Blog Archives

August 31 – September 6, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Preserving UCSC, Felipe Hernandez for county Supervisor, Streamers, Live Here Now. GREENSITE…on saving Santa Cruz. KROHN…Our Downtown, Empty Homes tax. STEINBRUNER…Watsonville Hospital, CZU fire survivors, Aptos bike overcrossing, County planning goals, Aptos Village plans. HAYES…Agricultural Abandonment. PATTON…The trouble with trees. MATLOCK…Breaking history and other faux pas. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS’ pick of the week…all about her! QUOTES…”Labor Day and Work”

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DAVENPORT CEMENT PLANT 1967. It was built by the Portland Cement Company in 1905 and later acquired by other owners and operators. Its place and role in the proposed Cotoni – Coast Dairies National Monument hasn’t been determined or announced.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE August 29

SAVING UCSC’S HERITAGE. For all the issues UCSC brings to Santa Cruz it also creates a beautiful campus for our students, faculty and staff to work in. Whether controlled by the Board of Regents or influenced by the current chancellor its growth and appearance are of utmost importance. There is a committee called the East Meadow Action Committee. It’s a group of faculty, staff, students and alumni who work hard to stop the development of new buildings on the nature blessed East Meadow. Go here to get more details.

The committee is having an East Meadow Walk on Tuesday September 6 from 6pm-8pm. It’ll be at the East Meadow which is Hagar Court and Coolidge Drive. (map)

Their press release says “: Join us to learn about the incredibly rich cultural and natural history of the East Meadow, the UC’s plans to develop and destroy this place, and what you can do to help save the meadow! Accessibility: This walk will be on uneven trails. With Nadia and Michelle (michelle.glowa@gmail.com)

FELIPE HERNANDEZ FOR SANTA CRUZ COUNTY SUPERVISOR (DISTRICT 4).

It’s nearly embarrassing to read Felipe’s website in his campaign for County Supervisor, but we all should not just read it but maybe memorize it. Go to voteforfelipe.com/ and check out his supporters, look at his background…amazing. Bill Monning, Michael Watkins, Fred Keeley, Faris Sabbah, Sandy Brown, Justin Cummings, Glen Shaller, and onwards. Take his statement on Reproductive Rights, “Reproductive rights are human rights! When our local Planned Parenthood’s funding came under attack I stood up and showed up, and together we made sure their funding remained in place. Today I continue to stand with PP and denounce this attack on woman, people who become pregnant, families, healthcare providers, and basic human rights. I’m encouraging my supporters to donate what you can to our local Planned Parenthood to ensure they have what they need to continue serving our community”. I stated that it’s nearly embarrassing to read and know about his campaign because “it’s South County” and somehow we often ignore the importance and the connections we have in common.

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.

PURPLE HEARTS. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.7 IMDB). A trite, corny, foolish attempt to tell a ridiculous story about a woman who needs money and marries a Marine recruit to get his military benefits.  They argue and fight at Camp Pendleton and argue between the liberal and patriots points of view. The ending is as predictable as you can imagine.

THE TERRITORY. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.6 IMDB). A scathing and heartbreaking documentary from National Geographic tell of the invasion of the remaining Amazon jungle that is still inhabited by about 200 indigenous locals. It’s local versus the developers and that’s also the story of the invasion of the United States by our ancestors and their treatment of the natives and homes that were destroyed. The Amazon locals have drones, cameras, and media to help in their struggle against money and politics and even COVID. Don’t miss this history capturing document.

THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (6.7 IMDB). This is a collection of four fables told by a genie (djinn) to a woman lecturer. Tilda Swinton is the author/scholar and Idris Elba is the djinn. Great fun and it’s a very imaginative myth to watch and to savor the visuals and the pure fantasy plus super acting skills of these two stars.

VENDETTA. (HULU MOVIE) (3.7 IMDB). Mike Tyson has two short scenes in this poor excuse for a movie. It takes place in Georgia and stars Bruce Willis at his worst. An accidental killing brings out revenge plus blood, plus junkies, thugs and very bad acting. The script should never have been written.

MIKE. (HULU SERIES). (6.4 IMDB). A dramatized version of the world famed and brutal boxer Mike Tyson. Starting with his poor and much tortured upbringing and continuing harassment he became a boxing giant. His trainer Cus D’Amato (played by Harvey Keitel) became his best friend and supporter. Tyson is still trying to outlive his crude and unfeeling image and now is working as an actor! Well worth watching.

ANOTHER SELF. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.3 IMDB). This is a series from Turkey with three women friends on a journey to fix some issues in their lives. One is a Doctor and wants to have her breasts enlarged, another wants to find a cure for her cancer, the last friend is a lawyer and wants a change of scenery. The acting and plot are light and well done. You’ll become involved with their development,

KLEO. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.1 IMDB). This is a long drawn out series about the real and unreal politics behind the falling of the 27 mile long Berlin Wall in 1989 and 1900. A young woman seeks revenge against the East German government who treated her brutally. There’s love, betrayal, plenty of gunplay and even some laughs. Kleo went from East to West Berlin secretly and carried out some deadly assignments. There have been and will be better spy movies.

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

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON. (82 Rotten Tomatoes) At long last we can watch the PREQUEL to the nearly historic Game of Thrones. It seems more women centered as compared to GOT and there are numerous references to the good old dragons and even plenty of look a likes to get us hooked to this new series. It’ll make you try to remember just what was it that drew us and kept us so devoted to thrones? Watch it, see more dragons, streaming white hair, bits of nudity and I think it’ll develop into a worthwhile diversion.

