Blog Archives

June 2 – 8, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON… Welcome Rail & Trail news, Transit options, and massacre predictions. GREENSITE…is away and will be back shortly. KROHN…Santa Cruz Still for Sale, part 2. STEINBRUNER…New “Cruz Hotel” downtown, Business tax tough on independents, Soquel Water Dist. and Safe Water, Tree planting …why? Rio Del Mar ballots coming, Electric cars and lithium. PATTON…The Sasquatch of American Politics. EAGAN…… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES… “Just great quotes”

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SANTA CRUZ DOWNTOWN 1910. This was taken at the corners of Lincoln and Soquel, where New Leaf is now on the right, and the Om Gallery is on the left corner. Note Mack Swain’s Unique Theatre on the right: he went on to partner with Charlie Chaplin in some classics. More than that, note the two lanes of trolley tracks that carried hundreds of citizens all over the county for decades. We need more, not fewer, trolleys today. You can also see the original Town Clock “high atop” the O.D.D. Fellows building, before being moved to where it is today.                                                      

                                       
photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.
Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE May 31

RAIL PLUS TRAIL. The overwhelming support for having Rail AND Trail continues to grow. Friends of the Rail and Trail and Coast Connect sent very good news last week. Read excerpts here…

City gets Grant to Finish Westside Rail Trail! Caltrans has awarded the City of Santa Cruz a $9 million Active Transportation Program grant to build the second part of the Westside Rail Trail. Formally known as Segment 7 Phase II, this section will complete Segment 7. Continuing the already-built Phase I section of the trail at the corner of Bay and California, the new section of trail will connect with Depot Park and then link to the existing Beach Street bike path at the foot of the wharf. Click here to read more. We’ve had a busy couple of months! One thing is clear, rail transit is an increasing priority in our community. Support has grown dramatically, as seen by new endorsements from local Democratic community clubs, local labor representatives, and many business and community leaders, as well as public rallies and a new petition signed by over 1,500 people in just a few weeks. But six of the twelve RTC commissioners aren’t listening to the community. 

Community Reaction: Tidal Wave of Support for Rail After the April Surprise, public comments supporting rail transit poured in urging the commissioners to accept the business plan and seek funding. There were letters from the City Council of Santa Cruz, the City Council of Watsonville, the Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building & Construction Trades Council, the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party Central Committee, the Pajaro Valley Cesar Chavez Democratic Club, the Democratic Women’s Club of Santa Cruz County Environmental Committee, the San Lorenzo Valley Women’s Club Environmental Committee, the Campus Democrats at UCSC, and Roaring Camp Railroads. Even the Santa Cruz Sentinel Editorial Board weighed in saying “commissioners should vote to accept the business plan for rail.”‘

While the RTC staff will continue to identify possible sources of rail transit funding, there is no doubt that the staff will need the support of the commission for any serious next steps. We find it unfortunate that representatives from the relatively small communities of Scotts Valley and Capitola are blocking a project that is hugely popular throughout the county. 

When rail grant opportunities do arise, will those commissioners continue to block progress? It will be up to the community to apply enough pressure to get the commissioners to vote in favor. We will need an outpouring of support so large that the commissioners will have no choice but to listen. 

We don’t plan to back down. We firmly believe that Santa Cruz County needs both Rail AND Trail to thrive. Our mission is to reach every member of the community who isn’t yet aware of this project.  And we need your help to do it. 

Take Action Today. Ask the commissioners who voted against the business plan to reconsider. Tell them how important it is to add public transportation on our rail corridor.

For quick action, click HERE to personalize a single form email to all those who voted No. (Please be respectful, as we want to convert them, not make enemies!)

For More Impact: use the links below to send a personalized constituent email to just your representatives. A statement from your heart is the best way to build bridges. Include your street address so they know you are really a constituent.

Capitola Residents and METRO Riders

Your Capitola representatives voted against the Rail Business Plan. Send them emails!

