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September 25, 2021

More Resources Coming to San Lorenzo Valley

Due to a surge in Covid-19 infections brought on by the delta variant of the virus this summer, there will now be a mobile testing site based in Felton through a partnership with Mountain Community Resources. The Community Bridges program, located at 6134 Highway 9, has provided great service to the San Lorenzo Valley for many years, and has once again stepped up to help.

This news comes on the heels of several successful vaccination clinics, called Vax the Valley, that San Lorenzo Valley Rotary hosted in partnership with the Boulder Creek Business Association, Liberty Bank and our County’s Public Health Department. Offering free and convenient vaccinations is critical to increasing immunization in the Valley, where rates are among the lowest in the County. But it is also critical to provide equally free and convenient testing to slow the spread.

The testing site will open Sept. 10, from 10am to 6pm, Friday to Tuesday, and because it is mobile, may be offered in other locations in the future. Appointments will not be required but certainly are recommended. The link to sign up will be posted at santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus.

While the changing Covid-19 dynamic continues to be top-of-mind, recovery from the CZU fires also continues to be a top priority. On Aug. 10, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a request by me and my colleague, District Three Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, to direct County staff to provide options for removing requirements for survivors to investigate and mitigate pre-fire geological hazards as part of the permitting process to rebuild.

Our code has posed a major impediment as insurance proceeds, and time, to rebuild are running out. Supervisor Coonerty and I agreed that making our fire survivors account for pre-fire conditions, many of which have been present for hundreds or thousands of years, was not reasonable or compassionate. We are scheduled to hear about those exception options during our Board meeting on Sept. 14. You can share your support for this item by sending an email to [email protected]

Then, two weeks later, on Sept. 28, we are scheduled to review the results of a fire-zone flood study funded by the Community Foundation to more closely identify the risks associated with debris flows. While the potential for landslides has long existed in parts of the San Lorenzo Valley, the fire exacerbated this threat in some areas. The study will help us better understand the community’s risk, which decreases over time, and how we might manage the situation under our code going forward.

Of course, public safety and welfare is our ultimate concern, but we must also balance those potential risks against the very real difficulties our code has caused for survivors. There are real risks to the mental and emotional well-being of survivors if they are unable to return to the homesite they loved and to the community they chose. Other California counties overseeing recovery from catastrophic fires have demonstrated some flexibility in their codes to meet the needs of the community, and I believe we should, too.

As always, please contact my office at [email protected] or 831-454-2200 if we can assist you with anything. 


Bruce McPherson is the County Supervisor for the Fifth District. His views are his own, and not necessarily those of the Press Banner.

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