BRATTON…more on Dientes’ extractions, Food Not Bombs News. LIVE, HERE, NOW, Film critiques. GREENSITE… on the appeal of 130 Center St and why that matters. KROHN…Tsunamis, Tonga, Shoppers Corner, Our Downtown, our Future, empty homes. STEINBRUNER…Soquel Creek Water District and Food not Bombs, fire districts and rebuilds, housing prices, historic homes preservation, disappearing trees. HAYES…Agricultural Ecosystems, veggie burgers, bananas, coffee, wines, wildlife. PATTON…Black Box for the Planet. MATLOCK… THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT ONLY BE TELEVISED…IT’S ON YOUR PHONE, YOUR PAD, YOUR COMPUTER…NOW! EAGAN…… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Tsunamis, part two”
DATELINE January 17
FOOD NOT BOMBS REMOVAL NEWS. Be sure to read Becky Steinbruner’s weekly piece just a scroll downward. She writes about the political moves behind that cruel removal on lot 27 next to the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union.
DIENTES FOLLOW UP. Last week I mentioned that many friends plus friends of friends have talked about the unnecessary extractions that Dientes Community Dental performs to obtain extra funds from their hosting institutions. I asked for feedback/reactions. Here are a few…
“My grandpa had 4 teeth pulled altogether. Painless procedure. Unfortunately, the extractions caused nerve damage when they pulled the teeth out. He lost taste and can no longer taste food on the back of his tongue. He hasn’t been back since. They said he needed 2 more teeth pulled though”.
Here’s another response…”My five year old was complaining about a toothache about a month ago… Again, instead of maybe filling a cavity like they used to back in the day, they pulled 2 of her baby teeth. (Lucky they were just her baby teeth. She’s 5)”.
Be sure to tune in to my very newest movie streaming reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.
WHO YOU THINK I AM. (PRIME VIDEO SINGLE) (86 RT)(6.8 IMDB). One of the most sensitive well produced films of the year. Juliette Binoche is an author of an age around 55, she decides to create a fake young girl of age 25 online and falls in real love with a young guy who is committed to this dream “girl”. It’s sensitive, sexy, and deep, beautifully directed and should be given many Academy Awards.
INVASION. (APPLE+ SERIES) (6.0RT). Sam Neill returns more tubby and older to be the retiring Oklahoma sheriff who has to face the invasion of earth by aliens. It’s detailed in five separate stories each from a different country. They don’t relate or connect easily and the overall product is one we’ve seen many times.
BRAZEN. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (17RT). Two sisters have a deep secret from each other. One is a well-known writer but her sister is a stripper in secret videos online. No well-known stars, no great acting and it’s boring too. Sure there’s a murder and a detective but save your time.
THE LAST DUEL. (HBO MAX SINGLE) (7.4 IMDB). Big huge movie with stars like Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Ben Affleck plus…it was directed by Ridley Scott!! It has a lot going for it like acting, photography, tension, just a couple of laughs/titters and little sex. Certainly worth seeing preferably on a big screen if possible. Ridley Scott directed Blade Runner, Alien, Thelma & Louise, and Gladiator amongst others so you know this one will work out too!!
THE GOD COMMITTEE. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (63 RT). Kelsey Grammer, Julia Stiles, Janeane Garofalo and that Nixon looking Dan Hedaya all have leads in this talkie. I state talkie because that’s about all it is talk about who gets a heart and organ transplants and who shouldn’t. The transplants come from animals and other people and the decision must be made within an hour. God gets a mention here and there but it’s a lot about money and will the heart institution get a big donation IF the heart goes to their benefactor. Not exciting but involving and you’ll be glad you don’t the problems they do.
TWO CENTS FROM A PARIAH. (AMAZON PRIME) (5.6 IMDB). A “Life Coach” who reminded me of Werner Erhard (EST) who’s 86 now. This guy did prison time and it was supposed to be a secret along with other parts of his bad background. There’s a bunch of Christianity in it and there really is not much of an ending, so be warned.
MAMA WEED. (PRIME VIDEO SINGLE).(78RT) (6.3 IMDB). A foolish, silly attempt at a comedy that stars Isabelle Huppert. She plays a Paris police detective who connives her way into possessing a ton of hash. The way she handles it and her detective boyfriend pulls out all the usual stops and it still doesn’t result in any laughing.
THE CLEANING LADY. (HULU SERIES). (57RT). The Cleaning lady is really an undocumented Cambodian Doctor who comes to the USA to get help for her son. But she gets involved after seeing a murder. Being a cleaner she cleans the scene of that crime and gets involved with the FBI. She’s in Las Vegas and makes friends with a Filipino woman who also gets involved with the guilty mob guys who did the murder. It’ll keep you involved and curious.
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.
THE TENDER BAR. (PRIME VIDEO SINGLE) (67 IMDB) (52 RT) The big promo deal here is that George Clooney directed it. He’s directed 7 other films!! He should have asked for help. It’s trite, pointless, and the leads are Ben Affleck and Tye Sheridan. The kid who plays young Tye Sheridan doesn’t look anything like his older self but he’s a fine kid actor. Ben is a bar tender (get it?) and he spends the movie trying to teach his nephew how the world works. It takes place in Long Island around the 1970-80’s. There’s a no good drunken radio announcer bit part in the plot and that doesn’t help it be believable or even “interesting”.
