BRATTON…about sports records, rental registry, John Leopold and New Orleans, movies. GREENSITE…on Mission St. development. SCHENDLEDECKER…oversized vehicle ordinance. STEINBRUNER…excessive housing numbers, County fair board changes, widening highway 1, Porter Street bridge. HAYES…conservation grazing for grassland diversity. PATTON…Yesterday’s papers. MATLOCK…getting away with the first offense on the road to perdition. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week. QUOTES…”Abortion”
DATELINE April 24
MOOT / MUTE POINT. This has had me stumped for a long time. When we look back 10 or 20 years we quickly see that when another world record in track, swimming, high jumping, marathons, even hammer toss and discus throw has been broken, it’s always and only by a fraction of a second or inch. How come no one breaks these records by what will be possible to achieve in the years to come?
RENTAL REGISTRY. Bound to be controversy about this one but let’s work over the concept of having a rental registry here in Santa Cruz. Salinas and San Jose are doing it, Monterey is considering it and with our constant bickering between UCSC students, developers and the homeless it seems like it would only develop into a good thing. Here’s the link to San Jose’s Rental registry. As someone whispered, “Yeh, but it could lead to rent control”. Check it out before your next to final decision.
NEW CAREER? It was just announced that our former County Supervisor John Leopold will be moderating a panel centering on folk art and music in New Orleans at the Festival on Friday, May 5. John is now managing director of Arhoolie Records which Chris Strachwitz started back in the late 50’s. Another local connection is Kitchen Sister Davia Nelson who is on the Arhoolie Board of Directors. To further illuminate…”The Arhoolie Foundation is rooted in the life’s work of its founder Chris Strachwitz and his acclaimed independent label Arhoolie Records. Our mission is to document, preserve, and celebrate blues, Cajun, zydeco, gospel, jazz, Tejano/Norteño, old-time, and other tradition-based styles of music through archival preservation, live performance, films, community and educational outreach, exhibits, and direct support to artists”.
I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie 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.
CHEVALIER. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (MOVIE) (6.6 IMDB). A genuine period piece complete with gorgeous costumes about the almost totally unknown true story of Joseph Bologne a black violinist/composer who was Mozart’s contemporary. He was given the title of Chevalier de Saint Georges and served and performed under Marie Antoinette. It’s a bit much of typical Hollywood spectacle but it does help the world acknowledge the genius of this unknown musician/composer. Go for it.
DROPS OF GOD. (APPLE TV SERIES) (8.3 IMDB). A rather far-fetched story adapted from a manga (graphic novel) is about a wealthy wine collector who dies and leaves his gazillion dollar wine collection to the winner of a wine tasting. It’s his estranged daughter and a wine expert who must compete. Lots of wine talk and much delving into the lives of Dad, daughter, and the Japanese wine expert. Maybe if you really like wines you’ll savor this one…but no hurry.
RAIN DOGS. (HBO MAX SERIES) (6.8 IMDB). An odd but well done dramedy that centers on a poor momma trying her best to raise her daughter when the world just seems against them. All involved are in the destitute poor world and just their struggles are well worth watching. It is however gross and crude in certain scenes but overall it’s a fine way to spend your time.
THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME. (APPLE TV SERIES) (7.0 IMDB) If you’ve ever OR never been to the Sausalito house boat “city”, this is a must see. Jennifer Garner heads the cast as a mom whose nicely behaved husband suddenly disappears from his failing tech business. So Mother Garner and the stepdaughter work hard to not just survive but to find out where Dad disappeared to. Excellent series so far!!
ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED. (HBO MAX) (7.6 IMDB). A very detailed and well done documentary about the Sackler family. That’s the family who made millions if not billions from their Purdue Pharma Company that produced and sold OxyContin. Aside from their obvious payoffs to the world of art, to date over 100,000 have died from overdosing on OxyContin and their earlier product Valium. It’s not exciting even dull at times when they get close to dull and unlikeable Sackler family members. It’ll probably make you wonder how our American system allows financial wars and victories like this.
THE LAST KINGDOM: THE SEVEN KINGS MUST DIE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). Another attempt to copy the enormous success of Game Of Thrones (2011) this super violent costume epic dates back to the reuniting of England around 866 to 878. That’s when the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons fought tooth and claw. Early Denmark fits in there too, but there’s no depth to any character and you really won’t care about what happens to anyone in the cross over plots.
QUEENMAKER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.8 IMDB). This Korean film is a very serious critique on not just the political but the fashion, and the marketing, and the business of sex in Seoul, Korea. There’s blackmail, suicide, and double crossing and it’s a very well made movie. There’s a mayor involved and the exposing of what went on and continues to go on behind that particular office. 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 Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.
BARRY. (HBO MAX) (8.4 IMDB) Now in its season #4 it manages to re-tell the complex plot behind standup comic, murderer and director Bill Hader. Henry Winkler has been the co-star and moving force behind the long complex and highly enjoyable plot. It’s funny, tragic and well worth getting involved and re-checking the earlier seasons, which are available.
ENYS MEN. (DEL MAR THEATRE).(6.2 IMDB). To enjoy (or even understand the plot you need to know that “ENYS MEN” means “Stone Island” and has nothing to do with “MEN”. You’ll be even further ahead if you realize that the lead is a woman volunteer who goes to a tiny Cornish island (England) to study and record natures effects on some flowers. She goes through lots of loneliness and near insanity. It’s a fine film IF you remember who she is and why she’s there.
HOLY SPIDER. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.3 IMDB). A woman reporter from Tehran in 2001-2002 faces all sorts of threats, dangers, and bloodshed as she works to find the killer of street workers/prostitutes/young girls. There’s opium and lots of drugs and suspicious suspects everywhere. A nice family man is suspect and brought to trial. Fine movie and you’ll stay alert.
