Blog Archives

August 10 – 16, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Fred Keeley returns signed mayor papers, Joy Schendledecker’s launch party, Justin Cummings announces lawn sign time and kickoff party.GREENSITE…on the downtown library battle. KROHN…reprint from February 17, 2017 with BearCat tank, ICE raids, UCSC housing. STEINBRUNER…County supes term limits, LAFCO and Soquel Creek Water District, Watsonville boundaries, Central Valley Dust Bowl, elephant seal research, CZU Fire film showings. HAYES…Mammals around us. PATTON…Deep changes needed. MATLOCK…a home grown MAGAt, with a soft autocrat on the side. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS on organizing QUOTES…”Fires”. 


SANTA CRUZ & SAN LORENZO RIVER MOUTH. 1921. This photo was taken by Roy Houser as part of an aerial survey by the U.S. Navy. It shows the Boardwalk before the Giant Dipper roller coaster was installed in 1924. The beach by the river mouth was/is totally changed when our down coast Yacht Harbor was dug out in later years.                                                         

photo credit: private collection of Roy Houser’s son, Jerry Houser)

Additional information always welcome: email


POLITICAL WHEELS TURNING AND ALMOST CHURNING AGAIN. It’s probably all over our media that Fred Keeley is returning has filled out papers that’ll commit him for running for Mayor this Thursday (08/11).

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Justin Cummings reminded us that as of last Tuesday (8/9) it’s ok to put up your yard signs. Cummings fall kickoff will be on Thursday, August, 18th from 530-730 at The London Nelson Center in downtown Santa Cruz.  If you haven’t rsvp’d please click here. If you are not able to attend here are some other ways you may support his campaign. Go here to check out his website More from Joy Schendledecker whose campaign for Mayor is making great strides and her address for now is… Her big launch party is happening Friday, August 12th, 5:30-7:30pm, at London Nelson community Center. 

EMPTY HOME TAX. (repeat) I can’t reveal where or who this email came from but it says a lot. “Wednesday July 27, in a shocking development, the Democratic Central Committee endorsed the Empty Home Tax.  Only 3 DCC members voted to oppose it:  Cynthia Mathews, Carol Fuller and Joe Hill. This will totally fuck up all their door hangers as the Democratic Women’s Club voted a No on the EHT endorsement”.

HACKED! (more repeat) It’s now been about ten days that I’ve been on the receiving end of emails offering rebates, sale items and offers with my own home email address and name as the sender. Do not reply or even open those emails from “Bruce Bratton”. And if you have any suggestions how to stop somebody from using my name please get in touch.

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. 

BULLET TRAIN. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.5 IMDB). This violent mess is billed as a comedy starring the 59 year old Brad Pitt. With zero to no background story there are five professional assassins on board Japan’s Bullet Train. For over two hours they work very hard to out bloody each other. Sandra Bullock and Michael Shannon make unnecessary guest appearances. The stabbings, chokings, murders, and almost continual bloody scenes aren’t anywhere as funny as director Leitch tries to force on us. I don’t need to watch any more violence than what I see every day in the media and you should skip this mess.

THIRTEEN LIVES. (PRIME MOVIE) (7.8 IMDB). Ron Howard directed this near documentary of the saving of 13 Thailand Soccer team who got trapped underwater in a cave. It is intense even though we know the outcome. Viggo Mortensen and Colin Farrell are the lead divers who supervise the rescue. More than 5000 people volunteered from 17 countries to aid the underwater return. It all took place in a tourist cave with railings, steps and the captain of the boys’ soccer team was the one who led the boys into the cave but saved them by human touches. Fine film, tense, claustrophobic, and well worth watching. 

RECURRENCE. (or PIPA) (NETFLIX MOVIE) (4.3 IMDB). There was a murder of a 15 year old girl at a party and the woman detective Pipa is bound by guilt and duty to find the murderer. It takes place in the Argentine and makes some points dealing with local Indian history. It’s slow, confusing and is actually the third film in the Pipa series. Don’t bother with this one.

THE 355. (PRIME MOVIE) (5.4 IMDB). Somebody invented a super hi tech iPhone looking thing that could change the world’s communication system. Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, and Lupita Nyong’o make up the dynamic action filled quartet that fly all over the world tracking down the thieves who stole that secret iPhone. It’s about these two secret agencies that compete in car chases, climbing tall buildings and keep extra secrets from us in this looney plot. 

UNCOUPLED. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.0 IMDB). A very silly comedy about what rich, light weight gay white men do in New York City. Neil Patrick Harris leads the cast and he’s very gay and in a 17 year relationship. Marcia Gay Harden plays a very wealthy matron and manages to steal every scene she’s in. The movie contains only one gay male stereotype group and I’d imagine that less silly sex driven gays could seriously object to this farce.

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

FIRE OF LOVE. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.7IMDB). An amazing, beautiful, haunting documentary about a married couple who are volcanologists. They travel around the world climbing to the closest, most dangerous vantage points to study bursting lava and trying to predict the next disaster. It’s surprising how little is known about volcanos, and how much death and destruction they cause every year. Katie and Maurice Kraftt the volcanologists died by being too close to Japan’s Mount Unzen in 1991. If ever a movie required a big screen to really view properly this is it. 

TRADING PAINT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (4.4 IMDB) “Trading Paint” means in the dirt track racing at Talladega crashing each other’s racing cars. This botched up simple minded mess has John Travolta (age68) racing against his own son and his long time movie friend from Pulp Fiction Michael Madsen. It’s full of bad acting, has a very forgetful bad ending, and the racing photography isn’t much to look at either. Don’t bother.

SURFACE. (APPLE TV SERIES) (5.5 IMDB) It’s filmed a lot in San Francisco and its always extra fun to see sites you know. Gugu Mbaytha and Oliver Jackson top the cast and the slow moving plot could have been shortened but it is really complex. A young woman was either pushed off a boat or she attempted suicide. She’s having weird dreams and nightmares and is seeing a psychotherapist. Much of it happens in the Sheraton Palace Hotel where I worked as a producer at KCBS so I had an extra attraction. Its good watching, go for it.

MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.5 IMDB). The charming unassuming Lesley Manville is the London based cleaning woman who has a dream of going to Paris and specifically to own a Christian Dior gown. Isabelle Huppert has a small and nasty part of this silly comedy. It’s a feel good movie for sure and we need those more than ever right now. Go for it.

ANYTHINGS POSSIBLE. (PRIME VIDEO MOVIE) (4.7 IMDB) It would be too easy to report that this is a silly, colorful light hearted teen age comedy centering on a Trans girl and her troubles in high school in Pittsburg. Eva Reign does an excellent job in the lead and there are some very deep and involving Tran’s issues dealt with and exposed, in this complex drama. 


39th ANNUAL MUSICAL SAW FESTIVAL. The 39th Annual Musical Saw Festival will be this Sunday (August 14) from 10:00 am to 5pm at Roaring Camp in Felton. The world’s greatest saw players come out of the woodwork to join other acoustic musicians in a variety of musical performances. You’ll hear bluegrass, country, folk, gospel, blues, classical, and even show tunes (believe it or not, no heavy metal) throughout the day. Festivities start at 10:00 AM, with spontaneous acoustic jams throughout the day. There’s a Saw-Off competition from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and a Chorus of the Saws at 3:45 PM, with up to 50 saw players trying to play in unison. And for those who want to learn how to play music that really has some teeth in it, there’s a free Musical Saw Workshop at 4:00 PM. The entire event is free, and fun for the whole family. For more information, check out , or . Held by the International Musical Saw Association.  

SANTA CRUZ ACTORS’ THEATRE & “8 Tens at 8” NEWS. Andre Neu activist and eager arts enthusiast sent this news.” As an active theatre-goer, I figured you’d be interested in hearing that Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre is doing a “reboot” of its “8 Tens at 8” series in early September. After Wilma Marcus Chandler and Andrew Cagllio resigned earlier this year, the company regrouped and has come together to stage what was to go forth before COVID struck. I’ve attached a press release to give details. The new company, headed by Suzanne Schrag, includes quite a few familiar theater folks and seems pretty secure in what they’re doing, Andre. 

Actors’ Theatre ‘reboots’ 8 Tens production

The Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre, which earlier this year had almost permanently closed its doors, has instead regrouped to produce a live “reboot” of eight selections from of its 8 Tens @ 8 Short Play Festival. It will restage eight selections from the short play lineup, originally scheduled in January, running at the Actors’ Theatre from Sept. 9 through Oct. 2.  Tickets on sale NOW.

The presence the COVID-19 outbreak coincided with the resignations of the company’s artistic director, company co-founder, promotion director and board of directors, and led to the cancelling of 8 Tens in January. “However,” said new board president Suzanne Schrag, “we humans are resilient, creative, inventive and communal creatures. It is this spirit that we are re-launching, rejuvenating and rebooting Actors’ Theatre to continue to be a vibrant and vital part of the Santa Cruz Arts community.” A new board of directors has also been assembled and other positions are being filled. All productions will be in the Actors Theatre in the Santa Cruz Art Center, 1001 Center Street. Most of the directors and actors are from the original production scheduled in January.

Actors’ Theatre will continue to follow COVID protocols; masks and proof of vaccination will be required to attend. The Theater has also invested in a high-efficiency electronic air cleaning system that completely refreshes the air in the space every 15 minutes. Meanwhile, a committee of Actors’ Theatre members has read 259 short plays submitted by local, state and nation-wide writers in preparation for the 2023, 8 Tens @ 8 Festival, scheduled for Jan. 18 through Feb. 26, 2023. 




I happened to be downtown this morning and took a moment to pause and photograph the downtown library. With the Civic Auditorium at my back, City Hall across the street and the Public Library opposite, it doesn’t get more “Civic Center” than this.  For many residents, these public buildings embody a sense of place and history, distinct from the ever-changing commercial businesses elsewhere. I thought the word “home” on the library window captured what has motivated many thousands to support the Our Downtown Our Future (ODOF) ballot Initiative that we will vote on in November. If you haven’t done so already, go to their website and support with at least a donation, the hard work of those community members bringing our voice to the ballot box.

Much like the tearing down of the Cooper House forecast a change in the character of Pacific Avenue, the tearing down of the city’s main library, if it happens, will forecast a decisive shift to a more modern, high-rise, glass and steel, car-centric built landscape for downtown. By casting the library adrift from its current location, the supporters of this move reveal a lack of civic pride. Or maybe they have yet another hidden agenda to let the Civic Auditorium flounder and decay as a new shiny multi-purpose Warriors Arena is built south of Laurel in the new Downtown Extension with its skyscrapers piercing the skyline.

It’s no secret that the authors of Measure S hid their intent to tear down the main library to get votes from unsuspecting people like me. The Downtown Library Advisory Committee skirted the issue to avoid letting the community know it was considering removing the current library. When people did show up to testify at the public meetings, the Committee voted first on their own recommendation to move the library, then opened the floor for public comment. Their widely circulated survey with many questions to ostensibly gauge what respondents wanted in a future library avoided asking even one question on “would you support the relocation of the downtown library?” 

There’s something corrupt about changing the character and feel of a town to serve the interests of economic developers, planners, investors, and the needs of people who don’t yet live here. If you’ve ever travelled to small, centuries- old European towns and villages, have you wondered how they have survived for so long? I guess because people treasured what they had and still have, and their elected representatives respected their wishes. 

Since we seem to lack such representation, we do have a chance in November to right this wrong and send a clear message that we care about our existing library’s location; we care about our fast-disappearing heritage trees; we care about creating an open space for public gatherings; we care about affordable housing and we don’t want public monies spent on a parking garage while new construction, including a hotel gets away without providing sufficient space. 

