Blog Archives

March 14 – 20, 2011

THE BOARDWALK SWENSON LA BAHIA.Ignore those fancy 3D dreamscapes that Jesse Nickell and Charlie Canfield claim represent their noveaux La Bahia. Here’s what it’ll look like straight on from Beach Street. When opponent/realists say it’ll look like Waikiki, this is what they refer to.

Additional information always welcome: email

THE COASTAL COMMISSION IN SANTA CRUZ. I asked Don Webber, long time friend and long time opponent of the Canfield Swenson version of La Bahia to write his reactions to the California Coastal Commission’s visit here last week and bring us up to date on The La Bahia site, he wrote…

Coastal Commission in Santa Cruz

The three-day marathon that is the monthly meeting of the California Coastal Commission was held in Santa Cruz last week. This is the third time the Commission has met in our County Building in the recent past. And for the third time, the Commission did not hear the city’s application to permit development of a new hotel on the La Bahia site. The city submitted its application to the Commission in the summer of 2009.

La Bahia was on Thursday’s agenda, but city Mayor Ryan Coonerty decided to postpone the matter in the face of an impending defeat. The city is asking the Coastal Commission for authority to demolish the landmark La Bahia Apartments and to rezone the site, effectively doubling the allowable building height on that one parcel. The Commission’s staff was ready to recommend denial of the city’s request, and the Commission was set to deny it.

The city can’t credibly claim to be surprised by this outcome. Nearly three years ago, in May of 2008, the Commission’s staff wrote to city officials, clearly delineating the legal problems the city faced in reconciling its ambitious plans with the provisions of the state Coastal Act. But the city and the developer insist that the site needs its own zoning law, as well as the demolition of the old La Bahia complex, in order to properly transform the beach area. For three years, the city has been tinkering around the edges of its plan in hopes that Coastal Commission staffers would finally relent and issue a positive recommendation, but they didn’t, so as the day of reckoning approached, the city was forced to hit the brakes.

YACHT HARBOR IN 25 SECONDS.In case you missed this Tsunami clip.

In rational world, the city might be expected to see a near-death experience like this as an opportunity to prevail upon La Bahia’s owners, Charles Canfield and Barry Swenson to step back and redraw plans as a smaller hotel, within existing site constraints, and to make an honest attempt to restore more of the historic building site. Alas, in a rational world, city leaders would have done that four years ago, and if they had, the La Bahia Hotel would have been built and operating by now, and the city would already be collecting hotel tax. But city leaders didn’t confront the developer then, and they show no signs of doing so now.

No, don’t hold your breath on that rationality thing.


Rather than think about changing their plan, the city is pinning its hopes on a changing Coastal Commission. The spin that the city is putting on its pullback from a Coastal Commission reckoning is that they want to wait until the governor appoints two additional members to the Commission to bring it up to its full complement of 12. Governor Brown fired two of the Commissioners that ex-Governor Schwarzenegger had appointed on his way out of office, so there are currently only 10 Commissioners. The two that Brown fired were probably the surest votes that the city and Swenson had on the Commission.

And instead of redrawing plans to conform to the Coastal Act, the city and the developer are putting their energy into lobbying Commissioner Mark Stone and the rest of the Coastal Commissioners to get them to approve Swenson’s plan, like the city approved it back in April 2009.

On the heels of removing La Bahia from Thursday’s agenda, the city and the developer whipped up another batch of local support for Swenson’s plan. The Sentinel did its usual pump job, and the Good Times literally gushed over it (after reporting that La Bahia is located in Beach Flats).

Along with the press blitz, they organized a big email dump on Commissioner Stone urging him to “take the lead” in getting his fellow Coastal Commissioners to okay Swenson’s plan. This is a serious misreading of the role of a Coastal Commissioner. Stone’s job is to enforce the protective provisions of the Coastal Act fairly on a statewide basis, not to act as a booster for local economic development. But since our city leaders are themselves business boosters, it’s not surprising that they’d expect a Coastal Commissioner to beat the drum along with them.

After the press blitz and that big email dump, the third shoe dropped: a parade of notables to speak directly to the Coastal Commissioners during the portion of their three-day meeting set aside to receive brief public comments on subjects that aren’t on the agenda. Since the city had pulled it from the agenda, La Bahia qualified for comment.

