Blog Archives

June 9-15, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Save the Civic Auditorium, Rail Including Trail. GREENSITE… Gillian will be gone this week, and back June 14. KROHN…Back To The Future. STEINBRUNER…UCSC and UC Davis and Yolo County plans, re-building and fire risk, Grand Jury reports, Arana Gulch/Rodeo watersheds, Soquel Creek wells and wasting water. PATTON…Meet The Press? EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES… “Fathers”, Part 1.


SANTA CRUZ DOWNTOWN 1912.  This is the corner of Soquel and Pacific Avenues. New Leaf Market now stands where the “Smoke House” is. Note the crowds around the electric trolley, which connected by rail to points all over the city. The money behind oil and cars drove out the rail, just as money and greed are trying to stop trains and trails today.                                          

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.
Additional information always welcome: email

                                                                                                                     DATELINE June 7



SAVE THE CIVIC AUDITORIUM. It’s impossible to believe, but now everything’s opening up again – and we’ll be able to go places – it looks like the “powers that be” (Santa Cruz City Council) could be jumping at a chance to CLOSE DOWN our civic auditorium!!! On June 8 they’ll have voted to cut the Civic manager’s time in half, and are also proposing to cut temporary staff time….all to save a few dollars that could be taken from the very next developer’s fees. Just below is a plea from Ellen Primack of The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, to help nearby businesses, add needed safety projects and bring the Civic up to its traditional stature. We need to demand that the council re-think our usage of the many meeting rooms, and to consider the potential of the much-used auditorium for traveling arts and cultural events. They need to cut usage fees, not increase them, so this important part of our Civic Center (with the library) becomes and remains the heart of the Santa Cruz Community

The Civic and its users need your help! The City of Santa Cruz will vote next week on the 2022 budget, and draconian cuts are proposed that will severely impact the Civic Auditorium, where we hope to resume concerts in person next summer. Please note the following concerns, as expressed by our Executive Director, Ellen Primack, review the budget links below, and contact City Council members to ensure that your own voice is heard on the matter. Thank you! 

A letter to City Council from Festival ED Ellen Primack:

Dear P&R Director Elliot, Mayor Meyers, and members of the City Council, 

I write to you as Executive Director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, founding member of the Friends of the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, and a concerned resident of the City of Santa Cruz, to request your special attention to the Civic Auditorium budget as you determine funding for the coming year. 

The pandemic has had an especially profound and negative impact on the performing arts, artists, and cultural organizations of our community. At a time when we can finally find hope in the wake of despair, and the community can begin to plan to gather, the Civic Auditorium can and must play a meaningful role in the recovery and revitalization of our downtown. As presenters and promoters reemerge from dormancy, the sheer size and flexibility of the Civic will make it more important than ever to our community of artists and audiences. 

The economic impact of the Civic on Downtown Santa Cruz—restaurants, businesses, and services—is enormous. Investing in Civic Auditorium staffing and infrastructure has a direct correlation to its ability to generate operating income for the City and the businesses which surround it. Undercutting that investment just as restrictions lift and the potential to grow usage of the facility increases would be short sighted. 

I ask you to please consider that there is a profound need for our community to gather, and to gather specifically around arts and culture; and I believe there will be increased demand for the facility as the year continues. Supporting that growth and the potential for full scale and increased usage in 2022 will serve the City and the entire community. Capitalizing on this opportunity, rather than retreating from it with funding cuts, can and will make all the difference. Thank you for your time and efforts. 


Ellen M. Primack

How the proposed budget impacts Civic users:

  • Box Office Representative budget is cut yet again, representing a total loss of 50 staff hours per week. This will likely translate to reduced operating days and far less customer service for ticket buyers. 
  • Civic’s facility attendant will be reduced to half-time, that means less time to keep the Civic clean and functional
  • Budget for temporary staff will also be reduced to half, meaning less friendly faces and far longer lines at concessions
  • Other than roof repairs, no budget has been allocated for safety and comfort-related capital improvements as recommended by FOCA (Friends of the Civic Auditorium). 

What you can do:

  1. Review the recent Santa Cruz City Council 2022 proposed budget meeting packet HERE. It includes presentations from all departments, and some public input. Note: Park & Rec section begins on p.144 (Civic falls under their jurisdiction) and Civic mentions on p.155 and 156. 
  2. Send a note voicing your opinion to City Council members here: 


Words to City Council from IATSE, our Festival stagehands:

“Many in the industry predict this will be the largest entertainment boom to hit the US in anyone’s recent memory. The last thing the City should be doing is taking Santa Cruz out of that conversation by removing funding from one of the largest entertainment venues in the area, right at the time that entertainment is going to be exploding.

