Blog Archives

March 31 – April 6, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…TOLO and Cleaning up Downtown, Rail plus Trail to Monterey reactions, Laughs from Joshua Searle, streaming, screamings. GREENSITE…on the Plan to Extend Downtown towards the Beach. KROHN…April Fools Day forever. STEINBRUNER…Aptos Creek Stoplight, eminent domain and Bayview Hotel, parking lot @ Aptos Creek, goodbye historic Merriman House and trees, new CZU fire restrications.PATTON…Safe At Home. EAGAN… Deep Cover and Subconscious Comics . QUOTES…”APRIL”


RAIL SCENE IN SANTA CRUZ TURN OF THE CENTURY. Both narrow gauge and Broad gauge ran daily at this Union Station in 1905. If you look closely you can see an electric open car train (looks like a cable car) on the far right . Rails took us everywhere back then.

photo by Sam Vestal, courtesy of Carolyn Swift

Additional information always welcome: email


CLEANING UP DOWNTOWN ie. TOLO (or  Unmanaged encampments in neighborhoods.”) TOLO means The Outdoor Living Ordinance.

As the 3/25/21 Santa Cruz Sentinel stated, “Santa Cruz’s latest anti-homeless ordinance criminalizes the existence of unhoused people using methods that have long proven to be expensive, ineffective, and harmful. For these reasons the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Interagency Council on Homelessness, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association have all unequivocally condemned policies that penalize homelessness.

A BrattonOnline reader wrote,  ” I hope County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty will put pressure on the city about this, but I doubt it. I think it’s all about cleaning up downtown for developer’s condo sales. ..Another friend said it’s to make the court in San Jose believe that the city has the Martin/Boise safe sleeping locations all ready”. However it’s intended we need to realize that Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty stated, “It’s the city council’s decision, but I don’t support unmanaged encampments in neighborhoods.”

Another subscriber wrote and attached a letter that was sent to Supervisor Ryan Coonerty… 

“Hello Supervisor Coonerty,                                                                                                      

As you are aware, the city’s proposed TOLO ordinance is in its third iteration but could be the final straw for the lower Seabright businesses that are open at night and have struggled to stay open during the last difficult year.                                                                             

Their 6′ wide sidewalks will host the overnight campers as well as the many pedestrians and customers who walk there already.  . Some are out for an evening walk, many beach bound with coolers and their kids in strollers, their leashed dogs, and maybe grandma in a wheelchair too. Because we are a well used avenue to the beach and because the night businesses are quite busy , this part of the plan will be a disaster for those businesses, and a danger to pedestrians and customers as a bonus.                                                             

Will the pedestrians and customers be forced off the sidewalks into the roadway because of fear of altercation with campers, or just because the 6′ sidewalks are not wide enough to support all activities, including waiting customers? Most likely they will be forced into the roadway and they will eventually avoid frequenting those businesses.                                          

Who could possibly envision these two uses being compatible in an already heavily utilized by pedestrian’s business district, particularly heavy at night?  This has been hard on downtown merchants for years, but their 12′ wide sidewalks make it a bit easier for peaceful coexistence in limited space, but imagine all this activity on space half the downtown width.  I can easily imagine the problems that will be delivered if this becomes a reality.  And it will not be safe for anyone involved.”

Once again I want to thank any/all readers/writers for keeping us informed…do stay in touch. Now we wait and watch and see just what Supervisor Coonerty does about this.                                            

THE RAIL TRAIL PROJECT CONTINUES. Again many more “letters” came in in response to last week’s remarks/opinions on the future of rails in Santa Cruz and all around Monterey Bay. One of the first reactions was from Bud Colligan who wrote three pages of basically denying everything, which was to be expected. Another response was from Barry Scott one of the foremost leaders in saving and promoting keeping the rails and adding more trails. Barry suggests, “Join the Regional Transportation Commission, Coastal Commission, Caltrans, Sierra Club, Coastal Conservancy, TAMC and others and support rail transit and trail”.  

Here’s a link to the complete Monterey Bay Rail and Trail project…and who supports it. 

The broad vision is for a Trail Network project that will span the coast of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary from the San Mateo/Santa Cruz County line to Pacific Grove, in Monterey County. The RTC is leading the planning effort for project development in Santa Cruz County and the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) is responsible for Monterey County projects. This approach will ensure that the planned bicycle/pedestrian network will provide connectivity throughout the county and into the Monterey Bay region, and serve as the California Coastal Trail in Santa Cruz County.

