Blog Archives

April 28 – May 4, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Tom Scribner’s Politics, May Day celebration, Cabrio College name change, Grandson Rental plea #2, New City Manager rumors. GREENSITE…on Earth Day at the Commons. KROHN…on the UCSC Growth Track. STEINBRUNER…New fire safe restrictions, Virtual John Laird Town Hall, Insurance Legislation, Housing and water issues. PATTON…The Eggplant That Ate Chicago.  EAGAN… Deep Cover and Subconscious Comics. QUOTES… “TYPEWRITERS”


ARLENE’S COUNTRY SERENADERS aka THE LOST SOUND. Left to right, that’s Tom Scribner on the musical saw, Arlene Sutton at the accordion, and Herman Olson, also on saw and accordion. Tom, Arlene, and Herman made up “The Country Serenaders” — playing many, many senior homes and benefits around the county for years. Tom’s colorful vest says “The Lost Sound”. He’d played the saw for fun and to meet people since 1910, but never “busked” or passed the hat. He wasn’t the greatest saw player in the world, but as a result of our creating Santa Cruz’s annual Musical Saw Festival, we did get to hear many, many of the planet’s greats.

photo from my personal collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE April 26 

TOM SCRIBNER & POLITICS. (from my April 4, 2016 column) Tom cared much more about politics than the musical saw. Born in 1899, he was a tree cutter, and very active with the Industrial Workers of the World. (I.W.W.). He moved here in the mid 60’s and from his home in Davenport published a monthly/occasional publication called “The Redwood Ripsaw Review” which took on all comers, locally and internationally. Santa Cruz City Council Republican members (Larry Edler, Dr. John Mahaney & Joe Ghio) back in the late 70’s didn’t like Tom’s left-Socialist politics, and fought hard to stop Marghe McMahon’s statue from being placed in SCOPE Park next to the Town Clock in 1978. The square later became known as Scribner Square. It was later tagged for development, and the statue was moved in front of Bookshop Santa Cruz in July 1993. 

MAY DAY CELEBRATION. Grant Wilson has been organizing hard for weeks to create a celebration for Tom Scribner. It’s going to be on May Day, at Tom’s statue in front of Bookshop Santa Cruz. Grant says: “… I’ll be doing a reading-performance on Saturday, May Day at 2pm with Jimmy Kelly (embodying the musical spirit of Utah Phillips)”  playing, singing appropriate songs. I came upon Tom’s autobiography “Lumberjack” published in Davenport in 1966 at the socialist Santa Cruz Public Library ~ Fascinating! and so Tom!  Yes, May Day is still International Workers Day. As Wikipedia states… “May Day has been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups since the Second International”.

CABRIO COLLEGE NAME CHANGE. More and more “news” and opinions keep hitting as the Name Exploration Subcommittee keeps up their online/Zoom meetings. Por ejemplo, some students claim a name change will cost over one million dollars, and ask where that amount could be better spent. Others say it’s worth it. I asked retired Cabrillo history professor Sandy Lydon. He said that our County Board of Supervisors voted twice (1948, 1954) against having a junior college district in our county. They were then informed, and so were the voters, that there could be no UCSC in the county without a junior college.

“Thus, the 1958 second attempt to form a junior college district was huge to not only reverse the anti-education stench, but also to get the junior college that was a pre-requisite for getting a UC campus. In fact, part of the over argument by folks in and around Santa Cruz in the 1958 junior college election was just that — the junior college was a necessary step if they wanted to get the attention of the UC Regents. 

Go here to get in on the renaming of our Community College, if you want to call it that. 

CHANGING THAT “COMMUNITY COLLEGE” NAME. As long as so many students want to change Cabrillo College’s name…let’s get into it for real. Change “COLLEGE‘ (which is from the Latin “collegium”) and “COMMUNITY” (also from the Latin word “communitas”). Everybody knows how evil those Romans were. Caesar Augustus, the barbarians of Odacer, Julius Caesar, Tiberius they were some evil, tricky rulers. Much worse than Joao Rodriguez Cabrilho himself could have been.  

