BRATTON…Yacht Harbor issues, Dientes extractions more of, Chris Finnie about PG&E, CVS and Medicare, new movies, Live, Here, Now. GREENSITE…on housing: looking back and looking forward. KROHN…sign the petitions, ballot initiatives. STEINBRUNER…Triple housing units, General law county, Privates beach, is the sheriff listening? HAYES…Loma Prieta Chaparral. PATTON…Nine old men. MATLOCK…Word of the Profits. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Books”
DATELINE January 24
YACHT HARBOR ISSUES. SANTA CRUZ’S YACHT HARBOR AND HOW IT GOT THAT WAY… When I moved here in 1970, environmentalists were still steamed and screaming about what the Army Corps of Engineers did when that built all the concrete retaining walls along the Banks of the San Lorenzo. (see photo) Those walls made any beautification of our once lovely river banks impossible and we still have to deal with that lack of connectedness.. That was back in the late 1950s and 60s. Then, with encouragement from some prominent civic leaders, the Army Corps looked at many possible sites to dredge out a yacht harbor. One of those sites was Neary Lagoon. Realizing that our last Tsunami’s wrecking waves caused over $6 million dollars in damages, and that 2011 Tsunami cost a walloping $20 million, we should never forget – or learn for the first time – that many other sites could have and should have been selected for the local and visitor boat owners to dock their investments. Even at the time, many aware locals were cautioning about how a harbor that was dug with the mouth facing straight into the oncoming waves was idiotic. The powers that be ignored it in favor of attracting visiting boat owners and tourists.
That’s just the lower Harbor, which was dug on the properties of a select few well-to-do owners at Woods Lagoon. Then, again in 1973, on more land owned by wealthy locals, the upper harbor was dug and dredged. The influence of money and the ineptitude of the Army Corps has brought us these ongoing threats…just a heads up and be very aware of the next one!
DIENTES AND DENTISTS. I’ve been including reactions to Dientes and their overzealous extracting of teeth from patients of all ages…here’s the latest reader response…”My experience at Dientes is similar to my experience at Western Dental (both accept Denti-Cal). You cannot have a regular dentist that you see all the time because you just get whoever is available. The dentists seem like interns, inexperienced. I’ve had fillings done by both places and the fillings fell out within a year. I never let them pull my teeth out. With Denti-Cal, you have a limited annual budget, both these places (and many others that accept Denti-Cal) will use up your budget with x-rays and a “deep cleaning”, leaving you with the same dental problem you came in with… just with cleaner teeth”.
CVS FIGHTING MEDICARE FOR ALL. Along with many folks nationwide I received this note… “In a year marked by a pandemic that has killed millions, CVS Health quietly made a $5 million donation to the number one dark-money lobbying group fighting against Medicare for All. The health care giant, which owns Aetna health insurance and operates thousands of pharmacies, is now the largest-known donor to the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, or PAHCF. We need you to tell CVS loudly and clearly that we won’t accept their efforts to undermine Medicare for All. Will you add your name to tell them to stop putting profits over patients once and for all? Go here and sign the petition to get CVS back on track.
PG&E, CPUC AND OTHER SOURCES OF POWER. Long-time political activist, journalist, professional writer, and artist Chris Finnie sent this update of our current power issues.
“LET THE SUN SHINE IN.
In California, it’s widely accepted that we need to change our sources of energy to lessen the catastrophic effects of climate change. California Distributed Generation Statistics says, “Every day, 400 new consumers plug into the sun to save money and do their part to reduce air pollution and stop climate change.”
A variety of state and federal incentives have helped individual property owners, schools, businesses, and local governments to install rooftop solar panels.
Then there’s the grid
But investor-owned utilities like PG&E own the power grid.
PG&E, in particular, has a shameful history of paying out huge executive bonuses and shareholder dividends, rather than maintaining or upgrading their portion of the state grid. This has led to horrific failures that have caused frequent outages, enormous wildfires, and almost a hundred deaths in recent years.
As part of their felony conviction for these deaths, PG&E is under court-supervised probation and faces orders to upgrade their grid to prevent more deaths and property destruction. But they also face shrinking revenues because of wind power, solar generation, and the switch to community-choice aggregation programs like our local Central Coast Energy. So they’ve decided to charge us all for the solar arrays we’ve invested in as a way to get the money for the court-ordered upgrades.
Unfortunately, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is poised to authorize this, despite the fact that it breaks promises under which solar users did their installations. They’ve also overridden objections of groups from the Sierra Club to the California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA), the state’s largest clean energy business group with over 650 member companies that employ more than 60,000 people. To add insult to injury, the state recently changed the building codes relating to energy efficiency and now requires solar panels to be installed on most new homes.