WHERE HANDS TOUCH. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.5 IMDB). It’s 1944 in Germany and Hitler’s force and strength are everywhere. The young boys in Germany are naturally split between pro and Con Hitler beliefs. There’s concentration camps, racial issues and good filming techniques through it all…go for it.
FLORIDA MAN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.7 IMDB). A former cop friend of a drug dealer goes to Florida to find a young, beautiful but wayward girl buddy. It’s billed as a dramedy which means it’s supposed to be part laughs/part drama. It’s actually a little of each and not worth thinking about.
WAR SAILOR. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.5 IMDB). A deep and involved plot focused on the lives of mostly Norwegian sailors and before, during and after the German invasion of Norway. It gets behind the fears, motives, bravery and human reactions to war. It’s very real, well-acted, excellent camera work and well worth watching.
FARAWAY. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.7 IMDB). This is a must see for all the Croatians and fans of Croatia in our area. It’s in German with subtitles and centers on a woman trying to sell her inherited cliff house with a view. It’s listed as a romantic comedy and it is. Great photography, sincere plot, and it’ll remind you of early 1940’s Hollywood comedies….go for it. Yes, Donna Mekis loved this movie!
The above project is proposed to replace the current Food Bin and Herb Room at Mission and Laurel streets. On April 18th the developers, architects, property owners and city planner Ryan Bane held, via zoom, the city-required community meeting for significant projects. Sentinel reporter Aric Sleeper, who in my opinion is an excellent reporter, covered the meeting well so I won’t repeat all the details: just add a few observations.
As you can see from the above rendition, the architects from Workbench are employing that old trick the eye routine: place people or cars in the foreground so the building in the background appears smaller. Make no mistake about it, butterflies aside, this 5-story building, just one story shorter than the 6- story under construction at Front, Laurel and Pacific will dramatically alter the look, feel and scale of Mission Street. It will also cast the single- story houses behind it in perpetual morning shade.
There was no conversation on the zoom meeting. The public was allowed to write questions in the Q & A and the developers cherry-picked which ones to answer verbally.
The building is mixed-use which means commercial on the bottom floor with fifty- nine SRO (Single Room Occupancy) units in the four stories above. Each SRO will be 287.5 square feet, and all are rentals. The current owners of the Food Bin, who took over ownership of the shops in 2018 said their motivation for the project is to “have a more polished environment”, to “have a fun, housing and community meeting place”, to “breathe life into their beloved stores”, to “be more sustainable and more modern.” That, plus I guess the profit from 59 units of housing in a hot housing market. No one begrudges people making money off their properties, but some, especially those living behind may begrudge the impact of the mass and height of this development on their quality of life. Others may begrudge a further loss of a sense of place that is happening all over town. In response to some criticism along these lines, one of the owners stated that such high rises will happen all along Mission St. so if it is not they who build it someone else will.
It’s not hard to figure out that these units are designed to be an off-campus student dorm. One give-away is that there will be no parking provided for the renters of the SROs. Nor will they be able to buy permits to park on Laurel Street. The property owners plan to rent only to those who don’t own cars (or at least who say they don’t.) That fact plus the proximity to UCSC and bus lines make it a perfect location for an off-campus student dorm. A far-sighted perspective can see Mission Street as a future high rise UCSC dorm alley as the campus swells its enrollment. Under new state law, single-family lots can now contain four houses plus ADUs. That law makes this area of town particularly ripe for development as the small single -family homes are snapped up by speculators. With the city’s sleight of hand re-zoning of Mission St. from 3 stories to 4 and state-mandated density bonuses that add height and mass; with a UCSC growth plan to add ten thousand students over the current enrollment to a goal of twenty- eight thousand, it’s a developers dream. This momentum despite the community’s 77% voter support for Measure U to limit UCSC growth.
I attended the zoom meeting just to listen. However, when the developer said that the project would have 20% of the base number of affordable units, I had to submit a comment in the Q&A. Most people who don’t follow city planning and recent state housing laws have no clue what the base # refers to. It’s akin to the trick the eye routine. The base size of a project is what would be the building height and number of units before density bonuses and waivers are factored in. This project’s base size is 40 units. Of that base, they are providing 8 affordable units which is 20% of the base and fulfills the city’s inclusionary requirement. However, the actual size of this project is not 40 but 59 units due to state-mandated density bonuses and waivers. Those extra 19 units are not subject to the inclusionary requirement. So, the actual % of affordable units of the total is 13% far below the city’s requirement but allowable under state law.
I repeatedly asked in the Q&A that the misleading figure of 20% affordable units be clarified and the actual % of the total, not base units be shared verbally. It never was. Fortunately, the Sentinel reporter was on top of it and the accurate total of 8 units was in his coverage.
As a community we have few options left to challenge the scale of such projects, thanks to Sacramento and Governor Newsom. However, we have even fewer options if the community stays silent and falls for the tricks of the trade, including the misguided mantra of “we need more housing.” At least add a few caveats such as: for whom? “at what cost? what is being lost?
|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 http://darksky.org Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.
OVERSIZED VEHICLE ORDINANCE AT THE COASTAL COMMISSION
After nearly a year of speculation, the Oversized Vehicle Ordinance (OVO) will be heard at the Coastal Commission May 11th. The 28-page commission staff report seems largely consistent with city staff opinion, sometimes contradictory in its logic.
I am disappointed that staff recommend approving a Coastal Development Permit for OVO. This makes public comment (by May 5th) and contact with elected officials that much more essential. A small positive is that it would be a one-year, conditional permit which would have to be re-applied for next May.
