BRATTON…relating to UCSC and the board of Regents. GREENSITE…on dealing with issues beyond rhetoric. SCHENDLEDECKER… the particularly relentless horrors of Santa Cruz homelessness policies. STEINBRUNER…Justin Cummings Coastal Commissioner, tiny homes on wheels, city density, Swenson’s Aptos Village, Santa Cruz City Water, HAYES…cotoni coast dairies 2064. PATTON…quicker, better, cheaper. MATLOCK…stormy weather removes Teflon for a mug shot. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week. QUOTES…”College”
DATELINE April 3
UCSC AND RELATED ISSUES. It seems at least ironic that UCSC is hosting/sponsoring its annual “Spring Give” pitch. The “give” attempts to collect funding for 40 student projects. With the pressure that UCSC puts on housing in Santa Cruz we have to wonder just how much of a benefit having UCSC in our midst. It’s very similar to the negative influences that UC Berkeley places on that city. There’s no denying that so many of us (me included) derive life styles and funds from the campus but at some point we need to figure a way to influence the Board of Regents to examine and change that town and gown relationship. The Board needs to build more student housing and build it in a place that preserves the truly unique atmosphere and not in or on the East Meadow. UC needs to lower the student tuition, provide many more jobs and better pay. How do we citizens/relatives of students get the University to respond? I confess that I don’t know what or how to approach the Board of Regents…nothing has worked so far.
If there was a private for profit corporation causing the same issues to our citizens and our environment we’d toss them out in a week!
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.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (8.3 IMDB) Years ago in this very same space I suggested, begged, pleaded that they take away Keanu Reeves acting license. He’s only 59 and is purported to be a kind human but fellow humans shouldn’t have to watch him on screens of any size. Yet, his Matrix and John Wick movies makes millions…go figure! This latest John Wick flick is one of the most violent, bloody, senseless movies I’ve ever seen and I get way more than enough violence and murder in our daily headlines. I’ve been trying hard to appreciate the talent in making a movie like this, and I can’t.
TETRIS. (APPLE MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). Tetris the world’s most popular video game has a very complex and even shady plus political history. Taron Egerton and Mara Huf are the leads and the entire movie is weird. How can anyone care about the history of a technical invention? Aren’t they all complex and involved with internal and external politics and shady money? We do learn that Tetris was invented by a kind, emphatic Russian guy. More than that becomes just kinky.
INFIESTO. (NETFLIX MOVIE). (5.5 IMDB). A Spanish thriller that keeps you awake through it all. It has covid and masks in the plot and extra fine camera work. There’s a cult, a hidden leader, a kidnapping plus a pair of devoted detectives and a surprise ending that you’ll remember. Go for it.
SWARM. (PRIME SERIES) (7.3 IMDB). If you’re a Beyoncé follower you’ll love this rock and roll Texas 2016 murder half mystery. It’s all mall life, sex workers, pole dancers, Thelma and Louise memories and a halfhearted attempt at a tense, tight plot. Don’t give up your daytime watching for this one.
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.
SUCCESSION. (HBO SERIES). (8.8 IMDB) ?Good to see Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin Sarah Snook and the rest of the very unfriendly Roy family back in this 4th season. New viewers may have a problem wading through the brittle family connections and the shady big money dealings but stick with it/them…they pay off. You won’t or can’t like any of the characters but its twisty fun watching them squirm.
THE LOST KING. (DEL MAR THEATRE). Sally Hawkins plays a real life woman who singlehandedly discovered the actual grave of King Richard III. Historians and Shakespearean fans will love this semi comedy/drama. Many unknown facts about Richard are uncovered and it’s mostly true.
THE NIGHT AGENT. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.5 IMDB). There’s a bomb on a New York Subway and an FBI agent happens to find it in time and save many lives. Then it becomes an odd mismatching of FBI and The President of the USA’s who is a woman, secret service. It rolls along fast but we’ve seen so many take-offs of this plot it’s nearly boring and predictable. Oh yes there’s a couple who are murdered thrown in the plot too.
TRUTH BE TOLD. (APPLE TV) (7.1 IMDB). Octavia Spencer does a great job as a podcaster who becomes a detective and goes after a new murderer each episode. It all happens in Oakland but we don’t see any great scenes from there. Kate Hudson enters the plot later but doesn’t help much.
CLOSE TO HOME: MURDER IN THE CORNFIELD. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.3 IMDB). A German film about a police officer with some hidden issues investigates a murder of a young girl in his old home town. The officer has a police woman partner and he has a past history that comes into play as well. Drug gangs are involved and the pacing is slow but involving. Try it.
THE ELEPHANT WHISPERERS. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). A documentary about an elephant rehab center in India where they take great and long lasting care of Asian elephants. It’s surprising and amazing how close and dependent the elephants and handlers become. This elephant center has existed for over 140 years. Watch it, you’ll learn a lot.
SIR. aka “Vaathi” (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.5 IMDB). A genre movie from India. That means songs and dances in the middle of tense dramatic scenes. It also deals with caste system, teaching problems, private versus government run schools, and many more education issues that aren’t unique to India. Then too be ready for cartoons inserted in strategic instances. Not recommended.
A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT.
Anyone involved in politics broadly defined is familiar with opponents using abstractions to push their agenda. Facts get moved to the side as rhetoric takes center stage. Thus, we will get multiple buildings on the sacred East Meadow at UCSC under the rhetoric of providing much-needed student housing despite the fact that such buildings are merely replacing existing family student housing but with fewer units. The current family student housing complex on the west side of campus (to be bulldozed) has 199 apartments plus child- care center while its replacement on the East Meadow will have 140 units plus child-care center.