CRIME STORY. (HULU SINGLE) (3.6 IMDB).(20 RT). Mira Sorvino returns to the screens along with Richard Dreyfuss in this soon to be forgotten cop versus mob boss drivel. Sorvino is the police woman and Dreyfuss is her father and a former Mafia boss type. A robbery goes bad, and the usual plot develops. To see these once watchable stars making a living doing lousy scripts like this one is and was a waste of time. (Dreyfuss is now 75 and Mira Sorvino is 55!)
ZONE 414. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (4.9 IMDB) Guy Pearce and Matilda Lutz take lead roles in this science fiction film based in Ireland. It’s the future and we can’t tell humans from robots. There’s a daughter who is missing so a detective has to go hunting for her with the questionable help from another android. It’s just enough of a plot with ok acting to keep you mostly attentive.
THE LOST DAUGHTER. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (7.01 IMDB) Olivia Colman is the lead, Maggie Gyllenhaal directed it and Ed Harris plays in and out of the unusual plot that happens on the fictional Greek isle of Kyopoli. The plot gets thicker and thicker when Olivia starts doing some unusual things. She’s got a past that reveals itself heavily and deeply. With this talent you shouldn’t miss it.
THE SILENT SEA. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.0 IMDB). A Korean film produced by Jung Woo-sung that takes us on a trip to the moon to retrieve some mysterious samples left there by the last expedition. The moon base is huge, dark, foreboding and the new group crashes there and has to figure how to get back. Almost but not quite thrilling.
KITZ. (NETFLIX SERIES) (5.4 IMDB). A cute young serving girl at a very exclusive ski resort in Germany works subtlety to revenge the death of her brother. She has set her sights on a wealthy, beautiful society daughter. The plot gets a bit stretched out and lengthy but it’s absorbing.
STAY CLOSE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.9 IMDB). Comedian Eddie Izzard has a small role in this and he’s not at all funny. It’s a British film about the lives and past deeds of a woman who used to be a pole dancer. The plot rambles and rambles on about her new drives and why she got out of the pole dancing business. There are better and more detailed thrillers.
ANXIOUS PEOPLE. (NETFLIX SERIES). (7.0 IMDB) This starts out as a fine, funny Swedish comedy and gets more serious as it goes on in its mini-series of six episodes. A father and son police team investigate a robbery that happens during an open house to rent/sell an apartment to several would be buyers. Who the robber is and how he/she escapes being arrested makes it good fun to watch. It is touching, laughable, well-acted and you’ll like it.
SANTA CRUZ ACTORS THEATRE announced….
“8 Tens @ 8 Short Play Festival” at the Center Stage Theater 1001 Center Street (831) 431-6237 January 14- February 6.
Tickets here! Nope!! No tickets available they covid canceled all their performances.
THE JEWEL THEATRE COMPANY presents…
“THE WEIR” a play directed By Conor McPherson and Directed by Susan Myer Silton. It’s said to “combine a comedic touch with deep resonant themes”. At the Colligan Theatre, in the Tannery Arts Center at 1010 River street. Jan 26 thru Feb 20, 2022
WHOSE INTERESTS ARE BEING SERVED?
The above project for 130 Center St., to be located across from the Depot Park soccer field, has been appealed. The city council hearing to determine the outcome of the appeal is set for Tuesday January 25th.
No amount of handwringing or lamenting the loss of character of Santa Cruz will sway the decision-makers who are well aware of the new state housing laws that leave little discretion in local hands. The community group that filed the appeal, Santa Cruz Tomorrow (SCT) of which I am a member, is similarly clear-eyed about this new reality of top down state-level control over such project decisions.
The details of the new housing laws are daunting even for the initiated. Suffice it to say that if developers offer 15% of the base units for the Very Low Income category, they earn a Density Bonus that allows them to double the height of the project with no increase in “affordable” units and all additional units at market rate. So even though zoning for this site caps building heights at 3 stories and even though our local “inclusionary” law requires 20% of all units to be below market rate, with the Density Bonus, the developer can double the height (here to 6 stories) without any increase in the affordable units in the enlarged project. That is how these, some would argue, out of scale projects end up with far fewer “affordable” units than our local law requires. We get stuck with a massive building, the public gets no additional “affordable” housing and the developer gets a bigger profit.
The new state laws are supposed to increase the supply of housing, which they undoubtedly will do, given the plethora of even far larger projects approved or in the works at the city level. If your sole mantra is “we need more housing” then you will support this trend. If you stop to consider the demographic impact on current low-income residents of enticing newcomers with high enough incomes to purchase or rent the increased supply of market rate units, you might see a downside. That downside is an increase in the Area Median Income (AMI), which is steadily rising, making housing for low-income earners further out of reach since rents are tied to the AMI. This includes existing rentals as a rising tide of AMI lifts all ships and rents. Factor in that new, well-off residents generate a need for an increase in low-income service workers and we have a perfect storm of service worker displacement and lengthy commute times. Given that the state’s Density Bonus aggravates the situation by allowing a far higher ratio of market-rate units in a project than would be allowed under city Inclusionary law and no wonder a growing number of cities is pushing back against the state with legal challenges. So far, not the city of Santa Cruz.
