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October 25, 2004

'Good Neighborhood Initiative' under way

By Louise Donahue

Improving the town-gown relationship in Santa Cruz is the goal of the “Good Neighborhood Initiative, ” directed by UCSC’s Government and Community Relations Office.

While the campus has many positive impacts on the community, the Good Neighborhood Initiative is designed to increase awareness of less-positive impacts--in areas such as housing and traffic--and promote ways to alleviate those problems.

The Good Neighborhood Initiative is an expansion of Acting Chancellor Martin M. Chemers’s effort, announced in May, to minimize traffic on overloaded residential streets by encouraging drivers to use Mission Street and Bay Street as the primary access routes to the campus.

Chemers wanted students to be involved in efforts to improve community relations and added two new students--biology junior Kristen Townsend and Anthony Tucci, a second-year history major--to his Chancellor’s Undergraduate Internship Program to play key roles in the new initiative.

“We hope the initiative will result in an increased awareness that we’re all one community, ” said government and community relations director Donna Blitzer, whose office is serving as a liaison between the students and the administration. “We want to provide an opportunity for more interaction between neighbors and the students.”

The interns have already begun conducting interviews with individuals and groups—both on campus and in the community--to gain a better understanding of some of the specific concerns and complaints about traffic, transportation, and housing.

Later, they will be putting together a public relations campaign to increase student awareness of what being a good neighbor involves.

“The people I’ve talked to have been very open, but have complained about parking, parties, and trash,” said Tucci. One person, he said, cited the problem of trash being left out in bags, rather than in animal-proof bins, resulting in trash being strewn around.

Townsend, who lives off campus, said the issues she has heard about—including parking and noise--hit close to home. “These are some issues we have on my street,” she said. Townsend wants to help students understand that community concerns are widespread: “It’s not just one person complaining.”

Questions, comments, and concerns about the Good Neighbor Initiative are encouraged, and may be directed to Townsend and Tucci at

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