SCLU Takes the Win at the Memorial Day Surf Contest

Surfboards

The Santa Cruz Longboard Union (SCLU) takes the victory at the 38th Annual Memorial Day Club Invitational, held at Steamer Lane over Memorial Day weekend!

The Union’s Nohemi Kawasaki triumphed in the Women’s age 20-29 category, while Aylana Zanville dominated the Masters Women’s age 40-49 division. Chase Larue secured victory in the Senior Men’s 30-39 age group, followed by Matt Collins in the Masters Men’s 40-49 age group. Frosty Hesson excelled in the Grand Legends 70 and older category, and Leechy Surfboards emerged victorious in the Shapers division. Their collective efforts led to the club’s impressive total of 2,300 points!

This event is more than just a surf contest; it’s a symbol of community spirit and support for local nonprofits benefiting children. As the longest-running longboard contest in the US, it brings together surf enthusiasts from far and wide to enjoy the thrill of the waves while contributing to a worthy cause. This year, Cruzio was honored to provide free WiFi connectivity throughout the event, ensuring that the judges booth ran smoothly and that organizers & attendees could stream the contest and share their experiences in real-time, further amplifying the event’s reach and impact.Cruzio Installation

At Cruzio, we understand the importance of supporting events that unite our community and make a positive difference. By contributing our services to the 38th Annual Memorial Day Club Invitational, we enhanced the overall experience for attendees while also playing a part in the larger effort to support local nonprofits. We are proud to have contributed to another successful year of the Invitational, and are reminded of the power of coming together to make a difference. Cruzio looks forward to continuing our support for future events that uplift and enrich our community.

“Thanks for being a sponsor of the 38th annual Memorial Club Invitational surf contest. Your whole crew was EPIC. Our team was stoked at how easy you made it for us! The Wifi was flawless!!”  -SCLU

 

Equal Access in Watsonville, CA

May is Affordable Housing Month!
Tabasa Gardens

Cruzio provides reliable high-speed internet to the Tabasa Gardens housing complex

Tabasa Gardens Housing Complex

On May 3, 2024, Eden Housing Introduced Tabasa Gardens: Where Community, Sustainability, and Connectivity Thrive! Nestled along Freedom Boulevard, just a mile from downtown Watsonville, this new apartment community is a beacon of inclusivity, serving residents across all income levels. 

The neighborhood is designed to accommodate individuals or families with incomes ranging from 25 to 50% of the median income in the area, which translates to annual earnings of $28,000 to $56,000 for a household of two people. Half the units have been reserved for farmworkers, and six units for people who’ve been experiencing homelessness.

Additionally, with solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and dedicated bike parking, Tabasa Gardens is Green Point Rated certified.

With a commitment to bridging the digital gap, Cruzio is thrilled to partner with Eden Housing to offer discounted in-unit gigabit WiFi for all. 

We feel proud to be able to contribute. Equal Access is a partnership of Cruzio, local community institutions, and local philanthropists. It’s supported by many of our customers (thank you!) and other local donors who know how important quality internet is to every person. It’s part of treating people with dignity.

Every time we can contribute to the well-being of our community, we are going to try. Each piece may be small, and sometimes we can all feel pretty overwhelmed by the difficulty of curing our local problems. But the only way to tackle big problems is to take the first steps. This housing meets a deep and obvious need. We hope it will prove helpful and we’re delighted to play a part.You can help! Make a donation to the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County Equal Access fund. Or just add a small amount to your monthly Cruzio bill, and we will send it to the fund. Equal Access helps seniors and disabled people access health and social services, children get a better shot at online schoolwork, people looking for jobs find opportunities, and much more. Because we add our own contribution, Cruzio can make a small amount of money go a long way.

https://edenhousing.org/properties/tabasa-gardens/ 

Cruzio Receives State Grant for Equal Access Summits to the Sea Project

On February 15th, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved Resolution T-17810, giving the green light to Cruzio’s Equal Access Summits to the Sea (EAS2C) grant proposal.

EAS2C is a game-changer, bringing high-speed connectivity to large areas of San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and Monterey Counties where internet service is inadequate. Many folks in these rural and remote regions have been left behind, dealing with outdated copper networks and limited internet options that are both scarce and pricey. Cruzio came up with an economical plan to address the problem, and the State of California has approved and will fund some of the work.

Using state-of-the-art fixed wireless hardware, Cruzio will rapidly deploy gigabit broadband to thousands of locations in this under-served region. And EAS2C’s middle-mile infrastructure is “open access,” meaning other ISPs can hop on board to offer speedier, more reliable services to residents across the Central Coast. The network will lighten the load on smaller providers, paving the way for fairer prices and better service for all.

