Blog Archives

December 2 – 8, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Cotoni-Coast Monumental Park again, Del Mar, Capitola, Scotts Valley movie theatres all closed, Streamers and screeners. GREENSITE…on the Wharf hearing. KROHN…The real left coast, Santa Cruz’s left, looking at state props. STEINBRUNER …Septic tanks permits in the county, Live Oak Merriman House contamination, Pure Water Soquel questions, Aptos High student Nepal project. PATTON…Splitting and Separation.  EAGAN…Subconscious Comix and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”HOLIDAYS”


1906 RAILROAD CONSTRUCTION. This is the Ocean Shore Railroad trestle being built, to bring lumber back from Davenport, and further up to the then town of Swanton.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE November 30

All of a sudden we see the Department of the Interior is going to present a re-shaped plan for the Davenport-based National Monument to the California Coastal Commission, on Dec. 13. We need to send in our concerns, worries, doubts to . What struck me and others as unusual is that The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been – and probably still is – so very short of funds to take even halfway decent care of the lands they manage right now. To take on these 6000 acres and manage them won’t work now, any better than when they announced back in 2017. Remember their plans for a 500 car parking lot by the old Davenport Cement plant? Remember too, what the proposed car traffic of the thousands of tourists will do to Highway 1 – i.e. Mission Street? The BLM plan will allow hunting, but no camping. It’ll need protection from our County Sheriff’s department for law enforcement. There’ll be nearly 17 miles of trails, already being plotted by local bikers and their organizations. As I wrote in this space on March 7, 2017 ….. Cotoni-Coast Dairies faces the same dilemma as most other protected lands. They are managed for two conflicting purposes: public recreation, and environmental and habitat preservation. But Cotoni-Coast Dairies is different from most other large protected lands: it is just two hours or less away from a population of 8 million people, many of whom are enthusiastic hikers and bikers. It isn’t hard to foresee that when a visitor center and trails are established, 500,000 or more people a year may be enjoying the property. [State Parks estimates that that many visitors—obviously, many of them locals who use it frequently—tramp or ride about on Wilder Ranch State Park each year. We think that estimate is high.] Since being named a monument, Ft. Ord’s visitation has zoomed to over 400,000.  Just remember the December 13 date, and get in your concerns.

I’ll never figure out why our newspapers, including Good Times, or anything I found online, have never reported that our movie theatres are all closed.


I still haven’t been to a movie theatre and now that all of our local theatres are closed it’ll be quite some time before any of us go. Movie industry reports say that fewer and fewer big budget movies are being made ,and the time between movies in theatres (those few that are left) and when streaming starts will get shorter and shorter. Even the Academy awards have changed their rules and regulations to allow for these covid changes.

HILLBILLY ELEGY. The startling and impressive cast – including Glenn Close and Amy Adams – in this movie directed by Ron Howard makes it worth watching. It’s a depressing story taken from the biography of J.D.Vance, the author. He had a horrific, cruel childhood with a drug addict from law school. Heroic but depressing and it’s probably even worse than your childhood. Watch it, but stay happy anyways.

PROFESSOR T. Egged on by my daughter Jennifer, I too really liked the Belgian crime series Professor T. It’s not easily available, so try going to PBS Passport series. It’s well worth your searching time. The Professor teaches at the Antwerp University, and is a habitual germophobe. He advises the local police and detectives and manages to bring in humor, making this series very enjoyable. Beware of the German version, and the Czech copy, 

LOVE AND ANARCHY. It’s a Swedish semi-comedy, with a fine plot. A beautiful babe who is mother to two children gets a job in a publishing company. There’s a lot of film buff material, like Ingmar Bergman references, and that’s fun. But then Sofie starts flirting, and gets flirting back ,from a much younger techie at the company. How she and he handle it, and their lives, makes it fascinating – and we get to watch the rise and fall of both their relationship and the publishing house.

CARMEL or WHO KILLED MARIA MARTA. This documentary takes place not in our Carmel, but in Carmel, Buenos Aires. Thought to be an accident, Maria’s body was found drowned in her bathtub. After much politics and news reporters telling of the story, bullets were discovered  in her skull. Well paced, excellently timed, perfectly photographed, this is one to enjoy as the unsuspected truth is unraveled.

EYE FOR AN EYE. This is a Spanish drama, and one you won’t forget. A wealthy, feared drug lord wants to get out of the “business” and goes to a rest home to retire. As luck has it, he gets assigned to a male nurse who’s suffered greatly from his unwanted connections with drug use. He has to decide whether or not to revenge the wrongs that were done to him. How he treats the drug king is so touching and revealing…and well done.

New Idea. The movies below are not ranked in any particular order. I’ve eliminated some of the most boring, time wasting flops…enjoy what’s left!!

