BRATTON…Damned City Library vote, UCSC’s East Meadow battle, Statue of Liberty News, Bushwhackers Breakfast Club. GREENSITE…on the Magnolias. KROHN…City police budget, local government. STEINBRUNER…PATTON…Mother Nature’s Hands EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES… “Fireworks”
WORLD’S BEST SCOOTER TRICKS 2020. I didn’t know you could do this…check it out.
OSTRICH RACING 2011. In case you missed this particular year.
DATELINE June 29
PUBLIC LIBRARY VOTE & FUTURE HOPE. The City council voted 4-2 to build the city library structure/structure — which will be costly, unnecessary, and exactly the way most politically active locals predicted. Our city government has once again muffled the voice, votes and wishes of the citizens. I asked Jean Brocklebank, director of Don’t Bury The Library, to sum up the current library scene. She replied… “Although the City Council voted 4 – 2 to move forward with the Mixed-Use project, it isn’t over until it’s over! The City Council will meet again on August 25 to hear staff reports on funding this huge, complicated project. The barriers to actually producing this misguided behemoth of a project are enormous. We remain skeptical they can pull this off.
What happened on Tuesday , June 22?
After over three and a half hours of meeting, including public comments, and in the face of a clear mandate by the public, four members of the City Council voted to proceed with the massive Mixed-Use project that will forever change the open air small-scale quality of Cedar Street downtown. Katherine Beiers and Sandy Brown voted no, with Sandy stating that she had never seen “such lopsided” comment from the public.
True enough about the public opposition! We counted the letters that came into the City Council about this contentious project. By 5:07 pm on the day the Council met, there were a total of 571 letters.
Of those 571 letters, 436 were in opposition to mixed-use and in favor of library renovation, a project that would also save the last public open space downtown, where the Farmers’ Market has been for decades, to allow for planning a downtown commons. Compare our 436 letters to the 135 supporting mixed-use. Add to those letters the equally lopsided testimony during the Council’s meeting and that puts opposition to the mixed-use project at about 75% of the public that wrote or spoke on the matter.
As we said to Council members during our testimony: “If the message had been a 50/50 split, it would have identified the proposal before you as merely controversial. But with more than 3 to 1 opposed, you have been given a clear mandate to vote no on the mixed-use project.” One may see DBTL’s statement to Council here.
In his vote, the Mayor stated — as we have known all along — that affordable housing was what he cared about the most. Who is not for affordable housing?! It is unfortunate that the mayor did not understand that since the fall of 2016, this project was supposed to be about the library and what was to happen to it. Affordable housing is not dependent on the library being included in any affordable housing project anywhere in the downtown.
Toward the end of the meeting, after discussion of the motion submitted by Donna Meyers, Mayor Cummings proposed some “friendly amendments” to her motion, no doubt because he was somewhat skeptical (as he darn well should have been) about certain aspects of the project.
Meyers accepted all but the last one … the most important one. It read: “Should we not be able to move the mixed-use housing project forward, City Council will move forward with the renovation.” Cummings was assured by Meyers that his 5th amendment was a given anyway, but our guess is that Meyers would not approve any motion with the word renovation in it, otherwise it could have been included, as a stated given, huh?
One may read the final motion by going to the Summary provided by the clerk here. Scroll to the 6:00 pm portion of the daylong meeting.
What’s Next? Good question!
The CFST has put out a very interesting message, which can be read here.
Meanwhile, Don’t Bury The Library will continue to collaborate with anyone interested in our mission, which has always been to have the downtown library repaired, upgraded and modernized with Measure S funds.
As we are fond of saying, stay tuned …
Jean Brocklebank on behalf of Don’t Bury The Library
UCSC’S EAST MEADOW ISSUES. I don’t think the UC Campuses have ever had as many challenges as they do now. Not just COVID, but budgets, student overcrowding, just space to exist. Our UCSC has all of that and more. The East Meadow Action Committee has been fighting the good fight to maintain the values and principles that once propelled it to near the top of its class. Here’s the entire newest press release from the Action committee…just to keep us as close to the same page as possible.