Recent posting of pending OVO permit (Shaffer Rd and Delaware Ave) and 20-foot parking spaces (Delaware Ave)
One of the city’s continuing validations of the need for additional laws around oversized vehicle parking, citing the inadequacy of existing law, is that there is not enough police/volunteer time/energy to patrol to catch people in the act of, for example, littering (agenda exhibit 2, page 6, Sep 21, 2022, letter from Lee Butler to Kiana Ford). By eliminating all people living in oversized vehicles from city streets midnight-5am, the city hopes to eliminate illegal behavior in those hours. While of course I do not condone littering or other harmful behavior, this seems to me yet another case of punishing an entire demographic for the bad (potentially for complex reasons) behavior of a few.
Or if all those people were in vehicles smaller than 20 feet long, it would all be ok?
Antonelli Pond teeming with wildlife, but not trash, on April 24th, 2023
The biggest concession that the city makes, unsurprisingly, is removing the clause restricting parking within 100 feet of intersections, crossings, flashing lights, etc. This rule would have essentially eliminated more than 50% of parking options for vehicles longer than 20 feet throughout the city and coastal zone, for residents and visitors alike.
The resident permit clause remains: four 72-hour permits will be available to (housed) residents for their own vehicles ($30 annually) and six 72-hour permits for their guests ($9 per day). Hotels will also have to obtain permits for their clients (cost TBD). Revenue from these permits will go into the general fund. Instead they should go into our affordable housing fund or be earmarked for safe parking programs.
The report says that restricting oversized vehicle parking midnight-5am will increase coastal access for other (housed) users, but they also say that midnight-5am is the least used time, therefore it will only affect the subset of users who are living in their vehicles. That is exactly what we’re talking about when we say OVO disproportionately impacts this frontline group.
On a bike ride around Delaware, Shaffer, Natural Bridges, and West Cliff, I counted 18 vehicles that looked likely long-term and over 20 feet long or 8 feet tall, and about the same number of smaller vehicles that could be lived-in. I didn’t see any OVOs on West cliff, though there were some vans and other vehicles potentially lived-in. There were plenty of parking spaces and street parking throughout the west side. There was no visible sanitation in the area (dumpsters, porta-potties, hand-washing stations).
Tiered safe-parking programs remain a good step in the right direction, but the ultimate 72 spaces promised are in no way adequate to accommodate the need. The city says that free street permits will be given to those on waiting lists for safe parking programs. Why not implement this part of the program independent of OVO? As I wrote about a few weeks ago, we know that people are being green-tagged, ticketed, and towed under state laws even without OVO in place.
In a footnote on page 10, the report says the city put up no parking midnight to 5am signs last summer, around the time of the OVO appeal, and that they removed them when alerted to their illegality. In my March 8th column, I shared reporting that the signs, and associated ticketing and towing, had been in place for years.
The city repeatedly maintains their logic that streets aren’t equipped for habitation (duh), and that environmental degradation caused by people living on the streets is one of their top motivators for basically eliminating the option of larger vehicles used as housing on streets. The city also plans to give free street parking permits to those on safe parking program waiting lists (currently 50+ vehicles). So they are saying that the parking is ok, as long as they are on a waiting list? Will the city provide sanitation services to those street parkers? If so, why not just do that (sufficiently) now? Who will issue these permits and how will people know whether they are eligible? Will we have abatement officers ticketing and outreach workers permitting, working at cross-purposes as they seem to do now, or will there be an inter-departmental approach with an easily accessible log for waiting lists and permits?
If the city continues their street-by-street 20-foot parking space painting (striping), where will these waiting list permit holders park?
Furthermore, funding for safe parking programs is generally one-time grant- or state-funding dependent. Most of the Homelessness Response Plan programs are not funded past this year. If funding isn’t found to continue, let alone expand, safe parking programs, where will that leave people? We need contingency plans for every program that relies on this unreliable funding.
The report repeatedly says that OVO is “really a [city] social services program” and not fully under the commission’s mandate to protect coastal resources. In the next breath, the report admits that the Coastal Commission also has an environmental justice policy to adhere to, and that people without housing are clearly an environmental justice community.
While the report covers the positive aspects of OVO repeatedly, and mentions a few concerns and conditions at the end, the criminalizing elements of OVO are minimized, if mentioned at all. This October 2021 article by Santa Cruz Cares on the Oversized Vehicle Ordinance, criminalization of poverty, and better options, is still relevant.
To be absolutely clear: those of us opposing OVO are in no way saying that littering, fouling waterways, exploiting other people, or creating other public safety issues is ok. What we object to is the carrot-and-stick approach, aka social services programs that depend on a penalizing element, that discriminate on economic status, and disproportionately impact communities of color and people with disabilities. We need to meet people where they are with a trauma-informed approach, provide harm reduction and sanitation, and foster a community that welcomes safe parking, safe camping, tiny homes, transitional housing, community organizations, treatment facilities, and deed-restricted affordable housing in every neighborhood.
Join me in the Radius Gallery Sunday, April 30th or Wednesday, May 3rd between noon and 3pm to see my installation and take a stab at rewriting the Camping Standards and Services Ordinance and the Oversized Vehicle Ordinance. Can we make ordinances that care instead of criminalize?
Santa Cruz Cares will be part of an event in the gallery, practicing dialogue across differences, Sunday, April 30th, 5-7pm. All are welcome to join us.
I’ll also be leading an artist walking workshop at Neary Lagoon this Saturday, April 29th, from 2-4pm.
From Reggie Meisler, on behalf of Santa Cruz Cares:
Thank you to everyone who signed the letter of support for the Coastal Commission in fighting against City Manager Matt Huffaker’s illegal attempt to restripe parking spaces throughout the coastal zone! It seems that, for now at least, restriping is on pause and another threat to our neighbors living in vehicles is taking center stage– the Oversized Vehicle Ordinance (OVO).
