Blog Archives

February 3 – 9, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Flu shots and Covid Vaccine, Literary Guillotine, Girl Scout Cookies, movie critiques. GREENSITE…UCSC Long Range Destruction Plan. KROHN…Council meetings, zoom meetings, 831 Water Street meetings, AOC tweet of the week. STEINBRUNER…$400,000 gift to Swenson & Aptos Village, 831 Water Street community meeting…who listens, Board of Supes and censorship, Fair grounds unfair to evacuees. PATTON…The Devil and the New Deal. EAGAN…classic Deep Covers and Subconscious Comics. QUOTES…”Masks”


COOPER HOUSE (Santa Cruz County Court House) October 30, 1961. This was a Civil Defense Fallout shelter display. The sign on the commercial shelter on the left says it costs in four figures, compared to the do-it-yourself sand bagger one, which only runs $35 !!!                                                     

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE February 1

FLU SHOTS OR COVID VACCINE??? As I sit (and stand and sulk)  patiently waiting for my covid shot, and read so much about the troubles we in the USA have with getting the vaccine, I think we would all be better off if we knew the truth behind the distribution problem. We have no problem going to CVS or Safeway and getting flu or shingle shots… so why the difference? What government officials, or which department, decided this system wouldn’t work as efficiently?  

LITERARY GUILLOTINE NEWS!  David Bolam sent definite proof that the Literary Guillotine that I mentioned under last week’s historic photo is gone. He says, David Watson flipped the sign in the doorway of The Literary Guillotine on Dec.31, 2019, notifying passersby and customers that the bookstore was closing, this time for good. Feb 7, 2020″ Watson ran the bookstore for 30 years. City on a Hill Press: Remembering the Literary Guillotine

GIRL SCOUT COOKIES REPLY. Sara Cloud sent this note after my attack against the cookies last week. “I was glad you talked about the Girl Scout cookie boycott. I agree that it’s a misuse of girls’ energy and need to support their projects. Years ago I ran into a Girl Scout that was boycotting the cookie sale because of the palm oil, and it educated me on the whole issue which is quite critical for the ecology of Indonesia and the life of orangutans. Since then I’ve noticed how many products are using palm oil. Almost every cookie sold by Trader Joe’s contains palm oil ,and I don’t mean the organic palm oil which I assume might be grown more ecologically.”  

LOSING ALICE. (Series) Filmed and set in contemporary Israel, a female film director is facing getting older while raising three daughters, and living with her husband who’s a famous movie star. Much sensitive game are played between them, as they deal with a beautiful young screenwriter 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.

THE DIG. You can’t beat the pairing of Britain’s Carey Mulligan and Ralph (“Rafe”) Fiennes in this movie set in 1939, centering on the excavation of an Anglo-Saxon burial ship named Sutton Hoo from the seventh century. The British Museum claims 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”. 

PENGUIN BLOOM. (Single) One of the most shallow, corny, cutesy movies in decades. Naomi Watts becomes wheelchair bound, and a magpie named penguin is supposed to be some message to her to keep living. It’s a 100% Australian production, which adds some interest, but it’s so treacly you’ll have a tough time staying with its predictable and weak plot.

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI. 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 bigtime director achievements.

WHITE TIGER.(Single) A wonderful story and movie from a book about the class system in India. It takes place in Delhi and centers on Balram a young boy who grows from a very wise to near genius level in fighting India’s rigid social structure. Struggling upwards in the illegal government system Balram succeeds and ends up controlling a business of his own. A long war between servants, ruling classes, mobsters, and family ties, it’s brilliant, go for it by all means.

THE RIPPER.(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.

GIRI / HAJI. (Series) Giri Haji means Duty/Shame. Tricky, involved, many flashbacks, stabbings and only a fair series.  It’s set in London and Tokyo where a detective goes searching for his gang involved brother.  Yakusas (Mafia) battle each other and share very weak promises and loyalties to their gangs.  No standout acting or direction, it just seems to go in circles with no purpose. You can easily avoid this one, and no-one will know the difference. Trust me.  