What will change
Under California’s net energy metering incentive, investor-owned utilities are required to buy homeowners’ excess solar electricity at close-to-retail rates. This was guaranteed in 2018 for a period of 20 years. But now they’re changing it. The new proposal will cut to the credit solar users get by 80%. The credit would immediately drop from an average of twenty-five cents per kilowatt hour to about five cents.
It also institutes a grid-participation fee for solar users. The more solar panels, the larger the fee. This includes apartment buildings, new homes built with solar per the state mandate, and solar-powered batteries. CALSSA contends the additional fees could add $34 to $73 to PG&E bills each month for solar users.
According to a CPUC report, “Utility Costs and Affordability of the Grid of the Future,” consumers already pay an estimated $9 billion a year for long-distance power lines and utilities get a guaranteed profit of 8-10% from every dollar they spend building and maintaining those power lines.
As former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote in the New York Times,
“The state now has 1.3 million solar rooftops generating roughly 10,000 megawatts of electricity—enough to power three million homes.” He also notes that, “In Nevada, the state’s rooftop solar adoption rate plummeted 47% in the year after the state’s public utilities commission made solar more expensive for consumers by adding higher fixed costs on net-metering customers and reducing the price paid to customers for the excess energy they generate.”
The California Solar and Storage Association claims the new CPUC proposal will impact “over 2,000 schools, 1,000 farms, 300 apartment buildings” as well. They further observe that, “Today’s one million solar systems produce nearly 13 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean energy each year, avoiding 5 million metric tons of CO2 annually.” And Vibrant Clean Energy estimates that, “Maximizing rooftop solar could save ratepayers $120 billion over the next thirty years.”
Of course, using Nevada as an example, California will not maximize rooftop solar, nor will ratepayers save anything like this amount if the new CPUC rule goes into effect.
To stop it
The Solar Rights Alliance recommends that we call the governor at (916)-445-2841.
The CPUC has delayed their final decision, possibly until February 10th. So we don’t have much time.”
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.
A HERO. (PRIME SINGLE) (7.3 IMDB). An excellent Iranian drama centering on one man’s faith, trust, values as he tries to change his life during a few days leave from his prison sentence. His imperfections are like all of ours and leads you to constantly ask yourself what you would have done in his place. As my daughter Hillary would say he’s a nimrod!
MUNICH: THE EDGE OF WAR. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (6.9IMDB). When you have Jeremy Irons playing Neville Chamberlin the British Prime minister just before Winston Churchill as the focus of the film you have some quality. It’s all about how the world reacted to Hitler’s threat to invade England and start WWII. Deep politics, fine acting and important to watch one version of the tragic mistake Chamberlin made in trusting Hitler. Highly recommended viewing.
YAKUZA PRINCESS. (HULU SINGLE) (4.5 IMDB). I thought this would be a Japanese samurai type movie with plenty of ninja, and martial arts stuff…nope. Just a violent plotless flick about a 20 year old woman growing up in Osaka and being bloody in Brazil. No plot, no drama just violence.
HOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH A GANGSTER. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (6.1 IMDB). The “true” story of Nikodem “Nikos” Skotarczakl in case you care about “Nikos”. It’s in Polish and is part comedy that’s played straight-faced to the camera. It’s showy, semi documentary and three hours and five minutes long!! The acting lead does well as a womanizer, car thief, and money changer but watch it only if you have that three hours to spare.
SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or 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.
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 have 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.
THECLEANING 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.
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
SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FESTIVAL…
The Festival engaged the Baroque opera soprano sensation from Australia who has just relocated to the San Francisco Bay area, Bethany Hill. The concert and talk starts at 6:45 on February 5. It’s her western states American debut! Linda Burman-Hall will be playing harpsichord. Her program, includes Elizabethan lute songs, rarely heard music from the female early Baroque radical composers Francesca Caccini and Barbara Strozzi, haunting Purcell songs and everyone’s favorite, Dido’s Lament. Also we have changed the location, to Messiah Lutheran Church, 801 High Street, close to the main UCSC gate so that we can live cast the in person concert. A pre-concert talk will be held starting at 6:45, included with the ticket https://scbaroque.org/ for tickets.
I wrote the piece below in January 2016, six years ago. The list of new housing projects at that time seems quaint compared to the current massive projects approved or pending, such as the one pictured above. With new housing laws imposed by the state taking away local control, so that not even the project above can legally be modified, plus the recently passed Senate Bill 9 ending existing single-family zoning, the built landscape of Santa Cruz in the near future will be unrecognizable.
Based on current academic research, despite the mandated inclusion of 10-12% affordable units in such projects, given the ever-rising Area Medium Income generated by the other 88% affluent new residents, it is predictable in the next 6 years that most current low-income service workers will have been forced to leave this town they have called home for decades.