THE LIFE AHEAD. To see Sophia Loren at age 86, and see her looking like she’s 86 is a treat. She plays a holocaust survivor who acts as mother to some children of prostitutes.  Her interaction with a Senegalese 14 year old boy is a neat piece of cinema and it’s directed by her son Edourdo Ponti. 

THE MAN WITHOUT GRAVITY. Another Italian near fable about a baby born and floating to the ceiling attached to his umbilical cord. What he does with his life, and his decisions about letting the world know he floats make a near masterpiece. Not too near Italian Classics like “Life Is Beautiful” or “Amarcord” it’s still fun to think about.

THE 12TH MAN. The 12th Man is one of 12 Norwegian resistance soldiers who plan to blow up the Nazi invaders of their land. The Nazis kill 11 and the extra brave survivor becomes the target of a Nazi general. The very most loyal locals help hide the man who suffers terribly from ice, rain, and bullets survive and he makes it finally and safely back to Sweden. Fine film (or movie) and it’s based on a true story.  

HAPPY AS LAZZARO. Another Italian near- fable centering on a young teenager who was raised on an illegal sharecropper tobacco farm. He leaves the farm gets into accidents, befriends another  young boy and they remain life long friends. But Lazzaro falls down a cliff and wakes up 10 years later and is befriended by fellow survivors of the farm and the many years that have passed. It’s impossible to tell you the plot here, see it and enjoy it and try to explain it to your friends. 

CROWN. I binged watched almost all of the new fourth season of Crown last Sunday, and loved it. Margaret Thatcher, The Falkland Islands, and of course Princess Diana make for exciting and involving viewing. Super acting and gorgeous photography make it even better. It’s odd and curious how Americans remain so hooked on and fascinated by England’s hierarchy. Not one in a thousand of us could tell you who runs Canada or Mexico but Britain’s Elizabeth’s and Diana’s secrets just never stop hooking us in. By all means view this Netflix series.   

INDUSTRY. A young black student from NYC goes to London to handle a job with a huge financial institution. She competes, challenges, loses, and wins against her fellow young employees. Well written, great acting, extra fast moving with little script padding. It’s on HBO and got a 78 on Rotten Tomatoes for its’ first episode. 

FIREBALL: VISITORS FROM DARKER WORLDS. If you are a fan or follower of Werner Hertzog ( Fitzcarraldo, Heart of Glass, Lessons of Darkness) you won’t be surprised to know this new “documentary” of his involves visitors from outer space. Herzog and crew travel the earth finding bits and pieces of meteorites millimeters across to craters measuring miles across that have some traces of outer space creation. This movie makes a strong case for extraterrestrial life, and for the idea that we have been ignoring messages from way out there. Good to watch.   

THE QUEENS GAMBIT. This earned a 100 on Rotten Tomatoes and deserved it. It’s from a novel about an orphan who learns chess from the janitor. She takes pills to cause phantom chess games, drinks , and in spite of all her weaknesses she manages to take on and beat almost every world champion. You don’t need to know chess to enjoy it.

THE HATER. A Polish movie about a young boy who loves the tech world and becomes an internet hacking genius of the wrong kind. He gets more and more involved in politics and infiltrates/ hacks bad things into campaigns. It ends in a terrible but watchable tragedy and is well worth watching. 

THE ENDLESS TRENCH. Based on some very true stories this covers Franco’s takeover of Spain in their civil war circa 1936. For many reasons like pacificism, many Spaniards went into hiding for as long as 30 years. They lived in narrow fake walled rooms and dealt with keeping their families together all those years. Good movie, and certainly shocks us into realizing just how similar and political our lives are today.  

SARAH COOPER: EVERYTHINGS FINE. Sarah is an online sensational comedienne. She pulls off her great Trump lip-synching, and is just totally fun to watch. Ben Stiller, Jon Hamm, and Marisa Tomei all get in on it. She also takes on Mr. Pillow, Melania Trump, Qanon and all in 49 minutes. We need more laughs like this. 

SECRETS OF THE SAQQARA TOMB. A straight documentary about how archeology works. It digs around a pharaoh’s tomb and will teach you much more about archeology than you thought you knew. It’s a change from what we “normally” watch.

THE UNDOING. (HBO) Nicole Kidman and a older looking and very serious Hugh Grant take the leads as a gorgeous psychiatrist who’s married to a kind and empathetic doctor. They have a son who has a beautiful girlfriend. Everything’s fine until a murder happens. Being HBO this takes weeks to watch and the first three episodes look good so far. The finale is terrible and makes us wish we never watched any of this series. 

 DOLLY PARTON: HERE I AM. We’ll never see an off-screen minute of Dolly Parton. She’s always on and always surprising. She’s written over 3000 songs, she’s 74 years old, been married 30 years and this documentary is wonderful whether you are a fan or not.  Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin love her and talk about their friendship when they made “9 to 5”. Click on it.  

