Blog Archives

May 11 – 17, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Our Public Library some more, Our City growth report. GREENSITE…on Downtown Plan Expansion. KROHN…Shebreh issues, Our Downtown, Measure E. STEINBRUNER…Fires and the Board of Forestry. HAYES…Coastal Scrub. PATTON…City pushing Measure F and wants more money. MATLOCK…The Supremes and Row vs. Wade. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Sharks”


RONALD REAGAN AT UCSC. Reagan was our California Governor from 1967 to 1975. He was the only California Governor to make it to the White House. This was taken at UCSC when the Board Of Regents held their meeting there on October 18, 1968.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email


THE SANTA CRUZ PUBLIC LIBRARY ISSUE. Next to No On Greenway there’s not another community issue that has caused so much lies, misinformation, secrets and confusion as whether or not to shut our main library and build a new one. Lira Filippini has researched the issue more than almost anyone and continues what she started here last week…

“Our Downtown, Our Future (ODOF) has turned in over 5,000 valid signatures to the City of Santa Cruz.  As we wait for the County to verify the total, I’ll discuss what may happen next and what this means for our community.

When the County confirms that the minimum 3,848 signatures of registered SC City voters has been submitted, the City Council has 3 options: 

  1. Directly adopt the measure as written
  2. Place the measure on the ballot for November’s election
  3. Order a report on the measure; after the report is made, they go back to options 1&2

The most likely outcome is that our community will see the ODOF measure on the ballot in November.  At the same time, the City continues to spend time and funds on planning for the Lot 4 Library Mixed-Use Project, knowing that if our community passes ODOF’s measure in November, the library will be renovated at its historical location.  Lot 4 will become a permanent home for the downtown Farmers’ Market and neither the parking garage nor commercial space can be developed there.

Signature gatherers reported that many signers relayed frustration and distrust of local governance, bringing up Measure S, which we passed to “modernize, upgrade and repair local libraries.”  They felt deceived and are grateful that this measure would give them a direct vote in shaping how our downtown will serve our community moving forward.  Land use and where we place community assets is vital for a healthy community, as is community involvement in those decisions.

We see many developments being proposed and the densification coming to our City, much of which will be downtown.  In a high density area, we need easy access to open space.  Being centrally located, with its beautiful heritage trees, Lot 4 is the ideal location for open event space.  It’s also close to restaurants and shops, activating the area and stabilizing the community.

ODOF’s measure also prioritizes 8 publicly owned parking lots for affordable housing above the ground floor.  We have an “affordability crisis” in housing.  When cost of land is one of the major hurdles for building affordable housing, the City should not be selling our public land to hotel developers or building more commercial space while our existing businesses struggle.

If we pass ODOF’s measure in November, we’ll avoid a very large bond debt for a parking garage that a City commissioned study confirms we do not need.  We’ll continue to enjoy the Farmers’ Market on Lot 4 and establish that space as a community event space, like a town square.  And we’ll solidify in our General Plan and Downtown Plan that our publicly owned downtown parking lots should not be sold or used for hotels or more commercial space, but instead benefit the community as future affordable housing locations.  

We will also have a beautifully renovated library in its historic location where the library, City Hall and Civic Auditorium meet, providing a blend of culture, governance and education.  The renovation has much more outdoor patio space than in the City’s mixed-use proposal.  The children’s area has its own garden directly accessible from the inside space.  And the library’s new entry and large wrap-around panels of windows will look out on City Hall’s courtyard garden.  

Overall, ODOF’s measure gives us a direct vote on the future of our downtown – how we use our land to best benefit our community”. Lira Filippini.

IF YOU’VE LOST TRACK. The SAN JOSE MERCURY on May 5, 2022 published this…”Of statewide note: One of the biggest population gainers among California cities in 2021 was Santa Cruz. The seaside municipality added 6,481 people, an increase of 11.3% from the year before, for a new total of 64,075 residents.  

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. The “RT’s” after the movie title refer to the Rotten Tomatoes critics scores from 1-100. Rotten Tomatoes is the world’s largest (and most respected) cinema scoring system.

DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. (DELMAR THEATRE) (76RT). Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams are all back and probably making millions of dollars in this Marvel Comics sequel. There have been 28 Marvel Comic movies in case you’ve lost count. Sam Raimi directed it if that’ll help you decide on viewing. There’s a giant octopus chasing humans down the street and for locals there’s a few minutes of Patrick Stewart pitching a sequel that for sure must feature Charlize Theron who onscreen for 20 seconds 

THE STAIRCASE. (HBO MAX SERIES). Led by Colin Firth and Toni Colette this is one worth your time to view. Toni falls down stairs and dies so the many flashbacks trace her actions to determine if Colin hit her or was she drunk? The detectives uncover many of husband’s hidden secrets and then there’s a movie company who ends up filming his history. There’s 5 children involved and this series will keep you nearly glued to your screen.

