By Bruce McPherson
Evidence of an improved economy can be seen all over the Fifth District and throughout Santa Cruz County. Building permit applications are flowing into the Santa Cruz County Planning Department, and while the retail economy is being battered, the real estate market is active.
In San Lorenzo Valley, several new restaurants are in the works. Don Quixote’s in Felton has been sold and will become Flynn’s Cabaret and Steak House, named after the late Flynn Post, former owner of Cali Style in Scotts Valley.
Brad Barkan, the new restaurant owner, intends to keep and expand the top-notch entertainment provided by Don Quixote’s for the past 13 years. He also hopes to build a badly needed public parking lot behind the restaurant on Gushee Street. Barkan also operates California Dreaming Real Estate in Felton and a medicinal marijuana dispensary in Ben Lomond.
Just down the street, restaurateur Roger Barnes has filed paperwork to open the Empire Grill in the former site of the Cowboy Cafe, 6149 Hwy. 9. Barnes submitted for a state Alcoholic Beverage Control license in early April, and an upgraded septic system has been installed.
Empire Grill previously operated in Felton next to New Leaf Community Market. Barnes’ background in the restaurant business includes opening the Bocci’s Cellar in Santa Cruz as well as restaurants in Omaha, Honolulu and San Jose.
The iconic Trout Farm Inn and popular swimming pool on E. Zayante Rd. are coming back, as well. The landmark restaurant burned to the ground a little over a year ago. The owners, Caye Properties, have submitted building plans and hope to have approvals to rebuild by this fall. This is very exciting news to the generations of families who have spent many summer days at the restaurant and pool.
Planning is also underway for a new restaurant brew pub in Scotts Valley. The old Suburban Propane property on Mount Hermon Road has been purchased by developer Corbett Wright, who plans to build “The Hanger” with his partner Rob Stuart of Timberworks.
And Boulder Creek is getting a new Sheriff’s substation. The Board of Supervisors has approved a lease of the vacated building at 13210 Central Avenue from the Boulder Creek Fire District. A ribbon cutting is scheduled Wednesday, Aug. 9.
Please come to the opening and meet the newly appointed community-policing deputy, Deputy Adam Roberts, and see your substation. Many thanks to Sheriff Jim Hart, Boulder Creek Fire Chief Kevin McClish and the Fire Protection District and Justin Acton and the Boulder Creek Business Association for their support and assistance moving this project forward.
The Bear Creek Recreation and Community Center’s swimming pool opened with a splash on July 7. Family memberships for weekday pool use have been selling briskly, and the pool has been full on weekends. Formerly the Bear Creek Country Club, the seven-acre property was purchased last December by the Boulder Creek Recreation and Park District, with assistance from the County and overwhelming support of the community.
The facility includes tennis courts, a clubhouse, fitness room, hiking trails, picnic areas and, of course, the popular pool, where a lot of pool parties have been held this summer. The clubhouse has not yet opened for daily use, but is being rented for events, and is expected to be open more in coming months.
The County’s budget adopted last month also reflects an improving economy. The $717 million 2017-18 budget improves public services and safety, increases fiscal reserves and furthers our recovery from winter storm damage. We added staff in the Parks Department, Probation Department and four new Sheriff’s deputies.
The budget also reflects several Board priorities, such as improved mental health and substance abuse services, expanded economic opportunity and green energy initiatives. Additionally, the Board approved $5.2 million for the Whole Person Care pilot program, which coordinates physical health, behavioral health and social services for vulnerable Medi-Cal recipients who are high users of multiple health care system, but who continually have poor outcomes.
I’m pleased to announce the selection of Carlos Palacios as our new County Administrative Officer. Carlos was an Assistant CAO and is the former Watsonville City Manager. Carlos was a clear choice of the Board and I am confident that he will continue to work with the Board and community to improve the quality of life for all County residents.
He replaces Susan Mauriello, California’s longest-serving county executive and a champion of innovation and collaboration in county government. It has been an honor working with Susan, both when I was a State representative and now as a Board member.
Over time, she has demonstrated the highest levels of knowledge, compassion, effectiveness and integrity in serving the people of Santa Cruz County, and her accomplishments would fill a book. She has been an effective statewide advocate for counties, and she will be greatly missed.