Blog Archives

February 24 – March 2, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…John Tuck died, Regal Theatre closed, ant problem, Reed Searle zoom memorial, bad heart advice. GREENSITE…on taking the last stand on the Riverfront Affront. KROHN…City Council power issues and Martin Bernal, words from Gary Patton, Cyndi Dawson and Brent Adams. STEINBRUNER…Calfire wants to ban rebuilding… PATTON…Goodbye to normal. EAGAN…classic Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Political Power”

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PEACE IN VIETNAM PROTEST. This was taken on April 8, 1967, at the steps to our post office. That’s my old and recently departed friend John Tuck with goatee, trench coat and folded arms in the front row. If you look closely on the right hand side between the girl with glasses and the Peace in Vietnam poster, you’ll see our favorite musical saw player – Tom Scribner.                                                          

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE February 22  

REGAL THEATRE CLOSES. Wouldn’t it be great if our do-nothing Santa Cruz City Council came up with some ideas and ordinance changes that would make it possible for new businesses to move into the nine (9) empty halls upstairs in the Regal Theater? I remember when it opened in May 1985, with a big benefit for MAH with Chuck Hilger, the then museum director presiding. Many of us had fought Ceil Cirillo’s pushing to have another movie theater downtown, fearing it would wipe out the Nickelodeon and the Del Mar. We were wrong. The Regal – then the Signature theater – brought many more folks downtown. It’s probably not a good idea to hold your breath until the Regal is refilled.

ANT PROBLEM. Rumors have it that Santa Cruz will be soon be named the Ant Capitol of the world. Even living on the second floor, I’ve never seen or squashed so many ants in one season. I’m pleading for some knowledgeable local to share a solution with us all. Any spray, any poison, anything at all to deter these bite-size beasts. Send cures to bratton@cruzio.com, and we’ll all thank you. 

BAD HEART ADVICE ONLINE! A well-meaning friend sent me a real-looking document about how to handle a heart attack before the ambulance gets there. It stated you should cough and take deep breaths, etc. I checked with Dominican Hospital’s cardiac risk program. They said that coughing advice has been strewn about for years and not to take much stock in it. I’m not sure what to do instead, but I’ll pass it on when I get word. 

JOHN TUCK FAREWELL. One of my best friends forever, John Tuck, died last Thursday, February 18. He died from Covid followed by pneumonia, in a rest home in Texas, where he moved a few years ago. I met John way back in 1970, when he was writing a weekly column for Jim and Katie Heth’s Buy and Sell Press. With Manny Santana’s pushing, John and I became board members of the Santa Cruz County Fair. I was the treasurer, John a director. Then Manny further convinced us to join the Cabrillo Music Festival. John, being as political as much as he was great fun to drink with, later got me involved with Operation Wilder and the saving of Wilder Ranch. John was also serious about acting, had the lead in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and co-starred with Billie Harris in some productions at UCSC’s Barn Theatre. John and I bought the first beers at the new Catalyst, and at Chris Mathew’s Poet and Patriot, and Lulu Carpenters (a tradition). Last Sunday (Feb. 21) Jack Jacobsen created a farewell gathering at the Mosaic Restaurant. At least 45 folks showed up (masked) to share goodbyes. The world will miss him. 

REED SEARLE FAREWELL. Chris Krohn did a beautiful tribute to Reed Searle in these spaces last week. Reed’s son Joshua created a zoom farewell last Sunday (Feb.21), that had over 83 online participants. Even with Zooming it was a deeply felt and a very shared memorial. Reed and I were best of friends, and shared a love of Richard Wagner’s Ring for many years. I’ve written here about Reed before, check it out. Reed died Last February 21, 2020.

I’m not going to “print” these critiques in any special order. There seems to be so very few that are what I’d call GREAT movies anymore. Besides that I keep fighting the urge and financial demand of coughing up another $15.99 per month to rent from one more streaming outlet

I CARE A LOT. (NETFLIX SINGLE) When you hear that Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage and Dianne Wiest are in what’s called a dark comedy, you know you’ll like it. Rosamund plays a wheeling, dealing, crooked professional senior citizen guardian – who lives to bilk seniors out of their savings. She works with a senior home named Berkshire Oaks that looks suspiciously like our Dominican Oaks. You’ll think about it long after it’s finished.

BEHIND HER EYES. (NETFLIX SERIES) 63 RT. A married psychiatrist who’s got several problems of his own – and isn’t very likable anyways – has an affair with his beautiful younger secretary. It’s needlessly complex and very hard to like anyone. Don’t use your next to last dollar to rent this one. 

ALLEN V. FARROW. (HBO SERIES) 85 RT. Woody Allen has made several great movies in his career. He also played pretty good clarinet. I met him a few times, when he’d sit in with Turk Murphy’s band in San Francisco and I was living in Turk’s hotel at the time. Mia Farrow pulls out all the stops in this documentary and her daughter Dylan tells us what it was like being raised with a deviant like Woody for a father. Episode 2 begins with Woody’s taking naked photos of his adopted daughter Soon-Yi and how she handled it. Sad, disturbing, revealing and engrossing and you’ll be sorry you know this much about Allen….but there he is…or was. Watch it every Sunday night on our local Comcast HBO. 