We Believe in the Coast Connect Vision

Check it and read names like Sam Farr John Laird, John Leopold, Linda Wilshusen, Adam Spickler, Peter Scott, Kristen Raugust, Don Lane, Justin Cummings, John Brissenden,  Dennis Norten, Donna Meyers, Rock Photenhauer, Sally Arnold , Trician Comings, Greg Larson, Trink Praxel, and many more.

Excerpts from Bud Colligan’s letter…”Rail and Trail is a fantasy—unfundable, unbuildable, infeasible”. ” The proposed train has very little forecasted ridership”. And much more of the same.

Bud Colligan has no way of predicting or stating that there will not be funding for the rail trail. With the enormous changes happening in both Washington and in Sacramento new possibilities for funding environmental and popular people moving projects could become very feasible.

In my many, many years of being involved with issues in this county I’ve never seen one that divides “environmentalists” like the Rail/Trail debate. To visualize a future where seniors, disabled, and of course our tourists could take an oceanside train ride from Davenport to Pacific Grove is nearly perfect. 

Our big car manufacturers in the past welcomed and helped support the removal of trolley and train tracks all across our nation. They rightfully planned on more and more folks being forced to use their automobiles. That hasn’t changed and we are consumed by autos only commuters all our lives. Travel by rail will ease that congestion. 

OUR PART OF THE ACTION (WHAT TO DO IMMEDIATELY) Friends of The Rail and Trail (FORT) has been keeping in touch with the commissioners and several are on the fence.

We know that Randy Johnson and Manu Koenig are hopeless but the following are either No or are on the fence.

Mass emails to the RTC and to all of them have limited impact.

Better for citizens in each district to email their supervisor and council member individually and follow up with phone calls/left messages.These individual efforts carry far more weight than the auto-generated emails FORT creates or contacting info@sccrtc.

REED SEARLE’S SON JOSHUA. Not many local friends of recently departed Reed Searle knew of his son Joshua Searle-White’s comic side, and probably missed this production from last week.

“Truth Out” is the title of this 1/2 hour standup/sitdown comedy that stars Reed Searle’s Son Joshua Searle-White. It’s from the Meadville Community Theater in Pennsylvania. Good laughs about lying and book selling and politics and even sex….don’t miss it.

Subject line of email or message left:  

Vote YES to approve the Rail Transit Business Plan

Let’s remember to personally contact Patrick Mulhearn, Jacques Bertrand, County Supervisor Bruce McPherson and his alternate, Virginia Johnson, Supervisor Ryan Coonerty and his alternate Andy Schiffrin and Kristen Petersen.
They are all potential no votes on the vote to approve the Electric Rail Transit Business Plan, we need to ask them to vote YES.

Why?  Every study done has shown rail transit to have the greatest benefit to equity, the environment, and the economy.

We don’t yet know the full range of solutions, some may be very affordable, and the next steps will tell how to get it done right.
Rail will provide more funding for Metro and help stimulate use of a new expanded public transit network.

The adjacent trail will encourage use of bicycles and ebikes, which will be permitted to roll on the rail system.

We need people to remind Commissioners that their yes vote permits us to find the transit solution we can afford, there’s $17M in Caltrans money for study and a new administration in Washington that supports new funding for transit.

55% of the funding has been identified for construction and operations and more is likely to be available. Public/Private Partnerships and smaller lighter systems could avoid the need for a local sales tax measure, we won’t know if we don’t try.

A YES vote lets us find answers to these important questions.

A NO vote essentially gives up trying, and they should want to be on the right side, the FDR side, of history and do the right thing.



Follow up the email with a phone call to your representative depending on district or city or both:

Jacques Bertrand: 831-247-6199
Kristen Petersen: 831-475-7300
Ryan Coonerty: 831-454-2200
Andy Schiffrin: 831-454-2200
Bruce McPherson: 831-454-2200
Gine Johnson: 831-454-2200
Patrick Mulhearn: 831-454-2200

Note, if you’re in Bruce McPherson’s  district, leave your message for him and for Gine Johnson. If you’re in Ryan’s district, leave your message for him and for Andy Schiffrin.