This building can be profitable, especially under current management, and could therefore fund other projects in the City of Santa Cruz. But money needs to be allocated to the venue to ensure that can happen, not removed from it to guarantee it doesn’t have a chance. 

Sincerely, Andrew Hurchalla 
Business Representative IATSE Local 611, Santa Cruz/Monterey

RAILING WITH TRAILING. The debate goes on, and continues to divide our community like few issues I can remember. I get mail on the subject to an extent unlike any other topic. It’s an issue that involves money… very much money. A few locals still say it’s about the environment, but on each side of the existing rail lines are properties and land owners that will make big sums — or be forced to be considerate to the thousands of locals and tourists who care about our coast. Here’s almost the entire email I received last week from a very active and concerned citizen….

“It looks like Bud Colligan has picked up another RTC commissioner on the cheap. Santa Cruz Supervisor Zach Friend has appointed Greenway board member Dr. Rob Quinn as his RTC representative alternate. Colligan didn’t even have to pay for an election this time. All he had to do was promise Zach he wouldn’t run a candidate against him. Colligan will now have two puppet representatives sitting on the RTC: Manu Koenig and Dr. Rob Quinn. 

To say that I’m disappointed in Zach Friend is the understatement of the year. Zach is required to recuse himself from voting on the rail line because his house is so close to it. Is it really recusing yourself if you appoint an alternate with a known, fixed position on this exact issue? This is a pretty outrageous and corrupt action.  

I have attached the legal opinion from the State of CA Fair Practices Commission telling Friend that he does have a conflict of interest and that he must recuse himself from votes affecting the rail corridor. And here is the automated email coming out of Mulhearn’s  office displaying that Rob Quinn is Zach’s new alternate on the RTC:


Automated reply to emails to Mulhearn:

From: Patrick Mulhearn <>
Date: June 1, 2021 at 2:32:54 PM PDT
Subject: Automatic reply: FORT Comments on Interim Trail June 3rd Agenda Items 30 & 31

Thank you very much for contacting me, but as of June 1st I am no longer with Supervisor Friend’s office. It was an honor to serve the Second Supervisorial District these past eight years. Should you have a general County issue or a general question for our office, please contact my colleague Allyson Violante at 831-454-2200 or If your issue of concern is with the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line, please contact Supervisor Friend’s alternate on the Regional Transportation Commission, Dr. Rob Quinn, at Sincerely, -Patrick Mulhearn


P.S. If your readers want to let Zach know how they feel about this appointment, he can be reached through his email: or through his official Facebook page:

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.

UNDINE. (PRIME VIDEO SINGLE). Based on a mermaid-type myth, this “love story gone wrong” takes place in Berlin. Undine is a guide in a city institution who’s in love with a guy who can’t ever leave her without dying. It rambles on and on ,underwater and on land ,but goes nowhere worth watching. It got an undeserving 89RT. You choose, but I’ll bet you won’t stay with it all the way though.

TENTACLES. (HULU SINGLE). Beware of Hulu: you have to watch ads about every 20 minutes. This unfocused failure centers on a homeless couple… and maybe he’s a monster! He has a snake crawling out of his mouth while they live in his parent’s old house. Bad acting, too much sex, and no reason to watch, even between the Hulu ads. 

THE LAST THING HE WANTED. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Ben Affleck has a small part in this boring saga, while Anne Hathaway and Willem Dafoe carry the plot, which comes from Joan Didion’s novel. Anne is a secret reporter working in Costa Rica in 1984, trying to get the goods on a big time power figure. Loose script, and obvious ending. Avoid it. 

SHE. (NETFLIX SERIES). A beautiful and unhappily married Hindi woman in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is a part time police employee. She’s pressured to pose as a prostitute in order to trap a bigtime drug king. Her sister is a college student, her husband is a drunk. She gets into a lot of trouble and then begins to realize that she’s very human and capable of falling in love. It’s twisted and complex and develops slowly over the episodes, but watch it anyway. 

TO THE LAKE. (NETFLIX SERIES). It has a rare 100RT rating!!! A terrible and familiar pandemic hits Moscow. The city is blocked off, and victims have eyes that are white! We follow a very split family that goes through many relationship issues as well as trying to escape the white-eyed victims. There’s an autistic son, an extra cute daughter along for the ride, as they flee and and try to avoid their enemies. They end up in a refuge ship! You’ll think constantly about the Covid scene we are living in. Go for it.