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES. (AMC SERIES) A pretty time-walker goes back to 1590’s England and meets Sir Walter Raleigh, among other characters. She denies she’s a time traveler even though she’s the only one without a British accent. She joins a vampire partner and they work out answers to age-old mysteries. Good fun and diverting but no award-winning from this one.

CB STRIKE. (HBO MAX SERIES) J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) wrote this private detective chase puzzle. Cormoran Strike is the private eye, who is missing one foot. He and his beautiful partner get mixed up with other love affairs and other crimes. Tom Burke plays Strike. The acting is fine, the photography is very well done and if you love detective plots this one will hold you well through the first episode. That’s all that has been released so far. 

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

CLARICE. (CBS SERIES) This movie tries to tell us about the young agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster)who dealt with Hannibal Lecter back in 1993. It is baffling to see how she’s treated by her superior officers in the police force and how she deals with them. Clarice has many deep seated problems of her own and the movie is complicated but you’ll stick with it.

CRIME SCENE:THE VANISHING AT THE CECIL HOTEL.(NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY SERIES). Los Angelinos know that the Cecil Hotel is a real place. It’d now called “Stay In Main” hotel. It has 700 rooms and is in the worst part of the city. It’s notorious for the suicides, rapists, murders, dealers and other missing people over the last 100 years. Ron Howard directed this documentary and it’s well worth watching. 46RT.

A VIGILANTE  (NETFLIX SINGLE) Olivia Wilde gives her all as she plays an abused woman who spends her life trying to help other such victims. It’s tense, very depressing as it keeps revealing deeper and deeper issues among each woman in the movie. There’s a murder and some chases and watch it even today’s reality can’t be that bad.  

TO ALL THE BOYS: ALWAYS AND FOREVER.(NETFLIX SERIES). It’s alight hearted romp containing all teen agers doing silly things. It’s known as a romantic comedy. Waiting to get into Stanford one girl has many problems relating to her favorite boy toy. She goes to New York and has more adventures…if you care. I didn’t .

SQUARED LOVE. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Wikipedia and I both call this a Polish comedy.  It takes place in Warsaw. So there’s a guy who meets and falls in love with a very sexy pinup fashion model. We know on the other hand that she’s really at heart a grade school teacher. It’s in the same ballpark as Call My Agent. Good fun actually but you’ll spend extra time suspending your disbelief. 

MALCOLM AND MARIE. (NETFLIX SINGLE) Zendaya the co star of this movie is from Oakland. She and John David Washington plus a few friends filmed this in a “glass house” in Carmel during the pandemic and did a super job. The plot involves John a filmmaker who has just received a great review of his new film in the LA Times arguing throughout the entire film with Zendaya. Their fights are our fights, their issues are our issues and it’s an excellent movie. 59RT 

ADU.(NETFLIX SINGLE).Some poor director decisions make the weaving of three almost totally unrelated stories into one heartwarming movie. Adu is a little boy who has to escape his warlike Africa hometown. Another story centers on the conflicting feelings of border guards. The most involved saga deals with illegal elephant ivory tusks and a father/daughter entanglement. It’s a fine movie but hard to follow. 

FIREFLY LANE (NETFLIX SERIES) a 48 on RT. Katherine Heigl and her BFF Sarah Chalke go through some show biz type plots and make this a pretty ditzy movie. There are laughs and cute twists but nothing, absolutely nothing here that you’ll remember while you’re looking for a new mask to wear later today.

BLISS. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE) I’m giving up trying to figure out the plot of this one. Owen Wilson gets fired from his job and meets Salma Hayek and it goes sci-fi and nonsense from there on. Local fans should watch for Joshua Leonard son of Bob and Joann Leonard of Watsonville, he plays Cameron. The movie switches from realities to fantasies and back again. You’ll probably give up long before it’s over….don’t worry about it. 81 RT

SOMEONE HAS TO DIE.(3 PART Netflix Series). Set in Spain in the 1950’s during Franco’s rule this is a genuine period piece. It centers on Spain’s prejudices against Mexico and any immigrants from there. It goes on to make a spy movie about which of the boys are gay and how to disown them. After those two themes it ends on secret sex between two families and who is genuinely faithful to their marriage vows. A very heavy handed, serious movie. Watch it.   

LADY AND THE DALE. (HBO SERIES) This nearly unbelievable documentary has a 100 RT. It’s the result of executive directing by the Duplass brothers which makes any movie near great to begin with. Jerry Dean Michael was a con artist from birth. She later changed her name to Elizabeth Carmichael a trans woman and managed to convince a lot of the world that the motorcycle with two tires in front would change the world. See it as soon as possible, great fun betwixt the grimaces.