January 4th 2016
As a finale for 2015, the Sentinel ran a series of articles reminding us of the high cost of housing in Santa Cruz and the impossibility of trying to find an affordable rental unit. Personal hardship stories were moving. I feel for those with limited means being faced with escalating rents and can only thank providence for my moving to Santa Cruz long ago, when rents were $100 a month and a decent house could be bought for around $100,000. Had I not arrived then, I would not be living here now. Mindful of my privileged status as an early resident, I am nonetheless critical of some of the assumptions and conclusions on the housing “crisis”. It is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
A common criticism for the current housing cost crisis in Santa Cruz is laid at the door of the no-growth policies (more accurately, slow-growth) policies adopted in the 1970’s. If only, so the logic goes, we had been able to build more housing we would not be in this mess. This view fails to recognize that housing is a commodity, profit is the goal, demand is manipulated and supply has hardly been static. I’ve watched as housing developments have been built over the past 40 years with ads running in out-of-town newspapers encouraging folks to “come live by the sea in sunny Santa Cruz.” Others, such as 1010 Pacific, were promoted to council as homes for our police, fire and teachers but have turned out to be just more student housing. I watch the UCSC student population increase from 6,000 in 1979 to almost 18,000 in 2015. With half the student population opting to live off-campus and with many parents paying their rents, frequently offering to pay more than the asking price, local families who seek rental housing are out-bid. I watch as Santa Cruz is marketed on a global scale, eyed by many upscale visitors as a place for a second or third home, or for an investment property, with Airbnb funding the mortgage and therefore raising the value and ultimately the cost of all Santa Cruz housing stock.
Another common establishment view is that nothing gets built in Santa Cruz because of city rules and regulations, no-growth council members or NIMBY neighbors. This is simply not the case. It’s been decades since any council majority failed to support a housing or hotel development. Neighbors who turn out to council to plea for some respite from the impacts of height and scale variances for new large-scale developments are ignored. Even pleas to save a few long-established street trees are ignored, as was the case with a recently- approved housing development on lower Seabright Avenue.
Actually there has been a lot of new housing stock built, approved, under construction or pending in our city, which has a supposed water crisis in dry years and a road carrying capacity at overload. Recently constructed are: 21 apartments; 9 studio units; 24 condos and a 13- lot subdivision. Under construction are: 248 residential units; 10 apartments and an 8-lot subdivision. Recently approved are 94 small units; 20 apartments; 4 condos; 36 townhouses and 126 units. Pending are 58 condos. Since developers can pay in-lieu fees instead of including the required 15% “affordable” units, all this development is most likely market-rate, is advertised outside Santa Cruz and will likely be occupied by new arrivals and future students.
It is in this context that we should be more critical of the Corridors Development Project that is working its way through city staff, consultants, commissions and ultimately to council. I have written before how this project will drastically alter our town for the worse. This in-filling, dense, “smart-growth” approach is already being challenged in Portland as not delivering on its promises but rather has exacerbated overcrowding, traffic congestion and due to real-estate speculation, has not made housing any more affordable. Our experience will predictably be no different. 1/4/16
|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.|
SIGN THE PETITIONS!
Is there anything better or more important than participating in the decision-making of how the future of Santa Cruz might look and feel as we move toward mid-century? I like to believe that signing a petition that’s headed for a general election ballot, to be voted on by the people, is more American than apple pie, or even baseball. And I’m not talking about when Phillip Morris or Exxon, or the Plastics Manufacturers of California when they put on one of their fake initiatives that more often than not is intended to fool or confuse the voter or obfuscate what the corporation is really engaged in. In fact, I do not sign petitions if they do not say exactly what group is responsible and how much money they put up. The legislature even tried to pass a law in Sacramento a couple of years ago in which any petition circulating had to print the group behind it and where the money comes from. You guessed it, it did not pass. Made it to the governor’s desk, but was then vetoed by Gavin Newsom. Why? Follow the money.
Santa Cruz Direct Democracy
Then, along comes two rather beautiful, and bold, initiatives, gifts really, to Santa Cruz voters. The Empty Homes Tax (EHT) and Our Downtown, Our Future, (ODOF) which I have written about before, but as the 180 days each has to qualify for the ballot evaporates through the political hourglass it’s important to point out why both are so vital to the progressive and leftish political culture of Santa Cruz. Both initiatives strongly push back on the developer-real estate industry-friendly climate that has developed in this town over at least the past decade. The election of 2018 was almost a watershed. I write almost because while Drew Glover and Justin Cummings won seats on the city council and tilted that body leftward, more than a million dollars of outside and inside money was raised to badly defeat Measure M, the rent control initiative. Some of that cash remained as seed-money to then oust Glover and myself from office in 2020 right before the pandemic brought in-person local government meetings to a halt. The same retrograde elements of capitalism then funded Renee Golder’s candidacy to return the council to its more mainstream-conservative 4-3 bent. There are currently around 39,000 city voters and these initiatives need only 10%, approximately 3900 registered voter signatures, to get them on the ballot. And to win? Well, if there were the usual midterm election tepid governor’s race turnout (especially since Recallers had their shot at Gavin Newsom already), the usual turnout might be 45-60%. But, the likely turnout will be higher in November of 2022 and probably closer to the 2018 rent control high bar of 76% of eligible city voters casting ballots.