Bruce McPherson was content mostly to stick to the script that Swenson and the city developed for the event in an email to their supporters. The publisher of the Good Times made sure the Commissioners had a copy of his groundbreaking issue. Mike Rotkin, Lynn Robinson, David Terrazas and Cynthia Mathews eachdutifully stood in the three-minute line, and each dutifully touted the city’s plans for both the Arana Gulch bikeway and Swenson’s La Bahia, often conflating the two as part of one “big picture.”

Swenson’s point man, Jesse Nickell III, was on hand to observe the proceedings, and to his credit he persevered through almost the entire three-day meeting. He got a chance to observe the Commission in action, and it couldn’t have been an inspiring experience. The Commission routinely denies coastal development that runs afoul of the protective provisions of the Coastal Act, and Commissioners have the opportunity to prove that at nearly every meeting.


Of course the city and the developer hope that their lobbying and cheerleading will have the desired effect on the Coastal Commission. But, after the recent press blitz, the email dump, and the parade of notables, is there another shoe to drop?

It appears all that the city is willing to do to remedy its flawed position is to chisel away at the Commission’s staff in hopes of getting some kind of positive recommendation. And two, to hope for a better outcome from a different set of Coastal Commissioners. If that really is all, then Swenson’s plan for La Bahia hangs by a slender thread indeed, and may already be—despite the recent media hoopla—dead.

If it is, we can expect a campaign attempting to blame the plan’s demise on others: neighbors, unions, historic preservationists, the Coastal Commission, etc. Baloney. City leaders decided early on to sign on as members of the development team; they decided not to consider any feasible alternatives to demolition of historic structures; they decided to replace a Mediterranean hillside village with a modern hotel too big for its surroundings. They reckoned they could bulldoze their way through the protective provisions of our Local Coastal Program, and through the provisions of state laws designed to minimize adverse effects of development and protect coastal resources. For years they’ve known that their plan will likely fail to pass muster under the Coastal Act, and still they persist.

If their plan finally fails, it won’t be the fault of their critics. No, it will be theirs”. Thanks to people like Don Webber and The California Coastal Commission our coast is being protected.

LIBRARIES AND IDEAS. Two ideas voiced privately and in hushed tones about saving our Santa Cruz Library system from someone inside the system.

1. Get the current staff to stop fighting and fearing the allowing volunteers to help out in 100’s of problem areas of library operations.

2. Re-think the expenditure of big money on technology changes for awhile and spend that money on operations and books until the crisis passes.

EARTHQUAKE COMING ON MARCH 20TH. Hina Pendle sent this saying that

There was an EARTHQUAKE WARNING FROM RUSSIAN INSTITUTE of PHYSICS of the EARTH. Posted by Real News Reporter on March 12th, 2011. Read it here.

LOIS LINFORD’S GONE. Brian Murtha, new President of the People’s Democratic Club sent this… “Our PDC member, Lois Linford, passed away on February 25, age 86. Lois is survived by her husband, Bill, (also a PDC member), her daughters, grand-children and great grand-children. She is well remembered for her work with Health Care for All, WILPF, DWC, League of Women Voters, etc. (From the Sentinel obit: “Friends and family are invited to gather to share stories and memories of Lois at the First Congregational Church on High Street, March 27, at 2:30 P.M., in the
lounge. Donations (may be made) in Lois’ name to Health Care for All, 280
Moore St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060”.She will be missed! Brian Murtha, Pres.

BOOK CARVING. You think you know art? Think you know about books? Think you know about carving? Look at what Book Carving can do…

KING’S SPEECH, A PROFESSIONAL VIEW. Paul Dragavon used to be a Santa Cruz County speech therapist for many years. (He was also on the City Parks and Rec. Board) That was before he retired and moved up to Paradise, California. For decades when he lived and taught here he and I would talk about speech problems. I asked him for his opinion on the King’s Speech movie because it didn’t seem like a very real very treatment to me. He replied, “I was disappointed in Colin Firth’s wimpy stuttering in the King’s Speech. I’d want to see some blocks with facial distortion and forcing that would be painful for the audience to watch. You know… eyes shut, mouth open, but lips pursed and tightly closed, and all facial muscles taut. Struggle for a full 45 seconds, until the audience is as tense as the King. Then his lips explode apart as he finally breaks thru the stutterer’s eternal conflict – to talk or not to talk. Now that performance would be remembered. What does anyone remember of his movie stuttering? Not much, just the embarrassment of the royalty. The Academy Award should have gone to Geoffrey Rush”.