RADIOACTIVE.(AMAZON PRIME Single) The lovely and effervescent Rosamund Pike plays the Polish born Marie Curie. This pointless drama includes Curie’s secret love affair, it adds her belief in the occult and as a movie it is beautifully filmed. Curie also was the first woman to win the Noble Prize. It lacks a driving force in spite of showing us Curie’s fight against sexism, and from ethnic prejudice. I’d give it a 5 out of 10 if I was giving anything. 

PALMER. (APPLE TV+ Single)The big deal here is that it stars Justin Timberlake as Palmer who was a football star in high school but then got sent to prison. He returns back to his hometown and becomes a full time parent to a gay little 7 year old boy. Many sobs later Palmer settles into his leading role and it’s fairly predictable. Watch it if you want to feel good about something.

BELOW ZERO (NETFLIX Single)  A Spanish film about the trailer that is transporting prisoners from one prison to another. The trailer is stopped by spiked tires and a long search among the prisoners for one in particular. Which prisoner, and why him is the main plot. It’s tense, exciting, and nearly believable. Don’t miss it for sure! It was number one on Netflix a week ago!!!

THE DIG. (NETFLIX SINGLE) You can’t beat the pairing of Britain’s Carey Mulligan and Ralph (“Rafe”) Fiennes in this 1939 setting that centers on the excavation of an Anglo-Saxon burial ship named Sutton Hoo from the seventh century. British Museum’s battle over the rights to own and move the ship and Mulligan fights them. Brilliant, absorbing, great scenic splendor and never better acting. See this one as soon as possible. Checking upon this I read… The 27 meter long Anglo-Saxon ship from Sutton Hoo no longer exists. It was made of oak and after 1,300 years in the acidic soil, it rotted away leaving only its ‘ghost’ imprinted in the sand. The movie never deals with this fact making us believe that the wooden ship itself was three dimensional. 

 LOSING ALICE.(APPLE + Series) It’s filmed and set in contemporary Israel. A woman film director is facing getting older while raising three daughters and living with her husband who’s a famous movie star. Much sensitive game playing between them as they deal with a beautiful young screen writer who wedges her way between and amongst them. A first class movie, with fine directing, good camera work and a plot that will keep you completely involved. Don’t avoid it. It has a 71 on Rotten Tomatoes.

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI. (APPLE + SINGLE)Try to imagine an intimate get together with Muhammed Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown from the NFL in 1964. Their shared and unshared reactions to the racial issues of their time is amazingly realistic and educational. It has a 98 on RT and deserves it. It’s an adaption of the play and shows the sensitive, delicate reactions to racial prejudice. Watch it and think about the genius behind Regina King’s first big time director achievements 

THE RIPPER.(NETFLIX Series) There was a mass murderer in London in the late 1970’s and early 80’s who patterned his killings after the famed Jack the Ripper the century before (1888) . This documentary is not only well done but it centers on the very poor and later exposed police investigations. A real change in online viewing… it’s perfectly assembled, logically developed and surprising in the exposing the lousy job the police and other authorities did in the decades they tried to catch The Ripper. The real Jack the Ripper (1888)  was never caught even though he’d sent letters to the police.

TIGER. (HBO) This is a two part documentary on HBO that tells us, or reminds us of all the troubles Tiger Woods has faced in his golfing career. His sex life, his injuries, his children, his completely domineering father; it’s all in this expose. Still we watch and admire Tiger for the way he’s survived. Completely riveting and revealing. Watch it quickly while HBO is still featuring it.

PIECES OF A WOMAN. (NETFLIX SINGLE) This movie is just a bit corny and cute but it’ll grab you in many different ways. A young couple has a baby with the help of a midwife. The baby dies and the plot thickens around the midwife and mom’s mother. The mother is well played by Ellen Burstyn. You could guess the ending but I’m not going to help you. If you need to shed a tear or two during these sad times go for it. I liked it a lot.

LUPIN. (NETFLIX SERIES). A neatly twisted robbery plot of Marie Antoinette’s necklace from the Louvre. There’s revenge, politics (French politics) and many, many Louvre scenes. The plot is complex enough to keep you glued to your viewing device for all seven episodes. What is outstanding is that the acting is excellent and believable. Reader Judi Grunstra writes…” In your blurb about the Netflix show “Lupin,” you say there are 7 episodes.  There are only 5 (more to come in a 2nd season)”.

THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND. (HBO MAX SINGLE) Staten Island like New Jersey has a nutty and not too good a reputation around the New York City area. Marisa Tomei does a great job as mother to a bunch of teen agers trying to grow up on the island. Steve Buscemi has a bit part too. The boys hopes, dreams, smoking weed, and trying to face their predictable future make this a near tear jerker, I recommend it.

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February 22, 2021

APPEALING THE UNAPPEALING.
The project depicted below will become a defining feature and future of the San Lorenzo River unless the CA Coastal Commission (CCC) at its March meeting determines that an appeal of the project raises substantial issues. This project has already been approved by city council majority, which leaves the CCC as the last hope to scale the project down.  