Why Santa Cruz Needs Both These Measures
These initiatives are complimentary. The Our Downtown, Our Future petition, if passed by voters will deliver several city-owned lots in which to build affordable housing… and remember, the funds for building this housing will come from the tax on empty homes that EHT represents. Not only does EHT provide badly needed money for housing it also will likely have the effect of owners renting out their property, or selling it, because some will not want to pay the tax. The EHT tax can also be used to acquire and rehab existing housing, which is the environmentalist path to follow, similar to rebuilding the library where it now stands on Church Street, not demolishing it and starting over new at Lot 4. The ODOF initiative also asks voters if they want to keep the Downtown Farmer’s Market where it is and not ax the ten heritage trees now offering solace and shade to customers and passersby along Cedar Street.
Class Ballot Initiative Warfare?
There are conversations going on about how these two ballot measures somehow represent various class divides that course through the Santa Cruz community. Indications of the class-initiative divide was somewhat in evidence in front of Whole Foods on Soquel Avenue recently. Evidently, petition-gatherers for the EHT were rebuffed more often than ODOF partisans. It is all anecdotal as of press time, but from my personal experience, collecting signatures in front of Whole Paycheck is not productive, the main reason being that most of their customers do not live in the city of Santa Cruz. Only one in three, out of the 70 contacts I made, lived in the city. Also from experience, there seems to be more city voters buying groceries at Shopper’s Corner. The class issue, although noticeable, is really a red-herring. While social and economic class warfare is real in Santa Cruz, these two initiatives are more in line with democratic socialism than predatory capitalism. I suggest, if you are concerned with the current developer land grab going on in Santa Cruz, voting for both of these ballot measures will send a chill down the UC-Swenson-Devcon-SC Realtors spine. If you seek to be part of this major push-back effort on $capital$, and pull this community towards a place of social healing and a “petition of redress in the most humble terms,” then by all means, sign the petition.
Strike Averted, for now: SEIU Local 521 settled and sent a contract to be voted on by their rank and file late last Sunday night.
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 email@example.com
Email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
HOME RULE AND DEFENDING THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
If you love the beach town atmosphere, rural areas and “not-so-San-Jose-like” feel of Santa Cruz County, you need to wake up and smell what the State has in store to change it all, with little you could do to stop it…unless we can convince our elected Board of Supervisors to invoke Home Rule…and just say “NO!” to the impending big stick the State is wielding.
The State, under the cloak of the Associated Monterey Bay Area Governments 9AMBAG) and Housing & Community Development (HCD) will soon mandate Santa Cruz County and inherent cities to triple the housing units built annually under Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), and will likely penalize those who don’t. That, coupled with SB 35 and SB9, the quality of life here in Santa Cruz County could become dismal, with little to nothing local planning departments and the public could do…unless, the County Board of Supervisors adopts becoming a charter county, and invokes Home Rule.
Read this report on the issue by ‘Good Times’ reporter Aiyana Moya:
“This year, the state more than tripled the number of houses it expects the counties to build over the next eight years, setting a goal of 33,274 units to be built by 2031….Originally, AMBAG discussions had placed Santa Cruz County’s goals for new housing units between 10,800 and 10,500 by 2031. But at AMBAG’s Jan. 12 meeting, the board voted to increase the number of housing units assigned to Santa Cruz County to 12,979”
RHNA? What’s that? RHNA – Regional Housing Needs Allocation
The right to local self-government including the powers to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals, and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur debt.
Home rule involves the authority of a local government to prevent state government intervention with its operations. The extent of its power, however, is subject to limitations prescribed by state constitutions and statutes.
When a municipality or other political subdivision has the power to decide for itself whether to follow a particular course of action without receiving specific approval from state officials, it acts pursuant to such powers. For example, a town exercises its home rule powers when it puts the issue of allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages within its borders on the ballot.
Types of Counties
“The California Constitution recognizes two types of counties: general law counties and charter counties. General law counties adhere to state law as to the number and duties of county elected officials. Charter counties, on the other hand, have a limited degree of “home rule” authority that may provide for the election, compensation, terms, removal, and salary of the governing board; for the election or appointment (except the sheriff, district attorney, and assessor who must be elected), compensation, terms, and removal of all county officers; for the powers and duties of all officers; and for consolidation and segregation of county offices. A charter does not give county officials extra authority over local regulations, revenue-raising abilities, budgetary decisions, or intergovernmental relations.
