Scotts Valley
Interim Public Works Director Scott Hamby (far left) says the City is looking at traffic-calming measures for Scotts Valley Drive. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

At its May 15 meeting, Scotts Valley City Council forged ahead with wastewater system improvements, selecting Cushman Contracting in a $1.3 million deal to install a new aeration blower, piping, valves and other instruments at the Scotts Valley Water Reclamation Facility.

The upgrades, meant to allow plant operators to have more control over biological processes, were originally priced at $1.4 million by Herwit Engineering, the company that designed the scope of the Aeration Basin System Upgrades Project.

Major wastewater renovations are just one of the many items on the City of Scotts Valley’s list of serious infrastructure priorities, and Council spent a fair amount of time discussing its Capital Improvement Plan.

In its report, staff noted 14 projects had recently been completed, and have been removed from the list. These include: the acquisition of a sewer truck, the replacement of a wastewater facility truck, striping on Glenwood Drive, Green Hills Road storm repair work, Parks Master Plan and new Skypark Tot Lot equipment.

Items related to City Hall renovations were paused, as costs were escalating and municipal officials have decided to look at getting new digs.

As bids have rolled in across a variety of projects, price tags have jumped significantly.

Scotts Valley City Hall
Scotts Valley City Hall renovations have been paused, as costs were escalating and municipal officials have decided to look at getting new digs. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Instead of needing $50,000 to resurface the tennis and pickleball court at Skypark, this is now estimated to cost $127,900; the $55,000 cost to replace the fence at the skatepark is now budgeted at $90,000; the public works facility improvements have shot up by almost half-a-million dollars, from a little over $1.1 million to nearly $1.6 million; a generator installation at the community and senior center increased $275,000 to $450,000.

Previously, the City decided to optimize its existing secondary wastewater treatment plant, abandon the existing tertiary treatment system and add membrane bio-reactor/ultraviolet disinfection capability to prevent process upsets and meet the City’s recycled water demands.

In addition to aiming for 80% completion of that design, the current CIP sets out a program to improve roadway conditions—with a focus on collector streets—and advance active transportation planning (including redesign of Scotts Valley Drive and Mount Hermon Road).

Interim Public Works Director Scott Hamby said the City is looking at traffic-calming measures for Scotts Valley Drive, including potentially reducing the number of lanes for vehicles.

Councilmember Donna Lind said she frequently hears from people about manhole covers being lower than the pavement.

Mayor Randy Johnson said that while he likes the idea of bike and pedestrian improvements, he cautioned against getting too creative.

“You’ve gotta be careful there—just a warning,” he said. “People kinda like Scotts Valley Drive the way it is.”

Scotts Valley City Council
Councilmember Allan Timms (left) talks about the need for improvements to bike lanes, as Mayor Randy Johnson looks on. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

City Manager Mali LaGoe added that consultant Kimley-Horn is working to gather traffic data from Scotts Valley to present Council with a menu of potential renovation options. She also thanked residents for being patient with temporary crack-sealing measures meant to buy time.

“I appreciate everyone’s patience,” she said. “I recognize that the lines on the road are not attractive.”

Councilmember Allan Timms, the most progressive voice on the Council, jumped in to set a counterpoint to the mayor’s comment, speaking up for pedestrians and cyclists in the community.

“I do get a lot of comments about how fast the traffic is,” he said, describing how those on foot have to dash across the road as vehicles approach rapidly. “Some of the bike lanes, in particular, need improvement.”

The City is counting on $3 million to come in from the federal government, or through similar programs. However, Scotts Valley will have to front the money, risking a cash crunch.

The staff report notes some projects have been delayed “due to limited staffing capacity and inability to fill vacant positions in Public Works.”

Rodolfo Onchi
Rodolfo Onchi

This highlighted the significance of one of the other big announcements of the evening—that after a significant stretch without a permanent public works director (since the departure of Chris Lamm on Aug. 4), the slot had been filled.

Rodolfo Onchi, the new public works director and city engineer, has more than two decades of civil engineering, project management and transportation systems experience under his belt.

“Throughout his career, Rodolfo has been instrumental in various public works initiatives, ranging from street beautification projects to the implementation of traffic safety programs and the execution of large-scale public infrastructure developments, such as the BART extension to San Jose, and numerous Caltrans highway and interchange projects,” a City spokesperson wrote on Facebook. “His expertise in these areas has been pivotal in shaping communities and enhancing public works infrastructure across the region.”

Rodolfo, who lives just outside Scotts Valley’s borders, graduated from Santa Cruz High School and attended Cabrillo College. He holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from San Jose State University and is a licensed professional engineer.

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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