Blog Archives

December 15 – 21, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Sad predictions, London Nelson’s sign, Movies, Live Here Now events. GREENSITE…on the Library Charade. KROHN…City council and library garage, houseless, Martin Bernal, grassroots rescue. STEINBRUNER…Redistricting county lines/Koenig & Timm, CZU and Supes reaction, Live Oak Library, PureWater Soquel issues, parkletts. HAYES…”Douglas Fir Forests. PATTON…Muskism and Mrs. Brown. MATLOCK…Departures, the train has left. EAGAN… Eagan Blog, Subconscious Comics, Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Tsunamis”


CHRISTMAS TREE ON OUR COURT HOUSE, December 3, 1954. Before it was reclaimed and named the Cooper House this was our Santa Cruz County courthouse. It was built in 1894 and even though it was retrofitted, the city allowed it to be destroyed after the 1989 earthquake. The thin plaster fragile structure located there now is the O’Neill Surf Shop.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE December 13

SAD PREDICTIONS. Keith McHenry, one of the founders of the nation-wide Food Not Bombs volunteer program and director of our Santa Cruz Chapter, has a lot to say about homelessness in our area and the very, very, near future. Keith meets, and has more connections with, our homeless and attached issues than anyone. He told me last week that the number of homeless is growing, and growing faster than ever, and that Food Not Bombs are handing out more tents and services than any time in the past. Our local homeless situation is multiplying way beyond our level of help and the winds and rains and cold nights are getting worse. Authorities need to do more than find legal ways to shuffle our less fortunate from site to non-site/sight. Go here to see how we/you can help out and write to the City Council to get better focused.

LONDON NELSON’S NAME, STILL AN ISSUE. For some reason (mainly irresponsibility) the Council hasn’t yet repainted the London Nelson Community Center‘s Sign at the corner of Center and Laurel Streets. It still reads Louden Nelson! Check it out online, it’s been corrected there… Why doesn’t the council take the responsibility, and probably only about $200, and hire one of our great muralists/artists to simply re-paint the one line with his name properly? Peter Bartczak, Russell Brutsche, Laurel Bushman, Kathleen Crocetti, Ann Thierman and many more would probably be happy for the opportunity to correct this prominent city mistake. I must add that two or three weeks ago I was driving by that sign and saw a few people posing in front of a cheap looking white plastic slip covered sign designed to cover over the Louden Nelson sign. What’s going on?

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.

VIENNA BLOOD. (PRIME SERIES). (7.5 IMDB). It’s the very old story of the detective with an aide who actually makes the plot work. It’s 1906 in Vienna and the detective has a young Doctor who is far superior to his supposed mentor. There’s a suicide that really isn’t a suicide and some séance ghost friends who add to this very light, almost comedy. Enjoyable but not necessary.

THE UNFORGIVABLE. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (7.2 IMDB). Sandra Bullock plays a convict released from prison in search of her younger sister who was sent to adoptive parents. Solemn, sad, involving, but also containing some unbelievable plot points. The surprise ending changes everything the film was built on and makes it an involving but not great cinema effort.

PIG. (HULU SINGLE). (6.9 IMDB). Not quite the sequel to Julia, this centers on Nicolas Cage as a famed master chef in Portland who gave it all up and lives in the woods with his truffle hunting pig. He spends the entire film searching for his stolen pig and encounters both bad and good adventures from his past life. Unusual, and contains deep connections about what’s important in our lives.

BEING THE RICARDOS. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (7.2 IMDB) Quite surprisingly I’m having a tough time forgetting this movie about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem do as good as or better than anyone we could imagine. It’s about a week in the production of the I Love Lucy series when all involved have to deal with Lucy’s communism, her having a baby on television, Desi’s infidelity and more. Aaron Sorkin directed and wrote the movie and if you’ve ever wondered about Lucy’s real genius and ability to succeed on and off screen against all odds, you’ll like this one.

AND JUST LIKE THAT. (HBO MAX). (6.4 IMDB). Sex and The City revisited from when the three city dwellers were cute and nerdy to now when they are in their 50″s and have wrinkles and somewhat deeper issues. Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis are still somewhat interesting to watch but the plot lines get tangled. They talk about a face problems with sex, semen, masturbation, racial problems, and gender decisions, and manage to get some laughs too.

BORDERTOWN. THE MURAL MURDERS. (NETFLIX SINGLE & SERIES). 6.4 IMDB. A serial killer is on the loose in this Finnish dramatic mystery. But the killer only kills bad people who have been on police lists to be watched and investigated. Murals are painted with the blood of the victims. It’s tense, exciting and the acting is superior.

Dr. BRAIN. (APPLE TV). (7.0 IMDB). Famed Korean director Jee-woon Kim creates a weird fantasy when a brain Doctor has serious problems trying NOT to remember his childhood and all the pain and deaths it involved. He discovers new truths no one else can decipher. Then he learns how to transfer memories and thoughts from new cadavers and even animals into his own consciousness. A superior plot and unlike anything we’ve seen on any screen.

