UCSC students, community members plan 'clean up day' on Earth Day

UCSC students are teaming up with community leaders to celebrate Earth Day with a cleanup day in the Lower Ocean Neighborhood.

Sponsored by UCSC's Good Neighbor Initiative and the Neighbors of Lower Ocean, the April 22 cleanup will include trash pickup, gutter sweeping, and weeding of Barson Street, Clay Street, Jessie Street, and surrounding areas.

The Lower Ocean Neighborhood Cleanup will take place from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 22. Breakfast, lunch, and event t-shirts will be provided for volunteers, and the public is invited to participate. Check-in for volunteers will be at the corner of Barson and Clay Streets. Dumpsters will be available for large-item dropoff for Lower Ocean residents.

The Lower Ocean Neighborhood, between Ocean Street, Broadway, and East Cliff Drive, is faced with prostitution, loitering, drug use, litter, and crime not typical in other parts of Santa Cruz.

"I'm glad that we have the opportunity to help the lower Ocean Street community in a small way," said Kelly Ng, one of the two Good Neighbor Initiative interns planning the event. "I hope in coming years that the Good Neighbor Initiative will be able to cohost similar projects in the Santa Cruz community," she said.

UCSC, Neighbors of Lower Ocean, the Santa Cruz Police Department, Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation, and South County Housing are all collaborating on the cleanup.

"South County Housing (SCH) wholeheartedly supports the April 22 Lower Ocean Neighborhood Cleanup," said project manager Betsy McGovern. "Since SCH is currently working in the neighborhood on the rehabilitation of the 111 Barson Street project, we have realized the importance of coordinated community support and action. SCH appreciates and supports the contribution of UCSC students to a neighborhood in great need of attention."

Jim Howes, community service officer of the Santa Cruz Police Department, echoed that sentiment. "It's important to clean up neighborhoods, one block at a time."

Donna Blitzer, director of UCSC Government and Community Relations, added, "Students at UCSC have a strong record of public service. This is a great opportunity for students to participate on Earth Day to clean up this area."