East Meadow Update, 6/28/20
Report on our lawsuit
We have a verdict in our case against the East Meadow portion of the Student Housing West project. The Judge has ruled that the approval of the project by the Regents was improper because their approval was based largely on conclusions about cost comparisons, and the University failed to provide all the Regents with the cost analyses that would have enabled an informed decision. Therefore the Judge has indicated that when he issues his final writ in late August, he will order the Regents to rescind their approval of the project.
While this is a victory, it is a temporary victory. The University can now provide the full Board of Regents with the previously withheld cost analysis, and the Regents can then either re-approve the original project or seriously consider changes. Nonetheless, we think that this ruling opens the door to serious discussion of a revised plan that would spare the East Meadow.
We also made other arguments under California environmental law for ordering the Regents to rescind their approval. These were unsuccessful. The strict confines of environmental litigation proved too narrow to fully demonstrate in this proceeding the previous UCSC administration’s flawed approach to this project. If the Judge had approved our arguments, it would have been more difficult and time-consuming for the university to respond.
We have a number of possibilities for making this positive outcome more long-lasting. We can persuade the UCSC administration that the project as proposed is destructive to the campus and that better alternatives are available. We can persuade the Regents not to approve this project unless it is modified to avoid the Meadow. We can go to the Appeals Court to try to win on the arguments that would make our victory more secure.
So there is work to be done. We will keep you informed about the best way forward and what you can do to help. Thank you for all your continued support.
East Meadow Action Committee
Go to their website to catch up on the facets and flaws in the UCSC plans… It’ll tell you this…The East Meadow Action Committee (EMAC) is a group of University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) faculty, students, alumni, staff, and concerned community members. We have joined together in an effort to prevent development on one of the campus’s most important scenic landmarks, the East Meadow, north and east of the intersection of Hagar and Coolidge Drive on the UCSC campus.
STATUE OF LIBERTY…FACTS! Last week I wrote that we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because it was gift from France and the sculptor was French and that France had a long history of slavery. I’m still not sure if I was or am serious about this, but N. Wolfe and S. Zunes wrote to state that they “Wanted to make sure you know about this”. It appears it was not a gift of the French government after all, but of the French Anti-Slavery Society. Click on that link — there’s a lot to learn about that statue, and what it meant…and still means. I jumped the gun when I also brought up the smoothing of Mount Rushmore. Rushmore was carved on land owned by the Lakota Sioux and taken from them by the government. Now rumors have it that Trump himself has made statements that he would like his visage carved up there. Can it get more crazed?
BUSHWHACKERS BREAKFAST CLUB. Every Friday morning on KZSC (88.1 fm or live online at KZSC.org) from 8:10am-8:20am or thereabouts I present my “B Movie Bratton” segment of short critiques (not reviews) of what’s on our screens. Dangerous Dan Orange hosts the rest of the Bushwhackers B. Club. Lately of course those screens are on anything but theatre screens . Tune in this Friday and hear critiques re Parry Mason, Athlete A, and more and more.
SAVING THE MAGNOLIAS
It shouldn’t be so difficult to save trees in a Tree City USA with a Climate Action Plan and thousands of dollars of grant money to study the local effects of climate change. But every week the decision is made to cut down yet more big trees for human convenience. It seems the noble tree is relegated to the “expendable” category. Perhaps because it does its own thing to breathe in carbon dioxide, store it and breathe out oxygen, measured in tons. It doesn’t require technological solutions and big bucks expenditure to perform its miracle. The only thing it requires from humans is to be allowed to live. Seems we have a problem with even that gesture.