  • Public Transportation Users or would-be users, click HERE to email Kristen Petersen, who represents the METRO board and Capitola, or copy ladykpetersen@gmail.com
  • Capitola Residents, click HERE to email both Jacques Bertrand and Kristen Petersen or copy these addresses: ladykpetersen@gmail.com and jbertrand@ci.capitola.ca.us

Districts 2, 5, and 1 Residents

Your County Supervisors from districts 2, 5, and 1 voted against the Rail Business Plan. Send them emails! If you don’t know your district use the instructions here to easily find it: What District Am I In? – Coast Connect

  • District 2 Residents, click HERE to email both Zach Friend and his alternate Patrick Mulhearn, or copy these addresses: zach.friend@santacruzcounty.us and patrick.mulhearn@santacruzcounty.us
  • District 5 Residents, click HERE to email Bruce McPherson and his alternate Virginia Johnson, or copy these addresses: gine.johnson@santacruzcounty.us and bruce.mcpherson@co.santa-cruz.ca.us
    You can also contact Randy Johnson by clicking HERE.
  • District 1 Residents click HERE to email Manu Koenig or copy this address: manu.koenig@santacruzcounty.us

Everyone Sign the Petition!

Click HERE to sign the petition on Change.org, and then share it on your social media pages!

The Rail Plan was ready to go in April

At the April 1 RTC meeting, the staff presented the last element of the Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis, the Rail Business Plan. This document laid out the next steps for implementing passenger rail transit in the rail corridor, and identified potential sources of funding. Commissioner Montesino made a motion to accept the business plan and to direct the staff to seek the grant funding for the next steps. At that time, staff indicated that all 17M needed for preliminary design, engineering, and the environmental impact report were potentially available in grants without needing local matching funds. Shockingly, the motion did not pass. The vote was tied six to six with commissioners Petersen, McPherson, Koenig, Johnson, Bertrand and Commissioner Alternate Mulhearn voting against. Commissioners Rotkin, Gonzalez, Caput, Montesino, Brown and Commissioner Alternate Schiffrin voted in favor of the motion, but were unable to carry the day. No action was taken. 

LACK OF TRANSIT OPTIONS IN SANTA CRUZ. SHELLEY HATCH wrote a letter to The Sentinel last Tuesday. They printed it but left out an important link she wanted us all to see. 

I’m re-printing her letter and adding that link here…

“For several years I have spoken to our city council about our lack of transit options in Santa Cruz, while at the same time they were clearly planning for greatly increased density in new builds. . I have also spoken to the council and staff about the declared Transportation Crisis in the entire Bay Area in reference to our city’s plans to build for density with no matching transportation at a level to accompany the many new builds. It’s truly unbelievable that our city is proceeding with massive building plans while not providing the same level of planning for transit options to be in place to serve the high density buildout.

Enclosed is an article that should wake us up to the future problems for Santa Cruz too. At least they have many transit options in place that can be improved. We don’t, and we cannot be called transit rich as is required for high density builds under many of the new state laws.              

www.seamlessbayarea.org  

I also have great concerns about the need for workable evacuation routes for our residents and visitors. We are already back to gridlock and it will continue to get worse and worse over time.  When will sanity in planning ever return? There are so many issues facing us due to climate change, and we must prepare in better and more complete ways. We aren’t doing that at all.              

Shelley Hatch
50 years a Sentinel subscriber

AS LONG AS WE’RE THINKING ABOUT IT. Who’ll be the first to predict where and when Santa Cruz has its disgruntled employee massacre?

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.

OSLO. (HBO MAX. SINGLE) Adapted from a play, with plenty of things to learn and think about. It’s all about the lengthy negotiations behind the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and Palestine. Andrew Scott (the evil Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes with Cumberbatch) plays a go-between for the two countries. It’s complex because the war-causing issues are intricate, but you’ll learn a lot about these two countries who are such long enemies. (71 RT) 

THE COURIER. (HULU SINGLE) Do NOT confuse this with many other same-name movies (including one with Cumberbatch). This earned a very low 5RT!!! Gary Oldman is an evil and rich power figure who is set on killing a possible witness to his trial. It’s all chase, strangles, grabs, and more chasing. Poor acting, miserable plot. Do not watch this one. 