LANDSCAPERS. (HBO SERIES). (100RT) (7.6 IMDB) Brand new and each episode will be released on Mondays. Olivia Colman and David Thewlis costar in this comedy drama about an elderly couple who have some secrets in their past. It’s got a unique style that keeps us guessing about what really happened and why. With those two stars heading the cast it has to be great and a bit slow moving at times but it’s not to be missed.

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 Prime, PBS etc.) you can find it on. You can also go to and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

C’MON, C’MON. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (96RT) A deep but heartfelt, feel good movie starring Joaquin Phoenix as an emergency step dad for a little boy (nephew) who has emotional issues. The boy played by Woody Norman is absolutely perfect and deserves an Academy Award immediately. Phoenix acts the role of a radio interviewer and creates one of the warmest roles we’ve seen him create.

GAIA. (HULU SINGLE). 84RT. This is a monster movie unlike most monster movies. It’s one you can almost believe!!! Cast into a South African jungle the woman survivor meets a fugitive father and son and together they try to survive the deadly fungus fed monsters. It is exciting, suspenseful and terrifically filmed. Any more than this would ruin the suspense.

THE POWER OF THE DOG. (NETFLIX SINGLE). 96RT. Bernard Cumberbatch plays a
college educated American cowboy with deep problems. Other critics are going berserk over this
mess by noted director Jane Campion. Kirsten Dunst acts as the drunken mother who lost her rich husband and is raising her effeminate son who shares the problems. Complex, weird, and incredibly dark, I left it sad, bewildered and bothered.

SARDAR UDHAM. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE). 94RT. 8.9 IMDB. A huge and well produced true drama of the Indian hero Sardar Udham who led a lifelong struggle and uprising against the British rule of India. Starting in 1919 and continuing until this century it clearly shows the evil, killing, and profiteering by the English. Excellent acting, superior photography and a terrifying plot, similar to what the USA does in our territories.

DHA-MA-KA. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Set in modern day Mumbai it’s a tense but nearly unreal saga of a television station and its anchor newsman being threatened by a mysterious bomber who blows up a bridge and wants his message heard on TV. It’s unfortunately almost a true story of what’s behind not just Indian commercial TV but our local journalism management.

ME FAMILIA 2. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE). 4.5 IMDB. A waste of time plot that looks like rejected scenes from The Sopranos. Mafia from Sicily fights black mobsters in Harlem and local crooks seek some kind of protection from New York City Italian crooks. Avoid at all costs.


“8 Tens @ 8 Short Play Festival” at the Center Stage Theater 1001 Center Street (831) 431-6237 January 14- February 6.
Tickets here!

Gabriel Fauré and His Circle of Influence
THE NISENE ENSEMBLE: Cynthia Baehr-Williams, Concert Director and Violin
They’ll be playing music by Martinu, Boulanger, Saint-Saëns, Kodály, Bloch and Fauré
It’ll be at Christ Lutheran Church, 10707 Soquel Drive, Aptos. (Off Highway 1 at Freedom Blvd.)
Saturday, January 29, 2022 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, January 30, 2022 at 3:00 pm

December 13

This is the design for the new library/parking/housing project drawn up by consultants, Jayson Architecture for the city of Santa Cruz. It was showcased to a limited public zoom audience last Friday December 10th and is on city council agenda for Tuesday the 14th for approval or tabling, depending on whether integrity and commonsense prevail.

This is intended to be the new location for the downtown library. It abandons the current historic site at the Civic Center, requires the relocation of the Farmers’ Market and Antique Fair and bulldozes the Frog Fitness building on Lincoln.

Integrity has been in short supply over this issue. In 2016, a $67 million Library Improvement Bond Measure (Measure S) was placed on the ballot and passed by a wide margin. With respect to the downtown branch, the assumption was that some of the money would go toward its renovation. Nowhere in the promotional materials or highlighted ballot language was that assumption disabused. But like a rat hidden out of sight, a tiny entry in the fine print mentioned, “rebuilding.” Scores of us would have voted “no” had we known of this hidden agenda. The charade continued, not only with a survey that didn’t include a single question on “would you support a new location for the downtown branch?” but also with the committee charged with moving the issue forward voting to approve the library move and only then opening up for public comment.

The process continued with the council majority voting in September of this year to select an architectural firm to draw up design plans for the mixed-use project, the aforementioned Jayson Architecture. The public was promised full involvement.

Last July, before any design team selection and knowing how important preserving the magnificent onsite heritage trees are to so many community members, I advised the Downtown Commons Advocates, the group of dedicated folks aiming to preserve the site for open public use, build affordable housing on earmarked city lots and renovate the library in its existing location, that it was critical to remind the city to alert the chosen design team about the Heritage Tree Ordinance and its Resolution that spells out the only criteria that allow a heritage tree to be removed. The pertinent entry (3) reads as follows:

Resolution NS–23,710 defines Criteria and Standards in relation to the City code, chapter 9.56. Specifically, one of the three Criteria and Standards allows tree removal only if:

(3) A construction project design cannot be altered to accommodate existing heritage trees or shrubs.

