As my first term as Fifth District Supervisor comes to a close, with my second term beginning in January, I would like to take a moment to reflect on all that we have accomplished together and outline some of the coming issues.
And truly, I do mean “we.” Government, and local government especially, relies on the community – you. You are the eyes, ears, and heart of the community. You are my trusted advisors and creative problem solvers. You are the source of many wonderful ideas, events, businesses, and celebrations.
The focus of work in the coming year will be on fixing our roads – with an emphasis on Highway 9 projects and bicycle paths – improving our air quality, and protecting the gains we have made in providing health care to our most vulnerable residents.
I also plan to explore the feasibility of small community wastewater treatment plants that could serve businesses in each of our downtowns. Right now, the lack of suitable wastewater treatment is a big deterrent to businesses being able to locate or expand in the downtowns. For true economic vitality that doesn’t rely on more residential growth, we need to help our small businesses.
We have much to do at Ben Lomond Park to restore access to the San Lorenzo River, and I hope to start building trails and improvements at the Miller Property in Boulder Creek, a little-known but beautiful County property.
We will conclude our role in the Monterey Bay Community Power Project, which got its impetus in my office four years ago. The project has now grown to a three-county endeavor that will result in the purchase of “greener” power by Spring of 2018, and hopefully at lower prices than PG&E rates. It’s the first three-county endeavor of its kind in the state and, possibly, in the nation. I’m very proud to have led this effort.
At the start of my term, we dusted off the town plans for Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond and Felton, and identified projects that you wanted completed. Many are now complete, including new streetlights, crosswalk improvements, school walkways and parking in Boulder Creek, a flashing beacon at the crosswalk in Ben Lomond, improvements to the Metro bus stops and crosswalks in Felton at the three-school campus, and new reflective street signs throughout San Lorenzo Valley. After years of effort, we have reroofed the historic Felton Covered Bridge.
We worked on three successful ballot measures – Measure D, which will fund transportation improvement and includes $10 million for Highway 9 improvements. As a first step this spring, we will develop a Highway 9 Master Plan, which will include such things as improved crosswalks and flashing beacons in Brookdale and Felton.
With the successful passage of Measure S, the library parcel tax, we are able to build a new $9 million Felton Library and create an outdoor nature explore corridor on the property. The plans are truly inspiring, and I look forward to being a part of this long-awaited accomplishment.
Through the California State Association of Counties, we were able to get a one-time refund of $5 million from the State for its previous unfunded mandates. Half of that amount was directed to fund park improvements. Using those funds, we were recently able to take a lead role on the purchase of Bear Creek Country Club for the Boulder Creek Recreation District. I look forward to the continued collaboration.
We were fortunate to have local hotelier Pravin Patel purchase the Brookdale Lodge, and will continue working with him to reopen this iconic property in phases, with the hotel rooms and ground floor businesses scheduled to open first.
Additionally, we have been working with PG&E on multiple projects. In conjunction with the Valley Women’s Club, we applied for a change in the electric base rate, which reflects San Lorenzo Valley temperatures and should result in lower bills. PG&E has agreed, and submitted the request to the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Because the rate change is part of pending litigation, the PUC is not expected to act on rate change until 2018. We also have asked PG&E to put its Community Pipeline tree removal project on hold until an environmental analysis has been completed.
The Fifth District is a wonderful place – beautiful and diverse. It is the people who live here who make it truly special. I’m honored to have represented you during my first term in office, and am looking forward serving you for the next four years.
Here are some highlights of my first term.
The merger of Lompico and San Lorenzo Valley Water Districts.
Gained approval of plans for parking and other entrance improvements at Castle Rock State Park.
Installed a new bridge in Ben Lomond on Old County Road, and an improved bridge entrance to Mount Hermon.
Expanded the sewer system along Graham Hill and Sims Roads.
Collaborated with neighborhoods on proposed timber harvests and placement of cell towers.
Worked with the City of Scotts Valley to install a new merge pattern on Mount Hermon Road at Lockhart Gulch.
Restored Quail Hollow Brook
Settled a long-standing lawsuit between Scotts Valley and the County regarding Redevelopment Agency funds.
Helped facilitate an emergency intertie between San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley water districts
Restored a stand-along Santa Cruz County Parks and Recreation District
Established a new office of Economic Development, which will help create jobs in the County.
Adopted regulations on medical cannabis dispensaries and licensed 12 county-wide.
Increased the number of County sheriff deputies on patrol and hired more assistant district attorneys.
Adopted regulations for the cultivation of cannabis – an environmental impact report is being prepared.
Consolidated the offices of Auditor/Controller and Treasurer/ Tax Collector.
Reduced the County’s structural budget deficit and increased reserves, which allows the County to borrow at a low-interest rate and to respond to emergencies.
Installed new kitchen facilities at juvenile hall in Felton, which allows teaching cooking skills using organic produce from their garden.
Increased the transient occupancy tax paid by visitors, and imposed taxes on Airbnb businesses.
Collaborated with the City of Santa Cruz, the District Attorney’s office, law enforcement, the court and social services to coordinate services directed toward frequent offenders.