BRIDGERTON. (Series) Set in 1813 London this is a poor copy of Downton Abbey (1912-1926). Even the music background sounds like Downton Abbey, but the acting is miserable, the casting lacks class and the sub plots are boring. One interesting thing is that the casting is multi-racial. That means there are blacks and Asians in roles that seem out of historical accuracy, but it is odd to think about what the real times were like. Julie Andrews does the entire voice over for the series, but it doesn’t help the overall phoniness. 

KILL BILL, parts one and two. Quentin Tarantino created a masterpiece of movies with these dramas. Uma Thurman and David Carradine keep us totally absorbed in this saga of blood, sweat and brilliance. Sure you’ve seen it before (back in    ) but watch it again, there’s so many subtle touches we missed the first time.

PRETEND IT’S A CITY.(SERIES) 86 on rt. There are seven episodes in this diatribe about New York City by author and critic Fran Lebowitz. Martin Scorsese is both her producer and her interviewer and enabler as Fran takes apart the many sides of why people live in New York. If you like or even love New York City you’ll howl over the issues, problems and challenges she makes such good fun of hour after hour. High rents, street crimes, crowds, weather, she covers them all.

TIGER. 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. (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.

SURVIVING DEATH. (SERIES)There are 6 episodes, near-death experience, mediums (2 parts) signs from the dead, seeing dead people and reincarnation. The first one on near death experience reports on hundreds of folks who have died and experienced some startling sites. The two parts on mediums seems too hokey. If you’ve ever wondered about seeing ghosts watch the last two parts. It’s well done and even informative…no matter what/how you believe. 

LUPIN. (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.(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.

NOTES FOR MY SON (SINGLE). An 80 on R.T. this is a nearly true to life sad saga of a well known Argentine woman is dying of ovarian cancer. She’s got a 4 year old son and an engrossing husband who combine to make this a vastly superior movie. It deals with assisted suicide, euthanasia, sedated death in a completely realistic way. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the emotions, and it’s a fine movie.

THE MIRE (SERIES). A Polish murder mystery taking place in the early 80’s . An important community leader and a prostitute are found dead and some competing journalists/ writer’s  search for the guilty guy or woman will keep you centered. Well done, nicely acted, and another season is coming soon.

February 1

When it comes to overblown growth, we are used to sugarcoated rhetoric from the city. UCSC’s latest Long Range Development Plan takes the cake. There are so many examples you need to read it yourself here. Just a few and by no means the worst. 

Under the Aesthetics section of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) we are assured that new development “will be consistent with existing compatible facilities.” There is much space devoted to the beauty of the campus and the past careful design and siting of buildings. They are fond of quoting early campus leaders, so here’s one they didn’t include from Landscape Architect Thomas Church in 1963: “The buildings are less important in the visual composition than the trees.” And so it was until now. Below is a before and after of current Family Student Housing (slated to be bulldozed and re-built on the East Meadow) and the proposed new Student Housing West. This mega- complex is not yet built but is approved to accommodate past student growth so is not included in the 2021 DEIR. If this is the new yardstick, imagine what is forthcoming with the plan to grow Building Space from the existing, 2 million Assignable Square Footage (ASF) to the proposed 5 million ASF?

Even if the aesthetics of new construction on campus or visible from off-campus doesn’t concern you, the provision of housing for the additional 9,482 students and 2,550 employees probably does. Expect to see much written from UCSC and in the local press on how UCSC will house ALL additional students on campus. While this may lull the community into thinking the problem has been taken care of, don’t believe it. Not only is it not accurate it is highly misleading. Under the DEIR question (Table 3.13-11): “Would All of the Increased Housing Demand be Accommodated On-Campus?” their answer is No. 

Beyond the increased housing demand from additional growth, remember that the growth is on top of the current 19, 500 students plus employees. If all the growth is realized, total campus numbers will be around 34,000 (students, staff and faculty.) Half of the total students and seventy five per cent of new employees will be seeking housing off-campus despite new students and 25% of new employees being accommodated on campus. That means around 17 thousand UCSC affiliates will be looking for housing off-campus compared to the current 10 thousand.

