By Bruce McPherson, County Supervisor 5th District
Monterey Bay Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), a project that I have championed for more than a year, has tremendous potential for bringing green jobs and sustainable power into our community. CCA would establish a local agency to buy and generate our electricity. My office has been leading the effort to study the feasibility and technical aspects, as well as the benefits and drawbacks, of establishing a CCA. We deserve to know the answers that could bring meaningful environmental and economic gains to the local region.
Every county and city in the Central Coast agrees with me. Three counties – Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito – and all of the 18 cities within those counties have agreed to participate in a CCA technical study. This is the first multi-county CCA project in the state and I am proud to say that my office has steered the effort to enroll these local government partners.
We have also made impressive progress toward raising private and foundation funding to support the study. The County has been the lead applicant for several funding grants, and two of those grants have been awarded. In the next few months, the County will learn whether or not we have received the final funding necessary to trigger the study for the entire Monterey Bay region.
But there are barriers to our efforts. Assemblymember Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, has recently introduced a bill in Sacramento that would significantly reduce our ability to have local choice regarding CCA. This bill is a step in the wrong direction for local government control over our energy future. The current State law that enables local governments to investigate and establish a CCA program does not need fixing, as it already allows a full spectrum of free choice for all residents and businesses. Last week, my fellow Supervisors agreed and wrote a letter opposing the bill.
In the next few months we will know whether or not the funding is in place to move forward with our region’s CCA technical study and also whether or not Assemblymember Bradford is successful in his endeavors to pass this bill.
CCA holds great promise for the future of affordable, green energy. The jobs that could be created by generating that energy right here in our backyard warrant a more in-depth review. Stay tuned and we’ll keep the community informed.
Quail Hollow Ranch Park
Quail Hollow Ranch County Park has recently received several important recognitions. The park received state and national recognition for a champion tree, a Red Willow, as well as a $183,000 state grant to restore reaches of Quail Hollow Brook.
The California Big Trees Registry and the National Register of Big Trees have awarded the Quail Hollow Ranch County Park Red Willow (Salix Laevigata) the State Championship and the U.S. Championship red willow. The willow, nominated for the awards in 2012, is near the pond close to the entrance of Quail Hollow. It measures 56.4 feet high, with a trunk circumference of 66.25 inches and a crown spread of 39.31 feet.
The State Habitat Conservation Fund grant, matched by the County and totaling $365,340, will include stream bank and stream bed stabilization, native plant restoration plantings, and interpretive signage, all of which will benefit both on-site and off-site animal and plant habitats. It is anticipated that the restoration work will begin next summer and be completed in late fall.
Quail Hollow Ranch County Park is a 300-acre open space and historic horse ranch located near Felton and Ben Lomond. The park has hiking and equestrian trails, scenic overlooks, and dramatically varied habitats, from the aquatic environs of the pond to sensitive and unique sand hills. The ranch is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including many rare and endangered species.
The old ranch house, which was originally owned and built by the Lane family, founders of Sunset Magazine who donated the property to the County, is used for interpretive displays, a library, and hosting meetings.
This national recognition and state grant are welcome, well deserved, and critically important for our very special Quail Hollow Ranch County Park. The County has worked very hard to sustain this ecological jewel as envisioned by the original owners.