BORAT: SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM. Supposedly a follow up to Sasha Baron Cohen’s earlier Borat movie. I copied some adjectives from other critics that I agree with…repugnant, filthy, incestuous, shocking, crude, cringing, appalling, harsh, repellent, menstrual and more. It also has a very strange actual scene with Rudy Giuliani and another with Tom Hanks that I’ll never figure out. Do not watch this mess.

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7. This new movie written and directed by Aaron Sorkin is a fascinating movie , a good movie BUT it simply isn’t an honest look at what happened at the trial of the Chicago 7. Characters are added, romances are hinted at and Eddie Redmayne’s role as Tom Hayden is simply off base. Senator Bill Monning sent me a critique of the movie by Rennie Davis who is/was part of the 7. Former Santa Cruz Mayor Chris Krohn sent me another political reaction from the Berkeley Barb. They agree that this movie really adds lightness and Hollywood touches to a very important civil rights stepping stone. Watch it but be very aware. I’m also proud to tell you that on October 30, 2008 our then State Assemblyman Bill Monning (now our retired Calif. Senator) brought Tom Hayden to my KZSC radio program Universal Grapevine. We didn’t talk about his marriage to Jane Fonda and the movie doesn’t touch it either.   

BORGEN. I started watching this series months ago, it’s one of the finest series I’ve seen. Now the world’s critics and audiences are catching up on it. Here’s what I wrote back on Feb. 5…

Borgen translates as “the castle” in Danish, and I must tell you that I’ve been totally immersed in this three season iTunes saga since my daughter Hillary found and recommended it. It’s the story of a woman who becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark. If you like politics and wonder what a politician’s life is like, forget any American versions and watch this instead. The show started in 2010, and from what I hear it won’t go past the third series. Forget “Veep”, “House of Cards”, “The West Wing” and the rest… Borgen is far superior. I’d give you your money back IF and etc….but it would be too much trouble, and you’ll love it too. Now there’s talk of a fourth episode to be released in 2021 with the original cast and on Netflix.

CALL MY AGENT. Daughter Hillary found this one and she’s right, it’s a good one. There might be a problem in finding this one under that title on Netflix, if so try “Dix Pour Cent”. Billed as a comedy it centers on the lives of the talent agents and stars who work at a famous show biz agency in Paris. Tempers, jokes, love affairs, and much talent all get very mixed and still it’s almost riveting.

THE GLORIAS. This bio-pic of Gloria Steinem is a good one. Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander and two more women/girls play her in this near dream like history of the womens’ movement and her part in it. Julie Taymor directed it and does portray Gloria as her real mini-skirt, long nails gorgeous self. Timothy Hutton is in it too nut he shouldn’t have been. It has much fantasy, dreams, animation and oddly placed moves that obscure the important view of women’s equality fights that Steinman was an integral part of. Bette Midler plays Bella Abzug. Watch it, and don’t snicker at the odd ball parts

EMILY IN PARIS. Lily Collins is Emily. Emily is from Chicago and is sent to Paris as a company rep. The Paris group doesn’t like her and Emily has a rough time adjusting to France. Cute, clever, time consuming, charming, and I imagine the series will be the same.

TEHRAN. It has a 93 on Rotten Tomatoes!! An international spy killer-thrill series. It mixes Iran, Tehran, Jordan, Israel’s internal wars with a young woman’s attempt to steal government high tech secrets. Complex, well acted, and if you can keep up with identities, you can continue forgetting about movie theatres.

CRIMINAL. This is an unusual series that consists of four different story lines on four different websites. There’s Criminal: United Kingdom, Criminal: Germany, Criminal: Spain and Criminal: France. All episodes were filmed in Spain and center on criminals each being questioned and interviewed in exactly the same interrogating room with a very important two-way mirror separating them from the cops and legal team. I’ve watched almost all of the four series, they are clever, well acted, puzzling in a good way and well worth your time.

THE VOW. 82 ON Rotten Tomatoes is just about what I’d give this documentary. NXIVM is the name of a self awareness, mindfulness group. It has masters and slaves and even branding women members in private places. It’s a documentary but not your average documentary. If you’ve ever belonged to or have thought about joining one like maybe Scientology don’t miss this partial opening of their secret doors. Just a few weeks ago (Nov.2) Keith Raniere, the real life NXIVM leader was sentenced to 120 years in prison.

RATCHED. Named and promoted as a back story to the famed Nurse Ratched played by Louise Fletcher in Jack Nicolson’s and Ken Kesey’s  “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” book.For some reason the hospital is changed from a military re hab center in Menlo Park where Kesey did time to a spacious retreat in Lucia, which is near Big Sur. Judy Davis, Sarah Paulson, Cynthia Nixon and believe it or not, Sharon Stone are in it. It’s a gruesome movie with such scenes as a doctor hammering an ice pick into a patient’s eye or being given a severed head as a present. The lesbian sub plot is very insensitive, so is the sodomy story…don’t bother.

