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[whitespace] Michael Houlemard
FORA Fistful of Dollars: Michael Houlemard sees an 800-pound coyote prowling at his door.


Coyote Ugly

In the six years since the Army left Fort Ord, local governments and other interested parties have struggled through a Byzantine planning process to find ways to create new jobs and housing on the property for area residents. Now the delicately balanced plan, put together by the Fort Ord Reuse Authority, appears about to be shot all to hell.

FORA Executive Director and Capitola resident Michael Houlemard fears the 20,000-worker Cisco development planned for Coyote Valley in south San Jose will result in many of the 11,000 new and rehabbed housing units going to workers from outside the area. FORA also hopes to create some 18,000 new jobs, calculating the housing need at 1.7 new jobs per household--or about 11,000 units.

Houlemard expects Cisco to create unanticipated new pressure on the area's housing stock. "Cisco comes in and all of a sudden they're the 800-pound gorilla in Coyote Valley," Houlemard says. "Our housing resources become seriously eroded. And it's against the law to discriminate in favor of only people in this community.

"There's a reasonable chance that 500 to 1,000 people from Cisco will want to live in the area," Houlemard continues. "It doesn't change our plan, but some would say it won't support that demand, and I would agree. That's why we feel the project should do an EIR [Environmental Impact Report] on what the impact will be on the region." The city of San Jose recently fast-tracked the project, rejecting calls from nearby communities, including one from the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, for such an EIR to be done.

Some 6,000 of the units will be new, predominantly single-family homes. Twenty-five percent will be reserved for elders or multifamily occupancy, and 20 percent will fit the definition of affordable.

Loose Ends

In a front page splash last Sunday, the Santa Cruz Sentinel detailed the many construction projects underway at UCSC. But there were a few things the story forgot to mention.

For example, those modular housing units parked along Hagar Drive may look temporary (and were, in their previous roles as dorms for colleges Nine and Ten), but the Sentinel omitted the fact that they are about to become permanent housing in the Lower Quarry, an area once considered off-limits to such development.

According to the 1988 Long Range Development Plan, the canyon "should be managed to ensure [its] continued use as wildlife corridors. Temporary uses, trailers, farming projects or other activities which can be physically disruptive to the canyon landscape should not occur."

The $6.5 million relocation project, scheduled to open next fall, will be home to 153 students, its life span, in the words of the campus public information office, "related to items such as structural life and other campus plans."

The Sentinel also paraphrased campus spokeswoman Liz Irwin, saying that "faculty housing is also being discussed, but a site hasn't been selected."

Oh yes it has, in a location called Inclusion Area D. It's right there on UCSC's website: "The Housing Task Force schedule calls for completion of 80 units of faculty and staff housing in Fall 2002." Site designer John Barnes also confirmed it in a previous interview.

The site near the Arboretum and campus farm project is a habitat for the endangered red-legged frog. Unfortunately, the area didn't make a Sept. 8 list issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establishing 5.4 million acres in California as "critical habitat" for the little hoppers.

The FWS will continue to take comments on the plan until Oct. 11. Yours can be emailed to: [email protected], or sent to Field Supervisor, USFWS, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-2605, Sacramento, 95825. There will also be hearings Sept. 21, 26 and 28 in San Luis Obispo, Dublin and Sacramento, respectively. Further info is available at (916) 414.1766.

Got Vote?

While new students at UCSC and Cabrillo register for classes, there is another registration they should squeeze onto that muy importante "to do" list: becoming voters.

The student vote is often difficult to organize in California because of the short window of opportunity between the start of college classes and the registration deadline, which this year is Tuesday, October 10.

"Most students say they don't have the time to vote or that their vote doesn't count," says Ricardo Contreras, a student voter outreach clerk for Santa Cruz County. "But there is proof that one vote can make a difference. There is no real excuse not to vote. You have all day on November 7 to do it."

Last weekend, Contreras says he single-handedly registered 200 UCSC students. But most students will have to show some good old-fashioned initiative. You can automatically register to vote when you apply for a California driver's license. At UCSC, cards can be found in the Financial Aid Office, the McHenry Library and most college offices. This year voter registration cards were also included in the 4,300 move-in packets sent to on-campus residents.

At Cabrillo, the cards can be found in the library, the registrar's office and the student services building. You can also find them at any city hall, post office, library, fire station, or at the Elections and Registration Office County Government Building at 701 Ocean Street in Santa Cruz. The registration cards need to arrive at the County Government Center no later than midnight on October 10.

Got questions? Call the friendly county elections folks at 454-2060.

Redesign, My Ass

It is with a heavy heart that Nüz bids adieu to the 14-year-old column of San Jose Mercury News reporter Lee Quarnstrom, former Merry Prankster and Santa Cruz's most irascible curmudgeon.

"It's a disappointment," laments Quarnstrom, the 1999 winner of a Goldies Bronze award for Most Irritating Local Personality. "I felt like I was a visible voice of several alternative points of view."

Quarnstrom says he got 40 to 50 letters in response to his Sept. 15 farewell column. "People who agreed and even disagreed with me are almost as sorry as I am to see [the column] go. I really appreciated those letters."

Quarnstrom tells Nüz that the paper's recent redesign was the reason given for his ouster, but Nüz is no fool. The brainless trust at the Merc could just as easily have redesigned Quarnstrom's column right back in. We're guessing the humorless Knight Ridder wusses just couldn't abide an original voice like Lee Q's.

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From the September 20-27, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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