Bratton… UCSC’s newspaper, housing for people, movies. Greensite…revisits housing costs. Schendledecker…will be back next week. Steinbruner… fires, insurance and rebuilding, Santa Cruz cyclists, human trafficking here, county fairgrounds drama. Hayes…bluff diversity. Patton…Doom loop. Matlock…life is hard and other disasters on the hill we climb. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week: Kristen Wiig as Ann-Margret Quotes….”Drones”
DATELINE May 29
CITY ON A HILL PRESS & PRESSURES. According to UCSC reporter Kyle Keller City on a Hill Press (the former printed weekly UCSC newspaper) only publishes a print edition twice per year lately. This latest rare print issue is stacked with campus and Hollywood issues, news and opinions. Check out the online edition at cityonahillpress.com. Read about the antisemitic acts and how the Jewish students want action and about the Hitler birthday celebration. Learn about the English to Spanish classes being decreased. Then there’s the problems with the quality of their on campus drinking water. There’s problems too with the staffing of the campus buses. More issues center on the location of the chancellor’s house being on or off campus and why it matters. The closing article gives a fine overview of the Hollywood writers’ strike. Going to college today just ain’t the same as it was in the ’50’s.
Housing For People! This is from a mailer delivered on May 29. It states in no uncertain terms…NOT for Luxury Hotels, not Luxury Condos. Not to benefit wealthy, out of town developers.
Santa Cruz’s existing zoning can build 8,364 units so the City can reach the state requirement of 3736 units by 2031 without building enormous, ugly, tall towers! (Towers that are DOUBLE the height of the old Taco Bell, Pacific-Laurel-Front current building and EIGHT times larger with 1600 units!)
Build local workforce housing, not second homes for the wealthy. We want to increase affordable housing to 25% in new development in Santa Cruz. We demand for the right to vote on the height and size of buildings that are beyond current, reasonable limits.
No to enormous, high-rise, towers of 145 feet, 12 stories that will have little to no affordable housing!
We want diversity in housing, socio-economic equity, housing for local workers and a livable, beautifully-built city!
Help us create a livable city for ALL people-not just a few.
Join us this weekend to hand out fliers
June 3, Clock Tower, 4:00pm to 5:30pm, LBGQT+ Parade
June 4, 12:00pm to 4:00pm- Pride Parade and Festival
Join us! Sign our Petition! :
Text or call: 831-471-7822
I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie 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.
LOU. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.1 IMDB). Allison Janney goes into deep and very wet pursuit of her daughter who was kidnapped by the ex-husband/father. Through the Pacific Northwest territory and woods, rivers, storms she chases the two of them. He’s an ex-green beret and deals some surprise plot twists late in the film. Intriguing and mesmerizing, go for it.
YOU HURT MY FEELINGS. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.2 IMDB). Absolutely wonderful and deep search into our own relationships and how we deal out and take in honesty. You’ll be reminded many times of similar scenes in your life and how you could have and should have dealt with those awkward and painful times.
MISSING. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). Watching this one is like never taking your eyes away from your cell phone or computer. It’s all a high tech search for a young girl’s mother who disappears. Too electronic, too Gmail, iPhone, and just plain high powered drivel.
BEING MARY TYLER MOORE. (HBO MAX) (8.3 IMDB). This documentary proves to us that Mary Tyler Moore not only changed television but changed the relationship between men and women. It reveals her rare and darker side and also places her among women who made giant strides in establishing a better relationship in the work place especially television.
THE SON. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.3 IMDB). Not exactly a sequel to The Father but it’s related. Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern deal with a son who has a psychological problem. He’s into acute depression and how do they help him? Anthony Hopkins appears briefly as the grandfather so we learn of the family history and it’s not pretty. It’s about ex-partners and relationships and the acting is fine.
S.W.A.T. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.1 IMDB). It’s all about South Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Departments problems. Centering on the racial Black issues and how tough it is to have Black cops chasing Black lawbreakers. It has lots of political and logical pressures that could have made this a very important movie, but it isn’t.
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 Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.
MASTER GARDENER. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (6.5 IMDB). A complex, involved, and very symbolic plot about a gardener (Joel Edgerton) with a history who works for a wealthy, temperamental rich land owner (Sigourney Weaver) and has visions and deep memories of his past life. The Proud Boys, Trump, Hitler, and more threats to peace are on, and in the gardener’s memories and conscience and he relates to the plants in his care as solutions.