GRANDSON RENTAL, part 2. Nothing yet in response to my pleas last week to find a student rental situation for my grandson Henry, who’ll be attending UCSC this next semester. He’s tech savvy, neat, handy around the house, and will work out any/all details with sharing, co-existing, whatever it takes to make Santa Cruz his new home. He’s been here many times over the last bunch of years, and loves and respects our community. Do get in touch and we’ll work out details

THE NEW CITY MANAGER. Much grumbling and grousing about our getting a new city manager to replace Martin Bernal. A nation-wide search was – and is – being heralded as a perfect way to find the right person. Oft-repeated rumors say Lee Butler, our present Planning Director, is going to land the job. Aside from him not being the world’s greatest communicator, and carrying an arrogant demeanor, he’s made some miserable decisions regarding our homeless/houseless — such as the Seabright Neighborhood tent possibilities. More importantly, most folks in the know believe Butler would be just another supporter of the high price high rise developments that threaten us.

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 PROMISE. (NETFLIX SINGLE) Recent headlines have highlighted the anniversary of the slaughtering of  1.5 million Armenians by the Turkish Empire. This is a 2016 big budget movie starring Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, Tom Hollander, Jean Reno and James Cromwell. Though they added a silly, complex, unnecessary love triangle, given Turkey’s continuing refusal to admit to this genocide, it makes for an interesting, involving, educational few hours of a movie. Watch it, if you didn’t a few years ago. 

STOWAWAY. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Three astronauts are on their way to Mars for a two year exploratory mission. It’s not clear how, but a technician has stowed away behind an upper panel. Toni Colette and Anna Kendrick are in charge. There’s an extra amount of climbing around outside the capsule, and other thefts from 2001 that do not match up. And yet it’s better than this year’s Oscar so-called ceremony. Metacritic gives it a 62.

THE SOUL. (NETFLIX SINGLE) Do not confuse this with the “Soul”, that was up for best animated feature at the Academy last Sunday. This occult science fiction saga takes place in Saigon, where a rich billionaire was bludgeoned to death with a beautifully carved brass scepter. There are many sigils carved into walls and doors. (I looked up “sigil” it means a seal, occult magical sign). The unearthing of clues and the cause of his death will keep you mystified.

ROMEO AND JULIET. (PBS-KQED-GREAT PERFORMANCES). Sure you’ve seen Romeo and Juliet before, probably many times, but this production is a definite keeper. It’s a London’s National Theatre production, done under all the Covid rules. You’ll cry and sigh all over again as you watch those exchanges between the star-crossed lovers. Fresh, illuminating, and another reminder why Shakespeare was and is, the greatest writer ever born.

SYNCHRONIC. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Two paramedics face the problems of drug trips and reality. Then there’s the issue of obtaining more of the drug called SYCHRONIC, and where is it being manufactured. It’s all in New Orleans and the bayou. There’s a good cast, and it’s exciting and even mysterious.

MARE OF EASTTOWN. (HBO SERIES) (91RT). Kate Winslet is a Pennsylvania detective who has to wade through a tightly-knit small town to solve a murder. She’s got many, many problems of her own… and it’s a fine way to spend your waking or sleeping moments. Highly recommended. 

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN FIREFLIES? (NETFLIX SINGLE). A light almost interracial comedy set in Istanbul somewhere around 1968. Two families deal with the problem of a near-crazed, half-cute bride to be, and whether she find happiness with her chosen beau. It’s all told in flashback, as the bride, now a grandmother, reveals all the secrets neither family knew about. 

RIDE OR DIE. (NETFLIX SINGLE). A Japanese story about two young Japanese lesbians. They are deeply in love – so much that one of them kills the other’s husband, as a favor. They then debate throughout the rest of the movie whether or not to die together! Very, very sexy, much nudity, and terribly difficult to make any sense of, because they giggle, scream and cry a lot.

