2015 came and went, and also left some imprints in our lives and community that may never be erased. Some for the good, some that left us with a broken heart.
As the dust has settled and we have all had time to reflect on the year that was, the following are my top 5 most talked about stories from 2015 that happened in and around Scotts Valley.
The drought was a major concern and discussion to so many locals and it created a sense of responsibility among its residents that shared in the need to conserve and preserve water. But it was not just a local problem. With California suffering from one of the worst water crisis in years, in early 2015 California Governor Brown had to enact legislation to curb the use of water and help communities that were devastated by the drought.
Scotts Valley went on a campaign to educate the community on more responsible water use and was the first city in the county to give recycled water to its residents for irrigation use, up to 250 gallons per day. Coupled with a strong community outreach program, the Scotts Valley Water District became an example for many cities and water districts not just locally, but throughout the state.
The result of more responsible use of water also had many residents removing their green lawns in exchange for drought resistant landscaping and artificial grass was now the norm in many homes.
The Scotts Valley Water District, lead by its fearless leader, General Manager Piret Harmon, went on to win the award for the 2015 Scotts Valley Organization of the Year.
The Housing Market
As many locals were feeling the pinch of increasing housing prices and as more home buyers stood in line to view and bid on homes, there was just not enough supply to meet the demand. The appreciation stats have not yet been released, but there is no doubt that 2015 will be one of the hottest real estate markets in and around Scotts Valley as our town became a major destination point for so many coming from Silicon Valley who came and continue to come in search of better schools, lower crime rates, more “affordable” homes and a better quality of life. With Scotts Valley being minutes from the beach, state park and 25-30 minutes from Silicon Valley, I expect the trend to continue.
This has left some locals priced out of the market and the topic of real estate was a contentious one as many felt that they were losing the small town feel that Scotts Valley has had in the history of its existence. Yet, it has been more of a price increase then more people coming in as the rate of new homes that were built in the past 10 years has been minimal with approximately 130 or so homes being built in that time frame.
As it stands, there are two notable home developments on the horizon that I am aware of with one being The Terrace at Scotts Valley, which is approximately 18 townhouses being built across the street from the middle school on the other side of Scotts valley Drive and the other housing project being the higher end home development where the old polo grounds used to be, with both expected to get going sometime after spring of 2016. Completion dates and prices are not yet available for these projects.
More information on the Planning Commission’s current projects can be viewed by clicking here.
New Air Flight Patterns Over Our Skies
Look up in the sky, its a bird, its a plane… Lots of planes suddenly started flying over Scotts Valley and other areas in Santa Cruz County and bay area that were not typical of what flight patterns had been for so many years when the FAA implemented its Next Gen program on March 5, 2015.
I remember getting a post on the MSV Facebook page from one resident asking if anyone else was noticing more air flight noise and I actually did not really know what this particular resident was talking about. A few weeks later it all came together as many residents complained about the noise while many others voiced their displeasure in those who were complaining, only to have a change of heart when many others began to notice the change in our used-to-be quiet skies.
As the result, many groups formed to unite and protest the noise and demand that the FAA redirect their planes back to how they were before. One such group was Save Our Skies Santa Cruz, a very organized and force to be reckoned which comprised of many locals who had enough of the noise and began to research and explore what options were available to find a resolution. As of today, not much has been done by the FAA other than lip service that they have given residents that are affected by the increased noise and if you ask me, I don’t think much will be done to change what the FAA has done.
In a time that we live in today, it is hard to fathom how the FAA was able to pull this off without much or any feedback from the communities that it has affected. Basically, the FAA just said, “This is what we have done and if it bothers you, well, we are sorry but it is what it is.” That pretty much sums it up.
The topic of gun shops was a hot topic in 2015 as several gun shops operate in Scotts Valley. Currently, there appears to be 4 gun shops doing business in our town:
The tragedies throughout the country that were in the news and involved guns made for very emotional and many times heated discussions from people who opposed and were for gun rights. Many locals were of the opinion that there were too many gun shops in such a small town. With the Scotts Vally Police Department wanting to make sure there were regulations in place aimed towards making sure all gun shops operated safely, on September 2, 2015 the Scotts Valley City Council voted to put a moratorium on new gun shops until there was a policies and procedures plan put in place that helped with safe gun shop operations.
