Supervisor Bruce McPherson — Latest 5th District News


Commentary: Santa Cruz Public Library System

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Santa Cruz County voters have long been supportive of our public library system.

On the June 7 primary ballot, most county voters will get an opportunity to show that support by voting for Measure S, a library bond measure that will raise $67 million to improve and expand library branches to provide additional space for popular community programs and to undertake long-overdue repairs to existing facilities. The tax would require property owners to pay $49.50 per parcel every year for 30 years.

The Sentinel urges a yes vote on this measure, which requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

The tax would provide upgrades and repairs at all 10 county branches, and would allow the system to finally build two long-sought permanent branches, as well as remodel and renovate the aging downtown branch on Church Street. The city of Capitola would finally get a modern permanent library on city-owned land, replacing the outdated, cramped modular building currently in use. Felton residents, meanwhile, who have long fought for a fully functional library, will get one, to be built on donated land, replacing a leased building that dates to 1893.

With the exception of the city of Watsonville, which has its own library system, the bond measure will bring updates to the Aptos, Boulder Creek, La Selva Beach, Live Oak, Branciforte, Garfield Park and Scotts Valley branches as well.

For instance, in Aptos, the much-used library branch would get 3,000 square feet of additional space — allowing the library to host programs for younger children and for community events not easily hosted in the current cramped and poorly laid out space. Scotts Valley would get a new roof and an upgraded homework and tutoring area for teens. Live Oak would see a library annex at Shoreline Middle School and Branciforte would see a meeting/study room restored.

Library directors also are committed to bringing modern technology to the system, which, with expanded meeting and study space, will provide services far beyond the printed, bound-book collections that were once the primary function and purpose of public libraries. But in a digital world, so much more is possible.

Both the Santa Cruz City County system and the Watsonville library are supported by city and county property and sales taxes, limited state funding, and private donations. The city-county system also benefits from a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters. The city-county library system is governed by a Joint Powers Agreement among the county and cities of Santa Cruz, Capitola, and Scotts Valley. oversight is provided by a reorganized, four-person Joint Powers Board, which has financial and other responsibilities for the system and is comprised of the county chief administrative officer and the city managers representing Capitola, Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley. The new board succeeds the previous nine-member board that included elected officials.

When the board was reorganized, a new library advisory commission also was created that includes registered voters from the county and the three cities. The commission gives another level of accountability to library spending and projects.
We think the changes made in governance, and the compelling case made by library staff to build new libraries and remodel, renovate and repair others should give voters confidence that the money raised by the bond measure will be spent well and spent wisely.

It’s an across-the-board, most-of-the-county project that will enable even more residents to use their public library system in even more ways. We urge a yes vote on Measure S, the library facilities initiative.

Electric Rate Redesignation Update

PG&E Baseline Rate Regions

PG&E Baseline Rate Regions

A request by the Valley Women’s Club and I to have the California Public Utilities Commission change the PG&E baseline designation for the San Lorenzo Valley has been delayed until June. The proposal is to reduce the cost of electricity and reduce air pollution from woodstove smoke. Currently, due to the high cost of electricity, many San Lorenzo Valley residents use wood-burning stoves as their primary heat source, resulting in smoke particulate pollution. The requested change in the electrical baseline designation would align San Lorenzo Valley with areas with similar average temperatures. It would also correct the inappropriate designation made years ago which effectively locked our costs to almost double the surrounding areas, in spite of our extremes of severe cold in the winter and heat in the summer.

The application from PG&E to the California Public Utilities Commission requesting the change was expected to be submitted in April. It is now expected to be submitted in June. Read more about PG&E Baseline Rates here.

 

Rural Internet Access

Rural Internet AccessTime and again, I am asked how and when our rural communities will have better access to wired high-speed internet service. The county has a Broadband Master Plan developed with help from local independent providers as well as ATT and Comcast. The next step to implementation is formation of a Fiber Initiative Team of public/private stakeholders to identify funding sources and possible pilot projects.

The County’s Economic Development Team has taken the lead and will report back this summer to the Board of Supervisors with plans to move forward.  The focus will be on funding the “mid-mile” main line, including installing fiber under Highway 9 from the city of Santa Cruz to the Santa Cruz County line at the Summit.

Local service providers, such as Cruzio, have expressed interest in providing resources for the “final mile”; that is, wired access to homes and businesses from the main mid-mile line. As with most public infrastructure projects, available funding is the key. I’m hoping to hear about feasible options soon.

Hero Program in Santa Cruz County

Home Energy Renovation Opportunity HERO Program

In 2014, the Board of Supervisors approved the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) Program which offers Santa Cruz residents affordable energy efficient and water saving upgrades to their homes, with financing available through property tax bills.

In Santa Cruz County, 111 applications have been submitted and, of those, 91 have been approved with $711,000 of projects funded under the program. For more information, or to conduct an energy audit for your own home without obligation, visit www.heroprogram.com/ca/santacruzcounty.

School Traffic Safety Projects Completed

San Lorenzo Valley transportation safety

Image: SLV SV Press Banner

Several traffic and pedestrian improvements at local schools have been made recently.  On Highway 9, Caltrans has improved the crosswalks for students, pedestrians, and the disabled in front of the San Lorenzo Valley combined school campus.  This long-awaited project provides a safe landing for pedestrians, wheelchairs, and bicycles on both sides of the main Highway 9 crosswalk leading to the Metro stop and the high school.

Radar speed feedback signs have also been installed on Graham Hill Road – one on each side of Treetop Drive – to remind drivers to slow down as they approach the turn and crosswalk to Brook Knoll Elementary School.

Nurse Family Partnership Program

FifthDistrict_Nurse-Family-Partnership-ProgramI’m excited to tell you about a program being planned for our smallest, most vulnerable residents – newborn babies. The Nurse Family Partnership program can significantly improve the lives of low-income first-time moms and their children, and also, provide long-term benefits for the County as a whole.

This program has shows incredible success in dozens of communities across the nation. Each mother served by a Nurse-Family Partnership is partnered with a nurse early in her pregnancy and receives ongoing nurse home visits that continue through her child’s second birthday. This highly effective program serves babies and toddlers during a critical window of opportunity for human brain development, resulting in dramatic reduction in abuse, neglect, arrests, injuries, behavioral, and intellectual problems.

We hope to approve funding for the program in June to initially serve 100 low-income, first-time moms, and their babies. In the coming years, I hope that the program will be able to serve all low-income first-time mothers and their babies in Santa Cruz County.

About

Bruce McPherson was elected to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors in 2012 to represent the San Lorenzo Valley, including the communities of Felton, Ben Lomond, Brookdale and Boulder Creek, as well as parts of the cities of Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley.