Locals Rally to Raise Funds for Water Tender

Alex Leman, Kevin Tanaka, Dave Choice, Fern Thompson, Tish O'Reilly proudly displaying a donation from the Loma Prieta Club.

Capt. Alex Leman, Dave Choice, and Kevin Tanaka accept a check for the new water tender from Loma Prieta Club members Fern Thompson and Tish O’Reilly
Photo by NancyJo Lopp

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – Last May, this small community in the mountains between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz realized that if their volunteer fire department needed a new water tender to replace their old leaky one, the community would have to raise the money itself—neither the state nor the county could afford to buy one for them. Today they’ve reached the $100,000 mark, about 28% of their goal of $350,000 for the

LoveMeTender campaign

Alex Leman, Captain, Loma Prieta Volunteer Fire & Rescue, said, “This community knows the risk inherent in severe drought conditions with high fire danger, and people understand the need for a new water tender, so I’m pleased that they’ve taken on this challenge. It might take a little while, but we’ll get a new water tender!”

Three years into a drought, fire danger is high and fires are tough to put out without an adequate water supply; many local water sources have dried up. In a rural mountainous, forested area like the Summit Ridge that separates Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, a water tender capable of carrying 3,000 gallons of water up and down the narrow mountain roads can provide the water needed to extinguish small fires before they become large fires and to keep large fires from spreading further. Loma Prieta Volunteer Fire and Rescue’s water tender is 23 years old—about twice its normal life expectancy—and as might be expected, it leaks and has been out of service undergoing lengthy and expensive repairs for much of the last few years.

Bill Fitch manning the grill and looking sharp at the Firemen's BBQ. It's local support that will make it possible for our community to get the equipment we need to stay safe.

Bill Fitch manning the grill and looking sharp at the Firemen’s BBQ. It’s local support that will make it possible for our community to get the equipment we need to stay safe.
Photo by Cassie Maas

Local residents and friends came out to enjoy the Firemen's BBQ and help raise money for the water tender.

Local residents and friends came out to enjoy the Firemen’s BBQ and help raise money for the water tender.
Photo by Cassie Maas

The New Water Tender Coalition began their fundraising in May, targeting an average donation of $250 from each household in their fire service area to reach the goal of$350,000 for the new water tender. In addition, several fundraising events, including a Firemen’s BBQ, a plea to local businesses and service clubs, and some generous donors have proved Captain Leman right—this community will buy their own water tender!

Calstar showing its equipment at the Firemen's BBQ.

Calstar showing its equipment at the Firemen’s BBQ.
Photo by Cassie Maas

For more information or to make a donation, go to LoveMeTender.info.

Contact Information:

To learn more about this community, Loma Prieta Volunteer Fire and Rescue, and the LoveMeTender campaign, please contact:

Ellen Griffin, Chair, New Water Tender Coalition, 408-353-2002

Judy Stark, Member, New Water Tender Coalition judystark@surfnetc.com

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Celebrate Your Next Special Occasion at Hotel Paradox

The Hotel Paradox located in beautiful Santa Cruz. Come celebrate your special occasions with us.

The Hotel Paradox located in beautiful Santa Cruz. Come celebrate your special occasions with us.

What is Hotel Paradox? A most unique hotel experience that explores an urban forest set in a beach town. The new Hotel Paradox in the heart of beautiful Santa Cruz offers a chic touch to business meetings, special events, and weddings. Hotel Paradox features 162 well appointed hotel rooms, 8 deluxe suites which include designer touches such as down bedding, custom furnishings, mini refrigerators, Ipod docking stations and flat screen HDTV with premium stations and private voice mail, 8000 square feet of modern facilities and the largest hotel ballroom in downtown Santa Cruz, plus everything you’ll need for a unique and successful event. Hotel Paradox meeting and event services include full service catering, audio/visual equipment rentals, and group rates on beautiful hotel rooms.

Enjoy the beautiful Redwood forest while enjoying the most luxurious amenities.

Enjoy the beautiful Redwood forest while enjoying the most luxurious amenities.

Designed with a fine eye to detail, the boutique Hotel Paradox provides top-level hospitality, modern amenities, meeting space, including the 4,400 square foot Sequoia Ballroom, the beautiful 800 Square foot Grove Room, the 430 square foot Cypress Room. The full service restaurant, Solaire and indoor-outdoor bar features fresh farm to table cuisine and premium beverage selections. The large courtyard heated Pool and Jacuzzi complete with poolside bar, cabanas and fire pits is the social hub of activity at Hotel Paradox. Other hotel amenities include a poolside fitness center, business services, and complimentary wireless Internet access.

Paradox Weddings and Celebrations

Located on Ocean Street in downtown Santa Cruz, Hotel Paradox is just minutes away from the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the University of California Santa Cruz, Ano Nuevo State Park, Roaring Camp Railroad, Mystery Spot, Big Basin State Park, Capitola Village and numerous fine Santa Cruz Mountain Wineries and tasting rooms. Hotel Paradox is entirely nonsmoking. Immerse yourself in style when you stay at the new Hotel Paradox boutique hotel in downtown Santa Cruz. Visit our website today at www.thehotelparadox.com or call 831-425-7100

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They Live Among Us

Photo by Chris Fust of a mountain lion cub.

Photo by Chris Fust of a mountain lion cub.

If you live in the Santa Cruz Mountains or near Highway 17, you may have heard about a local mountain lion study. I work for the Santa Cruz Puma Project, and for the past five years our project has studied 45 mountain lions throughout these mountains in an effort to document their responses to habitat fragmentation.

Chris Wilmers (at left), and Veronica Yovovich in the back. The puma is #42M (M stands for male). Photo Credit: Stacey Aguilar

Chris Wilmers (at left), and Veronica Yovovich in the back. The puma is #42M (M stands for male). Photo Credit: Stacey Aguilar

We live in an incredible place. The mountains around Scotts Valley, Los Gatos, and Santa Cruz offer the kind of peace and beauty most people only see in National Geographic. However, our proximity to wild spaces presents an inevitable conflict with its inhabitants. Whether you love the wildlife or find it inconvenient, reducing the possibility of conflict is a win-win for people and wildlife.


Habitat is reduced when land is developed. This creates a patchy mosaic of developed land and wildlife habitat instead of the once continuous habitat. Residents often populate the land with pets and livestock animals which are occasionally mistaken for prey by wild predators.

Mountain lions are opportunistic predators, and will sometimes consume domestic animals if it is easy for them to do so. Their favorite native prey is mule deer, but in the Santa Cruz Mountains they have been known to feed on raccoons, coyotes, wild pigs, squirrels, and opossums. We have also occasionally seen evidence of pumas feeding on domestic animals like house cats, goats, and small calves.

Photo by Linda Davidson

Photo by Linda Davidson

A lion feeding on a domestic animal can lead to an owner seeking to put the mountain lion down. This can have dramatic effects throughout the landscape, as they are considered a ‘keystone predator’. A keystone species has a disproportionately significant effect on its habitat relative to its abundance. These animals are big players in the health of the ecosystem and support the diversity in our backyards.

No method is fool proof, but the following are some guidelines to reduce the possibility of conflict with mountain lions (and all wildlife):

1. Don’t encourage their prey. We often talk with folks who love watching the deer in their backyards. However, people must also recognize that these deer (or any other wild animal) may attract mountain lions to their homes and neighborhoods, which increases the likelihood of a conflict.

2. Keep your pets and livestock in your home or in a secure enclosure (like a barn) during night hours. Mountain lions are mostly nocturnal, so keeping your animals indoors during peak hunting hours is important.

3. Consider improving fenced enclosures to keep deer and other wildlife away from your residence.

4. Consider buying a dog if you have livestock. Mountain lions generally do not like dogs and will stay away.

5. There are a number of aversive conditioning techniques you can use to deter deer and other small prey away from your home like cayenne pepper or other non-toxic nauseating substances.

If you own a pet or livestock animal and think you are at risk, or would like to know more information about puma feeding behavior and avoiding habituation, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Sean McCain
Researcher, Santa Cruz Puma Project


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Rash of Burglaries in the Santa Cruz Mountains

The community gathered to hear more about the recent rash of burglaries and to learn how they could protect themselves.