The latest threat to our city’s beautiful trees is the city council decision on a 4-2 vote to approve the parking garage cum library cum token housing on Cathcart and Cedar Streets, site of the Farmers’ Market. This is also the place where some beautiful Magnolia trees live. Magnolias are believed to be the earliest known flowering plant, with fossils dating back over 100 million years. A very large Magnolia was cut down at London Nelson Center a decade or so ago. Seems it blocked the view of social problems in the open space at the back of the center. Now, the Magnolia trees that grace the open lot on Cathcart and Cedar are on the chopping block. That is if the city fails to follow its Heritage Tree Ordinance.
The city’s Heritage Tree Ordinance (HTO) has an accompanying Resolution that spells out the criteria for permitting the removal of a heritage tree. Resolution NS-23, 710. It is a challenge to find that Resolution in the city’s database. It spells out under what criteria you can apply for and receive a tree removal permit. One of the listed criterion is “if the design of a project cannot be altered” to accommodate the tree. I’ve bolded the critical word. Since designs are lines on paper, they of course can be altered to accommodate a heritage tree, with some exceptions. The Hyatt design on Broadway could have been altered to save the 110 year-old Red Horse Chestnut that grew a few feet from the sidewalk. Developers of course don’t want to change a design. By the time the project reaches council level for approval the design is as good as if in concrete despite still being lines on paper. The initial problem is at the Planning staff level. At the first meeting of developer and staff, if staff were operating in the public good, staff would alert the developer of the HTO and suggest/require a design to accommodate any heritage trees, especially if they are on the outskirts of the project. In my experience, the only advice the developer is given re heritage trees is that a Tree Removal Permit will need to be applied for and two replacement saplings per removed tree planted somewhere or in lieu fees paid.
A few years back the city was hell bent on amending (read weakening) the HTO and a proposed change was to insert the word “reasonably” after the word “cannot” in the Resolution. If the revised HTO had come to pass, that criterion would be, “if the design of a project cannot reasonably be altered” to accommodate the tree: a subjective qualifier that would have weakened heritage tree protection. Save Our Big Trees sued and won. So the original wording stands.
I’m saddened that 4 council members ignored the community majority and voted to approve building a monolithic structure on this community site, thereby fragmenting the civic core of the Civic Auditorium, City Hall and Public Library. Given their politics it is doubtful any of the four will speak up for the trees. So as usual it is up to the community to act.
The critical issue to save the trees is to act now and not wait until it is a fully-fledged project moving from staff to planning commission and then to council. Demand now, if the project is moving ahead, that any design accommodate all the Magnolias that are on the edge of the site and not squeezed in and compromised like the once beautiful red flowering gum tree (corymbia) at the Barry Swenson monolithic market rate apartments almost completed at the head of Pacific and Cedar. Cite the HTO Resolution. Demand that the trees in the center of the lot be relocated not cut down. The latter is not in the Resolution but could be a Mitigation.
It shouldn’t be so difficult to save big trees in Santa Cruz. That it is suggests a disconnect between what the city claims to stand for and how it acts towards those quiet, magnificent, living, life-giving species we call trees.
|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.|
June 30, 2020
“Historically, armed professionalized police forces are a fairly recent entrant onto the violence-prevention scene, appearing in a form recognizable to our modern conceptions as late as the nineteenth century, yet they have been endowed with an almost timeless sense of necessity.“
Refund, Defund, Abolish, Dismantle, Rearrange, Reallocate, Revamp, Revisit
Now is the time. The spectre of cops in riot gear, some atop horses, some leading the charge with pepper spray, most often against unarmed and peaceful protesters, has been abhorrent to we the people these past few weeks. In fact, the well-respected human rights organization Amnesty International Tweeted out on May 31,
“The U.S. police across the country are failing their obligations under international law to respect and facilitate the right to peaceful protest, exacerbating a tense situation and endangering the lives of protesters. All unnecessary or excessive force must cease immediately.”
