By Noel Smith
The Capitola, Soquel, Live Oak area is dynamic. Whether it is celebrations or controversies, as Gilda Radner would famously say, “It’s Always Something!”
How many places could you find that is home to five, first class events just during the summer months. First was the annual Capitola Rod & Custom Classic Car Show followed by the Bikes on the Bay Vintage Motorcycle Show both in June.
Classic cars and motorcycles have a special place in the memories of most people. For me there is the thrill of nostalgia when I see a restored 1936 Ford, the same model car I learned how to drive, or a 1941 Plymouth, the first car I owned. And then there was my first excursion onto motor-driven two wheeled transportation… anyone ever hear of a Powell Motor Scooter? Then there was the car you always wanted to own; the 1957 Corvette.
Next event was in July, the world famous Wharf to Wharf race. An amazing experience with its 15,000 runners and their supporters crowding into Capitola at race-end for one of the most lively but considerate crowd scenes you will see anywhere. The serious racers charged down the hill on Cliff Drive towards the finish line at Wharf Road striving to make their best times. The rest of us show up at our own pace having taken in the sights and sounds of the spectators and the fantastic music found along the way. For most of us it wasn’t a race, it was a magical journey along coastline of Monterey Bay.
On Labor Day weekend, there was the Begonia Festival with its celebration of that most colorful of blooms, the begonia. The flower’s extravagant size and brilliant colors deserve such festivities as the nautical parade featuring floats covered with its petals. Capitola’s beach was the perfect setting for the Sand Castle Contest with teams of adults and children trying to form the not-very-forgiving sand into marvelous shapes that they hope will last long enough to be judged. There was so much to this three and-a-half day celebration of summer including horseshoe and fishing contests, art projects, dancing, concerts and even rowboat races. Certainly there was something for everyone.
Then came the last celebration of summer, the Capitola Art & Wine Festival. This was the opportunity for the county’s many accomplished artists and crafts people to sell their marvelous creations. A broad selection of the area’s wineries whose reputation for world-class reds and whites continues to grow was the other half of the reason to join this end-of-summer party. Dancing and music accompanied the celebration as surfers and paddlers with their boards along with beachgoers and sun worshipers all wound their way through the happy crowds to their destination by the Bay.
Issues and Controversies
The Surf and Sand mobile home park has had a contentious past for the City. The city’s legal fees in defending its former rent control ordinance against the property owner’s suits had reached $500,000 per year. The city did away with its ordinance and the owner of the property finally agreed to make it an owner-occupied facility by dividing it into 73 parcels so the former space renters could become space owners.
Parking in the village has always been an issue. When the floods of 2011 severely damaged the Pacific Cove Mobile Home Park and showed how vulnerable the area was, the city decided to buy out the tenants of the city-owned property and build in its stead, a 226-space parking lot. This additional parking is intended to help make development of the former site of the Capitola Theater as a hotel more feasible in the eyes of the Coastal Commission.
The owner of the former El Salto Resort, now known as Monarch Cove, revealed proposed plans to increase the number of guest rooms and cottages from 18 to 41 units. The neighbors along El Salto and Escalona Drives immediately raised their concerns about the potential traffic increases. The owner claims that with increased visitors to the area the city will benefit through increased sales and occupancy taxes. So far, it’s a standoff.
Residents of the Soquel Union Elementary School District voted by mail on Measure S, a $90 Parcel Tax this past May. Even though the measure was supported by 60.7 percent of voters, it fell short of the two-thirds (66.6 percent) vote required to pass the tax. When asked why the District needed a parcel Tax, District Superintendent Henry Castaniada noted that during the state’s budget crisis, the District cut $1.3 million of its $14 million budget and that the passage of Prop 30 did not restore the $1.3 million, it merely stopped further reductions in funding.
A special note of appreciation to Carolyn Swift, who retired in 2013, for making the Capitola Historical Museum a resource for the whole county. As museum curator for the past 20 years, she has researched and preserved a historical legacy that will keep us connected to the achievements and legacy of our predecessors.
Thanks to our Regular Contributors
Second District Supervisor Zach Friend knows the value of communication and has made it a priority that he keeps us advised on what the county is up to in his monthly column, which appears in both the Capitola Soquel Times and the Aptos Times.
Our thanks to Soquel Union Elementary School District Superintendent Henry Castaniada for becoming part of the Times Publishing Group family with his monthly column, “Innovations in Education” in which he keeps us informed about the district.
We are very grateful to Margaret Kinstler and Rich Didday of The Capitola Village Residents’ Association (www.capitolacvra.org) for becoming regular contributors to the Capitola Soquel Times with the CVRA’s Village Corner column and keeping you up-to-date on local issues and history.
Another valued contributor is Noreen Santaluce (91-years young) who writes the Seniors in Action column. Besides writing, she is also busy taking watercolor art lessons and is active in the 90+ club. As Noreen writes, “They (members of the 90+ Club) are no different than anyone else, just older but wiser and rapidly growing in numbers. The 85+ are the fastest growing demographic in California and the U.S.
To end on a note that makes it clear why we all love living here along the Monterey Bay, this is a story and image that brings wonder to us as we watched nature in action in 2013.
The Humpbacks Decided To Stay
By Tom Dexel
For Whale Watchers and Charter Boat owners, 2013 could be the best year ever. Sparked by a healthy Algae bloom attracting a huge population of krill, anchovies and other baitfish, Humpback and Blue Whales decided to visit Monterey Bay in amazing numbers. The Monterey Bay seems to have returned to the “good ole days” of Cannery Row when a whole industry was built and flourished around harvesting Sardines, anchovies and their predators including the giant Humpback Whales.
Humpbacks require about 3000 pounds of food per day. In a teaming effort a group of Humpbacks swim in a shrinking circle around schools of fish while blowing bubbles that create a” bubble net” that confines the fish. The whales then rapidly lunge toward the surface with their mouths wide open swallowing thousands of fish in one gulp.
This picture was taken by Sarah Swanson- Dexel while we were on our boat on the bay with my granddaughters, Ocean, Eli and Phoenix. An amazing and thrilling close encounter with Humpback Whales.
Tom has competed in 15 ocean rowing marathons and two ultra marathons, crossing the Monterey Bay and from Marina Del Ray to Catalina Island. He is an Open Water Rowing Instructor and Coach, Santa Cruz Rowing Club, a Local Realtor with Alain Pinel Realtors and 2013 Director of the Santa Cruz Lighted Boat Parade. firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great 2014!