SKY HIGH. (NETFLIX SINGLE). A Spanish saga that almost reminds us of “The Godfather”. An interwoven story of a war between two high tech companies, and stolen cell phones, and girlfriends. Much offshore activity in yachts, and on beaches. Very good action sequences and the main actor looks a lot like Barack Obama. Go for it. !!

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, 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.  

THE STAND IN (NETFLIX SINGLE). Drew Barrymore who wowed us at the age of six is now 46 years old and hasn’t improved her acting or timing since then. She plays a double role of a famous comedian-stunt woman and a radiant younger blonde who copies and stands in for her in life.

THE NEW MUTANTS (HBO SERIES) a 35 on RT and it’s based on the Marvel Comics X men series and I wouldn’t give it a 3 or a 5. Anna Taylor-Joy from the chess movie doesn’t add anything to this science fiction failure. The mutants are being held in an empty hospital and there’s a partial American Indian plot, but stay away from it at all costs.

NIGHT IN PARADISE. (NETFLIX SINGLE). An almost definitive South Korean gangster movie. Two big time politically empowered and related have internal problems. It’s all killing, torture, extra blood, and one of the most tortured movies I’ve seen. Watch it if you think we need more violence in our lives.

STATELESS. (NETFLIX SERIES) Cate Blanchett plays along with Dominic West in this trio of plots that intertwine. There’s a cult drama and a beautiful victim who goes to an immigration camp where she meets an even tempered guard. Together they get involved with a refugee father from Afghanistan who lost his family in an illegal boat trip deal.

THE NEVERS. (HBO SERIES). It happens in London 1896 and is another HBO science Fiction series. The space ships are quaint, antique and fun for a few minutes. There are monster size young girls and satanic violent scenes which are supposed to tell us about the future of the world…or something!! I got lost in the imagery. Not worth it!!

THE NIGHT CLERK. (NETFLIX SINGLE) A young man with Asberger’s syndrome is a night clerk in a hotel. Like Psycho’s Anthony Perkins he watches tenants way too closely. It’s a confusing plot especially when a beautiful guest shows a mutual interest. Then there’s a murder and John Leguizamo shows up as a detective. It has a 36RT. 

THE YEAR EARTH CHANGED. (APPLE +TV) Sir Richard Attenborough narrates this 28 minute documentary. Stunning, almost miraculous photography illustrates what a positive affect the covid one year shutdown has had on nature (especially land and sea animals) all over the world. Surprising new relationships between humans and animals plus vastly improved communication between the animals has been wonderful. Be sure to see this.

THE FATHER. (Santa Cruz Cinema 9) Theatre 5. (Amazon Prime video, Apple tv)The powers that be should just give Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman their well deserved Oscars and skip the ceremony. Hopkins is a 83 year old going through all the issues that accompany dementia. Colman is his lenient and patient daughter who tries to keep him alive and operating. Rufus Sewell and a few other stars act as his maybe real visions of his life. It’s a sad tale, and you’ve ever known of or lived with this problem first hand you’ll cringe for at least two hours.  Its worth your time and patience, see this excellent and deep diving saga. It has six Oscar nominations, and a 98RT.

TWO DISTANT STRANGERS. (NETFLIX SINGLE) A young black man wakes up leaves his girlfriend’s apartment and gets shot by a New York Policeman….99 times! He’s probably dreaming it each time but the incidents change and remind us of George Floyd’s murder almost every time. It’s haunting, thought provoking and definitely worth your viewing and thinking. It’s nominated for best live action short film by the Academy. It’s only 29 minutes long!

SNABBA CASH. (NETFLIX SERIES) A vivacious young tech type woman has big plans for a startup. She needs big financing and goes to her crooked brother in law to get his involvement. The movie gets sexual, violent, deathly and complex and the series goes on and on. It’s a Swedish production and you’ve seen it all before.   