How did we arrive to this moment? What can be done to bring real public safety into our communities? We find ourselves on a political, social, and psychological precipice. It is an opportunity that does not come often. How will we adjust? This is an historic moment for our nation, our state, and the community of Santa Cruz. We have a chance to institute major change(s) in the way we do policing because at the end of the day the policing culture here in Surf City is similar in training and day to day work habits as it is in Minneapolis, New York City, Louisville, Ferguson, and Victorville. It is about the culture of policing that so many voices are calling to reign in. It’s about obtaining real public safety. BearCat tanks, flash-bang grenades, tear gas, hi-powered automatic weapons, rubber bullets, and riot gear are tools are that are being used to suppress legitimate dissent, and not just in one or two cities. This equipment is also contained in the Santa Cruz police culture toolkit. It is the weapons and tactics of the police that are now being discussed in cities across America, at police conferences, and during community police review board meetings everywhere. But this conversation is being avoided in Surf City. Why? When you have both a paramilitary organization and a decades-long push to militarize local police, at some point civilian government must step in and be the arbiter in the room. We’ve seen the results of a law enforcement militarized movement stemming from the 1994 let’s get tough on crime (bill) initiative. It’s past time for this community to thwart these creeping deceptive practices that have also come to shape our local police. These efforts took on warp speed when the Department of Homeland (In)Security and began shedding its surplus military equipment on to American cities like Santa Cruz.
The Refund Moment and the Movement
The current culture of policing is not getting us where we want to go and now there exists a generational moment to create some positive change. Currently the Mayor of Santa Cruz appears poised to split off the Black community from the activist, read “white,” community, although that activist community is comprised of many Black and LatinX individuals and activists saying to the mayor and city manager, “refund” the police budget back to the community. It is a we-they that’s been conjured, perhaps out of that kneeling moment between the pd chief and the mayor. It is almost in Justin Cummings’ hands to bring these communities together to achieve an historic reckoning with the whole community and the police budget, and to reconcile a law enforcement culture that needs to change. Almost because he has not chosen to act yet. Will he?
“Defund the police” means reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality. That’s it. It’s that simple. Defund does not mean abolish policing. And, even some who say abolish, do not necessarily mean to do away with law enforcement altogether. Rather, they want to see the rotten trees of policing chopped down and fresh roots replanted anew. (by Rashawn Ray, Brookings Fellow, )
“Reducing prison and police budgets is a critical vector in the fight against structural racism because those systems perpetuate discrimination while diverting funds from the things people actually need to thrive.”(David Segal and Astra Taylor)
John Barbaro: So John, what might it actually look like in practice to defund or abolish a police department?
John Eligon: So for instance, if someone is homeless and they’re struggling on the streets, a person can call 9-1-1, and instead of an armed police officer being sent out, perhaps there can be an outreach worker from a homeless services agency. Or if you have someone having a mental health episode, then again, you can call 9-1-1, and instead of a police officer, maybe a health care worker, a mental health worker will come out. And the idea behind it is to really cut down the interactions between armed police officers and civilians. And by doing that, the hope is that it will reduce their conflict and the potential for people getting hurt or killed by police officers. The Case for Defunding the Police, New York Times Podcast
MPD 150 And for those who really want to get deep into the literature of the movement to abolish the police as we know it as an inherently racist and sexist institution, this group MPD 150 bills itself as a “People’s Project Evaluating the Police.” It began in Minneapolis during its 150th year of existence.
Getting Our Community Refund from the Cops
When I heard the word “refund” used in a meeting by an African-American student leader at UCSC the other day I thought, yes that’s it. “It’s like when you go to the store and get a refund,” he said. “The people of Santa Cruz will get a refund from the police department and decide on how to spend their money.” That really hit the aha! button inside of my head. Sounds brilliant as a slogan, can we turn it into a policy? While “defund the police” may sound threatening, obtaining a “refund” from the city budget, which oversees the police budget, is a lot more tangible, and non-threatening, to most of us. At the same meeting, it was discussed as to how the refund might be spent. The following ideas were generated:
- put money into the city’s housing trust fund to build more affordable housing
- create community response teams to address the needs of those living on our streets
- develop a 311-call system to relieve the call volume of 911 and direct resources to calls for service that do not need a cop with a gun
- use the refund to pay for the city fees for small businesses
- develop a revolving loan fund to help stimulate minority-owned small businesses
- allow attrition to delete positions in the police department, no new hires
- send back the BearCat tank to the Dept. of Homeland Security
These suggestions by no means exhausts the ideas that are now being generated by this community concerning how a “police refund” might be used. The city council ought to examine and empower the youth of Santa Cruz in turning good ideas into good public policy. It’s time to look at the police budget, the entire city budget, and make some hard decisions.