INTERCEPTOR. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.2 IMDB). There’s a platform out in the Pacific that contains missile stopping rockets if/when Russia attacks the United States. This so called action drama centers on the woman in charge of that platform. The acting, the plot, the CGI all of it is barely watchable…and far from believable. The equality shown to women plot wise and otherwise is queasy…don’t watch.

UNCHARTED. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.4 IMDB). Mark Wahlberg, Tom Holland and Antonio Banderas head a huge cast and much CGI (computer generated images) in this “action adventure”. It’s silly, unbelievable and yet watchable for its abundance. These guys search half he world for Magellan’s hidden gold. Huge plot holes, lack of background, and yet nutsy enough to keep your attention.

DAY SHIFT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.1 IMDB). Jamie Foxx mugs and struts his way through this vampire, bloodsucking, violent flop of a supposed comedy. It all happens in LA’s San Fernando Valley and it fails at being funny, especially in these times. Foxx poses as a pool cleaner and can’t quite seem to get his acting to match the script. I stopped watching after 10 minutes.

LICORICE PIZZA. (PRIME VIDEO) (7.2 IMDB). Not just superb but one of my favorite films of the year. The much recognized and honored director Paul Thomas Anderson created a swirling, tantalizing film about two young lovers coming of age in the 1970’s of the San Fernando Valley. The previously unknown leads Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman hold the twisted, clever, intricate plot together along with bit parts by Sean Penn, Tom Waits, and Bradley Cooper. Do not miss this excellent movie.

PERFUMES. (PRIME VIDEO) (6.6 IMDB). A woman who was a world famed perfume maker loses that ability. She regains that talent with help from a fellow middle aged guy who’s a taxi driver. It’s a fine and well executed film with tender and educational parts centering on what we can and can’t smell. Their relationship and being a well-made movie makes it very worthwhile watching.

THE SANDMAN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.8 IMDB) This comic book hero named Dream also known as Morpheus (from Neil Gaiman’s pen) comes back from the dead in 1916 Britain and haunts and curses everybody from Berlin to modern day venues. Tom Sturridge plays Morpheus and if you like DC comics at their near best go for it. But only IF…

DAY SHIFT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.1 IMDB). Jamie Foxx leads as a pool cleaner with a ten year old daughter living and working in LA’s San Fernando Valley. What he really does is hunt and kill vampires. It’s supposed to be a comedy, and it goes to extremes to gross out anybody willing to sit through all the blood, headless corpses, stabbings…it’s too much. We are living in such a scary violent world that I couldn’t stomach it. Watch it at your own risk!

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HIDDEN VALLEY STRING ORCHESTRA which is Sixteen of Northern California’s finest string players will perform without a conductor. Prepared under the direction of concertmaster, Roy Malan. Comprising sixteen of Northern California’s most talented and accomplished string players, the String Orchestra of Hidden Valley debuted to acclaim in November 2014. Lyn Bronson of Peninsula Reviews said of the String Orchestra’s debut, “A gorgeous performance. Every section . . . a perfect jewel.” Featuring works by Richard Wagner, Efrem Zimbalist, Jean Françaix, Germain Tailleferre, Wiliam Grant Still, and Frank Bridge in Santa Cruz Sunday September 11th at 4:00 p.m. at Peace United Church 900 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Go here for more info…

SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS CONCERT. Their next concert will be Beethoven, Bagatelles, and Music for Winds and Piano. Music by Beethoven, Françaix, Ligeti, Jon Scoville, Couperin. It’s happening SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 7:30 PM and SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 3:00 PM. It features Ivan Rosenblum, Concert Director and Piano Lars Johannesson, Flute Peter Lemberg, Oboe Erica Horn, Clarinet Michelle Reem, Bassoon and Susan Vollmer, French Horn. It’ll happen at Christ Lutheran Church 10707 Soquel Drive, Aptos

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August 29

JUST THE BEGINNING

Many recent topics in this column have focused on new developments, either ones approved or ones heading to a public hearing for review and vote. Except for the one pictured above, all are as yet designs on paper. That makes it difficult to grasp the cumulative impacts of future projects on the fabric of Santa Cruz. Impacts not only on the character of the town, whether it be visual, a sense of place and familiarity, or impacts on traffic circulation, water, open space, schools, parks, hospitals etc. but also the impact on the class make-up of the town. As the well-off newcomers move in, the low-income, largely Spanish-speaking workers and families who rent are moving out. What about the “affordable” units you may ask? Why aren’t they going to current low-income residents? A good question that has never been answered. My guess is that the units being built are largely tiny and meant for singles or are snapped up by students. That is true for Shaffer Road Apartments and 1010 Pacific. It’s the sort of data that should be gathered if the city cared about current residents and retaining long-time local service workers. That, plus the ever-increasing rents even for the so-called “affordable” units that are tied to the AMI, Area Median Income, which rises with every high-income earner who moves to Santa Cruz.

The development above, under construction at Laurel/Front and Pacific, is the first glimpse of the near future when dozens of such buildings and ones much higher will define Santa Cruz. They are coming at a rapid rate thanks to the state government imposing restrictions on local input and mandating automatic approval of projects that meet the standards. Thanks also to real estate now comprising the top choice for investment portfolios, both for out of state and out of country investors, plus a bottomless pit of wealthy professionals desiring to live in Santa Cruz. To get a better sense of the project above, add 3 more floors, bringing it to its height of 6 stories with 5 floors of housing and ground floor retail. In our near future, six stories will seem quite modest.