Some long time readers of this column will remember our battle to save the 110 year-old Red Horse Chestnut tree on Broadway, site of the current Hyatt Hotel. Hyatt came in with a design and wouldn’t budge an inch to save the tree, despite the tree’s location close to the sidewalk and massive public outcry. If we had senior city planning staff that sees their role as upholding the community good rather than facilitating growth and gentrification, then a developer would be apprised of the above legal requirements and told to come back with a design to accommodate a heritage tree. Given that lack, I felt it critical that we get in on the ground floor and highlight the above Resolution language before any design was committed to paper.

As an aside, Save Our Big Trees successfully sued the city in 2015 when the city tried to weaken its Heritage Tree Ordinance by adding a qualifier to the above so that, had they prevailed, the language would now read:

(3) A construction project design cannot reasonably be altered to accommodate existing heritage trees or shrubs.

But they did not prevail. It cost the city a lot of money in its failed attempt to weaken the Heritage Tree Ordinance.

Understanding that the city is no champion of its own Ordinances and Resolutions when related to environmental protection, in July of this year, Downtown Commons Advocates and Save Our Big Trees wrote to Economic Development Director Bonnie Lipscomb, quoting the above entry and asking her to alert whoever was chosen as the design team of its requirements. She said she would do that.

I attended the 9am zoom community meeting last Friday. It was slickly run with pre-determined questions, focus group summaries that found the current library nostalgic but shabby. And then a lengthy unveiling of the design pictured above.
I wonder how the focus groups were selected? Carefully, I’m sure.
The absence of any preserved heritage trees is glaring.

When my hand was recognized I challenged the lack of heritage tree preservation in the design. I quoted the Ordinance and Resolution and told them the Economic Director had confirmed such requirements would be presented to the design team. It was obvious that they had not been apprised. That or they were good actors at playing dumb.

A mere 4 days later the above design is before council for a vote of approval. By the time you read this you will know whether the charade continues or whether we have a council with the spine to call out its senior staff to respect the city’s Ordinances and Resolutions and table the item: to go back and create a design that respects the laws on the books to preserve our heritage trees.

Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.

December 13

Par for the Political Course

As is often common, the last Santa Cruz City Council meeting of the year (12/14/21) has an agenda that is filled with items of significance, ones that may have proved to be thorny over at least the past year, but they are issues that need to be addressed. The December 14, 2021 city council agenda is no different. None other than the sometimes difficult, often controversial, and painful problematic political controversies of affordable housing (item#25), the endless search for enough water (item #24), public space (item #26), housing the houseless (item #28.1), and green economics (item #13) have all been left for the end of the wash cycle before we ring in the new year. On the bright side, these are the issues that lie at the forefront of any politically vibrant progressive city. It’s just that the current council majority support market rate housing and “greening” the city without spending any money. In 2022, vote like your climate depends on it.

Library, Parking, Childcare and Street Trees, Oh My!
Yes, it’s back! While Downtown Commons Advocates (DCA) aligned with the Campaign for Sustainable Transportation (CFST) and Santa Cruz Climate Action Network (SC CAN) hunt for signatures on the Our Downtown, Our Future ballot initiative, other, perhaps more nefarious forces of $capital$, try and nudge the city council in a different, more climate-unfriendly direction. Will the downtown library be ripped from its historic Church Street location and unceremoniously moved to “Lot 4” some three blocks away, only to be situated next to a 310-space five-story monument to the automobile? Don’t forget, originally the library was envisioned by some narrow-minded Public Works bureaucrats to be placed at the bottom of the parking garage. That group cried loudly that we needed 600 parking spaces. (What happened?) Also, will the Downtown Farmer’s Market stay on Lot 4 where petition advocates hope, or be hauled off to Front Street and placed in yet another parking lot? Will “a minimum range of between 100-125 units” of affordable housing be built onto the garage as currently negotiated for by some affordable housing advocates? Or, if the petition effort prevails, will many more than 125 units be built on city downtown parking lots as specified in the initiative and supported by many other champions of real affordable housing?

A Dream Deferred
Somewhere, former City Manager Martín Bernal must be shaking his once politically-exploded head. Was it all just a bad dream that he left behind? What he wanted was all so neatly transcribed on his office white board back in 2015. A five-story parking garage on Lot 4 on Cedar Street between Lincoln and Cathcart, check! Move the library to the bottom of the garage (what a great idea!?) following the passage of Measure S, check! In-between, get some money to fix up the Civic Auditorium, build a sports palace for the G-League (formerly D-League) Warriors, and then get ready to move his offices into a new building where the former downtown library sat for over 100 years, check! In his political wake, there has been a fast and furious effort to patch together the former city manager’s original dream of generating more revenue by parking more cars using outdated greenhouse gas emitting 20th century technology, while also trying to appeal to a Santa Cruz audience that yearns for more affordable housing and daycare. So who could blame Martín? After all, the seas around Santa Cruz had not yet risen, the second and third-growth redwood trees still remained in the former Cowell Ranch confines (okay, some were burned last year), and the sea air continued to be breathable, except during those unforeseen pesky forest-fire events. It was a most remarkable vision and he, Martín Bernal, would finally be given his due credit in the annals of city manager-hood. But then the electorate woke up, smelled a ruse, and Bernal exited, stage right.