The trees of Lot #4. There are 12, many are heritage trees. Keep up the work community, “no garage on lot #4!” (notice the Zazu Pitts house in the lower right. It’s owned by Councilmember Mathews who seems to see her crowning achievement is to get the garage built, at any cost, even though she cannot vote on this issue. Go figure?!?
(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His term ended in April of 2020.
Email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
BUDGET WOES ABOUND
Last week, the County Board of Supervisors considered the ‘Pro Forma’ budget, which has many unknowns. The Supervisors will revisit the budge in August, hoping that better information will be available to help determine how much, if any, state and federal dollars might be available to plug the financial hemorrhage.
All departments, except the Board of Supervisors, other elected department heads, and law enforcement, will take a 7.5% pay cut via furlough work reduction. Law enforcement will take a 5% cut, due to required safety mandates, however correctional officers are proposing an additional 2.% reduction by deferring cost of living increase until 2021. Appointed Department heads face a mandatory 10% cut. These cuts would save an estimated $9-$11 million in General Fund expenditures.
The Board of Supervisors cut is optional, but is proposed to be 10%. Say that again… it is optional? What about the leadership the Board was going to show? Will the Board also forego any Cost of Living increases they voted in for themselves that would be automatic? Hmmmm….
Stay tuned to find out how many Board members will opt to take a pay cut.
COUNTY GOVERNMENT CAN CENSOR THOSE WITH MEDICAL EXEMPTIONS TO FACE MASK ORDER
Last Thursday, County Health Officer Gail Newel abruptly but wisely lifted the ridiculous Beach Closure Order so that now it is not a crime to sit on the beach and read a book or to walk during the middle of the day. Thank you!
She also stated the County Shelter-in-Place order will expire July 6, and she does not intend to issue another. The County will abide by Governor Newsom’s shelter-in-place moving targets. What will that mean for Santa Cruz County?
She did issue a revised County Face Mask Order that “addresses peoples’ notes from their doctors”.
Note that the government and businesses can deny services to people who qualify for medical exemption to wearing face masks if services can reasonably be obtained in another way. The Clerk of the Board last week informed me that I could submit written comment rather than speaking publicly at Board of Supervisor meetings.
So is that the reasonable alternative method of conveying my opinions and concerns to the Board? I can almost hear the shredder now….. Is the County Board of Supervisors and CAO Palacios more interested in health or censorship?
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION WILL KEEP AFLOAT BY USING RESERVES
The Santa Cruz County Director of Finance, Ms. Tracy New (who used to work at the Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District under ousted Chief Jon Jones), reported at a Special Meeting on June 29 that the various transportation projects currently under contract will be funded (such as the $3+ million Aptos Village Traffic Improvement Project Phase 2B) but the Commission is anticipating a 20% decrease in revenue, due to declining gas taxes and sales taxes. The 8% Reserve Fund will dwindle by nearly half to $373,000 remaining. There was no discussion of staffing furloughs.
There is no Measure D reserve, so it will remain to be seen how many projects will be funded, such as paving overlays in neighborhoods.
Like the County Board of Supervisors, the Commission will again review an updated budget in August.
WHERE ARE THE LEGAL BOUNDARIES OF THE RAIL LINE?
The RTC approved spending nearly $183,170 on a survey and title search to determine where the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line legal boundaries and encroachments might actually be located. This was Item #21, and brought general support from Commissioners, but NO questions!?
