Blog Archives

August 18 – 24, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Ryan Coonerty as City Manager?!? Credit Union Hotel Sale NO, Rail YES, Greenway NO. GREENSITE…on fossil fuels and fossils. KROHN…Credit Union hearing, Democratic Socialists of Santa Cruz. STEINBRUNER…Cleaner County Fairgrounds, CZU fire district property and resident issues, temporary Santa Cruz City Manager, tree removals and Soquel Creek sewage water problems. PATTON…Pathetic Grift and Entitlement (PG&E). EAGAN…”Grrreat” is the Eagan Blog profound topic, don’t\ miss it. QUOTES…”The Internet”.

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MORRISSEY BOULEVARD AND SOQUEL STREETS, June 12, 1953. Much has changed at this big corner. Do note the Highway One marker by the first palm tree on the right. Behind that now are the US Bank, and Grocery Outlet. Across the palm lined Morrissey is Safeway and right behind this photo is the OKA Center.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE AUGUST 16

MANAGING SANTA CRUZ…OR NOT! The world may little note nor long remember what we do in Santa Cruz, but plenty of locals will be surprised to learn that Ryan Coonerty has applied for the job of Santa Cruz City Manager!! But, you’ll say, he has no experience in managing a lot of people! You could also say that means he’ll very soon be resigning as County Supervisor and could that be why he announced his leaving the County Supervisor job so soon? When Ryan does resign from the Supe Job, the governor will appoint his successor. Is that why as we continue on with this soapy opera? We have Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson and most of the rest of our City Council UNDER Donna Meyers (definitely excluding Justin Cummings and Sandy Brown) working nearly silently to manage and rearrange our city districts. Yes, it’s also true that Donna Meyers, better known as “Prima Donna”, is near affectionately known as “The Fabulous Five”. The future does indeed lie ahead…watch this space.

CREDIT UNION YES, HOTEL NO!! There’s no reason why our Santa Cruz Community Credit Union can’t wait until another buyer comes along. A buyer who can leave the present building in its present shape and size instead of a buyer who wants to destroy this building and stack up a brand name hotel which our community doesn’t need. The Credit union created a very controlled virtual meeting last Friday the thirteenth. It was nearly impossible to link into it and it was so tightly limited it should never be labeled a community meeting. Cynthia Mathews as we would expect got her 3 minutes and voiced in favor of the hotel. So did Casey Beyer of the Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Cruz County Business council along with Darius Mohesin, the multi profit making landlord. A few columns ago I expressed faith in the management of the Credit Union to do the right thing and supported whatever decision they made re: selling to a hotel. I was really wrong. The Credit Union has been believed to be a part of the community, not a money-business thing. They need to genuinely listen to all of its members. Why doesn’t the Credit Union enclose a postcard ballot in our next bank statement and get a true vote from all of us who are members instead of faking a community meeting? 

RAIL YES, GREENWAY NO!! Debbie Bulger co-author of “Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz” released her thoughts and recent postings of Coast Connect in a newsletter. She wrote…”August is an amazing time to walk, roll, or pedal on the Rail Trail! Get outside if you can to explore the newest segment of the Rail Trail in Watsonville. This month has also brought new challenges regarding the potential of rail transit in Santa Cruz County. In today’s newsletter you’ll find local news and perspective on transportation in our community: 

  • 5 Reasons Not to Sign the Greenway Petition
  • Why Does Coast Connect Include Rail Transit
  • Gentrification and Displacement
  • Take a Look! Our websites have been updated
  • Help us Continue our Work: ways to take action today!
     

5 Reasons Not to Sign the Greenway Petition

  1. DELAYS THE TRAIL -This will stop all forward progress on the 32 mile Rail Trail. 
  2. KILLS RAIL TRANSIT – This measure removes all rail transit planning leaving us sitting in traffic for decades.
  3. HARMS OUR ENVIRONMENT – This measure ensures we are dependent on Highway 1 and polluting personal vehicles. 
  4. DARK MONEY POWER PLAY – Cynical power play by dark money donors who want to block all transit on the corridor. 
  5. ISOLATES OUR COUNTY – This measure disconnects our county from the State Rail Network. 

For more details, please follow this link.

