Blog Archives

April 13 – 19, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Justin Cummings stand on issues, Panetta’s robo calls, Goodbye Miriam Ellis, streamers and screeners, live here now. GREENSITE…will be back next week. KROHN…Voter reactions, Our Downtown, Empty Homes Tax. STEINBRUNER…Branciforte Fire District, Santa Cruz Water supply?, Kaiser and homes, sewage water, library cards and state parks tix. HAYES…Ice Plant. PATTON…Grover Cleveland and a corporate push back. MATLOCK…You can’t tell a book by its coverup. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…Income Tax.


CABRILHO COLLEGE 1967…FUTURE STUDENT HOUSING SITE? Plans appear to be underway for some student housing to be built on campus! This appears to be unique in our state. Here we can see what the campus looked like way back when and there hasn’t been much built since then.       

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE April 11 

ABOUT JUSTIN CUMMINGS FOR THIRD DISTRICT COUNTY SUPERVISOR. As previously mentioned (last week) I said I’d ask Justin about some of the issues and questions that folks are asking for his position. He was kind and patient enough to answer us about the Library, Greenway, and The Cotoni North Coast National Monument about to open soon. 

I asked and he answered… 

  1. Do you support the creating and building a new library where our Farmers Market now meets?

    In 2018, I was asked whether I supported the construction of a six story parking garage on top of a library on the lot where the farmers market sits.  As Vice Mayor, I upheld the community request to have an opportunity to receive more information about the possibility of renovating the library, which resulted in the creation of a subcommittee consisting of myself, Sandy Brown, and Donna Meyers.  The subcommittee met with many groups, heard about both library options from architects, and after considering both options unanimously elected to go with the mixed use option.  When we decided to go with the mixed use option and that we would be able to adjust the amount of parking and include housing, I worked to help address the community needs by advocating for affordable housing and reduced parking.  This is not a perfect scenario and I don’t think that this project meets the needs of all community members, but it includes community benefits that everyone cares about in our community, many of which can help address the need for a new library, affordable housing, reduced parking, which all help as we address issues related to climate change.  I understand that there are people in the community who are opposed to the project and I know that there are people in the community who see the benefits of a mixed use project and as a Council member have done what I could in my capacity to try to balance and meet the needs of the community.  If this item goes to the ballot in November, the community will have a chance to weigh in on this issue with their vote. 

  2. How would you vote on measure D? Do you support the Greenway trail program?

    Since running in 2018, I have been supportive of Rail and Trail and that has not changed.  I have met with Bud Colligan and have heard the arguments for removing rail, but what is clear is that there is a need in our country to make environmentally sustainable forms of mass transportation a reality in our community and we must move forward with building our trail adjacent to our rail line and moving forward with securing funding to make our rail line operational.  Although cost comes up as an issue, we must remember that California is the fifth largest economy in the world and the US is the largest economy in the world.  We only have one planet and it is our obligation to future generations to invest in rail as an environmentally sustainable way to move people around in our community.

  3. The creating of the Cotoni Coast Dairies National monument will have a huge effect on our North Coast. Have you connected with BLM? What do you foresee as the main effects?

    Given the fact that my attention has been stretched between working full time, being on council, and running for County Supervisor, I have not had the time to reach out to the BLM.  I have had the opportunity to meet with residents to hear their concerns regarding the Cotoni Coast Dairies National Monument.  Many of the concerns are related to the impacts on traffic, parking, and neighborhoods as a result of increased tourism, fire, trails and their proximity to many residential properties, among others.  As County Supervisor, I will work with both community members and government agencies to see how we can mitigate the negative impacts of the National monument, while still providing people with access to our open space”.

That’s what he stated…now we draw our own conclusions!! I forgot to ask him about Empty Homes Tax!!! Next week I’ll ask Ami Chen Mills those same questions.

GREENWAY AND ROARING CAMP RAILROAD. It’s a delight when I have to wait those very few times for the Roaring Camp trains trundle their way to cross the street near my home. I was delighted to see a huge NO ON D poster on the engine. Here’s what Roaring Camp states re their position on the RTC and Greenway…read it carefully.

ATTENTION PEOPLE WITH POWER!! Will someone with influence and know how please tell our Congressman Jimmy Panetta to stop making Robo-calls!!! What is his problem anyways?

MIRIAM ELLIS HAS LEFT THE STAGE. Miriam Ellis died a few days ago. She was a good friend, a great interviewee and a full time contributor to our community consciousness. Her establishing of UCSC’s International Playhouse and her deep commitment to the Santa Cruz Opera Society Incorporated were huge gifts to all of us. Her daughter sent us this link to an in memoriam statement that almost says it all….we’ll miss her. But it doesn’t mention her close friendship with Tom Lehrer and together they kept us in stitches!!

Be sure to tune in to my very newest movie streaming reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.

THE OUTLAWS. (AMAZON SERIES) (71RT). A Sad disoriented Christopher Walken is one of a few law breakers doing community service as they rehab a facility. It’s half comedy half worthwhile to watch. Poorly acted, dragging, and unbelievable. You’ll end up wondering just how bad Walken is doing health wise.

MOTHERING SUNDAY. (DEL MAR THEATRE).(77RT). A very tender well told story of four British generations and how they dealt with war, love, class and learning. Olivia Colman and Colin Firth both have small but meaningful roles. The skipping between decades becomes challenging to follow but it’s a well-directed, excellent film.

THE BUBBLE.(NETFLIX SERIES). This is a Judd Apatow directed comedy and I have never found any of his work laugh making or worth watching. It’s a takeoff on making a dinosaur thrill movie during covid/mask time. It takes on theater closing, pandemic panic, and David Duchovny must have been desperate to costar in it.  