The zoning for the riverfront area of Front St. allows for a maximum height of 70 feet, a relatively recent zoning change and height increase over the 50 foot limit in place before adoption of the updated Downtown Plan. Few people attended the many public hearings on the changes, probably because there are no neighborhoods impacted, just a river that happens to be a significant habitat area and small local businesses such as University Copy.  

How did a project that should have been capped at 70 feet end up at 81 feet plus 5 feet of  “accoutrements” on top of that? Enter the state’s density bonus. Intended to increase the amount of “affordable” units in a project, it allows a developer to add height and density if more affordable units are included onsite. In practice, at least in Santa Cruz, it allows extra height without increasing the “affordable” units. The “bonus” for this project adds an extra floor to allow for a total unit development of 175 condominiums. This plus ground floor commercial space fronting the levee to replace existing buildings, two of which are historic. Only 20 units are to be “affordable.” That is 11% of the total. Had the Density Bonus been applied properly there should be 35 “affordable” units or 20%.

The CCC weighed in on the project before council approval. They found the project to be inconsistent with the Local Coastal Program (LCP) requirements on maximum height, number of floors, top floor proportional relationship and required setbacks. They recommended the project be reduced.  The extra height they saw as impacting the downtown character and aesthetics and they expressed concern about the impact on the river itself. Despite the expressed concerns, at the final hearing the CCC deferred to the city’s discretion. The council vote was to approve the project at the increased height and density with 11% affordable units.

The Appeal will be heard by the CCC at its Friday March 12th zoom hearing. There are some virtues in zoom. You don’t have to travel to far off corners of the state to attend a CCC hearing. A colleague and I once drove 7 hours to northern CA to attend and defend an Appeal to the CCC on a quite different issue.  We were 20 minutes too late. Although the Appeal was last on the Friday’s agenda, they swept through the other business and it was all over bar our shouting at 10:15 AM. 

Remember that this is just one of many similar scale, height and density projects in the works for Santa Cruz.  If we don’t speak up to try to save what’s left of the character, feel and scale of this town the newcomers sure won’t. I hear some young newcomers like such buildings.  I suggest they put down roots in cities that are more to their liking rather than working to change the character of our town. 

Your input will make a difference. The deadline to have your email or letter received by the CCC is March 5th by 5PM. The subject line must include the Appeal number and name of project: A-3-STC-21-0013 Riverfront Mixed-Use Building 

Send emails to California Coastal Commissioners at CentralCoast@coastal.ca.gov

Send snail mail letters to California Coastal Commission, Central Coast District Office, 725 Front Street, Suite 300, Santa Cruz 95060-4508.

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

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February 22, 2021

“COLUMN WRITING”

Executive Power
Sometimes these “Political Reports” just write themselves. With a Santa Cruz city council Closed Session agenda larger, and perhaps longer, than the public agenda, the secret government bureaucrats led by city manager Martin Bernal, are likely in high spirits this week. Far too much government business already takes place behind closed doors during non-pandemic times, but during the Covid-19 era even the public agenda is usurped by the obsessive control the city exercises over Zoom technology: other meeting attendees cannot be seen; members of the public do not know when they can speak; and the “chat” function is disabled. Covid-19 is often spat out as the reason ju jour, the go-to message from these same bureaucratic mouths as to why the council has to hold meetings only by way of the internet. It’s the best way to minimize the participation of an often pesky public ooh-ing and ahh-ing in front of the faces of dumb-founded city councilmembers within the confines of council chambers. Why in the world would council members want their actual votes exposed to public scrutiny? Giving over broad decision-making powers to one person, Bernal, is having disastrous consequences…ask Gavin Newsom whose detractors filed 1.1 million recall petition signatures last Friday…and then there’s New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose executive powers apparently helped him hide a significant number of nursing home deaths. But remember, Bernal was never elected. When the history of putting political power into the hands of one person, because decisions need to be made quickly, that pandemic memoir will include tales of a vast webs of deceit, double-dealing executives, and a constant refrain of lying to the public, for their own good of course, just ask those thousands of New Yorker’s relatives who were never informed that nursing homes were full of Covid positives and deaths until it was too late to move your loved one.

Significant Decisions Made in Secret
Only the ill-starred library-in-a-garage fiasco has been left off this week’s council agenda. That agenda is basically a Who’s Who of major city council issues. The homeless camping in San Lorenzo Park? Check. Moving forward on placing city wharf on steroids? Check. UC Regents suing city over water? Check. City Manager Bernal’s job under scrutiny? Check. And that’s just the closed session part, which incidentally is scheduled to begin at 9:30 am and go all the way until 1pm. That is the longest closed session I can remember. It must be difficult for Bernal being the keeper of so much power during these uncertain times that calls for these lengthy cloak and dagger-type sessions. And, what better place for him to exercise that power than behind closed doors in the comfort of Zoom?