Just the Facts: Why Does Coast Connect Include Rail Transit?
Sometimes people ask why it’s important to work for passenger rail transit next to the Santa Cruz Rail Trail. The Coast Connect Vision includes building the Coastal Rail Trail; running clean quiet passenger-rail service on our community-owned rail line, expanding safe bike and pedestrian spaces on our local streets, and integrating first and last mile options from rail stops so we can leave our cars at home. 

To read more about why electric rail transit makes sense in Santa Cruz County, why Rail and Trail together is the best use of rail corridor, and other facts about electric rail options, please follow this link.

How can we add essential services without harming our neighborhoods? A look into gentrification and displacement
Gentrification describes a process where urban communities, often low-income and working-class, experience the inward migration of new wealthy residents. With these new residents comes increased investment in infrastructure, neighborhood amenities, and property values. But rising costs of living can push out long-term residents and businesses from their neighborhoods. Due to redlining and the racial wealth gap, communities experiencing gentrification are often communities of color, adding a racial dimension to gentrification.

Click here to read more about these issues, our solutions, and the community values we are committed to upholding.

Take a Look! Our FORT & Coast Connect websites have been updated

The Friends of the Rail and Trail and Coast Connect websites have both been updated to reflect all the transportation research we have collected with the intent to connect more people to these resources.

Help Us Continue Our Work: Take Action Today

Here are some things you can do right now to help advocate for a more equitable and planet-friendly transportation system in Santa Cruz County:

  1. Donate to help us with outreach events and communication to the community. Click here to donate. 
  2. Endorse the Coast Connect vision. Click here to add your name. 
  3. Volunteer with Friends of the Rail & Trail: click here to sign up.  
  4. Sign the petition for rail transit. 
  5. Like, share, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Thank you for supporting this work!

NETFLIX AND NO ON GOV. NEWSOM RECALL. As a near permanent movie streamer I was pleased to see that Santa Cruz resident Reed Hastings and co-owner of Netflix helped pay for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s  pitch to vote NO on Recalling Governor Newsom.

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

GONE FOR GOOD. (NETFLIX SERIES). It’s set in Nice, France around the French Riviera. Juvenile delinquents are the main theme here as a man returns after being away for ten years and learns that two people he cared for and loved have vanished. It switches back and forth from 2010 to present day as he keeps searching. He falls in love with a fellow worker and the plot will keep you involved. Only one episode released so far, we’ll stay in touch. 

BECKETT. (NETFLIX SERIES). Do not, I repeat do not confuse this with Samuel Beckett or any other Beckett. The lead actor is John David Washington son of Denzel Washington and a real star in his own. It has a twisted, even convoluted, plot involving a car crash, a very long car chase, more political charades in Athens… even including protestors! There are some excellently filmed scenes and sincere efforts to make a good thriller. You’ll stay involved, go for it. 

CODA. (APPLE PRIME SINGLE). A heart rending story of CODA (Children Of Deaf Adults) families dealing with deafness. Marlee Matlin is back and mugging her way through a half comedy- half serious drama. One daughter can hear and it’s her lifetime job to translate her families deafness messages. They run a fishing boat business in Massachusetts and she wants to leave and go to Berklee Music school and sing. Go for it, instead of trying to decipher all the virus variant “facts”.

THE HEAD.(HBO MAX SERIES). An engrossing mysterious scary thriller set in Antarctica. They have six months of darkness then the sun comes out, probably. During the dark time one or more of the Polaris VI crew are murdered and the isolated inter-connected survivors must determine who is doing it. The plot actually involves climate change and some serious survival issues. Worth watching.

BLOOD RED SKY. (NETFLIX SINGLE). For no good reason some parts of this movie are in untranslated German, beware! A very confusing plot including a terrorist takeover of an intercontinental airplane. One mother who is ill turns out to be an old fashioned Vampire and bites almost everybody. She grows fangs and sucks blood for what seems like hours. Not the worst film you could watch, not much better though.

SINALIENTO “BREATHLESS”. ( HBO MAX SINGLE). A very sick and mean detective in Santa Domingo harasses his woman partner as they go searching for the murderer of a drug gang member. The detective’s daughter falls in love with one of the bad guys and it goes from there. Much domestic violence, cruelty, and a convoluted plot BUT it’ll keep you glued just trying to remember all the twists. Intriguing, time consuming, and what more can we ask for nowadays?

