Friday, April 25, 2014
Let me report on a grassroots, community-based effort to head off or change a major project being proposed by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company. This is a proposed power line project that would affect Aptos, Corralitos, and Watsonville, all located within Santa Cruz County.
One of the first environmental controversies I remember learning about, when I was a high-school student at Palo Alto High School, in the early 1960’s, was a proposal by PG&E to build a new, high-voltage power line through the communities of Woodside and Portola Valley. Huge, ugly power line stanchions were proposed. They were absolutely vital, according to PG&E, to provide reliable electric service. Nothing you could do about the ugliness. As it turns out, there was something that could be done about the ugliness. An attorney named Pete McCloskey, later a member of Congress, and then an anti-Vietnam War candidate for President, represented the community and won. McCloskey, incidentally, came to a Palo Alto High School “Career Day,” and convinced me that I ought to be a lawyer.
The Santa Cruz County project has a lot of similarities to that earlier controversy. A group called Neighbors Organized to Protect Our Community is going to be fighting the dramatic changes to the current system that PG&E says are required. If you would like to learn more, or to get personally involved, check out the links at kusp.org/landuse.