A county may adopt, amend, or repeal a charter with majority vote approval. A new charter or the amendment or repeal of an existing charter may be proposed by the Board of Supervisors, a charter commission, or an initiative petition. The provisions of a charter are the law of the state and have the force and effect of legislative enactments.”
Currently, Santa Cruz County is a general law county, but that could change if the Board of Supervisors has the political will to resist what is essentially a state-takeover by adopting a County Charter.
Some counties in California are already charter counties…
Charter Counties: Alameda, Butte, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange, Placer, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Tehama
If you are concerned about the future quality of life in Santa Cruz County and wonder if becoming a Home Rule Charter County could help preserve our paradise, try contacting your County Supervisors and ask that they consider this action. Also, try contacting the government administrators in the existing charter counties and ask if they are, or will consider, invoking Home Rule to resist the State’s tripling RHNA mandates. Please let me know what you learn and I will do the same here in future blogs.
COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS DISSOLVE THE LIVE OAK PARKING PERMIT PROGRAM
The Board of Supervisors will be officially dissolving the Live Oak Beach Parking Permit Program because it has no support from the public or the Coastal Commission, and is not financially sustainable.
Because of public outcry about a year ago when Public Works disclosed in public hearings that the beach parking permit program would be expanded to include more months of the year and possibly include all beach areas of the County, Public Works Dept. Director Matt Machado decided not to implement the Live Oak Beach Parking Permit Program at all in 2021.
Last fall, Public Works informed the Board that there were very few complaints regarding the impact on parking by not having the parking program and there continued to be no community support for the program. Public Works then recommended that the parking program be dissolved.
GOODBYE, OPAL CLIFFS RECREATIONAL DISTRICT…WILL THE LOCKED GATE TO PRIVATE’S BEACH NOW BE REMOVED?
The County Board of Supervisors will likely approve the dissolution of the Opal Cliffs Recreation District, merging those upscale properties into the County Service Area (CSA) 11 County Parks & Rec. District…but will they throw away the need for a $100/year key to the locked gate to Private’s Beach?
Let’s hope the locked gate goes away, too.
This will now place the $11,489 annual tax collected from parcels in a 66.54 acres area into the County’s CSA 11. Will the Santa Cruz County LAFCO make any recommendations about what County Parks & Rec. should do regarding the embattled Private’s Beach access?
“The project site is subject to an environmental review. Santa Cruz LAFCO will serve as the lead agency for assessing impacts under CEQA. Staff believes the proposal qualifies as a project under CEQA. Therefore, an environmental review is underway.”
WHERE IS THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING?
If you pass by 1500 Capitola Road in Live Oak, you’ll see a couple of two-story buildings on that contaminated site that are the Dientes and medical clinics, but NO affordable housing. See the photos below…it seems there is only a large pile of possibly contaminated soil (judging so because it is sort of covered with plastic) that is immediately next to the existing residences.
The contaminant, PCE, is very volatile and is Carcinogenic. Santa Cruz Sentinel article: Mixed use affordable housing project moves ahead despite contamination.
For the sake of the health of those who will live in the 57 affordable housing units, let us hope that the EPA and State Housing officials have put the brakes on this until some meaningful clean-up is done. Otherwise, those residents and their families will have to hope that the forced-air system works 100% of the time to keep the carcinogenic vapors from entering the building via utility conduits.
GIVING CALFIRE $91,000 MORE AT PAJARO DUNES STATION
The Board of Supervisors will approve as a Consent Item to transfer $91,000 from the Pajaro Dunes CSA 4 County Fire Dept. account to pay CAL FIRE for back pay due to COVID emergencies. Wow. That little station sits cozy at the posh Pajaro Dunes beach condo development, and it just got cushier.
No wonder last year’s Santa Cruz County LAFCO analysis of fire districts Countywide recommended dissolving CSA 4 County Fire Pajaro Dunes to be included in the broader County CSA 48 County Fire Dept. that works with CAL FIRE to provide emergency response to all rural areas outside other fire district jurisdictions.
You just never know when someone’s roasting marshmallow will catch on fire….and CAL FIRE will call out the Pajaro Dunes unit to respond in the brand new fire engines.
COUNTY SHERIFF WILL BE ABLE TO HEAR, SEE AND RECORD WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Instead of training citizens to help their neighbors in a disaster, the County will give this year’s Homeland Security grant money to the County Sheriff to buy a special phone system to spy on “suspected” criminals and terrorists. Hmmm…Who decides when that will be and who will be surveilled?
Every year, the County Office of Emergency Management receives grant money from the Department of Homeland Security. Under the good management of Rosemary Anderson, the money would often be used to fund Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainings and equipment to better prepare all County residents to be self-sufficient and helpful in their communities when there is a disaster.