So why appeal 130 Center Street? It costs close to $700 to file an Appeal and it involves a lot of detailed work. There is no way to stop the project even if that was an aim. There is no way to scale it back to the zoned 3 stories, given new state law. There are, however, some glaring oversights in this project that ignore current planning directives and current residents, particularly those on the lower Westside.
The current Local Coastal Program (LCP) for this Beach/South of Laurel area (B-SOL) states: “Promote more family-oriented development. 50% of all new units to be 2 or more bedrooms.” That’s clear enough. Yet every one of the 233 units in this project is an SRO (single room occupancy) with sizes ranging from 295 square feet to a maximum of 400 square feet. I know there are those who support such tiny units but there’s no straight face involved in pretending any are for families. Students perhaps? With UCSC heading for a vast increase in student numbers in the coming years, developers are looking ahead.
The other major issue that makes an appeal worthwhile is the project’s inadequate traffic study. Those who live on the lower Westside and sometimes drive know that the first roundabout (not the Wharf roundabout) is often gridlocked on summer weekends. Yet the traffic study gathered data for only weekdays and unsurprisingly found no significant impact to commuter traffic. Had a genuine traffic study been done with the needs of actual residents in mind, there are many mitigations that could be applied to lessen the impact. Without such study, no mitigations are deemed necessary.
While state law has indeed tied city planning staff hands in many places, in others they appear to offer handouts to the big players. They had discretion to study real traffic impacts on our neighborhoods and they argued at the hearings why they didn’t need to do so. They argued why this project did not need an environmental review despite solid grounds to require one.
This is not one to sit out. At hearing after hearing, those of us arguing for reasonable scale, proper studies, better mitigations are currently outnumbered by YIMBY’s (Yes in Your Back Yard…my edit) by Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, by local housing activists and increasingly by students who argue for such projects and declare that they, students, comprise a third of the city’s population…true… and growing.
How the council will vote on this appeal is unknown. Your email in support of the appeal will help. What we are asking for is reasonable: an environmental review with a proper traffic study where mitigations can be applied.
At one point in time, the needs of low-income families drove planning decisions as seen in the LCP directive “promote more family-oriented development.” Now it seems, they can just go elsewhere, as my friends, both long-time, low-income Spanish-speaking families have been forced to do.
|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.|
GATHERING DEMOCRACY, ONE SIGNATURE AT A TIME
Tsunami (and the Tsunami of Democracy)
Tsunami? Really?! Looks like what happens on the other side of the world doesn’t stay on the other side of the world. Ripples of sea water coursing over the San Lorenzo River’s mountain flow, the yacht harbor’s flooded parking lot, and a cancelled surf contest off West Cliff Drive were all effects of a volcanic eruption far from Surf City. They were the reverberations that Mother Nature greeted Santa Cruzanos with as they woke up this past Saturday morning. The cause, a volcanic eruption near Tonga, a Polynesian country in the southern Pacific Ocean. The “Kingdom of Tonga” is an archipelago community consisting of 169 islands, 36 of which are inhabited. The population as of 2021, according to a Wikipedia entry, was 104,494. Fun Fact: seems the Prince of Tonga and his wife were killed in an automobile accident in Menlo Park in 2006 which presaged a series of riots in the capital city, Nuku’alofa and set off a series of domestic political events that moved the country eventually from monarchy, to a constitutional monarchy (2020). Tonga is situated about 1800 miles from New Zealand…so what about that Tsunami of direct democracy beginning with Shopper’s Corner. (read on for more on Shopper’s Corner).
Our Downtown, Our Future Ballot Questions
Petition Signature Gatherer #1: Do you know the city is planning on moving the farmer’s market and placing the library alongside a 5-story parking garage while axing those 10 beautiful heritage trees on Lot 4?
Usual response: No.
Petition Signature Gatherer: Would you like to sign a petition to get it on the ballot and let the people vote?
Usual Response: Sure, where do I sign?
Petition Gatherer #2: Hi. There’s a lot of empty houses in Santa Cruz. People, and corporations (no apologies to Mitt Romney), are buying up SC real estate and leaving it empty. Would you sign a petition to enact a tax on empty houses and get it on the ballot so people can vote? Usual Response: How much is the tax and where would it go?
Petition Gatherer #2: The tax is $6000 for a house and $3000 for every vacant apartment only in complexes with seven or more. This either forces the owner to rent it, or if they pay the tax it goes into an affordable housing fund to build, or buy, needed housing for workers in Santa Cruz.
Usual Response: That’s a great idea! Where do I sign?