Now it gets interesting.  Given the above, one would expect a DEIR to find at least some significant off-campus housing impacts requiring mitigation. But it doesn’t. They inform us they aren’t studying the planned growth impacts, only unplanned growth. In their words:

Such cool manipulation: Impacts of the planned campus population growth neatly swept away. The DEIR does address (although not study) the planned-for numbers and with reassurance to none but themselves or those standing to make money from growth, says: “Existing data on the city’s vacancy rates (5.6%) as well as planned developments nearby, suggest that housing is generally available within the county and city to accommodate additional students, faculty and staff and non-UC employees (contractors etc) for whom on campus housing would not be accommodated.”

If you’ve ever wondered who will be living in the overbuilt, expensive new mixed-use developments planned, approved or being built in town, you’ve got the answer.

Forget water being a limiting factor. The campus karst topography (underground caves) is filled with water just waiting the drill even if the city hadn’t made a legal commitment to supply UCSC with city water, short of the upper campus.

The LRDP is laced with feel-good meaningless jargon such as “UCSC strives to be a valuable community partner and is committed to mutually advantageous growth”.  (Measure U: 77% wants no more UCSC growth). And of course they have made a “commitment to climate adaptability, social justice and inclusion, and equity and access, to guide a responsible planning approach.” Expect a whole lot more rhetoric along these lines. The smiling faces of students of color peering down at us from one of the campus’ bridges will be the theme.

Their ace, they believe, is that in the early days of campus planning the expectation was that UCSC would have a student population of 27,000 by the 1990’s. They take pains to remind us of that at every opportunity. Perhaps they should re-read Chancellor Dean McHenry’s words from 1963, with which they end their Executive Summary: 

We have tried to plan ahead…but the future is dimly seen at best, and change will undoubtedly be made from time to time.”

McHenry was aware of the 27,000, projected future student number. I have a hunch in light of the subsequent environmental movement and current knowledge of species decline, the speculation in housing with inflated values and the pressures of growth on the town; he would support a reduced student enrollment at UCSC, especially with the availability of an additional campus at UC Merced with an enrollment of around 8,000 students. 

UCSC may feel it has an ace in hand with that outdated number but we have a full house. 

Try to attend one or both of the UCSC zoom meetings on the LRDP and DEIR on Wednesday and Thursday of this week (2/3 & 2/4) from 5-7PM. Register here

You don’t have to be an expert, just a concerned member of the community. The only tool available to us is massive community opposition to further UCSC growth. And be mindful that such growth is not in students’ best interests. Luring students to the most expensive UC community is callous and prospective students are largely unaware of the housing cost crisis in our community. 

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.


Meetings, Meetings, Meetings
Most educational, work-related, activist-related, and city council business has been relegated to Zoom since last April. Of course, not all Zoom meetings are equal. Most Zoom meetings allow participants to see each other, if folks have their cameras on, and communicate individually or collectively through the “chat” function. The chat function is perhaps the only improved benefit to on-line meetings vs. in-person ones, aside from seeing a long-lost relative in Bangor, Maine on a family reunion chat, for example. On the other hand, zoom meetings can be abused by those running the meeting. The Santa Cruz city council meetings are a case in point. 

Council Meetings
Council meetings are considerably more degraded, alienating, and have even taken on darker political contours, than the pre-Zoom ones. The city bureaucracy refuses to allow meeting participants to see one another or even to use the chat function during regular city council meetings. While the public is almost entirely shut-down from seeing one another, the councilmembers and city staff can be seen preening, popping off, and parrying just a little bit as they have access the normal Zoom functions. When it comes time for the public to participate there are many dropped calls and missed opportunities on the part of the public due to the difficulty of figuring out the exact time that the public might be able to participate. Without seeing fellow colleagues, activists, and community members in the Zoom room, or city council chambers the forces that work against democracy are out in full force and looking to get their development approvals from a compliant council, one they paid for (see campaign donation statements here). In fact, those two to three current councilmembers who hold public comments in utter contempt are probably much happier living in Zoom world, but the rest of us have been placed on “hold” as we wait to be vaccinated and allowed back into the people’s chamber at city hall once again. Of course, the council could hold outdoor sessions with proper social distancing, or indoor public sessions at the Civic Auditorium during this Governor-directed public health “purple period” we are now in. Certainly, a public council meeting in the parking lot under the solar panels behind city hall is at least as important as being able to sit down for a “Mike’s Mess” in the Zachary’s restaurant parking off Pacific Avenue. If you think about this comparison for long your head might explode, or you might just realize how certain councilmembers are delighted not to have the public present during “their” city council soirée every other week.

