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[whitespace] The Real World: Surveillance cameras, like this one mounted outside New Leaf Market, are becoming all too common.



In an age when spying on people's daily lives has become the stuff of TV entertainment shows such as The Real World and Survivor, it may come as no surprise that video surveillance cameras are proliferating on Pacific Avenue.

The latest showed up a few weeks ago outside the downtown New Leaf Market. The camera was paid for and is operated by the market, and is pointed at a popular sidewalk hang-out spot.

"It is designed to deter, and frankly it works," says Downtown Association Executive Director Peter Eberle.

But Bonnie Rosario, New Leaf's manager, says it is "too soon to tell" if the surveillance has been effective in deterring loitering.

Is there a motive? New Leaf plans to expand its deli into the space next door, previously occupied by Juice World, which is right in front of the hang-out.

It may be perfectly legal, but not everyone's enamored of the idea.

"I think it's an outrage," says local defense attorney Jerry Christensen. "This type of thing has got to stop. It seems like there's a camera everywhere you look."

Watsonville City Councilmember Ramon Gomez sits on the board of directors of the Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "There's a fine balance between protecting businesses and people's right to privacy in public places," he says. "The ACLU is against any type of surveillance that intrudes into people's private lives."

There are two other surveillance cameras on Pacific. One is mounted outside the Metro Transit Center, and the other sits atop the awning of the Palomar restaurant pointed at the terrace outside the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company.

Eberle doubts Santa Cruz's premier street will become an end-to-end privacy nightmare. "I know no one else is thinking of it. It's very costly."

What Guidelines?

UCSC officials may want to read up on their own policies once in a while.

According to UCSC's Implementation Program Guidelines for the Long Range Development Plan, new structures on Area D--the land between the Arboretum and Farm and Garden that the university wants to build 80 housing units on--shouldn't be housing.

Guideline No. 6 for the inclusion areas reads: "Minimize and place a low priority on development on Area D and restrict its use to a non-housing, university-related facility." Developing the land would go against the LRDP Implementation Program's goal of protecting Area D's meadows, it says.

So where do the 80 two- and three-bedroom housing units fit in?

"They are just planning guidelines as we slowly implement the Long Range Development Plan," says project manager Dean Fitch. "There is no [housing] plan yet. They are only guidelines--it's not the edict."

That's a leap from what UCSC spokesperson Liz Irwin and UCSC's principal planner of architecture and site designer John Barnes told Nüz in previous interviews. Both confirmed the university plans to build 80 units on the site.

So does the university's planning web site. According to the "Inclusion Area D Planning" page, http://www2.ucsc.edu/ppc/planning/area.d.html, "The Housing Task Force schedule for housing calls for completion of 80 units of faculty and staff housing in Fall 2002."

Three preliminary studies--a civil engineering study, a transportation study and a historical district study--are underway, Irwin says. "If the project moves along as planned, we will have at least one meeting where people will have a chance to hear what the proposals are in early fall." A date has not been set. After the public meeting, UCSC will select a proposal for the project, and by midfall, Irwin adds, the California Environmental Quality Act process will begin.

The guidelines can be found at http://www2.ucsc.edu//ppc/lrdpip/graphical/special/inclusion.html.


If the tsunami doesn't getcha, the killer seaweed just might.

A dangerous seaweed that destroys marine life has been found for the first time in Aqua Hedionda, a San Diego lagoon.

"It's been nicknamed the killer algae, and it's a clone of algae from the Mediterranean that's very aggressive in its growth habits," says Nate Dechoretz, program supervisor for the California Department of Food and Agriculture in charge of the noxious and invasive weed program. "It forms a dense mat--like Astroturf--and crowds out the native vegetation."

Caulerpa taxiflora occupies thousands of acres in the northern Mediterranean, killing native plant life and forming a thick, green carpet over the sea floor.

U.S. scientists are working to wipe out the weed before the entire West Coast suffers a similar fate.

"It looks very incipient," Dechoretz says. "It covers about 25,000 square feet. But that doesn't mean it's not dangerous."

Originally from the Caribbean, the algae was imported to Europe as decoration for tropical fish tanks. The beauty turned into a beast after being released from an aquarium in Monaco. The first 1-square-meter patch, found in 1984, now smothers 75,000 acres of sea floor. Scientists believe the killer weed spread to California when someone emptied a fish tank into a storm drain, or directly into the lagoon.

Dechoretz tells Nüz the seaweed is not toxic to humans, but does release chemicals that can harm marine animals. He is confident the San Diego patch can be eradicated before it spreads.

"You never can tell with invasive species because they don't have natural enemies or conditions that limit growth," Dechoretz warns. "I don't see any reason it couldn't go as far north as Oregon. It has the potential to be a very serious problem."

David vs. Goliath

Add one more name to the list of Santa Cruz City Council candidates.

Local homeless advocate David Silva has decided to throw his hat into the ring. Silva, who led the way in attempting to have Santa Cruz declared a "hate-free" city and who has also lobbied for an end to the "sleeping ban," says he will take no cash donations (volunteers are welcome) and spend no money.

"I have a computer and a box full of paper," he says. "I'll make everything at home."

Silva's platform includes firing the city manager and dividing his salary among the mayor and City Council, and expanding the City Council to nine or 11 members. He will also push for a community land trust to build affordable housing and for alternative transportation and energy use.

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From the July 19-26, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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