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Santa Cruz Council OKs 5 percent water cutback: Landscape restrictions to begin next week


Santa Cruz Sentinel, 4/24/12

SANTA CRUZ - The City Council on Tuesday approved a 5 percent water cutback beginning May 1 to keep 100 million gallons more in the city's reservoir in case next year is as dry as this one.

After winter rainfall measured a third below average, the Water Department sought the restrictions on its 92,000 customers from Davenport to Live Oak to keep Loch Lomond Reservoir at 80 percent full by the end of the high-demand season. The city also will have less water this year because of voluntary reduced diversions from surface supply sources to improve salmon habitat.

The restrictions will be in place until late October.

Customers won't be allowed to water lawns or plants from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., though officials are considering some exemptions to allow spot watering for golf courses, nurseries and other business for whom landscape irrigation is critical. The city hopes to avoid over-watering at night by those customers.

During restrictions, pools can't be drained and refilled, and washing down paved surfaces will be banned. Restaurants will provide drinking water when requested by patrons, and hotels must give guests the options of skipping daily washing of sheets and towels.

"What we are really trying to do here with the Stage 1 Water Shortage Alert is just keep as much water in storage as possible," conservation manager Toby Goddard said.

No members of the public objected Tuesday. A group opposed to a desalination plant designed to boost supply during drought periods also has expressed support for the cutbacks, saying the city should be stepping up such conservation measures more often.

Violators will be warned the first time, but for subsequent offenses, will face fines of $100-$500. Goddard said the city opened 2,400 enforcement cases and levied several hundred in fines during 2009, when cutbacks were at 15 percent after several years of dry conditions.

In other action, the council approved issuing a special use permit for Forever 21, a women's fashion retailer expected to open with 45 employees in the former Borders building at 1200 Pacific Ave. in August. The special permit was required because the business will be larger than a 16,000-square-foot limit outlined by zoning.

Also Tuesday, the council:

Approved a new agreement with See Scopes to operate telescopes on the Municipal Wharf and at Lighthouse Point. The city will take 25 percent of the revenue from the coin-operated machines, which See Scopes have managed since 2007.

Approved another lease with Javier Paramo to operate Pacific Coast Kites on the wharf, which he has done for 10 years. The city takes 10 percent of Paramo's sales.

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