Blog Archives

May 27 – June 2, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Cruel Santa Cruz and Food Not Bombs birthdayIdeas for housing help. GREENSITE… on Saving the Wharf #3. KROHN…district elections, Civic Aud. For council meetings, council agenda, UCSC to reopen in the fall ? STEINBRUNER…County covid closing off track, RTC and $1 milion for transit corridor,open the beaches. PATTON…Restarting. EAGAN…Subconscious Comix & Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Summer”

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THE CASTLE AT SEABRIGHT BEACH. The crowds gathered on March 23 1967 to watch them demolish the snack and coffee spot. Wind, waves and age took their toll. It opened in 1918 and was once the Scholl-Mar Castle or Casa del Mar.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email photo@brattononline.com

SANTA CRUZ SPECIALRich Siebert spotted this one…don’t miss it. It’s new!Michael Gaither sings “We’ll get through this”.

TOP SONGS FROM 1960.

DATELINE May 25

CRUEL SANTA CRUZ…OR FOOD NOT BOMBS CELEBRATES 40 YEARS..  
Over the decades Santa Cruz became known as a laid-back city, with a heart for its citizens. Seniors had, and have, many well -un food programs — such as Meals on Wheels, Second Harvest, and Grey Bears. We’ve been almost famous for the help we’ve given to foreign countries in their time of need, and the help list goes on and on. BUT for some reason we treat the homeless as scary, evil and to be avoided. We accuse them of being drug addicts, molesters, sex fiends, thieves and must be avoidable scum.

This is most obvious in the way the City and county officials and civilians relate to Food Not Bombs. Food Not Bombs is celebrating its 40th year. They work in more than 1000 cities and in 65 countries, and yet still Santa Cruz gives their local operation a very tough time. They’ve been pushed and denied locations, had their hours and health practices questioned and challenged. What is it about Santa Cruz that creates this two-faced attitude? Keith McHenry, our local Food Not Bombs director, was one of the actual founders of the organization all those years ago and continues weekly and daily to provide good healthy food to our homeless. We need to re-think how and why we can support them.  Check out the website and think it over.

IDEAS FOR HELP?
Just in case any of you know of rentals or house-sitting situations, both my daughters are interested in spending more time in Santa Cruz. Plus, they are great help to and for me.  Any leads greatly appreciated. Email me at bratton@cruzio.com


Dateline May 25

MEASURING THE LOSS
By the time you are reading this, the comment period for the Wharf Master Plan, Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) will be over. As required by environmental law, the city is obliged to respond to submitted comments if they pertain to environmental impacts that the city has failed to accurately study or has omitted. Why don’t you take a long walk on a short pier? will probably not get a response. Then the final EIR, which includes responses to comments, heads towards the decision-making bodies, in this case the Planning Commission and then City Council.


Snowy egret perched on the western railing of the Wharf.

After sitting on this DEIR for 3 years and then releasing it during a stay at home pandemic, it is hard to believe the city would stoop so low as to hold hearings while the public cannot attend in person but we will see. This is the same city that had to be forced under a legal challenge to conduct an EIR for the Wharf, despite its listing as a sensitive habitat and bird habitat in the city’s own environmental documents.

So it is not surprising that the handsome fellow pictured above slid under the DEIR radar except to be included as one of scores of bird species sighted at the Wharf. It took me years to fully appreciate that there is no room for sentiment in an EIR: just the facts, ma’am. And that does not include the fact that most visitors to the Wharf get a thrill at seeing such a beautiful bird up close. Most have no idea what it is (I hear their excited questions) and all leave a little enriched by the experience. I know I do. We will never see this sight again if the Wharf Master Plan is approved. No, the egrets won’t move to the east side with scores of people, bikes and cars.