Agenda Item #26: Library Mixed-Use Project Updated Site Program and Design
I attended a most remarkable session last Friday, facilitated by Abe Jayson of Jayson Architects, in which he proceeded to lay out a pretty good vision of what a downtown library might be like: a grand reading room surrounded by tall windows; a green roof; building materials that reflected the color and texture of the cliffs jutting out towards the ocean on the city’s Westside; a daycare center; and lots of public meeting rooms and spaces for young adults. What’s not to like? It would have been a remarkably cheery and visionary meeting except for any real opportunity for public input and critique. In essence, it was the currently acceptable political vision of the Santa Cruz Economic Development Department (EDD). The session totally reminded me of one of these telephone push polls you might have received right before an election. You are asked questions that basically confirm the views of those who paid for the poll. In this case, with Architect Jayson conducting and EDD’s Bonnie Lipscomb at first violin, there were only two questions to be addressed by the two breakout session groups, which would not be recorded, but Abe’s presentation can be seen on the city web site. Those questions were: 1) What did you like about the design presented today? and 2) How did the design differ from your expectations, good or bad? Could you honestly create any narrower of criteria in which to critique what could be the largest publicly funded undertaking in the history of Santa Cruz?

Meeting Analysis: It was and incredibly partisan affair. The group of 24 included in the 3pm session seemed to love the current design, as I did, but I argued with no response from Abe, that it all could be done at the current Church Street site, and I would be in favor of it. But what is ripping this community apart is moving the Farmer’s Market, cutting down the 10 heritage trees, and building an unnecessary five-story parking garage. I was politely tolerated by group members, but my questions were never addressed.

Outcome: It is an all-hands-on-deck political battle now being waged, but by who? City bureaucrats? The Chamber of Commerce? A small group of current and former librarians who mean well? Affordable housing advocates? Versus whom…? Open space supporters? Environmental reuse proponents? Farmer’s market defenders? Affordable housing advocates? In my 36 years of political engagement in Surf City, I’ve seen very few battles as heated as this one. (Okay, perhaps the rail with trail vs. trail-only debate tops it and it’s likely headed for a June ballot decision.)

The Grassroots to the Rescue
If the Our Downtown, Our Future group that organized the ballot petition effort now underway had as many highly-paid consultants to present data, participate in breakout sessions, and pay for public polling then it might easily win this sharp political elbow struggle. Maybe even hands-down. But it doesn’t have those kinds of resources. What it has is people-power, and people-power is what has won every worthwhile struggle in Santa Cruz from Lighthouse Field to Wilder Ranch to the Del Mar Theatre and the Tannery Arts Center. One conversation at a time, relentless, persistent, and consistent…that is how this type of bare-knuckle politics is usually played out here. The good news is that very few people outside of the city bureaucracy, and these three focus groups of 75, have ever even heard much of this discussion. The field is open. As the EDD machine cranks up and seeks to head off meaningful community debate by jamming agenda items through the city council, the people-power ballot initiative process is just getting started. Go out, get some signatures and see what your neighbors are doing.

Again, the city council agenda is packed with important issues this week (Dec. 14 meeting) and I urge you to go here to review them. The other item I must point out is #13 on the Consent Agenda, the “Green Economy Resolution.” Since we are living through a climate crisis, and this agenda item seems to offer little in terms of armoring, protecting, and mitigating Santa Cruz in the face of a warming planet, except maybe for applying for grants and “identifying “development measures,” I wrote the following letter to the city’s former Climate Action Coordinator. (I hear she was moved to the assistant to the assistant city manager position)

Dear Climate Action Coordinator,
Just reading your report and thinking about the library-garage meeting I attended via zoom on Friday. I am struck by the irony of building a parking garage under the guise of explaining it away with a seeming throw-away line like, “we are consolidating the surface parking lots” into that garage. I know your job has changed recently, but it is up to the climate coordinator, and really all concerned city employees, to let the council know this future they are planning is being built like a house of cards when it comes to real climate mitigation. Seems to me that none of what you have written in the report is being followed in the current march toward constructing a new library building and placing it next to a carbon emitting 5-story garage (I’m thinking of the tons of cement that will have to be poured to build it). The canary actually needs to escape the coal mine, bury the old fixes, and tell the council the enormous number of possibilities that lie in that “no carbon” future.

You wrote in your report, (item #13, Green Economy): “From these efforts the City of Santa Cruz has developed a broad, working definition of the green economy as one which is low to no carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive, encompassing jobs related to environmental quality and resource protection. These jobs may include but are not limited to clean renewable energy, public transportation, waste management and recycling, ecotourism, sustainable agriculture, urban forestry, land conservation and remediation, and environmental monitoring.”

Is there a way for you to tell the council that building the garage and cutting down ten heritage trees does not somehow fit into the “no carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive” future of this popular coastal town that is visited and admired by literally millions of people? We have a real opportunity to be a model. The precipice we are now on is not accidental and not predetermined. We can choose a carbon-neutral future and be the example, that model California City that faced down the climate crisis and saw others follow.
Please pass on this message.