Bereft of Real Public Policy?
just rely on the old one that never worked.
The bloated city morass inside the city manager’s office has wretched up yet another green, slimy, putrid pool of political vomit and is being shot into the direction of our community’s most vulnerable: the homeless. It is item #25 and euphemistically labeled by some heartless housed denizen from inside of city hall as the “…the Santa Cruz municipal Code Related to Regulations for Temporary Outdoor Living.” I beg your pardon? People are destitute, really hurting, and “The City,” aka Bernal, lobs poorly worded, poorly crafted, and poorly proscribed legal mechanisms at homeless people, which is sure to kick them even harder while they’re down. Public to City Bureaucracy: Drop Dead! The ordinance is a non-starter. I include below the words of three close watchers of city hall and homeless issues for many years, former 20-year Santa Cruz county supervisor Gary Patton, current Planning Commissioner Cyndi Dawson, and Warming Center founder Brent Adams. Their combined wisdom on this topic is not only informative, but compellingly direct in their critique of this abysmal-looking public policy on “Outdoor Living.”

GARY PATTON: Please Do Not Do This
I am distressed to think that the Council might enact the “Temporary Outdoor Living” ordinance proposed as Agenda Item #25. I have outlined my very strongly-felt views in an editorial comment, made in my daily blog, which I call “We Live In A Political World.” I will provide a link below. As you will note, I am particularly upset that three members of the Council, including the Mayor, would endorse this proposal without having first heard from members of the public. 

Our homelessness crisis is severe, and local residents are suffering impacts that all of us wish could be eliminated. Homeless persons, of course, are themselves suffering even more than the citizens and residents who complain about the impacts that accompany the camp sites established by homeless persons. For everyone’s sake, the City should mobilize all of its powers to help solve the problem – and should take action only when they will make things better. Ultimately, that means lots more money, more than we have access to, locally. Let’s use our political power to work on that problem – or to find ways that we can use the limited funding we have available actually to make things better. Making things better means making things better for homeless persons – AND the community. Both. 

The proposed ordinance does not solve any problem, or make things better, at least as far as I can tell. Homeless persons living in Santa Cruz have nowhere else to go. Dislodging homeless persons from current camp sites won’t make them disappear, and what the proposed ordinance would do is simply to make life harder for them, which will NOT make things better for residents who are not homeless. In fact, directing homeless persons to look for “temporary” overnight camping spots in residential neighborhoods, showing up after dark and leaving in the morning, is an unworkable and hugely inhumane idea. 

PLEASE do not do this! It doesn’t solve any problem; it doesn’t help anyone. 

Thank you for taking my strongly-felt concerns into account as you deliberate on this on Tuesday. For those Council Members who indicated support prior to any public review or discussion – which I hope you can understand was a mistake – your signing on to the Agenda Memo does not mean you have to vote for this terribly flawed and inhumane idea. 

Outdoor Living in Santa Cruz  

PS:
And the name only makes it worse, really! “Outdoor Living” is a magazine aimed at upscale homeowners. What were the City Manager and all those highly-compensated staff members thinking?

“Outdoor Living Magazine (OLM) showcases the latest and most innovative resources for all your outdoor living spaces, bringing together the best quality products and professional services in the industry. … Outdoor Living Magazine covers the latest design trends and product offerings for home owners on any budget.”

If you want to visit more problems on homeless persons, don’t try to pretty up the name, and pretend there’s anything nice about it.

CYNDI DAWSON: Follow Your Own “Health in All Policies”

How to write to city councilmembers, what to include:

  • Councilmembers Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson and Martine Watkins have championed Health in all Policies. A key tenet is health, equity and sustainability and the policy states, “Equity is essential for positive health outcomes.” How does this policy treat our unhoused neighbors equitably and promote healthy outcomes? Constant instability in having a place of refuge and living outside generally create immense challenges both physically and emotionally. 
  • Councilmember Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson we know your professional history as a trained social worker and are looking to you to provide leadership to your fellow Councilmember in best practices to support our unhoused neighbors. There are approaches that have worked elsewhere that we are not even trying. Could zoning be changed to allow faith communities to host small encampments on their properties? Can we provide pop up shelters/tiny homes on city properties? Establishing no camping zones simply increases the stress on our houseless neighbors increasing their challenges instead of providing them with the options needed to meet their most basic human needs of shelter and sleep. Council member Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson we are looking to your leadership to step out of the old and lead us into a new more compassionate way to help the most vulnerable in our community with real solutions and not just another ban that helps no one.

BRENT ADAMS: How Did We Get Here?

We knew this moment would eventually come; the dreaded reinstitution of the many decades-long Santa Cruz camping ban.  So much has happened, and not happened with homelessness over the past years that we may not remember where we’ve been in order to know precisely where we are now.  We’ve grown accustomed to seeing large tent encampments that last many months only to be closed and then pop-up someplace else.  We’ve seen million dollar managed camps that disappear as quickly as they came. 

Firstly, what about the old camping ban – do you remember it?  It was so horrid that we can hardly imagine it now. Since the 1980’s it’s was illegal to even cover up with a blanket outside between the hours of 11 pm and 8 am.  One must admit, the proposed ordinance allowing camping in a tent between 8 pm – 8 am, is a vast improvement.