The state takeover of local land-use control is exacerbated by the imposition of jaw-dropping numbers of new housing units that the city is mandated to provide under the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA pronounced REENA) for the next 8-year cycle. The last RHNA cycle mandated 700 units of housing be built at various income levels. By the end of the current cycle next year, the city will have fulfilled its quota at all income levels, even surpassing requirements at the above-moderate level. So much for the tired-old accusation that the city hasn’t built any housing in the past 30 years due to NIMBY’s and Gary Patton. The next RHNA cycle is an inexplicable, expletive-deleted requirement for the city to build 3800 new units of housing, over 5 times the number in the last cycle. This is supposed to be our “fair share.” The county’s share is considerably less.

Some communities have challenged their RHNA numbers, but Santa Cruz city is not one of them. On the contrary, the city Planning Department is full steam ahead to earmark parts of town for high rises and dense projects to accommodate the numbers. The proposed Downtown Extension Plan with its 17 and 15 story housing towers, smack in the middle of the most traffic congested part of town on summer weekends as tourists head to the beach and Boardwalk, is estimated to accommodate 1600 of the required 3800 new units. That number of new housing units could translate into 4,000 new people in that tiny triangle of space. Supporters are calling it “a new neighborhood.” Current neighbors are probably calling it something else.

Given the above, it was a breath of fresh air to recently discover a state-wide group named, Community Catalysts, Preserving Local Control. Their website is catalystsca.org  I attended one of their zoom meetings and was mightily impressed. I suggest you check them out and register for future zooms in their 2022 Catalysts Town Hall Series. The next one is September 7th. A description of the topic to be discussed is:

California cities are staggering under state-mandated housing quotas called Regional Housing Needs Allocations (RHNA) that are double any previous housing cycle, at a time when the state’s population is declining. State legislators eliminated local control over zoning decisions (SB9) at a time when a state audit concluded the RHNA process is unreliable.


State law puts City Councils, Boards of Supervisors, and residents between a rock and a hard place. To comply with unrealistic quotas threatens constituent safety, at a time when CA laws have failed to provide housing that is affordable.

LEARN from these extraordinary speakers, expand your network of like-minded colleagues, and discover the power of litigation. 

You bet I’ll attend! Given the influx of investors eying Santa Cruz; given the loss of local businesses by property owners selling and capitalizing on the hot housing market; given the bottomless pit of housing demand by newbie professionals; given UCSC growth; given the rise of pro-big development student groups and YIMBY’s; given a council majority that approves every development without question; given Planning and Economic Development Departments that serve the interests of developers over the existing community it’s our only hope to save any semblance of the Santa Cruz we know and love. It’s the only hope to slow the displacement of low-income workers who are sacrificed for profit while being thrown crumbs of Inclusionary units that rise further and further out of their reach as the AMI (Area Median Income) rises with each high-rise.

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 29

ODOF AND EHT, AGAIN

Yes on Measure N!

The Essence of EHT (Empty Homes Tax)

Question: Who has an extra home sitting around empty? Answer: Very few people it turns out. But, it also turns out that there are enough empty homes, 400-700 according to the city of Santa Cruz that can be taxed to supply significant funding for affordable housing. Perhaps more significantly, the vacant home number is likely closer to 1000. Either number, this emptiness puts a heavy burden on renters in Surf City. There’s an initiative on the November ballot (note: ballots actually go out in early October, 30 days before the election) that asks voters to approve a tax on these empty homes. Owners of these second, third, or fourth houses can either live in it, rent it out, or sell it. If they choose to do none of these, they pay a tax, $3,000 for vacant apartments and condos and $6,000 for empty house, and this is only if no one lives in these places for at least four months per calendar year.

Possible Exceptions

There are reasonable and rational ways to deal with the multiple questions that arise, again, ones that affect very few second homers. Remember, very few will be affected overall because very few people own second and third homes. So, for instance, your parents just passed away and you are trying to figure out what to do with their house…there’s time to figure it out without being penalized. Or, you are between tenants…it does not take 8 months to get a new tenant (anyone paying attention to those empty store fronts on Pacific Avenue? They are not covered by this ordinance, yet.) Did you just move into a new house and you are trying to sell the old one? Again, you have eight months. Your mom just went into the hospital and you might be moving her in to live with you, or into an assisted-living facility, but you are not sure if she will move back into the house so you keep it. There’s a provision for this in the ordinance. Another popular question:  I just got a job overseas for a year and my whole family is moving there and we plan to leave the house vacant because we do not have time to rent it. What this new ordinance, if passed, will do is limit the procrastination that we all might experience if we found ourselves in any of these scenarios. Eight months seems like a good amount of time to decide, and by the way, it is very unlikely you will be penalized if you or your loved one were to be hospitalized or rehabbed outside of the home for a long period of time. You would likely not have to pay the tax because it would still be the primary residence.

The Benefits

The number one goal of the Empty Homes Tax (EHT), Measure N, is to provide more housing. It’s fairly simple, and it’s contained in the ballot argument in favor of this measure: “The money raised will be used to create affordable housing for lower income levels.” This includes over 50% of the people who do the work in Santa Cruz. What has happened in places like Vancouver, Canada and Oakland, California is that many second and third home-owners, because they are wealthy corporations or just plain rich and do not need the hassle, they pay the tax. It will be around $500 a month for them, but when this is aggregated it is conservatively anywhere between $2.5 million and $4 million that will be destined towards the affordable housing needs of this city. It can be used to incentivize current affordable projects, or finance an entirely new project, or acquire existing market-rate units and make them affordable. For example, there are 10 units on the market, today, at 314 Spruce Street near downtown going for $2.6 million. This is almost half the price of new construction. The city could purchase those units with this tax money and make them affordable for low and very low-income people in-perpetuity, which would be more bang for the buck than building new. There will be several creative openings to obtaining and building more housing if the EHT initiative goes through. Now, if Measure O also prevails, then Measure N could be a financing mechanism for building on the publicly-owned lots set aside for housing in the Our Downtown, Our Future initiative.

