Road, rail line upgrades to be discussed

The rail line curves to the right and disappears behind a stand of eucalyptus trees. The tracks are covered in leaves.

The rail corridor runs parallel to Park Avenue in Aptos in February 2021 (Stephen Baxter — Santa Cruz Local file)

9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 2 / Online and at 701 Ocean St., Room 525, Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission plans to vote at its Nov. 2 meeting on an updated 5-year plan for spending Measure D money. 

The measure, which Santa Cruz County voters approved in 2016, was a half-cent sales tax hike to help maintain and improve transportation systems in the county. Measure D money has helped fund paratransit services for seniors and people with disabilities, the recently completed Highway 17 wildlife undercrossing, improvements to Highway 1 and other projects.

Each year the commission updates its 5-year plan for spending Measure D money. The proposed update for 2023-2028 includes:

  • $2.4 million for street upgrades in San Lorenzo Valley.
  • $540,000 for Highway 1 improvement projects expected to start in 2025. 
  • $2.4 million for work on the rail trail, including planning for Segments 10 and 11 and rail corridor maintenance to help stem erosion, manage plants and repair storm damage.
  • $2.3 million for separate, ongoing maintenance of the rail corridor.

Commission staff aim to leverage Measure D money to make projects more competitive for state grants. There isn’t enough revenue to pay for all planned projects outright and delays to a project could mean losing grant money or an increase in project costs, according to a commission staff report. To pay for planned projects and avoid delays, the commission may need to borrow $119 million over the next five years, commission staff wrote.

—Nik Altenberg

To participate: Join on Zoom or call 312-626-6799, meeting ID 854 0691 0971. To comment ahead of the meeting, email [email protected] by 9 a.m. Wednesday. 


Parcel tax for Scotts Valley schools leans toward approval

A sports scoreboard reads Scotts Valley High School Falcons.

If Measure V is adopted, nearly $1 million would be collected annually from Scotts Valley taxpayers to help fund Scotts Valley High School and other schools in Scotts Valley Unified School District. (Tyler Maldonado — Santa Cruz Local)

Election results on Oct. 26 showed a likely approval of Measure V to benefit Scotts Valley schools. It needs more than 66% of the vote to be adopted.

  • Yes: 3,059 votes (72.54%)
  • No: 1,158 votes (27.46%)

Measure V asks Scotts Valley voters whether property owners should pay a $168 annual parcel tax for seven years to raise nearly $1 million annually for Scotts Valley Unified School District. The new tax would start in July 2024 and replace a similar parcel tax set to expire in June. 

Updated election results are due Tuesday, Oct. 31, said Santa Cruz County Clerk Tricia Webber. Election results are expected to be certified by Nov. 10.

Separately, ballots are due Nov. 7 for Measure W in Scotts Valley. Measure W asks voters whether bonds can be sold and money collected from property owners to help pay for a new, earthquake-safe fire station for the Scotts Valley Fire Protection District. 

The measure needs more than 66% of the vote to be adopted. Ballots were mailed in early October.

—Stephen Baxter

View election results

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Mental health crisis resources updated

The Homeless Persons Health Project offers mental health referrals and some medical services. (Homeless Persons Health Project) 

Many Santa Cruz County residents said they want to know who they can call for help with mental health crises other than law enforcement.

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors in June 2023 approved an overhaul of the way mental health crises can be handled in the county. The new program, called Crisis Now, is expected to make mobile crisis teams available 24 hours by mid-2027. 

Crisis Now has not started in Santa Cruz County as of late October 2023. Contracts with nonprofit groups to advance the program are expected no sooner than January 2024, said Jason Hoppin, a spokesperson for the County of Santa Cruz.

Several other programs are available. Hours and program information has been updated on Santa Cruz Local’s mental health crisis resource page.

—Stephen Baxter

Mental health crisis resources

Santa Cruz Local journalists wrote these briefs and previews for our weekly newsletter. Want to receive these local updates, a preview of recent articles and more in your inbox each Sunday? Sign up for our free newsletter.

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Stephen Baxter is a co-founder and editor of Santa Cruz Local. He covers Santa Cruz County government.

Website | + posts

Nik Altenberg is a copy editor and fact checker for Santa Cruz Local. Altenberg has a bachelor’s in Latin American and Latinx Studies from UC Santa Cruz.