We need your help if we are going to finally defeat this terrible ordinance! Please ask yourself, do you relate to any of the following…
- You have lived on Delaware Ave, Shaffer Rd, Natural Bridges Dr, or Mission St Ext in a vehicle and experienced harassment from the city– particularly if you’ve been towed, or threatened with a tow order, and have also not been offered safe parking or any other outreach services.
- You live, have lived, or work near Delaware Ave, Shaffer Rd, Natural Bridges Dr, or Mission St Ext and are supportive of folks who park there (For instance: Hardcore Compost, UCSC Institute of the Arts & Sciences, you live in the De Anza trailer park off Shaffer Rd, etc).
- You are not unhoused, but a family member, friend, or service worker, who has intimate knowledge of a person’s experience living in their vehicle in that area and can speak for them in a supportive way, and against the harmful effects of OVO and other forms of city harassment.
- You are an advocate from with a unique background, you work at an established nonprofit, you work as city or county staff, or are part of some other well-known institution that is considered to be “mainstream”, and can openly use this connection to strengthen your voice against the OVO and the city’s harassment of the unhoused.
If you relate to any of the following demographics (or you don’t, but still want to help!), you will be crucial in helping argue against the City of Santa Cruz at next month’s Coastal Commission hearing on OVO! (May 10-12)
Please contact email@example.com by May 3rd and let us know if you or someone you know is willing to write a short email or speak to the Commission over Zoom!
|Joy Schendledecker is an artist, parent, and community organizer. She lives on the Westside of Santa Cruz with her husband, two teens, mother in law, and cats. She was a city of Santa Cruz mayoral candidate in 2022. You can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
STANDING UP FOR LOCAL CONTROL
There is a statewide effort among a growing number of county and city leaders who are pushing back against the State’s mandates coming into effect soon to remove local land use discretionary control of our Communities and quality of life. A large group from the Catalysts for Local Control, representing many jurisdictions in California, recently traveled to Sacramento and met with over 25 analysts for elected representatives. The issue is the unreasonable Sixth Cycle of Regional Housing Number Allocation (RHNA) building demands the state is imposing, regardless of infrastructure burdens or adverse environmental impacts.
Mr. Leon Huntting, the group’s Legislative Committee Chairman, told me the most surprising thing the group learned in the Sacramento meetings was how little the analysts (and therefore the elected representatives) know or understand about the problems associated.
Look for updates about future in-District meetings the Catalysts for Local Control will be organizing, and tune in to the Monday 5pm-6pm regular virtual organization meetings.
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FAIR MOVING FORWARD DESPITE BUMPY ROAD
Recent changes in management of the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds has been in the local news, with resignation of long-time Fair Board President Don Dietrich last Friday, and an announcement by Interim CEO Mr. Kelley Ferreira departing next month, earlier than contracted.
However, the abrupt resignation of Mr. Ferreira last week caused the Fairgrounds Office staff to send out a notice for a Special Fair Board Meeting to be held during the Regular meeting for the purpose of hiring a new Interim CEO for the Fairgrounds.
Maybe it was because he had hired an outside consultant to do his work, without approval of the Board and got caught? Maybe because he refused to negotiate an MOU with Monterey County to recover costs of providing emergency shelter for the Pajaro flood victims, so FEMA may not reimburse the Fairgrounds? Maybe his regular and lengthy meetings over lunches with ousted CEO Dave Kegebein were noticed by prominent people in the Community who are aware of the State Audit causing the Fair Board to fire Mr. Kegebein?
Whatever the reason, it likely is good that Mr. Ferreira is gone. However, the question now is who will do the work of organizing and overseeing the operations of the 2023 Santa Cruz County Fair and Fairgrounds contracts?
In my opinion, the existing experienced and knowledgeable Fairgrounds staff has been doing the work all along anyway, so they have proven themselves to be competent, and should be allowed to follow through on the job. Let’s hope the Fair Board does that, rather than blindly approving the Budget Mr. Ferreira and his consultant have proposed that would cut staff salaries by reclassifying them to a lower pay scale, or eliminating them completely.
I am confident that the 2023 Santa Cruz County Fair will happen and be yet another wonderful Community event. Watch for the theme to be approved by the Board, volunteer to help if you can, and plan to attend the Fair September 13-17.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT WIDENING HIGHWAY ONE AND EXTENDING THE COASTAL RAIL TRAIL IN APTOS?
Next week, plan to attend the public hearing and virtual Open House events in Aptos that will discuss what the RTC has planned to do in the Aptos area between State Park Drive and Freedom Boulevard.
Will the trestle over Aptos Creek be expanded to include the Trail? What impacts will construction have on Aptos Creek as Highway One lanes get added? Can storm water runoff be somehow collected in ponds for groundwater recharge, rather than dumping oil-contaminated stormwater from the highway into Aptos Creek and the Bay?
During the open houses, the project team will provide an update on the environmental process, project design, and overall schedule.
Please write these dates on your calendar now, and participate:
Learn about multimodal improvements from State Park Drive to Freedom Boulevard for Highway 1 Auxiliary Lanes, Bus-on-Shoulder, and Coastal Rail-Trail Segment 12.
Virtual Open House via Zoom: May 2, 2023 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
In-person Public Hearing: May 4, 2023 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
- Rio Sands Hotel, 116 Aptos Beach Drive. Registration not required.
NIGHT TIME WORK ON PORTER STREET BRIDGE AND INJECTION WELLS
I recently filed a Public Records Act request with the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife for evidence that Soquel Creek Water District may have complied with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to work collaboratively with that agency in developing mitigations for significant negative impacts to the local waterways the PureWater Soquel Project will cause. It seems the only oversight and permitting the Fish & Wildlife has been involved in is the attachment of treated water pipelines to the Porter Street Bridge in Soquel, but nothing for the San Lorenzo River and Laurel Street Bridge.