Hitting the Streets
I felt fortunate to involve myself with both of these efforts this past weekend. On Saturday I paired with Our Downtown, Our Future steering committee member, Bob Morgan, and collected signatures outside of Shopper’s Corner on Soquel. On Sunday, I met with 12 other signature gathers all carrying the Empty Homes Tax (EHT) ballot initiative. Waves of movement solidarity for causes close to so many locals’ hearts are coursing through our town. That old chant, “This is what (direct) democracy looks like,” bounced around my brain as I took to the streets. Can we really do this? Collect 4000 signatures in 180 days? It is going to take a lot of sweat and shoe leather, but here we go, both campaigns are off and running. Dozens of locals were participating in a tsunami of direct citizen democracy, gathering signatures for these two major efforts. It felt both exciting and daunting.
Street Scene Outside Shopper’s Corner
I positioned myself with Bob on the sidewalk public space outside of Shopper’s Corner, it was the day before the second great tsunami in 10 years was to strike. The backs of our heels hovered on the curb over the asphalt street as we greeted people with our petition efforts, seeking only the signatures of registered voters as they entered and exited Shopper’s Corner. It was an easy sell. Most locals we encountered that particular day lived outside the city limits, but that’s okay because each of them has friends or family in the city of Santa Cruz and they assured us they would pass the word, tsunami-type democracy in action. It is early in the campaign. We have until May to gather 4000 signatures, but no one I know is under the illusion that this will be easy. An hour into Bob and my efforts on a warm, almost balmy overcast January day, we were confronted by naysayers. As we exchanged pleasantries with denizens going in and out of Shopper’s, I was approached by a woman punctuating the air with jabs of her cell phone. She told me she represented the store. “You can’t be out here, you have no right,” she said. “You need to stand over there,” and she pointed towards the street in front of Taqueria Vallarta some 30 yards away. I thanked her and said I was exercising my democratic right to petition the government for a redress of our grievances. She said she was calling the police.
Crisis Averted, Democratic Practice Survives
Police officer David Deady is about six feet tall, svelte, and unusually bearded. He’s also the first Santa Cruz police officer I’ve met who sports a safety pin attached to the cartilage of his upper right ear. He asked if he could have a word and motioned me to come over into the Shopper’s parking lot. I exited the free public space of the sidewalk and entered the grocer’s private confines, of course only after being told to do so by a sworn officer. Deady informed me that I was well within my rights to be occupying the sidewalk for purposes of gathering signatures on the petition, or to do just about anything else I wanted to, short of physically harassing someone. He suggested I just not engage with the management of Shopper’s and if I had to, just be civil about it. I assured him that Bob and I are very civil when asking registered voters for their signature-participation in our democracy. The officer was quite cordial and inquired of me if I had any questions as he handed me his business card. In that moment, his Sergeant pulled into the parking lot and rolled to a stop near us. Officer Deady was firm yet nonchalant, “I’ve got this one, everything’s okay.” As the enormous supervisorial SUV drove away I thought democracy is saved for at least another day.
Public Engagement Can Be Enlightening
It’s not easy trying to engage with people about local issues. Most of us are busy with our lives and how maybe one more local issue might put us at the terminus of our psychological band width. I get that. But letting people know what their government’s plans are, and giving a voice to the many who would likely disagree with their government if they only knew what was going on, now that’s a reason to be out here. And by the end of the hour and forty-five minutes I had spoken with some 45 people. All but four were supportive of the effort to place the “library-garage” issue on the ballot. They collectively agreed, let the people decide. Thirteen signed the petition and 28 others expressed support, would love to sign, but lived outside of the city. I was thinking of how blown away I was by such public succor for the democratic process.
On Sunday I met up with folks in Riverfront Park in Lower Ocean and we fanned out to various neighborhoods looking for registered voters who might support a tax on the large number of empty homes in the city. I ended up south of Laurel with my nephew, and a forgiving wife of 26 years knocking on doors. We were armed with the most recent list of Santa Cruz voters and we covered Myrtle, Blackburn, and Chestnut streets like we were engaged in some high stakes competition…because we are. Of course, if you have ever walked voting precincts as we were doing, you know that only about one in four answer the knock at the door. We had to be careful too because of the worldwide pandemic. We wore masks and stayed a safe distance from signers who almost all wore a mask when meeting us. For two hours, we were tenacious and active, logging four miles on the FitBit and finally coming away with 24 signatures on the Empty Homes Tax petition. It was somehow satisfying. To meet voters at their front door, talk about what we believe are important issues, even if highly charged ones for some in our community, and to pose a convincing argument. It was as exhilarating as it is exhausting.