TOKYO VICE. (HBO MAX SERIES). (85RT). This series could go somewhere intriguing. It stars an American Jewish student new crime reporter for a huge Tokyo newspaper learning just what Japanese mobs like the Yakusa do to stay in power. It’s fast, well written, neatly acted and will keep you involved.

ALL THE OLD KNIVES. (AMAZON PRIME) (MOVIE). (66RT). Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton are the leads in this worn out spy saga. They are ex-lovers and act as CIA agents investigating the hi jacking and crashing of a fully loaded passenger plane. Laurence Fishburne and Jonathan Price also appear from time to time while we all try to figure out who in the CIA is leaking info that caused the disaster. We’ve seen this all before.

JULIA. (HBO MAX). (100RT) Sarah Lancashire stars and really stars as Julia Childs in this funny yet very serious bio pic about how Julia created by herself the world famous cooking show. She had much help from her husband and from her dad’s money but it was Julia herself who made it all work. Both as a cook and a singular personality she was amazing. There are other documentaries out now about her but this one will tell you all you need to know.

PACHINKO.(APPLE SERIES) (98RT). A serious movie dealing with the complex history of how Japan took over Korea and the effects it still has on the citizens. It flips back and forth between 1915 and 1989 and contains the worship and respect both countries had and still has for Hirohito. It penetrates into the daughter’s life as she grows and matures and questions how her neighbors have been so humiliated all their lives. Well worth watching.

SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.  

SIN SENAS PARTICULARIES – “No Identifying Features”. (HBO MOVIE) (99RT). An exciting, revealing, deeply researched and tragic view of the lives of Mexican immigrants dealing with entry into and exit from the USA. A mother searches for he son who ran away probably to get to the United States. What she has to suffer under official hands is inhuman, illegal, and depressing and educational. An excellent film with superior photography.

YOU WON’T BE ALONE. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (93RT). A baby is stolen by a wolf-eatress and takes on the lives of many victims as she ages. It’s mysterious, violent, and takes place in a Macedonian village and countryside.  Noomi Rapace is just one of the lives the newly born takes over. It’s tricky, artsy, profound and also baffling. It’s not for the get happy film watcher.

SLOW HORSES. (APPLE SERIES). This opens with a spectacular car chase scene even though you’ve seen 1000’s on screen. It also lists Will Smith as exec. pdcr if that makes any difference. Gary Oldman is the crusty head of the official London authority and Kristin Scott Thomas works with him. It’s a well done spy drama at least as far as the first few episodes.

DEEP WATER.( HULU MOVIE) (37RT). Ben Affleck plays the hi tech rich husband who can’t stop his gorgeous wife from having multiple affairs for some reason. Tracy Letts is the beautiful, playful wife and together they create tension and unbelievability. The plot is full of holes, it happens in New Orleans and Oregon and no one needs to know more about this flop.

THE GIRL FROM PLAINVILLE. (HULU SERIES) (100RT). A very grim and tragic true story starring Elle Fanning and Chloe Sevigny. An 18 year old guy has severe mental problems and has a relationship (mostly online) with a witty, brilliant, self-confident girl. He considers suicide many times and to spoil this one she pushes him into actually killing himself. It takes place near Boston and it’s about her innocence or guilt that makes it so watchable.

JUVENILE JUSTICE. (NETFLIX SERIES). This South Korean drama features a very tight, tense woman judge takes on the details of the young offenders assigned to her court and both helps and hinders their cases. Well-acted, excellent production, and the judge becomes as vivid as a Sherlock Holmes. Watch it.


JEWEL THEATRE PRESENTS. Playing now through April 24 is “Remains To Be Seen”. Kate Hawley wrote the play and it’s a world premiere. Their program states…Every five years, a group of old drama department friends reunite. This year it’s at Jack and Clare’s and Clare is dreading it. Are these old friends really still friends, or are they just old habits drained over the years of any genuine fondness or rapport? It is certain that everyone will drink too much and Gordon will talk too much and Sissy will bring her damned little dog when she was specifically asked not to. On top of it all, recent widower Stuart is bringing a mysterious new love. What’s happened to their dreams and old ambitions? Good actors as they may have been, they can’t prevent the truth of their lives from making an appearance.  It features Paul Whitworth and Mike Ryan. Go here for tickets and info…


The Festival’s “Music in the Parks, part 2” “Music of Mexico” will feature William Faulkner on Jalisco Harp and the Mariachi Eterno directed by Russell Rodriguez. They’ll be at Laurel Park (London Nelson Comm. Center) on April 30 at 5:30 and May 1, 5:30 at Beach Flats Park. Free admission. 

CABRILLO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season and Returns to In-Person Concerts 60th Anniversary highlights on July 24-August 7. They include the return to in-person concerts with three world premiere commissions; the live orchestral premiere of Jake Heggie‘s INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Benjamin Beilman; and works commemorating women’s suffrage in America and exploring the recent impact of drought and wildfires in the Western United States.


April 11

Gillian will be back next week!

Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.


April 11


Walking and Talking to Voters

This past week, armed with a list of registered voters, I knocked on doors in Seabright, South of Laurel, and the University’s Family Student Housing neighborhoods. I was carrying both the Our Downtown, Our Future (ODOF) and Empty Homes Tax (EHT) petitions. While time is winding down on the 180 days each effort has to gather the 4000 signatures needed to make it onto the November ballot, I was buoyed by the reception I received in three distinct residential areas of our community. There are now approximately two weeks remaining for each campaign to turn in their petitions and have the Santa Cruz city clerk’s office, headed by Bonnie Bush, validate the signatures. There is now an almost collective holding of breath, a wait and see but collect those signatures gasp, within both campaigns. The road to get here has been arduous and often uncertain. Questions remain. If they make it to the ballot, will voters in this community embrace both of these progressive initiatives and will it constitute enough collective pushback to get corporate real estate and market-rate developers to back off and remove their fangs from Surf City? ‘Leave us alone,’ is a refrain I keep hearing from short and long-time community members. When is enough development enough? Will that collective shrug come in the form of Judge Potter Stewart’s concurring opinion in the case, Jacobellis v. Ohio, and the task of how to define pornography?