And it’s not just about binge-watching Netflix and making Zoom calls. In rural areas like these, reliable internet is a lifeline, especially when it comes to public safety. That’s why Cruzio has partnered with the AlertWildfire consortium to install internet-connected cameras along the network, keeping an eye out for wildfires and helping keep communities safe.

EAS2C project area

EAS2C project area

For the last few years, Cruzio has worked with local school districts, municipalities, and non-profit partners to provide subsidized internet to low-income families through our Equal Access initiative. The populations are diverse, including everyone from recent immigrants in crowded farmworker communities to families who’ve lived in isolated mountain homes for many generations.

Cruzio’s mission is to provide every household with the same level of service that we make available to our more urban customers. Recent advances in fixed wireless technology, matched with Cruzio’s familiarity with the area, are making that mission a reality.

“Our region has a problem.” James Hackett, COO at Cruzio, explained. “We’ve got rural communities, farmers, low-income communities out here. Then just a hop away we’ve got Silicon Valley, high-tech and bustling. It’s quite the gap. But getting reliable internet out here? Not so easy with our geography. And that digital divide? It’s real, making life harder for folks. With the Summits to the Sea project we’re working to level the playing field and give everyone a fair shot.”

This project represents a generational leap forward in broadband access, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of concerned community groups and elected officials. Big thanks to Representatives Jimmy Panetta and Anna Eshoo, State Senator John Laird, State Assemblyman Robert Rivas, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, Monterey County Supervisors Chris Lopez, Mary Adams, and Luis Alejo, as well as the Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Clara Offices of Education, the Central Coast Broadband Consortium, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, and many others. We especially want to recognize the incredible work being done by Cruzio’s growing team of all-local employees, many of whom have been with us for decades. It’s been a team effort, and fast, affordable internet is going to make a world of difference for folks across the region.

An Update on Equal Access Santa Cruz

girl on laptop
Jason Borgen, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Santa Cruz Office of Education, faced a heartbreaking challenge in April 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic had forced students to switch to homeschooling, and many of them lacked adequate home internet connectivity. Students couldn’t do their schoolwork.

“Our primary objective is to provide unwavering support to all students and families, ensuring they have the necessary resources and tools to achieve success, particularly those in our community who are underserved,” Jason emphasized.

Having partnered with Cruzio on many projects over the years, Jason’s initial action was to reach out to us. Together, we embarked on a mission to install affordable internet connections for these students. When it became apparent that the problem was even more widespread than initially thought, Susan True of the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County stepped in, playing a pivotal role in establishing a charitable fund, thus giving birth to Equal Access Santa Cruz (EASC).

EASC allows local community members to support less fortunate neighbors with fast, reliable internet — a service that’s become vital for so many reasons. Cruzio members can even add a few dollars to their monthly bill for EASC. In all the fund has raised over $1,000,000, all of which is put to work building new internet connections to homes in places where construction couldn’t be justified by market economics.

Since its inception, EASC has achieved remarkable success. Some of our achievements include:

  • Establishing over 35 broadband distribution hubs (Points of Presence or PoPs), each capable of serving up to 200 households.
  • Executing various special projects to assist community members in need, such as Buena Vista migrant housing, Pajaro Valley Shelter Services, Farm Discovery Center, and Housing Matters’ Casa Azul.
  • Connecting over 1,200 students and families to new internet access.
  • Creating infrastructure that has the potential to serve an additional 5,000+ individuals.
  • Enhancing broadband availability in over 60% of the Watsonville/Pajaro area.
  • Cultivating new partnerships with several school districts, Housing Matters, Housing Authority of Santa Cruz, and other like-minded organizations.

The partnership with Equal Access has been one of the most gratifying things the Cruzio team have ever undertaken. It embodies our core values and mission as well as the Santa Cruz community’s dedication to making a positive impact.

A student at Farm Discovery Center near Watsonville enjoys Equal Access high-speed internet

We extended internet to Farm Discovery and other places where students do homework.


Jason encapsulates our collective mission when he says, “we focus on equity and are doing everything we can to remove the digital divide from Santa Cruz County. We are thankful for the work Cruzio is doing and has done to make this a reality. With Santa Cruz COE’s and Cruzio’s shared vision towards this work we can truly make a difference for all of Santa Cruz county!”

If you want to help support our mission and help make sure no one in Santa Cruz County is unconnected, please donate to the Equal Access fund.

Cruzio Newsletter #215

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Where Will Internet Funds Be Spent?