EXTERMINATE ALL THE BRUTES. (HBO SERIES). An absolutely brilliant documentary that details the true and devastating racial history of the United States and the rest of the world. It covers the racism behind MGM musicals, Donald Trump statements, sit-ins, Auschwitz, Selma, Dachau and more racial scenes of horror. Raoul Peck directed it and Josh Hartnett acts as the returning murderer of slaves and servants. It also pays deserving tribute to Howard Zinn and his history of USA prejudice, “A  People’s History of the United States. WE should do more than watch this one we should memorize it’s four episodes. 77RT

HEMINGWAY. (PBS VIDEO APP. SERIES) As The New Yorker stated this Ken Burns documentary is all about the man behind the legend. There’s largely unknown or little exposed facts about Earnest such as his bisexuality identification, his many wives and girlfriends, his repeated concussions from wars, drinking, boating and beyond. He had to deal with his inherited fear and wish to commit suicide, which he did at the age of 61. He worked and worried hard to write, it was no easy task. This documentary brings us the real Earnest Hemingway. If you haven’t read his best books watch it and make your choice now.

TEMPLANZA. (AMAZON PRIME SERIES) aka “The Vineyard”. It’s dubbed but I found that you can click out the dubbed in English sound track and listen to the original Spanish and watch the English subtitles. Set in 1860 in Veracruz, Mexico and Spain it’s a love affair story involving a young woman torn between her inherited family and problems and her love for the well to do Spaniard who pursues her incessantly.  

click here to continue (link expands, click again to collapse)


April 26


Picking up tax forms and a long-awaited book at the downtown library last Thursday I felt a strong rush of disgust at the prospect of this sacred place being bulldozed and carted off to the dump. Like family members ogling the inheritables before the widow is dead, the city held two zooms to solicit public input on what should fill this site once the library is demolished. Like most public input, that which supports the city’s a priori plans for whatever they want will be handled with care and that which doesn’t will be shuffled to the bottom of the pile. I don’t say such things lightly. I’m not a cynic. Such are observations drawn from long experience. Recall that the early survey put out by the library committee soliciting opinions on what the public wanted to see in a new downtown library omitted any reference to the option of moving the library to a new location. But they knew that was the plan.

As a happy contrast, Saturday’s Earth Day event at the Commons, parking lot 4 at Cathcart and Cedar was filled with people who tried to save the library in situ. I’m glad I went. Organized by Downtown Commons Advocates and Santa Cruz Climate Action Network with the tireless work of Judi Grunstra and Pauline Seales amongst others, it was a fine event. The music was especially good, the few speakers short and focused with plenty of booths from local organizations to bend your ear. Council member Sandy Brown spoke, reminding us what a difference a council member who listens to the public can make. 

Chalk art of trees and leaves brightened the sidewalks and awards were given for a photo contest with prints of all the contributions on display. Many recipients were local youth, a reminder of for whom the struggle is being waged. The lovely piece of chalk art in the photo above (sorry, I don’t know the name of the artist) is a reminder of what else will be sacrificed if/when the library is torn down and the trifecta of new library/parking garage/”affordable” housing erected on this site. The beautiful old magnolia trees are old and in the way of all that new construction or so the narrative will play out. The Heritage Tree Ordinance should protect the trees since only “if a construction project design cannot be altered to accommodate existing heritage trees or shrubs” (Criteria and Standards 1.3) can heritage trees be removed.  Since the construction project is not yet final it can be sited around the trees. If we had a council majority and a city Planning Department that cared about such living things the trees would be protected. As usual it will demand vigilance and action from the public.

However protecting the trees from the proposed development is already running up the white flag and the Downtown Commons folks are not prepared to give up. The goal is to preserve Lot 4 for a central park or Commons, and in so doing also protect the current location of the Farmers’ Market. An alternative city parking lot is well-suited for affordable housing. And by no means least, renovating the current library right where it stands as the third pillar of the Civic Center: library, city hall and civic auditorium. Check out their website    https:/   

I understand that people will have different opinions on what is treasured about a community and what is not. However the apparent disregard by city planning and economic development staff for that which gives the town its character and sense of place seems excessively indifferent. Do they feel nothing at the bulldozing of the familiar buildings that house small local businesses or perhaps a library? I wonder how many don’t live in Santa Cruz? Easy to ignore the transformation of the town from small, human scale with history to high rise market rate mixed use generic buildings if Santa Cruz is not in your heart: if you can escape to a bucolic somewhere else where you don’t have to look at the results of your actions. 

