In the News

6 Questions for Pamela Comstock, Running for City Council
Comstock favors studying how to create more water in Santa Cruz and streamlining permit processes for businesses.

By Brad Kava
Santa Cruz Patch, 11/1/12

A high tech worker who was sick of the crime around her neighborhood, Pamela Comstock, 40, got active in local politics when she was a founding member of the neighborhood group Take Back Santa Cruz.

Moving to an elected office may not be the perfect thing for her already busy schedule raising an 8-year-old and working as an administrator at Alteres, which makes the AutoTune program, but she says that public service is very important to her.

Patch: Where do you stand on the issue of a desalination plant, and do you think it should be left up to the people of Santa Cruz to decide as outlined in Measure P?

Comstock: I support the environmental review of the desalination option that is underway. We need to develop a sustainable water supply. I understand the need to protect our groundwater aquifers from seawater intrusion by reducing pumping from wells and allowing for natural recharge to occur. I understand that we need to protect endangered species in our coastal streams by enhancing stream flows by reducing the amount of surface water used. I also understand that we need to provide a secure, reliable supplemental water source to sustain our communities and economy as climate and rainfall patterns change.

However, I am aware that the desal choice also is the most costly option and only one of a few alternatives. I have a hard time simply endorsing the most expensive option to address our eminent water needs. So for me, it is important that we fully consider what the environmental impacts may be of the proposed desal option and that all the other alternatives are also extensively examined. I am reserving judgment until we have all the findings and facts.

I absolutely support the right to vote on desal. Our community has made it clear that it wants to weigh in on this issue.

Patch: How do you plan to fight crime in the wake of the ongoing economic doldrums? Do you think gang violence is growing within the city? If so, what do you think should be done about it?

Comstock: Crime prevention is all about early intervention and education. The best way to stop gangs is to keep people from joining them in the first place. This means we must fund alternatives.

I would expand our PRIDE program to encompass younger kids. We can also look to other cities and model their successful gang prevention programs. To fund our programs, we must look outward to grants and inward to our community to donate money or volunteer. We have an active community that should be utilized. I know that when our residents are given an opportunity to participate in the solution, they show up.

Also, I thoroughly support funding our city's ongoing efforts to maintain a fully staffed, well-trained and equipped police department. Most importantly, real and long-lasting crime reduction can only occur when prevention, intervention, and suppression/enforcement are combined to form a well coordinated and adequately funded, ongoing effort.

Patch: How do you plan on supporting the Arts in Santa Cruz?

Comstock: I absolutely believe that supporting the Arts is a critical civic investment that benefits our community and economy.  My 8-year-old is a big participant in the public school arts programs, and my husband is employed in the arts industry.  Specific to Santa Cruz, our local arts community not only lends to the richness of our lives, but it also is a longstanding trait that makes Santa Cruz unique.

Our rich Arts community is why many of us call Santa Cruz home, and why others come to visit our city. Education and exposure to our local artists is something I will promote. I will also continue to support community outreach programs like the Tannery Arts Center, MAH, First Fridays and Open Studios.

Sustaining our city's commitment to funding the Arts is an important initiative for me to support.

Patch: What do you think the best plan is for bringing back the local economy and creating jobs in Santa Cruz?

Comstock: We have done a good job supporting our local businesses, but more can be done.

For new businesses considering entry into Santa Cruz, I would streamline and look at costs associated with the permit process to make it attractive to set roots here. I would also look at attracting larger businesses that fit into the culture and lifestyle of Santa Cruz. I would pursue options as to the hurdles they face and be a sounding board to prospective businesses.

For existing businesses, I would bring a business advocacy council and city leaders together to craft solutions with the business community to help drive revenue and growth. This business outreach already is being done, but it can be taken further.

For UCSC, I would try to create a tax credit so students can open businesses in the city and hire local workers.  I believe Santa Cruz could be an incubator for creating jobs in partnership with our university and will work toward this on city council.

Patch: What do you think Santa Cruz's greatest problem is and how do you propose we fix it? What are the city's greatest strengths that you'd like to see preserved and/or built upon?

Comstock: Lack of funding and the inability to understand and prioritize the needs of the community can sometimes be our biggest problem. I must stress that our local businesses depend on revenue from multiple sources that we need as a city.  I will support our business community and work toward filling vacancies, which will lead to organic job growth and increase our local tax revenue.

Lending a page from the Gibbs report, $1.8 billion dollars is leaving Santa Cruz annually, heading for shopping districts over the hill or to the south.

Many factors contribute to this leakage – whether it’s a public safety issue, non-intuitive parking and/or traffic flow, a perception of an unfavorable customer experience or lack of specific types of stores. I am sensitive to these issues and will work collaboratively with city staff and area business leaders to address these concerns.

Patch: If it were up to you, how do you see Santa Cruz five years from now?

Comstock: I would like to see a safer and more economically viable city. Santa Cruz should be a year-round destination that attracts visitors not just to the beach and boardwalk, but also families to our parks, open spaces, and shopping districts.

Santa Cruz needs a world-class hotel and conference destination that can play host to business travelers and meetings. My vision is that of a clean, inviting city with vibrant parks and commercial areas.

I would like to see Santa Cruz’s arts community in a position where it is even more renowned.

We should be a start-up incubator for UCSC graduates. I would like our city to be known as a breeding ground for innovators and entrepreneurs.

We should be viewed as a model city for small business growth and development. I envision a Santa Cruz with a healthier and vibrant economy. I see a business community with low unemployment and a diverse mix of funding sources, directly resulting from policy initiatives that I will assist in crafting.

All of this will allow us to address public safety, social services, and environmental components to enrich our lives.

Finally, we must be seen as a city that is supremely responsive to the needs of our most vulnerable. We also must continue on the path toward a sustainable lifestyle that honors and preserves our beautiful environment.

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