THE SOCIAL DILEMMA. This one hour and 20 minute documentary a Netflix original is so important, good, and timely. It focuses on the control the internet has over us now and the inevitable growth it will take as time goes by. The control goes much deeper than your searching for a toaster on Amazon and seeing toasters pop up on the next 20 screens you open. It’s about how Facebook, Twitter, Google, You Tube and many more. Are controlling how long we watch and how often we click on any site, then selling the data from our views to advertisers. They work hard to change our groups of friends to bring people with similar views together politically, religiously and change our lives in the process. My notes while watching say things like…the future and Utopia or oblivion,  causing a civil war, ruining a global economy, prioritizing what keeps us on our screen, election advertising, existential threat, can’t agree on what is truth, assault on democracy and on and on. Do see this documentary and think about it and us and yourself. … 

RAKE. I’m still enthralled with watching RAKE. It’s one of the most consistent brilliant funny, curious, serious, series I’ve ever seen. It’s a Netflix feature from Australia back in 2010. This week Netflix introduced Charlie Kaufmann’s newest movie “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”. You need warnings about Kaufmann’s films. Remember “Being John Malkovich”, “Synecdoche, New York” and especially “Eternal Sunshine of the Eternal Mind”. “I’m Thinking” is one of his impressionistic, dreamlike. Psychological adventure voyages. It’ll stay with you for days after.

November 30


Last week’s city council hearing on the Wharf Master Plan put to rest any doubts about whom the council majority represents. It ain’t us babe! 

Despite widespread, consistent community opposition to the Wharf Master Plan, the council majority of Meyers, Cummings, Golden, Watkins and Mathews voted to approve the Plan and its Environmental Impact Report. Ignored were an online petition with 2,600 signatures, hard copy petitions with 277 signatures and scores of emails from individuals and groups all opposed to the controversial elements of the Plan. The council majority marched lock step behind the Economic Development (ED) staff’s slick 75- minute presentation. What part of Municipal do they not understand? 

Supporters were few in number although not without influence. NOAA, who is called out in the documents as a client for the proposed 200- ton boat landing at the south-east end of the Wharf weighed in with an email of support. I have a hunch the massive Landmark Building earmarked to be built next to the boat landing is somehow tied to that interest despite the posturing that it will be public space. The CEO from the Chamber of Commerce spoke in support as did one Wharf business owner plus one member of the public. That was it.

Economic Development staff dismissed concerns raised “from the opposition” as “myths” while they created their own, which the council majority uncritically adopted as gospel. 

Council has accepted the ED hype that the Wharf is in dire straits and only this Master Plan and EIR can save it.  That grants cannot possibly be applied for without this Plan. Council member Meyers who supported the whole package feared that without approval, “the wharf will fall into the ocean bit by bit.”  She applauded the  prospect of people coming from all over the world to visit the Wharf, apparently ignorant of the fact that they already do that and what they like about the Wharf is its current charm and historic feel.

The ED Assets Development manager trotted out the old saw about “the end of the Wharf getting all the damage.” Wasn’t that the original reason for the 2012 Disaster Relief fund grant application to the feds to fix the “severe damage” at the end of the Wharf from the tsunami of 2011?  Never mind that the Wharf sustained no damage from the tsunami. Never mind that the grant money allocated to fix the non-existent damage was diverted to create the WMP. Now this “damage” is being used to justify the proposed 40 feet tall, 6,000 square foot Landmark building that has received visceral, massive opposition from the public. 

ED knows where it wants to go with our Wharf. The ED director said there will be shifts at the end of the Wharf, that the “Dolphin restaurant will come down” and “something is needed to replace the Dolphin.”  Reference was made to a “new demographic for economic success.” In other words, morph the Wharf to attract the younger, affluent crowd: the assumption being that such demographic needs something new, that they can’t appreciate the Wharf without the city changing its nature. Transform the Wharf to a platform over the water for recreation activities, private weddings, lowered walkways, upscale eateries and the like. 

I was struck by the lack of council challenge to staff given the detailed challenges from the public. Not one voice raised for the migratory guillemots who will be significantly impacted. Access to their nesting sites under the Wharf will be blocked on 3 sides by new structures, a fact the EIR failed to assess. One wonders if council members read only the staff report.

