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The desalination plant sites proposed for the Santa Cruz project.

The desalination plant sites proposed for the Santa Cruz project.

Call it another, smaller victory for opponents of the $120-plus million desal plant project in Santa Cruz, in the wake of Measure P's success. The Santa Cruz City Council voted last week to approve some—but not all—of the $390,000 the water department requested for the project’s next steps.

Water director Bill Kocher had requested the money to finish the plant’s environmental impact report and community outreach on desalination’s behalf, but some councilmembers had reservations.

“I just have some concerns about spending some of that money upfront without understanding why we need to,” vice mayor Hilary Bryant told Kocher.

Council agreed to cover costs for the EIR’s first draft, which is expected this spring—about a year and a half after the report’s original due date. But they also voted unanimously not to approve the outreach spending to inform the public about the plant. Council’s decision sends the revised item back to the Soquel Creek Water Board and to the Desal Task Force, both of which had already approved the funding the first time around. Logically, cost estimates will now go down.

 

But before the item was finished at the Nov. 27 council meeting, there was a second ripple in the discussion. Councilmember Ryan Coonerty wanted the funding to go into effect as soon as the other two groups approve the revised plan, so as to not slow down the EIR. But Councilmember Katherine Beiers asked that the item be brought back to the council with new financial estimates for another vote before the money can be spent—something the majority supported.

So far, council has approved over $5 million dollars in city money to study the controversial desal plant. Once the several-hundred-page EIR is finished, people will have a couple of months to send comments, all (yes, all) of which the city staff will have to respond to. That will take time.

“I don’t know if this is going to be the last extension of this contract,” Kocher said.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2012/12/05/santa_cruz_city_council_holds_back_on_desal Mark Stephens

    The City Council’s decision to fund the next steps in the EIR process but not fund outreach to the public to inform us about the EIR is not a victory for anyone except those who might wish to keep the public ill-informed. True to the Weekly’s clear bias on this issue, it’s all too easy to understand why you see the Council’s failure to commit funds for communicating with the pubic as a “victory”: the EIR is expected to show quite clearly how Santa Cruz and Soquel Creek Water District customers (along with salmon and other species) will benefit from having a more sustainable and ecologically sensible water source. You also seem to (again) willfully forget that approval of Measure P was not a victory for the anti-desal forces who’d rather not see this come to the ballot at all, but rather was a victory for those who want to vote on having a desalination plant to serve our community for decades to come.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruz_city_council_holds_back_on_desal.html Mark Stephens

    The City Council’s decision to fund the next steps in the EIR process but not fund outreach to the public to inform us about the EIR is not a victory for anyone except those who might wish to keep the public ill-informed. True to the Weekly’s clear bias on this issue, it’s all too easy to understand why you see the Council’s failure to commit funds for communicating with the pubic as a “victory”: the EIR is expected to show quite clearly how Santa Cruz and Soquel Creek Water District customers (along with salmon and other species) will benefit from having a more sustainable and ecologically sensible water source. You also seem to (again) willfully forget that approval of Measure P was not a victory for the anti-desal forces who’d rather not see this come to the ballot at all, but rather was a victory for those who want to vote on having a desalination plant to serve our community for decades to come.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2012/12/05/santa_cruz_city_council_holds_back_on_desal Jacob Pierce

    Thanks for your comments, Mr. Stevens.

    Just to be clear, we haven’t taken any position on desalination, and we definitely never claimed Measure P was a “victory” for anyone. We just thought people should know anti-desal activists were declaring themselves winners anyway. http://www.santacruz.com/news/2012/11/28/local_desal_opponents_get_ambitious_after_victory

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruz_city_council_holds_back_on_desal.html Jacob Pierce

    Thanks for your comments, Mr. Stevens.

    Just to be clear, we haven’t taken any position on desalination, and we definitely never claimed Measure P was a “victory” for anyone. We just thought people should know anti-desal activists were declaring themselves winners anyway. http:.html

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2012/12/05/santa_cruz_city_council_holds_back_on_desal Mark Stephens

    Jacob,

    With all due respects, your article starts with, “Call it another, smaller victory for opponents…” How is that not a claim (or at least an indication) of victory?

    The Weekly entitled your prior article on this topic as follows: “Local Desal Opponents Get Ambitious After Victory – Pumped by their landslide win with Measure P, they expand agenda.” How is that not a claim (or at least an indication) of victory?

    Indeed, the Weekly choose a title that does not imply victory for desal opponents; rather, it TELLS us it was a victory: “after victory” and “by the their landslide win” are unambiguously telling the reader that anti-desal won with Measure P.

    In the piece last week, unless I’m confused, those are your words (the words of the Weekly), not Longinotti’s or anyone else’s saying “another, smaller victory.” It’s much of a stretch to suggest that this language it quite kind to anti-desal and certainly not neutral.

    These are small matters in contrast to what’s at stake. It’s great to see that you’re focusing so much of your time and energy on our water challenges. Thank you for that, and for exercising a good measure of journalistic objectivity while remaining true to other values that you embrace.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruz_city_council_holds_back_on_desal.html Mark Stephens

    Jacob,

    With all due respects, your article starts with, “Call it another, smaller victory for opponents…” How is that not a claim (or at least an indication) of victory?

    The Weekly entitled your prior article on this topic as follows: “Local Desal Opponents Get Ambitious After Victory – Pumped by their landslide win with Measure P, they expand agenda.” How is that not a claim (or at least an indication) of victory?

    Indeed, the Weekly choose a title that does not imply victory for desal opponents; rather, it TELLS us it was a victory: “after victory” and “by the their landslide win” are unambiguously telling the reader that anti-desal won with Measure P.

    In the piece last week, unless I’m confused, those are your words (the words of the Weekly), not Longinotti’s or anyone else’s saying “another, smaller victory.” It’s much of a stretch to suggest that this language it quite kind to anti-desal and certainly not neutral.

    These are small matters in contrast to what’s at stake. It’s great to see that you’re focusing so much of your time and energy on our water challenges. Thank you for that, and for exercising a good measure of journalistic objectivity while remaining true to other values that you embrace.