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.


August 8

Note: This column is a reprint from February 17, 2017. No one can say we were not warned about the impending ghoulish developers now gobbling up Santa Cruz real estate, felling trees, bulldozing history, and putting up some industrial-like mostly market-rate, awful buildings.

Beginning: When ICE Came to Town

Last week (Feb, 2017) began with a blitzkrieg-style raid by agents of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A BearCat tank was seen near the Boardwalk. It was reported by several residents in the Seabright area that children were left alone after their parents were taken into custody. An immigration raid? Searching for terrorists? Or was it both? Pretty serious stuff. These actions were carried out in Santa Cruz County’s mostly Latino neighborhoods in Beach Flats, Live Oak, and Watsonville. 


My week ended at an academic conference on the UCSC hill, “Democratizing the Green City: Sustainability and the Affordable Housing Crisis.” It was a discussion that ranged from Ernest Callenbach’s, Ecotopia to the current research findings of UCSC sociology professors, Miriam Greenberg and Steve McKay concerning the Santa Cruz plague of high housing rates combined with low wages. They invited a bunch of their friends from New York City, Minneapolis, Seattle, Berkeley and Davis to share their research as well. Turns out we’re screwed, but we are not alone.

Surreal Links

Were these two events perhaps interrelated? While the raid was an out-of-nowhere slap-upside-the-head to all undocumented area residents who are not members of the Mara-Salvatrucha 13 gang, the conference was a further head-scratching discussion of the age old question, ‘Who gets to live in Santa Cruz?’ The Greenberg-McKay investigation of the extreme differences between the high cost of housing and the miserably low wages paid to workers right here in Surf City often pushed hard against Callenbach’s visionary book. That book was a green revolution bible for many, but essentially it presents a segregated nation-state concept that seeks to transform the Sixties dominant hippie paradigm into a green paradise with a socialist veneer. Who knew that Callenbach’s eco-village—trees, greenbelts, bike lanes—would end in a boon to real estate developers while failing to produce a cross section of housing for all income groups, but especially the service worker sector? Is equity even possible in Santa Cruz? Or Minneapolis, Berkeley, Davis, or New York City? 

Can Democratic Cities Be Made Green?

Conference participant, Jennifer Rice, a professor of geography at the University of Georgia quoted an activist in Seattle, but could’ve easily been describing one from Santa Cruz. Rice said, “Our planning department continues to approve significant numbers of market rate housing (and upscale hotels) while people with families are forced to move,” (first to Live Oak then to Watsonville and finally out of the county). Of course, many of us are keenly aware of those who perform even a different housing dance. The first move is often from their house or apartment into a vehicle, then inside a tent, and finally they may end up under the eaves of city hall or the post office. Prof. Rice also suggested in her talk that residents can successfully protest large capital projects in Seattle, for example, where a proposed $160 million police headquarters was scratched in favor of affordable housing bonds. It seemed to be one positive activist response in the era of sky-high housing costs.

Gawd, I love this town!

The late Herb Caen used to use the phrase, “Gawd, I love this town,” and I am appropriating those words in this week’s column because I love Santa Cruz. Our people can put up a fight in the face of injustice, no matter how well-armed the foe may be. There were urgent, organized, and immediate responses by neighbors and activists to the DHS raids this past week. Homeland Security’s intrusions into our community sent ripples of fear and uncertainty through the homes of hardworking Santa Cruzans, and that is likely just what this ICE raid intended. A day later, several groups were present at city hall to confront the city council I serve on. They were led by “Sanctuary Central” and demanded a community forum to talk about DHS’s tide of terror that was witnessed by residents, many who are now too fearful to even leave their homes. The Activists shut down the meeting for about twenty minutes as the city council huddled in the back room wondering what to do next. Before additional police officers actually arrived to clear the room of protesters as called for by some councilmembers, a negotiation of sorts took place. Vice-mayor Terrazas and I waded back into the council chambers to open negotiations with the 200-plus crowd. An agreement was soon reached that agenda item 17, which had to do with Santa Cruz sanctuary city status, would be moved up so that those present could immediately comment on the DHS-ICE raids from the day before. The police never had to arrive to clear the room, and residents were able to vent about this serious and delicate issue. Is that what “a win-win” is?

Bottom Line

The affordable housing conference at UCSC cannot have come soon enough because Greenberg and McKay actually provide plenty of data, on the ground interviews, and open-ended analysis of the severe housing crisis that is no longer the elephant standing in the Santa Cruz city living room because everybody is talking about it now. This crisis is front and center and may be the story within the story in the immigrant neighborhoods that were raided. Mayor Cynthia Chase, upon taking office in January said she would be pursuing an affordable housing agenda this year. The community appears urgently poised to join her.


In-between the raids and the conference, I encountered several other locals and experiences that made me say to myself again and again, “Gawd, I love this town.” I will offer a Cliff Notes version of those conversations, while I am hoping to expand upon the themes in future columns.

