Interviews by Samantha Hamilton, Nick Kazden and Matthew Pera.
We asked three City Council members elected in November about some of the city’s biggest issues.
Chase earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2001 from UCSC. She then received her master’s degree in social work from San Jose State in 2005. Chase is the director of GEMMA, a nonprofit supporting re-entry for incarcerated women in Santa Cruz County. She also teaches at the School of Social Work at both San Jose State and CSU Monterey Bay.
On water: “I am in support of the water supply advisory committee’s process. It’s a really balanced and dedicated group of people who have been working really hard on this issue. At this point, City Council’s responsibility is to support the ongoing progress of that group and make sure that they have what they need to come back with recommendations on time for City Council. If [desalination] is one of the recommendations, then that’s what’s going to go to the voters. City Council needs to make sure that any questions we have are asked to the committee and that we are thoughtful about the costs and benefits of each of those recommendations.”
On public safety: “This is the area where I have the most experience and knowledge. Right now there are a lot of exciting things happening. As a community we are coming together — city, county, nonprofits and community agencies — to address this issue from multiple directions. That is exactly the strategy for making a sustainable impact. I’m interested to see what the outcome is going to be with the passing of Prop 47 in terms of funding that could now be available to us as a city and as a county. I don’t think this is just a city issue, this is something where we have to work together. I’m happy to see how much we’ve developed those collaborations. We are using best practices to not just do this individually but really come at it from a variety of directions so we can hopefully make some good and lasting decisions for public safety.”
On the city’s economy: “I feel really lucky to have been elected right now because there has been a lot of great work that has been established already. We’re looking at the river corridor and some other really thoughtful developments downtown that bring in a mixed-use space of retail and residential. I want to continue to support those kinds of projects and be thoughtful about how we’re impacting the downtown area by making sure that we’re bringing in vibrant and innovative ideas. It’s clear to me that we have a major issue with transportation, which came up a lot during the election. We are really looking at our long-term plan in terms of making this a place where those who are driving vehicles can actually get to and from where they need to be. Because we are so impacted on our major thoroughfares, we also need to be thinking about alternative forms of transportation and how we can safely move in the community if we’re walking or biking. We also need to be thinking of some other ways of mass transit that we can incorporate. We need jobs and we certainly want to keep people here who live here and not have them commute over the hill, but if that’s the case we need to make the community supportive of having transportation that allows people to get to and from their job. I don’t think that was talked about much during the campaign, but it’s something that we clearly need to be working on.”
On houselessness: “I want to be thoughtful about the word homelessness. Homelessness is a very broad category and it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. What I like to do is be really specific about what we mean by homelessness. The largest group of homeless people in general is single women with children, but that’s not what most people think of as the homeless population. One of the things I would like to do is be clear about articulating what homelessness means in our community, and who we’re talking about when discussing the issue of homelessness, because people who experience homelessness are not a homogeneous group. There are a lot of different folks in there with very different needs. I would like to encourage people to get away from the general use of the word homeless and be more specific about what we’re talking about. Is it single women with children? Is it individuals with mental illness? Is it veterans? People with mental disorders? People with substance abuse issues? Panhandlers? There are a lot of different people within that group and so I want us to be very specific and talk about each of those groups, the needs of each of those groups and the funding sources that are specific to them, because it is not a one-size-fits-all solution.”
On students: “I absolutely loved my time at UCSC and all the benefits from not just my education, but the ability I had to connect with internships and jobs that got me engaged and kept me here in Santa Cruz. There are a lot of opportunities to engage students in structured, comprehensive and organized ways in volunteer positions and internships. I want students to get credit for being engaged in whatever their interest is in the community, ideally something connected to their major where they can get school credit, but also where they can get hands-on experience working in the community, learning skills and helping local businesses and nonprofits. We can’t only have some colleges and some programs do it though, since it needs to be far more structured than it is, and I have the energy to support that while I’m on City Council. It concerned me a little bit during the campaign that I heard about how little excitement some students had for being involved in the city. I’m interested in learning more about that. What’s happening on campus where students either aren’t feeling connected or aren’t interested? I want to dig deeper and find out what’s causing that rift. It’s a massive opportunity and its a win-win for the city, the university and the university’s students.”