PATTON’S PROGRAM. Click hereabouts to read Gary’s KUSP words on such issues as Boards of Supervisors in both Monterey and Santa Cruz County and what they’re up to. Read too about Land Use policies, about Vacation Rental actions, news about walkabouts and flood control and the “Zone 7” problems.
(Gary Patton is “Of Counsel” to the Santa Cruz law firm of Wittwer & Parkin, which specializes in land use and environmental law. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. Gary has his own website, “Two Worlds / 365” )

SWING DANCING FROM GHOST CATCHERS (1944) Somewhere in this clip are Olsen & Johnsen and Gloria Jean. Also in this not to memorable flick were Leo Carrillo, Andy Devine and Lon Chaney, jr.

EAGANS DEEP COVER. Tim delivers a swing at birds of a feather….view downwards near the bottom…

LANDAU’S PROGRES. Saul takes off on Talk his article, “Different Universes In One Country”. He says, “Listen to right wing talk radio – and tens of millions do – and you’ll hear about an alternative universe where bitter aliens describe a different reality than the one experienced by most (thank god) Americans.My friend scowls. “How can you listen to that crap?” “Limbaugh’s bombastic boasts are less painful than wearing scrapers between your thighs,” I explain, not daring to admit to the dolorous feelings in my ears and brain, “and how else does one learn about what the new Republican Party and some Tea Partiers — not all — propose in their political agendas. Fanatic right talk radio has become the oral parchment of this alternate world view.” Read all of it here.

Saul Landau is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow whose films are on DVD from

VINTAGE DE CINZO SCROLL BELOW to see his version of “Love thy Neighbor

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Step into the Way-back machine this week on Lisa Jensen Online Express ( for some wonderful antique choral music (with a side trip to medieval Chartres), and a ’60s flashback at a recent Cultural Council event. Also, hot tips on a brief, but tasty, guerrilla art show (one week only!), and vintage Fellini on the big screen. Lisa Jensen has been writing film reviews and a column for Good Times since 1975.

EVEN THE RAIN. A Santa Cruz crowd pleaser if only because the film is dedicated to Howard Zinn. The rest is equally well aimed at newcomers exploiting the locals. Gael Garcia Bernal plays a film director working on a film about Columbus’ impact on the Indians. Set in Bolivia it’s a heavy handed (ie not subtle) show down of how the making of this film is related to how Columbus ruined what a beautiful culture there once was.Go see it, you’ll think about it for a few days after.

BATTLE : LA. Don’t go expecting to see big effects of the destruction of Santa Monica by alien space ships. This film is a mess of a copy of “9”. No plot, no depth of characters, more cliché’s than you can shake a stick at. Aaron Eckhart is the only reason to see this.

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD. Amanda Seyfried’s eyes are the only reason to see this film. You think she and Anne Hathaway go to the same eye Beverly Hills eye doctor? It’s a werewolf, Brothers Grimm, cheap wolf effects type film. Julie Christie is the grandmother but you won’t know it until later. I wouldn’t go if I were you.

MARS NEEDS MOMS. An animated Disney creation that drew so few (0) people to the 3D version on Saturday at The Del Mar that they cancelled the first few showings. I liked it. Simple, great 3D effects, the love you Mom message got me crying at one point! It’s sort of dumb but has great moments and only see it in 3D

PHIL OCHS: THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE. Poor Phil Ochs, performing the same era as Bob Dylan.This documentary proves he didn’t have 1/10th of Dylans talent. Matter of fact you can’t tell one Och’s song from another…watch it and see. Och’s killed himself early on. He seemed like a nice guy, I met him a couple of times in Seattle with Dave Van Ronk. An odd film and I’m not sure what the director set out to prove. Let me know if you figure it out.