Not so now that County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios kicked Ms. Anderson out of her job (just as the CZU Fire was happening, by the way), and handed the work to a hodge-podge of hit and miss efforts by his own staff and General Services Dept. staff. Then the OR3 (Office of Response, Recovery, Resilience) got invented, ostensibly to help the CZU Fire survivors but also to provide a job for David Reid, former analyst of Supervisor John Leopold after he lost re-election.
Now look at how this year’s $356,972 grant money is getting spent, as is itemized in the Resolution Accepting Unanticipated Revenue:
” $13,000 of the grant will fund the purchase of a tactical video/audio phone system that connects to the Sheriff’s Office 836 command box system to enable officers to see, hear, and record what a suspected criminal/terrorist is doing and saying, which will increase their ability to negotiate and respond.
$266,124 contribution to other agencies.
$17,848 for software licensing.
$60,000 Regular Pay, permanent.”
Although the staff report states: “$75,060 of the grant will fund the purchase of digital mobile radio equipment for multiple fire districts throughout Santa Cruz County to provide improved interoperability and strengthen public safety communications capability for first responders.“, this is not reported at all in the Board’s Resolution Accepting Unanticipated Revenue, nor does it detail which fire departments in the County would get the radios.
I, along with many other community members, wish that Rosemary Anderson were back in charge of helping our County be better-prepared for emergencies. Contact your County Supervisors and let them know your thoughts about this.
WHO WOULD HAVE KNOWN? A POND IN THE MIDDLE OF TWIN LAKES SUBURBIA
Last weekend while visiting the Live Oak Farmers Market in the East Cliff Shopping Center, I spotted a hidden gem from the parking area. Fenced on all four sides is a well-established pond, complete with dense tule reed stands and Mallard ducks. That’s the East Cliff Village Senior Living complex in the background of the pond in the photo below, sporting many rooftop solar panels.
Just like the Jessie Street Marsh in Santa Cruz City (currently under attack by MidPen Housing developers), there are still a few wild places amongst the sea of the paved and impermeable….. We really need to appreciate them and be good stewards to make sure they are preserved.
WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. GO WATCH DUCKS AFTER PARTICIPATING IN A ZOOM MEETING. YOU CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE BY JUST DOING 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
LOMA PRIETA CHAPARRAL
Many of us are drawn to mountain tops if not physically at least visually, some even spiritually. Botanists go to see the unique flora. Some botanists are “peak baggers” along with many others. There is no “bagging” Loma Prieta, but the flora around it is very special. And the peak has been sacred to some but has been defiled by others, now buzzing with communications towers that make you want to stay far away.
At 3,790 feet Loma Prieta towers above Santa Cruz, the highest peak of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The mountain is near the Santa Clara/Santa Cruz County Line and looks over the nearby San Andreas Fault. More people know the name of the peak from 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake – the epicenter was just west of the mountain.
It snows up there almost every year and the rain falls in torrents because the highest peaks catch the most rain. There is little soil near Loma Prieta, but lots of well drained rock. There are patches of sandstone surrounded by a massive amount of mudstone. Craggy dark sandstone outcrops accent the slopes near Loma Prieta. Roadcuts reveal fascinating patterns formed by the nearby faulting. The mudstone and sandstone rocks were created by sediment washed into the Pacific from ancient California’s rivers, laid down in layer after layer, with different layers of slightly different colors, textures, and thicknesses. Tectonic movement has pitched those layers this way and that, sometimes in great undulating waves, other times tilted this way and that. The roadcut rock is fascinating mosaic art.
Rain soaks through these fractured stones, bubbling out below to form the headwaters of streams that provide drinking water for hundreds of thousands. Looking out from the mountain, you see the steep and thickly wooded Soquel Creek canyon or turn towards the other side and look down Uvas Creek that leads to the Uvas Reservoir and onto the Pajaro River, or gaze north into streams headed to the Lexington Reservoir.
I try to visit the area’s peaks once a year to get my bearing and appreciate this place. And, I can see most of those peaks from Loma Prieta: Mount Diablo, Mount Hamilton, Fremont Peak, Devil’s Peak, and Ben Lomond Mountain are all right there. A while back, I would visit Loma Prieta to get a good view of the region’s fireworks on July Fourth. Back then, the shoreline of the Monterey Bay was lit by many displays and there were many displays in towns all the way to San Francisco and beyond. It is a delightful place to see the entire Monterey Bay and a huge expanse of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. But really, I go for the plants.
My favorite plants to visit up that way are two subspecies of at type of manzanita that is normally found a long ways north, but which have outlying patches on sandstone near Loma Prieta. The Hoary (A. canescens ssp. canescens) and Sonoma (A. canescens ssp. sonomensis) are beautiful silvery shrubs with smooth red bark so dark it is almost black. I visited last weekend and it was just starting to blossom, some shrubs had pure white and others very pink flowers.