Meetings, cont.
The Zoom meetings just keep piling up. On one hand, it is functionally easier to just sit down and parachute into any gathering, political or social, by the magic of pushing on computer keys. But frankly, it is often emotionally stultifying not seeing friends up close, hugging or high-fiving and checking in with the minor chit-chat before a city meeting begins and ends. We all experience some loss of feeling and therefore the political outcome is affected. How? If we met in-person, there is body language, which does indeed effect decision-makers–commissioners, councilmembers, supervisors–and their body language, faces, rhetorical maneuvering have affects on the audience members present as well. I attended six meetings this past week and missed three others I had planned to attend because of on-going work and writing commitments. Zoom leaves much to be desired, especially the soul that gives us life, it’s hard over Zoom. One meeting, attended by almost 300, while different and also somewhat anonymous and alienating, it did afford the community an opportunity to hear from the developer class, an exchange of information and public comments over the planned 151-unit, 6-story, 2-tower project, 831 Water Street.

831 Water Street
First of all, the “831 Water St.” proposed project actually includes 823, 825, 827, and 833 Water Street, according to the Santa Cruz city planning web page.  The city planners state on their web page, “The Project is requesting a maximum State Density Bonus of 35% pursuant to providing a minimum of 11% of the base density units as affordable to Very Low Income households, however the Project may provide as much as 51% of units as affordable to households between 30% and 80% of Area Median Income.”On the face of it, the numbers are impressive. Hard to bypass on that level of affordability. The developers do tout “51% affordable” units being built in this project. I am not sure how they will get there. Isn’t that what Santa Cruz longs for? The devil is in the details. 

The Project
The building will be 59-feet high with a roof-top bar, which would arguably bring the space to well above 60 feet with people drinking and dancing on top. The site sits across form Branciforte elementary school. The size and massing, in the pictures offered by the developers stands tall and taller and will shadow the neighborhood, which its backside abuts (see below). The neighbors knew little about the project coming in to the meeting and most were not asked for their input as to size and neighborhood compatibility as that might’ve saved the severe criticism the project is receiving by locals. Indeed, the developer was only meeting its requirement by holding this 200-plus Hollywood Squares Zoom extravaganza. Finally, the building appears to be institutional, boarding on retro-prison or antiquated dormitory-style. But yet, there is that affordability component. It’s huge. I would urge the developers to hold a series of meeting with neighbors and interested SC community groups. They could be neighborhood planning sessions with tables and pieces to move around, charrette-style, and see what is possible and most acceptable to the greatest number of those who will be affected by such an enormous physical imposition plopped down onto the edge of a pretty tranquil eastside neighborhood.

Top Ten List on why 831 Water St. Should be Re-thought
The meeting last week attracted more people, almost 300, than I’ve seen since the 700-plus who showed up at the Civic Auditorium in 1999 to discuss the entry of the now long-closed Borders Bookstore(now Forever21)into the Pacific Ave business zone. Those facilitating the Zoom discussion did a pretty good job of not cutting people off (is city council listening?) and community members responded by offering generally cogent and succinct remarks, most not so welcoming to the project. So, when it came my time, I offered my top ten list of why the community will likely reject the 151 mostly cubicle-style units (ONLY two 2-bedroom apartments proposed).