The western side of the Wharf where the snowy egret is perched currently has no human presence except for a very occasional worker. The birds thrive in this isolation, not minding the many folks behind glass in restaurants a few feet away. The Wharf Master Plan adds a lowered walkway running along this side of the Wharf bringing possibly hundreds of people to walk its length. If approved by council, there will be no birds perched on the railing, no birds nesting under the wharf and the aesthetics of the Wharf’s piling structure will be lost forever.

Pictured above is the western side of the Wharf. Visualize a walkway on the outside of the pilings, dropped 8 feet below deck level, 12 feet wide filled with people and try with a straight face to say it has no impact on the aesthetics or historical feel of the Wharf. That is what is claimed in the DEIR. And if you are inclined to look for the positive even when disaster is imminent, no you won’t see the sea lions from the lowered walkway since they haul out near the end of the wharf.

The DEIR is filled with claims that question its integrity. The Wharf Master Plan as you probably know includes 3 new public buildings in the 40 to 48 feet height range (almost half the height of the Dream Inn) in addition to a 30% increase in commercial space. One of these new buildings is near the new entrance, which will be a third of the way down the Wharf. The new entrance looks like toll booths you see on freeways and will dominate your view until you are past it. The DEIR says it will have minimal impact since they take sightings only from the side view, which is narrow. Cute. The new building is called the Gateway Building. The entry in the DEIR states that it would be “somewhat larger and taller than adjacent buildings on the Wharf”.  Somewhat? The adjacent buildings are one-story, probably 12 feet high at most. The new building will be 40-45 feet high.

Whether such statements are corrected in the final EIR and whether that makes a difference to the claim of “no significant impact” is as yet undetermined.

Another new large 40-45 feet tall building, called the Events Center is planned for the site of the current stage where we get to enjoy great jazz each year, except this one. The Wharf Master Plan reminds us that it can get cold and windy on the Wharf and this will allow us to be inside out of the weather. The glass doors can be opened but there is still a roof on top. I thought of that plan for an enclosed space as I listened to Latin Jazz percussionist Pete Escovedo last summer at this site on the Wharf. The sun was warm, the sky blue and the pelicans soared overhead on the updrafts. How significant is that loss?

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

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May 25

SIGNS OF THE TIMES
House for Sale, Apt. for Rent, Car for Sale…I’m seeing a lot more of these signs as I take my daily exercise walk to the end of the wharf and home again. I perused Craigslist today for Santa Cruz County and it turns out, there’s a lot of rentals, 539 as of the Memorial Day weekend, and it doesn’t take a real estate genius to prognosticate that many more For Rent signs are on the way. Housing crisis? What housing crisis? Is this one of those vaunted “market corrections” that capitalists are fond of talking about? The listings begin with all these “rare opportunity” to rent a $600-$700 room” close to the [UC] campus” ads. Will students be back in fall? I doubt it. Who will occupy these rooms then? Probably a few hopeful students who want to be around campus, do classes virtually, and maybe use the library, but it’s all still up in the air. We may be seeing a lot of empty bedrooms. On the same Craigslist page, there’s a cottage to share on Grant Street for $900; a cozy one-bedroom cottage on Ocean Street Ext. for $950 (that’s cheaper); a “freshly-painted studio” in Soquel with “spectacular views,” also for $950; 200 square feet in Felton for $1095; and someone looking for a housemate on the Westside to fill the third bedroom for $1175, “no couples” please. Is the pandemic finally bringing rental prices in Santa Cruz down from their non-ganga induced highs? Not yet, but we’ll take another look in late June following the exodus of the off-campus students who stayed during lock-down and also just on the heels of a likely remote/zoom/on-line fall quarter student body not coming back to campus. Also, the usual suspects–Chestnut Street Apartments, Cypress Point, and 55Five Pacific–have not come down much in price, but are offering one or two months “free” if you are willing to sign a lease. In addition, there’s a bunch of “rent and security deposit reduced” listings. Has it taken Covid-19 to not only address the houseless and homeless emergency, but make a dent in our affordable housing crisis as well? Stay tuned.