How did we get here?  It was the Martin vs. Boise 9th Circuit court case demanding that criminalization of homeless not be allowed if there isn’t sufficient shelter. That’s likely never going to happen in this city, so tents quickly began to proliferate.  During this détente, what has been proposed to improve conditions of those who sleep outside? Transitional Camps had won unanimous support on City Council, though where are they?  There were months-long surveys by councilmembers resulting in sets of recommendations that were never fulfilled.  There were seasons of CACH meetings producing nothing substantial.

The encampments along Highway 1 and San Lorenzo Park are examples of what happens when a city abandons a population.  We’d already seen it happen years before in the Benchlands in 2018, then a year later at the Ross Camp in 2019. Watching it all again, how can we say that the city isn’t culpable when they’ve done nothing in the meantime?  What has become of plans to establish the HEAP funded Navigation Center, let alone an interim shelter? What has become of that money?  Where are the day services programs, and where-even is the well-funded rhetoric of housing the chronically homeless?  It has all evaporated and all we’re left with is a tent that must be broken down in the morning with nothing much else offered.

 Remembering the old camping ban in which people were criminalized for simply laying down outside at night, we’ve made some strides with the allowance of tents being erected. Noting the membership of the current city council, it’s highly likely this new ordinance will pass. People who sleep outside need more than what’s being offered, so in addition to encouraging a
“no” vote, what’s our compromise move in order to make sense of things and to help benefit those who sleep outside? 

 Please contact your city council persons – contact info at the end of this email.

I recommend these amendments:

  • If the city is to allow overnight camping, then the parks are most fitting for these encampment areas.  Parks aren’t used by the general public at night so it’s only logical that parkland be used for these over-night encampment spaces. People will break camp in the morning leaving the park open to be enjoyed by all.
  • The above, begs the question of where the tent storage locations are to be situated, and it follows that these be located as near-to the tent areas as possible; the city parks.
  • An allowance of Agreement Camps in limited parkland by those who can maintain the agreements.  Harvey West Park has such a camp that’s been successfully in-place and without complaint for as long as 4 months.
  • There should be an opportunity for churches and non-profits to operate managed transitional encampments under a city and/or county permit.

Truly,  Brent Adams – Director Warming Center/Footbridge Homeless Services 

“Developed nations with the best healthcare, family leave, vacation & retirement benefits: 

1) Denmark 
2) The Netherlands 
3) Finland 
4) Sweden 
5) Switzerland 
6) Norway 
7) Germany 
8) UK 
9) Canada 
10) Japan 
30) United States – Dead last.

We must end this international embarrassment.”

Which Way Santa Cruz?

(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 ckrohn@cruzio.com

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CALFIRE WANTS TO PROHIBIT REBUILDING IN AREAS SUCH AS THE CZU FIRE ZONE
The State Board of Forestry is working fast and hard to prohibit those in areas devastated by fire from being able to rebuild.  This Wednesday, February 24, join the public workshop where the latest version of the Rulemaking will be heard.  If successful, CalFire could prevent many of the nearly 1,000 Santa Cruz County property owners whose homes and businesses destroyed in the CZU Fire from rebuilding or even placing an ADU on their property.

This is serious.

Here is an excerpt of the seven-page comment submitted to the Board by three agencies who support rural property owners and seek to preserve local control over land use policies:

“The proposal to flatly prohibit rebuilding of existing homes and businesses lost due to disaster within these “no-build” areas is more severe than the prior draft regulations and is especially ill-conceived. Rebuilding an existing home or business creates no new impact, no heightened fire risk, and no increased fire serve need. 

There is no nexus to require upgrades to existing public roads as a condition of rebuilding these structures. Moreover, prohibiting homeowners and small businesses who have lost everything from rebuilding their homes is unfair, particularly to under-insured and lower income residents who cannot simply afford to move elsewhere. 

The resulting displacement would also hinder achievement of the region’s housing goals, further exacerbating the housing and homelessness crisis. Board staff’s concern for “replicating an excessively hazardous situation” is notable, but this does not justify dispossessing residents of their homes and livelihoods. “

Here is information about links to the February 24 virtual workshop:

Update on Board of Forestry Proposed Regulations
This week RCRC, along with the California State Association of Counties and the Urban Counties of California, submitted comments to the Board of Forestry (BOF) on its latest draft of the State Fire Safe regulations, released February 8th.  The revised proposal was intended to address concerns expressed during regulatory workshops and in comment letters submitted to the BOF.  All public comments received by the BOF since the first workshop in November are now available for viewing on the BOF website and will be updated weekly.

The State Fire Safe regulations set forth basic wildfire protection standards for development in the State Responsibility Area and, beginning July 1, 2021, the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones of the Local Responsibility Area.  As reflected in our comments, the BOF proposal will have extremely detrimental impacts on rural areas of the state, essentially creating “no-build zones” in some communities, prohibiting all residential and commercial building construction, including disaster rebuilds.