  • #10–The number of residents present on this Zoom meeting reflects the great concern in this community about the project (over 200 are still on the Zoom call after two hours);
  • #9–I am not a YIMBY, Yes in My Backyard because all housing is NOT equal. 
  • #8–Santa Cruz is way over its limit in building market-rate housing and way under on low, and very low affordable units…there’s not a “housing crisis,” there’s an affordable housing crisis;
  • #7–What happened to Spanish-colonial/California colonial architecture in Santa Cruz? Look no further than across the street at 708 Water to see a moderating architectural example. We need to honor the once-thriving Villa Branciforte.
  • #6–There will be two EV-charging spots as part of the project. TWO!?
  • #5–Why all the studio and one-bedroom apartments? What happened to family-style 2,3,4-bedroom apartments? Who is this project really for?
  • #4–If you want this project to be successful you must commit to submitting a full-blown EIR–environmental impact report–to gain support and confidence of the community.
  • #3–The poll you attempted during the meeting was folly. It was in the form a “push poll,” one designed to lead those participating towards the development goals of the project.
  • #2–I am not so sure Santa Cruz wants this project, as is.
  • #1–The ill-fated, under the radar “Corridors Plan” was killed not long ago by an eastside voter uprising resulting in a newly elected city council majority cancelling it in 2019.

PLEASE NOTE: ReImagine Santa Cruz is presenting a conference, Is Affordable Housing Possible? on Feb. 4-5, this Thursday and Friday. To find out more information and who the featured guest speakers and panelists are go to:

“Imagine thinking that ‘healthcare is a human right’ vs. white supremacist conspiracy theories are two views “just as extreme” as the other.” (Jan. 30)

Hey, Belvedere neighborhood, meet your new neighbors! 831 Water Street, at corner of Branciforte.

(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

February 1

Santa Cruz County Public Works just got a $400,000 grant from the Monterey Bay Air Resources District (MBARD) to coordinate all five traffic lights in the Aptos Village area, promising the carbon emissions will decrease because everyone can just zoom along without having to stop at each light.  Will that really work? 

The $400,000 grant of public monies, approved by the Board of Supervisors as Consent Agenda Item #44 last week, will help reduce the cost, which was supposed to be already covered, thanks to multiple large state and federal grants administered by the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission. 

“Financial Impact 

At this time, the overall estimated project cost is $550,000 for the Aptos Area Adaptive Traffic Control System project. The AB2766 Grant will provide $400,000 towards the estimated project cost, under 621100/62330. A local match of $65,000 in soft costs is budgeted in this fiscal year 2020-21 CSA 9 funds. The remaining local match of $85,000 will come from various transportation funding sources and will be budgeted in the years that the funds will be spent.”

Why does the matching funding have to come from CSA 9 and other County transportation projects?  The project was initially fully funded for the budgeted amount to include the $550,000 cost to synchronize the lights.  This Project has been the County’s top priority for getting grant money from the RTC for the past 5 years.  

It remains to be seen, but the current Phase 2 Aptos Village Traffic Improvement work at Aptos Creek Road is supposed to wrap up on February 11, according to the County traffic delay warning signs in the Village.  According to Project Manager, Ms. Cristina Crocker, the highly contaminated railroad bed soils excavated for the railroad crossing, and that have been stored and draining onto Swenson’s Phase 2 development were scheduled to get hauled off Friday, January 29,  to the Class 1 landfill in Kettleman City…over 170 miles away.

Where is the new railroad signal that the PUC requires be installed?  No sign if it being yet delivered.

Here is the County’s timeline for work remaining:  Aptos Village Improvement

Several members of the public wrote comments to the Board during last Tuesday’s January 26 meeting, and should have been read publicly by the Clerk of the Board.  However, the Clerk read NO comments that members of the public submitted on any agenda item.  One woman spoke up, protesting that she had submitted written comment during the meeting on previous agenda items, but none were read.

2021/01/26 09:00 AM Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting – Web Outline – Santa Cruz County, CA

The Clerk did not read any comments throughout the meeting.  Another blow to public participation. 