Other plans: “One of the most important issues I’m working on is changing the historical narrative of animosity between the students and the community members of Santa Cruz. It’s definitely an issue that’s getting much better and changing, but I want to continue to help change that negative stigma because this city wouldn’t be the way that it is, for better or for worse, if we didn’t have the university. The university has done some amazing things for our city, especially regarding leadership in our community. For example, many of the current City Council members are graduates of the university. The university influences — in really positive ways — how we approach problems and how we make it on the map nationally for what we do in our community and for our values. A lot of that is absolutely connected to the university and the way the university has approached learning and thinking. I want to change the narrative so we’re not repeating that there is this animosity between the community and the students, we want that to be a story of the past. We want to look forward and ask, ‘What is this relationship going to look like?’ We’re at the 50th anniversary of the university this year. This is a perfect time to say, ‘Ok, that was our past 50 years, now let’s look back on that and see what our challenges were and what worked.’ Let’s learn from our mistakes, but let’s not get stuck in those. Let’s look at what the next 50 years are going to be like. What are the opportunities? How can we grow together in a smart and sustainable way? How can we be mindful about these things? How can the city continue to engage the brilliant minds up on the hill? Take the genome project. It’s huge that something like that is happening up there at a nonmedical school. I want to see those stories being told, not the ones about how crowded the city is. This is a college town, these are the things that come with it. We really need to change our perspective around this issue. It’s a huge benefit for everyone.
The focus of my career so far has been to create bridges. I want to continue to create a bridge on the City Council so we’re all working together for the greater good. We’re going to disagree on details for sure. There are going to be certain things that are going to be challenging for us. But it’s important that we don’t get stopped by that and continue to find our way through it, because all of the people on City Council and all of the people who ran are all invested in our community. We all believe in creating a better community for everyone who lives here, so at the end of the day that’s what brings us together. We’re all showing up and we’re all working hard, and we might disagree on the path to getting there, or even the outcome, but knowing that we’re coming together for the united purpose of making our community better is where we should focus. That’s what I hope to do these next four years.”
Noroyan grew up in Santa Cruz and currently works as the community relations representative for UCSC. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from CSU Fresno. She has also been employed at Apple and the Santa Cruz Operation. Noroyan is a former district director to California Assembly member Ira Ruskin and is a previous chairperson and current member of the Santa Cruz Public Works and Transportation Commission.
On water: “My hope is that our water supply advisory committee comes up with real viable, reliable options that the city can plan for and use to address our water shortfall. I am willing and ready to support what they recommend if it’s going to bring the yield of water that we need for Santa Cruz to get through our drought years. After four years in office I’d love to look back and say we found a reliable water supply that the citizens of Santa Cruz can rely on from here on out.”
On public safety: “It’s important that we try things that have been proven successful in other towns. I like our downtown accountability program. I like the approach to wraparound services. When we discovered that a lot of our nuisance crime, that the same 100-150 people were committing 60-70 percent of the crime, the idea was let’s look at the top 100 offenders and see what we can do to stop having them be offenders. That’s a really good approach to making places like downtown and maybe our parks a bit safer. It’s important that whatever program we have for these folks, that we do offer the wraparound services but that we also demand accountability. You can’t continue doing what you’re doing, getting arrested 50-60 times a year and not have some consequences.”
On the city’s economy: “With economic development it’s not just looking at unemployment rates. That’s a very good indicator that things are going better than they have been since the recession hit, but it’s important to look at what types of jobs people are getting. We live in an area that’s expensive to live in and if most of our growth is in lower income or lower wage areas, we need to work to get better businesses and more lucrative industries here. I’m really excited that UCSC, our local government and our local businesses are working together to spur some business development when it comes to higher paying jobs.”
On students: “I do this as my profession for UCSC. I have two interns who specifically work on bridging the gap between the student body and the community, it’s called the Good Neighbor Intern Program. They are the face of the student body to the community, they attend local Santa Cruz meetings, they get to know our elected officials and they try to provide the perspective of what it’s like to be a student in Santa Cruz to leaders. They also try to get students to understand that sometimes it’s difficult to live next to a student household when a neighbor has to get up every day at 5 a.m. to get over the hill. I’m already working on those issues within the city through my profession, but as a councilmember I’d like to see more coordination with providing internships locally for students and providing them to people who grew up here and aren’t necessarily associated with the university. A general outreach to UCSC students about what a career would look like in Santa Cruz would be very helpful.”
Other plans: “I’d really like to see more tech transfer happen between UC Santa Cruz and local entrepreneurs. Down in Santa Barbara, actually with the city of Goleta, there’s a nonprofit to facilitate tech transfer, so innovation happening at UC Santa Barbara actually becomes viable business in the community. UC Santa Cruz has the lowest rate of tech transfer out of all the UCs in the system. I’d like us to not have that distinction any longer. I’d like us to be a place where innovation is shared and it becomes wonderful businesses in town. And I also look to our gaming department at UC Santa Cruz and think why can’t we have a cottage industry of more independently minded game designers so everyone doesn’t run over the hill to Electronic Arts with their degree.”
Terrazas was first elected to City Council in November 2010. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from San Jose State and a master’s degree in business administration and a doctorate of law from Santa Clara University. He is also a member of the California Bar Association.