YAKAMOZ S-245. (NETFLIX SERIES). (6.1 IMDB). A sci-fi earth disaster movie made in Turkey. A carefully picked deep diving submarine crew come up after a dive to find the earth is being invaded by a yellow cloud. The cloud comes from the sun but what’s behind that?? Only a few episodes released and it’s involving but not gratifying. 

THE PENTAVERATE. (NETFLIX SERIES). Only the most devoted die-hard fans of comic Mike Myers could like this numb nuts series. As usual he plays all 5 parts and it’s about a secret society with names like the “illuminati” or near nonsense like that. There’s sex jokes, fluoride mentions, chem trails and boggling idiocy galore.

SILVERTON SIEGE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.0 IMDB). This is a South African movie and it’s unusual. Three young freedom fighters during a siege happening in 1980 get trapped in a bank with several hostages. Facing supremacist problems from the local and district police the fighters end up demanding actual release of Nelson Mandela from his prison. Some of the area’s government try to help the hostages and their captors and others continue their racial hatred in many other ways. Not as tight and tense as it could have been but intriguing.

UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN. (HULU SERIES). (7.3 IMDB). Andrew Garfield does an excellent job of portraying a Mormon detective in Salt Lake City looking for the brutal murderer of a mother and her baby. Based on a true story, this involves dealing with much of the unusual traditions of Mormonism. As we watch this series unfold we get to view the Mormon view of woman’s equality, how Blacks are treated by Mormons and the general way Mormons deal with government. Worth watching….so far. 

RUMSPRINGA. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.3 IMDB). This is a German movie about a young Amish boy who is sent to Berlin as his passage into adulthood. Poor acting, no laughs and a weird look at the Amish tradition. It does develop a plot centering on the young boy meeting a “hip” German kid of the same age and how their friendship overcomes their differences. A waste of time.

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, or 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.  

SHINING GIRLS. (APPLE TV). The usually great Elisabeth Moss is the victim of an assault early in her life and she spends much of her new life hunting down the guy she thinks did it. The first three episodes are tense, well directed (Moss is one of the directors) and complicated at times. The guilty guy keeps murdering young shining girls and we watch as Moss tracks him down and at the same time deals with her own psychological issues.  

THE SURVIVOR. (HBO MAX) MOVIE. (6.8 IMDB). A sad, true story of a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz played expertly and believably by Ben Foster. It brings out and delivers the quandary of what you must do and live with, to survive. Danny De Vito and Peter Sarsgaard add a lot to this story. The survivor becomes a professional boxer and even fights Rocky Marciano. The movie is brutal, sad, and deeply introspective….watch it. 

WRATH OF MAN. (66RT).This huge MGM production stars Jason Stratham in a role of a deadly serious security truck driver with a history. It’s a 100% action, chase, shoot em up, fast paced movie. Stratham will keep you firmly attached to watch his every move, and he’s excellent at doing just that. Watch it if/when you need a mindless thrill a minute movie.

WE OWN THIS CITY. (HBO SERIES) (94RT). If you liked the old “The Wire” series about the police and issues in Baltimore you’ll like this up dated version. It’s a deep look into the police side of city issues. That means brutality, bribes, personality issues…and it’ll make you/us think again about our views of our own police problems. Especially related to the death of Freddie Gray, an early Black community member who died.

MAI. (NETFLIX SERIES) (80RT). Very much an Indian movie complete with mugging, over acting and involved plot. A daughter is run over in a traffic scene and finding out why it happened and the impact it has on both police and the gangsters involved make it a slow paced but absorbing movie…so far.

THE RENTAL. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.7 IMDB). Alison Brie and Dan Stevens and another couple rent a huge coastal cliff house in Oregon for a getaway weekend. The ending is really bad and shouldn’t be viewed. There are hidden cameras, ecstasy taking, wife swapping, and it’s just plain odd. Avoid this one.

THE BABY. (HBO SERIES). (5.4 IMDB). Nearly a thrill and some shrugs later I was glued to episode 1 of this 8 episode series. An unexpecting woman is suddenly a mother to a new born baby. How she handles these new problems and avoid the law are as puzzling as they are fun to watch. Plus the baby is a spectacle in himself to admire. Go for it.


CABRILHO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season and Returns to In-Person Concerts 60th Anniversary highlights on July 24-August 7. Yes, Cristian Macelaru the music director is returning and will be conducting. The concerts will include the return to in-person concerts with three world premiere commissions; the live orchestral premiere of Jake Heggie‘s INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Benjamin Beilman; and works commemorating women’s suffrage in America and exploring the recent impact of drought and wildfires in the Western United States. Tickets are on sale now!! 