In response to the new ordinance, one of the local shops, Santa Cruz Armory posted the following response that you can read by clicking here.
It should be noted however that current local gun shops were not in any way being thought of as being unsafe, but rather it was the desire of the Police Department to ensure that any and all current and future gun shops follow certain safety procedures to assist in making local shops as safe as possible.
Today, the topic remains a hot topic anytime a local gun shop is in the news, or the word guns is anywhere in a post.
A Child Taken Too Soon…
This one hurts, still, and will hurt for a long time as just writing this just breaks my heart. Little Maddy Middleton of Santa Cruz was found dead, apparently killed, in late July 2015 and the news sent shock waves across the entire county and beyond. I will not go into details because they have been recanted over and over by the media, but needless to say it was a senseless and brutal act by the perpetrator.
I remember getting a message from people who were looking for her and asking if we could post her missing information on My Scotts Valley and all everyone could do was assist in the search, or gather and pray for her well being. The news of her death was just shocking and had everyone walking around feeling numb, confused, hurt, angry and terribly sad. In fact, I debated for a long time whether to include this topic in the most talked about stories of 2015 because I did not want to patronize the event, but I was reminded by several people that it was a major story and we must pay respect and acknowledge this wonderful little girl who was taken away from us way too soon.
Rest in peace little Maddy, you will NEVER be forgotten.
OK, one more… The Scotts Valley Middle School Project
The rebuilding or “refreshment” (I still have a hard time with that one) of the Scotts Valley Middle School remained a topic of discussion in 2015 for many and made a lot of headlines as many residents who voted for Measure A felt like they were not being informed and were still trying to figure out the progress of the project. As it stands today, I am unaware of much change or progress from the last report that I made to the community when I attended a meeting on October 13th and much of it is my fault because I have not attended recent meetings, if there have been any.
In the last meeting that I attended, it was clear that there would be an effort to reach out to the community to give more news and updates on the project and there was a community forum on November 16th, but I was unable to attend the event due to not finding out about the forum until after the fact as an invitation was posted on November 9th for the event that was to take place a week later.
I am still of the belief that a much better effort needs to be made to inform the community as it is the community that is paying for the project and it is the community who has children that will be attending the new school when it is completed. But I also understand that the task at hand is a big task and can probably be overwhelming for the leadership team in charge of the project, and even more so when you add the task of being informants to the community. You have to respect a group of individuals who give tirelessly of themselves to the schools and endure long hours with no pay and plenty of criticism. I am sure it is not an easy job and I am appreciative of their efforts.
I also understand that we should all try and be at the meetings, but that it not always feasible for many reasons. In my opinion, there has got to be a better and more efficient way of reaching out to keep everyone informed, but it may be easier said then done as the project is no small task.
More on this topic to come soon in a report on the latest progress so do stay tuned.
The above were my pick for the most talked about and popular stories of 2015. Other topics were noting were (click on story line for more):
– The Special Olympics Final Leg Torch Run comes through Scotts Valley on July 16th on its way to the Special Olympics that were held in Los Angeles. Retired Lt. John Hohmann was instrumental in bringing the athletes through our town, only wish he would have been there to see it all as he was stationed at a different location in another town when they were coming through.
– Scotts Valley sunsets and sunrises steal the show and wow’d us all many mornings and night after night. The pictures captured and shared by all were truly magical. The pictures taken by so many of My Scotts Valley friends were truly amazing and jaw-dropping.
– Kevin the Bull takes the world by storm as he stars and represents well in episode after episode of American Ninja Warrior. The best part was him hanging out at Bruno’s BBQ with his fans while watching the shows! I know I was there a couple of times. 🙂
– The Dominator, Domino Parrish became a household name with her dominating wrestling performances and was even named the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s 2015 Girl’s Athlete of the Year. Wow, was she spectacular or what?!
Overall, it was a wonderful year with the exception of some sad moments that we all endured.
So what are your thoughts? What are your picks for the top stories of 2015?