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[whitespace] Club Dakota
Open Access: Following seven shuttered weeks, Club Dakota, on the Mall, reopened Friday.


Back in Business

Club Dakota, a gay and gay-friendly dance club on Pacific Avenue, reopened last Friday (Oct. 27) at 6pm. The Dakota had been closed for seven weeks due to a temporary suspension of its liquor license, according to Chris O'Hanlon, the district supervisor of the Alcohol Beverage Control.

Since it first opened in February 1998, the Dakota has been a favorite night spot for Santa Cruz's gay community. For Sasha Pursley, a UCSC graduate student, it is an important symbol of queer awareness as well as a place to meet people. "Knowing that there's a safe space for gays and lesbians to socialize is oddly reassuring," she says. "I look at the Dakota as a kind of community resource." Pursley also says she appreciates the club's diversity. There are usually both gay and straight couples on the dance floor. "It's a mixed crowd, and there is a lack of tension sometimes associated with mixed crowds," Pursley adds.

O'Hanlon says the liquor license was suspended because the owner failed to pay the club's equalization taxes. Before the reopening, he mentioned that some minor problems with the setup inside the club might lead to another two- or three-day suspension. However, manager Karen Aulbach assured Nüz that everything has been cleared up. Aulbach is enthusiastic about the club's reopening. "We want to thank everybody for hanging in there with us," she says. "We've gotten a lot of community support."

Club Dakota is now open seven days a week, from noon to 2am. Monday night is salsa night, Wednesday night is women's night and Thursday night is men's night.

Cisco, No Kidding

It's official. To sue or not to sue is now the question for regions downwind of Cisco's new mammoth development in Coyote Valley. Santa Cruz County won't formally answer the question until the next board of supes meeting on Nov. 7. However, in anticipation of the project's approval, the Board of Supervisors started preliminary work on a lawsuit two weeks ago. "There's nothing else for us to do but to move towards filing a lawsuit," says board chair Mardi Wormhoudt.

The suit must be filed within 30 days of the project's approval, which was granted by a unanimous San Jose City Council vote on Oct. 25. In addition to Santa Cruz County, other agencies that have threatened to sue include the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments, the Sierra Club, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society and the city of Salinas.

The $1.3 billion, 688-acre Cisco campus will provide a formidable addition to San Jose's tax base as well as 20,000 new jobs. "Which means 50,000 new people," figures Wormhoudt. "That's almost as big as Santa Cruz. They [Cisco] say it will have the feel of a small town. But it's kind of an odd small town, if no one is living there."

Cisco (which boasts plans for a cafe, dry cleaning facility, day care and gym--but no housing) has cut the number of proposed parking spaces from 22,000 to a mere 19,625. But that token compromise hasn't appeased worried municipalities like Salinas, which fears farmworkers will have to compete with high-techies for already scarce housing. Those filing suits hope a judge will require that a new Environmental Impact Report be prepared, but it will be a tough fight. Cisco's EIR is hundreds of pages long and has two of the largest Bay Area law firms defending it.

"The main complaint is that Cisco's EIR doesn't deal with areas south of the project," says Fred Thoits, engineering division manager for Monterey's Air Pollution Control District.

"Cisco's EIR is based on the assumption that only 20 percent of the potential employees looking to commute will come from areas south of the Cisco development," says Jim Perrine, president of the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments, which is also gearing up to sue, though that won't be official until the board of directors' Nov. 8 meeting. AMBAG is certain that the impact in this region will be far greater than that anticipated by Cisco's EIR. Many fear a nightmarish future scenario in which housing and traffic pressures in the region are amplified beyond belief.

"If they had recognized that from the beginning and provided adequate mitigation, we would not be arguing with them," Perrine says.

No Kidding

Voting advocates have come up with a new gimmick that aims to put the fun back into the dull democratic process. Appalled at the growing apathy of citizens who don't cast a ballot on election day, Kids Voting hopes to rekindle voter excitement by inviting K-12 graders to the polls. The idea is that if kids fall in love with voting at a young age, they might just cultivate the habit for life. And since they must be accompanied by an adult, they may also inspire a real voter who may or may not have voted otherwise.

"Kids Voting," says Gail Pellerin, Santa Cruz County Elections Department manager, "was started by three guys from Arizona who were fishing in Costa Rica. It happened to be election day, and they were amazed at all the families they saw voting together." Costa Rica has a 90 percent voter turnout.

Santa Clara and Santa Cruz are the only counties in California to try Kids Voting so far, though the program has been successful in Arizona for more than a decade.

Not only do kids get to "vote" for president, third-graders and up will also vote on California Prop. 38, concerning school vouchers. Fifth- through twelfth-graders can vote on the Veterans Bond Act (Prop. 32), legislative participation in the public employees' retirement system (Prop. 33), campaign contribution and spending limits (Prop. 34) and drug probation and treatment programs (Prop. 36). And ninth- through twelfth-graders will be asked to cast their vote for props 25, 37 and 39, concerning public works projects, voting requirements and school bonds. Daunting? Kids Voting also offers a curriculum package for teachers to use in the classroom.

Each of Santa Cruz County's 160 polling places will have Kids Voting Ballots. Students do not need to register before heading to the polls, though they do need to be accompanied by an adult (though not necessarily a registered one). Results will be posted on the Kids Voting website on Nov. 8.

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From the November 1-8, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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