In the News


Katherine Beiers: Closing remarks to City Council

Op-Ed, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 1/6/13

EDITOR'S NOTE: From remarks upon her departure from the City Council.

Welcome to new and returning members to the City Council. Congratulations! I've served on this Council for 15 of my 80 years. I thank the many members of the public who trusted me to serve so long. It was an honor and a privilege to do so.

I won't use this happy occasion to rehearse the events of 15 years. But I will reiterate my faith in the principles that motivated and guided me: I believe that government, especially local government, has a necessary and vital role to play in protecting and preserving our natural environment: our air, land, waters and open spaces. And a role in protecting our social environment too. It's not enough that streets are made safe and that businesses can succeed here. We require compassion to see the need to extend public services to all of our citizens, including the most vulnerable among us, who don't share in our fortune, who struggle to stay safe and sane, who won't sleep tonight in their own beds.

We require sensitivity and foresight to permit development of our city, but not at the expense of the quality of the lives of the people who live here or of the sense of place that our neighborhoods provide.

These principles compel me to refer my good colleagues, just once more, to a remaining item or two on my last agenda. Implementation of the Climate Action Plan we've adopted. On behalf of my grandchildren, I say it's not enough to write it in the General Plan. We have to play our part in actually implementing the Climate Action Plan. The onus to act is evermore on regional entities, like city governments, and on individual citizens. The long-term consequences of failing to reduce the damage we do to our biosphere already overshadow most of the items on our agendas.

Finish the environmental review that will allow the Homeless Garden Project finally to move to Pogonip. It's been 10 years since we've seen movement on that. That's long enough.

The larger environmental review due shortly is about using a seawater desalination plant to sustain our water supply during drought conditions. How expensive an option desal will prove to be remains to be seen, but we know it's a contentious one. We owe it to ourselves as a community not to let it become a divisive one over this question:

Are there less costly ways -- both economically and environmentally -- to effectively manage our water supply during drought conditions other than by introducing desalination? That is the question members of the public will have to answer for themselves before they decide the fate of desalination in the next election cycle. And the council has to remain open to the possibility that, in the end, a program of alternatives may be the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable way to manage our water supply through drought conditions.

... I'm grateful to those thoughtful members of the public who took the time to engage constructively in the process of government. Not the screamers, but those who shared an opinion with me or gave me some good advice, or served on a board or commission, or walked a neighborhood. Your involvement enlivened me and challenged me to do my best. Now stop sending me emails. I'm grateful to our city staff and employees. You render valuable service to this council and to an often unappreciative public.And finally, I want to wish you, my colleagues on the council, well. And to thank you for listening to me, and for having the courage and the stamina to serve the public.

Katherine Beiers served on the Santa Cruz City Council for 16 years.

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