  • Airbnb is large—$37 billion and growing—and an exceedingly complex corporation. Its social reach includes the disabled, the temporarily unemployed, or single moms just renting out a room in order to make ends meet, all the way to individuals renting and re-renting large numbers of units, and in the process wholly transforming Santa Cruz neighborhoods. In addition, I fear the Airbnb model is more numerous than any of us might have imagined. It is now estimated that there are 577 Airbnb dwellings, and counting, according to one local well-placed real estate investor. This same close observer also told me that “perhaps hosted vacation rentals represent even a greater threat than un-hosted ones.” Stay tuned, the STVR—Short-Term Vacation Rentals—committee is studying the vacation rental issue and will send it to the city council “soon,” perhaps by May or June I am told. But a couple of sticking points that may not go away are the existing ADA provisions along with parking requirements that could be enforced on each vacation rental.
  • Who is the “General Strike Planning Committee” and what are their intentions?  I do know that hundreds have turned out to their five “planning” meetings and beer hall (Lupulo) reading group discussions. In fact, over 100 showed up at the London Nelson center last Friday to participate in an “(Un) President’s Day” event. It was a smorgasbord of social justice and environmental groups presenting themselves and all are organizing in the spirit of resistance during the age of Trump. Along with the Woman’s March it seems very encouraging, if somewhat chaotic with lots of unplanned planning sessions along the way.
  • At the UCSC affordable housing conference I was struck by one of NYU sociology professor named, Gianpaolo Baiocchi. One of his solutions to the rental crisis included, “Squatting is a pretty effective housing solution.”
  • The Fruit Tree Project, led by Andy Moskowitz, Debora Wade and Steve Schnaar, organized a work day to plant fruit trees where San Lorenzo Blvd. meets Riverside Ave., alongside Mike Fox Park. Seventy-five volunteers showed up one morning to assist in furthering the local community garden revolution. Wow!
  • From the too many conversations I’ve had with locals, I’m fast becoming convinced that the enduring 3-legged stool of high rents is caused by a) the university’s ability to allow in more students and its inability to provide more beds; b) the city’s Rental Inspection Ordinance that took out hundreds of housing units, many unpermitted; and c) the rampant growth of Airbnb and the entire vacation rental market. But what is really troubling is that the seat of this stool is not really for the people of Santa Cruz to sit on, but is actually a resting place for the enormous derrière of Silicon Valley disposable income.
“Today the Inflation Reduction Act passed the Senate 51-50. In my view, this legislation goes nowhere near far enough for working families, but it does begin to address the existential crisis of climate change. It’s an important step forward and I was happy to support it.” (Aug. 7, 2022)

The pictures of the week are a sequence of signs seen inside of NYC subway cars urging cannabis users to use the product with care now that weed is legal in the city. I do not recall a campaign like this in California.

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

Email Chris at


August 8


If the Board approves staff recommendations during a 4pm Special Virtual Meeting on Thursday, August 11, County voters may see a new proposed Ordinance added to limit County Supervisors to no more than three consecutive terms in office.   If approved, this would add County Ordinance 2.02.070 to County Code relating to the Board of Supervisors.

Does it make you wonder why the Board is taking such a rushed action?  In the immediate future, this could affect whether or not Supervisors Bruce McPherson and Zach Friend are able to run for fourth terms in 2024.

At the time of this writing, the link to the County Board of Supervisor “Meeting Calendar” is broken, so I cannot provide further details, but did see earlier that this will be discussed as Regular Agenda Item #10 at the August 9 Board Meeting, when the Board will publicly schedule the August 11 Virtual Special Meeting for 4pm. 

Read the Staff recommendations for this matter by clicking on Item #10, when the website is (hopefully) repaired. Participate on August 11 at 4pm and see if you can understand what is really going on.


Last Wednesday (8/3), at the request of Alternate LAFCO member Mr. John Hunt, the Commissioners pulled the Soquel Creek Water District section of the comprehensive Countywide Water Service and Sphere Review of nine agencies providing water in the County.  Commissioners, who also included Second District County Supervisor Zach Friend, stated that the recommendations to formally change service boundary areas of  La Selva Beach and Seascape would open the doors for annexation and increased development in the future.  The Commissioners had reviewed just such a case earlier in the meeting for a subdivision in Scotts Valley (Item 6a)

LAFCO Director Joe Serrano issued a Declaration that the Countywide Water Service and Sphere Review is CEQA-exempt…but maybe that finding cannot be made in the case of the Soquel Creek Water District analysis.

Reason Why Project is Exempt: The LAFCO action does not change the services or the planned service area of the City. There is no possibility that the activity may have a significant impact on the environment–State CEQA Guidelines Section 15061(b)(3).

Here is the link to the Countywide Service and Sphere Review, with Soquel Creek Water District analysis beginning on page 203

Please write the Santa Cruz County LAFCO with your thoughts on this matter.

c/o Joe Serrano

Here is related correspondence of former County Water Resources Director Mr. John Ricker on the matter.

Of note is the fact that Ms. Rachel Lather is currently the Chair of LAFCO, and also the President of the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors.  Do you think she should have recused herself or abstained from voting on this issue?  She did not.  I wrote Mr. Serrano to ask about it…he replied that it is up to a Commissioner them self to take such action. 


This Friday (8/12) is the final date to file for elected position campaigns   Three seats are up for election on the five-member Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors. In my opinion, there really needs to be sweeping changes on that Board that will begin to question the runaway expenditures for endless outside contractors to do actual work while giving high-level staff monthly bonuses of $1000 and more….not to mention the problems associated with injecting treated sewage water into the pristine Purisima Aquifer that provides drinking water for the entire MidCounty area.

If you live within the District, please run.  The District’s staff really needs to be held accountable and only a new Board who will pay attention and ask questions will cause any change.  Did you know that Ms. Lather demonstrated that she had no idea what the Final EIR for the PureWater Soquel Project really was?  Do you know that none of these incumbents asks any meaningful questions regarding District Budgets and rates?

Here is a link to the candidate resources 


Last month, the Watsonville City Council held a Special Council Meeting and Public Hearing to discuss and approve growth-related measures that will be on the November election ballot.  It was well-attended.  The Council split 4-3 to place a competing initiative on the ballot that will essentially oppose the renewal of Measure U’s renewal that, 20 years ago, protected Watsonville’s agricultural lands and limited urban sprawl.  

Here is the link to the two-hour proceeding, and a Pajaronian analysis 

Given the proposed Draft Santa Cruz County General Plan Update, which recommends some annexations to Watsonville’s City boundaries, this will prove interesting for the future of the area.


The Public Policy Institute projects that over 500,000 acres of good farmland in the Central Valley will have to lie fallow in order to restore groundwater levels.  All that fallow land could likely cause a return of the Dust Bowl that drove many poor landowners out of the Midwest and gave John Steinbeck meat for his Grapes of Wrath novel.