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,

QUICKSAND (NETFLIX SERIES). This is a Swedish series about a mass shooting in a grade school classroom. We see part of the shootings and watch as a trial slowly reveals why the 18 year old suspect did the shooting. It got 96 RT. A fine, exciting, well made movie about an all too common an occurrence. 

ULTRAVIOLET. (PRIME VIDEO & NETFLIX SERIES) A very hi tech Polish movie about the murder of a much similar Steve Jobs type genius who is found boiled to death. A beautiful woman returns to her home town to lead some friends into a search to find out not so much who, but how the murder was committed. Fascinating, 96RT. Lots of high tech references and mystery keep us involved. Go for it.

WHO KILLED SARA? (NETFLIX SERIES). A nicely timed suspenseful Mexican murder movie .A beautiful young Sara falls from high atop a surfing sail ride and somebody had cut the straps holding her up. Set within a wealthy, highly connected Mexican upper class, the finger of guilt points in many directions.Then it rambles into prison life and the innocent dude who got nabbed for her murder.  It’s sad, taut, and intelligent. 

BAD TRIP. (NETFLIX SINGLE). 69RT. This is billed as a comedy in the camp of Sacha Baron Cohen. Two guys go on a trip and the camera follows them as they pull gross, obvious pranks on the victims. I found it disgusting, gross, and even insulting. See it at your own risk.

TINA. (HBO DOCUMENTARY) 96RT. When you have a bio movie that stars Tina Turner, Oprah Winfrey, and Angele Bassett you have something worth watching. Her interviews and history deal with the tragedy of her life with Ike Turner and how she pulled herself up and back from that too sad part of her life. She did a concert in Rio to a crowd of 186,000 and also did that Mad Max #3 movie. Tina was and is more than a star she has created a place in our star history that makes her extra special. Don’t miss this one.  (She’s 81 years old now!!)

GINNY & GEORGIA. (NETFLIX SERIES). This was intended to be a mother-daughter comedy it isn’t…there’s not one laugh in it. The half black daughter has to live with a gross, over sexed mother who has some secret. The acting is non-existent, the plot is completely  unbelievable and it’s best just to avoid it.

SHTISEL. (NETFLIX SERIES). Especially since its Passover time, this drama centering on a very orthodox family living in Jerusalem is as fascinating as it is illuminating. From food to marriages and customs that are hundreds of years old we see and feel the pressures and pleasures of a life lived by tradition. I liked it and am continuing to watch each of the 33 episodes.

THE GIFT. (NETFLIX SERIES) This takes place mostly at Gobekli Tepe a real archaeological site in Anatolia, Turkey that’s actually 7000 years older than Stonehenge! The heroine is a beautiful woman artist from Istanbul who is drawn to the site for mysterious reasons. As an artist she has been painting a design that was found in the ancient site and totally unknown to contemporary eyes. I liked it and watched all of season one.

DEADWIND (NETFLIX SERIES) Another woman detective/police officer with many personal issues story. This woman has two children and her husband died. The issues are very much Santa Cruz issues. A huge construction company from out of town wants to build high priced housing that isn’t environmental. The city council has odd ties to the developers and there’s two violent murders to contend with and solve. I’d recommend it just a little bit.

CALLS. (APPLE TV+) SERIES. Unique, demanding and captivating and 88RT. Each story is told completely with online lines. No actors or places physically to be seen just graphics!! You’ll sit and watch voice squibbles, symbols; all graphic effects tell these tense short dramas. See if you’ll like it I’m still making up my mind.

BEARTOWN. (HBO SERIES). Beartown is the English translation of the Swedish town name Bjornstad where this hockey drama takes place. The drama centers on a returning hockey league player who returns to Beartown to coach a losing kid team. His troubles plus all the interfighting keep this really fascinating and good escapist viewing. Go for it with just a little hesitancy .

PAPER LIVES. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Istanbul is the setting for this upside down saga of a Fagin type paper/garbage collector who has a huge team of homeless guys collecting and selling. Mehmet the leader meets a little boy who leads him into some crazed adventures. The ending will shock and maybe disappoint you but you’ll stay glued to figure it all out.

INVISIBLE CITY. (NETFLIX SERIES) I couldn’t watch this for three reasons. It’s dubbed which means their lips are speaking one language, the movies subtitles translate with different words and the Comcast supertitles give us a third translation…and the acting is bad too.