“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

Most residents I encountered this past week, 80 or so, know too much development when they see it, and Santa Cruz has embarked down that road many say. The leading candidate for derision right now is the inside-out appendix-looking nodules pock-marking the corner of Laurel and Pacific Avenue. Could the ongoing construction of that project, coming before we vote on two significant affordable housing and anti-market rate development initiatives, actually aid in the passing of both measures? Maybe.

Our Downtown Our Future

This initiative has been widely embraced by the community as evidenced in the enormous number of registered voters who signed the petition in short order. Not to take anything away from the organizers of this harrowing effort, but just the mention of the forced moving of the Farmer’s Market, the butchering of trees, and the building of cement houses for cars was a bit much for locals to stomach. “Where do I sign?” was a constant refrain petition-gatherers heard. And what’s not to like about the Our Downtown, Our Future vision? Defeating a soul-killing and greenhouse gas emitting large cement parking structure; electorally hugging ten heritage trees, which offer shade and a bit of solemnity to the farmers who venture into town each week to sell their fruits and vegetables at the market; designating multiple areas for hundreds of units of affordable housing; and finally, practicing what we’ve been preaching for more than a generation: the highest form of recycling is first, not consuming the product, and second, reusing what we’ve already paid for and bringing new life to it. In fact, there is not a greater good we can do in 21st century Santa Cruz than re-use the venerable, but now outdated, Church Street library building and then architecturally pull it into a real civic center formation with a “Black Lives Matter Plaza” yielding a resident meet-up point, strolling area, and free speech zone in the heart of our city. The ODOF initiative is community-centric, environmentally-friendly, and addresses three things that residents hold dear: the space for real affordable housing, a needed downtown park, and at last, a permanent home for the much beloved Farmer’s Market. Big things are still possible in Surf City, but only if we prepare ourselves for those gnarly waves and sometimes unpredictable weather. More than anything else, the city’s blundering ahead of the community has led to a profound appreciation among locals for the art of dreaming and contemplating and discussing what we really want for our community and what we want it to look like. So, thank you Martin Bernal (former empire builder) and Bonnie Lipscomb (current library-garage cheerleader who actually does not even live in Santa Cruz) and Mark Dettle (long-time non-city resident advocate for a parking garage and increasing the amount of revenue he can control through parking cars and building things.). Thank you for waking the community up and getting us engaged. There is nothing like a ballot initiative to create a community conversation, which is the beginning of a community process. While “the few” continue to make plans for moving the library, cutting down the trees, and building a concrete temple to commemorate the prior century, the many are forging ahead with a ballot measure that just might significantly alter what was once considered a done-deal. Enough of done-deals! Look out, the community is rising, and it is not pitch forks they are holding, but pens and petitions and soon, mail-in ballots. Onward!

Empty Homes Tax

Here we go, the last mile. We are almost there, and we can harbor little doubt that we can do this. Why is the Empty Homes Tax (EHT) a heavy lift? Likely because Americans, since birth, have been taught to be averse to the “T” word, TAX, and since the people of Holy Cross (Santa Cruz) are part of the 50 states, it is not unusual that our tax-supported public schools turn out tax-disliking pupils. But all taxes are not equal. The problem is, most folks are used to the kind of tax the current city council majority is advocating, adding an additional half-cent onto the sales tax. It’s a regressive tax, meaning those less comfortable in their standard of living have to pay it along with the very comfortable. Of course, the rich by being able to spend more money, will pay more in the end, but the poor bare a heavier burden when the state enacts such exactions, it cuts deeper into the work-class family budget. By contrast, the EHT will affect very few locals, force the wealthy to share in the community tragedy of leaving a home empty for extended periods of time, and the tax they pay will assist in acquiring existing properties, and building new ones, and maintain affordability on these entities in perpetuity…i.e. for the entire life of the property. Yes, it has been more difficult gathering signatures for the EHT than the ODOF petitions, but the difficulty is not without a silver lining too. The conversations with voters—homeowners, renters, and the houseless—have sometimes been difficult, precarious to navigate, but ever so healthy for a democracy. The word is out, leave a house vacant for more than 120 days in a calendar year, either rent it, live in it, sell it, or pay the $6,000 tax. It’s working in Oakland and Vancouver, Canada. Again, very few people who actually LIVE in Santa Cruz fall into this tax bracket. It is conservatively estimated that over $3 million will be generated from such a tax. The end of homelessness? No, but a significant, community-driven piece-of-the-housing-puzzle solution. This is the last week to sign the petition. If you haven’t, go to the EHT website and leave a message and someone will come to you with petition in hand to collect your John Hancock. Do it for the community. Do it to make a statement about the kind of community you want to reside in. Do it in hopes that the barista who served up that latte this morning, or the teacher your child seems so excited about that they jump out of bed to go to school, or the folks who picked up your recycling yesterday, or the local computer repair guy can not only all practice their craft in this city, but also live here with a modicum of dignity too. Of course, look out, a living wage initiative is next, and around $25 an hour seems fair, but let’s go one step at a time. Sign the petition to tax empty homes.

“In the midst of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, massive income and wealth inequality and the attacks on democracy, we cannot forget about the existential threat to our planet from climate change. The recent IPCC report was clear. We have to act boldly – and NOW.” (April 8)

The policy maker meets the visionaryAmi Chen Mills, who’s running for 3rd District Supervisor, meets up with Ron Swenson who envisions his Westside property, now the Homeless Garden Project, as an “EcoVillage,” that will include housing for the houseless, create a protection zone for the endangered red-legged frog, and maintain the garden as a productive training center for those transitioning out of homelessness. It will also keep the Pogonip intact as the community greenbelt it was designated to be by voters of long-ago.

Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at

Email Chris at


April 11


If you live in the Wildland Urban Interface areas of the County, you need to participate in the Scotts Valley Fire District Special Board Meeting this Wednesday and also the Happy Valley Town Hall Meeting this Thursday and voice support for establishing what is known as a “Good Fire Hub and Training Center” for Santa Cruz County and locating it at the Branciforte Fire Station.  Here is why.

Things are moving very quickly with the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO)  to dissolve the Branciforte Fire District, and merge with Scotts Valley Fire. 

 Scotts Valley Fire Board will be holding a Special (in-person) Meeting this Wednesday evening to approve the Pre-Application Merger Agreement for LAFCO.

The Agreement only mentions a potential additional Benefit Assessment Tax for Branciforte properties (estimated at $1000/parcel annually) for Scotts Valley to staff the Branciforte Station full time.  Will that Board support the idea of a “Good Fire Hub and Vegetation Management Hand Crew” pilot program at the Branciforte Station?  Unknown for sure, but unlikely.

First District County Supervisor Manu Koenig has called a Town Hall Meeting at the Happy Valley School for this Thursday evening (hybrid access) to discuss the future of the area’s emergency response and fire station.  

Will he let the people know that their neighborhood could easily be home to an award-winning Prescribed Burn Association and Vegetation Hand Crew pilot program that is modelled on the nationally-recognized success of CalFire Chief Marshal Turbeville in North Sonoma Fire District?  

‘Fire Whisperer’ Marshall Turbeville to receive national award

Oddly, he seems resistant to supporting it with any fervor.  Also curious is the fact that when he recently consulted local CAL FIRE leadership about instituting such a program, it was rejected because of “doubts about having a relatively green crew” doing the work.  Supervisor Koenig acquiesced.

The 14 Certified Firefighter Technician (FFT2) applicants who responded to Interim Branciforte Fire Chief Samantha Sweeden’s request for such just before she had to resign (limitation by her CAL FIRE retirement agreements) are NOT a “green crew”.  According to Branciforte FireWise Community Leader Mr. Chris Norton, who has worked tirelessly to support the incredible opportunity for Branciforte and beyond, the applicants are professional firefighters and vegetation management workers with loads of experience in fire defensible space project, prescribed burn projects, and have a deep interest in making good changes in our County to reduce future wildland fire risk.  

Mr. Jared Childress, Director of the Central Coast Prescribed Burn Association, sent a Proposal to Supervisor Manu Koenig, at his request, to present the plan for a “Good Fire Hub and Vegetation Hand Crew Training Center Pilot Program”.  (see below attached Pilot Program that is pennies on the dollar in costs but yielding tremendous benefit to the Branciforte area and beyond)

Why would local leaders, Scotts Valley Fire and CAL FIRE resist reducing risk, training more hand crews that could do the similar work that saved the town of Pescadero from burning in the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire, and that was so effective in Chief Turbeville’s community during the Walbridge Fire that he won national recognition???

Immediately following the devastating CZU Fire, the Santa Cruz County Fire Dept. Advisory Commission (FDAC) discussed the need for additional hand crews trained and available in our County, responding to then-Chief Ian Larkin’s repeated claim “we just didn’t have enough resources” to save the 911 homes that burned, and the fact that the number of prison inmate crews has dwindled and is virtually unavailable.

Here is an excellent article about the increasing use of “Good Fire” in California.

Of note is this:

“And yet another new initiative, outlined in AB-642, requires the state fire marshal “to develop a proposal to establish a prescribed fire training center.” The proposal is due by July 2023.”

Santa Cruz County needs a Prescribed Fire Training Center, has the first round of at least 14 qualified applicants to begin, and could use the Branciforte Fire Station as the Good Fire Hub for the region.

You need to weigh in on this Wednesday at the Scotts Valley Fire District Special Board Meeting and Thursday at the Happy Valley Town Hall meeting 

Happy Valley Neighborhood Town Hall

Thursday, April 14, 2022
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Hybrid Meeting: Happy Valley School, 3125 Branciforte Dr., Santa Cruz CA 95065 and on Zoom.

Join Zoom Meeting
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Meeting ID: 967 0831 8897
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Last Monday, the Santa Cruz City Water Commission heard what will be the framework for their group to consider monthly review of the Plan for the City’s future water supply needs.  

Ms. Rosemary Menard, Director of Water Dept., stated that conservation alone will not be enough, and regional transfers all rely on getting sufficient rainfall to meet demands.

Expect to hear monthly presentations about the projects that will be needed to meet future demands, the likes of the massive downtown Santa Cruz high-rises and UCSC expansion:

  • April 4, 2022 – o Presentation, discussion of and feedback on the Securing Our Water Future Framework o Presentation on the Water Reliability Projects to be evaluated
  • May 2, 2022 – o Presentation on and Approval of Evaluation/Decision-Making Criteria o Update on the water system vulnerability analysis work being done in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts team. 
  • June 6, 2022 – o Phase 1 of Project Evaluations
  • July/August/September – dates to be determined likely 2 meetings o University of Massachusetts work on climate change vulnerability analysis
               o Phase 2 of Project Evaluations, including the impact/influence of the vulnerability assessment work 

  • October 3, 2022 – o Draft final technical memoranda on project comparisons, draft Council Resolution and draft Council Policy 
  • November 7, 2022 o Water Commission action on recommendations to Council on Securing Our Water Future, including all the elements described in this report, for Council action on November 22, 2022. 