EUPHORIA. (HBO MAX. SERIES) A very negative and depressing story of a teenaged Black girl who can’t stop using heavy drugs. It’s got knives, parties, sex, porno, and you still won’t care much! After three episodes I had to stop. Oh yes, it begins with long shots of the 9-11 tower disaster. (81RT)

678 (NETFLIX SINGLE) The true to life stories of three Egyptian women involved with bus number 678. A very dramatic, complex movie all about the most basic women’s rights in Egypt and all over the world — and how the establishment keeps inequality in place. The three women get arrested, take part in demonstrations, and live in fear. Involving, educational, and worthwhile. 

 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.  

 THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD. (HBO MAX SINGLE). Angelina Jolie (age 46) still looks gorgeous as she plays a smoke jumper in Montana who made a judgmental error in her earlier career. It’s a complex story, but basically assassins are after Jolie and the young son of a man who was also running from their deadly guns. (60RT). Angelina starts some forest fires to distract her would-be killers, and the action goes on and on. You can pretty much guess how it will end, and watching the forest fires could make you very jumpy — especially during our drought. Watch it only if you’ve run out of thrillers.

ARMY OF THE DEAD. (NETFLIX SINGLE) I used to enjoy the early zombie movies that were so serious we had to laugh out loud or smirk widely. Nowadays zombie movies are so purposely gross and evil and simple that our forced laughs come from exhaustion or lack of patience. This one is a poor theft of all earlier zombie movies, and unless your humor is down to that level avoid it at all costs.

HALSTON. (NETFLIX SERIES). This is the very Hollywood version of fashion czar Halston’s life, starring Ewan McGregor. Not to be confused with the also very well done documentary now playing heavily online. Longtime and limited actor Bill Pullman is also in and out of many scenes. Krysta Rodriguez plays Liza Minnelli – one of Halston’s best friends and supporters. Krysta is good fun to watch, and so is this movie. His gay, drug-addled life was unique, and quite an accomplishment if you think about it, after watching this one. (66RT).

OFFERING TO THE STORM. (NETFLIX SINGLE). A certifiably insane father kills his four-month-old son in Spain, and a woman has nightmares and works hard to find out what they mean. (50RT) It’s the last part of a trilogy, and I missed the first two. It’s about cults, Satan worshipers and witches. Don’t waste your time trying to make any sense of this one.

ILLEGAL WOMAN. (NETFLIX SINGLE). A very sad saga of the threatened lives involved in sex trafficking in Spain. There’s an immigration attorney who goes to extremes to stop politicos and money men from killing so many victims inside a detention center. Euthanasia plays a role in the complex plot, and you have to decide on that issue all over again. Go for it.

WHAT HAPPENED TO MONDAY? (NETFLIX SINGLE). If you like Noomi Rapace, then you’ll love this one. She plays seven (7) identical sisters, and does a fine job. Willem Defoe and Glenn Close are in it as evil people who put all children to death if they have brothers or sisters in this 2073 future world. Conspiracy theorists, especially those against GMO’s, will love this.  

THE INVESTIGATION. (HBO SERIES). A very Swedish movie about a female journalist who was killed, probably inside a two person test submarine. Great characters and a good plot concerning the very patient, persistent done by their police and other institutions in solving the murder and bringing justice to bear on the guilty. It’s based on a real happening, and well worth watching.