THE MURDERS AT THE WHITE HOUSE FARM. (HBO MAX SERIES) (7.4 IMDB). I binged watched all six episodes of this tangled British mystery, it’s that suspenseful. In 1985 five family members were shot and died and it’s a true story. Who did it and why and even how it was done are surprising. It lags a bit by episode 4 but it’s well done and thoughtful go for it.
MRS. CHATTERJEE VS. NORWAY. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). This is an unbelievably true story centering on the cruelty and evil was the government of Norway treats a young mother from India. They took her two children for 3 years of fighting based on some cultural differences between the two countries such as eating and family beliefs. Finally India’s government steps in and helps her. Fine viewing.
A MAN CALLED OTTO. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.5 IMDB). Tom Hanks and his real life son Truman play the leads in this sad saga of an old man facing old age. Hanks is really only 67 years old and that adds to the mystery of why he’s so grumpy and almost commits suicide four times in this thin view of aging. The plot is variable but Hanks is always worth watching.
THE MOTHER. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.5 IMDB). Quite a cast of names such as Jennifer Lopez, Joseph Fiennes, Gael Garcia Bernal, and even Edie Falco are in it! Full of car chases, violence and tripe from 1000’s of cheap action flicks. It’s the FBI vs Jennifer who is trying to protect her daughter and the plot gets worse and worser!!
THE TERMINAL LIST. (AMAZON SERIES) (7.9 IMDB). Chris Pratt takes the part of a Navy Seal officer whose troops were ambushed during a secret mission in Syria. He suffers from shell shock/concussion and the search for the unknown enemy is a good one. The movie is believable, well-acted, nicely photographed and even mysterious. Go for it. (re-print from July 6, 2022)
HIGH DESERT. (APPLE TV SERIES) (6.5 IMDB). It’s billed as a comedy but watching Patricia Arquette attempting to be as funny as Jennifer Coolidge was in White Lotus is more depressing than laughable. Matt Dillon and Bernadette Peters try hard for any possible laughs and fail miserably. The plot has Patricia’s mother dying and how Patricia deals with it and tries to make a living in Yucca Valley first as a stripper, then she becomes a private investigator. No laughs, no plot, no fun.
WHITE HOUSE PLUMBERS. (HBO MAX SERIES) (6.7 IMDB). This is rare, it’s listed as a drama, as a history, and a biography because it’s actually based on the true story of the Watergate break-ins as intended by President Richard Milhous Nixon. Woody Harrelson is E. Howard Hunt and Justin Theroux is G. Gordon Liddy. Domhall Gleeson is John Dean and they all do credible jobs as the would be thieves who try at least four separate times to get the contents of a desk drawer that President Nixon believes will expose Daniel Elsberg. It’s full of laughs, impossible happenings and another history lesson for political followers.
A FEW THOUGHTS ON HOUSING
As more and more familiar Santa Cruz businesses are ripped down to accommodate the new high rises (Front St. above) and because it’s Memorial Day, I thought a reprint of a piece I wrote on housing in 2015 might be worth a second look.
The winter storms of 2023 have replaced the drought as the weather topic of the day but most from 2015 still applies. If anything, the situation is more dire. The median housing price has risen substantially, UCSC has announced plans to add 9 thousand more students plus 3 thousand more staff and faculty, people living in tents in open space lands has become a way of life and a thorn in the side for the city, long time local low income workers (or at least the ones I know) have been forced to move further away and the state has taken over local land use control, forcing cities over the next 8 years to build unsustainable, unrealistic numbers of housing units. Meanwhile California is losing people to other states.
In the face of this crisis in housing affordability and impending transformation of the town, I think we need data. Do the new affordable housing units go to current low-income workers or not? If not, then let’s drop the jargon and false hopes. The square footage of most of the new high-rise units under construction suggests they are not for families and therefore not designed for most long-time low-income workers. They look suspiciously like off-campus dorm units. That’s why we need evidence and data, which the city won’t provide. Which demographic is getting the below-market rate units? That information is needed so we can assess what is working and what isn’t. That plus a louder voice telling the Regents we are full and cannot take more students. No more tiptoeing around this obvious cause of the current local crisis.
