Green Focus- Parks and Recreation


Green initiatives happening in the Parks and Recreation Department

The Parks and Recreation department has programs and facilities throughout the City of Santa Cruz and the following are ways we are helping achieve the City's environmental goals:


Urban Forestry: Around town, we are converting irrigation in City medians to drip systems in many cases, reducing water needs and also planting approximately 300 trees this year. We also have a tentative project planned to plant 100 Monterey Cypress trees near West Cliff & Swanton Blvd. Our department also hosts a Street Tree Planting Program which offers free 15 gallon trees for the City right-of-ways in front of residents homes.

Community Gardens: We have several community gardens available for City residents to use their green thumb to grow vegetables for the table, flowers for the home and native plants to attract bugs and birds. Our Trescony gardens is an organic garden with 54 plots for City of Santa Cruz residents. The Lighthouse gardens is an organic garden with 18 plots for City of Santa Cruz residents.

Santa Cruz Wharf: Out at the beautiful Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, we have shops and restaurants that are visited every week by locals and tourists alike. Our commitment to helping the environment is apparent as you walk around- we do everything from recycling to working with research groups to find ways to harness wind power. Here are a few examples:

• Awarded Green Business Certification for Wharf Headquarters

• Partnered with UCSC to install and monitor an alternative energy test bed on the wharf to measure wind and solar energy potential

• Use power generated by test bed wind generators and solar panel to charge electric maintenance vehicle

• Partnered with UCSC to retrofit the Wharf street and pedestrian lighting with LED lamps

• Partnered with UCSC to install an EV charging station on the Wharf

• Partnered with UCSC to examine waste to energy power potential on the Wharf

• Currently switching out failed HPS and CFL building lighting for LED fixtures as failures occur

• Changed out Beach restroom urinals for low flow urinals recommended and funded by SC Water Dept.

• Currently replacing an additional maintenance pickup truck with an Electric Vehicle pickup truck 

• Employed Roma Design Group and Moffat and Nichol Engineering to develop a Wharf Master Plan that will identify actionable steps and identify funding sources towards realizing the City’s Climate Action goals on the Wharf.

 East Zone Crew: The East Zone section of the parks division oversees many parks, medians, trees, open spaces, dog parks and playgrounds. We are always coming up with ways to be more utility conscience by reducing our water and electrical uses. Some examples include:

The San Lorenzo Park lights have been converted to LED in 2013 with seven in total. We went from 175 watt bulb usage to 56 watt per light x 9 lights = 1,071 total watt savings. 

Waterless urinals have been in place in East Zone Parks since 2009-10. 7 total; 4 DeLaveaga, 2 San Lorenzo, 1 Frederick Park. The annual water savings of 40,000 x 7urinals x 4 years = 1,120,000 gallons of water saved!


Louden Nelson Community Center: At the Community Center, we are always innovative in becoming more green. Here are some great examples of our commitment:

•New filtered water bottle filling station. Water bottles can be purchased at the Center.

•2013/14 we will be upgrading the lighting in the auditorium and Center to more efficient LED lighting.

•We recycle old flyers that are posted on our bulletin boards and use as note paper for the public.

•Louden Nelson Community Center has been recognized for receiving the Clean Ocean Business Award for 10 years.

•The Center has low flow toliets and low flow sinks.

•Since switching to Class software, we allow reservations by phone and email reducing the amount of paper used.

Teen Center: At the Center Street Teen Center facility, we have installed a new copy machine set to duplex which cuts down on paper waste.

Adult Sports Leagues: Sports leagues run year round at our two Community Parks, Delaveaga and Harvey West. On the administrative end of the program, we email sports season registration information to reduce paper mailings as well as email team manager packets (rules, game schedules, policies & procedures). We estimate this saves approximately 20 reams of paper as we have over 150 teams annually participate in our leagues.

Beach Programs: Our Little and Junior Lifeguard program is one of the biggest in the County and has over 900 youth partipate in the summer program. As you can imagine, there are many neccessary correspondence throughout the season to get out to parents and we try to reduce paper by emailing program announcements & newsletters to parents through the JG Booster Club Yahoo group email,
post all program info, handouts, forms, weekly newsletters, competition dates and event info on the Jr. Guard web page and email the invitation to end of the season Awards Banquet instead of printing and mailing. On our long trips to Southern California for competion, staff drives the P & R cargo van instead of towing large trailer to the Jr. Guard Regional Championship Competition (a huge gas savings!) 

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum: At our museum on West Cliff Drive overlooking the beautiful Monterey Bay, we are taking advantage of the direct sunlight by installing solar panels to reduce our energy usage.

Harvey West Pool: The pool is using solar panels to light the building and supplement our energy usage. 

Administration: The Registration office downtown at City Hall was the first building on campus to be certified as a Green Business. We are hoping to set the bar for our fellow employees and help everyone with their green office practices. Everyone in our office is committed to helping our office be energy efficient by turning off lights, utilizing natural lighting, opening windows to cool the building and utilizes duplex printing and copying to reduce waste. We also compost in our kitchen area and always use green cleaning products to be easy of the environment. For office get togethers, we use reusable utensils and wash real dishes instead of paper. 

Whether we are working in our office saving paper or out in the field reducing our water waste, the Parks and Recreation Department is committed to being Green!