“Agricultural operations and wind erosion are two of the largest sources of dust in the valley. We project that over 500,000 acres of farmland may need to be taken out of production over the next two decades to help bring groundwater basins into balance under the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). This is an immense amount of land, and without careful stewardship, widespread fallowing could cause a surge in windblown dust.” 

Commentary: San Joaquin Valley’s Next Big Air Pollution Threat—Blowing Dust from Fallowed Farmland

Will the Great Dust Bowl return, but to California? Wouldn’t it be better to continue growing food and devise more water-efficient irrigation methods? 


A few years ago, when my family visited Año Nuevo State Beach to see the Elephant Seals, my young children became very upset at learning that researchers glue electronic transponders to the bodies of young seals in order to study them.

The recent article below, asking for crowd-funding to help do more such treatment of wild animals caused me to ponder….shouldn’t the researchers have to also glue transponders to their own heads and research any impacts on themselves?

Just a thought to ponder….. 

UCSC professor seeks to bring elephant seal research to K-12 classrooms [SC Sentinel article, behind a paywall]

Please write these UCSC researchers with your thoughts: 

University of California at Santa Cruz Paul L. Koch, Dean, Physical and Biological Sciences – Roxanne Beltran, Associate Professor


Last week, at the suggestion of Parks Dept. Director Jeff Gaffney, the County Parks & Recreation Commission reportedly seemed to adopt a new but questionable procedure of calling for Public Comment on an issue after the Commission had already voted on the matter. 

Hmmmm…..Does that seem right to you?  I think it violates the Brown Act, which mandates the public right to comment before or during each agenda item:

“Regular Meetings 

The Brown Act mandates that agendas for regular meetings allow for two types of public comment periods. The first is a general audience comment period, which is the part of the meeting where the public can comment on any item of interest that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the local agency. This general audience comment period may come at any time during a meeting (Section 54954.3).

The second type of public comment period is the specific comment period pertaining to items on the agenda. The Brown Act requires the legislative body to allow these specific comment periods on agenda items to occur prior to or during the City Council’s consideration of that item (Section 54954.3).”

In a recent informal survey posted on local news site Lookout about what residents are doing to make positive differences, this one really struck a chord…especially given odd occurrences such as what Director Gaffney caused last week:

“I am working to increase public participation in local government, at the county and municipal levels. More than periodic voting, our representative democracy requires active public participation in the process of government decision-making. Advisory body meetings, such as commissions, are rarely attended by the public, leading representatives to make decisions that are not based on full knowledge of the public will. This gives unelected staff greater power to shape the course of government behind closed doors where the public is denied knowledge and influence.” —Michael Lewis, Live Oak

Write County Board of Supervisors and Mr. Gaffney with your thoughts.

Board of


CZU Fire: In Their Own Words, directed by Boulder Creek resident Mr. Peter Gelblum, is a well-done and powerful film based on many interviews with people affected by the fire.  Take a box of tissue because it is powerful. 

Next week marks the two-year anniversary of the devastating CZU Lightning Complex Fire that destroyed 911 County resident homes and burned over 86,000 acres that included large portions of Big Basin State Park.  The devastation lingers in the charred hillsides and in the lives of hundreds who have not yet been able to rebuild.  Many have given up, and moved away.

Go see this film at the Del Mar Theater on August 16 at 7:30 pm, with other viewings tentatively scheduled for the Felton Library on September 10, and another September date to be confirmed at the Bonny Doon Elementary School.  Mr. Gelblum asked to include a showing at the August 18 commemorative event scheduled for August 18 at the Brookdale Lodge, but organizers declined.

Suggested donations of $10/person will be given 50/50 to the local volunteer fire departments who fought the fire and saved many homes, and also the Fire Recovery Fund at the Santa Cruz County Community Foundation.

Here is an interview with Mr. Gelblum from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, article behind a paywall.



Cheers, Becky

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

Email Becky at

August 7


This biodiverse region around us includes such a wealth of native mammals that we might take them for granted unless occasionally reminded what they are and where they live. Chances are good that you can see a few of these species if you are alert to them and take a walk in the many natural areas that surround our built environment. This essay outlines only the mammals that are native to this area; there are many nonnative mammals, as well. And, I focus only on terrestrial mammals…there are many marine mammals just offshore. I also leave out the many bat species.


Let’s start with the largest terrestrial mammals around: Columbian black-tailed deer. Many people call them ‘The Deer’ as in “The Deer devoured the landscaping.” These are the last of a great legacy of ungulates that have grazed the forests, shrublands, and grasslands around these parts for millions of years. Up until the late 1800’s, there were tule elk…basically a bigger deer…also roaming this area; maybe sometime soon the elk will return- they are close: just across Highway 101 east of us. There were also pronghorn with the elk. 15,000 years ago there were even more species of ungulates, including species of bison and native horses.

Many old timers say that the numbers of Columbian black-tailed deer are way down from historic herd sizes, but folks on the edge of town would probably argue. The Deer seem to be denser close to where they can easily access forage from summer watered gardens and lawns. They also probably know that being close to neighborhoods is safer from mountain lions.


Rodents are as a group scorned for their pestiferousness, and we’ve got a diverse array of rodent types.  The rarest local rodents are kangaroo rats (aka k-rats), the Santa Cruz K-rat is down to one population at Henry Cowell State Park. There is also a different species of not-as-rare k-rat in the sandy soils of Corralitos down through Fort Ord.  Kangaroo rats have long back legs and dig dens into sandy soil. 

There are a bunch of species of deer mice in our area, all in the genus Peromyscus. My favorite is the big eared ‘Mickey Mouse’ deermouse aka pinyon deermouse: P. truei. There are three other deermouse species around here. Rumor has it that we’ll soon recognize a newly described deermouse that is native to our area.