Something occurred at the meeting that I have rarely seen. When councilmember Brown made a substitute motion to remove the Landmark building and cap other heights at 35 feet, seconded by council member Beiers, the Mayor invited staff to respond to Brown’s points. That they did, with skill and well-honed rhetoric sufficient to bury the points. That’s not how the power structure is meant to work. Staff’s role is to give their report and recommendations. Then, other than answering any clarifying questions, they take a back seat role, leaving it to elected council members to duke it out to make policy. The players have changed positions. Staff now occupies both seats.  There was no council exchange of positions, concerns, questions, just little individual speeches parroting staff myths. 

This augurs badly for the public voice being heard and represented by council. There are massive projects coming down the pike requiring council deliberation. There is no ambiguity from ED and Planning on these developments: tear down the old, the funky, the human scale. Erect the tall, the commercial, the San Jose aesthetic. 

Today the Wharf: tomorrow the town. That is, if we let it happen. 

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.


November 30


Left Coast, “A slightly derogatory word for America’s west coast, used by Republicans to refer to the primarily Democratic California, Oregon, and Washington.”

-Urban Dictionary

Looking for the Real Left Coast
Given the fact that California is anything but Donald Trump country, and Joe Biden won by more than 5 million votes, 63.5% to 34.3%, you might conclude those numbers would swing the political pendulum leftward. Furthermore, there was an 80% turnout statewide, the highest in 20 years. Was this election going to turn-out to be the one in which California might cement its apparent “left-coast” image? There’s been a decade-long trend of voters sending the entire state into the throes of the Democratic Party. Might this be the election too in which socialism might become respectable? After all, Bernie Sanders won the state in the presidential primary back in March. The field of left ballot initiatives seemed almost to be a political set-up, a chance for a united victory lap around the civil liberties and immigrant cesspool of lies Trump has marched a good portion of the country down into. The 2020 election could at long last mark the Golden State solidly in the left political column for years to come. Rent control, taxing business property, affirmative action, and legalizing 17-years to vote in presidential primary elections were all on the ballot, and so was Trump. 

Santa Cruz, Part of Real Left Coast?
The good news is that Santa Cruz County voted overwhelmingly against Donald Trump, 78.5% to 18.5% while every state proposition with the exception of 21, rent control expansion for cities, also prevailed locally. The bad news is what does it mean that Trump received more than 4,000 votes in 2020 in Santa Cruz County than in 2016, while Biden also received 18,500 votes more than Hillary Clinton? County turnout was 84% in 2016 and 85% in 2020. More actual voters turned out this year than in any year in the history of our county. While the Democratic Presidential candidate did considerably better, Trump’s vote total increase equaled Biden’s over Hillary Clinton, both saw around a 16% increase. More bad news are the final outcomes of the state’s ballot propositions. One-by-one the more progressive initiatives failed to see a harvest of California’s sharp turn away from the right-wing Presidency of Trump. There was not even a hint of some sort of leftish political coat-tail effect. Several of these propositions were avowedly progressive attempts to make life better after years of racial discrimination (Prop 16), share the wealth (Prop 15), and finally bring some relief to renters (Prop21).

The Left Coast of Marin, Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Los Angeles, and Santa Cruz
Proposition 15, “Schools and Communities First,” was to be restoration of the pre-1978 Proposition 13’s property tax roll-back, but it was to be limited to businesses. It would not increase homeowner property tax, only businesses would be taxed, and it would help provide badly needed dollars for the state’s school system. It passed in 15 of California’s 58 counties, including Santa Cruz, but lost over all, 52% to 48% statewide.

Proposition 16, “affirmative action,” got clobbered, 57% to 43%, and in this the year we wanted to believe Black Lives Matter. But not as much at the ballot box? It passed in only six counties, all in Northern California with the exception of Los Angeles. The five other counties are contiguous and perhaps would form the back bone of any real Left Coast: Marin, Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz. The no-vote in usually progressive Santa Clara, Sonoma, Solano, and Contra Costa counties was almost equal, losing by five percentage points in each area.

Proposition 18, in which 17-year olds would be able to not only vote in a presidential primary if they will be 18 by the general election but to also run for office, was rejected by California voters 56% to 44%, while those same six counties all passed it by healthy margins. Why state voters rejected extending the voting franchise to 17-year olds is on its face baffling and deserves deeper inquiry. If our state is thinking we are progressive and that the prevailing notion in many academic and political quarters is that big policy and political changes always begin California like strict emission standards and organic food regulation. Well, think again when it comes to increasing voter enfranchisement. There are currently 18 states and the District of Columbia that permit voting prior to reaching 18, including some “fly-over” states like Mississippi, Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

Proposition 21, which would not have so much imposed rent control, but allowed local governments to impose it on a wider swath of the housing market than is not allowed. The key issue was about increasing local control, but voters did not see it that way. Prop. 21 was defeated in almost every county in the state, except Alameda and San Francisco. In Santa Cruz, it lost by almost 20 points. Once again, the California Apartment Association dumped huge amounts of money to defeat it, almost $50 million this time. (Proposition 21 )

