letter to the editor pajaronian

Responding to levee assessment concerns

In response to Sandra Haven’s letter about things people should consider prior to voting on the Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency’s proposed assessment for levee maintenance, I’d like to add the following considerations:

  1. The proposed assessment is for current and ongoing levee maintenance, not major levee improvements. Assessment revenue would be used immediately for needed maintenance activities on the levees.
  2. Levee maintenance is currently underfunded by $1.2 million per year. The counties don’t have enough money to adequately maintain the existing levees.
  3. The existing levees only provide an eight-year level of flood protection, which is critically insufficient. 
  4. If levee maintenance is not adequately funded, the levees will continue to degrade and further decrease the already low level of flood protection.
  5. In 2017, the Pajaro River levee nearly broke and was only saved through emergency actions. Had it broken, floodwaters would have spilled into Pajaro and Bay Villages. Emergency repairs were constructed, but they aren’t a reliable, long-term fix. 
  6. $400 million in state and federal funding for the levee improvement project is contingent upon our ability to demonstrate that we have adequate funding for levee maintenance, but it is not the primary reason for the proposed assessment. The assessment is for levee maintenance.
  7. We must properly maintain our levees now to prevent failures and flooding. This is especially true given that the levee improvements won’t be finished for 10 more years.
  8. The 1995 flood was a 20-year flood event. It killed two people and caused $100 million in property damages. We have a 40% chance of having that type of flood within the next 10 years.
  9. Consideration has been given to property owners with limited incomes. Elected officials, including Senator John Laird and Congressman Panetta, worked very hard to secure full funding for the levee improvement project in recognition that property owners could not afford the otherwise required $42 million local cost share. This is the only community in the state that is not being required to pay a local cost share for a project of this type.
  10. The Agency is committed to working with property owners living near and along the levees to minimize any project construction impacts once construction is underway. In the meantime, it will make immediate improvements to levee maintenance to protect their properties from flooding.

We appreciate the questions and feedback from property owners. Please contact us at 831-204-3769 or [email protected].

Mark Strudley, Interim Executive Director Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency

Do not be fooled by Measure D

Santa Cruz County will not go it alone when it comes to funding for rail. A consortium of  Monterey County, Santa Clara County and the State of California transportation entities have plans in the works to link all of Monterey Bay Area by rail. In the long run, Greenway’s Yes on D plan will cost the taxpayer more and will do little to solve the Highway 1 congestion issue. 

In response to Mr. Plumb’s letter published on April 29, regarding my “dreamy” idea of restoring the downtown Watsonville depot for local and intercity rail transit, ask yourself, does it make sense for people who wish to travel by train from Watsonville or Watsonville Junction in Pajaro to take a bus to San Jose over an often gridlocked Hwy 17 and then connect to a train at Diridon Station make sense? I don’t think so, sir.

Rail banking and/or removing the historic Santa Cruz Branch rail line in favor of a bus, electric or otherwise would be a very shortsighted and costly decision. And it has the potential to adversely affect Roaring Camp and the Santa Cruz & Big Trees railroad which greatly contribute to the economy of Santa Cruz County.

The electric Coast Futura light rail vehicle demonstrated and proved it is much more desirable than a bus and can be put to use sooner on a rail infrastructure already in place albeit with upgrading.

Mr. Plumb, don’t be swayed by deceptive and self-serving tactics by the anti-rail folks. Vote no on Measure D.

Gary V. Plomp, Gilroy

Measure D won’t deliver Greenway 

Yep, you heard that right. According to the “Impartial Analysis of Measure D” provided by the County’s Election Department “…the Greenway Initiative does not guarantee that the Greenway will be constructed.” In spite of all the pretty pictures and campaign promises, the truth is Greenway is really about rewriting the county’s General Plan to eliminate any possibility of adding clean-energy light rail service to our bus system in the future. 

Of course, Greenway won’t tell voters that but the County’s “Impartial Analysis” must tell the truth. Measure D “…would require removal of the existing tracks.” Read it for yourself here: bit.ly/3LG3Gm6. Then make an informed decision to vote no on Measure D.

Gina Gallino Cole, Watsonville

The reality of Measure D 

Voting yes on Measure D will let the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) know that the citizens of Santa Cruz County want a continuous trail from Watsonville to Davenport. Voting no on D shuttles pedestrians and bicyclists to miles of dangerous San Andreas Road. It also puts the pedestrians and bicyclists through dangerous, busy streets in Capitola Village. Also, there is no funding (according to the RTC) for a rail at this time. 

Voting no on D gets us nothing, except more wasted money for years of studies. So far about one mile of “rail trail” has been built. 10 years and a lot of money wasted. I will be voting yes on Measure D.

Della Davis, Watsonville

Pimentel, Nuñez were correct choices for health district leadership

I was unable to attend the virtural meeting on April 25. It was my intention to attend the meeting and state my case, for those that I felt met the standards for filling the positions of: Chairperson and Secretary until November 2022.

Even at this late date, I want it documented that I felt that the most relevant individuals at this time for those positions are: 

Chairperson: Mr. Marcus Pimentel 

In my opinion, the most important priority is the acquisition of Watsonville Community Hospital, which will require raising the $15 million necessary to complete the purchase. 

In addition, the financial acumen to oversee the financial operations of the hospital, once purchased. Mr. Pimentel’s past experience with assisting Salud Para La Gente in recovering from a financial crisis, demonstrates that he is well prepared. 

Secretary: Mr. Tony Nuñez

Mr. Nuñez is the Editor of the community newspaper, The Pajaronian, as such writing is his forte. Also, this would allow him and the community to observe his non-bias performance in editing what is reported in the Pajaronian. I want to keep him up front, and allow him to remove the perception of bias. 

There is no question that others could take minutes, but this goes farther than just that issue. This is an issue of Trust. I have mentioned many times: at the Board Meetings, the employees do not trust the administration. 

Although late in sending these recommendations, I felt it necessary to express my opinion, and note all with the facts. We need a financial expert first; acquisition and then an operations overseer. Then an expert at detailing the minutes. 

Fred L. Castillo, Watsonville

The Pajaronian welcomes letters. Letters and columns may be dropped off or mailed to The Pajaronian, 21 Brennan St., Suite 18, Watsonville, CA 95076. Letters and columns may also be sent via email to [email protected]. Letters should be less than 300 words, and columns are no more than 700 words. All letters and columns must be signed and have an address and phone number for confirmation purposes. We reserve the right to edit and condense all submissions.

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