“Kellogg’s workers came to work during the pandemic. They worked 12-hour shifts. They worked 7 days a week. Kellogg’s made $1.26 BILLION in profits last year. Their CEO made over $11 million. Don’t you think workers deserve a contract that treats them with dignity and respect?” (Dec. 13)

Dog Beach Exclusive: “If you want a friend in this town, get a dog.” His name is Wallaby, or Mr. Wall-E, part Australian Cattle dog, and part something else.
Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at

Email Chris at

December 13

The murky business relationship between Supervisor Manu Koenig and Scotts Valley Mayor Derek Timm was kicked under the rug at last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor meeting with simple “NO” votes by Supervisors Bruce McPherson and Ryan Coonerty, rejecting the County Redistricting lines, but without any public discussion explaining why.

Likewise, Supervisor Manu Koenig failed to make any public declaration regarding the fact that he is employed by Derek Timm, but nevertheless cast the swing vote at the previous meeting to change the District boundaries for Scotts Valley into District 5. This will not bode well come 2024, when the District 5 seat is up for election.

[Adopt “Ordinance Repealing Santa Cruz County Code Chapter 2.04 (Supervisorial Districts) and Adopting New Chapter 2.05 (Supervisorial Districts),” and take related actions (approved in concept on November 16, 2021)]

The Board failed to publicly discuss this CZU After-Action Review, submitted by the Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience, well over one year after the fire happened. Buried in the Consent Agenda as item #52, this report does not discuss any issues regarding County Fire Department interactions with CAL FIRE, and other jurisdictions. Supervisor Bruce McPherson thanked staff for working together to get it done….but what does the Report really accomplish?

Accept and file 2020 CZU August Lightning Complex Fire Santa Cruz County After Action Report, as recommended by the Director of the Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience – Santa Cruz County, CA

The Board took action on September 28 this year to write a letter to CAL FIRE requesting:
“Direct the Board Chair to write a letter to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) requesting that an After-Action Review of the State’s response to the CZU Lighting Complex Fire be conducted and provided and, if the request is declined, provide the rationale for doing so.”

[Consent Agenda Item #36]

Did Chairman Bruce McPherson actually write that letter? If so, has CAL FIRE responded?
Please write your Supervisors to find out.

Another Consent Agenda Item (#92) on last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor meeting was to approve Public Works Dept. sending the new Live Oak Library Annex project out to bid.

[Using Measure S Library tax funding, bids to build this new library-that-will-have-a-small-number-of-books will come back in March, 2022 for Board approval.]

Measure S funding of $5,750,600, County Library Fund funding of $302,340, and County Parks funding of $500,000 has been budgeted for Live Oak Library Annex project costs totaling $6,552,940.

Wow….what a lot of money from Parks Dept. to build a library, when there are so many existing parks that have extensive deferred maintenance projects.

There are many interesting letters that people have taken time to send to the Board of Supervisors, made public in correspondence at the end of the 2400+ page Board packet., but in my opinion, the best one is from Mr. Chris Berry, citing the County’s Fish & Wildlife Commission concerns and recommendations to the Board about water quality and fire hazard problems the homeless camps along creeks cause. [See letter “x” at the end of the agenda]

Another good letter discusses the problems of encroachment along the rail corridor, relative to negative significant impacts to mobile home park unit owners (letter ab):

“…an alternative requiring that these homes be “moved” eight feet further into the park, resulting in a 15′ wide one-way street, would require, at a minimum, trenching to move and/or relocate underground utilities, repaving the narrowed roadway, breaking the homes into two sections, moving the sections, reuniting the sections, with the homeowners storing all of their furnishings and themselves for months, probably a minimum of six months, maybe longer.”

Will the Board actually pay attention to this excellent correspondence? Write your Supervisor and ask that they do.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel and other news sources reported the PureWater Soquel Project got underway last Friday, but failed to discuss the many problems the Modified Project has been experiencing. For example, the new information that the source supply will be treated sewage water with higher-than-thought contamination levels has caused the Soquel Creek Water District to greatly modify the Project…starting eight months late, and failing to provide any important Public Comment period for the Modified Project.

Consider that the Project has no Final Anti-Degradation Analysis for the sewage brine effluent that Soquel Creek Water District now plans to dump directly into the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. This could be really bad news for the surfers, beach-goers and marine life in the area adjacent to Neary Lagoon.

An artist’s rendering shows what the future Chanticleer water purification plant will look like. The site will also include an outreach center, where educational programs will take place. (Hannah Hagemann/Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Consider this critical study performed re: contamination levels of recycled water brine on nearby aquatic and marine habitats:
Reverse Osmosis Concentrate Treatment Research Results and Context for San Francisco Bay
Prepared by:
University of California Berkeley
Stanford University
San Francisco Estuary Institute
April 21, 2020

Please write the County Water Advisory Commission, City of Santa Cruz Water Commission, and Water Quality Control Board about this Modified PureWater Soquel Project that is burdened with problems and for which there is no Final Anti-Degradation Analysis to show the Modified Project will not harm the high-quality waters of our area.

Food for thought: Read the Mercury for details…
Are the Bay Area’s car-free downtown streets, expanded outdoor dining here to stay?