The high cost of housing in Santa Cruz is a frequent topic of conversation like the drought. Unlike the drought it probably will not have an ending date. Those of us who came here in the 1970’s can recall that rent wasn’t an issue. For around $120 a month you could rent a house. Those who could, bought a house for around $50,000. How did the same house which cost $50,000 then, come to be valued around $800,000 now? The usual answer is supply and demand. The population in the city in the 1970’s was around 30,000 residents and today it is double that number. To avoid any hint of smugness, it’s well to remember that the real old-timers will tell you that those of us who came here in the 1970’s were also responsible for the growth of Santa Cruz, and they are right. But it did seem at that time the town was largely affordable. Today it is largely unaffordable except for those who bought their house long ago, or those currently with high incomes or investment properties.
According to supply and demand, the solution to the high cost of housing is always a call for more housing to be built, never that demand might be tempered by local hiring, less sales promotion of Santa Cruz and a smaller UCSC. Most assume that more housing equals more affordable housing. But does it? There has been a lot of housing built in Santa Cruz over the past 40 years and with greatly increased density, yet rents and housing prices have increased ten-fold or more. The developers and the politicians misuse the term “affordable” for market rate housing (ADU’s for example) or tie affordable definitions to the ever-increasing Area Median Income and pretend that projects such as 1010 Pacific Avenue will be affordable for teachers, police and firefighters as promised, when in fact such projects soon become student housing. With an ever-expanding UCSC and 54 percent of students living off campus, easily outbidding families and workers for rental housing, there seems no relief in sight.
Beyond supply and demand, housing is a commodity, like health care, where speculation, trading and profit are the driving forces beneath the surface cost. Housing activists in the Bay area, which faces similar issues, conclude that it is not possible to build your way into affordability. Affordable housing can be achieved only through subsidized housing and rent control. Building more housing without such policies in place will not result in an affordable Santa Cruz but rather an affluent, overcrowded city, straining available resources. J
|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.|
Joy will be back next week.
|Joy Schendledecker is an artist, parent, and community organizer. She lives on the Westside of Santa Cruz with her husband, two teens, mother in law, and cats. She was a city of Santa Cruz mayoral candidate in 2022. You can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.|
REBUILDING FROM THE CZU FIRE AND EXPERIENCING FUNDING GAPS?
That’s what is on the glossy postcards in a plexiglass rack outside the County’ Permit Recovery Center. What this really means is “Have you run out of insurance money and still don’t have a permit from the County to rebuild?” Sadly, many CZU Fire property owners are facing this problem.
I called the number on the postcard to find out what help someone could expect.
The call was answered by Jennifer, representing Catholic Charities. She said the County has an Unmet Needs Committee, and the Santa Cruz County Community Foundation provides grant money to help those eligible. This was put in place in 2021, with over 100 cases funded to help CZU Fire Survivors find temporary housing that includes purchasing a Tiny Home on Wheels or a mobile home, and get money to cover rebuilding project costs, such as the expensive geologic studies that the County has glibly required.
To apply, one must present identification, and proof of land ownership, such as a deed. The home that burned need not have been permitted…which should be of help for those in the Last Chance/Swanton Community.
Processing takes a few weeks. The Unmet Needs Committee meets twice monthly with the Community Foundation to discuss the applications on an individual bases. The Applicant never meets with the funders directly. Jennifer said some cases are pending, but no one has been denied funding of some sort. The funding is via a grant, with no expectation of repayment.
Please share this information with any one you know who is still struggling to rebuild from the CZU Fire.
Take a look at the 2022 Community Foundation financial report. Do the figures on page 8 makes sense if the number for the Total Assets is the exact same as the number for Total Liabilities and Net Assets?
It has always bothered me that Community Foundation Board meetings are not open to the public, yet the Foundation acts to administer grants of public monies the County of Santa Cruz has received for projects.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE PERMIT SONOMA CENTER?
Santa Cruz County Planning Dept. staff sometimes references actions taken by Sonoma County Planning Dept. on issues such as rebuilding after major fires, and what to do to help property owners who lost what the County considers to be non-conforming structures. Indeed, the County copied a Sonoma County model of applying a Class K pilot program for the Last Chance Community in an effort to streamline the 2020 CZU Fire rebuilding effort. The problem is that it was only effective for two years…and the permitting process has been much too slow. Now the people are running out of time against insurance payouts for expenses.