Yes on Measure O!

Our Downtown, Our Future

We have a letter and it is Yes on O, oh my! Similar to Measure N, this measure was spurred by a populist uprising and also carried along by a volunteer base made up of renters, homeowners, students, retirees, and union members. There is much to like about this initiative and that is likely why so many from varying backgrounds came together to support it.

What Does Measure O do?

  • This measure requires, to the maximum extent possible, that 8 City-owned parking lots be used for the development of 100% affordable housing on any level above the ground level. These lots include Lot 7 on Front Street, which can easily accommodate 160 units of studio, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. Overall, some 300 to 400 units can be developed on the 8 parking lots.
  • Measure O prioritizes renovation of the Santa Cruz Downtown Library at its existing Civic Center location. This part of the initiative is a critical piece in mitigating climate change by reusing and remodeling the existing building on Church Street. Adaptive reuse is an important climate mitigation tactic.
  • This initiative prioritizes providing a permanent location for the Downtown Farmers’ Market at its present location, Lot 4 on Cedar Street, prohibits any climate-busting parking structure above the ground level, and also permits affordable housing while continuing to offer the opportunity for including downtown open space.

Groups Endorsing and Supporting Measure O

  • Peoples Democratic Club
  • National Sierra Club
  • Campaign for Sustainable Transportation
  • Santa Cruz Climate Action Network
  • Youth 4 Climate Justice
  • Downtown Commons Advocates
  • Santa Cruz 4 Bernie (SC4Bernie)

Groups Opposed to Measure O, “Our Downtown, Our Future”

  • Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce
  • Santa Cruz Downtown Management Corporation
  • Santa Cruz Downtown Association [but not all its members]
  • Santa Cruz County Business Council
  • Monterey Bay Economic Partnership
  • Santa Cruz Together

How Does Measure O Make a Difference?

Housing is a critical need for working people in Santa Cruz. Market-rate housing is not affordable to wage workers. This measure will prevent the construction of a proposed luxury hotel on City-owned land presently zoned for housing (“Cruz Hotel”), and it will require the City to reserve 8 city-owned lots for housing that workers can afford. This measure can also work in tandem with Measure N, the Empty Homes Tax. Measure O will provide the land and Measure N the funding to build affordable housing.

Bottom Line

The Santa Cruz work-force is not being served by the elite housing planners around city hall or their YIMBY supporters who see all housing as good housing in a sort of trickle-down housing model that has been shown not to work to improve housing availability for workers. The current power structure in Santa Cruz settles for an actual 11% inclusionary number of units in approved housing projects (due to YIMBY drafted Density Bonus Law that allows all density bonus units to be set at market rate). This means 89% of the units will be market-rate and therefore not within the means of workers. Measure O is a wedge measure that will achieve more housing and more and better public space downtown. If it passes, it will pave the way for further development of workers’ political power. (‘Who’s Lot 4? The people’s Lot 4.’) Measure O reinforces the principle that government is tasked with insuring that housing is not simply a matter of market forces operating according to supposed laws of supply and demand. It builds a basis on which government increasingly can intervene in ways that address shortages of housing for working people. This measure contests the current city council’s reliance on market forces, most notably the for-profit developer and corporate real estate interests that now have a vice grip on city hall. Measure O is people-driven. Over 80, majority working-class people, went out and gathered over 5000 signatures to place this measure on the November ballot.

“83% of the Trump tax breaks are going to the top 1%. 87% of Biden’s student loan benefits are going to individuals making $75,000 or less and 0% are going to the top 1%. Yes. It’s about time we stood up for working class families.” (Aug. 27)

Running for Office!

(L to R) Bodie Shargel and Hector Marin are running in District 4 for a seat on the city council and Joy Schendledecker is running for Mayor. Here they all are supporting the Starbucks Workers Union at the corner of Water and Ocean.

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 KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at ckrohn@cruzio.com

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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August 29

COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS HELD SPECIAL MEETING TO APPROVE FIVE BRIDGE LOANS LEADING TO WATSONVILLE HOSPITAL BUYOUT

Last Tuesday (8/23), County CAO Carlos Palacios was beaming with an announcement that Kaiser had just pledged $4.5 million more to help with the Watsonville Hospital buy-out, still leaving a $3 million “ask” of Supervisors.

Santa Cruz County
CA Agenda Item DOC-2022-737

An earlier feverish  $20 millions have had all been approved during a Special Board Meeting the previous week, wherein Supervisors accepted unanticipated revenue of $5 million each from the City of Santa Cruz, City of Capitola, City of Watsonville, Santa Cruz Community Foundation and Salud Para La Gente (which receives financial assistance from the County’s CORE Investment Program every year

County of Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors
SPECIAL MEETING 8/16/2022

Award Recommendations by Strategic Plan

There was no discussion to address the recent significant nursing staff protest over losing nearly all but 18 part-time positions. Watsonville nurses object to full-time status push.

There was no discussion as to why the County discouraged Kaiser from buying the Watsonville Hospital last fall.