On Your Radio
Is the redistricting process in Santa Cruz county fair? In the first part of my KSQD radio show we will discuss the absence of any real public redistricting plan for the city of Santa Cruz. With city council elections coming up in November why is there is no redistricting plan yet in site? Councilmember from Watsonville Rebecca Garcia offers her insight on the history of redistricting in Watsonville. In the second half of the program we discuss the issue of state redistricting with state Senator John Laird and former 12-year county supervisor John Leopold on this week’s, “Talk of the Bay,” Tuesday January 18th 5-6 pm. on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org
Quote of the Week:
“Fortunately, direct democracy exists in crude form in 24 States and DC as ballot initiatives and referendums, and let’s ALL voters be deciders. If you can get enough signatures to get your proposal on the ballot, you can help set the agenda, too...Initiatives and referendums were the start of everything from women’s suffrage, child labor laws and secret ballots to minimum wages, 8-hour days and sunshine acts to renewable energy mandates, medical and legal marijuana.” (Evan Ravitz, the Daily Kos)
There is no doubt that Food Not Bombs feeds hungry people. Why the City of Santa Cruz does not acknowledge and support these efforts is a mystery. City authorities–cops and public works–forced the FNB feeding station at the Laurel and Front Street parking lot to move yet again. It is now located further north up Front Street, alongside the (now closed) iconic University Copy.
Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Chris at email@example.com
SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT NEEDLESSLY KICKS OUT FOOD NOT BOMBS FROM SANTA CRUZ CITY PARKING LOT 27
Last week, the Soquel Creek Water District and the City of Santa Cruz decided to evict a socially-valuable homeless feeding station instead of closing a dog park. While I am glad folks in the downtown area will continue to have a place to let their dogs play, I think the Soquel Creek Water District and the City really have their priorities all messed up, and it stinks…just like the treated wastewater that this Project will pressure-inject into the aquifer.
The City of Santa Cruz did not have to evict Food Not Bombs from Lot 27 last week in order to make room for Soquel Creek Water District’s PureWater Soquel Project construction staging. The Project EIR, certified in 2018, stated the staging area would be the Mimi de Marta Dog Park, on the other side of the San Lorenzo River. Plans called for closing that Park for two years while construction for the large pipe carrying treated sewage water would get buried under the River, installing vaults 50′ deep in the ground on both sides for the River levee as part of the five-mile pressurized pipeline to the Live Oak treatment plant.
However, the State Regional Water Quality Control Board wanted information from the District, possibly about how the toxic chloramine-laden effluent might affect the life in the River if the pipe were to rupture. Rather than provide the information the State requested, the District changed the Project design (again) to instead attach the pipe to the Laurel Street Bridge. No more 50′-deep vaults and tunneling under the River, but who knows what mitigations are in place for pipeline seismic safety??
The real question is why the City felt it would be acceptable to give Food Not Bombs organizer Keith McHenry a mere three days to vacate public parking Lot 27, warning that anything not moved would be confiscated? Keith told me he asked Larry Imwalle, the Santa Cruz City Homelessness Response Manager, why there could not be more time allowed to find suitable locations for the storage units holding equipment that helps make it possible to feed many, many hungry people in the downtown area?
Mr. Imwalle’s answer was because the Project is “on a tight schedule”.
Well, that is true because the District has rushed full-throttle into this high-tech and incredibly expensive Project in order to get a State grant for $50 million. The timeline the District has committed to is insane and unrealistic, and because they are breaking ground eight months later than planned, their “fast-tracked” process will likely bode other great problems.
In my opinion, putting dogs higher on the priority list than hungry people by kicking Food Not Bombs out of Lot 27 practically overnight is a true tragedy…and likely is only the beginning of a series of unfortunate events that we will see related to the PureWater Soquel Project…
ORANGE MAP? PURPLE MAP? YOUR MAP? CENTRAL FIRE DISTRICT NEEDS YOUR HELP DRAWING LINES FOR FUTURE REPRESENTATION
You need to weigh in on your future representation for this local fire agency, but you don’t have much time.
Central Fire District is moving to district-based elections for their Board of Directors as part of the consolidation process completed last year. Last Thursday, the consultant presented four possible maps to the Board to figure out how to carve the lines for five Directors. Two of the maps were clearly gerrymandered, in an effort to preserve current Directors’ jobs without having to run against one another.
This was the first look at any possible maps, and I was very glad to hear all Directors reject the potential gerrymandered versions.
Of the remaining maps, the Orange Map was the favorite of most, with the Purple Map acceptable if tweaked. (See attached Orange and Purple Maps at the end of this blog.)
But what about YOUR map???
You need to send it to the District by February 10!
Many thanks to Central Fire Chief John Walbridge for agreeing to table with me for outreach about this important process at the Cabrillo and Live Oak Farmers Markets January 22/23 and 29/30, February. 5/6.
You can send your map electronically to PublicComments@centralfiresc.org or get them on paper to the District Administrative Office (730 17th Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95062) by 9am, February 10 for the final public hearing.
The Board will review all Maps then, and everything has to be buttoned up and sent to the State by April 14.
Do you care about fire protection and emergency response in MidCounty rural and urban areas? Consider running for one of the Director seats, or talk with someone you think would be interested. You don’t have to be a retired firefighter or any expert…you just need to care and be willing to work to serve your Community. There will be two seats open for election in 2022, and three in 2024.
WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. SUBMIT A REDISTRICTING MAP FOR REPRESENTATION IN YOUR FIRE DISTRICT. YOU CAN MAKE A BIGGER DIFFERENCE THAN YOU THINK IF YOU JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK.