Similarly, the proponents of the new high-rise mixed-use developments in town, with a smattering of below market rate units, talk of equity, pushing visions of our service workers living near their workplaces. This, despite the fact that the 80-90% market rate housing will pull in newcomers with big incomes, raising the ceiling price on the few “affordable” units until service workers are pushed out by those with higher incomes. This is true for even the very low -income categories since all levels are tied to the Area Median Income. Displacement of low- income residents and workers is a reality and could be measured but it won’t be, since that gets in the way of the rhetoric. Or a survey could be done on existing inclusionary (affordable) units to evaluate whether they did provide housing for our teachers, fire-fighters and police as promised or whether they are largely student housing. None of this fact-checking will be done. Facts get in the way of the sales job.
I’m noticing that rhetoric is replacing facts in some of the positions from the local left, especially issues interpreted in social justice terms. Our town is divided on the issue of the houseless, with one extreme seeing all the people camping outside as useless bums and the other extreme turning a blind eye to any negative behavior, seeing them all as victims. Meanwhile millions of dollars get thrown at the “problem” with few positive results. Most people are in the middle, having compassion for those living outside while recognizing and not tolerating the negative impacts caused by some. The houseless are a heterogeneous group. That issue was studied and determined in the early 1980’s and little has changed except the numbers have increased along with the social impacts. I’ve spent a bit of time in the Benchlands with Jane Mio and her wonderful BEST group, volunteers from those camping in the Benchlands, who worked to restore the river habitat and clean up after others less caring. Also, from the same camping community are some who steal bikes from children and clothes from the low-income Latino families living nearby. I know that for a fact since those families are my friends. They went looking for their clothes and saw the men who stole them lying on their clothes on the riverbank.
Similarly with the Oversized Vehicle issue. The left reduces a complex problem to “criminalizing the houseless,” and shrugs away documentation of health, safety, and environmental impacts. Or labels folks like me as eco-fascists. “Just give them dumpsters!” they say, which is done, and the garbage still piles up outside some of the vehicles. Citing that existing laws should be able to deal with such illegal behavior ignores the fact that such behavior must be witnessed to be actionable. It is unlikely that police or code enforcers have the bandwidth to regularly patrol the areas impacted and even more unlikely to spot the crime as its happening. Limiting OV’s taking up residence on city streets seems the only viable option. Stepping in where angels fear to tread, the CA Coastal Commission ignores the facts and labels it an “access to the coast” issue despite the fact that the line of permanent OV’s limits access for others who are not intent on parking permanently. I go by this area on my way to the Marine Labs on a weekly basis. I see the garbage, the ripped tree branches and the fires started. I wonder if children would feel safe walking Delaware to the trails in Natural Bridges in this context. Most of the campers are probably as benign as non-campers but there’s some who are strung out or aggressive. I’ve dealt with a few. Inconvenient facts for those working on the abstract level.
So, what does the photo above have to do with all of this? It is a frame from the SCPD video of police response to a 911 call on February 4th. Joy Schendledecker’s column in last week’s BrattonOnline mentions this case. Joy writes: “I wonder, though, why we have an arsenal of ‘less lethal’ equipment (chemical and physical) if it’s not even used along with de-escalation techniques when responding to a person in crisis, in possession of a pellet gun.” When I first heard Joy describe this case I agreed with her conclusion. Then I watched the video.
The 911 call is from a woman who describes a man in her backyard with a gun. He yells “You wanna be shot? I got a gun.” He is not “a person in crisis.” He is high (his words) on something, armed and threatening to kill a woman. He drives off, crashing his car. The first patrol car arrives on the scene and from the car, they order him to raise his hands. His response is to point the gun at the cops. Nobody knows at that point that the gun is a pellet gun. I’m no cop but I considered what other techniques or de-escalation options were reasonable and I can think of none other than what the cops did which was fire their guns first. If you point a gun at cops, expect to be shot. If I carry a weapon and you point a gun at me and threaten to shoot me, rest assured I will fire first.
It’s easy to default to capitalism being the problem, which it is. But short of worker control and a re-distribution of wealth plus an end to a war economy there are real, immediate issues to be grappled with. To distort the facts or omit facts to bolster an abstract position is a disservice to the truth whether from the right or the left. Any movement worth its salt must be based on better substance than rhetoric.
|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.|
Honestly, I would like to write about other things, but…
…the particularly relentless horrors of Santa Cruz homelessness policies just keep coming.
Last Friday, while preparing to participate in the Housing Matters “March to End Homelessness,” Love Boat got an alert that a family was in need. For the second time since the storms of winter 2021/22, their RV had been towed from the far Westside for not moving every 72 hours. Their battery was dead, and they took the chance that the vehicle abatement officer wouldn’t come by early in the day. They lost that bet, along with everything they couldn’t carry with them.
A few of us were able to get the family some cash, tents, sleeping bags, and blankets, so at least they and their cats would have a little basic protection from the elements. We just hope their replacement shelter isn’t confiscated too.
The irony isn’t lost on me that the March to End Homelessness took place on April Fool’s Day. And that Mayor Keeley speechified and led the march after several weeks of especially troubling comments (and council votes) on CARE Courts, a tough on crime “war on drugs,” hot-potatoing emergency shelter during storms back to the county, cracking down on Food not Bombs, and targeting “behavior, not status.”
Keeley’s newest catch-phrase about targeting behavior is profoundly superficial, classist, and ableist.