Work is now progressing in Soquel, and thankfully has now been changed to occur during nighttime hours.
The injection well sites at Twin Lakes Church, Willowbrook Park and Monterey Avenue next to Shoreline Church are also under construction, and are much more extensive than anything ever included in the Project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) or either of the two Addendums that glossed over major Project modifications.
COUNTY FIRE DEPT. ADVISORY COMMISSION SPECIAL MEETING WITHOUT INFORMATION TO THE PUBLIC
The Santa Cruz County Fire Dept. Advisory Commission (FDAC) announced the group will have a Special Meeting on May 3 at 4PM to consider the new contract with CalFire to manage the County’s fire and emergency response in the unincorporated areas. The problem is that the administration has been unresponsive to my multiple requests to see the proposed contract, or to provide a copy of the existing contract.
Please contact Melissa Scalia, clerk for the FDAC, and ask for this important information: Melissa Scalia <email@example.com>
HELPING FARMWORKER WOMEN WHO OWN SMALL ORGANIC FARMS
Last Friday on our radio program “Community Matters” online radio program on Santa Cruz Voice, my co-host Jeff Bosshard and I interviewed Ms. Irene de Barrsicua, the local Director of Lideres Campesinas, a statewide non-profit that helps provide technical assistance and other support to small organic farmers who are primarily women employed as farmworkers themselves.
I learned of the organization via an article posted on a water-related newsletter that I read.
It was an interesting discussion of the situation many organic farmers who have been flooded, causing the loss of their organic certification for three years because of unknown contaminants in the flood water and silt deposited on their farmland. If you are interested in contributing to help these farmers, the local office of Lideres Campesinas would be grateful, possibly establishing funding for the very expensive soil and water testing that will be required of the farmers, as well as supporting their continued organic methods of cultivating the produce to sell at local farmers markets, restaurants and schools.
Ms. Irene de Barraicua leads local efforts, along with Ms. Adriana Santos and Ms. Suguet Lopez: 805-767-0000
WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. ATTEND A PUBLIC MEETING AND ASK QUESTIONS.
MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK BY JUST DOING ONE THING YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT.
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 KI6TKB@yahoo.com
CONSERVATION GRAZING FOR GRASSLAND DIVERSITY
My dissertation research, others’ research, and years of observation supports a need to seriously consider conservation grazing as a tool for managing the incredibly diverse grasslands of our region.
We owe the existence of almost every bit of our local grasslands to human management of ecological disturbance regimes. For millions of years, California’s grasslands co-evolved with megafauna. 20,000 years ago, the prairies near Santa Cruz would have had herds of mastodon, mammoth, bison, ground sloth, elk, pronghorn, as well as camel and horse relatives. There were probably mastodon and mammoth trails the size of highways; like their African kin, these critters pushed over trees when drought or fire deprived them of ground-based forage.
The biomass of those herbivores was enough to evolve some amazing predators: saber tooth cats and their bigger kin the scimitar cats, a lion very close to the African lion, wolves, short-face bears, grizzly, jaguar, coyote and cougar.
About 15,000 years ago, most of that fauna disappeared, but the native peoples were stewarding the grasslands with frequent fire. Fires kept the grasslands open.
Without fire or grazing, our coastal grasslands turn to shrublands and the shrublands to forest.
Here Come the Shrubs!
First comes the coyote bush, seeds blown on the wind way downstream. First one shrub, then the next and soon there is more coyote bush than grass. As the shrubs thicken, coast live oaks take root, and they look like shrubs for years and years until they get wide enough that the deer can’t reach the center shoot, and that becomes a tree. Meanwhile, while oaks get shrubbier, here comes the poison oak and their injector friends the blackberry vines. Now, things are getting pretty impenetrable. After about 15 years, we start to see some more diversity: coffeeberry, California sage, sticky monkeyflower, honeysuckle, and others.
All the coastal prairies that aren’t on nearly pure, soil-less rock disappear to shrubs after 15-40 years. There are fence lines and aerial photos aplenty to show you this.
And Next…the Onset of Trees
As the shrub community closes in, the tree seedlings escape deer browse. Coast live oaks and Douglas fir rocket up from the shrub layer. Some toyon start getting tree like, too. Madrones join in.
Check out a mixed hardwood/Douglas fir forest next time you happen across one. Look at the understory and see if you can see shrub skeletons- they are likely there as a reminder from whence the trees emerged.
So, What’s the Problem? Trees are GOOD! “never enough trees….” (sigh)
California’s grasslands support the vast majority of rare plant and animal species. Globally, grasslands have been underappreciated for their diversity and function. California’s coastal prairies are one of the top ten most endangered habitats in the US. These grasslands have been converted to urban areas more than any other plant community. I bet we are still more likely to see grasslands developed locally than any other habitat type. For instance, the meadows at UC Santa Cruz are constantly under threat.
Many of your favorite wildlife species love our meadows. Deer, bobcat, fox, weasel, badger, eagle, hawk, kite, falcon, kestrel, owl, and tule elk are grassland friends. Predators require the vast production of mice, voles, gophers, and moles that grasslands create.
Even if wildlife aren’t your thing (and you’d be very much in the minority there), you might appreciate the functions that grasslands play. Grasslands can break up and cool down wildfires that would otherwise move catastrophically across the landscape. Prairies can be huge carbon and water sponges, soaking up climate change pollutants and soaking in precipitation to replenish groundwater and meter out rains to keep springs, creeks, and rivers flowing later in the season. Many folks love grasslands for recreation: picnics, lying in the sun, walking through them – all worthwhile and important activities. Grassland openness makes way for many of those favorite views. Masses of spring wildflowers create giddy laughter and attract tourists.
