[MetroActive News&Issues]

[ Santa Cruz | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

[whitespace] William Ow
Permit Woes: William Ow, owner of the Wired Wash, figures that continuing to offer music might not be worth it.


Washed Up

On June 1, the amplified strains of a local punk band called the Lowdown attracted the attention of Lt. Tom Vlassis of the SCPD. The music was coming from the Wired Wash Café, a laundromat/coffee shop. And it didn't take Vlassis long to discern that said establishment didn't have an entertainment permit, which meant this was the day the music died.

"I'm pissed off!" says Jeff Lewis, manager of Wired Wash. "I'm just bummed about the whole thing because there are so few places that aren't these gigantic venues where kids can go that are free."

"We were starting to get calls from all over, from record labels who wanted to book shows here," adds employee Nate Archer. "But now, we've had to cancel all of our upcoming shows. We thought we were obeying the law. We thought that it was OK if there were under 100 people and no cover charge. But I guess not."

"A lot of businesses are under that impression," says Lt. Vlassis. "But just because it's free, it doesn't mean they don't have to get the permit."

Section 5.44 of the municipal code states that "any person conducting entertainment in the City of Santa Cruz must first obtain approval of an Entertainment Permit from the Chief of Police." The code was revised in July 2000 after outcry over the expensive fees. Currently, "small venues," places with seating capacities of 100 persons or fewer that don't charge for admission, can get the permit for free. Prior to the revision, the 37-year-old ordinance required that all venues, no matter the size, pay a $739 fee, renewable for $339. Amplification permits ranged from $500 to $1,000. The revised ordinance requires a $33 fee for amplification.

Vlassis says business owners are supposed to find out what permits they need when they apply for their business license. "If they want to change their endeavor, by adding music, for example, then they have to upgrade their permit. It's like if you have a driver's license and want to drive a motorcycle, you need to get a motorcycle license. It's not like they can't do it. They just have to do it legally."

Tall Tree Tales

June 18 marked the one-year anniversary of the Ramsey Gulch tree sit, led by the Santa Cruz Canopy Action Network, a division of Earth First!. But instead of sitting on their laurels, on June 10 these tree sitters occupied an additional area three miles north of Boulder Creek off Highway 9. Both areas are being logged by Redwood Empire Inc., which was cited for more than 30 violations while logging in the Gamecock region a few years ago.

Last week, the sitters made headlines, but not because of their tree-saving efforts. Both the Sentinel and the Mercury News were more interested in the injuries to Jenna Griffith, 20, a.k.a. "Sparrow," who slipped and fell 30 feet from a tree and hit her head on a stump at 3am on June 13, at which time two other activists were arrested. (Originally listed in critical condition, Sparrow has been released from the hospital.)

Redwood Empire didn't return Nüz's call, but in a prepared statement to other newspapers, forester David Van Lennup said that the accident could have been avoided if only "the injured woman and her associates" hadn't been illegally protesting a state-approved timber harvest."

"We're in the midst of escalating earth-defense action. There are sheriffs running around everywhere!" said Blackbird from his cell phone in the Boulder Creek forest. After tying trees together and setting up planks, the tree sitters had asked the loggers to take a day off and ask themselves why they were working for Redwood Empire. "They left," says Blackbird, "but a little while later they returned with the sheriff."

Last July, Judge Robert Yonts came out with an unusual ruling. While technically preventing Earth First! from trespassing on Redwood Empire's land, the judge forbad the logging company from removing the activists from trees.

"It's screwed up that this is what people have to do to save trees," says Blackbird, the primary tree sitter at Ramsey Gulch, "but it's really the most effective way." While four out of 150 acres (which is how many the activists managed to save in Ramsey Gulch) may not seem like a lot, Blackbird says it was well worth it.

Redwood Empire is also pushing to harvest trees in Lompico, which residents say will adversely effect their watershed. The public is invited to a preharvest inspection on Wednesday (June 20) at 8:30am. Call David Van Lennup at 464.8788 to sign up or show up at the CDF office at 6059 Highway 9 in Felton.

At their June 19 meeting, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution opposing Redwood Empire's plan to log in Lompico.

Roll Your Own

Giving up electricity on the longest day of the year seems a soft option in foggy ol' Santa Cruz. Nüz wonders what exactly Californians can roll to protest Dubya's efforts to mix an ethanol cocktail in our gas tanks--a move that not only adds 2 to 3 cents per gallon, but could possibly increase smog.

Earlier this month, state officials asked the feds to waiver the requirement that we sell gas that contains oxygen-boosting additives. The prez, pressured by Midwestern corn growers, said no, leaving California, which is currently phasing out MTBE, with no other additive option than ethanol-- a fermented by-product of corn that supposedly reduces tailpipe emissions.

Or does it? According to Gordon Schremp, senior fuel specialist with the California Energy Commission, increased use of ethanol may lead to more vapor emissions if comingling or permeation occur. "Comingling happens if you fill your car up with nonoxygenated gas, then fill it with ethanol, " Schremp explains. "In permeation, ethanol, which has smaller molecules, gets through hose lines, causing more emissions"

It's possible now to buy nonoxygenated gas in the Bay Area, because it (like Santa Cruz County) is within federal standards for ozone attainment. "The requirement for oxygenated gas is in the L.A. and Sacramento basins, as well as in San Diego," Schremp says.

So why does Santa Cruz County have any additives in its gas? The answer lies somewhere between supply problems, technical difficulties, political agendas and the Yankee dollar.

"We're at the mercy of the major suppliers," Schremp explains. "And while it's easier to produce a regular grade of gasoline without oxygenates, it's harder and more expensive to make a premium grade like 92 octane without any."

[ Santa Cruz | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

From the June 20-27, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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