COVEN. (NETFLIX SINGLE) A very dated, poorly directed, terrible acted story about 1609 Argentina’s witch problem. Six sisters fight and compete to worship the devil. Much chasing in the woods, scratching, bleeding and there’s a guy at the ending that looks like Lawrence Ferlinghetti. There’s no reason to watch this mess. But it has 67RT. 

March 29

Breaking ground at Pacific, Front, Laurel in downtown.

The attempt by city Planning staff to bypass initial public input for the Downtown Plan Extension Project that I wrote about last week caught the attention of at least some city council members, particularly Justin Cummings and Sandy Brown. This resulted in a lengthy agenda item with staff both rationalizing and apologizing for the process or lack thereof. 

Planning staff assured council they did not intend to bypass the public but didn’t see how the public could make a better decision than the one staff was proposing on the new extended downtown boundaries. They claimed the staff recommendation was “head and shoulders the best option.” They clarified that any action taken, “does not constitute a rezoning per se but is a preliminary geographical scoping of where we are going to be heading with expanding Downtown.”  They added, “when the project starts is when the process starts”. 

Hold it right there. When exactly did the public get to weigh in on whether we want to expand Downtown? That has to be the topic. It was barely mentioned. When it was raised for a brief moment, the city Planning Director didn’t recall if it was raised in the 2017 Zoning Amendments to the Downtown Plan. He thought it might have been mentioned in the context of a grant proposal but it may or may not have meant further south of Laurel. He thought there was some discussion and that council has considered this in the past. 

Given that this rezoning if adopted may be the most significant change in decades to the character, congestion and cost of our town, such vagueness as to whether it has  been publicly noticed, discussed and voted on is surely a violation of public trust? We are being asked to accept that extending and expanding downtown is a given. We will be allowed to weigh in on the details “when the project starts” but the Plan itself is a fait accompli?

Let’s review what the Downtown Plan Zoning Amendments, approved by council in 2017 have meant for the downtown and consider if this is what the community wants to extend towards the beach and lower Westside neighborhoods.

After the 1989 earthquake, the 19- person committee, which guided the downtown re building under the Downtown Recovery Plan was comprised of diverse interests, including business and neighborhoods among others. A difficult consensus was reached to keep a relatively low vertical building profile for downtown. We did not want to become San Jose by the Sea. There were to be a few well-chosen exceptions to the 35 feet height limit (1010 Pacific is one) and of course the historic Palomar is an impressive 93 feet but that was it.

The Planning Department and Planning Commission of 2017 threw that model out, all the while insisting they were not changing the original intent of the Downtown Recovery Plan. Some of us sat through countless meetings in council chambers open-mouthed at the doublespeak. 

You can see the result breaking ground now at Front, Laurel and Pacific where a Taco Bell eatery stood until a few weeks ago, depicted in the graphic above. 

This one under construction is the first with the new height of 80 feet, made possible by the Downtown Plan Amendments. The Front/Riverfront Project at a height of 81 feet will break ground soon, forever changing the character and habitat of the lower San Lorenzo River. These are the first of many. 

If the Downtown is extended to south of Laurel, that area will be included in the Downtown Plan zoning, allowing building heights of 85 feet. The current zoning south of Laurel has building height limits of 35 feet.

Planning staff is full of reassurances that not all new buildings have to be 85 feet. Some may be 50 or even 35. Except thanks to recent state law, if a developer presents to the city a project that meets all zoning and other ordinances, neither the city nor council can reject the project. It is illegal for the city to say no. The city can be sued. Thanks Sacramento! The state has removed local control over land-use decisions.

This is not the time to change zoning boundaries! Right now council and city staff can reject an outsize 85 feet building south of Laurel since it exceeds the current zoning code height of 35 feet. But not if the downtown boundaries are extended and zoning changed to 85 feet. Density bonuses can be 50% of zoning. Imagine those heights all the way to the first roundabout!

If you are thinking that at least we will have more housing then consider that we have already exceeded our regional mandated market rate housing, even before the new 7 story buildings are occupied. That is, if they are occupied. 555 Pacific is currently short on occupants, as is the one near the clock tower.

And higher does not mean providing more affordable units thanks to a 2018 amendment proposed by staff and voted in by then council members Mathews, Noroyan, Watkins and Terrazas. That’s why the Front/Riverfront Project could get away with providing only 11 % of the units at the affordable rate. 