There was no discussion about whether the State would assume operation of the Watsonville Hospital to maintain required emergency medical facility levels for the high number of Medicare and medical patient load in the area, and that the Hospital would NOT close if the buyout did not happen:

“Forty-three percent of the hospital’s gross revenue comes from the state Medi-Cal program, and 30 percent of its gross revenue comes from the federal Medicare program serving the elderly and disabled.”

Press release: Bill to protect health care access for Pajaro Valley residents passes the state senate and heads to Governor Newsom

The $25 million in state funding of SB 418 Urgency bill reflects a $10 million request from Assembly member Rivas and a $15 million request from Senator Laird in the state budget process.

No one asked any questions about the State’s “drafting error” that supposedly occurred to delay that State funding and hence, caused CAO Palacios to go asking multiple jurisdictions, including Salud Para La Gente, for $5 million loans.

There was no discussion about the impending new tax on every single parcel within the new Pajaro Valley Hospital Assessment Zone, already defined in Senator John Laird’s SB 418, and that will very likely be required to fund operational costs:

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

COUNTY PARK’S EXPENSIVE BRIDGE TO NOWHERE

A number of years ago, County Parks Director Jeff Gaffney and then-County Supervisor John Leopold announced to an angry group of Soquel neighbors that the reason a large crane had plopped, unannounced, multiple sections of a monstrous and ugly bridge  in their backyards was because “the County got a good deal on it.”  The bridge still sits in their backyard, rusting and deteriorating, and has been a source of public nuisance and fire risk.

It has become known as “The Bridge to Nowhere” and neighbors are still upset that this behemoth of a bridge is not at all what they were promised would link the two sections of The Farm Park…a pedestrian bridge.

Take a look at this “pedestrian bridge on steroids”, which is wide enough to accommodate a large vehicle:

In 2018, County voters were tricked into approving Measure G, a countywide half-cent sales tax meant to fund “critical unmet needs” for 12 years.  Funding this “Bridge to Nowhere” Project was among many promises to use the money to fund “fire” , road repairs and other infrastructure needs (which have NOT been funded to date and led to a Grand Jury investigation)

Here is what the County Board of Supervisors approved and promised the voters would happen:

The Farm Park
To provide matching funds of $235,000 and unlock $460,000 in secured grants and other funding to replace the pedestrian bridge between Tee Street and the Farm Park and make other improvements. This project would also improve Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility, safety lighting and neighborhood connectivity throughout the park.

[Santa Cruz County CA Agenda Item DOC-2018-697]

Do you think this will ever happen?  Do the Tee Street and Hardin Way neighbors want this to happen?  NO.

There is already a big problem with drug dealing and other illicit activity on the other side of the dry creek, as well as minors having alcoholic raves under the “Bridge to Nowhere” and surrounding brush that leave piles of trash and pose a real fire hazard to the community.

Contact Supervisor Manu Koenig to ask why this “Bridge to Nowhere” sits rusting in peoples’ backyards and creating a public nuisance….and wasting taxpayer money already spent.

Manu Koenig at 454-2200  manu.koenig@santacruzcounty.us and copy his analysts:
Jamie Sehorn jamie.sehorn@santacruzcounty.us
Shane McKeithen shane.mckeithen@santacruzcounty.us
Kristina Glavis kristina.glavis@santacruzcounty.us

Don’t you think it might be better to use this “good deal” bridge to help create an emergency fire evacuation route for kids and staff at Valencia Elementary School?  Or maybe an alternate route to Aptos Creek Road for pedestrians and cyclists to visit Nisene Marks State Park?

I’ll bet you have better ideas that would put this expensive “Bridge to Nowhere” to good use.  Please let Supervisor Koenig know about them.

Here is what one iteration of the Farm Park is supposed to become…with a “pedestrian bridge” connecting the two areas.


The Farm Park & Community Center

I used to work as a gardener at the unique farm and restaurant known as The Greenhouse Restaurant at The Farm that was all demolished to make room for this new park over 20 years ago..  The small cafe that now bears the name near Cabrillo College really lacks the rustic charm and greenhouse dining of the original place, but their fresh fruit tarts and homemade breads are still pretty tasty…

GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT WATER CONSERVATION IN SOUTHERN CA

Turning in your neighbor for wasting water is becoming somewhat fashionable in southern California and water companies are installing flow restrictors on customer services connections when they feel the customer is using too much water. Water Agency Cracks Down On Water Use In Southern California [Daily Wire]

I think it would be better to incentivize conservation, rather than such a Big Brother and divisive plan.

What do you think?

WILL STATE PARK REIMAGINING BIG BASIN INCLUDE RE-ESTABLISHING EMERGENCY EVACUATION ROUTES?

As California State Parks Dept. moves ahead to open limited areas of char remnants of Big Basin State Park, the elephant in the room remains…will there be secondary access routes re-established for emergency evacuation?

Don’t forget that the one death in the CZU Fire occurred because State Parks blocked the emergency access for the Last Chance Community.  That cannot be tolerated as the Park opens.

You might appreciate browsing through the Recovery Plan for that area. [Compendium of Big Basin Recovery Plan (see page 52 for public comments submitted)]

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Here is an interesting Sempervirens narrative about redwood tree recovery.

COUNTY CONTINUES TO BAIL OUT SWENSON AT APTOS VILLAGE PROJECT

Here is the expensive deal the County signed to help keep Swenson afloat by leasing the space for a Sheriff Center that is never open for public use and has yet to hold any significant educational events that were promised.

