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September 23, 2023

Climate action changes, strawberries and wine

Watsonville has continued to lead the County and to be very proactive and engaged in measures to protect our environment from the negative effects of Greenhouse Emissions and through conservation of our precious freshwater resources. In recent weeks, the Council has worked together to enact regulations and ordinances aimed to meet State compliance and protecting our local environment. Much of these protection measures can’t occur without the active engagement of our entire community. Go Watsonville! 

Here is an example of how the Community and the Council will continue to achieve conservation results. California is in its third year of drought. This summer the State published emergency water regulations that will remain in effect for one year. In Watsonville more than 90% of our water is pumped from our City wells, making us highly dependent on rainfall for all of our water needs. As part of this new emergency regulation, our City Council adopted a resolution declaring a Stage Level 2 Water Supply Shortage which sets a 20% water reduction goal for the City to strive for.  Among the many conservation actions included in this new regulation, there are two that stand out: 

  1. Watering of non-functional turf is now prohibited (e.g. turf that is solely ornamental and not regularly used for human recreational purposes or for civic or community events). 
  2. Overhead watering of our yards or landscapes is now limited to twice a week with a maximum of 15 minutes and done before 9am or after 5pm (exceptions include watering with a hand-held hose with a shut-off nozzle or by drip irrigation).

Please remember that outdoor watering typically doubles during the summer, so we encourage you to take advantage of the City’s water conservation programs and rebates. To learn how to turn your yard into a drought-tolerant landscape with efficient irrigation and how to apply for our water conservation landscape rebate call our Customer Service line at 768-3133. The City offers rebates of $1.00 per square foot for qualifying projects (maximum rebate of $1,000 for residential and $2,000 for commercial). To learn more about these programs and the new regulations, please visit cityofwatsonville.org/waterconservation.

Another significant climate change action includes the new program available in the City for the disposal and diversion of organic waste. Single-family residents are now served with weekly organics collection for commingled food and yard waste. Multifamily complex residents will have organic green cart service by the end of 2022. Thanks to generous grants from the Central Coast Energy and AB2766 Vehicle Emissions Reduction Program, the city will be purchasing a fully electric refuse truck to expand services. One hundred twenty-three tons of organics are diverted each week to composting instead of landfilling; helping Watsonville to reduce its methane climate impact by 8%, and further the State’s goal to reduce disposed organics by 75% by 2025. Diversion of organic waste and careful planning will allow the City to reopen our local landfill by 2024. This new phase of our landfill is expected to receive approximately 70 tons of refuse a day and serve our community for the next 26 years. We know this is a lot of work and change is hard so kudos to our Community for giving it their first effort and trying to get in the groove.

As you drive around town this month, I’d like to ask that you pardon the dust and drive carefully.  Our street crews and contractors will be busy working to improve our City streets. The City recently awarded a contract to Monterey Peninsula Engineering for pavement repairs to four of our City streets. “Dig outs” will be done on Hangar Way, Clifford Avenue, Martinelli Street and Stanford Avenue. This is the first of similar projects that will be done to spot repairs where pavement has failed. The repairs will be similar to the recent work done by Caltrans on East Lake Avenue Work will be done on one lane at a time to minimize congestion. Streets will remain open during construction, but traffic control will be in place. The City anticipates that the work will be done in August. Thanks for your patience, Watsonville!

So excited to continue moving cautiously forward coming out of the pandemic and building resilience in our community! This year we have been able to bring back some of our favorite community events and celebrate together with enthusiasm our roots, culture and diverse heritage. This month we are bringing back in full force our Strawberry Festival!!! Yay!!! We are going to rock the Strawberries from Aug. 5-7. Craft, food and drink vendors will fill the street surrounding the plaza and a Carnival and live music stage will entertain attendees of all ages.  If you have not yet seen this year’s poster, I encourage you to stop by our City booth during the festival to purchase a one of a kind Strawberry Festival poster designed by our local and talented Priscilla Martinez. It’s her best yet!

To close the busy month of August, we are bringing back our third annual Wine, Beer and Art Walk in the heart of our downtown. Come join us Santa Cruz County for this fabulous event which will feature twenty-two stations along our main downtown corridor hosting our best local wineries and breweries.  If you have not yet purchased your tickets, there is still time to do so, visit eventbrite.com. I promise that you will find your favorite wine or beer along the walk.  In addition, you may enjoy fantastic art exhibits, live music and delicious snacks provided by our local downtown merchants.

See you around town, Watsonville. 

Mayor’s Update is a recurring column from Watsonville’s mayor. To contact Ari Parker, call 831-768-3008 or email [email protected]

Ari Parker is the mayor of Watsonville


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