This is a very shrub diverse area. In a short distance, in addition to the above, you can find three other manzanitas: Santa Cruz manzanita (A. andersonii) and brittle leaved manzanita (A. crustacea ssp. crustacea) and Rose’s manzanita (A. crustacea ssp. rosei). And, the ceanthus that normally accompany manzanitas are equally diverse with 5 species also occurring in close proximity to Loma Prieta: warty leaved ceanothus (C. papillosus); blue blossom (C. thrysiflorus var thrysiflous), wavy-leaf ceanothus (C. foliosus var. foliosus), buck brush (C. cuneatus var. cuneatus) and Jim brush (C. oliganthus var. sorediatus). More shrubs still include 3 species of silk tassel – bear brush (G. fremontii), silk tassel (G. eliptica), and ashy silk tassel (G. flavescens), mountain mahogany, pitcher sage, chaparral pea, bush poppy, coffee berry, coyote bush, and on and on. With this menagerie of chaparral shrubs, the scents are awesome as the sun warms the millions of resinous leaves.
Trees are super diverse up there, too. It is surprising to see a rare local conifer California nutmeg emerging from the chaparral. The canyon live oaks are everywhere in multi-trunked patches resprouting from multiple fires. There is also interior live oak, foothill pine, and knobcone pine. Some trees are odd: the madrones have paler orange bark than normal, the bay trees have more flakey bark, and the tanoaks have longer and or smaller more toothed leaves. The patches of trees are especially thickly festooned with beards of mosses and dense carpets of lichens.
Clearing the Shrubs
With the exception of a few patches managed by public parks, most of the area is privately owned, and it shows. A County Planner has told me on many occasions that the County’s policy is to not allow clearing of this rare chaparral type. And yet, you can see the expansive clearing from Highway One. There are immense mansions and squalid trailers, many with massive fire clearance zones. And, there are acres and acres of vineyards and horse corrals as well as sprawling greenhouses.
This network of development and the roads that serve them has badly fragmented this beautiful chaparral, especially in the last 15 years. Human incursions are made evident by aisles and acres of weeds: jubata grass, Scotch and French broom, and acacia are the most evident.
Even with all of the clearing but especially with the influx of flammable weeds along the roads, this area seems likely to burn badly one day.
Many areas around Loma Prieta have not burned in a long, long time; but there have been recent fires. North and West of Loma Prieta, there are some of the oldest, largest knobcone pines I’ve ever seen, evidence that it has been a long time since fire. South and East of Loma Prieta, are miles of skeletons of trees and shrubs that belie more recent fires. The 2008 Summit Fire (4,200 acres), the 2009 Loma Fire (435 acres), and then the 2016 Loma Fire (4,470 acres) all have scorched areas around Loma Prieta, and all were human caused.
You can visit patches of this unique chaparral in a few parks. Some of this type of chaparral is at Mount Madonna County Park. The more shrub-diverse type is found in the Sierra Azul Preserve managed by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District at Mount Umunhum, the next peak north of, and not far from, Loma Prieta. The top of Santa Clara County Park’s Uvas Canyon County Park touches the shoulder of Loma Prieta south of the peak. This type of chaparral gets less interestingly diverse but still remains expansive in the upper areas of Nisene Marks State Park, say along the top of Aptos Fire Road.
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 email@example.com
The photo above is a 1972 portrait of the United States Supreme Court. This is the Court that decided Roe v. Wade. In the front row in the photo, beginning on the left, are Associate Justice Potter Stewart, Associate Justice William O. Douglas, Chief Justice Warren Berger, Associate Justice William J. Brennan Jr., and Associate Justice Byron A. White. In the back row, also from the left, are Associate Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall, Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun, and Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist.
As you will note, the Court at that time was totally male, and mostly old. The idea that the Supreme Court is comprised of “Nine Old Men” was brought to the attention of the American public shortly after the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt to the presidency. Roosevelt’s efforts to promulgate a “New Deal” for the country, which was supported by the Congress, was initially frustrated by the Supreme Court. In 1937, Roosevelt threatened to “pack the Court,” by expanding its membership, and while this idea went nowhere at the time (it’s coming back around now, in case you have missed this), the Court started to look at the issues in a new light, and the United States had its “New Deal,” after all.
As the New York Daily News said on January 23, 1973, in reporting on Roe v. Wade, “The Supreme Court ruled in a historic decision today that it is entirely up to a woman and her doctor to decide whether she will have an abortion during the first six months of pregnancy.” Roe v. Wade was then, and still is, a pretty famous case – and certainly a consequential one.