General business and matters of public interest, council chambers/zoom (PAGE 6.7)

PAGE 6.8

Water supplemental supply:

And, while water transfers and exchanges may be effective elements to include as part of an ASR project, in order for Santa Cruz to develop the necessary drought supply some form of active recharge would be needed to meet the City’s yield goal. 

Supposedly, all meetings are recorded and available on the Commission website


Many thanks to Santa Cruz County Planning Dept. staff Ms. Stephanie Hansen for providing the information about the new law requiring the County to concurrently secure location(s) for the 100 affordable housing units if the Kaiser Medical Facility location is re-zoned for that use instead.

SB-8 Housing Crisis Act of 2019    


By the end of next year, the State may change the rules and allow Soquel Creek Water District to directly sell the Modified PureWater Soquel Project treated sewage water to their customers.  Where do you suppose the District might begin such a pilot Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) program?  Seacliff, where Supervisor Zach Friend lives?    My guess is the disadvantaged community of Live Oak, and here is why: 

The District is currently building the Modified PureWater Soquel Project treatment plant in Live Oak, which is technically not even in their District.  The plan is to further pump that water to three pressure injection wells in Aptos, then pump it out again after a few months, and sell it to customers.   

However, if energy costs continue to rise, and DPR becomes legal, it would make sense that the District would look for ways to reduce energy costs by selling the treated sewage water directly to customers.  While the District’s own customers are on the south side of 41st Avenue, potential agreements with the City of Santa Cruz to sell the treated sewage water to customers in Live Oak would be cheaper.  

Now, think about the water demand in Live Oak, a disadvantaged community. Most of the County’s planned dense growth and infill development is for Live Oak. And think about the proposed large Kaiser Medical Facility planned to be built just a few blocks away from the Modified PureWater Soquel Project treatment plant.  The single significant and adverse impact identified in the Kaiser Project EIR is the increased water demand associated.  In fact, the EIR recommended the Project be built with a Statement of Overriding Consideration that admitted there would be significant and negative impacts on groundwater levels in the area inherent, but the benefit outweighed their problems imposed.

Do you think the Kaiser Medical Facility might be the first willing customer of the DPR treated sewage water?   Please let me know your thoughts.  

I suppose the good news would be Kaiser could install high-grade carbon filters to help remove the Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC’s) that are not regulated by the State Dept. of Drinking Water and that cannot be completely removed by the Modified PureWater Soquel Project treatment process.

Here is information on that soon-to-be-finalized State approval that would allow Soquel Creek Water District to sell that expensive treated sewage water directly to customers:

Process to finalise DPR regulations

The SWB is currently working with an Expert Panel to review the proposed DPR criteria in the DPR Framework and Addendum. SWB requires that the Expert Panel make a determination that the criteria are protective of public health. As a result, the proposed criteria may be revised by SWB as part of the review process. The Expert Panel will complete its review in 2022 and SWB is on schedule to finalise the DPR criteria by December 2023.

Development of direct potable reuse regulations in California


A recent Mercury News article highlighted the multiple webcams in the Bay Area that enable the public to unobtrusively watch raptor nesting and young in various areas. It is amazing to observe the behavior, but not for the faint of heart.

Here is a link to a local livestream owl nesting box, provided by Humane Wildlife Services: Watch the Haute Owls Live Stream


Many thanks to the reader who sent this good news!

The 2021/22 State Budget included initiatives to enable safe and equitable access to state parks and open spaces for Californians. A $9.1 million one-time General Fund investment was included in the budget to launch a state parks pilot to expand free parks pass distribution, especially for youth in disadvantaged communities. The pilot includes the California State Park Adventure Pass for fourth graders, placement of physical passes at every public library in the state for checkout by library patrons, and a revamped Golden Bear Pass Program for families receiving CalWORKs. 

California State Library Parks Pass


Make sure you participate in these weekly meetings happening now that will shape what our County looks like in the future.  Last week’s Transportation Element was better-attended than previous sessions, but this week’s meeting about Agriculture and Open Space will need your voice, particularly when there is language about Watsonville annexation but no clear identification of locations.

You can listen to previous meetings and get an idea of what the process is like

Last week’s Transportation discussion was again pre-written scripts read by planners. However, they did not openly talk about the Plan’s use of the “Dutch Intersection Design” featured in the document until a member of the public asked about it (see page 39)

Also, no one discussed the diagram proposed for the Soquel Drive area near Cabrillo College (see page 4) and how all that would fit in the existing spaces

You can find this week’s Chapter 5 (and all others) here
We all need to please participate and submit online comments here


Last week, on April 7, the Capitola Planning Commissioners failed to understand the value of preserving the historic home at 1410 Prospect Avenue, approving demolition with the comment that “It’s nothing more than a glorified barn.”  

The Commission did not seem to care that the Applicant admitted he had not made contact with the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) regarding the problem that the new location of the rebuild will encroach into the railway corridor right-of-way whenever the new garage door is fully opened.  The Commission approved the Applicant’s Variance to have a 0′ setback, only asking what the landscape plan might be.  Hmmmm…..

The Commission also paid no attention to the multiple pleas from residents and members of the public to preserve the healthy Heritage Cypress Tree on the lot.  No discussion at all.

Item 4C

You can watch the recorded proceedings here (about Minute 1:16 or so)

It was disappointing.  I wonder what the RTC will think of all this if and when the Applicant contacts them? 

Maybe the Capitola City Council would like to know about this when they meet this Thursday, April 14 at 7pm  



Cheers, Becky

Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.

Email Becky at


April 10


Succulent carpets sporting pale yellow, rich magenta, or light purple flowers blanket the bluffs and hang over the cliffs along the coast of California. Joining oleander and cotoneaster as historic roadside plants, ice plant has been dropped by public works landscapers for many good reasons. Several species of ice plants are quite invasive in parts of California, spreading 3 feet each year, wiping out rich assemblages of native plants and changing wildlife communities. 