May 9


In the April 27th issue of BrattonOnline, Becky Steinbruner, fellow contributor to this blog, covered the first community meeting for the unveiling of the city’s Downtown Plan Expansion. Her coverage is well worth reading with links to related city documents. Past issues of BrattonOnline are listed in a column on the far right- hand side of each blog.

I also attended this in-person meeting in the Warriors Arena and offer my thoughts.

The picture above is from the consulting firm out of Oakland hired to study the economics and financing of this massive change to the 7 -acre site between the current downtown that officially ends at Laurel Street and the first roundabout where Center and Front Streets join. Earlier consultants, Victus Advisors, in 2015 studied the feasibility of a new arena for the Warriors. Their proposal for a new permanent arena includes seating for between 3,200 and 3,800, as ideal, about double the seating capacity of the Civic with an expected 200 days a year for programming. Their report is peppered with warnings about the need to not compete with the Civic. We’ll see how well that works out, given cutbacks in the Civic staff.  

As an aside, someone should make a Public Records Request for a list of consultants hired by the city over the past 5 years and their cost. Why, even the city’s Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women, whose budget has been shredded, has lost its dedicated staff and lost its downtown office space hired a consultant to do a “needs assessment.” 

After the initial strangeness of an in-person meeting wore off, the alarm bells rang out loud and clear. I stared at the first poster board with line-drawings of the area’s potential future building heights. The tallest one was 200 feet tall! That’s fifteen…15 stories!! Not too much lower than the high rise in the picture above. I know city staff never joke, or at least not to our faces, so the best sense my brain could make of the inclusion of such building heights was that it was to give a sense of scale; to make the next size of 80 feet look reasonable and the 40 feet example, downright small in comparison. Or maybe it was a mistake. When I was able to attract the attention of the Public Works engineer staffing the table, I asked about the 200 feet tall building inclusion. No mistake, no joke, no inclusion for scale. It is for real, an option in their Plan. The only question tackled was whether to have the high rises located on the river or more centrally. 

I gingerly asked about traffic and learned that traffic is no longer a concern. I offered that the roundabouts on summer weekends are at gridlock. I got the “so what” look. Approaching another display table, I initiated a conversation with the senior planner about the futility of trying to attract beachgoers to downtown, one of the objectives of the Downtown Extension Plan. I suggested the consultants and staff go to the beach and ask beachgoers at Main Beach if they would venture downtown if they knew where it was. My observation is that folks who visit the beach in Santa Cruz are not interested in downtown and the reverse is also true. That they are different demographics with different interests. The response was “well we can try.” “Trying” includes constructing some sort of access road over Beach Hill and down to the Arena area into this new extended downtown.

This all reminded me of old war movies in which the generals are standing around a large table covered with an area map, shifting platoons and tanks into strategic locations with the objective of defeating the enemy and ultimate victory. The people living on the ground are invisible. Here the objective is economic growth for developers and speculators, even as they say in their handouts “public funding/financing for infrastructure may be required to encourage development.” Any love for the unique built landscape and character of Santa Cruz is of no interest or concern to them. Of course, they conducted an opinion poll. It had closed by the time I found it. I noted that the annual income of the largest group of responders was over $200,000 a 

Most of the poll responders noted that they find the current downtown dirty with too many homeless and shuttered stores. So, like a pair of shoes that just need a bit of mending and polishing, they will rather throw them out and go buy a new pair? In an era when we should be tightening our economic growth model, scaling down our consumption appetites and learning to live with what we have, which is already more than enough, the real estate state is gearing up for more and more and more. Two hundred feet anyone?

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.


Santa Cruz Political Report by Chris Krohn

May 9 

Depending on what your news sources are, you may be staying well-informed about local political happenings, or just enjoying the silo-ing effect and not letting a good local news story get in the way of the facts. Yes, it is strangely difficult to keep up with the goings-on of such an active and politically, socially, and artistically engaged town like Santa Cruz. So, in case you missed something, frankly I miss a lot, here are three newsy items I share with you this week.

DSA Bombshell Story on Candidate Kalantari-Johnson
One candidate for Third District Supervisor, Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, came in for some deserved criticism from the local Santa Cruz Left. It is published by the Santa Cruz Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. The article depicts her as part of what they call the “care-washing” industry and that her attempts to address homelessness in Santa Cruz have actually led to more harm for the houseless and the criminalization of many who do not have a place to call home. 

“Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, Santa Cruz County supervisor hopeful and current city councilmember, is smart, well-spoken, and politically savvy—to a fault, given her record. With her expertise in political doublespeak and garnering campaign funding from real estate money, she has led the charge of the city’s anti-homeless crusade, expertly couching criminalizing, and pro-policing policy in a veneer of compassionate language.” (Santa Cruz Left)

Our Downtown, Our Future
Finally, the Our Downtown, Our Future (ODOF) ballot initiative is receiving some press outside of Stephen Kessler’s many mentions in his Santa Cruz Sentinel columns. Both Jessica York of the Sentinel and Grace Stetson of Lookout Santa Cruz wrote lengthy stories after ODOF turned in over 5,000 signatures from city register voters last week. As the validation of signatures is underway, word of the initiative is seeping into the minds of the media moguls. Stetson wrote in her piece titled, “A new challenge to Santa Cruz’s downtown mixed-use library building:” 

“The measure asks voters to stop the building of a new, mixed-use library project…If passed, the initiative would reverse the long-planned project and require the city to renovate the downtown branch library in its present location on Church Street. The measure would also reallocate 2016 Measure S bond money ($67 million approved in a countywide vote, with $25.5 million toward the downtown library) to renovations in the library’s current location, rather than building the new library envisioned in that Measure S subsequent planning.”

There has been, as most close political observers have been sensing, a news blackout of any opposition to this massive public works project proposed by the city Public Works and Economic Development departments. It has been at least an on-going two-year controversy, but finally the people—voters—will have a chance to weigh when the county clerk says there are 3,848 valid signatures. It will then go to the city council to either vote into law, or place it on the November ballot. The initiative offers something for everyone and should be ranked up there with preserving the Pogonip and Lighthouse Field, building the sewage treatment plant on California Street, and acquiring and restoring the Del Mar Theatre downtown. The Our Downtown, Our Future initiative keeps the Farmer’s Market intact, preserves the heritage trees, identifies four downtown lots for the development of affordable housing, and perhaps most significantly in these climate chaos (and climate denying) times, does not build a behemoth parking structure on Lot 4.

Measure E, a Power Grab by a pro-Developer-Realtor Council Majority
Measure E on the June ballot essentially asks voters to approve a system of voting that itself was never approved. The measure seems simple enough, if this initiative is not approved—mayor and six districts—then council will automatically implement a seven-district scheme for the fall 2022 elections. What Santa Cruz voters were never asked was the question: do you want to scrap the current at-large election system that is enshrined in this city’s charter and move to a district election system? This sordid, Covid-laced backroom approach, would seem like a law suit waiting to happen. The city council also had a chance to have real election reform by implementing a Ranked Choice Voting system, which is being implemented in many cities around the country to not only level the playing field to attract a variety of candidates, but also to save money on run-off elections. This issue didn’t even make it to a council vote, nor did a “strong mayor” system wherein a directly elected mayor would run the city, and be voted out if voters were dissatisfied, instead of allowing the present farce of an unelected technocrat—the city manager—pull the strings and make most major public safety, city streets, fire department, and parks and recreation decisions. My advice, vote NO on Measure E because we need to decide the fate of our current at-large voting system first.

“We could protect Roe tomorrow, but Sinema refuses to act on the filibuster. Until that changes, she can take a seat talking about “women’s access to health care.” Hold everyone contributing to this disaster accountable, GOP & Dem obstructionists included. She should be primaried.” (May 3) 

Artist Russell Brutsche being brilliant, and visionary, as usual.

Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at

Email Chris at

May 9


New California Board of Forestry requirements are on their way, seeking to mandate that all structures in the fire risk areas have nothing combustible within 5′ of foundations and decks, and no plants taller than 2′ within 10′ of a structure, including decks.  You would have to cut down all shrubbery, and remove arbors and pergolas…and irrigate more, rather than less. 

This could go into effect as early as January, 2023 for new construction, and the following year for all others…but only if the Board of Forestry makes a finding that the Legislature has appropriated sufficient funding in the annual Budget Act for this purpose.   Isn’t that interesting?  Some jurisdictions have already put this general requirement on their books, but CalFire has not.

Last Wednesday, May 4, a Board of Forestry Working Group held a hybrid Zone Zero Workshop in Sacramento to publicly present proposed requirements that would comply with AB 3074, creating Ember Resistant Zones.  There were about 190 participants in the morning session, but it dwindled after lunch break.

Read about what AB 3074, signed into law by Governor Newsom on Sept. 29, 2020, requires.

Curious about how plastic deck lumber and artificial turf handle ember storms and wildfire?  It depends on wind and other fuels nearby, but in general they fare quite well if the product has a Standard Chapter 7A Fire Code rating.  Artificial turf, however, does not… because embers sit and smolder, then ignite later.
Take a look here at the deck testing results.

The speaker from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), Mr. Daniel Gorham, flew in from the east coast where the company lab is located.    

He referred to many studies of building material flame resistance when showered with embers from varying distances and durations.

You can contact him with your questions: Daniel Gorham 

No more half-wine barrel planters allowed on decks or near structures.

No discussion about how mountain folk who live on steep slopes could accomplish a non-combustible Zero Zone (i.e., concrete or bare dirt) and not really open up a Pandora’s Box with erosion.  

No discussion about where residents might get funding to help accomplish the clearing that could be required, some of which would require use of an expensive crane.