Proposition 22 was the “Uber-Lyft” large ad buy, and it will come to epitomize how legislation, essentially labor law, can be bought in the Golden State. According to the California Secretary of State’s web site, a total of $188.9 million was spent by the “Yes on Prop. 22”  backers. While Prop 22 won handily, 59% to 41%, it essentially denies drivers healthcare, worker’s compensation, and a larger say over their working conditions. (See CA Assembly Bill 5, which it repealed.) What is most remarkable is that the money spent to nullify a pro-labor law and instead institute a corporation policy is the most ever spent by one side on a California ballot measure. Only Santa Cruz, Marin, San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Mendocino, Humboldt, and tiny Alpine counties voted no.

Proposition 17 Ahh, if only the previous ballot initiatives had gone the way of Prop 17, which restores the right to people convicted of felonies who are on parole. This was approved overwhelmingly by California voters, 59% to 41%, while they told 17-year olds, no.

Before we go off touting the potential lefty nature of California, we should consider these election results. Similar to Manu Koenig’s victory over Supervisor John Leopold, a few of us will be scratching our heads about state proposition issues. It is a case of the more I learn about these results, the less I am sure of why voters made these decisions. You the reader can do your own head-scratching by traveling the internet to the Secretary of State’s web site. 

“Today many are buying gifts or donations for the holiday season. Right now, small businesses & food aids across the country REALLY need our help. Let’s help & commit to shopping small this year wherever we can.” (Nov. 27)

(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His term ended in April of 2020.

Email Chris at

November 30

Since 2013, Santa Cruz County Health Services has been on the hook with the State Water Quality Control Board to develop a Local Agency Management Program (LAMP) to address the issue of failing septic systems in the County. Because that did not get done, the State took over issuing septic permits for about 10% of the cases when things are problematic. That means trouble for many of those nearly 1000 property owners in the CZU Fire area who want to rebuild their homes that burned.

Finally, the County Health Services Agency and Environmental Health Dept. have the draft LAMP ready for review by the County Water Advisory Commission on December 16, and approval by the County Board of Supervisors next year:

Last year at this time, the Board accepted the report that the Draft LAMP was supposedly submitted to the State, but was it?  It apparently was not included in the Board’s agenda packet with the staff report.

Consider this comment submitted December 10, 2019 to the Board of Supervisors on Consent Agenda Item #57:

The user  has posted a comment on Legislative File 6526: Accept and file update on the County of Santa Cruz Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Local Agency Management Program for permitting and managing septic systems, as recommended by the Director of Health Services. Comment: Honorable Supervisors: Thank you for completing the LAMP submission to allow for submission of certain septic permits to be processed in our County. However, it should be noted that only a Staff Report was submitted, and the actual LAMP Local Area Management Plan and any accompanying documents was not included with the Agenda. Pertinent documents like this should be a part of the agenda packet under a full disclosure of information given to the State. Thank you, Rose Marie McNair, Broker Housing Advocate

Ms. McNair was part of the 2018-2019 On-Site Sewage Disposal Technical Advisory Committee that met on January 31, 2018, March 14, 2018 and November 7, 2019 to develop an updated draft LAMP report to submit to the State for approval.  It is noteworthy that she admonished the Board about not including the LAMP with the report stating that it had been submitted to the State.

Consider this excellent correspondence to the Board of Supervisors on January 28, 2020 from a San Lorenzo Valley resident regarding ADU code approvals (the Board took no action regarding points raised):

“The county is already in trouble with the state regarding the county LAMP (Local Area Management Plan) report. …..The new ADU rules and codes do not make it easier for those in rural areas on septic systems.” Read Mr. Stevenson’s complete letter in Item #11 correspondence here.

Well, it appears the County has finally got a Final LAMP report together and will be submitting it to the State Water Quality Control Board next year. That should be good news to the people hoping to rebuild in the CZU Fire areas.

Here is the text of the summary of the history of this mess, as submitted to the Board of Supervisors on December 10, 2019….nearly one year ago.

County of Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors
Agenda Item Submittal From: Health Services Agency:
Environmental Health Division (831) 454-4000 

Subject: Update – Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Local Agency Management Program 

Meeting Date: December 10, 2019

Recommended Action: Accept and file update on the County of Santa Cruz Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Local Agency Management Program for permitting and managing septic systems.

 Executive Summary
Effective May 2013, the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) adopted the State ONSITE WASTEWATER TREATMENT SYSTEMS (OWTS) Policy, which requires counties to implement State standards or to document local compliance with State requirements through a State-approved Local Agency Management Program (LAMP). Per the State OWTS Policy, as of May 2018, the County is only authorized to approve permits for new or replacement OWTS that meet the State standards, pending State approval of the County’s LAMP. On November 14, 2019, HSA submitted to the California Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) a 2019 Draft LAMP and code amendments with the purpose of regaining full permit approval authority.