Native Ice Plant??!

When my mentors taught me the native flora, they wanted me to recognize the difference between the ‘native’ and non-native ice plant species. However, the ‘native’ ice plant turned out not to be native, proven by a clever scientist who sleuthed for a pollen record in pond sediment from an ancient pond in Marina, California on the Monterey Bay. The trick is to find an old pond, drill into the sediment with a hollow tube, and pull out a long plug of mud: deeper muck is older. Scientists can reference ash layers from volcanoes in the sediment and use carbon dating of bits of organic matter to index the history in the sediment core. In that pond sediment, they discovered ice plant pollen beginning in the 1600’s and occurring steadily in the pond sediment ever since. That was the age of lots of Old World species’ arrival…a time when invasive grasses and herbs spread rapidly across the landscape. Some species spread faster than the invading people so that the first Old World botanists didn’t know whether something was native or not. How did ice plant get there?

South Africa: iceplant home

South Africa is home to many ice plant relatives. That Mediterranean region is a biodiversity hot spot for many interesting plants, including plants in the ice plant family. Many ice plant relatives have stunningly bright colors and thin, reflective petals. There might still be a patch of ice plant relatives in the South African collection at the UCSC Arboretum. When I worked there, I came across that patch on a sunny spring day and was mesmerized by the color, gazing at first one intensely bright color and then the next. Peeling my eyes away from those flowers, I was shocked to find a world of temporarily muted color (a world of gray!). Something in my eyes had been overloaded and it took a while to get normal colors back. Only a few of the South African ice plant relatives have become weedy in California- not to say that more won’t in the future, should they find their way via the nursery trade.


Scurvy is a horrible disease of malnourishment caused by too little Vitamin C. Part of the ‘success’ of the Imperialist British Navy is due to the recognition of the need to pack limes on board ships, earning those sailors the name ‘limeys.’ Some sailors might have been better called ‘iceys’ but that term doesn’t appear in the history books. The term for ice plant seed pods was “Sea Fig,” and the fruit was packed aboard ships to combat scurvy the same way limes did. 

Tasty Treats

Ice plant fruit is ripe when the pods are wrinkly and shriveled, having narrowed from their once plump shiny tautness just after the flower fades. If you try eating one too early, it is very disappointing. Wait a while and you get to enjoy sweet, tart, and salty fruit loop flavor. Like figs, ice plant seeds are on the inside of the fruit, suspended in a sticky, stretchy slightly slimy gelatinous goo- that’s the tasty stuff to harvest out of the pods. I am pretty picky about where to harvest the fruits because of what I’ve seen dogs do on ice plant carpets. The biggest flowering of ice plant is under way now, so you have to wait a while for the pods to ripen.


We bipeds aren’t the only ones who like the ice plant fruit- they are favored food for all sorts of small mammals. The moisture in the fruit might be attractive, but the protein-rich seeds are nutritious – so much so that all that food elevates small mammal populations above what might normally occur. Ground squirrel, rat, and rabbit numbers increase, and herds of these animals scurry into areas surrounding the ice plant patches and graze down native vegetation, making way for still more ice plant with seeds dispersed in the critters’ poop. Sit on some of the large cliff-erosion combating rock piles near West Cliff’s ice plant carpets some evening and watch the cracks between the rocks. You will probably get to see part of that ice-plant fed thriving rat population.

Salting the Earth

Feeding the ice plant gardening small animals is one way that the plant is clever, but there’s an even more genius method of invasion: salt. Ice plant is very salt tolerant. As it grows it concentrates salts in the soil under it, creating more saline conditions than much of the native ocean bluff flora can tolerate. 

Biocontrol story

As I mentioned above, there once was a fondness for ice plant for stabilizing soil along roads and railroads. Many older readers probably recall ice plant lined roads; CalTrans maintained at least 6,000 acres of ice plant in the 1970s. Native plant enthusiasts never really liked that ice plant landscaping, long recognizing the species’ invasibility, and so they rejoiced when an iceplant pest made it to the New World and started killing ice plant patches. The scale insect was taking a serious toll on highway and railroad plantings, and native plant conservationists were transporting sick ice plant to new areas to spread the pest. Others regarded the pest with disdain, and they ended up winning. Cal Trans funded and UC Berkeley launched a biological control program to fight the ice plant pest. UC researchers found a few species of wasps that controlled the scale insects and released those wasps in masses. The wasps established and now control the ice plant destroying pest.  

Removing Iceplant

Don’t worry: ice plant is controllable! Volunteers for the California Native Plant Society and other groups have embarked on ice plant pulling sprees to protect particularly rich areas of dunes and ocean bluffs. While the plants are quite heavy, they aren’t particularly well rooted, so are easy to yank. Pulled up parts of the plants are piled high and slowly decompose. You have to keep coming back to make sure some of the piled plants don’t re-root, but that follow up work isn’t very hard. And, one typically finds a few plants that were so small they got missed the first time pulling in an area. Ice plant is easy to recognize, so you might get to know it and pull it when it is out of place. Turn a pulled plant upside down, roots in the air, and it will probably die. After a while, the bare patches left from pulling ice plant might grow native plants. Often, old patches of ice plant leave behind a thick carpet of dead leaves and salty soil that takes some time to get back to something that can support native plant species. Hopefully, this essay will help prevent more people from planting ice plant in new places!

Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at:

Email Grey at


April 9

#99 / Grover Cleveland And A Corporate Push Back

Grover Cleveland, pictured above, was the 22nd and the 24th President of the United States, the only person ever to have served two non-consecutive terms as president. Cleveland is not, I think, generally thought of as any kind of political progressive. However, based on some information from Heather Cox Richardson, a professor of history at Boston College and the author of an influential daily blog, “Letters from an American,” we might want to rethink that impression. 