Let’s imagine a class of second-graders. Most of the kids are within “normal” ranges for developmental milestones, academic progress, and behavioral norms. A few are outside of the norm but can manage to conform enough that they don’t draw much negative attention to themselves. But one child just cannot sit still. Another is terribly shy and alone. A third is visibly poor and relentlessly bullied. The shy child shrinks into themselves and self-harms, the overactive one is repeatedly sent to the office and labeled a troublemaker in the absence of a learning difference diagnosis, and the bullied child finally fights back and is expelled.
The kids in this classroom are not on a level playing field. Some of them need accommodations, a different learning environment, or extra support in order to get by, let alone succeed. Who knows what’s going on in their brains, bodies, homes, or communities? And these differences don’t just magically go away when children become adults.
Thinking about “behavior, not status” in another way: The family that had their RV home confiscated was doing something illegal. The consequences for their criminal behavior have been meted out. According to Mayor Keeley’s logic, justice has been served.
But is it right? Is it helpful? Will it disrupt intergenerational trauma, ensure care for those with access and functional needs, and contribute to public health and safety for that family, the neighborhood, and the natural environment?
“Wrong life cannot be lived rightly,” (Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life, 1951) means that when you exist in a system that is wrong, or is set up in a way that is impossible to comply with based on your ethics or life circumstances, there is no way to conform. You are by (their) definition “wrong.” You will be othered, criminalized, punished. The “why” of your actions doesn’t matter to the system.
To be less philosophical: If you don’t have access to running water and a toilet, you poop in a hole or a bucket. You’re wrong, and there are consequences for your wrongness.
I’m currently taking the Conflict Resolution Center’s Community Mediation Training (online) with Mace, who I had the pleasure of meeting in person at the post-march festival. Watch her speak at the rally on these themes and see if you can manage not to cry.
Action items for this week:
Read and sign the letter below. Talk to your City Council electeds and appointeds at the Coastal Commission, Zoning Administrator, and Transportation and Public Works Commission about the need for people to be able to exist in this system that doesn’t care for them, without being criminalized.
I’ve applied for the Transportation and Public Works Commission (because I love garbage and sewage and infrastructure) several times over the past few years, but was denied appointment even when I was the only applicant and had the endorsements of Sandy Brown and Justin Cummings. This year I ranked my top eight advisory body choices in the hopes I might be appointed to one. Given how many times Keeley said, “there’s hardly any daylight between me and my opponent,” at forums, you’d think he would support my appointment to something! Or maybe he didn’t really mean it? I’m on the list of applicants to the Planning Commission, which has an opening to be filled at the April 11th council meeting. Send in an email of support, or comment at the meeting.
Complete the San Lorenzo Park redesign survey and request to be added to the noticing email list. What kind of park do we want? A corporate, gentrified playground or a nature refuge or…?
We need as many groups to sign on to a letter of support of the Coastal Commission’s right to levy fines against the City of Santa Cruz as possible!
The City of Santa Cruz is trying to re-stripe parking spaces throughout the Coastal Zone as a backdoor, street-by-street, way of implementing the Oversized Vehicle Ordinance without having to negotiate the terms of implementation with the Coastal Commission (state regulators). The intention of re-striping parking is to make parking spaces too small for larger vehicles that low-income tourists use to visit, and unhoused folks live in. The area which initially inspired the OVO to be implemented is where this restriping effort is focused on (Delaware Ave, Natural Bridges Dr, Shaffer Rd, and Mission St. Ext). In doing this, the City of Santa Cruz is presenting a clear challenge to Coastal Commission authority, and it may set a precedent for future actions which may require their enforcement.
Given the recent negative attention the Coastal Commission has been given regarding appointment procedures, and a recent op-ed by Mike Rotkin calling into question the Coastal Commission asserting its authority in matters of “social justice”, it seems that the city is testing the boundaries of their relationship with the Coastal Commission and may attempt to organize public pressure on them to either negate fines for restriping, or lower fines to the point that they are a negligible cost of doing business.
If this is the case, and the Coastal Commission feels uncomfortable asserting its authority in this matter, we have few options for how to defend the dozens of vehicularly housed residents who park in the coastal zone and have nowhere else to go. In that vein, I believe that we need as many groups to sign on to a letter of support for the Coastal Commission’s right to levy fines against the City of Santa Cruz as possible!
If you care about poor people, people living in vehicles as a last resort, low-income tourists in RVs and campers, or if you just support the Coastal Commission’s ability to continue enforcing equitable public access to our California coastal areas for all, please reach out to your unions, your community organizations, your non-profits, your political groups, and more, to sign this letter!
And if you would feel more comfortable signing the letter if it were first edited in some way, please make those suggestions on the above document.
Santa Cruz Cares
|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: email@example.com.|
SUPERVISOR JUSTIN CUMMINGS APPOINTED TO CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION
It has been decades since Santa Cruz County had an appointee on the very powerful Coastal Commission, but that now changes with Supervisor Justin Cummings’ appointment. Last week, Speaker of the House Anthony Rendon chose Supervisor Cummings for the job.
You may remember that local investigative journalist Chris Neely at Lookout Santa Cruz blew the whistle on the decades of Brown Act violations this County’s City Selection Committee had committed by meeting secretly in restaurants to choose such nominees for this and other powerful jobs. That secret group had chosen Supervisor Zach Friend, Capitola City Councilmember Yvette Brooks, and Santa Cruz City Mayor Fred Keeley. to nominate for the vacant seat on the Coastal Commission.
Seemingly, a virtual re-do of that secret meeting that appears to have not been publicly noticed on the County website at all, chose to nominate only Yvette Brooks, and included some contrite narrative in an effort to smooth things over.