Local municipalities administer installation and operating requirements for OWTS, subject to direction and oversight by the State Board and Regional Board. In Santa Cruz County, permitting for installation and operation of OWTS is managed by HSA’s Environmental Health Division. County requirements for installing and maintaining OWTS are contained in the County Code Chapter 7.38 “Sewage Disposal” and in various General Plan and Local Coastal Plan policies and programs. Since 1986, the County has also been implementing a comprehensive program for OWTS management, the San Lorenzo Wastewater Management Plan, which was also approved by the Regional Board in 1995. In 1999, the California State legislature passed Assembly Bill (AB) 885, which called for the State Board to develop statewide standards for regulation of OWTS. On June 19, 2012, the State Board adopted a new State OWTS Policy, effective May 13, 2013. HSA’s Environmental Health Division participated throughout the extended process to develop those standards. On June 21, 2005, and February 3, 2009, HSA presented status reports to the Board of Supervisors on AB 885 and development of the State OWTS Policy. In May 2016, HSA submitted an updated onsite wastewater plan to the Regional Board as a 2016 Draft LAMP. Following review and discussion with the TAC, in February 2018, HSA also submitted to the Regional Board proposed amendments to Santa Cruz County Code Chapter 7.38, as a key component of the LAMP package. Completion of the LAMP has been delayed due to extended staff vacancies and other program obligations. For a five-year period from May 2013 through May 2018, the State Board authorized counties to retain full permitting authority over septic systems pending LAMP approval. In May 2018, this authority expired and reverted to the Regional Board until a County’s LAMP secures State approval. Since May 2018, HSA staff can only approve permit applications that meet the State standards for Low Risk Systems (Tier 1 Standards). Due to site constraints in Santa Cruz County rural regions, approximately 10% of the applications cannot meet Tier 1 standards and have to be referred to the Regional Board staff for approval. This has required extra time and expense for those systems requiring Regional Board approval. Additionally, a number of applicants are delaying application submittal, pending a return of full approving authority to the County.

On November 14, 2019, HSA’s 2019 Draft LAMP was submitted to the Regional Board. HSA anticipates that the Regional Board will negotiate requested revisions to this Draft LAMP and the associated proposed Code amendments. Once HSA receives the State’s requested changes, and negotiates approval of those revisions, including review by the TAC, HSA will produce a 2020 Draft LAMP, and proposed amended Chapter 7.38, and present them to the Board of Supervisors for approval to submit to the State as a Final Draft. HSA anticipates that State approval of a Final Draft LAMP will occur within the upcoming calendar year of 2020. HSA plans to return to the Board before December 2020, requesting authorization to submit a Final Draft LAMP to the State. Once the County’s Final Draft LAMP and its corollary Code changes are formally approved by the Regional Board, HSA will resume permitting authority over all OWTS across the full spectrum and range of operating conditions. HSA will also return to the Board and Planning Commission to formally update Chapter 7.38, which is a Local Coastal Plan implementing ordinance, along with any required General Plan changes. Financial Impact The program for development of the LAMP and the majority of OWTS activities are funded by County Service Area (CSA)-12 service charges.

Why did the Clerk of the Board omit the agenda item for the public’s view of the exact terms of the agreement approved on November 10 by the Board of Supervisors that will gift public property to the developers of the low-cost medical and dental clinics at 1500 Capitola Road, and cut an amazing deal worth millions for MidPen Housing to build 57 affordable units on top of soils that are severely contaminated? While the item shows up on the County website, #46 on the Consent Agenda was omitted from the printed copy of the Agenda made available to the public the day of the meeting.

No one is going to actually clean up this carcinogenic PCE (tetrachloroethylene) contamination that has been found to be so high at the proposed development, MidPen Housing and the other developers are required to install an expensive Vapor Intrusion Monitoring System (VIMS) for all structures. The source of the contamination is a former dry cleaner business that is now a Laundromat. 

The land and groundwater beneath the proposed affordable housing units and low-cost medical and dental clinics has such high levels of the carcinogenic PCE contaminant, the County Redevelopment Successor Agency, governed by the Board of Supervisors, is just going to sweep this all under the rug by making deals with the developers to get the project built.

Would YOU want to live or work at this place? Is it ethical to make poor people, with possible language barriers who may not fully understand the contamination issues, live and work in this contaminated development? Why is the County seemingly hiding all this from the public by burying and scattering it in consent agendas and omitting it entirely from printed agenda?