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May 31. Gillian’s away and will be back shortly

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

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 May 31

SANTA CRUZ, STILL FOR SALE, PART 2

There was the usual long line of diners waiting to eat breakfast at Zachary’s this past Sunday morning. Across the street, a friend and I stood outside of Pipeline, the headshop that is the last building standing. A sign in the window indicated the opening time as 11am, and it was not yet 10am. To our right was a chain-link fence covered with green mesh, the kind that has flaps open so as to see what’s behind the fence. What lay behind this barricade were several mountains of concrete, a kind of Santa Cruz Earthquake 2.0. Reduced to large and small concrete shards, but not in any particular pattern of size or shape, were the remains of several businesses. It was like looking at week-old snow, you might still see some white, but urban aged snow is severely speckled with soot and grime like these concrete scraps. Haber’s Furniture, Community TV of Santa Cruz, The Salvation Army Thrift Store, Santa Cruz Glass & Gifts, and the venerable but high in police calls for service eatery, Taco Bell, are all erased now.  It was a downtown demolition derby, obliterating the august (Haber’s), the hands-on media factory (CTV), the used and reused store (Salvation Army) and the cheap eats business (Taco Hell), nothing fancy just Santa Cruz-y. This destruction was a scheme many years in the making, death by a thousand cries of housing, housing, housing! It is a strategy for developers rich by building market-rate condos plain and simple, but it’s wrapped in the Trojan Horse gown of affordable housing. The fence helped to block out what had taken place, so we mounted the six-foot high fence and ventured into the rubble for a closer look at the physical material guts of these former businesses, ones we had spent so much time looking for the right Halloween costume, or learning to interview guests on TV, or buying a bagful of tacos at midnight. While the casual passers-by on the other side of the fence might only see unattractive slabs, wedges, and chunks of this Before Common Era (BCE) material, once inside we could glimpse other varied forms of demolishment detritus.

History of Concrete
A form of concrete was first used in 6500 BCE by Nabataea traders in what is now Syria and Jordan, according to Giatec Scientific, Inc., an Ottawa-based firm that is “revolutionizing the construction industry…” It was found to be used in Egypt and China around 3000 BCE, but it was the Romans, beginning in 600 BCE, who “successfully implemented the use of concrete in the majority of their construction.” After the fall of the Roman empire it wasn’t until 1850 in which concrete once again came back into popular use as a building material in France and England. In 1898, the Henry Cowell Lime and Cement Company was incorporated. Although based in San Francisco, some of their quarries were in Santa Cruz, a large one being where UCSC now calls home. It is likely we now beginning another cycle in this history in which concrete buildings are being demolished and rebuilt in the destroy and rebuild capitalist framework.

Santa Cruz Flotsam and Jetsam
Traversing the five or so acres of debris, wood can be seen floating in what looks like an Olympic-sized swimming pool, but what was actually the basement of Community TV. We are stunned not so much by what is, but by what was. Piles of rebar, the odd metal beam, fine beach sand, and the remains of sheetrock still attached to perimeter foundations are all now visible relics. A solitary six-foot block wall about ten feet long blots out the view of the new Ace Hardware across the street. A gargantuan Swedish Volvo earth-moving machine is parked triumphantly amidst the remains. Seems like a lifetime ago that Santa Cruz hippie families favored Volvo station wagons because of their funkiness and safety record. My friend, the culture czar, scrambles up the first pile of rubble we encounter, about 40-feet high. He thrusts a home-made placard into the remains near the top like he is planting a flag on the moon. It reads, Capitalism $ucks! The dollar sign and exclamation point leave little doubt who the culprit of this carnage might be. “Take a picture,” he demands, “after all, the world has to see this, then they will care. The developers,” he continues, “are having their way with Ms. Santa Cruz, but not for long. People will get active and cease this demolition nonsense, I am sure of it.” He takes a deep breath and looks out towards the Santa Cruz Credit Union, a once robust-looking structure which may be the next to fall victim to this developer greed.

