Because this past year has been a very busy one for District 5, it is not at all surprising that we will end 2021 with a great deal of activity. Let’s start with the County’s ongoing response to Covid-19, which continues to be a challenge more than 20 months since our first local case.
In partnership with the Rotary Club of San Lorenzo Valley, the County’s Public Health Department will offer another series of vaccine clinics to encourage North County residents to get immunized. The clinics will be from 3-7pm every Wednesday starting Dec. 1 at Felton Community Hall, 6191 Highway 9, next to the Felton Fire Department.
First, second and booster doses of all vaccine types will be available for eligible ages on a walk-in basis, but they can also be scheduled at myturn.ca.gov. Taking the vaccine is critical to reducing the spread of Covid-19, which has seen an uptick in infections again recently. Effective Nov. 21, by order of the public health officer, wearing face coverings indoors is once again required.
Let’s talk next about housing. There are two great developments on the horizon.
First, I’m very excited about Veterans Village, a project that will transform Jaye’s Timberlane Resort in Ben Lomond into permanent supportive housing for veterans who have experienced homelessness. In partnership with Santa Cruz Community Foundation and Santa Cruz County Bank, the Santa Cruz County Veterans Memorial Building nonprofit organization has purchased the resort, which sits on nearly six acres along Highway 9, to house veterans and their families in subsidized rental units with case management and other services. The nonprofit is planning community events in the first couple weeks of December to provide more information and field any questions. Keep an eye on my Facebook page for an announcement about the dates, times and locations of those meetings.
Secondly, my office is pleased to be working with District 1 Supervisor Manu Koenig on the development of a tiny homes ordinance for the County. Tiny homes are an exciting option to add affordable housing stock to the community, both as accessory dwelling units and primary dwellings. On Dec. 7, from 6-7:30pm, the Planning Department will host a meeting regarding tiny homes with a special focus on rural concerns, including CZU recovery issues and septic systems. You can find the link to the virtual meeting at tinyurl.com/2zh38h6r or join by phone at 916-318-9542 using Phone Conference ID: 358 258 277#.
The next evening, from 5:30-7pm, on Dec. 8, my office will host a virtual town hall featuring a presentation about the renovations to Boulder Creek Library, among other news. This is an opportunity to learn more about what’s been happening in District 5 and get a preview of what we will be working on in 2022, which promises to be another busy year as we continue fire recovery and infrastructure improvements. You can join the meeting at bit.ly/3rnaIF7 and use meeting ID: 940 2222 3447.
Lastly, there are three resiliency issues my office has been working on recently. First, I wrote a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for his intervention regarding an estimated $4.4 million in road damage caused in the CZU burn scar by the state’s post-fire debris removal contractor. So far, California’s Office of Emergency Services has not agreed to provide funding to make the repairs that are in addition to the damage done to private roads, which in Last Chance alone, equals an estimated $2.7 million. Neither the County nor our citizens should be burdened with these expenses, and we cannot allow these roads to remain in this condition, which is unsafe and will continue to hinder our fire rebuilding efforts.
Secondly, I want to commend San Lorenzo Valley Water District’s Board of Directors and General Manager Rick Rogers for their efforts to help Big Basin Water customers by conducting emergency repairs and exploring taking over operations while considering annexation. I fully support the concept of bringing Big Basin customers over to the District, which provides excellent service, and have pledged my office’s time to find funding and facilitate a smooth transition.
Thirdly, I also want to commend representatives of SLVWD, Scotts Valley Water District, the County and private well owners who make up the Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency Board of Directors for voting unanimously to approve the agency’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan. The vote on Nov. 17 was the culmination of several years of collaborative work to identify the challenges and approaches to reaching long-term health for the groundwater basin. The plan will now be sent to the state for approval.
I wish you all the best for the holiday season and, as always, invite you to contact my office at [email protected] or 831-454-2200.
Bruce McPherson is the Fifth District Supervisor for the County of Santa Cruz, including the San Lorenzo Valley and parts of the cities of Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley. His views are his own and not necessarily those of the Press Banner.