Forest Gets a Reprieve
Thanks to a small group of Santa Cruz citizens, University plans to build on 270 acres of forest north of campus are on hold. The California State Court of Appeals has ruled that the City of Santa Cruz's Environmental Impact Report for water service to the campus expansion is inadequate. The Court says the EIR did not adequately address alternatives for minimizing the impact of campus water use on the local water system.
The City has two options: appeal to the state Supreme Court (not likely to be successful), or revise the EIR (could take a year to complete). In any case, LAFCO cannot approve the water service to the University without a valid EIR.
Will Desalination Enable UCSC Expansion?
When the UCSC application to expand returns to LAFCO at some future date, it may still be difficult for the Commission to approve the application since LAFCO's standard is that the water supply must be "adequate", and Santa Cruz's water supply is inadequate even without the growth.
Thanks to a 72% vote for Measure P (and even higher in campus precincts), the City must go to the voters if it wants to build the plant.
Coonerty Maneuvers to Approve UCSC Expansion
Neal Coonerty, representing Santa Cruz on the County Board of Supervisors, declined to re-appoint John Leopold as a LAFCO Commissioner. Leopold was the leading advocate of conditions on water service for UCSC expansion that would have delayed approval pending Santa Cruz and federal regulators agreement on fish habitat conditions.
Coonerty doesn't want any delay on UCSC expansion, in spite of the increased hardship during droughts that more UCSC water consumption would cause his constituents. Coonerty supports a desalination plant and he may be thinking that it will ease that hardship.
-Teach the Forest
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