Note that the County taxpayers gifted Swenson (the “Lessor”) almost $300,000 to finish the interior so that County Sheriff deputies, probation officers, the DA, and Supervisor Zach Friend could all have cozy offices. (See page 5 of the Lease Agreement and Exhibit B)

WILL THIS BIKE LANE IN APTOS VILLAGE BE SAFE?

The new lane demarcation work on Soquel Drive is slowly creeping along.  It will be interesting to see if this all works as well on the pavement as it must have looked on paper.  Does it seem like a good idea to you to have an abrupt curb extend to the very edge of the bike lane?
It looks like an accident waiting to happen…
Will traffic waiting to make that new left turn cause big back-ups on Soquel Drive?

NEW APTOS LIBRARY CONSTUCTION CONTINUES…..GOING UP!

Take a look at the progress (still no response from the Project Manager Damon Adlao about the pile of dirt covered with plastic.)

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF PUBLIC INPUT?

Here are some gems recently sent out by a very astute and involved public member, Judi G., working a lot on this.

When leaders refer to extensive public engagement, often “it is a mechanism to wrap a veneer of legitimacy around the large policy objectives of influential people.”

“Residents may not be experts, but we know how the built environment makes us feel, and how we would like to feel.”

MAKE ONE CALL.  WRITE ONE LETTER.  ATTEND ONE PUBLIC HEARING AND SPEAK UP.

MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK BY JUST DOING SOMETHING.

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 26

AGRICULTURAL ABANDONMENT

Are there enough farmers to steward the farmland? Wait…don’t I normally write about nature first and haven’t I pointed out the bad impacts of agriculture on nature in our region? Yes, and yes. All the same, I’m hoping for an agricultural renaissance with new farmers who can better tackle the coming challenges. There is a lot going on to give this new wave of agriculturalists the tools they need to succeed. Without local agricultural success, we doom distant lands to degradation while losing out on the chance to closely interact on innovations towards land and social health. On the other hand, what opportunities await if the farm fields are abandoned?

Where does it all come from?

Much of the farmland in our vicinity has been tilled over and over since the early 1900’s, and much of the topsoil likely has been lost. Santa Cruz’ North Coast was for so long farmed in Brussels sprouts- this crop harvested in the first rains of the season and almost never cover cropped. The soil washed away with the first big rains! The same is true in many places. I’m looking for a soils scientist to one day classify our agricultural soils in terms of the level of degradation. How much have we lost? We can add organic matter, but we can’t rebuild soils- they take eons to create from the bedrock. The new generation will be farming much poorer soils than their predecessors.

Water is Life

And then there’s water…With burgeoning human populations, the Cities are thirsty for more water. The University is growing, too. Would retiring agriculture on the North Coast help solve our water crisis? Brussels sprouts take a half million gallons of water per acre per year to harvest a single crop. Residential use of water is 4.2 million gallons a day. Do the math…think about how many acres of farm crops would have to be abandoned to fill thirsty urban sinks even for one day.

These sorts of water resource trades are offered frequently. For example, how many schemes have we seen with huge agri-corporations offering their irrigation rights in trade for lusty profiteering land development schemes that convert rolling hills of oak woodland to new, remote cities housing 50,000+ people. This way, hundreds of acres of water-thirsty almonds move to another country, tear up the soaring hawk habitat of beautiful rolling grasslands, mine ancient aquifers until the groundwater goes salty, pull ranching families into the fields for another generation of dusty pesticide exposure, another cancer hotspot…wash, rinse, repeat.

Far Off and Close at Hand

Think my example of ‘far off’ almond agriculture is the closest example of agricultural abandonment? Think again: do you recall the fields of brussels sprouts across from Swanton Berry Farm stand? Those now habitat fields were farms…in fact, all the grassy/shrubby flat ground along Highway 1 were farms. Most of those fields were farms very recently. In Mexico and Chile, new lands were converted to brussels sprout agriculture to make up for the loss of those farms, to keep up with the demand for that crop. I’m guessing you already understand how much ‘better’ those far-off farms are for the farmworkers, fish habitat, and those making a living in oncology.

Why were those North Coast fields abandoned? It turns out that water provision is not just an issue for central valley almonds or even for the desert grown alfalfa that Santa Cruz elites feed their horses. Water is an issue for farmers right on our back porch. We haven’t figured out how to restore fish habitat, provide urban areas with water, and at the same time support farmers with our limited water supply. There’s a lot of work to do: who is doing it? Can you name one person? The generous individuals who dedicate their time to such endeavors deserve celebrity status. But, water is not the only reason we’re losing our farms…

Who is Next in Line?

Who are the next generation of farmers? What’s motivating the bright eyed cheerful new farmers to take up the shovel and get down and dirty for their livelihoods? Farmers on the North Coast have been retiring for years, one after another, but mostly they missed passing on their wisdom to the next in succession. Who is next? Or, will the farms go fallow? Why should we care if those areas go fallow?

Fallowed Ground

After careful study and many conversations, I will testify that abandoning agricultural areas as they have been managed in the past in and around Santa Cruz can have some pretty profound beneficial ecological, social and economic implications. Halting water extraction from streams now allows more summer water flow, benefiting endangered stream and lagoon fish. Many more rodents feast on weed seeds in the abandoned fields, their bodies feeding hawk, owl, and coyote. Minus the pesticides and rat poison, a toxic mire slowly diminishes to the benefit of human and non-human animal alike. The economy of farm supply, pesticide, trucking and such turns to an economy of tourism- bicycles, sunscreen, and picnic lunch. We trade poisoned farmworkers on lung machines for injured weekend warrior recreationists and DUI traffic accident victims.