The community gathered to hear more about the recent rash of burglaries and to learn how they could protect themselves.

You may have become aware of the recent crime wave to hit our community in the past few weeks from your neighbors or from the signs posted on the road, but in the past few weeks nine homes have been broken into in our Santa Cruz Mountain community. A well attended community meeting was conducted tonight at the Redwood Estates Pavilion by both the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s office and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office.

The break ins were conducted in a similar fashion and the perpetrators have been identified as three black males driving a silver or gold sedan. Although exact details were not given for each break in, it appears that the common method of entry was through a back sliding glass door. If it was locked, patio furniture was used to break the glass and gain entry. Items stolen included gold, silver, check books, electronics and tax documents. Tax documents are used for identify theft.

You can take steps to protect yourself by locking your home, your home, putting valuables out of their usual locations, and recording serial numbers of items that have them. Photographing jewelery may make it possible to have those items returned if they have not already been melted down for the precious metal value.

These have been daytime break ins and you need to be aware of anyone who comes to your house under any unannounced ‘official’ pretense. This includes anyone with a clipboard, orange vest or someone who requests access to a portion of the property out of view of the front of your home. Some burglaries (not necessarily up here) have taken place when someone comes to the door and says they need to check the PG&E right of way. While you are in the back with them, their partner will enter the home and rob it.

There were a couple of good points made by the Sheriffs that conducted the meeting and while most of the suggestions are things that would appear to be common sense, it is easy to overlook them.

    Keep doors locked even when home
    Do not enter a home if you suspect it has been broken into – call the Sheriff first and retreat to a safe location
    If you have an alarm, use it
    A large dog may be a deterrent (although two small dogs were injured during one break in)
    Keep window coverings closed
    Do not answer your door if you don’t know the person – call their company to verify they have been sent out
    Create an inventory log of valuables
    Secure safes to the wall (one safe was found emptied and on the floor of the garage)
    Get a locking mailbox (some residents said this wasn’t a really good deterrent)
    Know your neighbors
    Know what is normal for your neighborhood and report suspicious activities
    Shred papers before putting them in the trash
    Install find my iPhone on your computers so they can be tracked when turned on
    Install software that can take a picture of the person using it
    Call 911 to report activities that seem out of place

I would like to add that if you make a purchase of a new item, don’t leave the empty box out by the trash. Dispose of it another way if possible.

This recent rash of burglaries has polarized our community and made a large percentage of the population aware of what is happening, but not everyone knows. Talk to your neighbors and spread the word.

Mail theft was also mentioned by some residents and it is important to report it to both the Post Office and the Sheriff’s office.

You can find information on how to register your cell phone and the seven digit equivalent numbers for 911 for both Santa Clara and Santa Cruz County by reading this article. It is helpful to enter the seven digit number into cell phones because if you dial 911 from a cell phone, you will end up talking to a dispatch in Fresno. It is much faster to contact the correct agency directly.

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Support our Mountain Schools and Protect your Equity!


Since 2006 the amount the Loma Prieta School District receives from the state has been cut from 1.2M to 0.2M. To accommodate this reduction, the District has cut over 500k in costs to stay in budget. The parents through the Loma Prieta Education Fund (LPEF) have had to donate and raise approximately 500k each year, to make up the deficit. Over 300k of the money raised by LPEF is used for teacher salaries.

Last year, LPEF donations paid 4.2 teachers, to keep class sizes reasonable and maintain the middle-school model. The remainder sustains other important programs such as PE, libraries, arts and technology which would not otherwise we possible. This level of parent fundraising is clearly unsustainable. Without the proposed parcel tax, it is likely that we would be faced with much larger class sizes in the near future.

It is a proven fact that high quality school districts have maintained their home values throughout the economic downturn significantly better than school districts with less stellar schools. Quality schools drive buyers to purchase in a given area and maintain higher home values for all homeowners, including those homeowners who may not have children in the schools.

In order to continue to maintain our quality schools, a parcel tax of 164.00 a year is being proposed for the next seven years. Seniors can apply to be exempt for the entire years. This will raise $307,000 a year which maintain the current number of teachers and keep our local schools strong.

