By Bruce McPherson
I would like to fill you in on a few issues that I have worked on during this all-too-fast summer, and some that I will be working on this fall.
Safe Routes to School
In Boulder Creek, construction is underway for a curb, gutter, sidewalk, retaining wall, and drainage improvements near Boulder Creek Elementary School. A 300-foot retaining wall four feet high is being built directly along the school frontage on Laurel Street between Lomond Street and Harmon Street. In addition, a short walkway on the east side of Laurel Street at the intersection of Lomond Street is being built in order to provide a connection to an existing railroad tie and gravel staircase that was constructed by volunteers. A walkway is also being constructed on Harmon Street from Laurel Street to Oak Street. The improvements are funded with a grant from the Federal Safe Routes to School program.
A construction bid came in earlier this summer higher than expected, which meant the work was likely to be delayed another school year. Public Works staff scrambled to fill the gap in funding so that the project could still get underway this summer, although that meant construction was not finished by the start of the school year, as planned. However, I am very pleased that this long awaited project is underway and very appreciative of the effort by Public Works.
Bus Service Restored for Students
I am also very pleased to announce that bus service for schools arrivals and departures in San Lorenzo Valley has been fully restored. The five “school trip” routes, which allow students to use public transportation to the three-school campuses in Felton, were proposed to be eliminated along Highway 9. All the routes have been fully restored, thanks to dedicated work of Christopher Schiermeyer, the school district Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, and Metro’s Barrow Emerson.
SLVHS School Resource Officer
Also new this year, Sheriff’s Deputy Kris Koenig is assigned to San Lorenzo Valley High School as the school resource officer, a position that the Board of Supervisors approved in this year’s budget with the goal of promoting positive interactions between law enforcement and young people. Deputy Koenig is a 1999 San Lorenzo Valley High School graduate who will be “returning” to school.
Cannabis Cultivation Registration
Registration for the County’s new cannabis cultivation program is currently underway and closes on November 6. This registration process is voluntary; however, we anticipate that only the owners of registered cannabis cultivation sites will be eligible to apply for a local license when they become available. The goal is to allow existing growers to register, receive feedback from the County on the degree to which their cultivation site conforms to the proposed regulations, and allow the County to collect information for the evaluation of the environmental impacts associated with cultivation activities in Santa Cruz County including existing conditions, impacts and recommendations for appropriate regulation of cannabis cultivation. To register, go to the sign-up page at: https://scccannabis.co.santa-cruz.ca.us to begin the process.
Pipeline Safety Environmental Concerns
The County is also working with PG&E and community advocates on an ambitious Community Pipeline Safety Initiative along the 60 miles of high-pressure gas transmission lines in Santa Cruz County. PG&E has proposed to remove hundreds of trees above its gas line along Graham Hill Road between Santa Cruz and Felton and in other areas of the County.
While I appreciate that PG&E must have the ability to maintain, inspect, and operate its system, and I support measures to ensure pipeline safety, I share a number of residents’ deep concerns about losing the trees. Concerns have been raised regarding the impacts on water, road stability, water, air, wildlife, and long-term health and safety.
Supervisor John Leopold and I asked that the project be put on hold while the County creates a framework agreement with PG&E that makes sure our local and state environmental regulations are met, and incorporates specific guidelines for tree removal with the intent to minimize the number of trees cut.