The BOF has scheduled a public workshop for February 24 at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the revised draft rulemaking language.  For updates from the BOF on the Fire Safe Regulations and other activities of the BOF Resource Protection Committee, subscribe to email updates here.  And, for more information, please contact Tracy Rhine.

Contact Assemblyman Mark Stone and Senator John Laird right away.

MAKE ONE CALL.  WRITE ONE LETTER.  HELP YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY BE ABLE TO REBUILD BY SPEAKING UP AT THIS VIRTUAL MEETING.

Cheers,
Becky Steinbruner
685-2915

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

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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#47 / Say Goodbye To Normal 

February 16 

Roy Scranton is the director of the Notre Dame Environmental Humanities Initiative and the author of We’re Doomed. Now What? He has also authored Learning to Die in the Anthropocene. Immediately below, I am providing a couple of excerpts from Scranton’s column in the January 26, 2021, edition of The New York Times. In fact, I am also providing a copy of the entire column. I do so because I think that what Scranton has to say is important – and because I want to make sure that The Times’ paywall doesn’t prevent you from reading the whole thing. 

Here is an excerpt:

It’s easy to forget that 2020 gave us not just the pandemic, but also the West Coast’s worst fire season, as well as the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record. And, while we were otherwise distracted, 2020 also offered up near-record lows in Arctic sea icepossible evidence of significant methane release from Arctic permafrost and the Arctic Ocean, huge wildfires in both the Amazon and the Arcticshattered heat records (2020 rivaled 2016 for the hottest year on record)bleached coral reefs, the collapse of the last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic, and increasing odds that the global climate system has passed the point where feedback dynamics take over and the window of possibility for preventing catastrophe closes.

Trying to get back to “normal,” Scranton tells us, will simply confirm the trends that have gotten us to the place he has just identified. “Normal” will make sure that we do all “die in the Anthropocene.” Scranton would like to see a different outcome. And so would I. So, I presume, would you. 

If that is our objective, then we should pay attention to what Scranton has to tell us. Here is his column-ending appeal:

The next 20 years will be a period of deep uncertainty and tremendous risk, no matter what. We don’t get to choose what challenges we’ll face, but we do get to decide how we face them. The first thing we need to do is let go of the idea that life will ever be normal again — elsewhere, I’ve called this “learning how to die.” Beyond that, we need stop living through social media and start connecting with the people around us, since those are the people we’ll need to depend on the next time disaster strikes. And disaster will strike, you can be sure of that, so we must begin preparing today for the next shock to the social order, and the next, and the next.

None of this will matter, though, if our preparations don’t include imagining a new way of life beyond this one, after the end of fossil-fueled capitalism: not a new normal, but a new ethos adapted to the chaotic world we’ve created.

The full column is below. It is worth reading. 

Worth heeding! 

oooOOOooo

I’ve Said Goodbye to ‘Normal.’ 

You Should, Too.

Climate change is upending the world as we know it, and coping with it demands widespread, radical action.

The other night, I went to pick up takeout at a local Irish pub. It was a gray and rainy evening at the end of a long week, and my partner and I were suffering from Zoom fatigue. We love this pub not just because it has good food, but because it’s a living part of our community. Pre-Covid, they used to have Irish traditional music sessions, and any cold and snowy night you’d be greeted with a burst of cheer, a packed house, friends and families all out for a cozy good time.

Now it’s a ghostly quiet. Social distancing rules mean that even at max capacity, it still only has a tiny fraction of its usual clientele. Standing in that empty pub, haunted by the sense of what we were missing, I felt an ache for “normal” as acute as any homesickness I ever felt — even when I served in the Army in Iraq. I still feel the twinge every time I put on my mask. I want our normal lives back.

But what does normal even mean anymore?

It’s easy to forget that 2020 gave us not just the pandemic, but also the West Coast’s worst fire season, as well as the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record. And, while we were otherwise distracted, 2020 also offered up near-record lows in Arctic sea ice, possible evidence of significant methane release from Arctic permafrost and the Arctic Ocean, huge wildfires in both the Amazon and the Arctic, shattered heat records (2020 rivaled 2016 for the hottest year on record), bleached coral reefs, the collapse of the last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic, and increasing odds that the global climate system has passed the point where feedback dynamics take over and the window of possibility for preventing catastrophe closes.

President Biden has recommitted the United States to the Paris Agreement, which is great except that it doesn’t really mean much, since that agreement’s commitments are voluntary. And it might not even matter whether signatories meet their commitments, since their pledges weren’t rigorous enough to keep global warming “well below” two degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels to begin with. According to Climate Action Tracker, a collaborative analysis from independent science nonprofits, only Morocco and Gambia have made commitments compatible with the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, and the commitments made by several major emitters, including China, Russia, Japan and the United States, are “highly insufficient” or “critically insufficient.”

