By Zach Friend, County Supervisor 2nd District
As I begin each new year as your County Supervisor, I like to report back in this column on some of the things we’ve accomplished because of your partnership and communication of priorities. The beginning of 2017 marks the end of my first term in office (and the beginning of my second four year term). Here is a small overview of what we accomplished in 2016:
Community Meetings: In 2016, we’ve held 76 open office hours in Aptos, Corralitos, La Selva Beach and Watsonville and held or attended over 30 community and neighborhood meetings in Seacliff, La Selva Beach, Aptos, Watsonville, Capitola and Corralitos. In addition, I’ve written 45 columns in local papers and neighborhood newsletters and sent a number of e-newsletters from our office to communicate with our district about county happenings.
Parks: This past year we were able to break ground, and then finish construction, of new permanent restrooms at the Polo Grounds. Additionally, we secured funding and began improvements at Aldridge Lane Park in Corralitos (which includes improvements to the tennis courts and playground) and significant upgrades to Seascape Park including a new picnic area, new playground equipment and grass play area.
Local Roads and School Safety: New radar feedback signs and other safety improvements (including crosswalks, bike lanes and more) around a number of schools in our district were installed this year. Amesti Elementary, Aptos High, Aptos Junior High, Bradley, Calabasas, Mar Vista and Valencia Elementary schools all saw safety improvements as part of grant funding we received.
Major roadwork was done to improve Freedom Boulevard, a section of San Andreas was resurfaced, State Park between Soquel and Highway 1 and Soquel near Rio Del Mar Blvd. all saw resurfacing. The long-awaited Seacliff undergrounding project began and the Mar Vista bike and pedestrian bridge took a large step toward becoming reality. Measure D was passed – bringing revenue for road projects starting in mid 2017.
Public Safety: One of my key public safety focuses this year was working with the District Attorney’s Office on the creation of a Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center (MDIC). The MDIC is a neutral, family-friendly facility for conducting forensic interviews for child victims of sexual and physical abuse in Santa Cruz County.
Unlike the current model, which requires victims to be interviewed multiple times (often in multiple locations) by multiple agencies, a MDIC works to have the child interviewed once in a more child-centered and supportive environment. The initial start up of this program has begun with greater implementation occurring in 2017 (including dedicated staffing).
Economic Vitality and Reserves: The Aptos Village Project broke ground with the moving of the historic apple barn and the County approving bids for the road improvements in the Village area. The County’s mobile app we helped create, Citizen Connect, improved options for residents to include reporting of potholes, trash, abandoned vehicle, graffiti, illegal dumping, illegal grows, sewer spills, street signs down, tree trimming and more. Residents can now register to vote, view or pay property tax bills, explore the County’s parks system, schedule Building Inspections and conduct other county business all from their smartphone.
During our budget hearings we voted to continue to increase our reserves, which has led to improved bond ratings and lower borrowing costs. We continued to look at ways to help streamline the county planning process by allowing for electronic plans submittal.
Additionally, our continued work toward improving broadband in our district has taken a step forward with the beginning of the Sunesys fiber line, which will allow for significant speed improvements (and increased provider options) in much of our district.
Moving Forward: The above is just a partial list of what we’ve done this year and I know there is a lot more to do on all of these issues in 2017. This past year we estimate that we addressed over 700 direct requests for service to our office on transportation and road issues, neighborhood public safety concerns, winter storm preparation and culvert cleaning, environmental issues, health and human services, technology services and more – all from your emails, visits during office hours and calls to us.
We’d love to continue to hear from you to prioritize what we do. Call us at 454-2200 and have a great New Year!