The Great Santa Cruz Trail
In March, Bud Colligan, Co-chair of the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP), came to HIPC to describe the projects and policies of the partnership. MBEP is a regional nonprofit partnership consisting of over 75 public, private, and civic entities throughout Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz County aiming to improve the economic health and quality of life for all residents in the region.
MBEP operates using four main strategies. The first is to catalyze change through focused initiatives in workforce development, building a technological ecosystem, and housing. Secondly, the MBEP uses data to create consensus and inform their actions. MBEP also convenes local leaders to drive progress. Lastly, they take advantage of the power of their member network.
MBEP will be hosting two events in 2017. The first is their 3rd Annual Regional Economic Summit on May 4th, in Santa Cruz. The second is their Annual State of the Region Conference on November 8th, in Monterey.
In the second half of his presentation, Mr. Colligan advocated for the Santa Cruz Trail Group’s trail-only alternative to Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission’s Rail Trail. The Santa Cruz Trail Group’s proposition is for the Great Trail of Santa Cruz—an off street, multi-use trail without a passenger train (trail-only) extending in a 32 mile corridor from Watsonville to Davenport. The group argues that this trail-only option will grow the use of bicycling, walking, and transit; increase access to jobs and destinations; advance health, economic, environmental, and equity outcomes; and become a world-class resource for community members of all ages. This is in opposition to the current plan—a rail-with-trail. This would add a single path next to rail tracks. Rails-with-trails in the U.S. have shown to have fewer connections to adjacent streets, remove thousands of trees and plants, and cost at least twice as much money. Notably, the rail-with-trail option is not 100% funded with Measure D (revenue from sales tax), while the trail-only option would be. Through the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line Rail Transit Feasibility Study, the group estimates that the trail-only Great Santa Cruz Trail would draw approximately 6,105 cyclists every day and save $2.4 billion per mile when compared to the rail-with-trail proposal.
State Policy Update
This HIPC also featured a policy update from Senator Bill Monning and Assemblymember Mark Stone. Senator Monning discussed the unknowns of the American Health Care Act. The bill that inevitably was not passed had the potential to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which gave $300 million to California. Senator Monning also discussed the Governer’s January budget proposal which forecasts a $1.6 billion deficit. This budget may cut support for early child care and education and cause a $600 million shift in in-home support services. The Legislative Analyst’s Office, however, does not project such a grave deficit. We can expect to know more with a revision to the budget in May. Senator Monning concluded by providing an update to his bill to label sugar sweetened beverages with a warning that consumption of the beverage contributes to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay (SB 300). As of now, SB 300 has not yet been scheduled with the Senate Health Committee. Assemblymember Stone added a brief description of last year’s efforts to add mental health care to child welfare services. Staff are continuing to figure out how to make these combined services function. Lastly, Assemblymember Stone along with Senator Toni Atkins are also supporting SB 179, a senate bill to change CA state identification of gender to a nonbinary designation for those who do not identify as male or female. As of April 26, this bill has been re-referred to the Standing Committee on Appropriations.