However, on the February 28 County Board of Supervisor meeting Consent Agenda Item #25, Supervisor Cummings nominated himself, as he could legally do, according to Assemblyman Rendon’s letter that he attached. Without pulling the item from the Consent Agenda, Supervisor Manu Koenig also asked to be self-nominated, and Supervisor Bruce McPherson revealed the Board had received a letter from Yvette Brooks, asking to also have her name thrown in the hat for nominations.
DOC-2023-154 Approve the nomination of Supervisor Cummings to the California Coastal Commission and direct the Chairperson to submit nomination to the Speaker of the Assembly within the 45-day application period, as recommended by Supervisor Cummings
The letter Supervisor McPherson referenced is #w in written Correspondence, but the letter is undated. There has been no letter from the County’s City Selection Committee ever listed in written correspondence or as recommendation to the Board.
I am glad that Speaker Rendon chose to appoint Supervisor Cummings, whose nomination was made with transparency and public discussion, albeit as a Consent Agenda Item.
COASTAL COMMISSION TO CONSIDER COUNTY’S NEW TINY HOMES ON WHEELS ORDINANCE
Next Friday, April 14, the Coastal Commission will consider the impacts of the County’s proposed new Tiny Homes on Wheels Ordinance for the coastal areas. This includes all areas on the ocean-side of Highway One, and includes about one mile inland from the Highway in the Davenport area.
I think this is a great idea because the new Ordinance would allow the CZU Fire Survivors, still struggling with the Planning Dept. to get permits to rebuild, could live in tiny homes on their properties as a primary residence. Later, the tiny home could be used as an ADU, on that property or another, because it is mobile.
Here is the link to the staff report, which recommends the Commission approve the Executive Director’s determination that this will not harm coastal resources, and thereby is de minimus in impact.
The Tiny Homes On Wheels (THOWs) ordinance, was approved by the Board of Supervisors on December 6, 2022 and is already in effect for properties outside of the Coastal Zone.
The ordinance will be in effect for properties inside the coastal zone after certification by the California Coastal Commission.
If you have questions, here is the County Contact: David Carlson, Resource Planner, 831-454-3173, firstname.lastname@example.org.
COASTAL COMMISSION TO ALSO CONSIDER SANTA CRUZ CITY CHANGES IN DENSITY LANGUAGE
The Coastal Commission will also review changes to the City of Santa Cruz Coastal Plan to allow for new “Flexible Density Housing Units” to allow more “affordable by design” units…aka, extremely small units in high-density developments.
Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST PROVIDE THE INFORMATION?
I took legal action as a self-represented litigant, solely for Public Benefit, in 2020 against the California Coastal Commission when they rubber-stamped the Consolidated Coastal Development Permit for the PureWater Soquel Project without any regard whatsoever as to how it will significantly and potentially adversely affect the coastal resources in our County. Several documents I had submitted well in advance of the Commission’s March 9 meeting, which included two expert witness analyses, were omitted from the agenda packet, only to be added at the last minute. Many Commissioners openly admitted they had not even received them before the hearing.
It has since been a long and drawn-out process, with COVID causing unprecedented court closures and societal lockdowns, but last week, I was finally scheduled to present oral argument before the judge in San Francisco. I was shocked to read the judge’s advance Tentative Ruling against me, stating that the Coastal Act is merely a legislative suggestion, and did not really have to be legally met.
I filed a Public Records Act request with the Coastal Commission to see what recent actions, if any, had come before them regarding the PureWater Soquel Project, which has been drastically modified twice by the Soquel Creek Water District Board as new information caused unforeseen treatment problems.
To my amazement, in the responsive materials that I received, I learned that the Coastal Commission Executive Director issued an 11-page list of Special Conditions regarding the Project in September, 2020. The Special Conditions for the permit were signed by the District’s General Manager Ron Duncan on October 1, 2020.
By-and-large, these Conditions addressed the majority of the grave concerns I had presented in my testimony before the Commission, and stated with legal references to the Coastal Act and other statutes in the Petition for Writ of Mandate legal complaint I had filed in June, 2020, simply asking that the Coastal Commission follow the law.
Oddly, Soquel Creek Water District had failed to include the document in the Public Records Act request materials I had filed to get in 2021. The State Attorney representing the Coastal Commission made no mention of the document when we spoke on the phone for required conference in February, 2021.
Accordingly, last week, I requested the Court to dismiss my case, because in essence, due to the new information that both parties had essentially withheld, and it appears the local Commission Executive Director is watching over the District’s compliance, further legal action was not necessary.
The Court granted my request, and ruled that all parties should bear their own costs.
I am still wondering why the attorneys involved failed to provide me with the information earlier when I had requested such documentation? It would have saved a lot of money, time and stress for everyone.
SANTA CRUZ CITY WATER PROJECT UPDATES
The Santa Cruz City Water Commission meets on the first Monday of every month, and is now returning to in-person meetings. I urge anyone interested in water and how much it will cost in the future to attend these meetings and to keep informed about what improvement projects are planned
It is interesting that the Beltz 12 Well developed a problem with ammonia and hydrogen sulfide in 2020, causing the well to be shut down. The same problem occurred earlier at the nearby Soquel Creek Water District’s new O’Neill Ranch Well, also causing that well to be shut down and many various treatment efforts applied without success.
NOTIFICATION OF ELEVATED PFAS CARCINOGEN LEVELS IN SANTA CRUZ CITY WELL IN LIVE OAK
A notification letter from the City of Santa Cruz Water Dept. in the March 14, 2023 Board of Supervisor agenda correspondence caught my eye…that usually means there is a problem with a contaminant. Take a look at letter #aa from Rosemary Menard
This is a legally-required notice to the County that water from one of the City’s wells in Live Oak (Beltz Well 8) has elevated levels of a PFAS contaminant, and the levels are increasing.