No discussion about whether utility companies and State Parks would also have to comply with these proposed requirements.  Hmmm……

You may find it of interest that some counties have already passed Ember Resistant Zone Ordinances, and require property owners who have fire hazards within 100′ of their neighbors to clean it up!  It is known as the “Good Neighbor” law, and Napa County is one of them, having approved this in 2019:

SECTION 2. Section 8.36.070 is hereby added to read in full as follows: 

8.36.070 – Ember resistance zone. For all new construction where the construction commences on or after the effective date of this section, the establishment and maintenance of an ember resistant zone within 5 feet of a structure is required. Distances may be increased by the enforcement officer based on site-specific 3 Ordinance No. 1467 analysis of local conditions.

SECTION 3. Section 8.36.080 is hereby amended to read in in full as follows: 

8.36.080 – Adjacent property owner’s responsibilities. When a structure is less than one hundred feet from a property line and prohibited materials on an adjacent parcel present a fire hazard for the structure, the property owner of the adjacent parcel where the fire hazard exists shall be responsible for clearing the area on that owner’s parcel that is within one hundred feet of the structure, so as to provide the necessary fire protection in the manner and to the extent required by the Napa County Defensible Space Guidelines. Distances may be increased by the enforcement officer based on site-specific analysis of local conditions. 

Defensible Space Ordinance

The good news is that CalFire has developed a standard curriculum to train Fire Defensible Space inspectors, and lay people could also get trained to help increase fire defensible space assessments (not technically “inspections” because those folks would have no legal enforcement power).  

Stay tuned to see what the Board of Forestry does next….and get your defensible space in order.



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


May 8


The diverse shrubby plant community blanketing the ocean bluffs, arroyo walls and the steep banks along ocean side trails is in bloom right now, and it is beautiful. California’s coastal scrub, also known confusingly as soft chaparral, is an impenetrable knee to head high assemblage of plants only occurring where ocean air cools the extreme summer heat. The number of species of flowering shrubs and the patches of rocky outcrop wildflowers poking out of them makes for floriferous artistry.

Drab Main Players

Coyote brush and California sagebrush dominate the community along the immediate coast, but other species appear further inland. Neither coyote brush nor sagebrush is particularly showy when they bloom, but their leaves make up for it with scent. Most people know the aromatic sagey smell of sagebrush, but too few people have crushed a handful of coyote brush leaves to enjoy the sweet pine like aroma. Both species are in the sunflower family and have tiny nondescript flowers. California sagebrush blooms in July, coyote brush in September. When coyote brush is in bloom, you notice it more from the buzz of pollinators than from the flowers. When sagebrush blossoms, you notice it because everyone starts sneezing like its spring. Coyote brush starts the show after fire or other disturbance, but sagebrush gradually takes over- it is slower and longer lived.

Showy Flowering Shrubs

At this moment, sticky monkeyflower is in full bloom, covered with light orange flowers that some think look like monkey faces. A single monkeyflower shrub could have 50 flowers that open first low down on the stems with the last flowers bugling from the top of long wands in about a month. Hummingbirds love the nectar, and it has venus-fly-trap like flower parts that pinch quickly if you (or a hummingbird) touch them- a way to diversify pollen sources. 

The other showy shrub species that’s blooming right now is bush lupine. Closer to the coast, the bush lupines are yellow flowered but inland they are lavender colored and more numerous after fire.   

As the monkeyflower and bush lupine fade, lizard tail erupts in a brighter yellow. I don’t know where the plant gets its common name – do you? It has intricately dissected soft leaves and nice sized flat topped heads of small bright yellow blossoms. When in full bloom, the flowers blanket most of the outside of the plant. I hear most about this species from tourists driving the Coast Highway in Big Sur, but it is also a part of our local coastal scrub. In keeping with tradition, this shrub also has distinctly scented leaves, a sharp-sweet resiny smell. 

A Couple Less Showy Shrubs

Two other common coastal scrub shrubs deserve mention: poison oak and coffee berry. Anyone venturing near coastal scrub should get to know poison oak. If you hike down to the North Coast beaches, you will undoubtedly encounter it alongside the trail as it mischievously reaches out to touch you. Seventy percent of humans get a fairly bad rash from chemicals that readily transfer to the skin from the leaves and stems. The other 30% of us have less or no reaction. I’ve seen people’s eyes swell shut from bad exposure – these people often seek medical treatment, so beware! Poison oak is in bloom right now with tiny white star like flowers that emit a sweet and sometimes clove-like odor. When the day just begins to warm, the heavenly poison oak scent carries on the day’s first ocean breezes.

Coffee berry will start blossoming in about 2 months. Coffee berry gets its name from the very tasty coffee-like beverage you can make from the seeds, which must be leached of bitter compounds and then roasted. This dark-leaved sometimes quite tall species has small nondescript flowers that are full of nectar, a boon to the late-season pollinators. 