There were over 300 people logged on to the 831 Water Street Project Zoom meeting last Wednesday, January 27.  The meeting went on for three and a half hours, with many excellent points raised.   How can the developer claim that adding white stucco to the facade of the two five-story modern structures satisfy  the City’s requirement that the architecture blend with the historic mission style, Villa de Branciforte adobe character?  How can anything about what is proposed fit with the character of the neighborhood?  Many, many people pointed out that it just doesn’t!

The project construction would not likely provide many local jobs, either, as the developer plans to have the buildings prefabricated in a factory (somewhere else and transported in) as modular units that could be installed within a matter of just two weeks.   That is purely a cost-saving measure that was attempted to be sold as a means of reducing construction noise and dust for the neighborhood.

We learned that all 77 affordable units (most are 342 SF) would be separated into one building, and the more spacious “Workforce housing” would be in the other building, the one with the 2000 SF full bar on top.   We also learned that the project would only provide TWO electric car charging stations, total.  

Most importantly, we learned that this project is the first in this area in which a developer has applied for eligibility under SB 35, the Affordable Housing Streamlining Act, authored by Senator Scott Wiener and approved by the Governor in 2017.  The City Attorney is reviewing that, and must notify the developer in writing if the project conflicts with any City design requirements.  If the City does not notify the developer in writing of any conflicts, it is assumed that there are no conflicts, and the project is ministerially deemed approved, without any further public hearing.  

Many people asked for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project.  But if the City Attorney deems this project qualifies under SB 35, the developer would not have to conduct any environmental assessment for traffic, water, archaeology, noise, hydrology, impacts to neighborhood shading, cumulative impacts to the area, or any project alternative.

Several people compared the developer of the Calvary Housing Plan that had come before the City Council just the night before.  That developer is voluntarily conducting a full EIR for that project: View Meeting – OnBase Agenda Online   

Read more about SB 35 here

This law expires January 1, 2026

Many are still wondering why the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds was not “ready” when the County and CalFire issued evacuation orders last Sunday, January 24.  Equine Evacuation leaders were informed at 3pm on Sunday that the Fairgrounds were not available for animal sheltering needs, but without reason.

When asked to respond to public questioning on the issue at the County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, January 26, Assistant CAO Michelle Coburn stated it was true that Equine Evac. volunteers were “triaging” large animal shelters throughout the County, but using Quail Hollow Ranch County Park as a headquarter.  Usually, the Graham Hill Showgrounds in Felton would be that spot, but PG&E leased the space 100%, so it was not available.  

Read this report in the January 26 Santa Cruz Sentinel about the problem:  Equine Evacuation helps find temporary homes for San Lorenzo Valley horses

Although Fairgrounds Manager Dave Kegebein stated the Fairgrounds would be “ready” on Wednesday, January 27, it was of no valuable assistance because by Tuesday late afternoon, the storm had made evacuation efforts too dangerous for the volunteers.  Equine Evac. volunteer teams halted trailering any animals to shelter after 4pm on Tuesday.

It did not help that on Wednesday and Thursday, during the storm, that the Fairgrounds livestock entry gate was locked, and the limited number of shelter spaces for animals were barricaded and not accessible.(see photo) 

Also troubling was that neither the Harvest Building nor the Crosetti Building were available for any of the 5,000 people who evacuated to seek shelter from the potentially life-threatening debris flows predicted.  The Fairgrounds rented out the Harvest Building to a hot tub and spa show.  The Crosetti Building was in use for COVID inoculations, even though it was half-full of the empty tents the CZU Fire evacuees had used in August and September, and the ten portable canopy tents set up in the parking lot for that vaccination effort that had just begun on Monday January 25, were not being used at all.. 

Fifth District Supervisor Bruce McPherson sent out a list of local hotels for those who had to evacuate, along with the locations of three Evacuation Points that provided no inside shelter, just a parking lot for RV’s.

The County has a valid 30-year contract with the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds to provide emergency shelter in times of disaster.  The County paid to install an industrial kitchen in the Harvest Building for mass feeding of those sheltered at the Fairgrounds.  But that building was full of hot tubs and spas last week, when the evacuees needed it most.