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 26


Will We be Able to Stop the UCSC Growth Machine?
The Santa Cruz chapter of the Sierra Club hosted a forum attended by 75 people this past Sunday. It was billed as “an informational community event to better inform city and county residents about the UCSC Long Range Development Plan,” or LRDP for short. Several local groups sent representatives to participate in a wide-ranging discussion that quickly became a Who’s Who political event. And by political in this case, I mean community members coming together to discuss a university plan that if left unchecked will surely make life worse in Santa Cruz not just for those in town, but for students who are invited to a pitiful under-resourced campus. The result of this forum was a solidifying of a decade-long plea, and a firmer line in the sand, between this community and the University Growth Machine (UGM). Community message to UGM: no more cars on campus above the 2005 agreed upon number, no more staff, faculty, or student body increases above current numbers unless all of them are housed on campus, and finally, no building, none, zero, nada, on the East Meadow. There was passion, clear articulation of the issues, and signs of an informed electorate ready to go to war if the UGM follows through on their threats (idle?) to bring 12,000-14,000 more bodies to Surf City over the next 10 years.

The Discussion
Rick Longinotti,of the Campaign for Sustainable Transportation, outlined imperative transportation issues and emphasized that there can and must be alternatives to the car culture. Campus authorities cannot continue to facilitate bringing more cars to campus. Longinotti promoted electric buses, bus passes for all staff and faculty, and urged more funding from the UC Regents to supplement the already exorbitant amount students pay to get around the most spacious in the ten-campus system. Karen Bassi and Chris Connery represented EMAC, the East Meadow Action Committee, which is trying to preserve and protect the campus East Meadow from development. They have filed two law suits contesting UC’s end-around the CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) process, and another disputing the UCSC administration’s lack of transparency concerning exactly how much it would cost to build on other campus locations instead of in the scenic and iconic East Meadow. Connery invoked the great landscape architect Thomas Church and his concept that the redwoods must be the over-arching dominant of campus structures. Connery also mentioned that the first UCSC Chancellor, Dean McHenry, would not permit any redwood over 12 inches in diameter to be felled. Jerry Busch of the Sierra Club offered a credible presentation on the critical habitat of vulnerable campus plant and animal species that would be endangered if the LRDP went forward. Busch said the Sierra Club joins other organizations calling for a no development policy on the lands which the university administration calls “North Campus.” Lecturer and union organizer, Josh Brahinsky, spoke about the over-reliance of using lecturers instead of hiring more tenured faculty. The precarious job security of the lecturers have them teaching at 2 or 3 institutions he said. The low pay and constant travel makes Lecturers less available to their students. Professor Emeritus Ronnie Lipshutz, pointed out the existing vulnerability to fire that currently exists in and around the campus and the absence of any competent and complete evacuation plan for existing students, staff, and faculty, not to mention a plan that contemplates the addition of twelve to fourteen thousand more.

The Debate
Professor T.J. Demos and Ashley Weil represented the Eco-socialist working group of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Santa Cruz. They outlined the unaffordable nature of on-campus housing and presented information that “on-campus housing must be tied to livable wages” not market forces. Demos said that the “LRDP must be discussed within the parameters of the Red-Green New Deal.” Gillian Greensite, former campus staff Rape Prevention Coordinator and member of Don’t Morph the Wharf, emphasized the fact that the absurdly high dorm fees charged for campus housing act as the singular force behind ever-higher rents in town. She pointed out that more campuses need to be added, offering the example of the very last UC campus that was built, UC Merced (2005), which was constructed following a previous debate on university growth. The last two speakers, Councilmember Sandy Brown and city-county full-time liaison Morgan Bostic pointed out that students and community members must approach their elected officials–State Sen. John Laird and Assembly member Mark Stone–and let them know the dire results of packing so many students onto campus and into town without providing the necessary classroom space, transportation amenities, or living spaces. It was a well-done, “Don’t Mourn, Organize,” moment.