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
I was going to write this week about a native plant community, but someone made a comment recently that led me to change course, to focus rather on a very dominant ecosystem in our area: row crop agriculture. They said, ‘There are no animals killed in making a meatless burger.’ The statement took my breath away. Apparently, it is time for me to put my thoughts into writing on this subject, long stewing on my back burner.
Sacrifices for Veggie Burgers
Meatless burgers contain agricultural products grown on farms that have killed and are killing animals as an inherent part of their practices. The original clearing of agricultural land caused the greatest outright slaughter of animals. Many animals were crushed by the first land-clearing bulldozers or burnt alive when the natural vegetation was ignited. Some furry critters fled at first only to starve later when they were driven from one already-occupied territory to the next. Perhaps a few lucky larger quick and mobile vertebrate refugees survived. The many smaller, less mobile animals not outright crushed or burned were eventually chopped up with the plough.
After the clearing, crops are planted every year thereafter, and farmers trap, poison, or shoot ‘pests.’ In some cases, farmers fence, net, or otherwise ‘deter’ pests…sometimes entangling animals but always driving wayward animals onto roads or into the mouths of smart predators that take advantage of deterrence methods with their hunting regimes. Farmland becomes a hazard for wildlife, effectively removing agricultural lands from anything classifiable as ‘wildlife habitat.’
Many of us have heard the tropical horror stories related to agricultural expansion. Giant farms have been expanding, destroying tropical forests, the most diverse of ecosystems, especially to produce soybeans and palm oil. Many areas have already been cleared, and the ongoing tropical agriculture is regularly killing thousands of species that are dwindling by the day. A friend told me of his first job on a tropical banana farm in the 1970’s. As a teenager trying to earn money to support his family, he took the closest job he could find as a laborer on one of the giant banana farms in Central America. His supervisor gave him small plastic cups to suspend from the banana trees and told him to fill the cups with a viscous liquid poured from a large bottle he was told to carry with him. He was told to return each day to refill the cups. Returning to those cups, he clambered over piles of a diverse array of dead bats that had ingested the poison liquid he was placing in the cups. This method of reducing the fruit pollinating bat claw marks (just aesthetic damage) on the bunches of bananas has since been replaced by covering the bunches with protective plastic bags impregnated with pesticides. But banana farms are still sprayed with deadly chemicals and are devoid of even the shadow of the tropical life found in natural systems.
Even though we might turn to purchasing organic bananas and even certified organic, fair trade locally roasted coffee, those organic crops are grown on lands where tropical wildlife is largely obliterated. Organic coffee and bananas are grown in full sun, the rainforest cleared to make way for the farms. “Shade grown” coffee certification is largely a sham without defensible standards for conserving tropical forests and associated birds, except for the Smithsonian’s bird friendly coffee certification which is effectively unavailable in stores in Santa Cruz and so must be ordered over the internet.
Ranches to Vineyards
Locally, the story is little different. Agriculture is expanding in our area mostly from conversion of grazing land to vineyards, a process that does not trigger environmental review because both activities are considered agricultural. Oak woodlands and old growth grasslands that supported free-roaming wildlife and sequestered carbon are being converted to vineyards where wildlife is commonly fenced out and wildlife inside the fences trapped and killed. Tilling the converted grazing land releases long-sequestered carbon, adding to global warming.
The Local Veggie Farming Slaughter
Once agricultural land is in production, routine practices actively kill or deter wildlife and passively degrade wildlife habitat. Driving through the Pajaro or Salinas Valleys, look for the upside-down white plastic “Ts” at the field edges: those are poison bait stations with poison designed to kill small animals that venture into the fields. Traps or poisons are used to kill any animals once they find their way further into fields. Organic farmers often use traps for gophers with regular trap patrols as part of their daily operations. Passive forms of wildlife killing may seem a little less aggressive. In both conventional and organic agriculture at any scale, the mowing and tilling of crop areas leaves mutilated (hopefully quickly killed) critters in the wake of tractors: snakes, toads, frogs, lizards, salamanders, birds, mice, moles, shrews, and voles are all decimated. Polluted runoff from both organic and conventional agriculture is another issue. Agricultural irrigation runoff into Elkhorn Slough has the highest levels of fertilizer in the US, equivalent to a dump truck load of fertilizer a day, causing terrible contamination of the state’s second largest estuary.
In contrast to the impacts of these cropping systems, I look to coastal prairie fed, pasture raised cattle that are managed in such a way to restore local ecosystems and provide food for those who would eat it. I’m not arguing against the need to reduce the amount of meat the world’s population eats: clearly, there is a lot of animal agriculture that is terrible. However, many ranchers locally are doing a world of good for wildlife and plant diversity with their coastal prairie stewardship. Globally, ‘abandonment’ of grazing in Spain, France, Britain, and other places with diverse grasslands has caused species loss and ecosystem degradation. Humans have been learning how to manage livestock to mimic evolutionary disturbance regimes that maintain wildlife and keep grasslands diverse and healthy. Most ranchers I know are enthusiastic about the wildlife they steward; many are working with conservationists to co-manage for biological diversity. This situation makes the contrast between veggie and beef burgers a little more interesting.