On water: “Over the last four years, the city has taken a focused look at how we can create a sustainable water supply for our city’s future. Recent news shows that the city has the highest rate of water conservation in the state and it’s amazing the progress we’ve seen in terms of conservation. In regard to policies moving forward, we need to take a look at our level of recycled water and how we can create the irrigation of our public spaces, like parks using recycled water to further conserve water resources. Look at our aging infrastructure, how can we prevent any sort of water losses through what is arguably one of our city’s highest priorities? That’s improving our city’s water infrastructure. The next action we’re going to be looking at is the results of the WSAC, the Water Supply Advisory Committee, and looking at how we can identify alternatives to push our conservation levels even further. Those are going to be some key priorities over the next term that I’m really excited to be looking at.”
On public safety: “We are very focused on making our communities vibrant and safe. In the last term, I initiated a neighborhood grants program to engage neighborhood groups in how they can aesthetically improve their neighborhoods and promote public safety and community ownership. An example is a project at the Barston Street stairs, where neighbors banded together and put up a beautiful tile mosaic. I’m interested in further projects to engage our community in public safety by utilizing our parks, beaches and open spaces in positive ways. I’ll be looking at increasing funding for parks and recreation programs, and I’ve initiated a parks master plan. For the first time in 30 years we’ve looked at our parks and open spaces and I want to identify opportunities for us to increase our investment in our parks, which I view as a core public service for our city. I’d also see how we can engage youth in terms of expanding our after-school programs to create jobs for youth. Just in the last term, we did a program with our Parks Department so we could employ people to help restore trails and make improvements in our parks. Those are opportunities that increase our public safety in ways that are positive in the long term for not only our youth, but for the environment as well.”
On the city’s economy: “It’s impressive that we have seen such a low level of unemployment, which translates to high employment in the city. We’ve seen a lot of local business owners comment that they’ve seen the local business climate improving. Creating a sustainable business environment is on everyone’s mind because we see a lot of college graduates who graduate without opportunities for their employment. What I’m most interested in is creating those types of jobs that really provide a sustainable way for people to live and work here in Santa Cruz. To that extent, I’ve been a huge proponent of the implementation of broadband infrastructure in Santa Cruz. In the last term, we looked at how we can provide improved broadband technology not only to help facilitate businesses starting in Santa Cruz, but also property reuse. We’ve seen a lot of Santa Cruz businesses spin off but they need the infrastructure and the technology that allows them to remain here. I’m also focused on working with UCSC to look at how we provide opportunities for the research and knowledge that’s created here to stay here. We have what are called technology transfer initiatives so the technology that UCSC students develop here spin off into jobs. We’ll be working closely with UCSC to make sure that students who are doing this important work and research in Santa Cruz find opportunities to expand their employment opportunities in Santa Cruz.”
On houselessness: “One of the biggest issues the city is facing is primarily our chronically homeless. The city of Santa Cruz has taken a leadership position in looking at alternatives and wraparound services to deal with mental health, substance abusers and those who have a dual diagnosis — a combination of both. We’ve been funding programs to provide wraparound services to get people out of the cycle of homelessness and get them connected with Santa Cruz County’s Health and Human Services provider so they can get the required treatment and end the cycle of homelessness. Santa Cruz has worked very closely with the County’s Health and Human Services provider to ensure that those programs are helping address the level of homelessness in Santa Cruz and get people in a sustainable situation so they can find opportunities for them to move forward.”
On students: “I’ve reached out to students and set up meetings with student groups so I can hear directly from them. What are some of the ways we can engage current UCSC students in the city’s business? I’m interested in establishing a fellowship program for motivated students or recent graduates, not only at UCSC but at Cabrillo and our local high schools to ensure that they have opportunities to apply their skills and knowledge in some of the initiatives the city is working on now. There are a lot of things that students are interested in but they don’t have the opportunity to work directly with the city on addressing them. I’m also interested in a student payment system and seeing how we can connect the university with our town. We know that students already live and work in Santa Cruz and they are often downtown enjoying entertainment. We want to make sure that we have an opportunity to make sure we understand the magnitude of the university’s role in our city and how we can establish better partnerships with students and the university moving forward to better provide programs and services that are going to make them feel more at home in Santa Cruz.”
Other plans: “I’m excited about the initiation of our parks master plan, in which we’ll be looking at all of our parks, beaches and open spaces and as I mentioned, it’s the first time in 30 years that we’ve done this so that we can identify all of our opportunities to invest in our parks system and make it the best we can. There are a lot of opportunities to improve the environmental space and also provide new infrastructure that is going to make it not only environmentally sound, but also attractive to people for recreational purposes. Another key project I’m working on is getting at the root of the water quality of Cowell’s Beach. Just in the last term I convened a group of local environmentalists, which includes the Coastal Watershed Council, Save the Waves and the Sierra Club to take a fresh look at our water quality there and identify all possible options within the city’s control to help reduce the bacteria level and make sure that our beaches are as clean as possible. Our city has identified that as a key budget priority in the next year and I want to make sure that we do everything possible to make our beaches clean and safe and make them as vibrant as possible. It’s a huge asset for our city, not only environmentally but also economically. We need to do more to make sure that the city has our beaches and are totally protected from the issues that we’ve seen more recently.”