More Pictures
We continue touring the piles and placing his placard on other pieces of the charred landscape, piles of now-demolished economic by-product. Capitalism $ucks! on top of the rebar pile; Capitalism $ucks! on the window of the earth moving machine, The Volvo EC530E/EC550E crawler excavators;  Capitalism $ucks! atop the basement swimming pool; and finally on the machine’s giant bucket, which they must have preserved from the 1973 movie, Soylent Green in which they scoop up excess humans with buckets the same size as now dot this landscape at Laurel and Pacific where a second earthquake is once again unraveling our downtown.

WRECKAGE at the Salvation Army Thrift Store

Rubble is what’s left after 
the punishing storm 
after the startling quake 
after the terrorist bomb
but the wreckage is only 
after the wrecking.

After rubble 
we have vision statements.
After rubble 
we know that our hearts are broken.
After rubble
mourning then hope.

And after rubble
someone is careful.
Someone uses the gentlest broom
to scoop the pieces into the dustpan.
And someone then takes a deep breath,
a sigh is heaved and a prayer mumbled. 

But after wreckage we just have 
skip loaders operated by 
exhausted people dropping
battered mouths & scraping
the ground, until finished with this,
and leaving traces in spite of …

Nothing
can erase this signature. 
What else can fall like a city 
into our desiring?
Nothing came to us 
in boxes from 
elsewhere. 

They will build something 
on top of the thrift store shadow, 
something tall and costly, sparkling,
that we have not envisioned, something
we have not thought out, 
not all of us. 
And it will not be a city but a necklace
which we must wear from now on. 

–By Tim Fitzmaurice, May 31, 2021

“Let’s be clear. If 10 Republican Senators cannot even vote for a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection, 10 Republican Senators will not vote for anything meaningful to improve the lives of the American people. We must abolish the filibuster & act now.” (May 31)

Pictures not for the Weak…Demolishing Santa Cruz






(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. Krohn was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. That term ended when the development empire struck back with luxury condo developer money combined with the real estate industry’s largesse. They paid to recall Krohn and Drew Glover from the Santa Cruz city council in 2019.

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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May 31

PLANS FOR A NEW SIX-STORY “CRUZ HOTEL” IN DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ
Hold on…here comes yet another “significant project” for downtown Santa Cruz…the 228-room Cruz Hotel at 324 Front Street, at the corner of Laurel.  This would be next to the seven-story Riverfront Project, recently approved and demolition in progress.  The Cruz Hotel would feature only 41 valet parking spaces to serve all those 228 room occupants, in addition to those who might use the  two large ballrooms, five meeting rooms, bar and restaurant (all on the second floor), with the retail spaces on the ground floor.  Hmmm…I wonder why the City Commerce and Council desperately want a large multi-story parking garage nearby (oh, yeah, don’t forget to bury a library in there so Measure S taxpayer money can get slurped in to make it all happen)???

324 Front Street: Cruz Hotel | City of Santa Cruz  [324 FRONT STREET PROJECT STATUS]

Take a look at the plans

Contact Information: 
Senior Planner: Ryan Bane
(831) 420-5141; rbane@cityofsantacruz.com

What indeed will our beloved downtown Santa Cruz become?  Will tourists even want to come anymore if it looks and feels like where they live in Silicon Valley or LA?? 

WILL DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ COMMERCIAL TAX MAKE INDEPENDENTLY OWNED SMALL BUSINESS MORE CHALLENGING?
If you own a business in Downtown Santa Cruz, you need to weigh in at the public hearing June 8, sometime after 12:30pm regarding two Resolutions that will come before the Santa Cruz City Council intends to levy new rates on downtown business frontage.  The Santa Cruz Sentinel Legal Notices is a good place to find things like this, and Resolution NS-29,824 spells out $6.25/linear foot of Pacific Avenue frontage, plus $.07/lot Square Footage and $.05/building Square Footage.  If the business is on a side street (between Cedar and Front streets and located on Soquel Avenue, Locust, Cooper, Church, Walnut, Lincoln, Cathcart, Elm and Maple, Plaza, Locust, commerce, Birch, Peal Alley),  owners can expect $4.75/ linear foot  frontage , $.07/lot square foot and $.05/building square footage.  Rental residential property is assessed at a discounted rate of $0.25 /building square feet.  