Cruzio Internet saw a need for better service on Highway 9 in the San Lorezno Valley, and were successful in getting a route addedCalifornia’s planned backbone routes are marked in dark orange. The Highway 9 route (circled) was included after Cruzio led a push for it. The routes still leaves large gaps in parts of Santa Cruz, San Mateo, and Monterey Counties, which we are trying to address with state grants. 

The Tri-Bay area — from Half Moon Bay, west of San Francisco Bay to Monterey Bay — needs better internet.

That’s Cruzio country. Partly mountainous, partly coastal, all beautiful (of course) but challenging for constructing broadband networks. We’re working hard on it.

Some of the construction can be financed privately, because it’s economically feasible. Cruzio is rapidly building to many areas that have relatively dense housing and reasonable construction costs. But in some parts of our service area, the costs are so high or the revenue potential so small that no company has been building reliable infrastructure.

Fires, Floods, Pandemic — And Couldn’t Call 911

We know the issues well. Outside the urban well-to-do areas, there are — increasingly —internet haves and have-nots. And that has serious consequences. Karen Edwards of the Boulder Creek Business Association put it this way: after the area went through fires, flooding, and a pandemic, “I am not ok with folks being 40 minutes from Silicon Valley and not being able to call 911.”

The good news is, federal and state funds are coming available for internet builds. The work ahead is to make sure our area gets its share of those funds and uses them effectively.

That’s not easy! Our hard-to-reach areas are really hard to reach. Not like the midwest or desert states where the land is flatter and there aren’t towering redwoods. In the Tri-Bay area, we’re looking at wind-y mountain roads and isolated, low-income farming and beach communities. These border quaint, well-off towns with lots of building restrictions.

And our proximity to tech hubs — minutes from Silicon Valley — can make grant awarders skeptical of our need.

Cruzio Plans to Build Internet Where It’s Needed

Cruzio has a plan that extends our high-quality internet into rural and low-income (some are both) parts of our region.

In 2022, Cruzio checked out California’s plans for the “middle mile,” or backbone part of government-funded construction. It’s marked in dark orange in the map above. At first the backbone entirely missed the San Lorenzo Valley, which we’re well aware is hungry for better internet.

We got to work, and with the help of many allies — including Jimmy Panetta’s and Anna Eshoo’s offices, as well as the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership — we were able to persuade the state to add a Highway 9 route. That moves the high speed internet closer to where it’s needed, a big win for our region.

But as you can see from the map, there is a lot of country left uncrossed by the dark orange lines. It’s hard to reach homes and businesses in those parts of the state. Unfortunately (but logically), where it’s hard to build internet is also where the need is greatest. So areas that need the most tend to get the least, even in new planning, unless there’s public pressure.

Cruzio Has Technology That Can Scale Mountains

Cruzio knows our region really, really well. We’ve been serving internet here for 34 years. We know where reasonable access is currently impossible, where we can’t offer any internet because the quality would not meet modern standards. People are stuck, either with nothing or with just one unresponsive overpriced national ISP. (We won’t name names, but just note that when you’ve got a near-monopoly, you don’t have to be responsive to customers.)

Cruzio has technology that can bridge many of the gaps in the state’s plans, and fill in a lot more backbone, or middle mile, infrastructure where major highways don’t go. That won’t solve all the problems — getting from a middle mile path to someone’s house in the woods still isn’t easy and it’s definitely not cheap. But it’s been done before, with rural electrification and universal telephone service. Middle mile is the start of that process.

We submitted a middle mile plan, pictured below, to a federal agency. We’re aiming to create mountaintop hubs which can serve nearby areas with very high speed internet.

But Federal Grants are a Painful Process

After our Highway 9 success, we applied for a federal grant to build more middle mile into several areas: the Santa Cruz Mountains, farmland south of Watsonville, and sparsely populated areas along the coast. These are all places where people ask us for internet, and where we often can’t provide it.

All this “middle mile” “last mile” may sound kind of esoteric, but guess what: we found that many of our elected representatives understand these problems and are trying to fix them. They’ve heard a lot from folks living in the internet badlands, and they’re not sitting on their hands. They welcomed our efforts.

Your ability to work, to get an education, and to participate fully in what passes as modern society these days — those all depend on good internet. And imagine what’s yet to come in the next decade or two.

Jimmy Panetta’s office dug in. When we hit a snag in our grant application, his office reached out to help. Shout out to Representative Panetta, his Chief of Staff Peter Spiro, and especially Mark Dennin for working hard on their constituents’ behalf. We saw it up close.

No Time for GAP

It was a tense and disappointing Easter week this year. Why? While all the kids were out on spring break, Cruzio had progressed to stage 3 of the federal grant process. We don’t have a grants team or anything like that. We just see that it needs to be done, and do it. And we were doing quite well. We had a lot of local support (if you wrote in, thank you!!)