Call or write your Supervisor with your thoughts on this.

Also consider the related action that the Board of Supervisors approved in Consent Agenda #39 last Tuesday regarding allowing reduced parking space for dense in-fill development:
“Direct the Board Chair to write a letter to Senator John Laird and Assembly member Mark Stone requesting that they introduce legislation that would give the County the ability to include a separate line item on property tax bills for the collection of non-tax transit fees on specific properties that meet requirements defined by the County.”


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


December 12

According to tradition, people are hauling Douglas fir trees into their homes and decorating them for annual winter rituals. Some purchase dense, pruned trees, while others harvest spindly saplings from the woods (aka “Charlie Brown trees”). Soon, strings of lights cast needle shadows on the walls and ceiling, infants gurgle and sputter with delight, wide eyed at the beauty. The unique Douglas fir scent fills the air – a bright lemony pine smell. Hallways are festooned with ribboned Douglas fir garlands and people weave fir wreaths to decorate doors. In breaks between storms, on crisp cool days, we saunter into the forest, catching fresh fir scent moist with rain, sparkling in the foggy, low-angled sun rays.

Mouse Tales
Douglas fir is not a real fir- it’s a pseudo-fir, creating cones distinguished from genuine fir cones by having “the tail ends of mice” sticking out the cone. Check it out sometime- there really are what looks like two back legs with an accompanying tail poking out, so cones look like a bevy of mice are feasting on Douglas fir seeds.
The cone decoy seems to have worked, evolutionarily speaking. From Northern California though Canada, Douglas fir is the sole home of red tree mice. These mice live high in canopies and feed on only on needles. On huge branches among the complex old growth Douglas fir canopy, they maintain long lived, wickedly well-designed homes that include rooms with specific uses. If they aren’t careful while they are out harvesting needles, a spotted owl will eat them – red tree mice are a favorite and important food for this equally endangered bird. We’re apparently too far south for the red tree mouse- Santa Cruz is the near the southern end of Douglas fir’s range, and maybe there aren’t enough thick forests, or too frequent of fire, for these little critters.

Northward Ho!
Moisture-loving conifers have been retreating northward for a few thousand years, and Douglas fir may also be headed that way. There are layers of grand fir pollen up until just 15,000 years ago in the sediments of a pond in northern Santa Cruz County. The nearest grand fir is in Sonoma County, nowadays. South of here, if you look at the forest on either side of highway one south of Freedom Boulevard, you’ll see a few widely spaced straggly Douglas firs – those trees look like similar to those in the hills above Elkhorn. And that’s as far south as they go along the coast. But, north of there you’ll notice that they don’t appear to be having trouble making thick forests.
Rock Scissors Paper (Douglas fir wins)
In the rush to capture the sun, Douglas fir quickly wins against all but the coast redwood around here. Look at most any of our majestic coast live oak forests, and you’ll see Douglas fir trees winding their flexible leaders between old oak branches. Play that forward, and those oak trees will be toast, shaded and outcompeted for water by these highly invasive conifers. Douglas firs are also invading coastal scrub and coastal prairie.

Pull ’em Up, Chop ’em Down
Kat Anderson reported to me some documentation that tribal peoples have long pulled Douglas fir seedlings as part of their tending of oak groves. The tribal peoples took over from the tree-invasion prohibiting Pleistocene megafauna. Just north of here, a remarkable recent turn of events saw reintroduction of native people land stewardship with collaboration between the Amah Mutsun and State Parks. The Quiroste village site was once in a matrix of super diverse, well-tended coastal prairie framed by managed oak woodlands, but for the last hundred years, without stewardship, those systems succumbed to Douglas fir invasion. After careful planning, and with some controversy, the tribe and State Parks have been restoring the site by clearing Douglas firs…almost like the old days, but the trees got bigger and so it takes saws and a lot of work to remove them. With their work, the area is becoming more species rich and more fire safe.

Doug Fir, Associates
While coastal prairies and coast live oak forests are much more species rich, Douglas fir forests do have their own set of interesting species associates. Instead of tree mice harvesting Douglas fir needles around here, we get ants. Anywhere there are Douglas firs in the Santa Cruz Mountains, you’ll find 2′ tall piles of needles teaming with ants. These are Formica intercedens, a mushroom farming ant, growing their fungi food in piles of Douglas fir needles. This needle harvesting critter forms armies of harvesters walking in long and sometimes wide lanes across and down human trails: watch out…don’t be rude by stepping on them!
Orchids also seem to like growing in Douglas fir forests. Also at its southern range limit, the gorgeous Calypso orchid has been documented with ephemeral populations at UCSC and near Davenport (both gone now), but has a somewhat famous large population under a north-facing Douglas fir forest in Butano State Park. Coral root orchids also seem to prefer Douglas fir forests. Curiously, ground nesting ‘yellow jacket’ wasps seem to key into coral root populations under Douglas fir. So, maybe look very carefully before walking off trail to get a closer look at the subtle but beautiful colors of coral root orchids.

