Scotts Valley: Key characters and famous folks

Famed filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock entertained celebrities and royalty at his estate above Scotts Valley.

Retired restaurant owner, current Rotary Club member and chapter president for the Friends of the Scotts Valley Library, Marc Winquist recognizes a reality in his hometown of 30 years: “It’s tough getting people who want to give back to the city.” Working people with families naturally spend their time, well, working and with their families. Civic engagement and volunteerism are often afterthoughts for residents. Perhaps the traditional forms of community involvement like civic groups and serving on a board of directors require a cultural shift to get more millennials involved. Winquist continues to do good work fundraising for the library and supporting young people with scholarships through the Rotary Club. He hopes more will join him in the coming years.

Susan O’Connor Fraser, Tam Communications: Susan O’Connor Fraser is always on vacation … well, sort of. The co-founder, executive producer and creative director of Tam Communications confesses that while she works a lot (correction: “a lot, a lot”), there is nowhere she’d rather be. “You know, sometimes, you come home from vacation and, just driving down the street, you want to go back to wherever you vacationed?” she asks. “Well, I never feel that way here. I come home every night and feel lucky.”

Robert Aldana, Keller Williams Realty: Ask any Scotts Vally-ite or Scotts Valley-an who knows the most about the area and chances are Robert Aldana’s name will come up. Aldana moved to Scotts Valley 25 years ago by accident and never looked back. “I stumbled upon Scotts Valley and didn’t know what it was; I bought my house sight unseen and fell in love,” he says. “People want to live here because of what we have: the hiking, state parks, the beach, some of the most amazing mountain biking.”

Looking back, Aldana says it has changed a bit — when he moved to the area there was no high school, and Scotts Valley Drive was a gravel road. “We are getting more diverse, there has been an infusion of different cultures in the area, which is beautiful,” he says. “People from all over the country and the world are moving here because of its location; we are seeing more people of color than ever. I am Mexican, and I see it, and it’s a wonderful thing.”

Angela Marshall, operations, Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce: Longtime resident Angela Marshall recalls a time when residents would have to go to Santa Cruz for amenities and nightlife, but times have changed.

“People are coming here for amenities and for the attractions that we have here, which is great,” Marshall says. “I have bumper stickers from the ‘60s and ‘70s that say Scotts Valley is ‘the best-kept secret, shh don’t tell anybody’ and it has a lady with a finger up to her mouth.” Now, the cat is out of the bag. “We have little boutique shops on Scotts Valley Drive in a little row,” she says. “They are delightful and feature a lot of our local artisans’ work. We have never really had anything like that before, so it’s wonderful.”

Greg Wimp, owner, Togo’s: Local resident and business owner Greg Wimp has lived in Scotts Valley for 21 years. Wimp is a former chief operating officer of a Silicon Valley company, but he gave up business years ago to transition to a job where he could be more involved in the local community. Now, Wimp owns Togo’s franchises in Scotts Valley, Capitola and Watsonville.

“At my last company we did research in the software development space and sold $200,000 research projects, now I just sell $8 sandwiches,” Wimp says. “It’s quite a bit different, and it’s been a good change. The community aspect is great.”

Famous folks

Steve Wozniak: Apple co-founder and engineer Steve Wozniak lived in Scotts Valley for a period of time. In fact, Wozniak crashed in his Beechcraft Bonanza airplane on takeoff from Sky Park airport in the 1980s. Though he survived, he lost a tooth and his memory of the accident.

Netflix: Netflix’s very first headquarters was established by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in Scotts Valley in 1997. Though the headquarters later moved up the highway to Los Gatos, Scotts Valley was the original Netflix home base back when it was a DVD-subscription company.

Alfred Hitchcock: The filmmaker lived in a mountaintop estate above the Vine Hill area for decades from 1940 into the ‘70s. Hitchcock had a house and vineyard where he and his family entertained celebrities and royals. Rumor has it he’d head down the hill to Marianne’s for ice cream.

Florence Owens Thompson: Made famous by Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” photograph taken during the Great Depression — you’ve seen it even if you don’t immediately know it — Thompson died in Scotts Valley in 1983. Thompson and her family spent a great deal of time in Santa Cruz County, and the iconic photograph was first published by the San Francisco News.

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