This report discusses the rollout of composting in Santa Cruz County, long term plans for the Buena Vista Landfill as it nears capacity, and the efforts of community organizations in removing trash from our environment.
Composting is now mandated by state law, SB 1383. At its core, this is climate change legislation that aims to reduce methane emissions. This is because landfills are one of the top producers of methane gas in the state and in the short term methane is 80 times more potent at causing global warming than carbon dioxide.
A study of our county's trash in 2018 showed that compostable organic material made up 36.7 percent of commercial waste, 46.2 percent of single-family residential waste, and 47.1 percent of all multi-family residential waste. With food waste now being diverted to organics processing facilities, we should see a drop in tonnage of organic material that is being landfilled and an associated drop in methane off-gassing. That is great news for the climate.
Managing organic material separately does come with a cost however. That's why county residents will see a new charge on their property tax bill this fall for "Recycling and Solid Waste Infrastructure, Operation, and Landfill Closure Charge." This charge will fund the construction of new composting facilities at the Buena Vista Landfill as well as two transfer stations for other waste as Buena Vista reaches capacity in the near future.
The report also discusses trash cleanup by organizations. During this reporting period volunteer cleanup events run by Save Our Shores have collected 1.05 tons (2,103.2 pounds) of trash, and 0.14 tons (288.3 pounds) of recycling from County beaches and waterways. The Downtown Streets Team also operates in parts of the County known to be illegal dumping sites such as the North Coast, Felton and the area around the Emeline Health Clinic. The County is working to expand the Downtown Streets Team by funding a new roving hot spot crew by the end of this calendar year.
Future waste reduction efforts will include making good use of revenues from the voter approved single-use cup charges. We will also continue to work with statewide partners towards Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation that requires manufacturers of hazardous materials to be responsible for their disposal as well. An EPR bill that covers batteries (State AB 2440), which are causes for safety and fire issues during collection and processing by haulers and facilities that handle them, was recently approved by the Governor.
Every eight years the state requires local communities to update the Housing Element portion of their General Plan. This assures that enough housing can be built to meet community needs. This time the State is requiring Santa Cruz County to plan for an additional 4,634 units to be built in the unincorporated area. To put this in perspective there are approximately 50,000 housing units in the unincorporated area today. During the previous cycle, the State required only 1,314 additional units be planned for. This new number represents a 353% increase from the old one and will require a significant effort from the County to identify areas that can be rezoned.
Most of the work to update the Housing Element will take place in 2023. This presentation will discuss the work plan including public outreach.
The County has been diligent at providing oversight of the cannabis industry as it goes through wild fluctuations during the early legalization period. From July - September of this year, the Cannabis Licensing Office inspected 51 legal operators and issued 3 corrective actions. The Sheriff's Office issued 11 search warrants and abated 1,419 illegal plants.
Revenue from legal, retail sale of cannabis is steady. Last year the County collected just over $2 million in tax revenue from retail cannabis sales. However, local cultivation of cannabis has plummeted as other regions like Santa Barbara grew over 1,575 acres of outdoor flower this year, flooding the market. As a result, our county has seen an 83% decrease in cultivation and manufacture tax proceeds this year and 31 out of 86 license holders have chosen to shut down.
Staff has suggested a number of ways to support the local cannabis industry during this time including allowing growers to consolidate their operations, cannabis farm tours, and on-site consumption lounges at dispensaries, similar to San Francisco.
Assemblymember Stone is now concluding his fourth term representing the people of the Central Coast in state government. Next year the assembly districts will change substantially, with Santa Cruz County being divided at the Harbor. Gail Pellerin, our former Santa Cruz County Clerk is running against Liz Lawler, a Councilmember for the City of Monte Sereno, in the 28th District. While Dawn Addis, a Councilmember from Morro Bay is running against Vicki Nohrden in District 30. The ceremony honoring Assemblymember Stone will be held at 10:00 AM.
Improved Tenant Protections Passed
Last week, the Board approved the ordinance Supervisor Caput and I brought forth to modernize and strengthen Tenant Protections (SCCC 8.43). With homeownership out of reach to many in our county, these measures are necessary to stabilize housing for the 40 percent of our residents who are renters.
The new law prevents bad faith actions by landlords who fail to perform needed repairs, harass tenants, violate a tenant's privacy, and unlawfully coerce tenants to vacate their homes. It also protects renters from unfair housing practices, such as self-evictions resulting from a landlord's threat to report a tenant to Homeland Security. It is important to note that the ordinance also preserves a landlord's lawful exercise of a right of eviction.
Numerous agencies throughout the County are available to assist residents with navigating these types of housing-related legal concerns and other tenant-landlord-related disputes. If you believe you or someone you know has been unlawfully evicted or has experienced retaliation or harassment, please call the Eviction Protection Hotline at (831) 268 -2148. The Santa Cruz County Superior Court also offers a self-help center to assist residents with pending legal issues, including evictions.
Please find below a few local resources available to you:
The County has created a one page flyer summarizing the ordinance. You can print it out in either English or Spanish.
UPDATE: East Cliff and Rodriguez St
The Santa Cruz County Sanitation District has announced that East Cliff Drive and Portola Drive between Prospect Street and 24th Avenue, and portions of 13th Avenue and Corcoran Avenue, will be subject to traffic delays with potential lane closures. Starting October 13, 2022, and going through October 2023, between the hours of 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, weather permitting. (Note this is a correction to last week's email, which suggested that repair work would only occur for one month). These delays and lane closures are necessary for sanitary sewer and water main improvements.
In addition, Rodriguez Street will be closed to through traffic between Koopmans Avenue and Jose Avenue, between the hours of 8:30 am and 4:30 pm on October 25, 2022, weather permitting.
The Santa Cruz County Sanitation District would like the motoring public to be prepared for delays during these times. Questions may be directed to Ryuun Ernst at (408) 435-5106.
For up-to-date information on County maintained roads in Santa Cruz County, please visit: Road Closure Updates.
Hiring is a challenge for County Government as it is for all other businesses and organizations who call Santa Cruz home. This is due to the high cost of housing in our area. If you already live in Santa Cruz County or nearby, you are well positioned to work here! We encourage everyone, from those with years of experience to those just starting out their careers, to come learn more about working for your local government.
Thursday, October 27th from 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
701 Ocean Street
Tuesday, October 25th - Board of Supervisors Meeting. Starting at 9:00 AM. Agenda. Via Zoom, telephone, and in person at: 701 Ocean St, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Wednesday, November 2nd - Office Hours. From 1 - 3 PM at the Sheriff's Center, 5200 Soquel Ave, located on the ground floor. This an opportunity to discuss your questions and suggestions with me one-on-one.
Tuesday, November 8th, 2022 - Soquel Town Hall. From 6:00 - 7:30 PM Hybrid Meeting: Congregational Church of Soquel, 4951 Soquel Dr, Soquel, CA 95073and on Zoom:https://zoom.us/j/96708318897