announcements featuring the commish. Keeley named Sacramento political consultant Joe Shumate as one such vendor.

Money was also funneled to organizations that had nothing to do with quake relief, or was spent on constituencies hundreds of miles from the earthquake zone--suggesting, Keeley says, a statewide political agenda. One was a football camp attended by Quackenbush's two sons.

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From the May 31- June 7, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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