More Coastal Scrub Shrub Diversity

The list of other coastal scrub species is long. There are a few species of gooseberry and flowering currant. And, as one goes inland, black sage becomes more common with its powdery light purple flower clusters. Oso berry, mugwort, and ocean spray join the shrubby array. I often encounter the tall-stemmed and somewhat weedy perennial bee plant in coastal scrub – it’s not a shrub but gets so big and thick that it deserves mention.

Vining Through the Scrub

I would be remiss if I failed to here mention the long tangly things that make getting through the coastal scrub challenging. The most common trip hazard is our native blackberry, which is setting delicious but tiny seedy fruit right now. It threads its long spiny canes in and through all of aforementioned shrubs and pierces and grabs you should you try to walk through the scrub. The other tangly plant is wild cucumber or people root. Wild cucumber erupts from a huge (people sized) root, sending up fast-growing vines that mat on top of the shrubs. It makes spiny fruits with lots of shiny hard coated seeds that the wood rats and scrub jays love. The flowers of wild cucumber smell divinely like sweet cucumber but are long past, being one of the first flowers to open in late winter.

Rocky Outcrops in the Scrub

With its proclivity for rocky canyon sides, coastal scrub is bound to open at times with rocky outcrops. These abound with wildflower diversity. Native buckwheat with its summer time white balls of flowers is common in these patches. Native rein orchids like those spots, too, as do the succulent live forevers or ‘bluff lettuce.’ Indian paintbrush brightens these patches with scarlet right now, set off by masses of white yarrow flowers, sometimes held up by graceful tufts of California fescue or ferns. 

Horticulturally Speaking

Last week’s BrattonOnline column suggested inviting wild native plants into domestic landscapes, and coastal scrub is home to many species already tapped for their landscaping values and many more with good horticultural potential. There are seaside forms of ground cover coyote brush that are naturally short. Different types of monkey flower have been domesticated and even selected for odd flower colors: I suggest you stick with the local native forms to be true to our place. Lizard tail and ocean spray have been mostly overlooked but have good potential for a shrubby component to landscapes. Adding such dense but short shrubs has great value for nesting birds, but present a challenge for fire safety. For fire safety, lizard tail, monkey flower, and coyote brush sprout back less flammable foliage after being trimmed almost entirely to the ground every year or two and the trimmings ground up for mulch or compost. Where shrubs aren’t appropriate, coastal scrub wildflowers like buckwheat, yarrow, live forever and paintbrush are excellent accent plants. California fescue is a beautiful big bunching native grass that has been used in landscaping but should be cut back frequently to allow for vigor. Some folks may want to plant bee plant though again this species requires annual clearing out of dead material; it makes up for that maintenance requirement for the hummingbird and pollinator activity. 

I hope you might better appreciate coastal scrub plant communities with this introduction. It’s a good time to go visit them. 

Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at:

Email Grey at


May 9

#129 / The City Of Santa Cruz Wants More Money

There is an election coming soon to a mailbox near you. We are all getting a mail ballot for the upcoming “June 7th” election, and I think we can expect a ballot to show up in our mailbox any day now. Maybe even tomorrow! As soon as you get your ballot you can vote, so June 7th is just a “deadline,” not the only date that counts.

Campaign-related mailings have already reached me – and probably you – preparing us to do our duty as registered voters. One of the mailings I have received is shown above. It comes from the City of Santa Cruz, which wants City voters to tax themselves more, to provide the City with additional money. 

Specifically, Measure F asks us to raise the sales tax in the City of Santa Cruz by half a cent. As the mailer tells us (assuming that many of us probably can’t “do the math” ourselves), the new tax will add just “5 cents to a $10 purchase.” 

The way I read the mailer, the implication is that we will hardly even notice this new tax – though poor people will notice it more, of course, since the sales tax is well known to be “regressive,” hitting poorer people harder than those who are better off. The City’s tax mailer doesn’t provide us any information about the regressive nature of the proposed tax. What it does do is to tell us about things that the City might do with all the new money that the new tax would produce. 

For instance, the tax would generate money that could be used to “connect the homeless to mental health, substance abuse and addiction services.” Or, the money could be used to “invest in affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households.” 

Those expenditures sounds pretty good to me – and maybe to you! However, hang on for a minute.

The money from Measure F could also be used to increase the salaries of the already-well-paid City Manager and other top administrators. The money could be used to hire more pricey planning consultants, to help persuade us that twenty-story residential towers on Front Street at the San Lorenzo River would really make our lives much better (that is actually a real proposal, by the way, currently under consideration).

In other words, here’s the bottom line on Measure F:

The money generated by the proposed new tax could be used for ANYTHING the City Council wants to use it for. 