There is real potential for cropland management to be more sensitive to wildlife. One day our lettuce won’t come with such a legacy of wildlife displacement and death. There are only two wildlife-friendly food certifications that I know about: the Smithsonian’s certification of Bird Friendly Coffee and the relatively new Audubon Society’s certification for bird friendly beef. Taking its normal laudable step beyond the Federal guidelines for organic standards, Santa Cruz-based California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) requires its certified members to maintain a conservation plan to address habitat stewardship. But CCOF lacks an ecologist to review or advise on such plans, so this effort mostly falls quite short of what is needed. Let me know if you know other attempts to address these gaps! Meanwhile, what are we to do?
Ask A Farmer
The thing to do is ask the farmer who you support about their conservation practices. Already you probably understand the importance of supporting farmers directly by shopping at a farmer’s market. When you buy from them, you might ask how they take care of wildlife on their farm. The answer should take longer than either you or the farmer wants to take; shorter answers are probably insufficient and will be quick evidence that the farmer isn’t practicing wildlife friendly agriculture. Sensitive management of irrigation, runoff, ponds, hedgerows, cover crops, fallow fields, roads, and non-crop areas should almost all be part of any wildlife-friendly farmer’s skill base. And, they would have to explain a little about what ‘sensitive management’ means in each case – the stories aren’t too complex if someone knows their stuff, but the telling will take a little time. We need those stories. We need those conversations. Future generations will depend on farmers who integrate nature with their crops.
Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at: www.greyhayes.net
Email Grey at firstname.lastname@example.org
The New York Times reported, on December 11, 2021, that a steel vault, about the size of a school bus, will soon be placed in a remote part of Australia. The steel vault, called “Earth’s Black Box,” will “record the Earth’s warming weather patterns.” It will also “listen to what we say and do,” creating an “archive that could be critical to piecing together the missteps … should humanity be destroyed by climate change.”
The Times’ article was headlined, “A ‘Black Box’ for an Earth In Danger of Climate Crash.” An artist’s rendering of how the project might look is pictured above. The “Black Box” is scheduled to be constructed in Tasmania, an Australian island state off the south coast.
Comparing the current status of our planet to an airplane that might crash seems appropriate. Anyone paying attention knows that a “Climate Crash,” as The Times calls it, is a distinct possibility. Some call it an inevitability.
Collecting information that might be useful for anyone who survives the Climate Crash (presuming that such a crash actually does occur, and further presuming that someone survives it) is probably a worthwhile project, though I personally would prefer more attention paid to “prevention,” with “documentation” being a less urgent priority.
The “Black Box” project was apparently conceived not by climate scientists, which is what you might think, but by an Australian advertising agency. Jim Curtis, the executive creative director of the agency said (a sentiment shared by virtually everybody), “I really hope that it’s not too late.”
Mr. Curtis also said something I find a lot more problematic. According to Curtis, the box will be designed “to hold our leaders to account.” That seems to be the main point. The “Black Box” will mine the internet for evidence of what the “leaders” are doing, and if everything comes crashing down, their failure to avoid the tragedy will be fully revealed.
Here is my problem with Curtis’ statement. Our current situation is typified by all of us thinking that someone else should solve our “Climate Crash” problem. It is a problem that we all know exists, but we have talked ourselves into the idea that it is such a big problem that ordinary people really can’t deal with it. We think some governmental agency, or some scientific consortium, or some set of farsighted corporate and foundation executives – some set of “leaders” – ought to extricate us from our perilous position. Meanwhile, we continue to live what we have come to think of as our “normal life.”
I would like to propound the opposite hypothesis. Looking to (and blaming) our “leaders” is the wrong way to save the planet. WE are implicated. The problem is not the “leaders.” It’s “us.” Therefore, if we avert the predictable “Climate Crash,” it won’t be because our “leaders” finally got it right. It will be because we decided, in a cascading chain of people doing something new themselves, that we will take the helm and steer the ship of our civilization into a new, and completely different, direction.
Unlikely? Maybe, but I think that this is the way that genuine change will actually come. It’s not going to come from the “leaders,” and we won’t really be able to blame the “leaders” if our civilization comes crashing down. As Michael Jackson told us, it’s that “Man in the Mirror” whom we ought to be holding accountable.
Bob Dylan has a great song about individual responsibility. It’s called, “Up To Me.” Click that first link to listen to the song. Click the second link to read the lyrics. To translate the same thought into “political” language, let’s remember this absolutely accurate description of how genuine political change is always accomplished:
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 email@example.com
THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT ONLY BE TELEVISED…IT’S ON YOUR PHONE, YOUR PAD, YOUR COMPUTER…NOW!