The Great Fallacy
UCSC Chancellor Cindy Larive’s deal with UC Regents’ devil, concerning Student Housing West (SHW), was a heated point of discussion that most attendees at the Zoom forum believed could not happen. The chancellor apparently agreed to keep all units in the new SHW development at 30% under market-rate rentals in Santa Cruz, if the Regents would approve the project. Jim Clifford of EMAC was also present at this session and had written recently in that group’s newsletter: “The only hitch in the SHW re-approval process was a demand by several important Regents that the University guarantee the affordability of the housing it is building by committing to rents at least 30% below market rates in town. The Chancellor was reluctant to make such a pledge, but to secure approval she finally did.” The minimum of what we can do as a community is to hold the chancellor’s feet to the fire on this one, which appears to be absolutely impossible if past is prologue. In fact, short of a hefty subsidy, the vaunted “3-P” (Public-Private-Partnership) agreement with an Alabama-based developer, Capstone Development Partners LLC is unlikely to charge rents less than the current SC market rate because it is a private company in business to make money. For a rich discussion of the housing issue, go to the Sierra Club’s document here 

Given the fact that UC and CSU just announced that they are planning for in-person fall classes and have issued a mandatory vaccination order for everyone who plans on being on campus, along with on-going labor issues among Teaching Assistants and Lecturers unions and a so far viral, but spreading like a virus, “Cops Off Campus” campaign, this fall is shaping up to be anywhere from partying like its 1999 to liberating the university of gun-toting cops. Stay tuned, should be more than interesting.

“We must take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, lower drug prices and use the savings to expand Medicare by lowering the eligibility age and providing dental, hearing and vision care to tens of millions of older Americans.” (April 25)

Look for the UCSC campus to heat up again come fall quarter. This picture is the closing of the east campus entrance by protesters because of labor issues involved the UC grad student strike of a year ago, shortly before Covid-19 closed the entire campus.

(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. Krohn was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. That term ended when the development empire struck back with luxury condo developer money combined with the real estate industry’s largesse. They paid to recall Krohn and Drew Glover from the Santa Cruz city council in 2019.

Email Chris at


April 26

The Board of Forestry released the new proposed restrictions last Friday, April 23, for a 45-day public comment period, ending June 22 with a virtual public hearing.  These new rules will have great impacts on all rural property owners, both existing as well as those who want to rebuild after fires.  You need to read this because it sets up a possible economic “taking” of some properties, with unknown abilities for the local jurisdictions to have discretion, due to potentially cumbersome process.

Here is the link to the Proposed Rule Makings  

Register for the June 22, 9:30am Public Hearing Webinar here 

More to come on this issue later…

Please join Senator John Laird with Special Guest, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara for an Emergency Preparedness and Wildfire virtual town hall. It is imperative for you to have up to date information on services and resources. The event will be held on:

Thursday, April 29, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Register in advance for this webinar.

Please email your questions in advance and no later than 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 29th. We will do our best to answer all emailed questions during the virtual town hall. For questions not addressed during the meeting, you will receive contact information for specialists who may be able to assist you directly. 

Please submit your questions to with Senator John Laird in the subject line. Virtual Town Hall on Emergency Preparedness and Wildfire Resources; Hosted by Senator John Laird

Insurance policy cancellation is a common topic among all County residents, both rural and urban.   Contact the State Dept. of Insurance if you have received such notice, as Commissioner Ricardo Lara strives to collect this data in order to address the problem. Mandatory One Year Moratorium Non Renewals

In a flurry of show to constituents that something is being done, state lawmakers are jumping in with a dizzying amount of proposed legislation with unknown outcomes. 

Three Dozen California Bills Focus on Wildfire, Others Are Concerning for Insurance Industry

The good news is that, according to the Rural Counties Representatives of California (RCRC), Senator Stern has stated he will not pursue his proposed SB 55, which would prohibit all construction in many rural areas.