If you don’t already subscribe to Richardson’s blog (there is a free option available), I commend it to you. I consider “Letters from an American” to be an important daily meditation on our national history, written each day as that history is being made. 

On March 12, 2022, Richardson said the following (you can click the link for her whole discussion): 

In our history, the United States has gone through turning points when we have had to adjust our democratic principles to new circumstances. The alternative is to lose those principles to a small group of people who insist that democracy is outdated and must be replaced by a government run by a few leaders or, now, by a single man….

The Founders’ concept that all men were created equal and had a right to consent to the government under which they lived, the heart of the Declaration of Independence, was revolutionary. For all that it excluded Indigenous Americans, Black colonists, and all women, the very idea that men were not born into a certain place in a hierarchy and could create a government that reflected such an idea upended traditional western beliefs.

From the beginning, though, there were plenty of Americans who doubled down on the idea of human hierarchies in which a few superior men should rule the rest. They argued that the Constitution was designed to protect property alone and that as a few men accumulated wealth, they should run things. Permitting those without property to have a say in their government would mean they could demand that the government provide things that might infringe on the rights of property-owners. These undercurrents have always tossed our republic, but four times in our history, new pressures have brought these two ideas into open conflict. In the 1850s, 1890s, and 1930s and in the present, we have had to fit our democracy to new circumstances … (emphasis added). 

Most of us are painfully aware of the challenges that face our democracy today. And most of us know the basics about the 1850s, and the subsequent Civil War, fought to determine whether a nation “of the people, by the people, and for the people” would survive, or would, instead, “perish from the earth.” Most of us also know something about the 1930s, when the Great Depression put democracy to the test, and the federal government, acting on behalf of ordinary men and women, put in place reforms that began a fifty-year period in which national prosperity was, at least to some significant extent, shared generally. 

Less well-known, I think, is the period of the 1890s, and the challenges to democracy during those years. Here is what Richardson has to say about those years (and about Grover Cleveland): 

In the 1890s, the rise of industrialism led to the concentration of wealth at the top of the economy. Steel baron Andrew Carnegie celebrated the “contrast between the palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the laborer,” for although industrialization created “castes,” it created “wonderful material development,” and “while the law may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it insures the survival of the fittest in every department.” Those at the top were there because of their “special ability,” and anyone seeking a fairer distribution of wealth was a “Socialist or Anarchist…attacking the foundation upon which civilization rests.” Instead, he said, society worked best when a few wealthy men ran the world, for “wealth, passing through the hands of the few, can be made a much more potent force for the elevation of our race than if it had been distributed in small sums to the people themselves.

Once again, people of all political parties came together to reclaim American democracy. Although Democrat Grover Cleveland was the first to complain that “corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters,” it was Republican Theodore Roosevelt who is now popularly associated with the development of a government that regulated the excesses of big business. He complained about that “small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power,” and ushered in the Progressive Era with government regulation of business to protect the ability of individuals to participate in American society as equals (emphasis added).

The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held (most recently in the Citizens United case) that corporations are “persons,” and that corporations are thus entitled to all the privileges, immunities, and deference owed to any human individual. Let us not forget Grover Cleveland! And let us especially not forget his statement that “corporations…should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law….”

Corporations are not like individual human persons. They are our own creations – “creatures” – that do not exist independently of our laws, but that must be subject to the law in every respect. For democracy to prevail over the money power, we must ensure that our corporate creatures are in fact made subject to the laws that the public at large establishes. If we cannot find a way to put corporations under our democratic control, then they will be our masters, as Grover Cleveland warned us, and democracy itself will have failed. 

Richardson’s March 12, 2022, letter ends with these words: 

If history is any guide, we are at the point when voters of all parties must push back, to say that we do, in fact, believe in the principles stated in the Declaration of Independence, that all people are created equal, and that our government is legitimate only if we have a say in it.  

Pushing back against the corporations that act as though they are our masters is our political task for this time – and with democracy itself at stake.  

Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at

Email Gary at


April 11


Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice movement on the J-6 investigation is appearing to be on target, though doubters criticize the speed and apparent lack of progress. However, seeking $34.1 million to hire more lawyers to bring American traitors to justice in this complicated trauma, will placate some skeptics. Deputy AG Lisa Monaco offered, “regardless of whatever resources we seek or get, let’s be very, very clear, we are going to continue to do these cases. We are going to hold these perpetrators accountable, no matter where the facts may lead us, and as the attorney general has said, no matter what level. We will do these cases.” While the Watergate investigation took years, one fear is that the Republicans will take back power in the midst of this inquiry, and dismiss the entire process, returning those Stars & Bars flags to the rioters. Some punishments are being handed out, but the history of pardons after the Civil War speak loudly, and our failure to abolish the Confederate cause and punish its leaders has cast a shadow on the nation from which we have yet to unchain ourselves. Slapping Mitch’s face and refusing to leave the room isn’t going to cut it in this instance, and guess who avoids a ten year ban?

Under scrutiny are texts from Donald Trump Jr. to White House chief-of-staff Mark Meadows following the 2020 election, even before the vote count was tallied, stating that, “we have operational control” for ensuring that the election could be overturned, reinstating his father as dictator. Junior lays out several ideas for subverting the Electoral College, among them using the Republican Senate majority, and swing state legislatures selecting different slates of electors. Though his legal team claims that the texts may have originated elsewhere, and he was just passing them along, it may be simple enough to prove otherwise. Simply place Rudy Giuliani before cameras at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, and he won’t be able to control himself – operationally, that is. 