It’s also worth noting that the two degrees Celsius benchmark is somewhat arbitrary and possibly fantastic, since it’s not clear that the earth’s climate would be safe or stable at that temperature. In the words of a widely discussed research summary published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, even if the Paris Agreement targets are met, “we cannot exclude the risk that a cascade of feedbacks could push the Earth System irreversibly onto a ‘Hothouse Earth’ pathway.”

More alarming, recent observed increases in atmospheric methane, a greenhouse gas more than 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over the short term, are so large that if they continue they could effectively overwhelm the pledged emissions reductions in the Paris Agreement, even if those reductions were actually happening. Which they’re not.

Meanwhile, the earth’s climate seems to be changing faster than expected. Take the intensifying slowdown in the North Atlantic current, a global warming side effect made famous by the film “The Day After Tomorrow.” According to the climatologist Michael Mann, “We are 50 years to 100 years ahead of schedule with the slowdown of this ocean circulation pattern, relative to what the models predict … The more observations we get, the more sophisticated our models become, the more we’re learning that things can happen faster, and with a greater magnitude, than we predicted just years ago.”

In 2019, the Greenland ice sheet briefly reached daily melt rates predicted in what were once considered worst-case scenarios for 2060 to 2080. Recent research indicates that rapidly thawing permafrost may release twice as much carbon dioxide and methane than previously thought, which is pretty bad news, because other recent research shows very cold Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years earlier than expected.

Going back to normal now means returning to a course that will destabilize the conditions for all human life, everywhere on earth. Normal means more fires, more category 5 hurricanes, more flooding, more drought, millions upon millions more migrants fleeing famine and civil war, more crop failures, more storms, more extinctions, more record-breaking heat. Normal means the increasing likelihood of civil unrest and state collapse, of widespread agricultural failure and collapsing fisheries, of millions of people dying from thirst and hunger, of new diseases, old diseases spreading to new places and the havoc of war. Normal could well mean the end of global civilization as we know it.

I remember last March, in the first throes of the pandemic, when normal was upended. Everything shut down. We hoarded toilet paper and pasta. Fear gripped the nation.

I was afraid, too: I was afraid for my mother, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. I was afraid for my sister, whose husband works in a prison. I was afraid for my cousin, who’s a nurse. I was afraid for my country, under the leadership of an incompetent and seemingly deranged president.

But along with the fear, I remembered a lesson I’d learned in Iraq. I’d been a soldier in Baghdad in 2003-2004, where I saw what happens when the texture of the everyday is ripped apart. I realized that what we call social life was like a vast and complex game, with imaginary rules we all agreed to follow, fictions we turned into fact through institutions, stories, and daily repetition. Some of the rules were old, deeply ingrained and resilient. Some were so tenuous they’d barely survive a hard wind.

What I saw in Iraq was that every time you shock the system, something breaks. Sometimes those breaks never heal. There’s no way we can undo the damage we did to Iraq or bring back the lives lost to Covid. But sometimes those breaks are openings. Sometimes those breaks are opportunities to do things differently.

In March last year, watching an unknown plague stalk the land, I felt fear, but I also felt hope: the hope that this virus, as horrible as it might be, could also give us the chance to really understand and internalize the fragility and transience of our collective existence. I hoped we might recognize not only that fossil-fuel-driven consumer capitalism was likely to destroy everything we loved, but that we might actually be able to do something about it.

As the pandemic has worn on, the desire to get back to normal has increased, and I worry that the hope for radical positive change has subsided. But we must not let it dissipate. We can’t afford to. Because we won’t see “normal” again in our lifetimes. Our parents and grandparents burned normal up in their American-built cars, with their American lifestyles, their American refrigerators and American dreams. And now China and India are doing it, too, because capitalism is global, and we sold it wherever we could. More than three-quarters of all industrial CO2 emissions have occurred since 1945, and more than half have occurred since 1988 — since we knew what global warming was and what a danger it posed.

Now, as a new administration takes office and we look ahead to life after both Covid and Donald Trump, we need to face the fact that the world we live in is changing into something else, and that coping with the consequences of global warming demands immediate, widespread, radical action.

The next 20 years will be a period of deep uncertainty and tremendous risk, no matter what. We don’t get to choose what challenges we’ll face, but we do get to decide how we face them. The first thing we need to do is let go of the idea that life will ever be normal again — elsewhere, I’ve called this “learning how to die.” Beyond that, we need stop living through social media and start connecting with the people around us, since those are the people we’ll need to depend on the next time disaster strikes. And disaster will strike, you can be sure of that, so we must begin preparing today for the next shock to the social order, and the next, and the next.

None of this will matter, though, if our preparations don’t include imagining a new way of life beyond this one, after the end of fossil-fueled capitalism: not a new normal, but a new ethos adapted to the chaotic world we’ve created.

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

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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

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

    POLITICAL POWER

“There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands”.
~Plato 

“I spend all day figuring out how to beat the machine and knock the crap out of the political power structure”.
~Bella Abzug 

“The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth – that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community – and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.” ~Wendell Berry

This is a delight to watch. Beautiful choreography, talented fire dancing, an all around joy!


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

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

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

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