The other idea I think Santa Cruz County needs to borrow from Sonoma County is the use of Pallet Shelter Villages for rapid and inexpensive housing for the homeless
What can we learn from Sonoma County? What can we do to help the CZU Fire Survivors get some relief in getting their homes rebuilt?
Please listen in this Friday at 1pm on Santa Cruz Voice to hear what Mr. Tennis Wick, Director of Permit Sonoma.
Santa Cruz Voice is a free online radio platform featuring local interest programs. Santa Cruz Voice
SANTA CRUZ CYCLISTS FOR CULTURAL EXCHANGE
On May 21, the Pajaro Valley was filled with bicyclists touring the country backroads in an event known as “Strawberry Fields Forever”. Hosted by the Santa Cruz Cyclists for Cultural Exchange (CCE), the ride brought cyclists from all over the world here. Founded in Santa Cruz in collaboration with cyclists from Russia, the mission of the CCE is:
“Our intention in the time we have together is to discover our differences, find our common ground, experience some of the language, customs, and traditions of the host country, and share our visions, hopes and dreams for cooperation and world peace.”
Each stop on the ride featured delicious food and great music, much of which was donated. The Wildcat Mountain Ramblers played for free, even though they normally charge a lot. As a Ham Radio communications volunteer, it was my job to help relay information vital to the smooth operation of the event. The most memorable communication I heard involved translating the words “Compost”, “Recycling”, and “Trash” into Mandarin for one of the rest stops. It was a beautiful day.
CCE Cyclists for Cultural Exchange(left to right): Walt Brown, Sag vehicle coordinator, Serguei Goupalov, cyclist from Ukrania, and Vita Pritchard, co-founder of CCE.
TRAFFICKING HERE IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY?
Sadly, human trafficking is on the rise, and it is here in Santa Cruz County. Ms. Heather Goode, Co-Founder of Arukah Project, a non-profit based in Scotts Valley, is working hard to help victims who escape their bondage to restore their lives and rebuild their souls.
She recently explained in an interview last Friday on “Community Matters” that it is increasingly difficult for law enforcement to capture the human predators because much of the trafficking is done on the internet, and lures people of all ages and sexes into the web of trafficking. The predators are always on the move, and may show up in a town when a large event is happening, and rent a house via Air BnB, then move on.
What can you do to help Arukah Project help the survivors?
Sign up to help June 10 at Natasha’s Run for Justice in Nisene Marks State Park, or just come to the event associated in Aptos Village Park. Buy some delicious food from the food trucks, sip a beer in the Beer Garden, and enjoy the Allison Sharino Band. All proceeds will benefit Arukah Project.
Natasha’s Run for Justice, June 10, is named in honor of a trafficking survivor who finally was able to achieve legal justice against her predator after 15 years of working through the legal system. “Arukah” is a Hebrew word meaning “Restore, Renew and Rebuild”.
CURIOUS DRAMA CONTINUES AT SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS
Things seem to be getting worse rather than better at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. The new Interim CEO, Mr. Ken Alstott, informed the experienced Fairgrounds Office and Maintenance Staff on his first day on the job that he “would let them know if he planned to keep them on the schedule.” On the second day, he hired back Office Staff who had quit last fall in loyalty to former CEO Dave Kegebein, whom the Board fired last October after a State Performance Audit showed many serious financial wrongdoings. On his third day, Mr. Alstott offered the experienced Staff a letter of recommendation. The following week, the staff was taken off the work schedule so that Mr. Alstott could “bring in his own team.”
Of interest is the immediate cozy relationship Mr. Alstott established with the Fairgrounds Foundation, which is directed by Ms. Jeannie Kegebein. Mr. Alstott gave her the key to the Fairgrounds Office, which allows full access to all financial records.
The Fairgrounds Foundation has commandeered all alcohol sales on the Fairgrounds premises, making substantial profits, but not reporting such to the IRS on their Form 990, and no longer allows their meetings to be open to the public. Public Records Act requests for the payments the Foundation has supposedly made to the 14th DAA related to these alcohol sales have not been forthcoming with documents proving anything at all has been paid.