There are many other species of native rodents around here: pocket mouse, meadow vole, San Francisco dusky-footed woodrat, two types of squirrels, a chipmunk species and the renowned pocket gopher. Pocket mice are relatively small and have pockets in their mouths for carrying about caches of food (mostly seeds). Meadow voles make grazed-bare highways in the prairies and have episodically huge populations that can eat most of the grass down to nothing. San Francisco dusky-footed woodrats are pack rats that make big stick houses and have museum collections of every plant in their vicinity. This subspecies of dusky footed woodrat is listed as a species of concern by the State and are therefore protected by law. If you are lucky enough to have these pack rats around you, best to give their homes a wide berth and watch out for them dragging your belongings into their homes. 

We have two native squirrels: one in trees and the other in the ground. Many folks have been concerned about the apparent decline of the Western gray squirrel, which has a salt-and-pepper fluffy tail and mostly found away from people. I worry that fires and non-native squirrels are edging out our native tree squirrel. The California ground squirrel used to have big colonies at UCSC where burrowing owls and other critters shared their burrows. I’m still waiting to hear what happened to the once-extensive ground squirrel colonies at UCSC’s East Meadow. Now, ground squirrels are more numerous along the north coast bluffs and at the Moore Creek greenbelt.

Mirriam’s chipmunks are my favorite rodent. These striped little folk give loud cheeps when you get close to them, scampering up trees or diving into shrubby cover. There’s something about their black and dark brown fur patterns that make me especially happy to see one.

I recently wrote an essay on Botta’s pocket gopher, the subsurface architect of nearly every square foot of the soil around us.

Small, Furry and Insectivorous

If you are like most folks, you don’t think about the many tiny insect eating mammals in our midst. The most commonly recognized one is the broad-handed mole, which I mostly see mysteriously dead with no evident damage. There is also a rarely-encountered shrew mole that likes living in burrows in our conifer forests, near streams; no one I know has seen that one. There are also three types of shrews in our area: ornate, vagrant, and Trowbridge. Shrews eat day and night. Like moles, I’ve seen a few of those mysteriously dead lying trailside. All of these critters eat insects and so can’t be seen as pests, though some folks insist on killing moles for making burrows in their yards.

Not Rodents: Lagomorphs

People routinely call rabbits rodents, but they aren’t…they are lagomorphs! Brush bunnies are common in our area. There are probably also still black tailed rabbits in Santa Cruz County: these look like jackrabbits. Black tailed bunnies were once in the inland sandhills habitat alongside the aforementioned kangaroo rats. 

Raccoon and Friend

There are lots of species of raccoon, so you have to call ours by its right name: Northern raccoon. Most folks know this masked rascal, which has higher populations near people but is missing altogether in the wilder parts of the mountains. In those wilder parts is the very, very rare close relative: the ringtail. Ringtails like to live near streams and look like a cross between a Northern raccoon and a Western gray squirrel. There were some recent sightings of ringtail in Bonny Doon after a long period of no one reporting them. I’m happy that they are still around. 

Stinky Mustelids 

Scent gland wielding ‘mustelids’ have a few species around here: badger, long-tailed weasel, and two species of skunk. Badgers are increasingly rare due to bad endings from encounters with vehicles. Long tailed weasels have done a great job of surviving our urban sprawl and are pretty common. We mostly know about striped skunks, but if you have seen the rumored spotted skunk, will you please let me know? Spotted skunks pirouette on their hands if alarmed….

Bigger Carnivores

We are especially lucky to have mountain lions, gray foxes, coyotes, and bobcats so commonly in our region. The health of large carnivores is a sign of ecological health. I won’t tell you any stories about these critters this round, but there are lots of good stories about these…stay tuned for more!

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

Email Grey at


August 3

#216 / Deep Changes Needed

The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the local newspaper in Santa Cruz, California, has opined that “Deep Changes Will Be Needed On Housing.” I am quoting the hard copy version of the headline that appeared on the Sentinel’s editorial statement on July 1, 2022. Online, the headline is slightly different. The entire editorial statement is appended at the bottom of today’s blog posting. 

I think the Sentinel is absolutely right that “deep changes” are necessary to address our housing crisis. As the Sentinel notes, properly characterizing the dimensions of our problem: Housing in Santa Cruz County is “unaffordable for anyone not making upward of $200,000 annually.” Since the Census tells us that the median annual household income in Santa Cruz County is $89,986 that means that housing (both rental and ownership housing) is unaffordable for huge numbers of local residents. The Sentinel is definitely right in describing the problem, and this is not a news flash for any current Santa Cruz County resident. 

Unfortunately, having identified this huge and horrible problem, the Sentinel does not really tell us why the problem exists. In general, the newspaper blames “regulatory overkill” and “local government officials who cater to the not-in-my-backyard sentiments of constituents.” Those things, to the extent they actually exist (and they may, to a minor extent), are not really what’s causing the housing crisis. 

The actual “problem” is that housing prices are, with very few exceptions, set by “the market.” As we all know, or as we all should know, “markets” are designed to provide scarce goods to those who have the most money, and who can thus outcompete those who have less. Housing in Santa Cruz County is a “scarce good.” 

 This community is one of the nicest places to live in the entire world. It is also right “over the hill” from one of California’s most dynamic job-producing centers, the Silicon Valley, where millions of people live. Many workers in the Silicon Valley do earn $200,000 or more, annually, and lots of them would prefer to live in Santa Cruz, as opposed to living in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Gilroy, or San Jose. Furthermore, housing costs in the places I just mentioned are typically greater than housing costs in Santa Cruz. Furthermore, many people think that Santa Cruz real estate is a very good investment (which it is). This fact creates another demand for Santa Cruz property. Not only do people who work in the Silicon Valley want to live in Santa Cruz, and so create demand for Santa Cruz housing that way, they also want to purchase property here as an investment, increasing demand for housing in Santa Cruz even more. And, of course, it is also true that those who want to invest in Santa Cruz property may well come from anywhere – even from other countries. 