Oh, and grasslands raise cows…
Cows on the Prairie: Moooo!
After the genocide of native peoples, after they were driven from their ancestral homes, the prairies would have disappeared were it not for cows. The next era of grassland disturbance was the ranching era. Yes, there was a prohibition against fire. No, there were no limits to grazing. The early ranchers put way too many cows on the landscape: there were famous drought incidents early in California where dead cows littered the landscape. There is a huge slug of sediment in the Monterey Bay that is thought to be erosion from poor grazing and agricultural practices of that era.
Gradually, we have adapted cattle management to this variable climate. Our grasslands create beef. Some of that is grass-fed/grass finished beef where cattle live their entire lives on open range. That beef production keeps the meadows open. And the fact that cows make money keeps the land grazed.
What About Elk?
Tule elk graze much like cows, and so would keep the meadows open if they could. Studies at Point Reyes where tule elk roam show that that species does about the same thing as cows: they keep open areas where grasses and wildflowers flourish.
The trouble is, we don’t have any elk on the Monterey Bay. Why not?
There are tule elk just east and south of us- not very far if they wanted to get here. But, apparently tule elk don’t like going through forest…not like their close relatives Roosevelt elk. At the same time, some of those tule elk already crossed 101 down along Coyote Creek in the Coyote Valley south of San Jose, but they turned back. Those elk are closer than the ones across 101 from Prunedale or the ones at Ft. Hunter Liggett. If the tule elk crossed the highway in Coyote Valley and kept going westward, they would have to get around a bunch of houses here and there, but they’d have lots of good grasslands across the east range of the Santa Cruz Mountains. If they tried going more west, there isn’t a good chance that they would find a grassy corridor to our coast side grasslands. So, it will be many, many years until we get elk, unless someone finds a way to truck them here, and then they’d have to want to stay.
Meanwhile, let’s find a way to support the types of grassland management we need to keep our meadows open.
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: www.greyhayes.net
Email Grey at firstname.lastname@example.org
I read four newspapers every morning – in their hard copy versions. I read a lot of online news, as well. Sometimes – and in fact quite often – the various newspapers I read cover the same stories. Sometimes, and yesterday provided an example, different newspapers, in completely different stories, provide a similar lesson and illustrate a similar point.
Friday (yesterday), the San Francisco Chronicle had a commanding front-page story by Michael Cabanatuan. Cabanatuan reported on the decision by the owners of the Oakland A’s to relocate the team from Oakland to Las Vegas. A big, bold headline (and a striking photo) proclaimed:
‘Brutal’ decision by A’s
As everyone knows who has been following the story, the City of Oakland, and the owners of the team, have been in a long negotiation, as the owners have said that they wanted to build a new coliseum on the Oakland waterfront, which development would, allegedly, provide lots of community benefits, though it would also, undoubtedly, result in a massive subsidy by city taxpayers. While working with Oakland, the owners of the A’s have, simultaneously, been negotiating with the City of Las Vegas – and again have been looking for a public subsidy for their private business.
Recently-elected Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao stated that she was “blindsided” by the brief phone call she received from the team, on Wednesday evening, telling her that the team has now struck a deal with Las Vegas, thus terminating the possibility that the A’s will pursue their purported plan to build a $1 billion, privately financed 35,000-seat waterfront ballpark in Oakland, with an associated commercial development nearby. In a separate story on the Chronicle’s sports page, Mayor Thao was quoted as follows: “it is clear to me that the A’s have no intention of staying in Oakland and have simply been using this process to try to extract a better deal out of Las Vegas.” Private profits, not community concern, have led to the decision.
My hometown newspaper, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, had another story, also on Friday (yesterday), about the Food Bin and Herb Room, a local business located at the corner of Mission and Laurel Streets, and much beloved by local residents. The owners, who bought the business in 2019, are planning to tear down the stores located on the site, and then to build a five-story, mixed-use building (without any parking for residents), which development would include 3,200 square feet of commercial space. The concept is illustrated below. Essentially, the proposal is for an off-campus “dorm” for UCSC students.
When the current owners bought the business, here’s what they told the community, by way of an article in the Good Times newspaper published in Santa Cruz:
The couple has thrown themselves into making improvements to the Food Bin while striving to preserve its quirky character. Customer service is their No. 1 priority, and Ewlensen says that overall the community has been very supportive. In the future, they’d like to continue to offer more local products, remove the bulky vapor extraction behemoth from the front of the Herb Room, and refurbish the side garden to forge a community gathering space where they could host First Friday-type vendor events. “We always want to keep its vibe,” says Ewlensen. “It’s not your standard grocery store. It’s unique, and we want to keep it that way.”
The latest plan doesn’t really seem to carry forward this thought. Tearing down the structures that have housed the business would seem to move in exactly the opposite direction – and, of course, the proposed replacement development will massively impact the adjacent residential neighborhood. In that Sentinel article on Friday, the owners, and the company that has helped the owners design this proposed development, stated that the purpose of the project was “to thoughtfully develop their parcel and breathe some new life into the beloved stores,” and to “create an enduring home for the Food Bin and Herb Room (emphasis added).”
For what it’s worth, I will state my personal preference for developers who will “tell it like it is,” and not pretend that community concerns are driving development decisions when private profit is the actual motive. At least as I see it, that’s what is going on in both Oakland and Santa Cruz – and that is, of course, fully consistent with what are, or at least ought to be, our expectations. Private property owners are interested in private profit. Development decisions are driven by money – not “community spirit” – as these two different stories both make clear.