To sweeten the pot, the City Manager talked about the “emergency” for this Downtown Expansion process given that the Warriors have to have a firm commitment for a new permanent arena. And soon! And we all love the Warriors who have given so much back to the community.

Somewhere there’s a fly who sat on a wall and watched all the business heavies and tourist industry heavies and investors and city staff dissect this sweet part of town for profit. No wonder they saw public participation not needed until they are good and ready with plans, proposals and projects. 

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.


APRIL 1ST (March 29)


STOP the PRESSES! I hope you’re sitting down. A major political tsunami struck Santa Cruz over this past weekend. It was midnight last Friday night when Santa Cruz city manager Martin Bernal realized he had nowhere else to turn. The city budget was in the toilet as red ink surrounded him, Covid-19’s killing businesses faster than an earthquake, self-centered grumpy city council members want him gone, and the appearance that he is not just callous towards the city’s homeless population, but the sole force behind pushing them out of town and cleansing Surf City of its human detritus, but now Bernal had an exit strategy. He left city hall for the last time early Saturday morning and decided he would never look back. Two hundred and forty G’s a year were his for the remainder of his time on earth with tax payers on the hook. Even though he’d been fired at least twice, by two different councils, Bernal hung on until now because only he, himself, would decide when to get off this stage. 

Bernal Breaking Point

It had all become too much when just last week, while sitting in front of his office computer and watching Zoom, upstart Homeless Union attorney Anthony Prince made mince-meat of his city attorney, right there in Federal court. Now he decided, it was his time to get out. Good riddance Santa Cruz. These terrible Covid days were to be his swan song, a time when he would come out the savior. This Stanford-educated golden boy was to save the hapless post-hippie colony he happened upon twenty years ago from a dreary Mountain View outpost, just one more time. The Monterey Bay beach town had been his for the taking and now he realized it was over.

The City That Might’ve Been

The city council on Saturday acted quickly. Former five-term supervisor, Gary Patton was installed as Interim City Manager. Patton moved to freeze all police over-time, rescind all new positions in the city manager’s office, and rapidly put the brakes on Homeless-Planning Director Czar Lee Butler‘s drive to extirpate the houseless from Santa Cruz while stifling any implementation of his brand of build-baby-build-as-many-condos-as-possible philosophy. It seems Butler was promptly demoted to Interim Planner I, or receive a severance package. He gladly accepted the latter. By Monday morning Butler was even looking forward to the Highway 17 commute while looking to re-capture for his old planning job in San Jose after basically being fired by the new progressive city manager. With the B and B developer shield eviscerated, the Mayor then suddenly stepped down, which made newly-elected Westsider, Councilmember Rene Golder, wince and do the same. If her bestie political bedfellow was headed for the exit, she in turn wasn’t hanging around to see any more governing carnage that might be carried out by a new city manager who prized open space and facts over the unfolding Swenson-Devcon developer nightmare that’s engulfing the city from Branciforte all the way to Front Street. The development blob would finally be thwarted by ghost-buster Patton. By this past Sunday morning, Patton was already reigning in the city attorney’s legal assaults on the homeless, even getting Homeless Union attorney Prince together with city attorney Tony Condotti for an afternoon peace-party beer at Lupulo. Patton left the lawyers to “meet and confer” on homeless encampments while he headed back to city hall and initiated a never before used ordinance to replace the two resigning council members. He called Kayla Kumar to come downtown immediately and be sworn in to replace the outgoing Golder, and then he emailed Public Works Director Mark Dettle demanding his immediate resignation and naming Tiffany Wise-West as the new director. Wise-West emailed Patton back writing she would only accept the new position if Rick Longinotti would be named head of the Parking division, Pauline Seales would be named the new director for Climate Action Planning, and Patrick Siegman would take retiring Traffic Engineer Jim Burr’s position. Longinotti, Seales and Siegman all accepted and immediately began planning for community town hall on transportation. Patton then made a boldly empathetic move, he telephoned Drew Glover in Selma, Alabama.