The kinds of tradeoffs I list are examples of extremes. Agriculture doesn’t have to soak up so much water: dry farming works without any irrigation at all! Monterey Bay area entrepreneurs have proven time and again that toxic pesticides are unnecessary. Farms can incorporate habitat and foster wildlife. Unions have partnered with farm owners and shown that farmworkers can profitably be treated far better. Recreational economies can have better planning to reduce injuries and fatalities. To move from these extremes requires more civic presence, but why would anyone be motivated to be active in these ways?

World Peace Starts Here

This is not just an essay about farming. This is an essay about peace, even World Peace. On the one hand, there are those who suggest that the wider the circles of Trade, the more inter-reliance we have, the more peaceful people become. On the other hand, there are those of us who believe that the better we steward ourselves, right here, including the land around us, and the closer we interact with the natural system sacrifices of our collective impact…the better we are for it. If we don’t grow our food here…if we don’t grow and sew our clothes here…if we don’t produce our timber for the bones of our homes nearby…where will these things come from? How well will people steward those far-off areas? How will the employers treat the people working to bring us those things? As much as we see the need for improvement in so many ways for our local farms, we are relatively progressive with our cultural and societal approaches to environmental, social, and economic sustainability/resilience. So, we face near certainty that exporting our food, fiber and timber production will be far, far worse for all things.

What Can You Do?

How does this go, now? What’s next? Whatever your entry level into this conversation, there is more that you can do. Every bunch of carrots, every head of lettuce that you buy – the more local you buy it, the better. First prize goes to growing your own. We award second prize for the farmer’s market or farmstand purchase…third prize goes to purchasing from the most local farm at the grocery store. (Shame on New Leaf Westside for their newly minted ‘local farmers’ signs that fail to identify the specific farm!). Those with the means can help support organizations that are working on these issues, farmworker labor unions, farm training groups, and organizations that provide farmers with resources. We can all get to know legislation like the Farm Bill that are so important to helping both farmers and addressing climate change. Imagine what a more engaged and civically active populace would do for farm policy! Have you taken the time to understand your representative’s attitudes and voting history for both agriculture and the environment?

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

Email Grey at coastalprairie@aol.com

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August 26

#239 / The Trouble With Trees

I really love trees. Review my past blog postings about The Overstory, the wonderful book by Richard Powers, should you wish to validate this claim. Also relevant, by way of proving my love for trees, might be my description of my still unfinished effort to document “The Trees of Santa Cruz.”

Because I love trees, the idea that we should plant trees, a trillion trees, has a natural attraction to me as a way to help deal with the global warming catastrophe that is putting the human world in imminent peril.

There are, however, some problems with this idea of planting a trillion trees to combat global warming. Those problems are made clear in “The Trouble with Trees,” an article appearing in the Sunday, July 17, 2022, edition of The New York Times Magazine.

Concerns similar to those outlined in The Times’ article can also be found in a 2018 article appearing, online, on a UC Davis website, “Grasslands More Reliable Carbon Sink Than Trees.” That online article is where I obtained the image at the top of this blog posting. Not to leave UC Santa Cruz out of the discussion, Karen Holl, a restoration ecologist at UCSC, is cited in The Times’ article as expressing reservations about the “plant a trillion trees” strategy.

The flaw in the “plant a trillion trees” strategy, to which Holl’s comment draws attention, is that when we think about converting grasslands to forests, through human action, we perpetuate the real problem that is causing the global warming catastrophe. The “solution” posited is that MORE human activity is needed – let’s plant those “trillion trees.”

In fact, what we need, if we want our human civilization to survive, is LESS human activity, not MORE.

The real key to fighting global warming and climate change. in other words, is to cut back on those activities that are generating greenhouse gasses and that are otherwise undermining the integrity of the natural environment. We should be working to maintain existing forests (which continue to disappear) instead of thinking that we can be successful in attempting to accomplish, by human action, what nature had already provided, and what human activities are destroying.

While trees do draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (one great reason to love trees and to plant trees), our basic commitment must be to STOP EMITTING, instead of trying to engage in increased activity to offset the emissions we have built into a civilization and an economy that makes “growth” its first order objective.

LESS gets us “more,” when we consider how to address human-caused global warming. We must learn to live within the limits of the World of Nature.

Or….

Or, we simply aren’t going to be around to try to do “more.”

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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August 29

BREAKING HISTORY AND OTHER FAUX PAS

Wow! Can it be true? Jared Kushner has revealed that his father-in-law, former president Cheeto Benito, is actually reading Kushner’s new book, ‘Breaking History’, giving him an occasional compliment on the importance of talking about “what really happened in the room.” Speculation was that he would be unable to finish reading the 500-page memoir, even with Ivanka reading portions to him at bedtime. Unconfirmed rumors suggest that DJT had contacted Reader’s Digest about condensing the tome down to one page with bullet points, corroborating what many of his former staffers complained about during his term in office – “He won’t read anything!”

Kushner’s book, priced at $35, and released by Broadside, has taken a few broadsides from reviewers. The content covers Kushner’s involvement with the new administration shortly after the 2016 election, and as it progresses through the four-year term, during which he claims to have been a jack-of-all-trades, but in reality providing “uninformed advice to professionals with far more wisdom and expertise than he will ever have,” says Elizabeth Spiers in the Washington Post. Spiers worked as an editor for Kushner when he ran the New York Observer as a prideful narcissist, and which he shut down when the chance came allowing him to join the family crime syndicate in D.C. One of the prominent episodes of his White House career was his meeting with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who denied any responsibility for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He accepts the prince’s denial, devoting only one paragraph to subject, even though the CIA concluded that MBS approved the assassination in Turkey. Sort of like, “I don’t know why it would be” as Trump famously said about Putin’s involvement in our elections.