Senate Bill 55, authored by Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas), which would have prohibited all commercial and residential development in Very High Fire Hazards Severity Zones (VHFHSZ)  and State Responsibility Areas (SRA), is not being pursued this year. During presentation of the bill in Senate Governance and Finance Committee last week, Senator Stern confirmed that he did not intend to move the bill forward this legislative session.

RCRC voiced its opposition to SB 55, and the predecessor measure SB 474 from last year. Banning all housing production in VHFHSZ is an unnecessarily broad approach to development in high fire prone areas and will certainly have immediate dire consequences on rural communities. Policies for housing construction in the State’s VHFHSZ must balance the need for new homes while mitigating the risk of loss of life and property from wildfire.

RCRC’s letter can be accessed here. For more information, contact Tracy Rhine, RCRC Senior Legislative Advocate by email or call (916) 447-4806 Website:

On the latest episode of Hometown California, our host, Paul A. Smith, speaks with Staci Heaton, RCRC’s Acting Vice President of Governmental Relations, about California’s perennial wildfires. As an RCRC advocate for more than 15 years, Staci’s focus has primarily been wildfire response and forest management, along with climate change and related state and federal natural resources policy.

Together, Paul and Staci discuss factors contributing to the ferocity of the fires, and potential solutions to address this growing problem. RCRC has worked tirelessly on the issue of forest management and wildfire prevention for decades. This year, RCRC’s Board of Directors adopted a Wildfire Package, a multipronged collection of legislative advocacy strategies, to address the systemic needs forest management and wildfire prevention in the State. Listen in to hear why more state leaders seem to be taking notice, how short-term needs are being addressed, and what more remains to be done. Download the episode now.

The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) published a Blue Paper recently, examining the effect of water problems on the Monterey Peninsula and affordable housing.

The report analyzes the issue, even citing the example of Soquel Creek Water District’s over pumping in aquifer areas of Santa Cruz County (page 20).  The Recommendations are interesting, and will likely be in the news as local Peninsula water jurisdictions take note and actions of this influential group. (pages 23-26)

I was interested in the term “Blue Paper”…technical memos are usually termed “White Paper”.

The term “blue paper” is a currently seldom used phrase that is slowly catching on around the world. First used in Germany, the term is used as a means of distinguishing between policy and procedure papers (white papers) and those papers outlining only technical specifications and descriptions of new technologies or particular pieces of equipment.

Preparation of a Blue Paper

To prepare a blue paper, one must first collect every technical aspect of a new technology (what it is, how it is useful, what its potential implications are, etc.) or the technical specifications of a new piece of equipment (components, features, uses, etc.). 

Not all white papers or blue papers are “technical”. A blue paper could for example be presented to a peer group in a meeting convened to establish a company policy. In that sense the blue paper forms the basis of discussion but is to be put to the group as a discussion guide to be reviewed, refined, and eventually (hopefully) ratified. A policy statement (White Paper) would then emerge and be adopted as the policy.


  1. It is important that this information is not forgotten:
    The Great Barrington Report: Great Barrington Declaration and Petition

  2. Thank you State Parks for the recent paving on Aptos Creek Road to improve safety access to Nisene Marks State Park
    Nisene Marks: Applause for Paved Road — Times Publishing Group, Inc.


Cheers, Becky Steinbruner

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


#115 / The Eggplant That Ate Chicago 

Apr 25


Proposed Development 831 Water Street

Probably not everyone will know of or remember the inspiring lyrics of “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago.” This was a 1966 hit song by Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band.  

I have never forgotten this song, which became a family favorite, way back in the day. I like the song on its own terms, and I have always thought that the lyrics have manifold metaphorical applications: 

He came from outer space, lookin’ for somethin’ to eat
He landed in Chicago, he thought Chicago was a treat
(It was sweet, it was just like sugar) 

You’d better watch out for the eggplant that ate Chicago
For he may eat your city soon (wacka-do, wacka-do, wacka-do)
You’d better watch out for the eggplant that ate Chicago
If he’s still hungry, your whole country is doomed  

You can hear the original song, which I encourage you to do – it’s a lot of fun – by clicking on the YouTube link at the bottom of this blog posting. The song came to mind, yesterday, as I visited “Lot #4,” in downtown Santa Cruz, to celebrate Earth Day and to lend support to those who are opposing a mammoth, six-story building that is proposed on the site of the current Farmer’s Market.  