Today, in 2022, anyone who is thinking about Roe v. Wade is probably also thinking about the possibility that the 1973 decision will soon be overturned. On December 1, 2021, arguments were held in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Supreme Court is being invited to overturn Roe v. Wade, and news reports, following the oral arguments, seem to indicate that this is a real possibility. That, too, would be a consequential decision – and a decision that we will not be able to blame on “Nine Old Men.” The current Court, shown below, is not all old, and it is certainly not all male.
About a month ago, prior to the arguments in the Dobbs case, The New York Times printed an editorial with the following headline: “To Protect Abortion Rights, Turn to Elections.” Here is what The Times’ editorial said:
The most pressing issue in the Dobbs case is not the legal response of the court, but the political response of a consistent majority of Americans who agree that a woman has a right to control what happens inside her own body in most or all cases.
I think The Times is right. The most important thing is not a “legal” question. The most important thing is a question about our politics. William McGurn, a reliably right wing columnist who writes for The Wall Street Journal, comes at the question from a different direction, but he also makes a case that what we need to focus on, as we decide on the rules that govern our society, is the “legislative” branch, not the “judicial” branch. This is, in fact, what I was getting at some time ago, in my blog posting on Justice Black’s dissent in Griswold v. Connecticut, the “privacy” case that preceded Roe v. Wade.
As I so often repeat, there is an “equation” by which we govern ourselves. It begins with “politics.”
POLITICS > LAW > GOVERNMENT
“Politics” leads to legislation, to our laws, which then govern every aspect of our lives together. And “politics” begins with us. To be more precise, “politics” begins with us if we wish to maintain a system of democratic self-government. If we do, then we have to be involved in “politics” ourselves.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
WORD OF THE PROFITS ARE WRITTEN ON THE SUBWAY WALLS
In a word, these past weeks have actually seen an abundance of words: missing words, famous last words, word of mouth, words to the wise, words of wisdom, words on the subway walls – mene, mene, tekel, upharsin? It sounded like a game of Hangman gone wrong, with so many deletions, corrections and clarifications. Word up!
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell spewing the most egregious ‘missing word’ mishap when asked about his opposition to Biden’s voting rights legislation, said, “If you look at statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.” African Americans are not Americans, Mitch? It took the Kentuckian two days to respond to criticism of his implication with a news conference to set the record straight, saying, “I inadvertently omitted the word ‘almost’. Staff likely sent him back to the microphone immediately after this fail, where he sheepishly admitted “the omitted word is ‘all’, not ‘almost’, sorry.” Yep, most of us are sorry, as well, that you continue to wield power in the Senate…and, is that lapel flag pin actually a Confederate Stars and Bars? Words fail me.
Senator Ted Cruz’s daughter, Caroline, posted on TikTok that she disagrees with “most of” her father’s opinions, and switched her account to a private one. Her perspective is that people were judging her under the umbrella of Ted’s politics. Sorry, dad, but it’s going to take more than a winter vacation in Cancun to win back your daughter’s fealty. A word to the wise!
Cruz also developed a foot-in-mouth disorder during Insurrection Week anniversary, which was not well-received by his right wing stablemates, when he called the onslaught of the Congressional meeting, “a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol.” Challenged by Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, the Texas senator claimed to have “misspoken”, that his words were “sloppy and frankly dumb”, despite having asserted a year ago, “this was a shocking assault on our democratic system.” Tucker was having none of Ted’s trying to walk back his words, saying that they didn’t believe in his sincerity, which only resulted in more mud-slinging toward the wordless victim.
And yet another January 6th Insurrection Day story about Trump’s refusal or reluctance to put out any appeals to the rioters with the words, “stay peaceful”, as they smashed their way into the Capitol, beating policemen, breaking down doors and taking over offices. The Assaulter-in-Chief was having too much fun watching the chaos on TV to be bothered by those who were begging him to put an end to the events, perhaps being enamored of the words the traitors were smearing on the walls of government.
Fox’s Hannity provided another round of entertainment with a Captain Chaos of Orange interview which kind of bounced off the wall, in a word. Trump was asked by Sean why he kept metaphorically “banging his head against the wall” in his criticisms of Biden’s ‘failed policies’ with no expectation of a course change. Pavlov’s dog would be proud, as the Captain took the word, ‘wall,’ and took off in another direction…south, to the border, and a lecture on how successful the construction of the wall between Mexico and the U.S. was working, blah, blah, and blah. Famous last words…not!
Kari Lake, who wants run for governor in Arizona, upset that Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene was being dumped from her Twitter account, showed her spunk to voters in the state, by promising that if elected, she would defend a Patriot’s right to free speech by “banning censorship” – “Censoring ‘censorship’?”, asked the public. We’ll have to take her word for it!
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: email@example.com.
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.
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
Parmesan cheese, who doesn’t love it? Have you ever wondered why it’s so pricey? Well, wonder no more, here is a very good explanation.
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
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