TRANSPORTATION

Passenger rail choices to be outlined by Regional Transportation Commission

A June 6 Regional Transportation Commission meeting and two open houses in June are expected to explore options for passenger rail cars. (Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission)

10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 6 / Online and at 275 Main St., Fourth Floor, Watsonville

Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission staff are set to present preliminary designs for passenger rail service at a June 6 meeting. Two open houses are also set for June to gather feedback from residents.

A draft of the zero-emission passenger rail service will include:

  • Track locations and crossings.
  • Three options of vehicles.
  • Potential station locations. 

On June 6, a website is expected to have information about the alignment and ways to provide feedback. Two open houses are scheduled:

  • 6 p.m. Monday, June 24 at Civic Plaza Community Room, 275 Main St., Watsonville.
  • 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 25 at Live Oak Grange, 1900 17th Ave., Santa Cruz.

—Jesse Kathan

To participate: Join on Zoom or call  669-900-6833, meeting ID 871 2485 0957. To comment ahead of the meeting, email [email protected] by 9 a.m. Wednesday. The meeting will be streamed on Community TV.

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HEALTH

Watsonville mayor joins fight against pesticides near schools

Watsonville Mayor Vanessa Quiroz-Carter said it was “unacceptable” for children, farmworkers and other residents to be exposed to harmful pesticides. “We deserve a healthy working and learning environment,” she said. (Stephen Baxter — Santa Cruz Local)

Watsonville Mayor Vanessa Quiroz-Carter joined about 50 activists outside MacQuiddy Elementary School in Watsonville on May 21 to demand that Driscoll’s and its growers eliminate pesticides on fields near schools.

MacQuiddy’s campus is adjacent to two berry fields. Leaders of the Campaign for Organic and Regenerative Agriculture, or CORA, released new maps of agricultural areas where pesticides are applied near schools. The effort follows a Santa Cruz Local investigation of pesticide applications near schools

At the event, two farmworkers described their children’s medical problems that they linked to pesticides. Ernestina Solorio said she worked in the fields while pregnant with two of her four children. Those two have learning disabilities and psychological problems, she said, while her other children do not.

“It’s not so much about my children or my grandchildren, it’s about future generations” Solorio said in Spanish. “Let them realize that pesticides are affecting us.” 

Driscoll’s representatives have said their operations are all within the law.

—Stephen Baxter

HOUSING

Ocean Street housing proposal grows to 225 apartments

A housing proposal at 530 Ocean St. would be six stories and include commercial space. (Workbench) 

Developers recently described plans to replace four office buildings on the 500 block of Ocean Street in Santa Cruz with a 225-unit apartment complex called ArtHaus Ocean. The complex would have 40 deed-restricted affordable units.

Santa Cruz-based Workbench, the developer, earlier this year proposed 199 units that included 30 affordable homes on the site. Developers also showed new designs and color schemes at a May 20 online meeting. 

Read more about 530 Ocean St.

ENVIRONMENT

Wildfire summit set for June 6 in Santa Cruz

Mark Brunton, a Cal Fire operations chief, describes attacks on the CZU Lightning Complex Fire in August 2020. (Cal Fire)

2-6 p.m. Thursday, June 6 / Veterans Memorial Building, 846 Front St., Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz County residents are invited to learn from wildfire experts and innovators in wildfire preparation at a first annual Santa Cruz County Wildfire Resilience Summit on June 6 in Santa Cruz. 

The free event includes presentations about has a series of presentations planned, including:

  • Preparing homes for potential wildfire. 
  • What home insurers are looking for in prepared homes.
  • Restoring Indigenous burn practices.
  • New technologies, tools and innovation in wildfire management.

Speakers will include representatives from Cal Fire, the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the Santa Cruz County Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience. The FireSafe Council of Santa Cruz County organized the event.

—Nik Altenberg

To participate: Register online. Attend at the Veterans Memorial Building, 846 Front St., Santa Cruz.

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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Reporter / California Local News Fellow | + posts

Jesse Kathan is a staff reporter for Santa Cruz Local through the California Local News Fellowship. They hold a master's degree in science communications from UC Santa Cruz.

Website | + posts

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.