THE VAULT. (PRIME VIDEO) SINGLE. (54RT). It’s the old “lets rob the impossible bank vault” plot. The Bank of Spain has the world’s toughest bank vault and of course some extremely clever thugs of mixed backgrounds keep us on the edge of our seats wondering if they’ll succeed. The treasure came from 17th century gold coins once found inside a sunken Spanish ship. Freddie Highmore and Liam Cunningham lead the cast and its fun watching. 

SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, 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.  

VAL. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE) (93RT). Val Kilmer was and is a very half good actor. He’s got throat cancer now and has to speak through his throat. He amassed a zillion hours of himself during his acting career and made this documentary. Odd appearances by a very fat Marlon Brando, Tommy Lee Jones, and Nicole Kidman. It details his temper and ego in dealing with directors and only watch this if (a big IF) you like, or liked watching Val Kilmer .

THE SUICIDE SQUAD. (HBO MAX SERIES). (92RT). This is another very popular DC Comics silly hero worshipping gang. The squad has Idris Elba, Viola Davis and even Sylvester Stallone in it. Stallone plays the voice of King Shark, the shark wearing pants is one of the squad. I can’t watch this kind of comic violence and quit after 30 minutes. It is of course one of the biggest box office hits of the year….go figure.

CORMAN (APPLE TV SERIES). (64RT). Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the funny/ sympathetic fifth grade school teacher in Los Angeles. He’s got internal issues and many, many external ones. Even Debra Winger as Levitt’s mom doesn’t add enough depth to the plot, and it just keeps fading away. Not too bad but save your time and subscription money for anything better.

MORTAL. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE). A very twisted plot that has you rooting for and against the main characters. It’s a Norwegian production that is maybe telling us that Jesus has returned deep within this guy who definitely has other world powers and deep problems. Then we see that it’s not Jesus but Thor who gets his hammer back!! Not too bad to watch it all depends on your mood…go warned.

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August 16.

AMAZON: A RIVER OF CONSUMERISM

Visiting Northern Kentucky this past week I was in the belly of the transportation beast, one we keep well fed. The photo above is a section of the new Amazon central hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Covering 600 acres, employing 2000 workers with a plan to expand with 100 new Amazon planes it is the carbon price we pay for quick online deliveries. At its recent opening, Jeff Bezos drove a fork lift saying it was a lot of fun. Try it for a ten hour shift Jeff. 

My son moved to northern Kentucky to be close to his work, an admirable thing to do as we are reminded by climate activists. He is a pilot and flies cargo. His new home is a hop, skip and a jump from Interstate-75, which passes through 6 states and runs from south Florida to the Canadian border, a length of 1786 miles. You can hear it from his home and now see it, thanks to developers removing most of the trees to accommodate even more new homes. Before we start feeling superior remember we just cut down a big grove of trees at Highway 1 and River St. to widen the freeway.

The flow of traffic along I-75 is constant, day and night. There are no “less traffic” times. Watching it is like watching a news ticker. About one in 3 vehicles is a long haul truck, some of incredulous lengths. In Santa Cruz, our packages, which likely went through this hub, are dropped off at our address and few give a moment’s thought as to how that is made possible and at what environmental cost.

In close proximity to the Amazon airport hub and Interstate-75 there was no way to avoid the immensity of the impact of our collective consumerism. The disconnect between the IPCC Report on climate change and the constant flow of air and land transport before my eyes was disconcerting. 

The solutions based on ending fossil fuel dependency and replacing internal combustion engines with battery powered electric vehicles brings with it a set of new problems. While coal-powered electricity is steadily dropping in the US and is now just below 20%, fossil fuels still account for 60% of electricity production with renewables and nuclear each around 20%. And then there is the problem with the batteries.

Oh yes, the batteries. Their production involves the mining of cobalt, manganese, nickel and lithium. The largest deposits of lithium are in Chile, followed by Australia, Argentina and China. In the USA there is a large lithium deposit at Thacker Pass in Northern Nevada. As is often the case with mineral deposits, the land is also the ancestral home of the Fort McDermott Paiute and Shoshone Tribe who are opposing the proposed open pit mine under the banner of People of Red Mountain. Lithium mining requires prodigious amounts of water and leaves behind arsenic contamination. Choose your poison.

