Scotts Valley City Meeting from Saturday, November 4
By Diane Dearinger
The meeting took place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 4, 2017. The introduction of Randy Johnson (Mayor) was by Dave Hodgin (President of Scotts Valley Senior Life Association (SVSLA). After introducing Jim Reed (Vice Mayor), Donna Lind and Jack Dilles (Council Members), Jenny Haruyama, (City Manager), and Piret Harmon (General Manager SV Water), Johnson began with the motto of “Doing more with less.”
Randy Johnson’s cited the upgrade of the restrooms at both Siltanen Park and Sky Park and the upgrade of the Senior Center. The SV Middle School was built in 1941 and that after the delay of the beetle issue, the new school will be ready to open in one year. The library is the best in the county and only took between $6- $7 million to build, half of what other libraries in the county have cost.
Due to the 10% TOT (Temporary Occupancy Tax) the Lexington Hotel will bring additional tax revenues per room (129 rooms) and the 1440 Multiversity Hotel (Named for 1440 minutes in a day) located at the former Bethany Campus, will also bring per-room taxes.
Town Center is taking shape with a major building just taken down. It will have a major restaurant (The Hanger) and also provide housing, retail and office space. It is estimated to take $40 to $50 million to build with Johnson and others soon talking to three interested developers. One of the selling points is that the residents of San Lorenzo Valley go through our area and will bring customers. Johnson also noted that Kaiser and UCSC moving into the old Borland building brings 400 employees.
Johnson discussed the need for affordable and senior housing, which can be accomplished by smaller units. The newest housing includes 40 homes on the 150 acre Santa Village site, 50 town homes near Borland, 20 units behind the Shell Station at Mt. Hermon Road, and 30 to 35 condos by the Lexington Hotel.
He discussed the 30 to 40% less water usage since 1990. The plan is for better lights and lane usage at the SV Drive and Mt. Hermon Road intersection. He said they have been keeping up with slurry sealing to keep from having to redo roads. Overall, he predicts a bright future for our town.
Police Chief Steve Walpole Jr., reminded us that his father retired as SV Police Chief in 2001 and that he has now been on board for one year. When he came on they were down four officers but are now fully manned with homegrown officers. There are volunteers who work on weekends who receive the same training as regular officers. Our volunteer program is the largest in the county. There is also the Explorers program for teenagers of minimum age of 15 who ride with the officers and one day will join the force to keep our officers local.
Walpole spoke of the Firearms Ordinance with the moratorium of gun shops. The recent passage of a resolution governs methods to store guns safely to prevent theft. Since passed 45 days ago, there have been no thefts in SV gun shops.
The Emergency Preparedness program was developed with the Fire Department and the School District. All employees have been trained. They also have worked together on the county-wide” intruder call.” Our Police Department will be installing body cameras by May or June.
Fire Chief Steve Kovacs came to SV from Murphy, CA. He has been with four fire districts in his 36 years. Kovacs stated that the department is funded through property taxes and not by the city of Scotts Valley. The District covers 22 square miles. There is a Facility Study to be competed by June 2018 to decide if they will remodel or build from scratch.
The Fire District is building a new website for more community outreach. In the next several years the District will lose 1/3 of its personnel to retirement. For firefighters there is a high rate of cancer due to the toxicity of smoke.
Therefore, the District is looking into better protective clothing. Counseling is also needed due to the horrific scenes that firemen often see.
When a department orders a new fire truck, it must be built to their needs. Kovacs gave statistics on the recent fires; one of SV’s fire engines was in Napa for 14 days and one in the local Bear fire.
Kovacs said Fire protection is a community effort and that we should clear trees and weeds and keep the perimeter clear for firemen to access. Everyone should have an evacuation plan with a container that houses all emergency needs ready to go and a rendezvous point for family to reunite.
Kovacs said to sign up for Nixel and Code Red to get alerts. With many giving up landlines, it makes it necessary to register your cell phone with 911 to get the reverse 911 call. Also, people can check CALFire and Wildfire.org for information. He ended with “When you see a firemen, personally give him/her your thanks… they do not get enough of this type recognition.”
General Manager of SV Water District Piret Harmon said new connections would help lower fees. Harmon said our infrastructure is over 50 years old with 60 miles of old pipe and each mile of pipe cost $1 million.
The District is constantly looking into innovative methods of providing safe water for low fees. Donna Lind, Council Member, said that recycling water used for irrigation has also caused lower usage such as the agreement with Pasa Tiempo Golf Course water that used to go into the ocean, is being sold and has helped support our system.
City Manager Jenny Haruyama noted that the leadership of the council has helped keep our city’s expenses down. They are now working on a five-year plan which will be up on the updated website. The community workshops have been well attended.
Our public safety is the primary responsibility of our police and they work hard to keep us all safe. Haruyama wants a strong dialog to continue between the community, the city council and the other city departments.
After the presentation, Q & A brought the following responses:
- There is NO knowledge by the participants regarding Google possibly moving here.
- The Emergency Preparedness Center is for the city to organize. In the event of the need, there will be places designated. The Police Chief noted that they would open up the road to Avisa to aid in our evacuation if needed.
- Update on Watkins-Johnson/Avisa property: there is a draft environmental report to be completed by December 2017 after which rezoning to residential property will proceed. The public will have 45 days to comment.
- A Traffic Engineering study has begun regarding the intersection of Blue Bonnet Drive and Bean Creek Road to see if it will be a four-way stop or merely the trimming of bushes.
- SV has kept taxes low by not taxing items such as cell phones as some other cities do.
- Pension plans are a big expense. It is an ongoing problem.
- Call 438-1000 if there is a concern about whether your water heater is safely strapped. This is a FREE service of Scotts Valley Senior Life Association (formerly Montevalle Community Life).
The meeting ended and attendees enjoyed the delicious assortment of food and drinks prepared by Heidi Jackson, Wilma McHenry, and Linda Tanner.