I’M YOUR WOMAN (AMAZON PRIME SERIES). A double-dealing husband brings home a new baby, and then disappears. The wife has to go on the run with a thug to hide from the husband’s would-be killers. The plot thickens and thins and twists beyond belief. Not a great series, and I lost track after about three episodes. (81RT)

TREEHOUSE (HULU SINGLE). Remember that you have to watch or skip ads on HULU.
It’s about a hugely successful chef/restaurateur who is also a womanizer. One of his “dates” committed suicide, and her sister and women friends give him drugs and… become witches. They do almost drive him permanently insane. It’ll remind you of the Windsor Mayor Foppoli and his Winery, and all the sexual charges against him. And it’s very poorly acted too.

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 and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.  

OSLO. (HBO MAX. SINGLE) Even though this is taken from a play it’s got 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 (one with Cumberbatch). This earned a very low 5RT!!! Gary Oldman is an evil moneyed 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 and do not watch this one. 

EUPHORIA. (HBO MAX. SERIES) A very negative depressing story of a teen aged 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 that are involved with bus number 678. It’s a very dramatic, complex movie all about the most basic women’s rights in Egypt and as we know all over the world.  Its how the establishment keeps the inequality in place. The three women get arrested, take part in demonstrations and still live in fear. Involving, educational, and worthwhile. 

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.

June 7, 2021

Gillian will be gone this week and back June 14.

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


June 7


An Eerie Political Scene Engulfing Surf City
Are there forces, greater than the sum of our Santa Cruz progressive parts that are marauding through our city? It would seem so. In front of our collective pandemic eyes we are not seeing much government openness or transparency. With no in-person city council meetings, the one obligatory developer zoom meeting, which always obfuscates the actual size of the latest luxury condo project while you’re cut off from public comment because of “connectivity issues” (you are told by the moderator), and finally the total absence of the water-cooler conversations at work have left many in a social and political quandary. On one hand, city council closed sessions are longer than ever and the public zoom meetings make it so that no councilmember has to be confronted by the public, and on another bureaucratic hand, one Planning Commission meeting after another is cancelled because there is somehow “a lack of business” to discuss. This is not good, or stable, governance. We must return immediately to in-person meetings in the city council chambers at 809 Center Street.

Eerie Politics, Part II, A Brief History of Progressive SC Time
This week I ran across the Grand Jury report from 2002-03 while looking for something else. It presented a picture of builders about to pluck the gold ring of Santa Cruz real estate. But it is not until 2016 where the for-profit rapid development begins in earnest. I reprint the Grand Jury’s “Background” notes here as it is history repeating itself.

2002-2003 Santa Cruz County Grand Jury Final Report and Responses 

On April 11 of this year, the Moore Creek Preserve, a 246-acre nature reserve on the western edge of the City of Santa Cruz, opened without fanfare. Formerly known as the Bombay Property, it is the final piece of the “Greenbelt” of the City of Santa Cruz, made possible by the passage of Measure O by city voters in 1979.1 It opened without public restrooms, adequate parking, or other public facilities. 

In April of 1964 the Santa Cruz City Council adopted its first “General Plan for Future Development.” At that time, the City Council was dominated by local business interests. Their ambitious plan makes for interesting reading today. Among other things, it called for: 

  • the annexation of Live Oak, Pasatiempo, and Doyle Gulch (Bordering Branciforte Creek near DeLaveaga Park)
  • a reservoir and expanded road access in the Doyle Gulch area
  • housing for 125,000 to 145,000 people 
  • a 4-6 lane “Beach Loop” Parkway beginning at Highway 17 & Ocean Street and ending ?at Bay Street and Mission connecting beach area parking facilities to Highways 1 and 17
  • an “Inner Loop” serving parking facilities in an expanded central business district ?surrounding a “pedestrian only” Pacific Avenue mall
  • expansion of Highway 17 to eight lanes, Highway 1 to six lanes, and a total of six lanes ?between Felton and Santa Cruz including a Graham Hill Expressway
  • a university neighborhood with 74,000 residents surrounding the current UCSC campus. The campus would have been fully integrated into the city with more than 20 lanes providing access
  • a major luxury hotel-tourist-convention center occupying 40 acres on Lighthouse Point
  • fully developed west side and River Street industrial areas2 ?While many of the ideas in the plan were implemented and others could still be considered, much of it was not to be.In the early 1970’s, the City of Capitola was allowed to annex the 41st Avenue area which had been proposed as a site for a large retail shopping mall, thus destroying the financial viability of the proposed annexation of the entire Live Oak community by the City of Santa Cruz, as called for in the 1964 Plan.