Then there is the hope for hydrogen-powered vehicles. Under a misleading headline of “Hydrogen-powered vehicles touted as path to clean energy” we learn that hydrogen production at present is made from natural gas or coal and emits carbon dioxide. There is always the expressed hope that new technologies will lead to breakthroughs and that may well happen. The elephant in the room remains.

So long as we are seduced by advertising, capitalism’s handmaiden, into consuming more and more goods from far-flung regions, the search for alternative fuels to whet our appetite will continue to be a chimera. Simply put, we need to consume less and as far as possible, from local sources. 

Individually it’s a drop in the bucket:  collectively, it’s the only way out. So far no country, including China has been willing to oppose the excesses of consumer capitalism. And who are we to tell the world to consume less!

If you turn right out of my son’s neighborhood you quickly enter the natural beauty of northern Kentucky. Rolling green hills and beautiful big trees. The nearby State Park (all state parks in Kentucky are free) is Bone Lick State Park. The sulfur springs in the park contain salt licks that attracted the mammoths. The fossils of mega fauna remain. The hiking trail was a joy with no unleashed dogs or mountain bikes to ruin the day.  Time and space to ponder if we homo-sapiens will survive our own creations. 

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.

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August 16.  

SANTA CRUZ CREDIT UNION BOARD GETS AN EAR-FUL.
The Santa Cruz Community Credit Union board decided to sell the rather large site they own on Front Street near the corner of Laurel Street in downtown Santa Cruz. The sale was never an issue until it became public that the board decided to sell to a hotel group represented locally by land-use “Fixer,” Owen Lawlor.

But I Digress… 
(Owen Lawlor, upon graduation from UCSC, drifted off to NYC to obtain a degree in real estate development (see it before the site is “scrubbed”) and then drifted back to Santa Cruz after realizing how beautiful this place is and what a cash cow it might become for him and a few of his investor buddies, but this is all a story for another column. In Owen’s world, he is called an “entitler,” because he does the nasty work many developers shun in Santa Cruz, like glad-handing members of the Economic Dev. Dept., securing permits for market-rate projects, and making parcel-property exchange deals, but I digress.) 

On with the Show
About a dozen Santa Cruz Community Credit Union members organized a petition effort to force a special meeting of the SCCCU board. That meeting was held this past Friday (Aug. 13). At the beginning of the meeting, someone on the board said it was not an official meeting because the signatures were not “official,” even though the group had obtained over 700 and needed only 426, but alas, the meeting went on. If it wasn’t “official” then did it really happen? And why did it happen?

The COMMUNITY in SCCCU to the Rescue
This was perhaps the most secretive of public meetings held in the pandemic era. Just registering for the meeting was excruciating, and no link was forthcoming after registering until the day of the meeting. It led to great uncertainty among those wanting to attend the membership meeting to contest the sale of SCCCU property to a hotel group. Even after receiving “a link” many members were unclear as to how to use the link they received and were consequently locked out of the Friday “members-only” meeting. It was not a typical Zoom meeting either, one in which you could see who was attending, exchange “chats” with each other, and pose questions to the board for all to see. No, this was as tightly controlled a virtual gathering as I have been to in Covid-19’s eighteen-month reign. Why? No one knows why the board sent off such paranoid vibes and made the meeting so opaque as to squelch a good deal of dissent. Of course, rumors abound as to why the meeting secrecy was so heavy, but I will not go into them here. I will say there were at least 88 members present. Someone on the board later alluded to the number 100, but I am not sure as the participant number did not appear on the screen as it normally does in Zoom virtual meetings.

The good news is that a vote by those present was taken. It was a pretty simple up or down one. Do you support the credit union being sold to a hotel developer? When it came time to vote on this resolution, put forward by former city councilmember Micah Posner, 66% of those present voted NO, they don’t support their member-owned credit union being sold to a hotel developer! One would think it was a resounding victory: Hey, credit union board, STOP the sale, immediately! But, if you remember, since it wasn’t an “official” meeting, this was an advisory vote. Lots of unanswered questions…What were their lawyers telling the board? Was it a financial cover-your-ass move in front of the membership?

Nevertheless, those who spoke in favor of cutting ties with the hotel group were informative, eloquent, and forceful in their 3-minute statements before the board. A compelling argument was made, but since the vote is non-binding, the ball is now in the board’s public relations court. How will they spin it? It is anyone’s guess, but they have been staunchly adamant about following through on the sale of the property before this meeting. Will they have a change of mind? Stay tuned.