“Douglas fir doesn’t pay for itself to harvest.” That’s what local foresters tell me. By the time they do the timber harvest planning, go through the regulatory process, carefully fell the trees, trim and haul the few logs they find that aren’t damaged/diseased, mill and dry the wood, they can’t recoup their investment because someone elsewhere has produced a similar board, cheaper. The Pacific Northwest and Canada, with more lax forestry regulations and healthier Douglas fir trees, are creating cheaper Douglas fir (and similar) 2x4s for sale. So, for many years, we’ve been growing some large Douglas firs on the area’s timber lands.
Then came the CZU fire…now, there are thousands of large and small standing dead Douglas fir trees: what should we do? If left, these trees will gradually fall over and create a Giant Fire Hazard. The next fire, spreading through those hundreds of acres of log piles, will be very intense, torching whatever trees tried to recover and scorching the soil badly. It will be a hot fire storm, to a great extent our fault.

Biomass Fuels?
If you have toured the CZU Lightning Complex Fire area, you have probably noticed piles and piles of logs. Burned up trees are dangerous to houses, roads, and power lines, so they must be felled and hauled away. “Away” is an odd word…mostly it means a landfill (another odd word). Ever throw something away? It is instructive to visit ‘away’ at the end of Dimeo Lane or near Buena Vista. We must find a new ‘away’ soon, but no one wants ‘away’ near their homes or over their groundwater. Piles of post fire logs will fill up landfills quickly, especially with more frequent fires. Why not use modern technology and turn those logs into electricity? There are new carbon-neutral, mobile wood-fired power plants that burn wood, make electricity, and create ‘biochar’ that has been shown to be a useful soil amendment for agriculture. Keep your fingers crossed that we might get one of these at one of our local landfills sometime soon. That way, when you throw something ‘away’ that can be safely burned, you’ll be making your own electricity and enriching agricultural soils.

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

Email Grey at


December 8
#342 / Muskism And “Mrs. Brown”

No, that is not Elon Musk, pictured above. But I suspect you knew that. Pictured above is Jill Lepore. Lepore is a professor of history at Harvard, and writes for The New Yorker, and is definitely my favorite historian of the present day. Lepore has written about Musk, which is why her picture graces this blog posting. Her article, published in The New York Times on November 7, 2021, is titled, “Elon Musk Is Building a Sci-Fi World, and the Rest of Us Are Trapped in It.” It’s worth reading.

Here’s how Lepore starts off (and then keeps going):

The last week of October, Bill Gates (net worth: $138 billion) celebrated his 66th birthday in a cove off the coast of Turkey, ferrying guests from his rented yacht to a beach resort by private helicopter. Guests, according to local reports, included Jeff Bezos (net worth: $197 billion), who after the party flew back to his own yacht, not to be confused with the “superyacht” he is building at a cost of more than $500 million.

The world’s richest person, Elon Musk (net worth: $317 billion), did not attend. He was most likely in Texas, where his company SpaceX was preparing for a rocket launch. Mark Zuckerberg (net worth: $119 billion) wasn’t there, either, but the day after Mr. Gates’s party, he [Zuckerberg] announced his plan for the metaverse, a virtual reality where, wearing a headset and gear that closes out the actual world, you can spend your day as an avatar doing things like going to parties on remote Aegean islands or boarding a yacht or flying in a rocket, as if you were obscenely rich.

The metaverse is at once an illustration of and a distraction from a broader and more troubling turn in the history of capitalism. The world’s techno-billionaires are forging a new kind of capitalism: Muskism. Mr. Musk, who likes to troll his rivals, mocked Mr. Zuckerberg’s metaverse. But from missions to Mars and the moon to the metaverse, it’s all Muskism: extreme, extraterrestrial capitalism, where stock prices are driven less by earnings than by fantasies from science fiction.

Metaverse, the term, comes from a 1992 science fiction novel by Neal Stephenson, but the idea is much older. There’s a version of it, the holodeck, in the “Star Trek” franchise, which Mr. Bezos was obsessed with as a kid; last month, he sent William Shatner, the actor who played Captain Kirk in the original series, into space. Billionaires, having read stories of world-building as boys, are now rich enough, as men, to build worlds. The rest of us are trapped in them….

Muskism has origins in Silicon Valley of the 1990s, when Mr. Musk dropped out of a Ph.D. program at Stanford to start his first company and then his second, As the gap between the rich and the poor grew wider and wider, the claims of Silicon Valley start-ups became more and more grandiose. Google opened an R&D division called X, whose aim is “to solve some of the world’s hardest problems.”
Tech companies started talking about their mission, and their mission was always magnificently inflated: transforming the future of work, connecting all of humanity, making the world a better place, saving the entire planet. Muskism is a capitalism in which companies worry — very publicly, and quite feverishly — about all manner of world-ending disasters, about the all-too-real catastrophe of climate change, but more often about mysterious “existential risks,” or x-risks, including the extinction of humanity, from which only techno-billionaires, apparently, can save us….