Kushner easily and blatantly blames others for his problems within the White House, notably, Chris Christie who was responsible for the Kushner patriarch’s prison confinement; and, Steve Bannon, along with Rex Tillerson, who thought only one Secretary of State should suffice. High on his list is John Kelly who refused to let Kushner attend high level meetings. Who can forget the former president’s meeting with Queen Elizabeth, as Jared and Ivanka looked on forlornly from a window in Buckingham Palace? Kushner ends the book with, “I learned to stay away from petty fights and power struggles to make fewer enemies and more friends, and to talk less and do more.” Elizabeth Spiers says the problem is that the book contradicts every one of his claims. “His memoir is a litany of petty fights, a constant takedown of enemies and a cascade of self-aggrandizing prattle.” 

Jared and Ivanka, nicknamed ‘Javanka’ by White House staff, and derogatorily referred to as ‘the interns’ were regarded as “obnoxious, entitled know-it-alls,” who always sought the spotlight, poking their noses where they shouldn’t have according to Laura Miller of Slate. Former press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, called Kushner “the Slim Reaper” for his ability to sidestep responsibility for his chaotic meddling. Miller compares problem children Kushner and The Donald, as sons of rich, unethical fathers who made it on their own, and, who in turn want to prove they can do it without dad’s money. Mideast diplomacy, negotiating trade agreements and cozying up to Prince MBS would never have been possible for Jared had Trump not been his father-in-law. He felt that his ‘mastery’ in the business world gave him the expertise, the shrewdness and the toughness to adapt to government, which the crime family attempted to rebrand as Trump, Inc.

‘Breaking History’ will never convince anyone that Kushner had the conviction or mettle to pull off any thing of importance, because his provable dishonesty and lies regarding the Administration are so glaring. For instance, he never discusses the attempt to overturn the 2020 election, and he manages to disassociate himself from his father-in-law’s questionable schemes. He felt that Trump’s infamous phone call to Ukrainian President Zelensky, which led to impeachment proceedings, was simply “Trump being Trump.” The House Select Committee investigations revealed Kushner as describing Pat Cipollone’s threat to quit over Trump’s illegalities as “whining”, after which Liz Cheney portrayed him as being indifferent to the fragility of American democracy. “People in positions of public trust are duty-bound to defend it, to step forward when action is required,” she declared

So, this boy-wonder who would be a statesman, kept his status as a businessman trifling with foreign relations, who regards the rule of law as an impediment, not a sacred trust. Typically, he views his attempts at doing good as philanthropy and his minor sacrifices should reap praise and honor, while elected officials and career public servants mostly see their duties as a commitment to the institutions they serve. Kushner is here to throw a monkey wrench into that commitment he terms as ‘whining.’

And, speaking of whiners, Ted Cruz raised some hackles this week on his podcast, ‘Verdict with Ted Cruz,’ when he suggested that those benefitting from Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan were nothing more than ‘slacker baristas,’ suggesting they “get off the bong” and “head down” to the polling station and vote.   “If you are that slacker barista who wasted seven years in college studying completely useless things, now have loans and can’t get a job, Joe Biden just gave you twenty grand. You know, maybe you weren’t gonna vote in November, and suddenly you just got twenty grand!” Critics immediately slammed Cruz for slandering American workers, and will probably be better off bringing his own coffee carafe to future gatherings.

But, fear not! Senator Marco Rubio has the solution after revealing his solution to the student loan debtor’s plight! Step #1 – get elected to the Senate while taking NRA money. Step #2 – find a ghost writer to pen a memoir for you costing only $20,000 (paid for by Reclaim America Political Action Committee) Caution: this is an ethics violation. Step #3 – get an advance of $800,000 from conservative imprint Sentinel. Step #4 – Release book entitled, ‘An American Son,’ even if no one expects it to sell. And there you have it…no debt…simplicity personified!

Braced for riots in the streets after a former congressman was arrested by the dreaded FBI, law officials went back to regular duties when peace and quiet broke out. Turns out former Representative TJ Cox of California was a DEMOCRAT from Nunes territory in Fresno. Nothing to see here, folks! Arrest was based on multiple counts of fraud and money laundering so just leave it!

Recently overheard in a D.C. bar near downtown:
“Hey, welcome back…thought the new session didn’t start ’til October! Having your usual short draught of Stare Decisis?”
“No, let’s make it a tall draught of Stare Un-Decisis, this time.”
“Wow! You know this one is aged in brimstone-lined barrels for 49 years?”
“Sure, but the time just seems right – the best brew for the best occasions – still celebrating last session!”
“Well, congratulations for whatever..and, thanks for the generous tip, Mr. Kavanaugh!

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: cornerspot14@yahoo.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.

    “Labor as in Labor Day”

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.”
~Stephen King

“Dreams don’t work unless you do.”
~John C. Maxwell

“I learned the value of hard work by working hard.”
~Margaret Mead

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the lines between work and play.”
~Arnold J.  Toynbee

I have had two songs (that I know of) written about me, which is something that gives me great joy! Here’s one of them, by a friend of mine named Niki Leeman. He used to live ’round these parts, but is in or near Chicago now 🙂


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
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