The City’s “Notice to Voters” doesn’t tell you that!

I got interested in this subject because a local voter contacted me about the legality of the City’s campaign mailer, as referenced in this blog posting. I was asked if it were legal for the City of Santa Cruz to use City taxpayer money to campaign in favor of this City tax measure (so the City could get even more of the voters’ money). That was the question posed to me, and I did know the answer, which you can read for yourself on the Fair Political Practices Commission website:

Generally, a payment for a communication that does not expressly advocate for or against a candidate or measure or urge a result in an election, when taken as a whole and in context, does not constitute a contribution or independent expenditure. 

Now, if you are a voter in the City of Santa Cruz, my bet is that you, too, got a copy of the Measure F mailing called, “Notice to Voters.” Read it through and see whether you think that the mailer represents political advocacy for the passage of Measure F, when that mailer is “taken as a whole and in context.” Is it “advocacy”? If it is, then City taxpayer funds should not have been used to design, print, and mail it to the voters. Or, is this mailer just “information,” not “advocacy”? If that’s true, it would be legal to use City taxpayer funds to send out the mailer.

I know what I think, and I think that, “taken as a whole,” a City mailer that tells you all the “good things” that the City could do with the new tax money it wants you to authorize, but never tells you about all the less desirable things the money could be used for, is not just “informational.” A mailer like that is “advocacy.” It is not what Fox News would call “fair and balanced.”  

Is the City’s campaign tax mailer “fair and balanced”? Is it “information,” or is it “advocacy”?

You decide! That’s what Fox News would tell you. 

Or, you could file a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission and let the Commission decide! That’s what I told the local voter who contacted me. That’s what I am telling you, too!

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


May 9


The US Supreme Court found its long tradition of privacy and independence bashed this week with Judge Thomas Alito’s leaked draft of what appears to be the court’s decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. From the outset it appears that the conservative majority will plow ahead with their preconceived notions about removing the constitutional right for a woman’s access to abortion services – in other words, “not my problem, don’t care.” Stripping away this right leaves other rights that the justices find personally distasteful in jeopardy. In her portrayal of Justice Amy Coney Barrett on NBC’s Saturday Night Live Update, Kate McKinnon advises women to “do your nine months and leave the baby in a basket on the sidewalk, or give it to a stork who will give it to a lesbian – it will make lesbians very happy…until we take that freedom away, too!”

Protesters, as well as court supporters, converged on the Supreme Court building, which resulted in installation of a chain link fence to hold back the crowds, and maybe to keep the noise level down as they debate their next deplorable decision. It hearkens back to a previous court decision when a law affording a thirty foot perimeter around abortion clinics was reversed, in the “interests of free speech” for the anti-abortionists. Luckily, no free-speecher leftovers from January 6 breached this fence. 

As criticisms and protests reached a crescendo, Chief Justice John Roberts, vowed to have the leaker of the draft brought to justice, the question being whether it is in reality a crime to have released the 100 pages. Roberts has always said, “We don’t have Clinton judges, Bush judges, Obama judges or Trump judges, but an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.” That claim falls flat considering that those who unquestionably voted to overturn Roe, are Clarence Thomas (George H.W. Bush); Samuel Alito (George W. Bush); Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett (Donald Trump) – the last four appointed by presidents who were elected by the Electoral College, not the electorate’s popular vote count. These minority government appointees ignore the will of the people, polling indicating a two-to-one margin in favor of keeping Roe. No respect for 21st Century public opinion evidenced, and no indication given as to the Chief’s vote; but it appears he has totally lost control of his leadership role in guiding the court, and keeping politics at bay – ‘stare decisis‘ be damned! Stare decisis, a Latin phrase meaning “to stand by things (previously) decided,” refers to the legal doctrine of judicial precedent – that previous legal rulings should subsequently govern future rulings on the same or similar legal issues, at least by lower courts. Brett Kavanaugh will long be remembered in using ‘stare decisis‘ in his answers to questions pertaining to Roe v. Wade before the committee determining his qualification for the high court. 

In 1987, during his hearings after being nominated for the Supreme Court, Robert Bork divulged his true feelings about Roe, and subsequently was deemed to be too extreme to be elevated to the body. A lesson was learned, and in true conservative fashion, all those who followed him with nominations, skirted the issue with lies and deceit, resulting in the current court majority leaning toward forced motherhood, which is akin to slavery. There was no debate, no soul-searching, no compassion or consideration of the aftermath – the die was cast well before those committee hearings. In today’s society, the average age of new mothers is around thirty years old, pointing to the value of being able to plan and establish a career, perhaps, or to solidify an individual’s, or a family’s, stability. Imagine the outcome, the future, of a twelve year old rape victim being forced to carry a child to term – ugly! Eve Ensler commented, “To all those who dare rob us of our bodily choice, I ask you: what is it about our bodies that makes you so afraid, so insecure, so cruel and punishing?”