The City of Santa Cruz has planned to use the Beltz 8 well as one of a few others in that area that would accept injected storm water in wet years, and store it for supplying drinking water in dry years. The well has had some problems with elevated arsenic in recent tests of this groundwater storage plan.
In my opinion, the rising level of PFHxs is troubling, and I wonder if other wells in the area will also register this contaminant problem in the future.
Incidentally, it was via a similar Notification Letter to the Board of Supervisors a few years ago, tucked quietly into the Correspondence at the end of an agenda, that I learned about Soquel Creek Water District’s very high levels of 1,2,3-TCP carcinogen at the County Club Well. It was troubling to me that the District was continuing to include that contaminated water into the drinking water supply of the Seascape area customers. The Board and staff felt assured that blending the contaminated water with water from other wells took care of that problem, simply by diluting it. How did the contaminated water get blended? It did not involve a treatment tank. Hmmmm……
The well has since been taken off-line but remains on standby if emergency supplies are needed in the Seascape area.
NISENE MARKS STATE PARK CLOSED TO VEHICLE TRAFFIC
On March 22, State Parks officials closed out vehicle traffic in Nisene Marks State Park, due to storm damage to the road and unsafe trees.
This Park is very popular with hikers and mountain bikers alike. Where can they go now?
MANY WONDER WHEN SWENSON WILL OPEN PARADE STREET IN APTOS VILLAGE, NOW THAT COUNTY HAS SIGNED OFF ON PAYING $3 MILLION TO HELP
The County taxpayers have shouldered the bill for all improvements in the Aptos Village area to help Barry Swenson’s Aptos Village Project move along, with benefit of some unwritten agreements. Last week’s Board of Supervisor meeting included Consent Agenda Item #60 that approved spending nearly $3 MILLION in taxpayer money just to prepare Soquel Drive for Barry Swenson’s new Parade Street connector.
DOC-2023-264 Accept the improvements and final cost of $2,935,564.40 for the Aptos Village Improvements Phase 2B project, and take related actions, as recommended by the Deputy CAO/Director of Community Development and Infrastructure – Santa Cruz Cou
Many wonder why the intersection is still blocked?
Over the past couple of weeks, I have observed crews working at the railroad signal area and learned that until the signal mechanisms are operational, the intersection must remain barricaded. It seems the problem is lack of a certain microchip that makes the signals function, and like many such cases, the supply is stalled in China.
The signal crew had tried installing some old equipment, hoping it would work, but it didn’t.
Some also wonder if Barry Swenson will be able to get funding to kick-start the Phase 2 Aptos Village Project mess. That remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, Swenson has lovingly stored the historic redwood skirting panels taken from the High Apple Barn and keeping them on hand for repairs, as is required in Condition of Permit Approval. At least the multiple unsightly dumpsters were recently hauled away. Swenson is only supposed to have one onsite dumpster but has violated that Condition of Permit consistently.
WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. ATTEND A PUBLIC HEARING.
JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK, AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
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
COAST DAIRIES, 2064
I invite you to immerse yourself for a few moments into my dream of the future of Santa Cruz’ North Coast. How will Cotoni Coast Dairies fare in the future, for instance in 2064? During the past year, many things have aligned to allow my dream to be much closer to reality.
Cotoni Coast Dairies’ new manager, Zacchary Ormsby is the first with the skill, knowledge and respect to manage the property according to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) protocol for lands with National Monument and National Conservation Lands status. Zacchary is joined by a freshly hired California Coastal Monument manager, another conservation-oriented biologist, Leisyka Parrot. Congressman Jimmy Panetta, a skilled veteran of addressing impacts in over-loved and under-stewarded wildlands of Big Sur, has been newly elected to represent Cotoni Coast Dairies’ geography. Jimmy is dedicated to helping address North Coast tourist visitation issues with his important federal government leverage. And Justin Cummings with his doctorate in multi-disciplinary environmental problem solving is newly both the County Supervisor AND the Coastal Commissioner overseeing the park. Meanwhile, many very smart coalitions are poised to work together to assure that Cotoni Coast Dairies is a park for all, well stewarded for wildlife, forever.
It is 2064, the 50th anniversary of Cotoni Coast Dairies becoming public land, and there are national celebrations of this unexpectedly exemplary project. The New York Times has a full color Sunday edition article featuring the park’s success. Cotoni Coast Dairies has become a global destination for accessible, multi-cultural nature tourism. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have enjoyed immersive educational experiences that are the gold standard being copies at other parks around the world. Programs at the park have changed lives of thousands of underrepresented schoolchildren from throughout the Bay Area. Tourists of many nationalities flock to Santa Cruz with this destination in mind. The park’s managers have worked closely with scientists and conservationists, succeeding in restoring the property’s teeming wildlife populations. Visitation is so well managed that many different experiences are available, no matter what ethnicity or language and no matter the financial means. Using cutting edge technology, parks administrators provide the vast array of experiences that visitors report wanting and have developed software to continuously adapt available park experiences accordingly. BLM has received recognition for their sound management through strong public as well as private funding and through the added capacity of dedicated partner organizations and volunteers.
Badgers, Burrowing Owls, and Tule Elk, Oh My!