ANNOUNCING VIVIANA ALTHEA AVANI BURKE. Jennifer Brager and Don Burke formerly of Santa Cruz left a big hole in our political and social fabric when they moved outa here for Portland a while back. But they’ve been busy and just announced the birth of Viviana Althea Avani Burke, their new baby! Jennifer says, ” We expected her on March 4th, but Viviana Althea Avani Burke showed up early on March 1, 2011 after 41 hours of labor! At 2:19 pm Vivi weighed in happy and healthy at 7 lbs. and 7 oz. at the height of 20 and 3/4 inches. She contentedly traveled home with us bundled up in Great Aunt Janet’s homemade pink sweater, pink hat and green booties, and covered over in Great Grandma Helen’s homemade blanket. Just like our wedding, the sun came out for the drive home! Since we’ve been home Vivi’s favorite place is on the glider in her nursery. We can’t wait for you to all meet her soon. We’ll let you know when we feel recovered from delivery (it might take a while after that long push if you know what we mean)! Mommy, Daddy, and Vivi”. Unquote.

FUTZIE NUTZLE SHOW. Mr. Nutzle is mostly known for his ascetic, enigmatic, sparse, line drawings of comments on world affairs. A big show (the first in over ten years) of his more serious oil on canvas and drawings happens starting March 18-April 22 at The Cabrilho College gallery. There’s a reception this Saturday (3/19) 5-7. Directions and data at

SHEILA MALONE SHOW. It’s already underway so don’t miss Sheila’s latest art renderings titled Loving Relationships now only through March 31st at Nuevo’s Southwest Grill out on East Cliff Drive corner of 15th. Always look a bit longer at Sheila’s paintings until the deeper message gets to you.

OF MICE AND MEN.I’d seen this play maybe 3 times but only when I saw The Jewel Theatre’s production last Saturday night did I realize just what a classic play this is. Done in togas and substituting city names Rome for Soledad or Athens for Weed, California you’d see how amazingly timeless this drama is. John Malkovich played Lennie in a 1992 film version, it was not a successful film. Of course Lon Chaney jr played Lennie in the first film. Go see it at the New Jewel Theatre (formerly Actors Theatre now through March 19th IF you can get tickets. The Jewel folks have added curtains, new lighting and many needed touches to the theatre…congrats.

SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS. Present “OVER THE SEA” An Exploration of Aquatic Inspired Music with Lars Johannesson, flute/alto flute Amy Brodo, cello Susan Bruckner, piano Lydia Martin, marimba and Mesut Özgen, guitar. The program includes works by Toru Takemitsu, Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Tsuneya Tanabe, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Carl Nielsen, Sarah Dubois, and Mesut Özgen, whose new piece Mavi Yolculuk (Blue Journey) for flute, cello, and guitar will receive its premiere at these concert. The concert program as a whole conveys a sweet, ethereal and lively look at nature, voyages, and life, celebrating the blue watery world around us. Saturday, March 19, 2011, 8:00 pm AND Sunday, March 20, 2011, 3:00 pm. Christ Lutheran Church 10707 Soquel Drive, Aptos, California (Off Highway 1 at Freedom Blvd.) Tickets at Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium Box Office: Phone: 831.420.5260 Web:

UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE. Each and every Tuesday from 7:00-8:00 p.m. I host Universal Grapevine on KZSC 88.1 fm. or on your computer (live only, or sometimes old programs are on “blog”) at WWW.KZSC.ORG. Peggy Dolgenos and Westi Haughey from Cruzio will talk about their new location and their new lighting of “the fiber internet”, on March 15 followed by Julie James and director Bill Peters of Jewel Theater Company talking about “Of Mice and Men” (now playing).

The Museum of Art & History’s pottery show is the topic on March 22 with Paula Kenyon and Karen Massaro. Carolyn Burke will share views on her brand new Knopf book on Edith Piaf and her early death also on the 22nd.

Then on March 29 Sara Wilbourne administrator of the Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre will discuss their latest plans and projects. Brian Spencer of See Productions will talk about “A Number” the play, opening April 8-23 also on March 29th. Dan Haifley of O’Neill’s Sea Odyssey will discuss nautical and harbor changes on April 5th followed by the New Director of the Santa Cruz City Museum Daniel Harder. Any and all suggestions for future programs are more than welcome so tune in and keep listening.

QUOTES. ” I owe much; I have nothing; the rest I leave to the poor”, Rabelais. “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”, Samuel Goldwyn. “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery”, Spike Milligan.


Deep Cover

Posted in Weekly Articles | Comments Off on March 14 – 20, 2011