FIRST IN A SERIES
By TOM HONIG
It doesn't make sense on the face of it: some are protesting the idea of a desalination plant in Santa Cruz because there's enough water here if people just conserve. But some of the same people are fighting any future expansion at UC Santa Cruz because -- among other reasons -- there's not enough water to accommodate further expansion.
But it does make sense if you look even slightly below the surface. It's an old strategy around Santa Cruz: fight new services in order to keep a lid on growth.
The strategy, whether it's about water or infrastructure like new roads, is inherently dishonest. Withholding services as a strategy isn't really about the services themselves. Imagine, for example, if you went about trying to fight homelessness by withholding homeless services. It's the same argument.
What's surprising about the limiting services argument is that it's seen around Santa Cruz as a "progressive" argument. But what it really amounts to is a kind of generational warfare offered up by those who have lived in Santa Cruz a long time and bought a house in, say, Bonny Doon when it might have cost $80,000. What they're saying, in effect, is "I've got mine and it's time to shut the door. We can't support new people and we're going to limit services in order to guarantee that."
UCSC is front and center in the argument. A growing university is judged by old-timers to be a bad thing. To others, a growing university offers opportunity and a better life. It's a fault line for disagreement -- and that's what is playing out.
NEXT: More about the university and the public it serves.