April 1st, Let the Light Shine

Glover arrived on Thursday, April 1st, to a hastily arranged parade down Pacific Avenue that drew hundreds. He was celebrated as a hometown hero coming home. It began at the Boardwalk and ended at city hall where a new city council majority installed him as Mayor of Santa Cruz. Glover’s first act was to visit the San Lorenzo homeless encampment and assure residents they would no longer face harassment and in fact, would receive his support and city services. He ordered cleaning supplies and dumpsters to the park and after sprucing things up he led over 100 volunteers up the river to the Highway 1 and 9 interchange to clean up that camp as well. He held a press conference after the cleanup. Flanked by council members Justin Cummings and Sandy Brown, he announced he would be bringing resolutions to the next council meeting rescinding the widening of Highway 1 and 9, as well as the city purchasing the Beach Flats Community Garden for the residents of Beach Flats, and the Sea Berg property on Coral Street for a future homeless shelter and RV parking area. This announcement was greeted by thunderous applause. Crowds of locals spilled out onto Highway 1, which brought traffic to a halt, but no one seemed angry. Next, he said that the Harvey West Pool, Junior Guards, and the Metro Bus fare would all be free to any resident under 18 years old; Pacific Avenue would be closed to vehicle traffic; West Cliff Drive would be made one-way to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists; and finally, the city would create public outdoor seating areas so that everyone coming downtown would be able to sit and socially distance. Mayor Glover also pledged to explore the closing off of Soquel Ave. to cars from Pacific all the way to Branciforte Ave. He also announced the council would resume in-person meetings with the entire city council deliberating either outside or in the Civic Auditorium. More applause. Councilmember Brown took to the podium next and said she would immediately be pushing to quash the five-story parking garage fiasco, keep the Farmer’s Market on Lot 4 permanently, and rebuild the library where it is making it the cornerstone of a revitalized and revamped civic plaza at Church and Center Street. Meanwhile, that same April 1st day back at city hall, city manager Patton was drawing up plans to rename the Economic Development Department. It would now be called the Santa Cruz City Office of Housing and its new mission would be to focus on creating and obtaining housing for locals who make less than 60% of the Santa Cruz median income. In addition, he named Kara Meyberg-Guzman as the city communications officer along with Bruce Bratton as Communications Officer Emeritus. A new day was dawning and a community of the people, by the people, and for the people was just beginning. A lot happened in Santa Cruz this past week.

Happy April First Santa Cruz!

I am proud today to take up the Presidency of the United States of America and with my Vice-President, Elizabeth Warren we pledge to rebuild America under the Green New Deal. My Chief of Staff will be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and I welcome the new Secretary of State, Barbara Lee. It also gives me great pleasure to put in charge of the nation’s defense, Ro Khanna. (Happy April 1st Bernie!)

get out, get out 

Welcome to Point Reyes and the Five Brooks Trailhead. Great place to hike, very few people last weekend too.
Camp sites available. (Me, my daughter, and life partner also pictured)

And if you cannot get away to Point Reyes, here’s a book from a couple of local writers touting 28 walks right around town. 

(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His term ended in April of 2020.

Email Chris at

March 29

The County will activate the new traffic light at Aptos Creek Road this week.  I hope it helps the traffic problems, especially for the Aptos Creek Road residents. Supposedly, all five traffic lights between Trout Gulch Road and State Park Drive will be coordinated, which should be interesting. This is all traffic mitigation for the Aptos Village Project Phase 2 subdivision development that the County agreed to do…and you and I are paying for.  

The County project also has literally  paved the way for the developer’ new gateway entrance from Soquel Drive to Parade Street by creating a dedicated left turn lane for the eastbound Soquel Drive motorists, and removing a significant amount of precious public parking to do it.  

Significant amount of public parking on Soquel Drive removed by County  to create turn lane for Aptos Village Project gateway entrance.

White fence is current termination of Parade Street gateway entrance to Aptos Village Project.

APTOS VILLAGE IMPROVEMENTS PHASE 2B TRAFFIC SIGNAL TO BE POWERED ON. The County of Santa Cruz Department of Public Works has announced that the recently installed traffic signal, located at the intersection of Soquel Drive and Aptos Creek Road, will begin full operation on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians are advised that the signal will remain in continuous operation from this date forward. Traffic delays may be experienced during the signal power up operation and the Department of Public Works would like the motoring public to avoid this area if possible. The schedule is subject to change due to weather or other conditions. Please visit for the latest project information

In order for the Aptos Village Project developers to get permission from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to create a new private railroad crossing, the County had to apply.  The County Counsel and Dept. of Public Works spent a lot of taxpayer-funded time doing that, and in 2015 got approval, with the requirement that the County close two other existing private railroad crossings.  