Questions for SCCCU’s Chief Exec, Beth Carr, and Board
Barbara Riverwoman, a keen observer of local politics, has her eyes fixed on the SC Credit Union’s sale of the property to a hotel group headed by locals, but it includes New York hotel person/group (won’t tell us) as well. She watched last Friday’s meeting and posed these all too relevant questions:

  1. Is the sale of the credit union still in escrow?  What penalties would be assessed if the credit union withdrew from the sale? 
  2. Why did the Board and staff fail to actively solicit the input from the membership back in 2018 when you first began exploring the sale?
  3. Why did the Board and staff meet with Bonnie Lipscomb, the City’s Economic Development Director, the Chamber of Commerce and other pro-development players in Santa Cruz but not with its own members
  4. Did the Board ever consider working with the City to combine the three pieces of land as one – which would then have required the construction of affordable housing on that plot?
  5. The credit union received an assessment of $4.9 million on the land and building.  Was an assessment ever made on the combined land of the City and the Credit Union.
  6. Why did CEO Beth Carr wait so long to send us the minutes of the Board meetings and why were there so many last-minute redactions (blacked out lines) in the minutes?
  7. And why have there been so many closed session meetings with no minutes as to subject of each of these meetings?
  8. Why did Beth Carr absolve herself and the credit union of any responsibility in the matter of who was the buyer of the property?  (And, as Stacey Falls posed the question at the membership meeting: Would the credit union have sold the property to ICE if they wanted to put a detention center there? I think not, so they likely have discretion over who they sell the property to, no?)

 
Short-term Electoral Politics vs. Building a Working-class Movement
Since Bernie Sanders ran for President on the Democratic ticket but as a Democratic Socialist in 2016 and lost, and lost again in 2020, there has been a raging debate across the US among socialists of all stripes as to the relevancy of electoral politics. On one hand, lots of socialists feel that the system is rigged and as they look back now, Sanders had a chance of becoming the Democratic Party’s candidate, not in a million years. Others, while they agree, look to all the gains other socialists made on the coat-tails of Bernie: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and many others were elected and now are poised to implement a socialist agenda. The Democratic Socialists of America just completed their biannual convention, virtual this year because of the pandemic, and this topic was an electric one. Locally, Jeb Purucker, the Santa Cruz DSA co-chair, lent his perspective to this debate. I reprint it below from an email exchange we engaged in. Recently, Nina Turner lost a Democratic primary to an insider Democratic National Committee candidate to represent the Cleveland area in congress. The DNC threw everything at Turner. She was Bernie Sanders’ national presidential campaign co-chair in 2020. The question I posed to Jeb was did he see a place for socialists, Turner being one, within the Democratic Party? In other words, should socialists hold out for possible short-term gains in maybe winning the odd election, or should they be looking at a bigger picture and forming a viable third party. His response follows.

by Jeb Purucker, Co-Chair

Santa Cruz Democratic Socialists of America

I am sure it won’t surprise you, but I think this is exactly the wrong lesson to draw from the [Nina] Turner loss… for me the question isn’t “electoralism or not?” but rather “what do we need to do to actually build power independent of the democrats?”  If we start from the premise that what we need is a party that truly represents working people rather than corporate interests, the question is what do we do to get there?  The option [Ryan] Skolnick puts forward–running against conservative democrats and trying to take over the Democratic Party–is an immediatist approach.  It says, essentially, that we don’t have to build new forms of worker organization; we don’t have to deal with the profound disorganization of the working class over the past century.  It assumes that all you have to do is message your campaign right, and knock on enough doors, and then magically the difference in organization between an extremely organized and experienced ruling class faction in the Democratic Party and the disorganized and atomized working class elements in the party can be overcome.  In short, it assumes that the main site you need to organize is the party apparatus itself.  

In my opinion, Turner’s loss (and Bernie’s loss too) reflects the limits of this kind of magical thinking.  Both cases show that the party apparatus is capable of absorbing really strong challenges.  If we take the approach that [Ryan] Skolnick is advocating here, and start by mobilizing mass numbers of working people and progressives into the democratic party, we are still doing essentially the Turner/Bernie thing of trying to take over the party without actually organizing the class itself outside the party first.  Ultimately, that kind of extra-party work is the only thing that can sustain a real challenge to a much more organized capitalist class.  