Please contact County Supervisors and ask why things were so chaotic, and the 5,000 evacuees were left without any emergency shelter for themselves or their animals.  831-454-2200


In an effort to remain brief here, I want to simply list a few events and bits of information.

  1. Santa Cruz City Water Shortage Plan…how would it affect your business (if you still have one left)?  

    The City of Santa Cruz Water Department is partnering with the Santa Cruz County Business Council and Chamber of Commerce to host an input session on their Water Contingency Plan, which governs what restrictions will be adopted when, in the event of a sustained water shortage. Thankfully, we as a community have made a lot of strides in bolstering the resiliency of our collective system, having made it easier to share water between districts, created a county wide groundwater management framework and plan, and explored the potential for supplemental supply options down the road. Yet the potential for a water shortfall is still very real, and could have a major impact on your business. Learn more and RSVP using the links below.

    Business Input Session on Santa Cruz Water Department Water Contingency Plan
    Thursday, February 4th, 2021
    1:30pm – 3:00pm
    Virtually Via Zoom

  2. Santa Cruz City Water Rates Will Be Going Up… See pages 7.1-7.19 of the City Water Commission February 1, 2021 agenda

    The Ad Hoc Committee recommends”Scenario #4″ with a 10% annual rate increase in 2023-2027 to achieve $658 million in project costs over 15 years.

  3. Soquel Creek Water District Continues to Pump and Sell Water in Seascape with High Chromium 6:
     See page 37.

    but the new Granite Way Well in the Aptos Village Project is a low-producer (see page 38)

     “In 2019, the District had adequate source capacity to meet the 10-year PHD of 1.4 MG.” See page 40

    (So is it really necessary to pressure -inject treated sewage water into the aquifer, claiming an emergency???)

    Item 7.1, page 52: Why does the Maplethorpe developer, John Swift, have to pay full fees up front for this development, but the Board re-affirmed and extended  the special privilege granted Swenson and the Aptos Vilalge Project, not making them pay fees up front???   (see the 12/15 public hearing, Item 2.1)

  4. The Monterey Peninsula Water Shortage Could Be Solved With Flow From the Salinas River.  So Why Isn’t It?


Cheers, Becky 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


January 28
#28 / The Devil And The Green New Deal

The New York Times article from which I grabbed the picture above is headlined as follows: “People Actually Like the Green New Deal.” That strikes me as a kind of surprising headline, since I tend to think, “What’s not to like?”

The Green New Deal resolution that was introduced into the Congress in February 2019 is described as follows in the official press release that announced its introduction:

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) today introduced a Green New Deal resolution in both the Senate and House of Representatives that would create millions of good, high-wage jobs in the United States, provide unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security for Americans, and counteract systemic injustices – all while addressing the existential challenge of climate change. Recent landmark studies such as the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report and the U.S. National Climate Assessment Fourth Report have made it clear that we need bold action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and we may have as few as 12 years to achieve it. The extreme weather, storms, droughts, and wildfires of recent years have made the worsening effects of climate change impossible to ignore.

Senator Markey and Congress Member Ocasio-Cortez (both of whom are pictured above) were joined by a number of co-sponsors, who also signed onto the Green New Deal resolution. Those co-sponsors included Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and our current vice-president, then a Senator, Kamala Harris. 

Markey and Ocasio-Cortez are certainly right about the need to take immediate action to deal with our global warming crisis. If we can do that in a way that will “create millions of good, high-wage jobs,” that seems likes a legislative winner to me. As I say, “What’s not to like?”

Well, it does appear that not everybody likes the Green New Deal – and I am not talking about benighted Republicans and corporate CEOs, either – those who are dedicated to maximizing corporate profits even if doing that brings on a “Sixth Extinction.” 

As it turns out, a number of very sincere environmentalists are expressing concern about the whole Green New Deal concept. Jasper Bernes, writing in Commune, is one of the critics. He titles his critique, “Between The Devil and the Green New Deal.” More extreme in her views is Cory Morningstar, who seems to believe that there is a carefully coordinated and malign effort to promulgate a destructive Green New Deal program, and this effort involves both the global corporate elite and what she calls “the non-profit industrial complex.” 