The proposed project on Lot #4 would displace all current uses, and require cutting down the heritage magnolia trees on the site. It would include a 400-space parking garage and a library conjoined with and conjured into what is billed as an affordable housing project.  

If you thought that Santa Cruz already had a Library downtown – and had actually voted for the funding necessary to renovate it – you’d be right. The City Council, however, has opted for what some have called the “Taj Garage,” and is planning to use the Library renovation funding to move the Lot #4 project ahead. The Council, in fact, is now actively investigating what other kinds of high-density development could be placed on the Library site, right across the street from City Hall. Once our existing Library has been razed to the ground, all sorts of possibilities are opened up for a high-rise, high-density replacement structure right there. 

High-rise and high-density seem to be going around.  


What actually put me in mind of the “Eggplant” song wasn’t so much the Taj Garage – although it certainly could have. I happened to meet someone, yesterday, at the Earth Day event, who was trying to inform the public about the proposed project pictured at the top of this blog posting. The rendering is of the increasingly infamous “831 Water Street Project,” a proposal to place a six-story building on the corner of Branciforte and Water Streets, with a rooftop bar to cap it all off. The massive dimensions of the proposed building would totally overshadow a pretty nice residential neighborhood next door. That is where the person who talked to me actually lives. He thought the proposal was way out of scale and inappropriate. I agreed, and started thinking about that “Eggplant That Ate Chicago.”  



Just in case any Santa Cruz resident is not following current planning decisions, I am providing some pictures of a couple of developments already approved, and one that is pending approval. If ultimately constructed, these high-rise, high-density developments will fundamentally change the character and scale of downtown. The ones approved so far don’t do much to provide affordable housing, either: 


Laurel – Front Street (Approved)


Riverfront (Approved)
Soquel – Front Street (Proposed)


Soquel – Front (From the South, On The River)


Maybe downtown is the right place for such massive new mixed-use projects – though I am personally dubious, and particularly when these projects are designed to attract more upper income residents from outside the existing community. Ordinary income Santa Cruz residents are already being priced out of the community, and these new projects are only going to speed up the process. 

However, downtown developments are, traditionally, higher density and higher rise than developments in and adjacent to our residential neighborhoods. But take a look at that ever more infamous 831 Water Street project. It too is six floors. It demonstrates (and it’s not the only one, by any means), that the high-rise, high-density “Eggplant” that is eating up our downtown is hungry for more, and is heading right for our neighborhood areas. If that “Eggplant” of big development is still hungry, then Dr. West and the Junk Band may be right on target, and all of our corridors and all of our neighborhoods are ultimately doomed. 

Of course, I don’t really believe in “doom.” I believe in democracy. There is something we can do about this. It’s called “politics.” 

But those of us who like our existing neighborhoods pretty much the way they are had better watch out, just as Dr. West and the Junk Band advise. Click the link below, to listen to the song, and see if you don’t think there is a metaphorical application, right here in Santa Cruz, California. We are a long way from Chicago, but when I consider the “Eggplant” developers, and their collaborators down in the City offices, I’m thinking that we in the neighborhoods are looking pretty sweet, too! 

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


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


“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed”.
~Ernest Hemingway

“I had a TV set and a typewriter and that made me think a computer should be laid out like a typewriter with a video screen”.
~Steve Wozniak

“I don’t have a computer. A computer’s a typewriter. I already have a typewriter”.
~Ray Bradbury

“I take a certain pride in having maintained a reputation for fast copy throughout my newspaper career. Fast-breaking stories left my typewriter in a hurry. Not great literature, perhaps, but fast, and usually accurate”.
~Walter Cronkite

If you have followed my video recommendations here, you have seen Caitlin Doughty before. She has the YouTube channel “Ask a Mortician”, and she makes incredibly informational, educational, and interesting videos. This is a TEDtalk of hers.

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