UC Santa Cruz to Open in Fall?
Still remains doubtful whether students will be back in September. UC not-for-long President Janet Napolitano (she’s outta here as of “August 2020 according to EdSource), told the S.J. Mercury News on May 20th that “every campus will be open and offering instruction” this fall. It’s just that most of those classes will likely be on-line. The few that won’t be will likely be held in-person in order to save the NCAA Division IA sports teams’ schedules, notably football. It was back on May 2nd that Napolitano fatefully struck a sterner chord.”I think it’s fair to say none of our campuses will fully reopen,” she said according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Seems impossible to think that if the 500,000-student CSU system, the largest in the country, is going totally on-line–Zoom anyone?–this fall, that UC will not follow suit. I could imagine a scenario that allows graduate students to be on campus because of their smallish numbers and research needs, but undergrads too? Classes of 400 down to a socially distanced 50-60 in Classroom Unit II, for example, and 30 in Classroom Unit I? Ten students per bus and shuttle? Dorms a quarter filled? These are the scenarios that come to mind. Perhaps the remodeled quarry can be used as an outdoor classroom for possibly up to 100 and could provide the six-foot social distancing. Will these campuses be safe without a vaccine or on-going testing? What we do know is that sadly, saving a football season is part of the UC calculus in determining whether to reopen physical campuses to physical bodies. Cal and UCLA are heavily invested in football programs. Don’t forget, the Transparent California web site has had these two football coaches (Jeff Tedford, Jimmy Dykes), and a couple of basketball coaches (Cuonzo Martin, Steve Alford) receiving between $2 million and $3 million dollars (see UC salaries)

They’re usually at the top of the UC pay scale followed by a non-essential employee like UCLA transplant expert, Ronald Busutill who clocks in at $2.5 million. He’s the Dumont Professor of Transplantation Surgery and Chief of the Division of Liver and Pancreas Transplants in the Department of Surgery at the UCLA School of Medicine, according to his university bio. So remember, getting football jump-started is an important consideration in whether to send back UC’s 280,000 students to its ten campuses before a vaccine is found. Sounds like the CSU is also making it possible for their three Division IA teams–San Jose State, San Diego State, and Fresno State–to play football during the 2020 Covid-19 season. Looks like college presidents will play all ends from the middle like SDSU president Adela de la Torre. According to NBC, she tweeted out that SDSU plans to get around any closure by offering a hybrid model for classes, some in-person, and some virtual.”We will offer certain lab and performance-based instruction in person.” I continue to say, follow the money…in sports, in politics, and in the for-profit public and private education biz.

Santa Cruz City Council Agenda for May 26th
Once again, too many non-essential decisions are being made, mostly by staff and rubber-stamped by a council majority, during these troubled Covid-19 times. I advocate taking some deep breaths and waiting until the public and city council can return to Council Chambers at 809 Center Street. Or better yet, open the Civic Auditorium for safe, socially distanced meetings. It is just plain bad policy to be approving non-essential building projects and subjectively slashing the budgets of key departments without sufficient input from the community. All departments are not equal and the called for 10% across-the-board cut may sound fair, but some departments have a lot more fat, like Public Works, Economic Development, and Planning, than others like the Parks and Recreation Department. Chopping $225k salaries at the top by 30% and leaving those making below $50k alone should a priority, or at least be discussed, but so many of these decisions are made in closed session (see council agenda here ).

