Laurie Egan. stewardship coordinator for the Coastal Watershed Council, showed her support for boating on the San Lorenzo. Photo by Jacob Pierce.
And you thought water issues couldn’t be any fun. When Laurie Egan got her friends at the Coastal Watershed Council to dress up in life jackets, Santa Cruz city council discussed the future of the San Lorenzo River—but not to debate alternatives to a desalination plant or anything wonky like that. In front of the council at the Tuesday Nov. 26 meeting was a go-ahead allowing staff to study kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding on the river.html.
Hence the jackets. Even city councilmember Micah Posner sported a jacket (although that might have just been extra safety padding for his bike ride home). So did former Mayor Mike Rotkin, Kayak Connection’s Dave Grigsby and Greg Pepping, also from the Watershed Council. “I’m not a politician, and I’m in the deep end tonight”, Pepping said during his presentation.
There was a little opposition from two environmentalists, who worry over the recommendations of some biologists, about impacts on wildlife, but most speakers about at public comment were generous in their support.
Assistant city manager Tina Shull said she didn’t know why the law was on the books. Pepping noted Denver, Paso Robles, Redding, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Kansas City and San Antonio all have active river ways. Council unanimously approved the item, which will allow staff to move forward with an environmental review.
With that out of the way, council tackled public engagement for the city’s water supply, voting to create a Drought Solutions Citizen Advisory Committee. Activists and city critics—some of whom might eventually serve on the committee to look for fixes to Santa Cruz’s water shortages—came to weigh in during a 90 minute public comment period that at times got heated. Many activists criticized the committee’s makeup and pressured the city to halt its $7 million-plus spending to date on studying desalination. And it seems Desal Alternatives’ Rick Longinotti and Paul Gratz, who dressed in collared shirts, must have left their jackets at home.