In the late 1970’s, the expanding UCSC community and growing neighborhood opposition to development, allowed a “progressive” coalition to take control of the Santa Cruz City Council. This new coalition brought decidedly different priorities to city government. Originally founded to promote health care and other social services, organizers eventually joined with anti-growth and community activists to form an electoral block capable of delivering a majority in city elections. 

This majority had a profound effect on the future development of Santa Cruz County. In 1979 they adopted support for Measure O as a part of their election strategy. That measure’s passage, supported by their corresponding and subsequent election victories, encircled the city in a planned “Greenbelt” and severely limited further residential development. 

Today, the City and County of Santa Cruz are faced with many of the same issues that faced the area at the time of the General Plan of 1964. In addition, the future of the region is threatened by many new and pressing challenges: 

  • Anticipated traffic circulation problems have not been solved
  • Large fully developed residential areas located outside of cities are forced to rely on a ?county government poorly suited to provide desired infrastructure projects and necessary ?public services
  • Financial resources are inefficiently distributed to meet the needs of the citizens of the ?area
  • Industrial areas are underdeveloped and underutilized
  • Demands for new and affordable housing continue to mount ?As the 40th anniversary of the City of Santa Cruz’s first General Plan approaches, it is fitting that we pause to assess what has happened to date and re-examine the large scale land use questions that have affected our past and will determine our future.Scope ?Given the serious issues facing local government in Santa Cruz County, the Grand Jury decided to:
  • Examine the effect these large land use decisions currently have on the financial stability of local government
  • Examine the methods utilized by local governments in Santa Cruz County to evaluate land use decisions
  • Examine the specific land use issues facing local government that impact their future fiscal stability.

City notes

  • Breaking News: Susan Nemitz, the director of the Santa Cruz library system has tendered her resignation.
  • Lee Butler, the planning director-cum-homeless czar (future city manager???) pulled down only $253, 854 in 2019, and he was actually looking for an increase in pay during one of these Covid council meetings…
  • AB 1139, the “Net energy metering” perplexing and somewhat dubious initiative that was making local solar companies go bonkers, as it also went after people with existing solar panels because they had lowered their bills and were somehow not paying PG$E enough, was defeated in the state assembly. The vote was equally perplexing: 27-27 with 25 members voting NRV, or “no recorded vote.” Our Assembly member, Mark Stone, voted “yes.” One aspect of the bill I support would be holding solar companies to paying prevailing wage. Interesting to note, while many local progressives believed this to be a bad bill, the majority voting against it were Republicans and a Dem who counts herself as a Berkeley progressive, Buffy Wicks.
  • If you want to look for real progressive politics in action, look no further than assembly district 18 (Oakland, Alameda, San Leandro), attorney general Rob Bonta’s old seat. There are at least five progressives running and the major issues are $22 living wage, ending qualified immunity for police, Medicare for all, and enacting a California “Green New Deal.” Now that’s a progressive political agenda.

Victories Aplenty in San Benito County (but not Santa Cruz)
There just might be two significant ballot initiatives on the 2022 Santa Cruz ballot, and the ballot strategy might just upend some of the bad city council pro-development victories that are becoming apparent all over town. I just received an internship request from Mary Hsia- Coron of the Coalition to Save San Benito County and it looks like they are doing city government by petition and ballot initiative. They’ve been quite successful in the past few years. Mary writes about the group’s strategy: Since our county supervisors and city councils are unduly influenced by developers and other moneyed interests, we’ve had to use Initiatives and Referendums to bypass the politicians and appeal directly to voters. This approach has allowed us to make major policy changes that would not have been approved by local officials. We also use the legal system to stop elected officials from pursuing illegal actions. We’ve accomplished a great deal on a shoestring budget because we’re an all-volunteer group of retirees plus some younger folks. Remember, this group won an historic victory in 2014 to outlaw fracking in San Benito County. Other victories include:

  • In Nov. 2020, we defeated (with 60% of votes) Measure N, the Strada Verde Initiative to develop 2,777 acres near Hwys 101 & 25. (We spent $32k while the developer spent $710k on their campaign.) See for details.
  • In March 2020, we won (with 60% of votes) a Referendum (NO on Measure K) to stop development of 4 locations along Hwy 101. (We spent $31k while the developers spent $60k on their campaign.) See for details.
  • In 2017, we lobbied elected officials to win approval for Monterey Bay Community Power which has doubled renewable energy use in our region.
  • In 2016, we helped to ban fracking & new oil wells in Monterey County. See Mercury News article
  • In 2014, we won a historic ban on fracking in San Benito County. See LA Times article ?
“Here is a list of every single Republican who had the guts to vote in support of the American Rescue Plan: There aren’t any. We did it alone. Meanwhile, how many Republican senators voted for Trump’s $1.9 trillion tax giveaway to the rich? 51! Pathetic.” (June 7)

Hiking in Fall Creek. Really brings back the fires of 2020, slowly recovering.

(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

June 7

Leaders in Santa Cruz County and City need to do what Yolo County and City of Davis leaders did a few years ago when tensions mounted over planned University of California enrollment expansion…gather together and negotiate a workable agreement that addresses the inherent problems, not launch lawsuits.

The sabers are clattering regarding the UCSC Draft Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) as lawsuits spring to action.  This makes lawyers very happy, but what positive outcome can we expect?  

Will more students get housed on campus or will they continue to have to scramble for expensive shared housing (like a couch in a closet) in our residential neighborhoods and rely on the areas clogged infrastructure to get to classes…whenever that happens? 

Congressman Jimmy Panetta publicly cautioned County Supervisors during a Special Board Meeting On December 2, 2019 about mounting harsh resistance to UCSC enrollment expansion itself because the State is mandating that all who want higher education should be able to do so.  That means more students. [Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Special Meeting with Legislators] 

Take a look at what the City of Davis and Yolo County leaders did.  In my telephone conversations with the government leaders there now, it is heartening to hear that they have achieved a positive outcome in a partnership that benefits the community without the tension and anger of lawsuits.

The Davis town-gown relationship: from deep division to national acclaim – Davis Enterprise

Remember that, like the UC Davis partnership, UCSC helped our County develop rapid COVID testing and supplies to meet state requirements in the early stages of the pandemic shutdown.

UC Santa Cruz Lab Increases COVID-19 Testing For Santa Cruz County

Maybe the Santa Cruz County and Santa Cruz City leaders need to take a field trip to Davis and see what is possible, rather than fomenting tension and spending money that could be better used improving the situation.

It will be interesting to watch how the Santa Cruz County LAFCO annexation proceedings move forward for any UCSC campus water and sewer service expansion.  Read Director Joe Serrano’s Comment Letter to the Regents:

[LAFCO comment letter to UC Regents re: Draft LRDP] 

State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara recently supported shocking proposals to the State legislature that would prevent rebuilding and new development in areas the State deems too risky for fire protection.  Here is why all who own property in rural areas should speed-dial legislators now to oppose the recommendations in the Draft California Climate Insurance Recommendations Report, referenced in the New York Times article below.

As Disasters Worsen, California Looks at Curbing Construction in Risky Areas

“And if local officials insist on building in places exposed to wildfires, the recommendations call for preventing those homes from getting insurance through the state’s FAIR Plan. That state-mandated plan is California’s insurer of last resort; it offers coverage to homeowners who have been denied traditional coverage. Without access to the FAIR Plan, homeowners would run the risk of having no insurance at all.”

The Personal Insurance Federation of California, which represents the industry and was represented on the working group, said it supported the recommendations.

State Senator Bill Dodd, a Democrat whose district includes Napa, Sonoma and other areas hit hard by recent wildfires, said he was open to many of the recommendations, including stopping access to the FAIR Plan for new homes in high-risk areas, halting infrastructure spending and expanding building codes. “We’ve got to rethink how we are developing” in those places, he said.

He said he thought those ideas could find backing from other lawmakers in Sacramento, too. “A lot of my colleagues are having the same problems with their constituents not being able to get insurance,” Mr. Dodd said. “They’re open to listening.”

In an interview, Mr. Lara said the state was hurting homeowners by allowing construction to continue in those places.

“Owning a home that loses value because it’s uninsurable is really not affordable — it is a false promise that we’re making to future homeowners,” Mr. Lara said. 

The hyperlink within this article provides the State Climate Risk Working Group’s 67-page report to the legislature.  The Report recommends not allowing people to rebuild in areas the state determines to be too risky to insure.

“Solving these problems will require lasting partnerships across the public and private sectors and require multiple tools. We need stronger building codes for new construction, in moderate and high-risk areas. In addition, each time a home or community is rebuilt after disaster, there is an opportunity to design and build a more insurable property and in aggregate, a more climate-resilient community. When disasters are severe, local governments have substantial unmet costs and uncertainty in future tax revenues. 