Early on, BLM partnered with local scientists, State and Federal wildlife agencies, and conservation groups with what turned out to be highly successful reintroduction programs for American badger, western burrowing owl, beaver, and tule elk. Volunteers working with conservation groups adapted prior regional wildlife connectivity successes to create Western North America’s first badger preserve by reintroducing ground squirrels, installing drift fences to underpasses along roads to reduce badger fatalities, and creating landscape-scale habitat corridors, and badger populations recovered. Because badgers prefer sandy soils for denning, Cotoni Coast Dairies managers designed large recreation-free buffers around the best denning sites; at first, those buffers were insufficient, but monitoring refined buffer design, and the badgers responded positively with their first young born in 2040. The badger and ground squirrel burrows created habitat that made it possible to later reintroduce burrowing owls which have established several breeding colonies in the huge swaths of restored coastal prairies. These wildlife species have become an important focus for visitation.
Restored Coastal Prairie
Besides reintroduction of these keystone grassland wildlife species, BLM managers embarked on two other processes that turned out to be critical to the restoration of some of California’s last remaining coastal prairies. First, the entire property, including its prairies, became actively cared for by the descendants of the indigenous people who have tended the landscape for thousands of years. The importance of indigenous stewardship was an insight from the outset, including in the name of the property beginning with the tribal name of the first inhabitants, ‘Cotoni.’ In the process of recognizing and revitalizing their culture, native people have directed hundreds of programs attracting thousands of volunteers, school children, and others to collaborate in the large-scale restoration of the land. They reintroduced fire management and tended wildflowers and grasses, carefully relearning the best ways to nurture them to health. The native peoples have revived their internationally renowned basketry, tending plants throughout the park for materials.
At the same time, BLM managers have used cutting-edge, science-based livestock grazing management to restore coastal prairie health. They have collaborated with many other coastal prairie managers, from Humboldt to Santa Barbara, to manage cattle alongside tule elk herds, moving the animals through a matrix of patches of grasslands managed with prescribed fire and reseeding. The prairies draw visitors each spring to view stunning spring wildflower displays unrivaled in the region.
Vibrant Lagoons and Beaches
The 2050s were a decade of sea level rise adaptation made possible by the strong North Coast public lands managers partnership facilitated for decades by Santa Cruz City Parks. The first beach and Highway 1 realignment to be redesigned was at Scott Creek Beach, back in the 2030’s. Then, there were successes in restoring Lidell Creek/Bonny Doon Beach and Laguna Creek/Laguna Beach, and then the coalitions managed to redesign all the other North Coast Beaches and highway crossings. Economic development, transportation and conservation interests all converged, and every beach has moved inland of Highway 1. Multi-use bridges accommodate public transport, pedestrian, and bicycle use as well as interpretive and viewing areas which draw the highest numbers of visitors.
The redesigned bridges allowed reintroduction of beavers, which in turn restored fish habitat. Coho salmon and steelhead have been reproducing in all the newly restored streams. After 40 years, BLM wildlife biologists have succeeded in restoring California red-legged frog populations to every beaver pond and lagoon on the North Coast; this is the last place they can be reliably found, the last viable population remaining on Earth. While beachgoing recreation is no longer possible on most North Coast Beaches, the small slivers of sand now support snowy plover nests alongside elephant seal nurseries, drawing wildlife-oriented tourists to high tech, wildlife sensitive viewing opportunities.
Cotoni Coast Dairies has become known for its approachability and accessibility. Visitors are greeted by guides who can communicate in 14 languages; interpretive information on interactive signs is available in an additional 30 languages. Guides are provided state of the art, sustainably constructed family homes attached to visitor interpretation outposts spread throughout the property, allowing 24-7 oversight.
Visitor experiences at Cotoni Coast Dairies vary with time in response to ongoing surveys of existing and potential users. While it has become necessary to limit use, a universally available reservation system assures fair distribution of tickets. Free transportation into the park is available from nearby public transit hubs. The reservation system allows park managers to adjust amount and types of use, including segregating users within the park, to accommodate visitor expectations and reduce use conflict. Families feel safe walking small children or elderly family members on tranquil trails while thrill seeking bicycle riders enjoy uncrowded downhill forays without worrying about others’ safety. If you don’t mind more crowded conditions, you won’t be surprised by what you experience. But, if you want more solitude or better wildlife viewing opportunities, parks managers have specific days, trails and destinations just for you.
One of the most popular reservation requests is for guided nighttime wildlife viewing. For this opportunity, small groups are guided into one of 10 remote viewing locations designed to minimize wildlife impacts while maximizing the opportunity to view nighttime wildlife using the latest night vision technology. Visitors enjoy these immersive experiences, with interpretation and storytelling by expert volunteer naturalists.
Digital communication has allowed active feedback about visitors’ experiences to parks managers, and data feeds into the network of universities participating in the studies and assisting with adaptive management. Management response to real time social carrying capacity analysis has become second nature to Cotoni Coast Dairies users and the vastly superior visitor use experience has resulted in a high demand for updating other park system management protocol.
Realizing the Dream
What I describe above is truly attainable if we want it bad enough and are willing to act. The key element of success is public will which is necessary to raise our capacity to succeed. We’ll need leadership, volunteers, capital, technology, and kindness. And, we need to have a common vision: I hope I began that by communicating something we can work together to hone and then aspire to. If you like this vision, let BLM, Jimmy Panetta, and Justin Cummings know by clicking those links and writing a short note referencing this essay.
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 email@example.com
I would not, myself, want to hang off the front of a massive high-rise office building, washing windows. I honor those, however, who do this job – and it appears that quite a few people do. According to the Zippia Website, there are over 12,000 window cleaners in the United States, and a significant number of them, I am pretty sure, do work on high-rise window washing. Here are some statistics:
Research Summary. Using a database of 30 million profiles, Zippia estimates demographics and statistics for window cleaners in the United States. Our estimates are verified against BLS, Census, and current job openings data for accuracy. After extensive research and analysis, Zippia’s data science team found that:
- There are over 12,244 window cleaners currently employed in the United States.
