By TOM HONIG
I was just putting the finishing touches on a post about the Santa Cruz Warriors deal and how it suggests a real change in Santa Cruz politics when more evidence of that came across the transom in the form of the Sentinel reporter Jason Hoppin's penetrating look at Santa Cruz politics: "In high-profile endorsement of county board race, a rift is exposed."
Hoppin's story is less about City Council votes than it is about former Assemblyman Fred Keeley and environmental activist Gary Patton --- and the Bruce McPherson-Eric Hammer race for county supervisor -- but he includes this significant description of the current state of the so-called "progressive" movement that has dominated local politics for more than a generation:
"On one side is the current council majority: generally pro-business, open to compromise and, while pro-environment and cautious of growth, not purists about either issue. Generally, this side tends to be younger.
One the other side is the older guard, populated by hardcore conservationists and lefty true-believers. Though they established Santa Cruz' reputation for activism, their influence seems to be dwindling, with the balance of power on the council having shifted decidedly from the latter to the former."
Getting back to the Warriors' vote (6-0 to move ahead with the project), it appears as though the younger group's priorities here are starting to take hold. Just as they should.
Some 30 years ago, staunch anti-growthers took the reins of power here. Young rabble-rousers themselves, they balked at the pro-growth majority that had preceded them. It was a fool's bet to go against them, and slowly the anti-growth enviros took solid control of Santa Cruz.
Alas, time marches on and now up-and-comers see things differently. Three decades of anti-growth regulations have combined with inflated housing prices and a lack of good local jobs to encourage a new pro-business (and pro-environmental) ethic.
Don't bet against it. The mere existence of a new professional sports team in Santa Cruz reveals that things are changing. The younger ones assuming the mantle -- think Ryan Coonerty, think David Terrazas -- are open to change and open to bringing a youthful vigor to life in Santa Cruz.
Despite what some of the older naysayers living in their inflated million-dollar houses say, it's not a return to the old days. These days, younger leaders think they can protect the environment and have economic growth and lifestyle improvements all at the same time.