Ursula K. Le Guin once wrote an essay, a riff on an essay by Virginia Woolf, about how the subject of all novels is the ordinary, humble, flawed human being. Woolf called her “Mrs. Brown.” Le Guin thought midcentury science fiction — of the sort written by Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, two more writers lavishly admired by Mr. Musk and Mr. Bezos — had lost track of Mrs. Brown. This version of science fiction, she worried, seemed to be “trapped for good inside our great, gleaming spaceships, hurtling out across the galaxy,” ships she described as “capable of containing heroic captains in black and silver uniforms” and “capable of blasting other, inimical ships into smithereens with their apocalyptic, holocaustic ray guns, and of bringing loads of colonists from Earth to unknown worlds,” and finally “ships capable of anything, absolutely anything, except one thing: they cannot contain Mrs. Brown.”

The future envisioned by Muskism and the metaverse — the real and virtual worlds being built by techno-billionaires — doesn’t contain Mrs. Brown, either. Misreading both history and fiction, it can’t even imagine her. I think someone maybe ought to make a sticker. It could read, “EXIT THE METAVERSE.”

The point that Lepore is making is that, interestingly enough, Musk, Bezos, and Zuckerberg – billionaires all – are all hoping to live in what is actually a fantasy world. To be more accurate, I guess I should say a “science fiction world,” realizing, as I do, that the partisans of the two genres definitely think that “science fiction” and “fantasy” are different from each other.


Money, these billionaires seem to think, can do anything. Bezos is aiming to start a new colony on the moon. Musk is shooting to do the same thing on Mars. Zuckerberg is trying to escape to a new world in a cyber-reality accessed through the headsets that his newly-renamed company will supply (at a pretty price, of course).

This “Mrs. Brown” person is you and me, the non-billionaires who are living ordinary lives here on Planet Earth. What we know (and what Lepore is reminding us, just in case it might have slipped our mind) is that the world of our human creation here on Earth is the immediate reality in which we actually live, and in which we must live, since there is not, actually, any alternative reality that is truly real. “Muskism” is without any genuine substance.

Money makes a person think that the person with the money is God. The “I am God” temptation is a temptation we all have, but money amplifies the delusion. Mrs. Brown is here to remind us that we’re not God, and that what is going on in that “real” world that we actually inhabit is in desperate need of our attention.

The billionaires aren’t helping.

Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at

Email Gary at


December 13


Of late, this has been a significant time of departures for the socio-political world…the train has left the station, in various scenarios, for many notables in our nation. Of note is the passing of former U.S. Senator Bob Dole, news of which has received various treatments and reactions, some respectful, some reverential, and many “who’s thats?”. After all, he was ninety-eight years of age, eons in the political scene.

Dole received the heroes’ treatment from the Biden administration and the military, while the Democrats as a body viewed him with cautious praise as a decent, democracy-loving Republican. The media, as expected, tried to out-sainthood Dole, in their reporting with the competition. Republicans, on the other hand, revealed a mixture of respect for their past candidate for the presidency, a smattering of “who’s that?”, and varying degrees of ‘another RINO bit the dust’.

Another significant departure, is newsman Chris Wallace’s transition from Fox News to bluer pastures, with a streaming startup, CNN+, which debuts early next year. The empty seats at Fox are no doubt of increasing concern to the network heads, but Tucker Carlson smilingly adds another chip to his winnings.

Continuing on his Magical Misery Whine Tour, Donald J. Trump keeps the wheels rolling with funds from his unsuspecting dupes who insist on sending him their hard-earned cash toward resuming his lost crown. His latest foray, with ‘The No-Spin Zone’ curator, Bill O’Reilly, was a disaster, having to move the few paying attendees into huddled masses in front of the stage (at no extra cost) to present a more solidified rank and file. Time to derail this Donnybrook, thirteen months overdue, that train is long gone!

As the Trump train rolls along, Mark Meadows can be seen running alongside in an attempt to regain his former glory as a Trumpist by apologizing profusely and denouncing the contents of his own book, recently published, about his time in the former administration. Madison Cawthorne was seen brushing the dust from his clothing as a result of his jumping off the train, having had enough of the nonsense.

And, the Brothers Flynn, in a world of trouble, are rumored to be applicants for the French Foreign Legion, Captain Jean Danjou being a bit reluctant after reviewing their qualifications. Honneur et Fidélité, indeed!

I enjoy writing these pieces for BrattonOnline, and hope readers get some satisfaction too…political lies are easy to dispense, and create, as well, so why not join the party!? Somewhere underneath will be found some truths, ugly though they may be. Contact me at with any feedback. Thank you! Dale


EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at you will find his most recent Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.


“We always say live for today and don’t waste time worrying about tomorrow. But what keeps us up at night is knowing that tomorrow is roaring down on us like a tsunami, and a lot of us don’t know how to swim.”
~Barbara Nickless

“These old Australians or Californians who spend all their days staring at the ocean without leaving their limousines, which they have turned into their panoramic childhood sites and their coffins, and who dream there, while awaiting the last wave, the one that will come from the depths of the ocean to engulf them.”
~Jean Baudrillard

“COVID-19 is a tsunami of financial catastrophe.”
~Steven Magee

“This world is filled with a tsunami of people, and only a few would ever feel a connection with each other.”
~Avijeet Das


Emma Thompson, one of my favorites…

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