I found this in the Santa Cruz Sentinel Legal Notices, Page B5, May 31, 2021.  I find the Legal Notices are always interesting to read.

Protests must meet Prop. 218 guidelines. This tax apparently funds the Downtown Management Corporation and the Cooperative Retail Management Business Real Property Improvement District.  Formed in 1994 for crime prevention, the District posted increased revenues of $245,300, and has decreased expenditures by 46% to $131,500.

Downtown Management Corp of Santa Cruz

I think I would ask what the tax money really accomplishes to support the downtown vitality of existing small businesses, many of whom have had to close due to COVID or are just plain struggling with the problems on every street corner.  

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT PROJECT FALLS SHORT ON PROVIDING SAFE WATER SUPPLY BACK-UP
The traffic jams were long and brutal this week on Soquel Avenue where a new sewer connection to serve the PureWater Soquel Project Treatment Plant is set to be built.  This is only the beginning, if the ridiculously expensive and risky plan to inject treated sewage water into the aquifer that supplies the potable water for Mid County area, and is known as Indirect Potable Re-Use or IPR.  

The State is working toward legalizing and regulating Direct Potable Re-Use or DPR (the stuff would come right out of your tap rather than be injected into the aquifer).  Below are some of the highlights of the draft regulation being considered.  Note that for IPR, an alternative water supply is required, just in case things get contaminated.   What is Soquel Creek Water District’s plan for that???  What will the small mutual water systems and private well owners who are adjacent to and downstream of the Twin Lakes Injection Well do if their water source is fouled by the mistakes of Soquel Creek Water District?

“The use of recycled water for DPR has great potential but it presents very real scientific and technical challenges that must be addressed to ensure the public’s health is reliably protected at all times.” [2016 Report to Legislature on the Feasibility of Developing Uniform Water Recycling Criteria for Direct Potable Reuse, State Water Board]

See page 35:
7.20. Alternative Water Supply IPR regulations require that an alternative water supply be available, should there be problems in the IPR project that would result in an inability to provide drinking water that is protective of public health. Similar requirements are anticipated for DPR.

See page 41:
8.2. Treatment System Resilience The State Water Board continues to consider other circumstances that may lead to the delivery of inadequately treated water, including low probability high consequence events. The analysis of risks due to natural or man-made perils, the mitigation of these risks, and the planning for emergency response should be implemented for any DPR project. Because the safety of DPR relies so heavily on on-line monitoring and control systems that are electronic- and computer-based, the reliability and resilience of treatment monitoring and control systems should be assessed and tested. In addition, such systems should be protected from cyber threats.

See page 42:
8.3. Operations Quality Control The State Water Board is also considering strategies for DPR that could help minimize the potential for human error and minimize the impact of the threats due to human factors, and how such strategies should be incorporated into DPR criteria. The risk due to human errors increases from IPR to DPR. Operations quality control also depends on a reliable resilient monitoring and control system, and highly competent human-machine interactions.

See Page 43:
8.6. Aesthetic Issues

Typically, the water from a DPR treatment facility will be of lower mineral content and somewhat warmer than other sources of water. 

See page 44:
Research Status:

In the Report to Legislature, the State Water Board determined that the research recommended by the SB 918 Expert Panel should be conducted concurrently with the development of DPR criteria. 

The five research projects are summarized as follows: 

  1. Implement a probabilistic method (Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment) to confirm the necessary removal values for pathogens, and apply this method to evaluate the performance and reliability of DPR treatment trains; 
  2. Monitor pathogens in raw wastewater to develop better empirical data on concentrations and variability; 
  3. Investigate the feasibility of collecting raw wastewater pathogen concentration data associated with community outbreaks of disease; 
  4. Identify suitable options for final treatment processes that can provide some “averaging” with respect to potential chemical peaks, particularly for chemicals that have the potential to persist through advanced water treatment; 
  5. Develop more comprehensive analytical methods to identify unknown contaminants, particularly low molecular weight compounds potentially in wastewater that may not be removed by advanced treatment and is not presently detectable by current regulatory monitoring approaches.