We have to instead ask what kind of work is NOT being done when we are focusing on taking over a party apparatus that is, at its core, built around the interests of certain segments of the ruling class.  When you are registering people to vote Democrat, or working on taking over local central committees etc. you are NOT out there organizing working people around their own immediate concerns and interests; you are NOT building independent worker organizations–tenant unions, labor unions, socialist organizations etc.  

So, I think Skolnick gets the question wrong when he poses it as “inside or outside electoral politics?” or “inside or outside the democratic party?”.  The question should instead be: “do we think we can build and sustain a party of the working class before we have done the hard work of rebuilding working class organization?” Skolnick wants to jump right to organizing the party before organizing the class.  I think that this can produce some limited victories (and a lot of defeats), but ultimately if we want to build something that is sustainable in the long term, the focus has to be on base-building.  What would have happened in the Turner race if it weren’t just a bunch of Justice Democrat activists knocking on strangers’ doors, but instead were built on a foundation of a robust network of tenant organizations and independent labor unions that were primarily turning out their own members and that had strong political education campaigns built in? 

“It is absolutely wild that members of Congress are still allowed to buy and sell individual stock. It shouldn’t be legal. We’ve introduced legislation to end the practice, but as one can imagine it’s a very uphill battle to pass. This shouldn’t even be controversial though!” (Aug. 12)


Rick Longinotti (left) and Russell Brutsche (with guitar) address a crowded Campaign for Sustainable Transportation (CFST) picnic this past Sunday (August 15) at Harvey West Park. It’s a celebration! CFST raised more than $50k to confront the forces of highway widening, get the Regional Transportation Commission to consider alternatives, and take them to court if they do not. Because of this group’s efforts, alternatives to ever-expanding highways in Santa Cruz County will be considered and Highway 1 expansion has been put off, at least for now. The struggle continues.
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(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. Krohn was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. That term ended when the development empire struck back with luxury condo developer money combined with the real estate industry’s largesse. They paid to recall Krohn and Drew Glover from the Santa Cruz city council in 2019.

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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August 16

PREPARE FOR SOMETHING 10 TIMES WORSE, AND BE READY TO ABANDON YOUR PLAN
One year ago, the CZU Lightning Complex Fire forever changed the lives of so many local residents, and we still trying to deal with the aftermath on many, many levels.  Here is a video, “A High and Awful Price: Lessons Learned From the Camp Fire”, made by a survivor of the Camp Fire in Paradise, created with the hope of passing along to others the wisdom of lessons learned by that community’s residents and responders. 

It is excellent, especially Part 4, at minute 42:25. Watch it here!

Many thanks to Bob Wiser, an amateur radio volunteer who has served tirelessly to help Santa Cruz County plan for and activate emergency plans, for sending me this excellent video.

Sadly, Santa Cruz/San Mateo unit CAL FIRE officials have curiously chosen to dismiss an opportunity to learn from what happened, or did not happen, during that disaster, thereby missing an opportunity to learn from their mistakes, and improve their level of service to the people for future disaster response.  These public servants have failed to produce an After Action Review of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire.  

Why?

Chief Ian Larkin, who also serves as the Chief of the Santa Cruz County Fire Dept., needs to be held accountable.  Please flood his desk with correspondence: 

Ian Larkin ian.larkin@fire.ca.gov    or
Mailing Address
CAL FIRE San Mateo Santa Cruz Unit 
PO Box Drawer F-2
Felton, California 95018
Phone: (831) 335-5355 

ENCOURAGING CZU FIRE PROPERTY OWNERS TO JUST GO SOMEWHERE ELSE?
About ten days ago, the Santa Cruz County Assessor website posted information about the CZU Fire tax base.  Those who intend to rebuild will be assessed for their base value, but for those who are planning to relocate, there is a list of other Counties that will accept transferred tax base values:

Proposition 19 allows wildfire victims to transfer the property tax base of a primary residence to a replacement property purchased in any county in California after 4/1/2021.

RTC (Revenue and Taxation Code) Section 69.3 may be the best option if your replacement property is located in one of the 13 counties that has adopted an ordinance to accept out of county transfers. As of 1/16/2020 those counties included: Contra Costa, Glenn, Los Angeles, Modoc, Orange, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Ventura, and Yuba.