From what I can tell, closed session this week includes the behind the scenes push to get district elections in Santa Cruz (it’s on open session too); settling or fighting a millions of dollars law suit which had alleged sexual harassment within the police department, and labor negotiations. And then on the “consent agenda,” the city manager must feel district elections is such a slam dunk policy move that it shouldn’t be placed on the “regular agenda.” This kind of move is usually done to circumvent discussion and bypass public scrutiny. If you ever thought that our local government system was squeaky clean, it would be this issue on the consent agenda, which should give you pause to think, Uh oh, this isn’t right, something may be fishy here. Also on consent, item 15, is the Highway 1 and 9 “intersection improvements.” This has been a move by one city engineer, Chris Schneiter, to 1) boot Central Home Supply from town, 2) widen an already difficult intersection, and 3) to elevate car culture in the time of climate change and Covid-19. The city council ought to send this one back to Chris’ drawing board and save some money. The”construction contract $5.1 million,” is money better saved and spent on local businesses trying to come back in the coronavirus economy. Please city council, choose the no-project alternative and save business and save the environment. But also, puleeze, stop putting such big-ticket items on the consent agenda, which by-passes a full community-council discussion! All major environmental groups–Sierra ClubSC Climate Action Network, and Campaign for Sensible Transportation are vehemently opposed to this intersection expansion project. As far as I can tell, council has received lots of communication opposing the project and not even one letter or email of support. On the evening’s “regular agenda,” items 1, 3, and 4 are proposed resolutions that if passed, give even more carte blanche power to the city manager and police department. Again, this will all take place with a minimum of public scrutiny and participation. Welcome my friends, to democracy in the age of Covid-19, call it Pandemic Politics.

Harvey Milk was one of the first openly LGBTQ politicians in the U.S., and on this #HarveyMilkDay, his vision for a brighter tomorrow has never been more important.” (May 22)

(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 ckrohn@cruzio.com

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May 26

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY NEEDS TO GET BACK TO WORK, SO WHY AREN’T OFFICIALS ASKING TO MOVE MORE QUICKLY?
Last week, I listened to a panel discussion of local business leaders hosted by First District County Supervisor Candidate Mr. Manu Koenig. I was shocked to hear about the high number of restaurants going under permanently in Capitola alone, with more threatened the longer the County keeps us in economic shackles.

What was clear from all panelists was that the County is not communicating with the business community on much of anything regarding plans to move forward with re-establishing the economy. “ZERO communication.” they said.

I did a bit of research today to learn more about the County’s ability to submit an Attestation Application for Variance to get economic recovery moving more quickly than the Governor’s Stage 2 Plan. What I found was shocking.

Of 58 Counties in the State, 46 have already applied for this Variance, some as early as May 12, but many on May 18, 2020.

Santa Cruz County Health officials stated that they were “taken by surprise” when Governor Newsom announced last week that Counties could apply to move more quickly, and that they had not anticipated such action for another four weeks. However, the website listed above shows the original application was made available on May 8, and revised on May 18.

San Benito County filed their Application on May 12. Why didn’t Santa Cruz County?

Health Officer Gail Newel has stated that she and her staff are busy with contact tracing relative to the new COVID-19 clusters in Watsonville. When I called Supervisor Caput, he assured me that the Board of Supervisors is going to begin filling out the Application after the Memorial Day holiday, using new information from the Watsonville clusters.

As Chairman of the Board, Supervisor Caput has the ability to call a Special Board meeting upon 24 hour notice and should do so this week to publicly adopt the County’s Attestation Application for Variance and send it quickly to the State for approval.

While County Health Officer Ms. Mimi Hall told the Board of Supervisors at the May 19 meeting that Dr. Newel anticipated the approval of the Application would take a week “because we expect a flood of applications”, Dr. Newel has privately stated that she feels she could get the Governor’s office to approve our County’s Application on the same day submitted.

There is quite a lot of confusion around all that, but what is important is that people flood Supervisor Caput’s office with calls and e-mails to insist he call a Special Board meeting early this week, and not wait for the regularly-scheduled June 2 Board meeting.  If you examine the Attestation Applications for Variance that have been submitted by any of the 46 Counties who quickly completed and filed them, you will see that the level of detail is not inordinately demanding, and the information is readily available to the County Health officials and Board.