It’s unthinkable how rich I expect to be very soon, judging from all the emails in the old Inbox addressed to ‘BENEFICIARY,’ or ‘You Have Been Awarded…’, and ‘You Have Been Selected to Receive $$…’! Where were all these benefactors, do-gooders, unknown admirers, and long-lost kin when I could have used their largesse in my younger days? Of course, once the dough starts rolling in, I’ll be responding to those ‘Business Proposal’ offers, as well, or sending out my own ‘BENEFICIARY’ notices to worthy recipients…stand back and stand by!
Also cluttering space in the Inbox, a myriad of emails from the vast number of political organizations, candidates, office holders, and fellow travelers, all clamoring for contributions or endorsements to advance their causes. ‘FOR PATRIOTS ONLY! – let us send you a pin, coffee mug, t-shirt, flag, bumper sticker or yard sign for a modest show of support…preferably on a monthly basis!
Nancy Pelosi subject lines include: ‘Let me explain (please send money)’; ‘My heart just dropped (momentum is waning)’; ‘I’m done (renew your membership to retain majority)’; and, one that I refused to open before dinner, ‘Sick to My Stomach (Republicans destroying democracy).’ And, sure, both of those comments are pretty distasteful!
Then, Kevin McCarthy sez: ‘Personal Invite (be the first donor of 2022),’ followed by several ‘I ‘Am BEGGING. I Am PLEADING’ entreaties to send money. Perhaps DJT cut back on his weekly allowance after Kevin’s remarks on 1/7/21?
Mike Pompeo, FORMER Trump Secretary of State announces: ‘I’ve Made A Decision (committed to help Republicans win office with this momentum – and YOUR money). Next one declares: ‘ALERT: You’ve Received A Private Message (A time sensitive message from Secretary of State (sic) Mike Pompeo with new political intelligence…’). Sorry, but I can’t reveal this Private Message!
Pelosi4Never sender gets a bit strident with: ‘Final Notice: Trump shocked, disappointed, distraught – you have ignored membership renewal! The Final Straw!’ I’m watching my back after this one!
Florida’s Marco Rubio, several times a day sends his ‘Can You Help? Behind in Fundraising Goal.’ Poor guy must not be reaching his constituency!
But, exactly sixty-seconds later, Val Demings sends ‘That’s Me: Donate to Defeat Rubio.’ Following in the tracks of Marco’s emails are Val’s, ‘I Need Your Help, Friend,’ ‘An Update for You,’ and ‘My Mantra: Keep the Faith, Never Tire’ (and send money).
Not sure who’s composing these various subject lines and messages, but the mano a mano characteristic of these back-to-back dispatches indicate that a third-party endeavor is responsible for the distribution. Many political email marketing services, such as Point Blank Political, Genius Monkey, Tatango, and Ecanvasser, handle that task in our partisan wars, or sell software that benefits campaigns. And, you’re on their lists!
Still they pour in from The Lincoln Project, The Brady PAC, The Collective PAC, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy For America, People for the American Way, Crazy Eight PAC, The Vote, Integrity First PAC, Turnout PAC, Blue Senate Defense Fund, GOP Research Headquarters, Conservative Action Report, Democratic Alert, Our Revolution, Democratic Victory Membership, Democrat Congress, Betsy DeVos, Mark Kelly, Ron Johnson, Eric Swalwell, and Beto O’Rourke.
From Trump Social Media comes: ‘We’re excited for you: Join our exclusive priority list’, and ‘It’s actually happening’ (multiple emails), or ‘It’s Official: Trump’s new social media will launch on President’s Day,’ joined by ‘BREAKING TODAY: Devin Nunes departs Congress to join Trump Media.’ And, he only ASSUMES he will be paid for his efforts…get an attorney NOW, Devin!
The various originators of Trump-specific emails cover a range from aggressiveness/bullying (where’s your donation, TRAITOR?), to flattering (connoting an intimacy that can be taken away by a disappointed Captain Chaos), or using shaming, even abuse, not unlike a shakedown. DJT doesn’t have opponents – he has enemies that need to be crushed, as an often angry-looking Trump photo will convey, and you’d better know which side to choose!
Consequently, instead of awaiting receipt of those cascades of beneficiary funds and awards, it seems best to simply forward those tempting notifications onward to my choice of political organizers, signing over all rights of ownership and entitlement, whereby the hungry and thirsty campaigns will be flush, and my Inbox will be manageable once again.
One of Trump’s favorite grifts asks, “Do you miss me yet?”, as he attacks Joe Biden, and to which I silently reply with the old standard, “How can I miss you if you don’t go away?” Fat chance – stand down!
Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
“Whether it is a tsunami, or whether it is a hurricane, whether it’s an earthquake – when we see these great fatal and natural acts, men and women of every ethnic persuasion come together and they just want to help”.
~Martin Luther King III
“I went to see one of those pianos drowned in tsunami water near Fukushima and recorded it. Of course, it was totally out of tune, but I thought it was beautiful. I thought, ‘Nature tuned it.”
“Did you know that the word ‘tsunami,’ which is now being used worldwide, is a Japanese word? This is indicative of the extent to which Japan has been subject to frequent tsunami disasters in the past”.
Drybar comedy has had some really good comedians, and I often find myself watching clips from them. This guy is great, enjoy!
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
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