Assessor’s Office

WILL THE COUNTY HELP THESE CZU SURVIVORS TO STAY AND REBUILD?
Last Tuesday’s Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisor meeting (in-person allowed again!), brought forth many CZU Fire Survivors who pleaded with Supervisors to convince the Planning Dept. to remove onerous and prohibitively expensive soils test requirements mapping previously-unknown ancient landslides.

It was heart-wrenching, but none of the Supervisors responded to let these people who were speaking during the opening of the meeting even know that there would be a matter discussed later in the agenda directly related.

Listen to what people had to say during Item #5, and then later when the issue was discussed in agenda Item #9 by clicking on the agenda item here:

Video Outline – Santa Cruz County, CA

In the Consent agenda item #50, the related staff report and action was to have come before the Board on August 10 was delayed:

Recommended Action(s):
Defer further consideration of policy regarding rebuilding after the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire, including consideration of the requirements of Santa Cruz County Code Chapter 16.10.

Executive Summary
On June 29, 2021 the Board of Supervisors approved applying the exception process in Santa Cruz County Code (SCCC) 16.10 to allow deferral of geologic reports until after recovery building permits are issued, in order to support survivors of the CZU fire. Further consideration of rebuilding policies, including the application of SCCC 16.10, was to occur in August, 2021. A technical debris flow-flood hazard study is underway in the 2020 CZU Fire burn area that will provide additional information to support policy discussion on this topic. Staff is therefore recommending that further consideration be deferred until additional technical information provided by the report is available.

In summary, the Board will consider on September 14 allowing the CZU survivors to move forward with permit applications, and not have to pay for assisting the County in gathering expensive geologic information that could obfuscate and block the entire rebuild effort.

Here is the recap of the actions, as reported in the Sentinel: CZU Fire victims could see geologic hazard inspection waived in rebuilding process

TRAINING MORE HAND CREWS FOR FIRE PROTECTION AND RESPONSE
Many thanks to Supervisor Manu Koenig for sponsoring Consent Agenda Item #32 on the August 9 Board of Supervisor agenda to urge the Governor to fund training more hand crews locally for boots-on-the-ground firefighting efforts.

Recommended Action(s):
Authorize the Chair to write a letter to Governor Newsom and The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection requesting funding be allocated for the establishment of more fire hand crews and the establishment of a new fire hand crew site that would jointly serve Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties at the former Youth Probation Center located at Camp Glenwood located in the unincorporated community of La Honda in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Now, how about working with local FireWise Communities and Parks Dept. crews to train those residents also?  It was efforts like that in San Mateo that helped stop the CZU Lightning Complex Fire from entering the town of Pescadero, according to the CAL FIRE town hall meeting March 3, 2021.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY PLANNING DIRECTOR KATHY MOLLOY HAS RETIRED
Quietly, Planning Director Kathy Molloy has retired.  It was a very brief send-off at the Board of Supervisor meeting last week.  It is unknown who will assume the helm.

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

GOOD NEWS!  SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS CLEANS UP ITS ACT AND STEPS FORWARD TO RECYCLE
Last week’s Blog included photos of mountains of putrid trash in large, uncovered dumpsters at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.  I am happy to report receiving this good news from Ms. Mary Ann Lobalbo, County Recycling Dept. staff:

“We met yesterday (August 9) with Dave Kegebein and Diana from Calrecycle:  California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) brings together the state’s recycling and waste management programs and continues a tradition of environmental stewardship.

The Fairgrounds understands what they need to do in the coming weeks prior to the fair. Dave will be calling Green Waste this week to set up a newer and better system to source separate the waste stream there. Dave and his team are already collecting cardboard, glass, aluminum cans. More recyclables will be collected such has the milk containers, hard plastics, tin cans, and even office paper! Very exciting!! Training to come!

At the fair, we have a minimum of 3 picnic table locations with the 3 stream containers (recycle, landfill, and food waste) that will be manned by volunteers to help people to source separate their waste! Start to sign up with the county volunteer center now. Still need to work out the shift times etc., but they are on track to help the planet even more!! Thank you!

Thank you all for your concerns and attention to this matter. We look forward to seeing how things will change with education and training for all involved.

Please start to sign up to volunteer today!!  more events to come around the county besides the fair!! Fair date Sept 15-19!”

