The state of California may have a lot to recommend it—give us a few days, and we’ll think of something—but Santa Cruz, a beach town of 60,000 some 70 miles south of San Francisco, encapsulates everything wrong with the Golden State.
Yes, the weather’s nice, but the city is beset with astonishingly high real estate prices and exorbitant taxes. What’s worse, Angela Davis is a “distinguished professor emerita” at the local (publicly funded) university. The city’s streets are dominated by a massive population of transients—the voluntarily homeless, mostly young, who travel up and down the West Coast, and who are attracted to cities like Santa Cruz and Portland, Oregon, that all but roll out a red carpet for them. And all of this is washed down with a healthy dose of self-congratulation (and Kombucha). In The Scrapbook’s visits to Santa Cruz, we’ve met dozens of locals who have convinced themselves that they live in the greatest place on earth.
But even the most delusional Santa Cruzers are surely alarmed by the city’s remarkably high crime rate. Earlier this year, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that “according to FBI statistics, Santa Cruz’s reputation isn’t the only outsized thing about the place. It also has a significant crime problem, with the highest property crime rate in California among medium and large cities. . . . Santa Cruz also has a higher violent crime rate than all but eight cities in the Golden State. People are more likely to become a victim here than in Los Angeles, San Francisco or Vallejo.”
It seems that many of the crimes in town are committed by transients—indeed, several months ago, two Santa Cruz police officers were killed during a routine investigation by a traveler who had just come down to Santa Cruz from . . . Portland, Oregon, of course.
A Santa Cruz County Superior Court judge named Ariadne Symons has had enough. Last week, according to the Sentinel, she said, “Santa Cruz is a magnet for people who want to live on the streets and commit crime.” Speaking at a public meeting, the judge declared, “We need to change that reputation and discourage that kind of activity. . . . How many people have to die before we do something about this?” She then went on to urge the city to enforce its antiloitering laws. “The streets belong to all of us,” Symons said. “We should all feel comfortable there.”
We salute the honorable Judge Symons, though fear that the voters of Santa Cruz may try to recall her, now that she suffers from an acute case of common sense.