Though he praised her highly after Biden’s nomination, Senator Graham casts his first ever ‘no’ vote in opposition to a Supreme Court nominee, against Ketanji Brown Jackson, being one of the most contentious questioners during her hearings, criticizing her ‘lack of a judicial philosophy’. His vote was just one of the Republican opposition who voted against her; however, three GOP senators crossed over to vote with Democrats to push her over the line…Collins, Romney, and Murkowski. A tied Judicial Committee vote allowed the nominee to be brought before the Senate for the final vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had put public and private pressure on Senate Republican colleagues to oppose President Biden’s nominee, despite the historic nature of her nomination to be the first Black woman on the court. McConnell dug in against Biden’s nominee, arguing the vote isn’t about “race or gender” but about Jackson’s record, which he says is too soft on crime and indicates she’ll likely turn into an activist judge on the bench. Mitch is quite obviously ignoring the tag team of ‘Ginny’ and Clarence Thomas, who he has defended as receiving “clumsy bullying from the political branches” in reference to Judge Thomas’ handling of cases related to the 2020 election. The senator praises the solon “for his decades of impeccable service on the court, all while being the recipient of an inappropriate pressure campaign.” 

And speaking of pressure, former-FoxNews man, Chris Wallace, found his presence at the right-wing channel “increasingly unsustainable,” as he found a new home at CNN’s new streaming service. His departure was a blow to Kremlin-praised Fox which had depended upon his voice of reason, at least compared to the ranks of the swamp denizens there, but he grew tired of the debate over ‘who won the 2020 election?’ and ‘was J-6 an insurrection?’. The questioning of truth wore him down, with no hope of it affecting other FoxNazis, of course.

Yet another impending move according to Axios, from the White House to MSNBC, is White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, who will likely be in a cable-news position. Resignation rumors have been floating for months, possibly with negotiations at CNN, as well, but Psaki is “confirming nothing.” So, until we hear further, we will have to let beauty contest judge Donald Trump have the last word, as he describes her as “the woman with the really beautiful red hair. You know she’s going to MSNBC…they need a redhead. They don’t have a redhead over there, so they need a redhead.” Got that? Psaki! Redhead! Look for her!

In Texas, a lawsuit filed in 2017 by a high school student, was settled for $90,000, in which educators had harassed and punished the kid for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. The student felt that the pledge’s words, “justice and freedom for all,” are not honored by our country, therefore, no respect was warranted; and, for this the grade of ‘0’ was handed out – a ‘fail’. Civil rights attorney Kallinen, said, “The school district’s efforts to stop a student’s free speech were astounding, and that the school staff needs to teach the Constitution, not violate it.” Again, a perfect example of obsessiveness over the word ‘Freedom,’ so just do as we say and nobody gets hurt! 

Attendees at Trump’s ‘Save America Rally’ in Michigan cheered loudly when ’45’ suggested our military should go back into Afghanistan to recover the “finest military equipment in the world that was left behind when we withdrew in August,” and denouncing it as “the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.” Perhaps our former Commander-in-Tweet forgot that he issued an order in November 2020 to withdraw our troops, after negotiating an agreement with the Taliban earlier that year for the pullout. And you can bet that the Trumpa-Loompas knew nothing at all about the circumstances to begin with, or having the collective memory of a pond full of koi, simply forgot. 

Headaches galore continue for the Republicans, with Trump continuing to grift his way, collecting contributions into his personal accounts from the unsuspecting believers who look forward to his resurrection in 2024, as lesser party loyalists look on with envy and heap praise on Blitzkrieg Bozo, hoping to get an endorsement along with a campaign handout. Eye-rolling in party ranks resulted when Trump asked his “friend who he gets along great with”, Vlad ‘Shootin’ Putin, to release some dirt on the Bidens, just as many Republicans are asking Biden to get tougher with Putin in response to his invasion of Ukraine. Who knows what “Russia, if you’re listening…” request will come next? 

Trump aced out his official White House photographer, Shealah Craighead, who had plans for her photo book portraying the MAGAman’s years as president; but, by preempting her in releasing his own book entitled “Our Journey Together”, using her taxpayer-owned trove of photos, and those of other official photographers for his own profit, Craighead was left in the cold. Craighead had a tentative deal with a publisher and a commitment from Trump to write the foreword, for which he would receive a cut of her advance money. But a coup by The Trump Crime Family, and Winning Team Publishing, a company suddenly started by Don Junior and a Republican operative, rolled the presses, and delivered the product along with a slap to the face of Craighead. The book has a base price of $75, with price escalating to $230 for a signed copy, and estimates that $20 million has been realized by Boss Tweet. Some photos are captioned with Trump’s trademark black Sharpie, featuring snarky insults and distasteful, despicable commentary, along with the expected Narcissistic praises for himself and his ‘successes.’ His next book is rumored to be a compilation of cell phone shots taken during the January 6, 2021 insurrection, working title being “Pardon Me, Boys, But Your Car Warranty Has Expired…Let Me Help!” 

A keen observer says, “Thinking about Rush Limbaugh and how, now that he’s dead, you never, ever hear about him. No one mentions anything he did. Because what he did had no value. It contributed nothing worthwhile to the culture. Nothing of lasting value! He just made anger…then he died and was instantly replaced by a fleet of little replicas…creating nothing of interest or artistic value to anyone. Seriously, what a way to make a living.” – Dana Gould, comedian

Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email:


EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at you will find his most recent Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog


“The best measure of a man’s honesty isn’t his income tax return. It’s the zero adjust on his bathroom scale”.      
~Arthur C. Clarke

“The income tax has made liars out of more Americans than golf”.    
~Will Rogers

“I have always paid income tax. I object only when it reaches a stage when I am threatened with having nothing left for my old age – which is due to start next Tuesday or Wednesday”.    
~Noel Coward


He was such an amazing talent! Enjoy some vintage Robin Williams…

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