You’ve probably already noticed the orange cones and road crews: a number of road repairs and projects are underway.
In addition to other projects, work began to resurface a section of Mount Hermon Road. Although the delays were painful — and will return briefly later this month — the improvement will be worthwhile.
Work has also begun to install guardrails and retaining walls along Felton Empire Road near the top at Bonny Doon. A washed out section of East Zayante Road damaged in by storms in March 2011 is being repaired. And in Scotts Valley, a new section of Nelson Road, closed by a large rockslide also in March of 2011, is being built. Construction on this project is anticipated to take up to three months.
The Nelson Road repairs were delayed after local and state authorities declared a disaster following the March 2011 storm, but the federal government refused to follow suit. That meant denial of millions of dollars in local disaster aid. Instead, County Public Works staff worked to secure insurance money. That successful effort resulted in $3 million worth of road repairs now, or soon to be, underway.
A very large — and very dead — eucalyptus tree was removed last week in Felton. The base of the tree was along Zayante Road and the top branches were up and over the bridge on Conference Drive on the way to Mount Hermon. Thank you Christianson Tree Company for removing this tree!
I would like to invite Fifth District residents to apply for vacant positions on County advisory bodies. These advisory bodies make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. Vacancies for Fifth District representatives currently exist on the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, the Human Services Commission, the Mental Health Advisory Board (for a representative of consumers) and the Seniors Commission. If you are interested, an online application is available at www.santacruzcounty.us. That will take you to the County’s home page. Under the “Government” tab, choose “Commissions, Committees & Advisory Bodies,” and then click on the “Apply Now” button to bring up the on-line application. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the application to complete and return, please call my office at 454-2200.
At my request, the County will explore the feasibility of a “host family” program for migrant children who have been stranded at the border. The surge of unaccompanied and undocumented minors crossing the border has overwhelmed the Office of Refugee Resettlement. In the last eight months, estimates suggest that a minimum of 57,000 new children have entered without a parent or guardian, most of them fleeing from violence in their birth countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
With this huge influx, hundreds of children have been placed in emergency military dormitories, akin to FEMA shelters, and other shelters never designed to house large numbers of children.
Santa Cruz County has joined Santa Clara County and other communities in considering a “host family” program, using licensed foster homes to temporarily house some of the children until a court decides whether they will stay or be returned to their homeland. This would not replace the federal process but would provide a more humane placement while the cases involving these minors are pending in refugee court. I estimate that a program in Santa Cruz County would place up to 10 children. Federal money has been identified, but not yet appropriated, for this humane cause.
Castle Rock State Park Entrance
Plans for a new entrance and visitor’s complex at Castle Rock State Park are moving forward. The Santa Cruz County Planning Commission approved the proposal in August and the Board of Supervisors will consider plans in September.
The proposal by Sempervirens Fund is to relocate the main entrance to Castle Rock State Park and construct a gateway to the park in two phases. The first phase would include construction of a new driveway and entrance, including deceleration and acceleration lanes; construction of a 90-car parking lot with electronic pay stations, amphitheater, restrooms, picnic areas and trails, and installation of landscaping. The second phase would include construction of a visitor’s center complex of about 6,000 square feet and restoration of a Christmas tree farm to native meadow.
The park entrance is located on the southwest side of Highway 35, about 2.3 miles from its intersection with Highway 9. Popular with rock climbers, many park visitors currently park along the highway. The plan is to keep the small existing parking lot for climbing groups and other scheduled groups.
The new main entrance would move about 500 feet from the existing one, on the Santa Cruz side of Highway 35, which runs along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains between Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. Sanborn County Park is located across the highway on the Santa Clara County side.
I support the proposal and look forward to a safer, more accommodating entryway to this jewel of a park.