- 6% of all window cleaners are women, while 89.4% are men.
- The average age of an employed window cleaner is 48 years old.
- The most common ethnicity of window cleaners is White (59.5%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (20.6%), Black or African American (9.9%) and Unknown (4.3%).
- Window cleaners are most in-demand in San Diego, CA.
- The construction industry is the highest-paying for window cleaners.
- 5% of all window cleaners are LGBT.
According to a newsletter published by Axios.com, a lot of these window washing jobs are going to be eliminated. Reporters Jennifer A. Kingson, Joann Muller, and Alex Fitzpatrick tell us that “human window washers could go the way of the chimney sweep, thanks to a pair of new robotics startups.”
You can click this link to get the full story. In short, who needs human window washers when robots can do it quicker, better, cheaper?
Historically, of course, there is nothing new about technological advances making some jobs obsolete. One way of looking at it is to decide that the “world of robots,” into which we seem to be entering, is just the latest example. Is that a fair evaluation of where we are?
Well, “Yes,” and “No,” it seems to me.
I have mentioned this topic before, and I have also mentioned a new book, which addresses the issue in some detail: The Perils of Invention: Lying, Technology, And The Human Condition.
Human ingenuity is being mobilized, more and more, in an effort to eliminate the need for human beings at all. Some, like Ray Kurzweil, pursue this goal explicitly, hoping to live long enough to witness the “singularity,” that moment when “there will be no distinction … between human and machine nor between physical and virtual reality” [Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near (New York. Viking USA, 2005), 7].
The more I see what is actually being contemplated, the more I think that I’d like to stick with human beings, instead of trying to replace human beings with machines, or supersede them entirely. It you want to do some thinking about this topic – and it is a topic worth thinking about – you could do a lot worse than getting a copy of that book I mentioned – and then reading it!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
STORMY WEATHER REMOVES TEFLON FOR A MUG SHOT
Well, it finally happened this week, and now Ivanka Trump’s kids can have matching photos of both their grandfathers’ mug shots sitting on the mantel…maybe, unless The Donald gets his way and is/was able to opt out of that part of his booking on Tuesday. The former TV showman is being thwarted in his attempt to borrow from a collector, O.J. Simpson’s white ’93 Ford Bronco, as he shows up at Manhattan Criminal Court for his appearance to hear the charges prepared by County D.A. Bragg and the grand jury. Senator Lindsey Graham asked to be the driver, but the Secret Service determined that his teary-bleary eyes disqualified him, handing him a box of facial tissues and telling him to go stand in the corner and straighten up. As reported, the Trump defense team of Susan Necheles and Joe Tacopina declared, “President Trump has been indicted. He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court. Substantial legal challenges will be filed and a plea deal is not gonna happen.” Trump was caught off guard by this action…Bragg’s strategy, with the grand jury previously announcing a recess until late-April and the defense team preparing for a break from the case amid hopes that it was perhaps being dropped. Trump’s call for court house protests resulted in more reporters showing up, with a large contingent being present celebrating the indictment news.
Critics of DJT’s ‘political persecution’ are calling his caper with Stormy Daniels ‘a personal matter,’ ignoring the likelihood that there are numerous charges in the sealed indictment, as they beat the drums loudly about the unfairness of a perceived, but deceptively characterized, single charge. So, take the rag away from your face, Lindsey, now’s not the time for your tears. D.A. Bragg seemed reluctant to take on the ongoing Trump case when he assumed his position, having reservations about the testimony given by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney. With the passage of time, Bragg became more focused, especially as other legal actions against the former president were resulting in successes, and speculation is that over 30 counts against Trump lie within that sealed envelope…in hindsight, were these predictions correct? Defendant Trump views the court action as working in his favor, energizing his base and winning new sympathetic adherents who may not like him but feel that a former chief executive should not face the music for an alleged extramarital affair. Team Trump’s email says they raised over $4 million in the hours after indictment was announced. They offered no comment on reports that Melania Trump was once again wearing her ‘I Really Don’t Care, Do U?’ jacket once again.
As expected, the GOP has rushed in to protect the Defendant’s sainted orange halo, the tearful Lindsey G. begging for contributions to fight this ‘injustice’, and Governor Ron DeSantis expressing his refusal to cooperate with any extradition orders from his state of Florida. In vain, House Republicans have asked D.A. Bragg to testify before their committee, as they interfere with the prosecution, but he has sternly told them to stay on their side of the fence…as in “Butt Out…go pound sand!” Fox News is firmly back in Trump’s camp, calling for protests and inciting unrest, with Tucker Carlson saying, “…probably not the best time to give up your AR-15.” Even Senator Graham showed his colors with a sure fire plan to have his idol escape prosecution, by attacking Bragg as being soft on crime, and suggesting that The Don on his journey to the Criminal Court he could “smash some store windows, rob a few shops and punch a cop. He would be released IMMEDIATELY!” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted his support, criticizing Bragg, saying, “He routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public.” Governor DeSantis added, “Bragg consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal conduct. Yet, now he is stretching the law to target a political opponent.” Former Trump side-kick, Mike Pence, says the indictment “sends a terrible message to the world,” about American justice, and will encourage dictators to abuse power. Uhh, Mikey, isn’t that what we are fighting against in your old buddy? Oh yeah, ‘now’s not the time to talk about…blah, blah, blah.’ Let’s talk after Tuesday, ‘kay?