Chairman Greg Caput wisely pulled Consent Items #21 and #23 on the November 10, 2020 Board meeting agenda, both of which described to some extent the nature of the contamination problem and the need to reduce expected tax assessments for public benefits, such as school and fire districts, because of the lowered land price. This visibly angered Supervisor John Leopold, whose District includes this development. However, Consent Item #46, which contained the real Agreement and disclosures, escaped notice because it was not printed on the agenda for the public to review that day.

Here is a copy of my recent letter to Chairman of the Board, Greg Caput (see the attachment proving the Item #46 Disclosure of Agreements was omitted from print for public review):

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


Debra White Plume passed away on November 10, at the age of 66, due to cancer. She had attended high school in San Jose for a time under the Indian Relocation Act of 1956, but lived most of her life on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. She was a prominent Native American activist, leading the 1973 American Indian Movement’s occupation of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwest South Dakota, over demands that the U.S government respect its treaties with Indigenous tribes from the 1800’s and forward. She also led 2015 legal challenges to stop the giant Cameco uranium mining company from expanding into a sacred site in Nebraska and within Lakota treaty territories, an ongoing action. In 2016, she led efforts for the thousands who protested the 1,172-mile-long Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock Reservation, which threatens the drinking water supply of the Lakota People.

“I’m Lakota. I’m a woman, and water is the domain of the women in our nation. And so it’s our privilege and our obligation to protect water. If somebody wants to label me, I guess it would be water protector.” “I fought with cops before. I’ve been shot at by police. I’ve been shot by police. We got it on with police on Pine Ridge back in the day, so I understand that rage. But when we’re together to protect sacred water, let’s do it with dignity, let’s do it with training, let’s do it with unity.”

Thank you, Water Protector Debra White Plume. May we all take up your torch and continue your good work and brave spirit.

Debra White Plume, Defender of Her Tribe, Is Dead at 66.
She championed the rights of the Oglala Lakota in South Dakota and was a leader in protests at Wounded Knee and oil pipeline sites.
[Continue to NY Times article]



Cheers, Becky Steinbruner
(831) 685-2915 – I welcome your discussion. 

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


November 27
#332 / Splitting

On November 4, 2020, the day after our most recent presidential election, The Wall Street Journal ran a column by Andrew Hartz, “A Diagnosis for American Polarization.” Hartz is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City. His column suggested that “splitting,” a defense mechanism with which psychotherapists are presumably familiar, is what has caused the intense polarization that is in increasing evidence in our national, state, and local politics. 

“Splitting,” according to Hartz, may be described as follows: 

A defense mechanism by which people unconsciously frame ideas, individuals or groups of people in all-or-nothing terms—for example, all good or all bad. The term was popularized in its current usage by the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein in the 1930s and ’40s. Its name describes how intolerable thoughts and feelings are split off from the subject’s awareness, leading to a partial view of the world. To see our opponents as pure evil, we have to split off the parts of them that are admirable. To see ourselves as purely righteous, we have to split off our shortcomings.

At the root of this process is distress over contradictions. It can be painful to think that the people we idealize are flawed and the people we loathe have virtues. By pushing these conflicts out of awareness, splitting reduces anxiety and makes the world appear more coherent—in the short term. It also severely distorts reality, making it hard to develop solutions to problems, which often grow worse as a result. Splitting can warp identity, morality, memories and desires. It makes conversation difficult, impairs relationships and can even lead to mental illness.

Splitting was theorized by Klein to be an entirely unconscious process, so people don’t realize they’re doing it, or why. They’re unaware of the uncomfortable mix of emotions that arose, the anxiety that drove them to split, or their inability to tolerate nuance.

How can we overcome splitting? In psychoanalysis, they say “interpret the defense before the content.” This means it is more effective to talk about splitting and how it works before shifting the dialogue to the pros and cons. Until we address the process of splitting itself, contrary evidence rarely penetrates.

I don’t think there is any doubt that President Trump has adeptly speeded up this “splitting” process within our nation. However, the “cure” has to come from our individual refusal to “split” from those with different political views – no matter what the president says or does, and no matter what those on the other side of the political spectrum say or do. As Hartz suggests, we might best start with acknowledging the process and problem. Let’s start admitting to ourselves that we are, in fact, quite capable of seeing those on the other side of political issues as evil, suppressing our knowledge that they all – even our president – have some “admirable qualities,” and that in this sense they are not much different from ourselves.

If we can do that, we can move on from there. That, at least, is Hartz’ advice.

Seems like good advice to me. It’s worth a shot, at the very least!

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


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


“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!” 
~Dave Barry 

“It came to him that he didn’t like holidays. . . . They bore down on you. Each one always ended up feeling like an exam . . .”  
~Lily King, 

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Wishing you happiness.”    
~Helen Keller

This is one in a series of videos of murder mysteries and makeup. Bailey is a very engaging story teller, and I find the videos strangely enjoyable 🙂

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

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

Direct email:
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @


Posted in Weekly Articles | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.