WHAT WILL THIS $678,768 TREE-PLANTING MITIGATION ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISH?
County Board of Supervisor’s approval on May 25, 2021 (Item #30) to plant 168 trees at Anna Jean Cummings Park as off-site remediation for the Highway One Auxiliary Lanes.  Supervisor Koenig made a change to request this issue be on the June 7 County Parks Commission agenda for public input and scientific analysis.

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission is preparing for construction of the Highway 1, 41st Avenue to Soquel Auxiliary Lanes project. The attached Agreement for completion of off-site mitigation plantings will enable the County Parks Department to support the project by implementing compensatory mitigation requirements for the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission.

Agenda Item DOC-2021-466   

The agreement achieves this second goal through a new partnership and funds that will allow protection and enhancement of one identified riparian corridor at Anna Jean Cummings Park, and through a five-year annual fixed fee from the SCCRTC to County Parks that will be used for natural resource management.

This revenue agreement for an amount not to exceed $678,768 will reimburse the County Parks Department for all costs associated with implementing the mitigation requirements, as well as provide $200,000 over five years for natural resource management.

I have reviewed the documents for this Project and have the following questions:

  1. How will this planting at Anna Jean Cummings Park actually mitigate damages to the Rodeo Gulch riparian areas that the RTC project would cause??  Shouldn’t the work be done in that watershed, not the Soquel Creek watershed?
  2. How will this new planting area that would include 168 new trees be irrigated and maintained?  All trees and shrubs are only one-gallon and will require regular irrigation for the first few years.
  3. Currently, Parks staff mows the meadow areas but would this still be possible with the planned 168 trees, or would staff have to weed out the dry grass for fire risk reduction?  The documents state trees will be planted on 16′ centers.

If you are interested in this, please participate in the June 7 County Parks Commission meeting.

Parks & Recreation Commission

RIO DEL MAR FLOOD CONTROL ASSESSMENT DISTRICT BALLOTS COMING SOON
The chronic risk of winter flooding in the Rio del Mar Flats may soon fade, thanks to a large new drainage and storm water pumping project being put forth by the great work of many at County Public Works.  The price tag requires those who live in the area to help pay for the benefit of perhaps not having to sand bag their doorways when it rains a lot, and could range from $125 to $1,125/year. 

A public meeting held last week showcased the plan to move forward: 

June 29: Board of Supervisors will approve initiating the Rio del Mar Flats Special Benefit Assessment ballot procedure;
July 9: Ballots mailed to all affected property owners;
August 24: Board of Supervisors will approve ballot tabulation 

Rio Del Mar Flats Meeting Slides  check these photos.

The County of Santa Cruz has proposed the construction and operation of a storm water pump station to reduce water ponding in the Rio Del Mar Flats community.  The County has secured funding for the construction of the pump station but must also secure funding for ongoing operation and maintenance before construction can commence.  The County has proposed the formation of the Rio Del Mar Flats Assessment District as an ongoing source of funding for operation and maintenance.

Rio Del Mar Flats Assessment: Benefit Assessment Districts

AND QUICKLY….

1) Electric Cars Not So Green…destroying the groundwater and Salton Sea ecology to mine lithium for batteries

The Lithium Gold Rush: Inside the Race to Power Electric Vehicles

The Lithium Americas mine, constructed on leased federal land and given final approval in the last days of the Trump administration, would require blowing up a mountain for a large pit mine in Nevada would potentially contaminate groundwater supply for the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes in the area for 300 years.  

How does this fit with the push by California and other states to ban gas-powered vehicles to address climate change?  Wouldn’t it be better to develop other cleaner, greener technology to power transportation?