The County arbitrarily chose to close the Warenella Road crossing in Davenport, and the Bayview Hotel crossing in Aptos Village.

The Hotel was built in 1870 by Jose Arano.  It is listed on the National Historic Registry (#92000259) and the railroad crossing is part of that historic context.

The Bayview Hotel property extends under the railroad tracks and into the bike lane on Soquel Drive, and is shared 50% with what is now the Trout Gulch Crossing property (Norma Jean’s Coffee Shop and Caroline’s Thrift Store).    Both property owners filed protest with the County early on in the Aptos Village Project hearings before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, as well as with the CPUC.  Their protests were ignored:

click here to continue (link expands, click again to collapse)




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


March 28
#87 / Safe At Home!

This great picture was scavenged from one of the many political bulletins that routinely penetrate my email inbox. The thought that came to my mind, immediately upon seeing the photo, was that this ballplayer would soon be celebrated: “Safe at Home!”

That “Safe at Home” phrase, of course, is most commonly utilized in baseball commentary, in just the way I imagined it, and that “Safe at Home” proclamation is almost always expressed with great enthusiasm. When a runner on third base tries to score on an infield hit, the question will necessarily be posed. What’s going to happen? Will he make it? Those who try to make it “Home” aren’t always successful – but it’s most exciting when they are!

“Safe at Home” has now also acquired another meaning. During the last year, almost all of us who are lucky enough to have homes to repair to have found ourselves self-isolated inside the protective space that our homes provide. Sometimes, our self-isolation at home has been willingly accepted. Other times, perhaps, not so willingly. Knowing, however, that venturing out into public spaces would inevitably expose us to the dangers of the coronavirus has kept a lot of people inside. When congregating with other people is verifiably risky, we all have learned that we might be better off to be “Safe at Home.” 

That “Safe at Home” position has had some consequences for the kind of public participation that is the sine qua non of democratic politics. Anyone following local politics in Santa Cruz, California, for instance, has observed how the Santa Cruz City Council and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors have so quickly and readily accepted the idea that members of the public should not be allowed into the same room with the elected officials who supposedly represent them. Both bodies could have made arrangements for socially distanced meetings, with remote access as an alternative. Both bodies have chosen not to. 

The result (particularly at the City Council) has been decisions that seem oddly detached from an understanding of the real impact that the decisions will have on the public. For instance, the City Council has just recently voted, unanimously, to begin a process to apply high-density (high-rise) General Plan designations on the “South of Laurel” neighborhood. Any decision to begin such a process was supposed to follow a vigorous public outreach effort, but no such public outreach effort was ever made. Still, the Council forged ahead. There was no one in the room but the Council Members and the staff, as this staff-recommended proposal was ratified. Well-connected landowners in the area may be expecting a windfall – and may get one, too – but city residents in general, and those whose neighborhood is about to be transformed, have had no in-person opportunity to have their say.

Even more amazing was another recent City Council decision, again decided upon with no members of the public in the room. That decision, to enact a so-called “Outdoor Living Ordinance,” directed the City Police Department, and other city staff, to require any homeless person found sleeping or living in a tent (and particularly in any homeless “camp”) to pack up that tent at 7:00 a.m. every day, along with any sleeping gear and any personal possessions that the homeless person might have, and then to walk the streets during daylight hours. Homeless persons would be allowed to sleep at night, just not in any area where homeless persons are now sleeping, and where there might be some public facilities they could utilize. The City ordinance suggests that the best place for homeless persons to sleep (and only between sundown and sunup) would be on the sidewalks of residential streets.

Self-governing communities need to interact, in person. Elected representatives who find it comfortable to make staff-recommended decisions without having actually to see the members of the public who will be affected, and who care about what the decision might mean, are undermining the democratic process. 

Democracy is a “public” thing. It will not be “Safe at Home.” 

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


“Men are April when they woo, December when they wed. Maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives”.
~William Shakespeare

“Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever”.
~Charles Lamb

“The air soft as that of Seville in April, and so fragrant that it was delicious to breathe it”.
~Christopher Columbus

This week it’s belly dance. I love belly dance, I always have!

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