I must say that I discount the idea that there is a bonafide conspiracy by groups like Conservation International and the World Economic Forum to go to war against both humanity and nature, all in the name of world domination and increased profits for the corporations that have already come pretty close to ruling the world. This is, pretty much, the charge levelled by Morningstar.

Other concerns, however, I do think have some validity. Here, for instance, is how Bernes begins his article: 

From space, the Bayan Obo mine in China, where 70 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals are extracted and refined, almost looks like a painting. The paisleys of the radioactive tailings ponds, miles long, concentrate the hidden colors of the earth: mineral aquamarines and ochres of the sort a painter might employ to flatter the rulers of a dying empire. 

To meet the demands of the Green New Deal, which proposes to convert the US economy to zero emissions, renewable power by 2030, there will be a lot more of these mines gouged into the crust of the earth. That’s because nearly every renewable energy source depends upon non-renewable and frequently hard-to-access minerals: solar panels use indium, turbines use neodymium, batteries use lithium, and all require kilotons of steel, tin, silver, and copper. The renewable-energy supply chain is a complicated hopscotch around the periodic table and around the world. To make a high-capacity solar panel, one might need copper (atomic number 29) from Chile, indium (49) from Australia, gallium (31) from China, and selenium (34) from Germany. Many of the most efficient, direct-drive wind turbines require a couple pounds of the rare-earth metal neodymium, and there’s 140 pounds of lithium in each Tesla.

This is, in essence, the same argument that was advanced by Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore in Planet of the Humans – although Bernes addresses the basic point in a slightly different context. 

I have written about the Gibbs-Moore movie previously, and I wrote about it pretty positively, because I do think it is important to admit that our first instinct is often to believe that some new “technology” is going to solve the problems caused by the way we have developed and deployed our earlier technologies. That is often a huge mistake. 

We, as humans, are quite enamored with our own great capabilities, so if Mother Nature is telling us that our civilization is “Out of Balance” (to reference another, much earlier environmental movie, Koyaanisqatsi), then we tend to think that our task is to solve that problem ourselves. In fact, quite often, our real task is to realize that we are the problem!

The critics of the Green New Deal that I am talking about are concerned that when we start talking about amping up our economy as we try to deal with our global warming crisis, we can easily become confused. 

We are, in fact, way “out of balance,” and a bigger economy is not what is called for. What is called for is a reorganization of how we live together and conduct our lives within the limits established by the laws that govern the World of Nature. 

We do live, ultimately, in that World of Nature, and not in the human world that we create. This failure to understand the utter dependence of our own, humanly-created world on the world that we did not create, and in which we find ourselves so marvelously and mysteriously alive, is the general cause of many of our problems. It is definitely the cause of the global warming crisis that now threatens our species, and many more, and everything we have established over thousands of years of human civilization. 

I am in favor of dealing with economic injustice as we also take steps to reorient our relationship to the World of Nature, and to turn away from an economic and political system that always wants more, and that wastes more, day by day.  

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


“Do they love you or the mask you put on everyday?”  
~Shimika Bowers

“The irony of life is that those who wear masks often tell us more truths than those with open faces.”  
~Marie Lu

“I believe in my mask– The man I made up is me
I believe in my dance– And my destiny”
~Sam Shepard 

“Harvey wasn’t interested in the clothes; it was the masks that mesmerized him. They were like snowflakes: no two alike. Some were made of wood and of plastic; some of straw and cloth and papier-mâché. Some were as bright as parrots, others as pale as parchment. Some were so grotesque he was certain they’d been carved by crazy people; others so perfect they looked like the death masks of angels. There were masks of clowns and foxes, masks like skulls decorated with real teeth, and one with carved flames instead of hair.”

~Clive Barker

Invisible People is a YouTube channel that features interviews with homeless people from all over. Mark Horvath has done these interviews for years, and they are real and unvarnished. You can start with this one, and then check out the channel for more.

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!!

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