But wait, Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg have already invested in lithium extraction technology at the Salton Sea that would extract groundwater from 4000′ and connect to geothermal power plants generating electricity, and maybe improve the quality of the Salton Sea.

Even though the United States has some of the world’s largest reserves, the country today has only one large-scale lithium mine, Silver peak in Nevada, which first opened in the 1960’s and is producing 5,000 tons annually, less than 2% of the world’s annual supply.  Most of the raw lithium used domestically comes from Latin America or Australia, and most is processed in China or Asia.

California’s White Gold Rush

Why not use domestic lithium supplies to support our domestic demand?  Hmmmm….think about that.

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  ATTEND A PUBLIC VIRTUAL MEETING.  JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK, AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

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

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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 May 26

#146 / The Sasquatch Of American Politics

John Lawrence, who is the author of The Class of ’74: Congress After Watergate and the Roots of Partisanship, says that “bipartisanship has become the Sasquatch of American politics.” It is “rarely seen but fervently sought.” 

This comment is found in Lawrence’s May 1, 2021, column in The New York Times, headlined as follows in the hard copy edition: “The Futility of Peace In Politics.” Online, the column is titled, “You Don’t Actually Need to Reach Across the Aisle, Mr. Biden.”

Lawrence says that “insisting on bipartisanship – given the major policy divide between the parties on economic recovery, tax reform, climate change and health care – usually guarantees gridlock…. There is nothing wrong with being partisan.” 

My experience, admittedly at the local level and as a nonpartisan elected official, convinces me that this statement is correct. “Politics” is the way we make decisions about what we should do. Opinions differ – as in fact they ought to. When opinions do differ, the purpose of our politics is to make a decision. That has to be the aim and objective. Insisting on “bipartisanship” does bring gridlock, as Lawrence says, and part of the reason it does so is because a fervent insistence on bipartisanship – the feeling that only measures enacted on a bipartisan basis are actually “worthy” – makes a partisan unwillingness to compromise more likely rather than less likely.

In Santa Cruz County, in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a huge and consequential battle about growth. Opinions did differ. I was elected to the Board of Supervisors because of my commitment to try to slow down and manage growth, and to protect farmlands and natural lands. Others were elected because they had exactly the opposite agenda. Views in the community did differ – and strongly differed. In the end, the side I represented won. A majority in the county wanted to slow down, manage and control growth. This was effectively demonstrated not only by the outcomes of supervisorial elections, but also by the enactment of Measure J, in 1978, by a countywide vote. 

There were lots of appeals along the way to compromise, with “compromise” sounding like something fair, and equitable, and to be desired. In our nonpartisan local government setting, “compromise” was the equivalent to what “bipartisanship” is at the national level. 

Here is how Lawrence ends his column: 

Our ideologically segregated parties should use political power to accomplish objectives promised in campaigns and then let voters decide if the party has earned the right to govern. True, this approach could result in sweeping policy changes, but voters would then have clarity about whom to hold responsible for governing successes and failures (emphasis added).

The people’s frustration with government isn’t that it is too “partisan.” Largely, the people’s frustration is that our government has consistently failed to take on and address the large issues that face the nation, and to make a decision. Nothing is happening. The climate catastrophe gets worse. Income inequality continues to spiral. Adequate health care is unavailable to many. It would be “nice,” perhaps, if everyone could just come up with solutions on a “bipartisan” basis. But seeking any such solution means that nothing changes. It is time for our Democratic Party president and the Democratic Party majority in the Congress (slim as it is) to “accomplish objectives promised in campaigns.” 

The voters can decide, when something is actually accomplished, whether what was was accomplished is really what the majority want. There is always another election to decide just that. 

Searching for a “bipartisan” solution, like searching for Bigfoot, is not how to make our politics work. 

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

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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    QUOTES. Just good quotes…

“If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.”
~James Cameron 

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”
~Margaret Mead 

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
~Benjamin Franklin

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