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 www.gapatton.net
Email Gary at email@example.com
GETTING AWAY WITH THE FIRST OFFENSE ON …
THE ROAD TO PERDITION
Take heart…false alarm! Michael Moore hasn’t really endorsed Donald Trump’s 2024 election, despite that claim by the Former Guy, as Moore was included along with endorsements by many Florida GOPers that nobody has heard about. A three and a half minute video shown on Truth Social appears to show Moore giving The Don a thumb’s up, but it represents only the first portion of a six minute video posted by Michael in 2016 purporting to make the case for his candidacy; but a satirical takedown covering the reasons why Trump would be the worst possible president with strong disapproval is explained in the second (and unseen) portion. This has to be akin to the ‘IRS phone call’ asking for your Social Security number to process a ‘refund.’ Or like the contact by a ‘friend’ or ‘relative’ who is in need of funds, being stranded in Timbuktu…or Dade County Florida.
Florida’s Governor DeSantis, being satirized by Andy Borowitz in The New Yorker, says the struggling presidential candidate has decided that instead of building the state’s own amusement park as an alternative to Disney World, or building a state prison next door to the popular destination as a retaliatory measure, he will instead raze the home of Minnie and Mickey and replace it with a ‘Dilbert‘-themed entertainment location. In his estimation “this will attract millions of Americans who were deprived of their favorite Scott Adams comic strip by the left-wing media Reich.” It will be “a woke-free zone, where parents can rest assured that their children will not be exposed to the vile multicultural propaganda that it’s a small world, after all.” DeSantis had some difficulty explaining what rides would be built, vaguely saying only “that they will probably involve cubicles.” Probably repurposed from the equipment and furniture from the shuttered library system across his state.
The months-long buildup of the Fox News/Dominion Voting Systems trial date came to a surprising and disappointing conclusion last week, with Fox capitulating to Dominion just before the opening bell was about to sound in the Delaware courtroom. Dominion sought $1.6 billion in damages for Fox’s malicious lies following the 2020 presidential election and for hosting guests such as Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and Mr. ‘My Pillow’ Lindell who theorized that their machines stole votes from Trump. The two parties agreed on a $787.5 million settlement, with the jurors standing by and ready for a six-week ordeal which many saw as a mortal blow to Fox should a guilty verdict have been rendered. Since Fox was not obligated to publicly address or apologize for their campaign of misinformation, this ending was less than satisfying for those who had laid in plenty of popcorn for watching during the spectacle. And the Murdochs are still rich even after one of the largest payouts in a defamation lawsuit on record! Still billionaires, so did they actually win?
Dominion will receive less than half of their original demand, but far more than the $80 million evaluation of their company, and many times their revenue of $100 million in 2022. Private equity group Staple Street Capital bought their controlling stake in Dominion in 2018, and their lawsuit claims it sustained $921 million in damage to its business, $88 million in lost profits, and $600 million in lost future profits because of Fox’s false coverage. Comparing this to a Fox Corporation filing, the broadcast giant revealed it had about $4.1 billion in cash and equivalents at the beginning of this year, with a net income of $321 million in the last quarter of 2022. To be sure, $787.5 million is a chunk o’ cash, but Rupert is still rich. Considering that sponsorship of prime-time spots costs around $76,000, Fox will have to run 10,362 ads, perhaps for My Pillow, to make up for their court payout. That amounts to three days, fourteen hours and twenty minutes of Mike Lindell kissing a pillow and cuddling with a sheet. Hannity’s program runs about fifteen minutes of ads, so Fox-watchers could view 345 nights straight of pillow-talk advertising.
As proven by pretrial discovery’s release of hundreds of thousands of emails, texts and other internal communications, Dominion showed that not only the Murdochs, but Fox’s execs, producers and show hosts were knowledgeable about the Trump campaign’s Big Lie, yet were sanctioned to continue the masquerade in order to satisfy their audience. Murdoch chose the trade off of advertising revenues, which he hoped would exceed any Dominion settlement cost, even risking that a jury settlement might give Dominion more than it was seeking. The disclosure of the settlement came after the stock market closed for the day, but in after-hours trading Fox Corp. was down less than one percent. Rupert is still rich…just the cost of doing business in the Murdoch Empire. Economist, lecturer and political activist Robert Reich estimates that Fox Corporation’s value is around $17 billion – they can still insult a boatload of minor corporations and pay them off…by raising their subscription rates to cable channels who in turn will raise rates to their own subscribers, Fox Zombies or not!
Georgia’s Marjorie Traitor Greene, insurrectionist, Trump worshipper and conspiracy theorist tweeted about the Fox/Dominion outcome: “We have food critics that criticize restaurants, consumer reports that criticizes products, auto critics that criticize automobiles, and conservative Americans have just wrapped up a week of nuking a beer company, but you can’t criticize a voting machine company or you’ll get sued for millions and millions of dollars.” She doesn’t get it and never will! In the case of settlements between private entities, the one having to pay can deduct the cost from taxes in its entirety, with the recipient paying corporate taxes on their windfall. In 2022, a combination of Federal and New York corporate taxes amounted to a tax rate of 27% for Fox, and by writing off this settlement to Dominion, a tax savings of $213 million might be realized unless a portion of it is covered by insurance – which can’t be written off – but they can write off any increase in insurance premiums resulting from this debacle. Rupert still has a fat wallet.
One solution for Fox, has satirist Andy Borowitz writing that Fox is selling off Representative Kevin McCarthy for a quick cash-flow solution. In the Fox Corral for only a few weeks, Murdoch expressed sadness that the sale is now necessary. “I wish Kevin well. I hope whoever buys him finds as much use for him as I did.” Many in D.C. were skeptical about his market value, but Marjorie Taylor Greene piped up with, “I have no idea why Fox thinks they can sell Kevin McCarthy…I own Kevin.”
