This photo made in 2004 by John Pilge.

On October 8, 1991, the City of Santa Cruz declared itself a Nuclear Free Zone by authority of city policy 11.4. The policy reads in part: "The City Council of the City of Santa Cruz hereby declares the City to be a Nuclear Free Zone. No nuclear weapon or component of a nuclear weapon, enriched nuclear material or radioactive waste shall be produced, transported, stored, processed, disposed of, nor used within the City of Santa Cruz." The policy also states: "The City shall place and maintain signs reading "Nuclear Free Zone" at all City limit sign post locations. The signs shall be clearly visible and its letters at least equal in size to those on the nearest city limit sign."

The date on the policy is November 17, 1998. That is when it was updated. Because of this, some sources erroneously have it enacted in 1998. A typo on the web site of the City of Santa Cruz shows, "Last Modified: 12/30/1899."

History The signs were targets of theft. Not for any political reason. It just looks cool to have a sign in a room showing the space to be a "NUCLEAR FREE ZONE."

By March of 2007 most of the signs saying the area was a nuclear free zone had disappeared. The signs cost over $200 each to install. The city has not been in any hurry to replace signs that do not affect immediate traffic safety. A few other signs have gone missing and not replaced (such as the graphic for "Geese Crossing" near the harbor area).

The nuclear free zone policy for Santa Cruz has caused the city to be mentioned in a few articles on no nukes. A photo of one of the signs appeared in the Journal of Atomic Scientists. Locally, the "fallout" from the policy on being a nuclear free zone has been met with indifference, pride and humor. ("In the event of a nuclear attack, those who bomb Santa Cruz are in big trouble.")

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