Given the magnitude of this challenge, risk reduction should be incentivized by the state through an overarching state resilience strategy, by local governments through adoption of a broader and stronger building code—including through the incorporation of risk reduction measures in permitting and planning of developments and programs for relocation post-disaster—and by insurance companies through insurance pricing systems that reflect risk reduction measures. The state’s role is vital, since deferring decisions to local governments when the risks are statewide creates patchworks of risk mitigation and local building practices that increase exposure to adjoining communities, as well as volatility in emergency response costs, which wreaks havoc with budgeting. This report recommends actions that the state can take to achieve better land use decision-making, including actions to require more effective recovery planning and risk reduction moving forward.”

Please contact local and state elected representatives with your thoughts:

Senator John Laird Contact

Assemblyman Mark Stone  Official Website – Assemblymember Mark Stone Representing the 29th California Assembly District

State Legislative Map: California State Legislature—Your Legislator

Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors:

Click on the photo of your Supervisor

Two Grand Jury reports are now out: 

Wildfire Threat to the City of Santa Cruz – Promote Policies to Prevent and Protect

Chasing the Pandemic – Role of Testing and Contact Tracing

2020-2021 Grand Jury Reports and Responses

This is good work, and merits much public discussion. 

 Wildfire Threat to the City:

It is heartening to read that the Grand Jury recognized the value of grassroots organization and neighborhood volunteer efforts in FireWise Communities in the City’s Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas, and recommends the City support more.

 Chasing the Pandemic:

The Report highlights the important partnership between County Health Services and the UCSC DNA Research Lab.  Also, “More Publicity and Visibility The Grand Jury spent many hours doing searches for information to develop this report. More transparency on the part of Santa Cruz County would have been very helpful. For example, the PHD became a conduit to bring federal CARES money to the county to buy equipment and supplies. We found no publicity about this and believe that county residents would be happy to hear of some of their federal income taxes returning to the county. A significant example that lacks that kind of publicity is the establishment of the COVID-19 testing laboratory at UCSC [85] [35] where PHD directed over $1.5M from the CARES funding.” (page 16)

Many thoughtful community members continue to question the proposed off-site mitigation in Anna Jean Cummings Park for the damages in the Arana Gulch/ Rodeo watershed riparian areas that will be affected by the proposed new Highway One Auxiliary Lanes.  

The County Parks & Recreation Commission will review and discuss the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) plan to hand over $200,000 to the County Parks Dept. to manage the 168 new trees proposed to be planted behind Soquel High School in an area that is a sensitive Coastal Prairie grassland habitat. 

[Full Agenda]

This ecosystem supports certain bird species that are found only in open grassland areas.  The area proposed is not even in the Arana Gulch/ Rodeo watershed, the area that the project will affect.

Here is a description of that watershed:

Arana Gulch-Rodeo

The Arana Gulch-Rodeo watershed drains a 3.5 square-mile area at the outer (eastern) edges of the City of Santa Cruz. Major waterways and water bodies in this watershed include Arana Gulch, Leona Creek, Schwann Lake, Rodeo Creek Gulch, and several unnamed waterways. Principal land uses in the watershed are urban, primarily residential, commercial, and light industrial, plus institutional areas such as schools, hospitals, and cemeteries. Habitat types present in the watershed include wetlands and freshwater marsh, streambank vegetation, mixed evergreen/mixed broadleaf forest, and a few patchy areas of chaparral habitat. High sediment loads threaten the quality of habitat for the steelhead and other aquatic species in Arana Gulch. Reducing the delivery of sand and sediments to Arana Gulch, its tributaries, and the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor and providing passage for migrating adult steelhead to the eastern and central branches of Arana Gulch are identified as principal goals for the Arana Gulch watershed.

[Santa Cruz County Watersheds] 

Contact the Board of Supervisors and Santa Cruz County RTC Director Guy Preston with your thoughts:

Board of Supervisors:  831-454-2200 or Board of Supervisors

Santa Cruz County RTC Director Guy Preston 

Last week, the Board of Directors for Soquel Creek Water District approved spending $1,338,377 to construct eight monitoring wells that would detect any contamination in the drinking water supply for MidCounty residents, due to the PureWater Soquel Project injecting treated sewage water into the aquifer. 

[Soquel Creek Water District Board 6/1/2021 Agenda] See page 30.