Look at San Benito County’s Application, filed on May 12, 2020

Please contact Chairman of the Board, Supervisor Greg Caput <greg.caput@santacruzcounty.us> 454-2200 Santa Cruz office  763-4712 Watsonville office

Let’s get Santa Cruz County back on track and start rebuilding the economy. Please insist the County Board of Supervisors hold a Special Board meeting as early as Wednesday to approve and submit the County’s Attestation Application for a Variance to move more quickly than Governor Newsom wants.

THE MILLION DOLLAR STUDY CONTINUES ABOUT THE TRANSIT CORRIDOR 
The Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is still working at spending over $1 million for yet another study about the rail corridor. Tune in on the Public Hearing on June 4 at 9:30am for the joint RTC and Metro to “share your input on the Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis (TCAA) Alternatives Screening Results and Short List of Alternatives…  concerning the evaluation of different public transit options for the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line, narrowing down to one that will best serve and connect our communities”.

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

MAKE ONE CALL. WRITE ONE LETTER. ATTEND A REMOTE PUBLIC HEARING. TAKE A WALK ON THE BEACH AND BE HEALTHY.

MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK.

Cheers, Becky Steinbruner. I welcome your thoughts and discussion: 831-685-2915

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.

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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May 18
#139 / Getting The Restart Right

In case you don’t immediately recognize him, that is Niccolò Machiavelli, pictured right. The image was gleaned from an article published by the Modern War Institute. That institution, located at West Point, was citing to Machiavelli’s ideas about “innovation.”

The Wall Street Journal recently referenced Machiavelli, too, in an article about how to rebuild our shattered economy. The article was titled, “Getting The Restart Right.”

When the Great Restart begins, many leaders will fall back on an idea once espoused by Machiavelli, who wrote: “The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities.” They will try to reduce the anxiety in the air by restoring familiar routines, procedures and traditions. The problem is that business, as we knew it, cannot be recovered. It will need to be reinvented.

I am inclined to think that the quoted observation by Machiavelli is accurate. Most people are focused mainly on how things “appear,” and are not, generally, willing to consider the possibility that the “realities” of our world are not necessarily what everyone thinks they are.

If there is going to be a “Great Restart,” as we come back outdoors after the stay-at-home mandates imposed during the coronavirus, let’s think about what has now been revealed as “appearance,” and what has been shown to be “reality,” when we contemplate our politics, society, and economy.

It has most usually “appeared” that what is most worthwhile, and significant, and valuable in our society is what is reflected in the lives, activities, and actions of those with the most access to financial resources – the 1%, to use that way of describing the yawning economic division that has elevated a very small number of persons to positions of immense wealth, while the great majority of the population has largely been considered to be background noise.

Turns out, doesn’t it, that the “realities” are different from what “appeared” to be true? In fact, when ordinary people don’t work, and don’t participate in the production and consumption that is the life of our society and economy, the economy utterly fails and falls apart. Stock prices plunge, big businesses go bankrupt, and the entire economic apparatus no longer works.

So, if we are going to “get going again,” our politics, our social relationships, and our economic arrangements cannot simply be “recovered.” They will need to be “reinvented.”

This means, among other things – at least the way I see it – that we will now have to admit that the “reality” of our situation is not that we are a bunch of individual persons (as it can so easily appear), but that we are “together” in this life. Our reinvented world must make sure everyone is provided with the basics, including food, shelter, health care, worthwhile employment, and education.

As the wealthiest society in the history of the world, we can make that happen. And in fact, the “reality” is, we have to make that happen if we want our politics, society, and economy to “restart,” and thereafter to flourish and endure!

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

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. More classic views, just a few twirls below.

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

    SUMMER

“Green was the silence, wet was the light,
the month of June trembled like a butterfly.”
~Pablo Neruda,

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.”
? Maud Hart Lovelace

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
? Henry James

This guy is amazing, his videos are so fun! I know I’ve linked him before. This is top notch though, check it out!


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!

Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com

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