Non-candidates Pence and DeSantis continue to hedge their bets in their non-presidential race declarations as they keep their attention on Trump’s base – don’t want to offend anybody, guys! Never know when you’ll need a good word from Dorito Mussolini and his minions. Former Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson, on the other hand has jumped right into the race, joining Nikki Haley and a couple of other minor players, as an announced candidate, and will make a formal bid official later this month. He claims that in touring the country he hears Americans asking for “leaders that appeal to the best of America, and not appeal to our worst instincts. I believe that I can be that kind of leader for the people of America.” Prior to his governorship he served in the House of Representatives, and was a federal prosecutor, and has suggested with the indictment, Trump should drop his presidential aspirations, “For the sake of the office of the presidency.” It has become too much of a “sideshow and a distraction, and he needs to concentrate on his due process…I’m not supportive of Donald Trump. I want to provide an alternative, but I’m happy if the voters make that decision and choice. I don’t like the idea of the charges from what I’ve seen coming out of New York. But the process has got to work, and we have to have respect for our criminal justice system, but also for the office of the presidency.” Ace, did you clear this with Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders?
Robert Reich on Inequality Media Civic Action, writes, “The indictment of Trump is a victory for the rule of law and democracy. It shows that no person is above the law and that our justice system will not be bullied by threats of violence. But make no mistake: This indictment also makes Donald Trump more dangerous than ever. You see, for the tens of millions of people who still believe the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen, this indictment simply confirms Trump’s narrative that the system is rigged against them. They believe the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was a patriotic act of resistance, and Trump will use this indictment to further galvanize his supporters, laying the groundwork for another, possibly more violent, coup attempt in 2024. That’s Trump’s plan, clear as day, and we ignore the threat at our own peril…Our democracy is facing another major stress test, with Trump’s rhetoric more apocalyptic and dangerous than ever, and no one in the Republican Party seemingly able or willing to stop him. The bottom line is this: Donald Trump’s next coup attempt is already underway, and we must start now fighting back to defend our democracy.” That should be the perfect call for us to start scraping the Teflon coating from Defendant Prima Donald.
With all the ruckus around Manhattan this week, it would be understandable that the big news was overlooked…our U.S. Senate voted to end the Iraq War, a symbolic vote which took no bravery whatsoever! The 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force to invade Iraq, a historical hangover of the first degree, and a reminder of the game of chicken played with then-president George W. Bush and his war party…repealed! The vote will have no impact on the 2,500 or so military advisors and trainers remaining in that country, as Congress tries to reclaim its war-making duty after Bush won several skirmishes for funding to stay in Iraq, while refusing to be forced into a withdrawal timetable. With troops already in place, Congress blinked, feeling it had no choice but to protect our military with even more money and materiel. That portion of the Authorization that covers counterterrorism operations worldwide remains intact, but evidently feeling their oats, Congress went so far as to repeal the authorization for the 1991 Persian Gulf War because…why not? Makes you proud that two wars were ended on the same day by such an august body which is mostly in the September of its years.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was so shocked this week when he discovered a poll revealing Americans are less focused on religion and child-bearing, equating that with loss of pride in America. “Why can’t we be proud of America?”, he asked. So there you have it folks…raise the flag, have more babies and read your holy book. Oh, and keep the AR-15 handy…genuflect, genuflect. Look for a House investigation into this matter by Bonehead Kev, coming to a committee near you to appease his favorite alleged billionaire and other demented pols.
According to Daily Kos a 2013-2014 video clip from the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) is circulating which will set Marjorie Traitor Greene’s hair on fire. “CBN has brought you all the greatest fundamentalist and evangelical hits over the years: homophobia, racism, climate change denialism, bad science, and hydroxychloroquine cures for COVID-19,” says Kos. Baptist media mogul Pat Robertson, on one of his call-in shows, was asked by a caller if it was wrong to refer to two co-workers as females after legally changing their gender status in light of the Bible’s admonitions against homosexuality. Robertson was slightly dismissive of “all that,” stating, “There are men who are in women’s bodies, rare but true; or women that are in men’s bodies, and they all say they want a sex change. And that is a very permanent thing. I don’t think there’s any sin associated with that. I don’t condemn anybody for doing that. It’s for you to decide or to judge.” Kos goes on to say, “There has been homophobia in Judeo-Christian religion for a very long time…evangelicals and Christian conservatives in our country did not invent it…many people whose faith is connected to Old or New Testaments have continued to apply context to their religion and history, while also keeping the concept of metaphor alive. The problem with these two groups, while pretending to be stoic and unyielding in their beliefs and readings and teachings, continue to change and move the goalposts of their religion as political norms ebb and flow…it bears repeating: Evangelicals and Christian conservatives are simply politicians, and if you follow them you are receiving the same amount of spiritual guidance that you would get from a politician.” Fire extinguisher, Marjorie?
Another freight train derailment involving about 25 cars in Montana on Sunday sent several freight cars into the Clark Fork River near Lolo National Forest with no resulting injuries. A butane tanker car was undamaged but many of the cars were empty, aside from several cars carrying hundreds of cases of Coors Lite and Blue Moon beers, several of which ended up in the river. Most of the spillage was confined and it was reported that fish in the river could detect no difference in water quality. Ouch! Take that light beer imbibers!
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: email@example.com
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.
“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education”.
“Before the 1970s, banks were banks. They did what banks were supposed to do in a state capitalist economy: they took unused funds from your bank account, for example, and transferred them to some potentially useful purpose like helping a family buy a home or send a kid to college”.
“I’m going to college. I don’t care if it ruins my career. I’d rather be smart than a movie star”.
“Going to college offered me the chance to play football for four more years”.
I am so delighted by this band, for some reason! They just make me smile 🙂
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