Much online commentary complains that after all is said and done, Fox has “gotten away with it,” since they weren’t even required to apologize and immediately began making excuses and rationalizations, carrying on as usual, and making Americans pay for their misdeeds. Artist and writer, Robert Harrington, is reminded of the scene in Monty Python’s movie, ‘Life of Brian,’ where Brian is languishing in prison, asking his cellmate, “What will they do to me?” His cellmate replies, “Oh, you’ll probably get away with crucifixion.” The astounded Brian exclaims, “CRUCIFIXION?” Explaining, the cellmate answers, “Yeah, first offense.” The still dumbfounded Brian chokes, “GET AWAY…with crucifixion?” Harrington goes on to say that Fox is not going to “get away,” that this is only the beginning, and scene #2 involves a $2.7 billion lawsuit, courtesy of Smartmatic Corporation, another voting systems company with the same charges, same script, same scenario against Fox. As part of any settlement Smartmatic will demand an on-air apology from the broadcaster, giving Smartmatic the option of wording the apology, along with an admission Fox has lied about the ‘rigged election’, and that Smartmatic is completely blameless. Hopes of the mea culpa coming directly from the ‘King of Sleazy Lies,’ Tucker Carlson – Harrington’s honorific for him – won’t be happening officially with Fox and Tuck’s parting. Unable to get what he considered a fair price for Carlson, resulting in his being being placed on waivers, Murdoch will have to sell off Senator Lindsey Graham, or Representative George Santos to make any movement into a Smartmatic settlement.
Harrington writes that there are two types of culprits in this fiasco…first the ‘nutjobs‘ such as Giuliani, Powell and Lindell, “the people who think Donald Trump is God, though the only thing Trump has in common with God is his constant need of money.” The second type are the cynical manipulators like Carlson, Hannity and Ingraham, who knew the election was proper, but chose to give the ‘nutjobs‘ airtime to increase Fox’s bottom line, a “clear case of greedy people manipulating sick and stupid people cynically” for profit. Harrington thinks it’s a litigation disaster for Fox and he looks forward to both Donald Trump and Fox News going down in flames this year. As citizens we can view this recent settlement as a small win, but it’s only a baby-step toward forming and supporting a media framework that protects our democracy and holds its enemies liable for their efforts to deceive America.
A headline on Progressive Change’s website loudly and sarcastically proclaimed: “Another national nightmare ends. Tucker Carlson out at Fox!” Tucker Carlson’s sudden departure from his Fox News throne as a top-rated prime-time host is pretty significant in that he wasn’t allowed to host a final Monday show to tell his viewers goodbye, even though his Friday sign-off was, “We’ll return on Monday,” with Fox’s airing of promos up until the axe fell. The broadcaster’s released statement only said, “We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.” A new interim program entitled ‘Fox News Tonight‘ will fill the 8 p.m. slot with rotating Fox personalities until a permanent host is selected, leaving a faithful legion of 3+ million viewers wondering what the hell happened. Tuck’s one hour show began in 2016 as he stepped into Bill O’Reilly’s empty slot, featuring controversial guests discussing subjects on race, immigration and hot news of the day, following his opening monologue. Conservative activists reaching out for new converts and office-seekers pitching for votes and money will need to find a new outlet to achieve their goals…at least until Carlson finds a new home…perhaps as a United Nations spokesperson for third-world refugees. Uh-huh! But horror of horrors, former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill thinks he might announce his candidacy for the presidency, something that would strike fear even into the heart of the Trumpmeister.
The split was characterized as being mutual, but Carlson had made comments about Fox management, brought to light in the Dominion case with his accusations that higher-ups were incompetent, prideful liberals destroying the network’s credibility in calling the 2020 presidential outcome for Joe Biden. Congressman Jamie Raskin called Tucker a “propagandist hitman for Donald Trump who was exposed as a complete fraud” in the Dominion lawsuit revelations. Carlson found traction as a TV personality on CNN, co-hosting with Paul Begala, their ‘Crossfire‘ show, a left-versus-right public-affairs debate presentation on the network with a varied history back to 1982. That partnership’s destruction is attributed to Jon Stewart’s appearance in October 2004 when he confronted the two hosts, calling their show “partisan hackery,” an exercise in “doing theatre when you should be doing debate.” The bowtie-wearing Carlson was so taken aback by Stewart’s mockery he had no response aside from asking the Comedy Central star why he wasn’t telling jokes, drawing Jon’s response that, “I’m not gonna be your monkey! I watch your show everyday and it’s painful to watch the knee-jerk, reactionary talk.” Three months later, CNN’s new president agreed with Stewart that the show was “hurting America,” cancelling the show and Carlson’s contract.
Fox News staffers were in total surprise at Tuck-Tuck’s separation as they shared private insights around the newsroom. An unidentified member said, “This is major. It sends a message that even the guy with the highest ratings of all, by a long shot, doesn’t get to survive this disaster.” Andy Borowitz, not one to let this occasion slip by without a comment says, “Fox News has announced that it has replaced Tucker Carlson with a state-of-the-art lying Chatbot. In a brief statement, Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch thanked Carlson for his service but said the he had been “rendered obsolete by swift advances in lying technology.” A dry run of the Chatbot showed it emitting nine lies per minute, besting Carlson’s average of eight. News of the Chatbot’s arrival sent shockwaves down the corridors of Fox’s midtown Manhattan headquarters. “I’ll be next,” a reportedly shaken Sean Hannity said.” Without a doubt, Rupert has a price tag on his head.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 TimEagan.com you will find his most recent Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.
“It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.”
“How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?”
“I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”
James Corden left the Late Late show this week…
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