MAKE ONE CALL.  WRITE ONE LETTER.  ATTEND ONE ZOOM MEETING IN YOUR PAJAMAS.  JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK, AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

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 KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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August 14

226 / Pathetic Grift & Entitlement (PG&E)

Alison Cordova has written a powerful indictment of Pacific Gas & Electric Company, an investor owned utility that provides gas and electric service to 5.2 million households in Northern California. Cordova’s statement appeared at the top of the editorial page in the August 12, 2021, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle and is titled, “Dixie Fire and PG&E negligence.” If you can evade the Chronicle’s paywall (which may or may not be possible for non-subscribers), you can read what Cordova wrote by clicking this link. The picture, above, came with the editorial. 

Cordova was previously a partner at the Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy law firm and was part of lead counsel that took on PG&E for the 2015 Butte Fire, the 2017 North Bay Fires, and the 2018 Camp Fire. She is not listed as having anything to do with the 2011 San Bruno gas explosion, caused by PG&E negligence. The San Bruno PG&E pipeline failure resulted in eight deaths and massive property damage. The picture of the Dixie Fire, above, seems to show a minor blaze, in comparison with what happened in San Bruno. There, eyewitnesses reported that the initial blast “shot a fireball more than 1,000 feet in the air,” and the explosion caused a measurable earthquake. 

Here is a sample of Cordova’s damning analysis of how PG&E’s failure to exercise reasonable oversight led to what is now the second-largest wildfire in California history, a fire that is still uncontained: 

PG&E operates 63 hydroelectric facilities in Tier 2 and Tier 3 high fire threat areas, known as “HFTD’s.” Twenty-four of its facilities are in Tier 3, which is the highest fire risk zone possible. “The Rock Creek-Cresta Hydroelectric Project” consists of the Rock Creek and Cresta reservoirs, dams and powerhouses. Cresta is one of PG&E’s Tier 3 hydroelectric facilities. That means it should have been a top priority for enhanced wildfire mitigation inspections, especially in the run-up to fire season. Not to mention, Cresta’s facilities are located in the Feather River Canyon — the same region where the deadly 2018 Camp Fire started. 

In the months leading up to the Dixie Fire, however, PG&E wrote a letter to the CPUC admitting that it had “discovered” a mistake in its 2020 Wildfire Mitigation Plan: It had forgotten to include its hydroelectric substations.

Despite its outrageous record of malfeasance, PG&E continues to be in charge of the gas and electric systems that provide electricity to millions of California residents. Cordova’s editorial column makes a very good case that PG&E should be relieved of that responsibility – and at the earliest moment possible. 

I believe that California should now require the transformation of PG&E into what might be called a “consumer cooperative.” The customers – the California residents who rely on the system – should actually be in charge of the system. 

If that were true, we could have an electric utility that would put the interests of its customers first, instead of pursuing profit over safety. I have called PG&E “Pathetic Grift & Entitlement” for a pretty good reason. A cooperative gas and electric utility would provide better service, and greater safety, at a lesser price than an investor owned utility that is structurally required to put its profits first. 

I grew up in Palo Alto – where electricity was provided by a city-owned and managed municipal utility, not a for-profit corporation. We need to reconfigure our electric and gas systems in their entirety, eliminating the “gas” part, as soon as we can, and structuring our electric service to a system based on what some call “microgrids.” We need local self-sufficiency, and to maximize solar power on every rooftop, parking lot, and other urban location where solar electricity can be installed. 

Maybe, after the current recall, our Governor can turn his attention to that challenge!

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 gapatton@mac.com

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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. Eagan’s Blog this week is all about “Grrreat”! Scroll to it!!

    THE INTERNET

“The internet could be a very positive step towards education, organization and participation in a meaningful society”.  
~Noam Chomsky 

“The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life”.
~Andrew Brown 

“We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain”. 
~Stephen Hawking

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When the CZU fires broke out, local artist Tom Ralston and his partner Rachel, like so many others, picked up what they could and left. Some however, did not. Groups of individuals chose to stay behind and fight the fires. They were called Renegades and some of the “Dooners” called them “The Rag Tag Renegades”.

“Bonny Doon Strong” is a tribute song, written about the bravery and steely resolve of the men and women who stayed behind to fight the CZU fires.


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!

Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com

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