The Challenge of getting this parcel tax approved is that only 10% of our likely voters have children in the schools and it is easy to assume that if you don’t have children in the schools, then this parcel tax does not apply to you or your home value. That’s a false assumption. When you choose to sell your home, the home value will be directly affected by the quality of your local schools.

It is important for every property owner to support Measure H to ensure our schools maintain their historic quality.

According to a local appraiser (and mountain resident) Kandee Linden, having schools on a par with Los Gatos elementary district factors as much as $100-150k into our home values. Don’t let this important community asset falter. Support Measure H by your vote. Reach out to others who may not understand the importance and share this message with them.

You can get more information here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/30E0D49ABAB2EAB9-yesonh

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It’s a Buyer’s Market


September 2013 was a Buyer’s market*

Months of Inventory based on Closed Sales in September 2013: 6.2
• Up 24.4% compared to the last month
• Down 64.8% compared to the last year

*Buyer’s market: more than 6 months of inventory
Seller’s market: less than 3 months of inventory
Neutral market: 3 – 6 months of inventory

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Is that Fire Dangerous?

Photo by Leigh Ringgold, mountain resident

Photo by Leigh Ringgold, mountain resident

When you see smoke, it’s time to call your local Fire Department using 911 if you have a landline. Even if you think someone else has called it in, call it in. The Fire Department can use multiple calls to triangulate the location and provide a more appropriate response.

This fire took place on September 29th, late afternoon. The first reports said it was a camper and pickup on fire. The plume of smoke was spotted by residents in the Laurel Road area. Residents on Redwood Lodge then reported that trees were on fire. They weren’t on fire, but it can be easy to make mistakes with a fire. Helicopters and more engines were dispatched to the scene. At this point, the fire was described as being a 60 foot spot on the ground with an RV involved and a structure threatened. No trees involved.

Photo by Travis Witton

Photo by Travis Witton

Just over an hour later, the fixed wing aircraft were released The cleanup commenced and the mountain was once again safely protected. Thank you to our local men and women who serve and protect us.

Live updates of activity in progress can be found at www.firedispatch.com and firescan.net.

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2273 Golden Crest Commons 635K

This gallery contains 3 photos.

22467488.jpg View the Tour

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Music in Pippa’s Garden!


Please join your local theatre company for a wonderful afternoon of live music, hors d’oeuvres, wine tasting, and silent auction as we raise money for this upcoming season. Theatre in the Mountains will host an afternoon of music and light refreshments at the lovely garden of Phillippa (Pippa) Siersema (23960 Summit Rd) from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 30. We will hear some of our favorite theater tunes from TIM alumni, and then will be entertained by the talented Summit Sisters featuring Lisa Anderson on keyboard/guitar/vocals, Paula Leary on guitar/flute, Sue Leonard on vocals, Jeannie Niemann on guitar/vocals and Suzanne Suwanda on bass.


Tastings from local wineries will be available as well as opportunities to win donations from local businesses.

Tickets are $35 ($25 students/seniors) in advance, and $40 at the door. All proceeds will fund Theatre in the Mountains’ future endeavors, including this summer’s adult production of “Into the Woods” and the three musical productions that are planned for students during the 2013-2014 school year.

Click here to purchase your tickets now! (https://www.tix.com/Event.asp?Event=581893

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Highway 17 snarled beyond belief

Photo by Ben Thomas of Boulder Creek

Photo by Ben Thomas of Boulder Creek

Highway 17 has been a mess since the call came in around 3:35 this afternoon about a downed power line near Alma Bridge. The line was clipped by a truck earlier and reported by several people. Two Highway Patrol cars were originally directing traffic through the incident earlier today and traffic was slow but moving.

With the rush of Friday night traffic of commuters heading home and people trying to get to Santa Cruz or home, traffic is not only at a virtual standstill, but it is backed up in downtown Los Gatos. Traffic leading out of town past the Post Office is in near gridlock with some people spending as much as thirty minutes to travel from the High School to the overpass.

PG&E has been called to the scene to repair the line which is virtually stopping traffic cold.

Were you caught in the gridlock? Do you think the Highway Patrol and PG&E handled it properly? Tell me about your experience in the comments.

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