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Talking Points

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Every community has its hot-button issues; Santa Cruz is different only because it's got an entire bank of hot buttons, all flashing at the same time. Although some controversies tend to flare up and then die back to embe, others are forever raging. The big 10 listed below can always be counted on to spark debate.


Logging--Years ago, Santa Cruz County lost the ability to regulate logging to the state. The industry is influential, but this is Santa Cruz, so tree huggers abound. Expect ink to flow by the barrel.

Skate Park--Skateboarding may not be a crime, but it is a frequent news story. Santa Cruz City officials have been trying for years to create a skateboard park to keep the little four-wheeled rascals out of the pool halls. Will it be built as planned in San Lorenzo Park, or will it wind up in somebody else's back yard? Stay tuned.

Terrace Point--Located on the northern edge of the city of Santa Cruz, this is the last open, undeveloped parcel of prime ag land in town. Some folks want to build a major marine research and housing complex on the site, while others view that as environmental blasphemy.

Methyl Bromide--This unpleasant toxic substance is sprayed around Watsonville's agricultural fields, sometimes near schools and other inhabited areas. Expect the debate on its use to continue.

Beach Area Plan--After this politically charged plan is passed, the real fun begins. What will actually be built in the Beach Flats area will be decided by future city councils, so look forward to years of public hearings about individual projects--and an ugly fight over each one.

Pacific Garden Mall--Contrary to its name, the main strip of Pacific Avenue is neither mall nor garden. However, it is the heart and soul of Santa Cruz, and what happens to it is taken very seriously. There are two issues: What to build, and how to deal with the myriad personalities who inhabit it.

Biotech--Is it farming or is it technology? That is the question posed about Santa Cruz Biotechnology, where herds of goats are kept on a North Coast ranch for biotech harvesting.

Housing--There's not enough, and what there is costs more than most renters have. It's that simple.

Water--This is California, so if you come from some well-watered place like Minnesota, just keep this in mind: Water is always news. The city of Santa Cruz never has enough; neither do the farmers. For extra credit, rent Chinatown.

Greenbelt--What a nice idea: a green strip of undeveloped land around the city. Parts of the proposal to keep it that way are still being debated, primarily two parcels called the Bombay property--which most likely will soon be purchased using state money--and the Pogonip area, east of UCSC.

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From the September 24-30, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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