The “demand” for housing in Santa Cruz, in other words, is pretty much unlimited, practically speaking. What about the “supply?” Could Santa Cruz County actually supply enough housing to bring down local prices (and especially to bring them down to the place where someone with an annual income of $89,900 could afford to buy or rent)?

The answer to that question is pretty easy: NO. 

In other words, expecting the “private market” to solve the housing crisis by building enough housing to lower the price here to something “affordable” is, essentially, to expect the impossible. 

“Reality” is sometimes hard to contemplate, but we do need to be realistic. The private market will never produce affordable housing in Santa Cruz County – even if we reverse our past decision to preserve and protect prime farmland and environmentally sensitive areas – even if the City starts allowing developers to build twenty-story towers, and the City stops caring about the neighborhood impacts of big, high-density developments. There also isn’t enough infrastructure to handle the traffic that would be generated by massive new housing developments. And there isn’t enough water, either. Neighborhood concerns aren’t just based on selfishness (in fact, I think that’s the exception, not the rule). New development does have adverse impacts, and it’s not fair to existing residents to ignore those.

So, we do need “deep changes” to address the housing crisis, but let’s start getting realistic about just how “deep” those deep changes need to be. The private market can’t and won’t produce housing that ordinary working families can afford. That means that we need public financing to produce affordable housing, because “affordable” housing means housing where the price is not set by the “market,” but where prices are fixed at amounts that permit the housing to be affordable. That requires governmental action.  

How can that be accomplished? Well, there is money in our state and national economy that could be used to build housing, but the government would have to obtain that money from those who have it now. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders calls them the “billionaire class.” The Occupy Movement called them the 1%. 

“Deep changes” really are needed. If California and the nation are not willing to mobilize public funding to produce price-fixed housing with the prices set at a level that ordinary working families can afford, then the picture below shows where those who can’t afford market price housing (rental and ownership) are going to end up. It’s already happening. If we don’t make the deep changes needed, at the state and national level, it is only going to happen more: 


As We See It

Deep Changes Will Be Needed On Housing

Second of two parts on housing affordability:

By now, the reasons for California’s and Santa Cruz County’s chronic housing shortage are evident. Factors include high costs, regulatory overkill and resistance from local government officials who cater to the not-in-my-backyard sentiments of constituents.

Not only do prices that make housing unaffordable for anyone not making upward of $200,000 annually, but the recent spike in interest rates, which have sparked some owners lowering asking prices, probably won’t mean housing will get much cheaper, real estate analysts say – not with supply so low and demand so high.

It remains a seller’s market. The state says 180,000 new housing units are needed each year to begin to close the supply and demand inequality that continues to drive prices out of reach for the majority of residents. The median home value for the entire state is almost $900,000, the highest in the United States, according to the state Department of Finance (and more than $1.5 million for much of Santa Cruz County) – a more than 250% increase from a decade ago. In roughly that same period, the median household income in the state has risen just 28%, from $61,400 to $78,700.

Renters aren’t faring any better. The national real estate site Zillow also expects rent prices in the region to rise as rental demand continues to increase. Our Bay Area News Group recently reported that at $3,295, typical rents in the San Jose area rose more than 12% from the previous year.

The dismal reality is that California has the nation’s second lowest level of homeownership. Just 56% of California’s families live in homes they own, barely higher than New York’s 55% rate and nearly 10 percentage points behind the 65% national rate. That figure is even lower for Black Californians, at 37%, and Latinos, at 44%, statewide.

“Homeownership has long been a central feature of the American dream,” a recent Public Policy Institute of California report stated. “It is the leading source of wealth for most families, and over the long run provides families with more stable and lower housing costs compared to renting. Yet … homeownership is out of the reach of many Californians.”

This is one of those crises where government has to be a solution. One way is to enforce regional housing goals. All cities and counties need to contribute their fair share to meeting housing needs but many communities have worked around requirements for new housing units mandated under the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation goals. These requirements can seem overwhelming for communities such as Santa Cruz, where the city was tasked with developing a minimum of 747 new housing units by the end of 2023. And according to according to the AMBAG draft RHNA plan, the state may expect as many as 3,400 new housing units from the city by 2031.

Then there’s the new California Dream for All program, where the state plans to allocate $1 billion a year for 10 years to provide down-payment loans to first-time buyers.

Under this program, concurrent with a buyer’s main mortgage, the state offers a second mortgage that covers 17-20% of the home’s price. Buyers would make no payments on this loan until they sell. The idea is to cover the down payment, which means buyers don’t have to save as much up front; it also means their main mortgage is lower, which reduces monthly payments.

While this program has good intentions, it would help only an estimated 7,700 families in a state where about 7 million families are renters. Program sponsors also recognize that pumping money into the system could just drive prices even higher. Others worry that government intervention in home ownership led to the 2008 foreclosure crisis when people were enticed to buy homes they couldn’t afford.

The ultimate solutions will take much deeper changes: Removing local impediments to housing construction, getting more housing near jobs and transportation, creating policies that lead to more middle-income jobs and improving educational outcomes for poor children in a state where more than a third of the state’s nearly 40 million residents live with financial distress.

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


August 8

It’s been a jam-packed week for news, so getting some of the putrid happenings dispensed with seems appropriate, and what could have been more repulsive than the GOP’s Conservative Political Action Conference in that most deserving of cities – Dallas, TX! The event that had to rank with the lowest of the low saw Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán parading his ‘twin front’ message in his keynote address, describing Hungary and America in a joint struggle against globalists, progressives, communists and ‘fake news.’ Sounds familiar. The PM has stripped his country of its democratic institutions and demonized immigrants, while embracing his brand of eugenics, warning of ‘racial mixing’ whereby white Christian Europeans are being eliminated by primarily Islamic people…part of Tucker Carlson’s ‘replacement theory.’ His utterances are, of course, familiar to any who have studied the Nazis and their holocaust. In fact, after one of his speeches a close advisor resigned, calling it “pure Nazi.”