What bothers me is that, given the subsurface directional flow of the groundwater toward Monterey Bay, most of the monitoring wells would be upstream of the injection wells.

How effective is it to sample upstream of the contamination source?

I wrote to the State Water Quality Control Board with my concerns.  In a nutshell, here is the reply:

“The well locations were chosen in part by the availability of accessible land available for the development and ongoing monitoring of these wells.

Regarding your concern that only two of the monitoring wells are located “upstream” of the injection wells, this is inconsistent with modeling results. Modeling results indicate that monitoring wells are appropriately located such that they will be completed within the recycled water injection plume and located appropriate distances away to comply with the travel time requirements. Figures 2-6, 2-7, and 2-8 of the attached technical memorandum provide a visualization of the injection wells, modeled injection plume, modeled travel times, monitoring wells, and private domestic wells.  

Regarding your concerns about the private wells located near the Twin Lakes Church injection well, these private wells were identified and considered as part of the evaluation of monitoring well placement. The monitoring wells are located such that they provide adequate response retention time for the Pine Tree Lane private wells, per the requirements of Title 22.

Regarding your request to require that SCWD provide funding for private domestic wells to monitor production water quality, this additional monitoring is not required because the monitoring wells will serve this purpose. Monitoring wells are located such that they are downgradient from the injection wells and upgradient from the private domestic wells. Any water injected into the aquifer will arrive at the monitoring wells before it arrives at private domestic wells. In addition, the monitoring wells are located an appropriate distance upgradient that, in the event that off specification water is injected into the aquifer, SCWD will have adequate time to identify the presence of this off specification water in the two downgradient monitoring wells, notify potentially impacted private domestic wells, and provide replacement water prior to the arrival of the off specification water at the downgradient private supply wells.”

I do not find this comforting at all….it is all based on hypothetical models, and offers nothing more that when the contamination happens, private well owners affected (about 100 households) will be offered bottled water.  

If the “plume” of injected treated sewage water would be detected upstream of the pressure-injection site, how much further upstream would a contamination plume travel in drought years when there is less downstream flow to the Bay and how would that affect future health and safety of the aquifer?  Could this affect Cabrillo College private wells nearby the Twin Lakes Church injection well?

Please write the Soquel Creek Water District Board with your thoughts. 

Board of Directors  and copy the Clerk of the Board Emma Olin   

One of the three treated sewage water injection well sites is in Capitola’s Monterey Avenue neighborhood.  Last week, a large pipe running from the new injection well to the storm drain on Monterey Avenue spurted water 24/7, with water flowing along the gutters.  See the photos below:

And yet those residents are warned ad nauseam about wasting water, and many have let their landscapes die because the cost of irrigation is prohibitive.  Why didn’t the District capture all that water and offer it for free to the residents who have had to live with construction noise night and day for the past three months????


Cheers, Becky

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


June 4

#155 / Meet The Press?

In the last several days, I have been reading a lot about Naomi Osaka, a professional tennis player. In fact, she is not just any tennis player, either. As Wikipedia tells us, Osaka has been ranked No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and is the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles. Osaka is pictured, above, and a story in The New Yorker provides more information about her stellar career:

In 2018, during the U.S. Open trophy presentation, after a match marred by controversy surrounding a confrontation between Serena Williams and the umpire. The crowd, which had been on Williams’s side, booed as Osaka was named the champion. Osaka cried, and tried to hide her face. She was twenty years old then, already launched into a life that everyone could see and that no one could possibly imagine. Over the next three years, Osaka won three more Grand Slams, and the publicity surrounding her career and her life grew even more intense. Her image was on the cover of Vogue and on billboards towering over Los Angeles and Tokyo. She became an icon, and she did iconic things. She helped design sneakers for Nike, a salad for Sweetgreen. In May, Sportico estimated that she had earned more than fifty million dollars during the previous year, which made her the highest-paid female athlete in history… A recent Times feature about her ran under the headline “How Naomi Osaka Became Everyone’s Favorite Spokesmodel.”