Justice Alito, in his leaked draft, makes a weak attempt to bolster the ‘justice’ in his opinion by referring to 17th century England, where he references Sir Edward Cook, who declares abortion a crime. What Alito missed, or failed to mention, was Cook’s belief in witches – women doing the ‘Devil’s Magic‘ – and putting them on trial, murdering them under state rule for conferencing with Satan! In the late 1600s, in Puritan New England, over 200 witches were put on trial, with 20 being twice convicted, then executed – assuredly the other 190 or so led a wonderful life after serving one year in prison, and having only one conviction on their record. Eventually, the colonials admitted their mistakes, compensating the families of the slain ‘witches,’ but, Lucifer seems to be applying his wiles again in the halls of D.C., and from past history we can see where Alito and his cohorts are slowly taking us. The plantations and reservations are gaining new adherents within this bunch, now that they have invaded our privacy in making our own decisions, while demanding their own freedom from interference! Headline: Unelected bureaucrats with job security strike again.

So, what is it we Americans now trust in government? The Presidency? Not by a long shot, nor do we trust in the way our leader is chosen! The Congress? What have they done for you lately? Backstabbing and name calling seem to be the only activity evident to us. The once highly-respected courts? Ditto, ditto, ditto! The functioning of democracy seems to have lost its way, perhaps burdened by the myths that have been forced upon the populace by tradition, big business and organized religion – all of which hold abysmal views of how democracy should work. Justice Clarence Thomas lightly attempted to address this dilemma speaking at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference in Atlanta this past week by saying, “Society is becoming addicted to wanting specific outcomes, and not living with outcomes we don’t like.” He didn’t mention ‘the leak’, only subtly referencing it. Did he also intend to reference, in ‘not living with outcomes we don’t like’, the conservatives living with the 1973 decision embracing Roe v. Wade“? Stare decisis to you too, Judge! Worrying that young people don’t respect the law as they did in past generations couldn’t have been a dig at his wife, Ginni, who tried to overthrow the government during the J-6 insurrection, could it? Ginni’s many emails to Trump Chief of Staff Meadows encouraging him to ‘stand firm’ and ‘don’t concede’ and ‘it takes time for the army to gather’, admonitions which were struck down by the high court for release along with other communications sought by the House J-6 Commission. The Pew Research Center found that the adults holding favorable views of the court declined from 69% to 54% in the period of August 2019 to January 2022, about which a representative of the Supreme Court had no comment. Ethics concerns? How about a Code of Conduct? Nah, too late for such nonsense… the Ginni is out of the bottle. 

It’s been suggested that a liberal clerk of one of the justices released Alito’s draft decision, a clerk of Justice Sotomayor‘s, perhaps? But, why not Chief Justice Roberts, who has grown tired and disillusioned by this out of control body of escapees from the 17th century time-machine? What has he got to lose in the face of complete embarrassment and loss of reputation after these robed pimples in the temple have been popped? Even Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins feel they have been misled by the seated justices, but after a couple of beers they’ll probably believe anyone – not mentioning Brett Kavanaugh per se! It’s a long way from Bush v. Gore, but the devil was whispering in ears way back then! And, he continued to whisper into Prez Cheeto Benito‘s ear, telling him the court was a weapon and to use it to his advantage, with the Orange Menace saying the quiet parts out loud! He told us what he was doing all along, through two impeachments, and he followed through! Our BAD!

A quote falsely attributed to novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky has been making the rounds for some time now –  “Tolerance will reach such a level that intelligent people will be banned from thinking so as not to offend the imbeciles.” Heavy stuff! Finally, it has been traced to the source in Philadelphia. The quote was overheard from Ted ‘Dusty’ Yevskii, of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, in talking to curious employees of the neighboring sex shop and the crematorium, following Rudy Giuliani‘s press conference in November 2020 at that facility. Asked to comment on his words, ‘Dusty’ replied, “Maybe later…I gotta go water this new shipment of zinnias.”  

Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email:


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


“Sharks are beautiful animals, and if you’re lucky enough to see lots of them that means that you’re in a healthy ocean. You should be afraid if you are in the ocean and don’t see sharks”.     
~Sylvia Earle

“French fries kill more people than guns and sharks, yet nobody’s afraid of French fries”. 
~Robert Kiyosaki

“Sharks are among the most perfectly constructed creatures in nature. Some forms have survived for two hundred million years”.  
~Eugenie Clark

“I famously tasted shark fin soup many, many years ago before we understood exactly what was going on with the harvesting of sharks. I’ve consequently come out against it. I make personal choices in my life and stand behind them”.   
~Andrew Zimmern


Mark Rober is at it again. He spent a year and a half setting up this operation, and it looks like he managed to stick it to quite a few scammers. Watch the video 🙂

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