In the past, you may recall I urged you to vote for the environment…first and foremost. We are soon to be faced with a vote for District 3 Supervisor between Justin Cummings and Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson: what are we to do if we vote primarily for the environment?
You might turn to the candidates’ webpages for what they suggest are their environmental platforms.
Shebreh’s website has a single note about her environmental stance: “As a Santa Cruz City Councilmember, Shebreh is a leading voice for today’s most pressing needs” and then a list of those ‘pressing needs’ that includes the phrase “environmental stewardship.” That’s it!
Justin’s website has a lot more mention of the environment including:
- his broad suggestion that he will “help us forge a sustainable path forward for our environment”
- and a few specifics where he says:
- “We will put climate change mitigation at the forefront, continue working to reach net zero CO2 emissions, and mitigate the negative human impacts on our forests, beaches, and ocean habitats.”
- “We will fight to protect our neighborhoods from over development, which means we will need to fight State efforts to strip local communities of land use planning decision making.”
It is worth perusing the candidates’ websites for endorsements by leaders in activism for local environmental protections. On the whole, it appears that Justin wins strongly.
Peter Scott as well as Alec and Claudia Webster endorse Justin; there are just a couple of names that stand out on Justin’s endorsement list as having been on the wrong side of environmental issues. On the other hand, there are no local environmental activist leaders on the list endorsing Shebreh…but, there are quite a few names that have been strongly on the wrong side of environmental issues. For what it’s worth, according to Justin’s website the Sierra Club has apparently endorsed him, though their website has no confirmation as such. Curiously, Sam Farr who accomplished so much for the local environment as congressman, has endorsed both Shebreh and Justin. None of the board members of local environmental activist organizations (Sierra Club, California Native Plant Society, Valley Women’s Club, and Save our Shores) endorsed either candidate except Alli Webster, Chair of the local Surfrider chapter who endorsed Justin.
Other Means of Vetting Environmental Records
We can sleuth a little about the candidates from things they’ve said or done. Here are some comparisons:
From what I can find published, Shebreh would represent a big change for what the District 3 Supervisorial representative has meant for supporting carefully planned development in the rural areas of Santa Cruz’ North County. Justin appears to represent more of the history of this position…proceeding cautiously and focusing growth closer to the already more densely built areas. Items that stand out are Shebreh’s worrisome stridency that you ‘can’t build anywhere’ and Justin’s ludicrous notion that the cement plant should/can support a significant amount of affordable housing. I do like Justin’s stance that we should fight the State’s efforts to override local control on development: not sure how that would work, though…and he doesn’t detail that.
|She describes the County Planning Department, thus: “entrenched culture that is very outdated”||He suggests that maybe we can redevelop the Davenport cement plant to include affordable housing|
|She wants to “Change Zoning ordinance” to allow “expediting and removing barriers to building backyard ADUs.”||He has said that we need to “protect our neighborhoods from over development, which means we will need to fight State efforts to strip local communities of land use planning decision making”|
|She has said that “we can’t do any kind of development anywhere.”|
|She has defended her record by describing herself as a “100% yes” vote on housing projects that have come before the council.|
Both candidates have strong histories of supporting measures to address climate change. Shebreh has repeatedly noted her support for the local Climate Action Plan as well as specific support for renewable energy. Justin says that we need to put “climate change mitigation at the forefront, continue working to reach net zero CO2 emissions.”
The candidates vary on addressing UCSC growth. You can find evidence that Shebreh has focused on reducing traffic to UCSC whereas Justin says he will “continue working to hold the University accountable for its growth and impact.”
I worked with a committee on the cannabis cultivation ordinance for the County and will emphasize for the record the importance of Shebreh’s support for that committee’s recommendations, which resulted in District 3 receiving the best controls for cannabis cultivation of anywhere in the County. She was articulate, hard-working, and a good listener during that process. Some of the concerns were environmental, so she scores well on this front.
Parks and Land Management
Justin has promised to work “to address the impacts of Cotoni Coast Dairies Monument,” an increasingly important issue, though one which is not isolated to that particular open space: given his education, it is surprising that he singles that one spot out when visitor use to parks and the associated issues are much broader. Shebreh then is perhaps better, though too vague, in saying she will focus on “maintaining our county beaches, parks and open spaces.”
I will note that both candidates cast very troubling votes in favor of developing the main meadow at the Pogonip greenbelt into a farm program, including parking lots and buildings – despite those developments being prohibited by a lengthy environmental review and related long term plans. This was particularly troubling coming from Justin, who should know better.
Now to November
Given my summary, I hope that you will help draw out more environmental platforms from these two candidates. There is scant information from either candidate- especially scant in the specifics of what they can and will do to protect species, wildlife habitats, clean water, and open space for future generations.
-this article originally posted in Bruce Bratton’s BrattonOnline.com, where you can read more good stuff and even subscribe