Then the funding body — the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA — suddenly threw us a road block. We didn’t yet have audited GAP financials, and they only gave us two weeks to get the audits done — remember it was Easter week! — and the specialized accountants from San Jose who can do such audits told us it would take months. And cost over $100,000 to boot. So we hung up our hats on that one. Cruzio can do many wonderful things, but we can’t compress two months’ work into two weeks.

Panetta Came Through But the NTIA Didn’t

Mark Dennin from Panetta’s office looked into this gnarly matter and called on our behalf. He even reached out on Easter morning. That’s above and beyond. And we know he wasn’t doing it for Cruzio — we’re a pretty small local company (although we’re very charming and competent of course). This was for the people who live in Panetta’s district who want to work or school from home, access health and banking services, or just watch a movie. Cruzio’s grant proposal cuts through the tangle of large corporations trying to vacuum up all the government funds for their existing infrastructure, and building nothing new. We’re different. We’ll put any money we have right to work.

So though we fell short, we wanted to call out that exceptional effort. We also know that Anna Eshoo’s office worked to help (thank you Stuart Styron), and so many local officials, administrators, nonprofits, and just plain folks worked with us. We are sorry it didn’t work out.

But There Is Another Chance

We came back to the project, after a disappointing Spring Holiday, and looked at other funding sources. Luckily there is a state funding source: CASF. We have repackaged our essential middle mile plan and added last-mile extensions to it, and have submitted it to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for consideration. We are working on our GAP accounting. (We actually like the idea that companies get scrutinized before they get funding, as long as smaller companies get a chance.)

Fingers crossed! We’ll let you know our progress, but we think we’ve got a good shot. No one knows the Tri-Bay area like we do.

Housing Matters’ Casa Azul: Equal Access Santa Cruz’s Latest Success Story

801 River St/ Casa Azul

Casa Azul Grand Opening

People who’ve fallen on hard times can use the internet to connect to health and other services, to look for jobs and permanent housing, to stay in touch with family, and, hopefully, to help find their way back to stability. Through our 34-year history, Cruzio has provided internet connections to organizations that help the members of our community who are most in need, and as we build new infrastructure we extend it to needy folks when we can.

Most recently, Cruzio was proud to link up new supportive housing on River Street, near the intersection of Highways 1 and 9.

Leveraging state funds from the Home Key program as well as resources from local donors, Housing Matters renovated a long-empty VIctorian house and is using it to provide housing to people who suffer from one or more disabilities and who’ve experienced homelessness for a year or more. The house is close to Housing Matters facilities, creating a much-needed expansion of the campus.

The Casa Azul project consists of two one-bedroom apartments and five studio units, making it a stepping stone towards Housing Matters’ upcoming project, the Harvey West Studios. The latter is a 120-unit permanent supportive housing initiative aimed at providing long-term support to individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. As Casa Azul opens its doors to new residents, there’s a real sense of excitement and progress. Housing Matters and Cruzio intend to replicate the free internet deployment at the new project.

The provision of free internet access at Casa Azul goes beyond merely providing a connection; it represents a gateway to empowerment and opportunity for residents. With reliable and high-speed internet, individuals experiencing chronic homelessness can access crucial online resources, educational opportunities, job training, and employment opportunities.

Evan_801River

Cruzio tech Evan Powers admires the new Casa Azul project at 801 River St.

Moreover, telehealth services will be readily available, ensuring access to remote medical and mental healthcare, fostering improved overall well-being. The ability to stay connected with family, friends, and support networks through online platforms enhances social connectivity and helps build a stronger sense of community within Casa Azul.

The partnership demonstrates a truly impactful approach to tackling the digital divide. As residents move into Casa Azul, they are welcomed not only into safe and stable housing but also into a digitally connected world of opportunities and possibilities.

We feel proud to be able to contribute. Equal Access is a partnership of Cruzio, local community institutions, and local philanthropists. It’s supported by many of our customers (thank you!) and other local donors who know how important quality internet is to every person. It’s part of treating people with dignity.

Every time we can contribute to the well-being of our community, we are going to try. Each piece may be small, and sometimes we feel pretty overwhelmed by the difficulty of curing our local problems. But the only way to tackle big problems is to take the first steps. This housing meets a deep and obvious need. We hope it will prove helpful.

You can help! Make a donation to the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County Equal Access fund. Or just add a small amount to your monthly Cruzio bill, and we will send it to the fund. Equal Access helps seniors and disabled people access health and social services, children get a better shot at online schoolwork, people looking for jobs find opportunities, and much more. Because we add our own contribution, Cruzio can make a small amount of money go a long way.