I am not an avid sports fan, and I didn’t really know much about Osaka until Tuesday, June 1, 2021, when The New York Times devoted a full page to Osaka in its “SportsTuesday” section. June 1, 2021, is also when The New Yorker ran that story from which I have already quoted. Osaka was “big news” in the world of sports on Tuesday, because of her decision to withdraw from the French Open, and particularly because of the reason she decided to do that. Osaka announced before her first match that she would refuse to take part in a press conference following the match – and then she followed through. Here is how The New Yorker explained events:

It is not, in fact, unusual for players to skip press conferences—particularly players who can afford to pay the resulting fines. What was unusual was the decision to opt out of them entirely, ahead of time, and to publicly question the rules and practices surrounding them. Osaka also sent a private e-mail to French Open officials apologizing for any affront and saying that she would like to “work with the Tour” to set up a new system once the tournament was done. But the officials at all four Grand Slams treated both this e-mail and her initial statement as existential threats. After trying and failing to engage with Osaka, they said, they issued a joint statement to publicly warn her that the penalties would escalate if she maintained her stance and that she could be expelled from the tournament. Within a day [given those threats], she pulled out.

As already indicated, I am not much of a sports fan, though I certainly knew Osaka’s name, and knew that she is a great tennis player. What surprised me, as I started reading all the stories, was that refusing to participate in a post-tournament press conference could bring down so much wrath upon Osaka that she felt the need to withdraw from the tournament to protect her mental health. 

As it turns out, which I didn’t know, tennis players who participate in these major tournaments bind themselves, contractually, to subject themselves to the press. Osaka’s announcement, thus, was seen as an “anticipatory breach” of contract, to use a legal term, and when she made good on her plan and skipped that first post-match press conference, “existential wrath” did pour forth. 

Several other tennis professionals, including former tennis champion Billie Jean King, indicated that Osaka was refusing to “do her job,” and little sympathy was shown to Osaka in the immediate aftermath of her decision to withdraw from the French Open. In fact, The Times article implied that Osaka was, essentially, a “bad sport,” and was trying to obtain an unfair advantage over other players, who would have to endure the press conferences, while Osaka would skip them, and then use the time not spent with the press to relax, all the better to prepare for her upcoming matches. 

The continuing coverage of this matter has now begun to stress how courageous and brave Osaka has been to bring up, publicly, the kind of stress that professional athletes can experience, and to suggest – or even demand – that those in charge of these major tennis tournaments pay attention to and accommodate the athletes’ need to protect their mental health. The Wall Street Journal, in fact, has said that what Osaka did has “reignited a conversation that is reshaping pro sports.”

I think that forcing sports organizations to pay attention to the mental health-related issues experienced by professional athletes is a good thing, and I was pleased to see that Stephen Curry agrees. (While I am not much of a sports fan, I do follow the Golden State Warriors!) However, what struck me most in the events just described was the fact that the “job” of a professional athlete is apparently not just to play hard and try to win. That, too, of course, but I was amazed to find that a tennis champion’s legally defined “job” includes – as a contractual commitment – talking to sports writers and other media types, and enduring their questions and suggestions. 

Non-sports fan that I am, I have always naively supposed that the “job” of a professional athlete was simply to train and participate and try to win in whatever sport in which the athlete was involved. If the press and media are interested, as of course they are, because the public is, the burden of “covering” the stories generated within professional sports should be on the press and the media, not on the athletes whose successes and failures are the “news” that the press and media will bring to the public. 

That is, apparently, not the way it is, so professional athletes are actually “working” for the corporate, wealthy interests that use sports to make their money, and the owners are telling the athletes not only that they need to be winners, to keep their employment, but that they need to “flak” for the sports entities that stage the contests in which they are involved. 

As the Osaka story continues to unfold, I hope that the mental health needs of professional athletes will, indeed, get more consideration. That is what the most recent news articles suggest might happen. A New Yorker article published yesterday, in fact, asks “What if Pro Sports Leagues Were Controlled By Their Players?” That sounds like a good idea to me. If that were true, “taking a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem might well not result in an athletic death penalty, as it did for Colin Kaepernick

As professional athletes think about that possibility, I suggest there should be a reevaluation of the idea that an athlete can or should be contractually bound to talk to the press, whether that athlete wants to talk to the press, or not. Somehow (non-sports fan that I am), that just doesn’t feel right to me. While expressed in more general terms, I was delighted to see that the Thursday edition of The New York Times ran an Op-Ed column by Lindsay Crouse that more or less makes this same point. The column’s title? “The Power of ‘Nope.’

Meet the press, athletes? Only if you feel like 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

Email Gary at


EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog


“My father always said, ‘Never trust anyone whose TV is bigger than their book shelf’ – so I make sure I read”.
~Emilia Clarke

“To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter”.

“I’m a father; that’s what matters most. Nothing matters more”.
~Gordon Brown

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”  
~Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum


I love watching things like wood turning videos. This thing is great, I’ve never seen such a raw piece of wood on a lathe before!

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