However, members of the public were on their toes and wanted to know why didn’t the Commission do this study before purchasing the 32-mile rail line in 2012 from Union Pacific Railroad? The also wanted to know how the RTC would resolve disputes, such as what exists in Aptos Village as well as a number of other locations throughout the rail line corridor?
One astute member of the public also pointed out that the lone contractor, RRM, has a history of going way over budget, and asked that the Commission build in some oversight. This fellow also cautioned there could be multiple lawsuits if the RTC simply claims the land and right-of-way belongs to them, and therefore instigate an illegal taking of private property.
THIS TRADITIONAL ANNUAL EVENT DID NOT GET CANCELED DUE TO CORONA VIRUS
Every year since 1933, Amateur radio (HAM) operators throughout the United States and beyond have been enjoying an event known as “Field Day”. Nationally, in 2015, over 1.2 million radio contacts were made between Amateur Radio operators during the Field Day weekend.
Local Amateur Radio Operator Installs Antenna to Send Radio Signals to Satellites Passing Over the Area Santa Cruz County radio operators traditionally have held the event on Ben Lomond Mountain with two local Clubs combining forces and equipment to put our abilities to set up in emergencies without electricity and relay information far and wide. The event is a beehive of activity.
Many such beloved annual events, such as the County Fair, have been canceled this year due to corona virus restrictions, but local HAM radio operators resourcefully fashioned this year’s Field Day to abide by all social distancing and safety requirements, and HAPPEN!
Zoom allowed members of the public to take a virtual tour of the remote site in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and radio operators signed up to visit the various radio communication stations for short times so as not to overload the spacing.
Many thanks to County Supervisor John Leopold and County Emergency Operations Director Rosemary Anderson for visiting the Santa Cruz County Field Day and learning more about how amateur radio operators stand ready to help in emergencies when called upon to do so.
WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. ATTEND A VIRTUAL MEETING. TAKE A WALK IN THE SUN AND CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE DAY!
Cheers, Becky Steinbruner 831-685-2915 KI6TKB@yahoo.com
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.
Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com
#178 / Not Exactly, Tommy Boy
On Easter, as the coronavirus was rapidly spreading, NPR’s “Weekend All Things Considered” carried excerpts from sermons from across the country. I was particularly touched by the way Presiding Bishop Michael Curry ended his talk at Washington National Cathedral, singing, “He’s got the whole world in his hands, he’s got the whole world in his hands…”
It was a powerful close that left me thinking: Just substitute “She” for “He” and you’ve defined the core problem we’re facing. For the first time in the life of our generation of human species, Mother Nature has the whole world in her hands … (emphasis added).
Here’s my quibble: It’s that,”for the first time” language. We all need to wake up to the fact that “Mother Nature” has always had “the whole world in her hands.”
Our individual lives, and our human civilization, are ultimately dependent on the Natural World, the world we have personified in the “Mother Nature” of whom we speak from time to time – and most particularly when human obliviousness has become obvious, and the truth about our real situation peeks through.
Our world depends on the Natural World, and the idea that “Mother Nature” will take care of us is a reliable insight. Except when we forget that we need to conform our behavior to what Mother Nature requires. The coronavirus has become a global pandemic largely because we have assumed that we are “global” creatures, entitled to go everywhere, anytime, and have built our civilization on the idea that those who “rule the world,” to refer to Noam Chomsky’s book, are justified in raiding every nook and cranny of the whole Earth, looking for the resources needed to support our ever more grandiose human ambitions.
And the coronavirus crisis is just the gentle whisperings of Mother Nature. Something much worse is on the way (you can call it “climate change” if you’d like). What’s coming will reveal in absolute terms that Mother Nature has always had, and still does have, “the whole world in her hands.”
We would be wise to start paying attention.
We would be wise to start doing something about it!
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
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.
“Rich colours actually look more luminous on a grey day, because they are seen against a somber background and seem to be burning with a lustre of their own. Against a dark sky all flowers look like fireworks.”
“Sparklers are the gay cousins of the fireworks family”.
“Leave the fireworks for those who cast no spark of their own.”
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Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060