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson had critical remarks for those who are insulted by Orbán’s presence, by saying, “So Viktor Orbán is now a Nazi because he wants national borders?” We can’t forget that Carlson did a special broadcast from Budapest last year, during which Orbán and his country were praised as a model for this country. Our former president has watched admiringly as Hungary has made this turn toward authoritarianism, with many in the GOP ranks falling in line to march with the white nationalists. The racist tropes of ‘invasion’ and ‘replacement’ are bandied about by the likes of Arizona’s Blake Masters, running for the Senate, Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp, Florida’s Senator Rick Scott, and Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake. Meant to stoke fear and drive votes, they also fuel violence, evidenced by the killing of Latino people at a Walmart in El Paso three years ago. Black shoppers gunned down at a Buffalo grocery this year, was a motivation driven by replacement theory. 

Viktor Orbán has a reputation as a ‘soft autocrat’, who doesn’t threaten or kill his political opponents…he handily changes the rules to entrench power. He says that the constitutions of our two nations are quite different, in that Hungary’s is easy to change, and therefore, he has made changes that make it harder for his electoral opponents to be victorious…free and unfair elections. Hungarian media has suffered under crackdowns, with him and his allies owning many newspapers, driving out smaller independents. The GOP’s MAGAts appreciate how flippant the PM is with his opposition, the media, elites, and liberals to solidify his base, seeing his as a savior for social conservatism. Says William Galston, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan think-tank, the Brookings Institution, “If Trumpism is a political religion, Budapest is their new Rome. Viktor Orbán is their beau ideal of a national conservative leader.” Earlier this year, CPAC leaders actually held a conference in Budapest! Orbán began his kickoff by saying, “This is a culture war. The only thing we Hungarians can do is show you how to fight back by our own rules.” He explains that his country prevents migrants from entering illegally, upholds traditional gender norms and heterosexual marriage, and stays true to ‘Judeo-Christian values.’ It becomes obvious where the GOP is drawing its inspiration to replace election officials with party stalwarts, for submitting fake slates of electors and tweaking election rules. 

Political scientist, Lee Drutman, believes the simultaneous polarization for both nations should be viewed as most dangerous. “The strength of the authoritarianism on the right is fueled and serviced by the sense that the Democrats are not only the opposition but anti-American, dangerous to this country, radical, extreme,” says Drutman. “When you have a system polarized along these identitarian fights – what does it mean to be a true Hungarian? A true American? Who’s a traitor? Who’s a patriot? – that justifies these kinds of extreme antidemocratic actions in service of victory.”

Our homegrown Agent Adolf made his appearance at the Saturday session of CPAC, exhibiting his power as a possible candidate in 2024, even as he kept fishing for applause with his ‘stolen election’ asides and his defense of his actions during the Capitol riot. With Biden’s bill, Inflation Reduction Act, being debated on the Senate floor, Trump threatened to campaign against Joe Manchin in West Virginia in retribution for his support of the legislation. Evidently, DJT was looking at the wrong calendar…Manchin isn’t running on this election cycle, and The Don will be in prison in 2024. 

MAGAt, social media personality, and J6 riot defendant, Brandon Straka, who confessed to attending the riot, was arrested, and pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of engaging in disorderly and disruptive conduct, attended CPAC in a ‘performance art’ staging by sitting in a jail-like cell, crying as recordings of fellow-defendants described their arrests. He avoided jail time, but received 90 days of home confinement and three years’ probation at his sentencing, yet he argues that lawmakers haven’t done enough to assist him and the rioters, all while seeking presidential pardons for their own actions. And, Straka was blessed to have a visit from Marjorie Taylor Greene in his ‘cell’, as she hugged and prayed with him. Needless to say, there was virtually no recognition by attendees of Trump’s role in initiating the attack, even though the House Select Committee is bringing the chickens home to roost. 

Cheeto Benito, in his speech, dispensed his endorsements and blessings on Texas candidates, while declaring Democratic-run cities as ‘hellscapes’ awash in crime and lamenting how the southern border is no longer as safe as he once made it. He brought down the house with his suggestion to “abolish the Department of Education since it has fallen under control of liberals who are indoctrinating students with content of library books, and lectures on race and history. Family values are being destroyed with sports teams allowing transgendered players.” 

MAGAt merchandise was being sold in the halls, from books, to clothing, to bejeweled stilettos with DJT’s name, to alternative cell phone providers, to ‘Swing State Steal’ board games…one seller was hawking framed photos of Ronald Reagan, but the Bush family presidents, ‘a part of the establishment,’ proved to be a step too far for most takers. Speakers lambasted the Biden presidency and China’s influence in this country. A satirical news segment, with Jesse Kelly portraying a new anchor on fake media outlet, ‘Socialist News Network’, made lewd jokes about VP Harris, and downplayed the COVID-19 death toll, saying, “This virus has almost killed as many people as Hillary Clinton.” 

It happened in our largest state, but fits in quite nicely with the CPAC sentiments in the second largest state. A woman was pulled over for speeding in Anchorage, Alaska, and was unable to produce her driver’s license, but asked the two cops if her ‘White Privilege Card Trumps Everything’ would suffice. They laughed, having never seen the novelty card, allowing her to go without a citation. Unclear at this time what disciplinary action the officers may see, but be forewarned – it’s not going to work again in Anchorage. 

Wow! No time left to cover Trump’s asking ‘his generals’ to be more like WWII Nazi generals while in office…even after WH Chief of Staff Kelly told him there were three assassination attempts…Trump discounted that, obviously not up to date on that page in his history book.

And, wait, wait…the FBI is raiding Mar-A-Lago? Gotta go see this action….later!

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



EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.
EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog


“The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire”.   
~Richard M. Nixon

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