This could be because some of the 14th DAA Fairgrounds financial documents were intentionally destroyed in 2019 by then-CEO Dave Kegebein, the loyal Office staff who just got re-hired by Mr. Alstott, and three Fair Board members: Loretta Estrada and Jody Belgard (who resigned after the Board fired CEO Kegebein last October), and Stephanie Fontana, who remains on the Board to this day.
All of this wrongdoing, and more, was personally witnessed by the Office and Maintenance Staff that Mr. Alstott essentially fired upon taking the reins as Interim CEO. They had heard former Dave Kegebein say ‘We can’t hand over documents if we don’t have them.” as he dumped boxes of financial records onto a bonfire.
Whistleblower protection? The State Dept. of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) Director of Legal Services angrily refused to discuss the matter with me by telephone recently. The CDFA Civil Rights Staff agreed with me that this is likely retaliation and may be racial discrimination as well, but the Staff must file certain forms and provide certain precise information. That is daunting when one is in shock and has suffered verbal abuse and intimidation by former CEO Kegebein, former Interim CEO Kelley Ferreira, and now Interim CEO Alstott, in addition to vicious verbal attacks by Fairgrounds Foundation members at recent Fair Board meetings.
Mr. Alstott insists there is a limited amount of work he can do to pull together cogent financial reports for the Board because he only works part-time, commuting from the state of Tennessee. Isn’t it odd that CDFA staff would enlist the help of someone who lives in one of the states California Governor Newsom deems as “unfriendly” and has banned any state employee from travel there to do state business? Don’t forget that it was one of the reasons Dave Kegebein got fired…traveling to Texas, another “unfriendly state” to do Fair business. The 14th DAA is paying Mr. Alstott $70/hour for his travel time. He is also collecting CalPERS benefits, being a former Fairgrounds CEO retiree and now an annuitant.
Last week, Mr. Pruger, the President of the Fair Board, announced that three people had applied for the job of full-time CEO. He was extremely irritable with some members of the public who spoke to question what is happening, but was all smiles and gave extra time for members of the Fairgrounds Foundation who spoke. When I questioned why none of my letters to the Board were included in the past two months of Board agendas, Mr. Alstott stated that the public has to specifically ask in correspondence that we want it included in the Board packets for public access. Hmmmm… The letter he chose to include in the May 23 packet did not have such a request included. Hmmmm…..
The Fair Board has just scheduled a Special Meeting for June 7, held only virtually at 7pm, for another Closed Session discussion of selecting a fulltime CEO. They will also discuss the lawsuit now filed against the Fairgrounds and the Foundation Director Jeannie Kegebein, and former CEO Dave Kegebein, largely relating to the murky financial problems of alcohol profits and lack of payments.
Who will it be? My bet is that the new CEO will be a friend of the Kegebein’s, and a favorite of the Fairgrounds Foundation. Board of Directors Agenda Items
WHERE ARE THE DARK SKIES?
As a child growing up in the Eastern Oregon desert, one of the wonderful things I enjoyed was a completely dark sky at night that was filled with brilliant stars. Our family now looks forward to that treat when we camp in the Sierra. But the dark night skies filled with glittering stars and planets may be something we only remember, according to the article a friend sent me: Stars could be invisible within 20 years as light pollution brightens night skies
I have recently noticed that the LED parking lot lights at the Aptos Post Office are glaringly bright, meant to discourage illegal campers at night. More and more, I see rural neighbors have strung bright lights over driveways and backyards, as if the dark night is something to stamp out.
Furthermore, when one can see the sky, it seems to be filled with more and more satellites, zooming around the Earth for a constant connection of internet and surveillance.
What do you think we can do to preserve the lovely dark nighttime skies for future generations to enjoy and the wildlife to use for navigation? Please let me know your thoughts.
A NEW BEAUTIFUL PIECE OF OUT-OF-THE-BOX ART IN APTOS VILLAGE
Thanks to well-known local artist Ms. Ann Thiermann, Aptos Village will have a lovely mini-mural on what would otherwise be a drab metal telecomm box at the Trout Gulch Road and Soquel Drive intersection. It is part of the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission’s “Out of the Box” murals on telecommunications and utility boxes in our Community.
Ann has painted other such boxes nearby at the Rancho del Mar Shopping Center that really help beautify the area. Many thanks to Ann Thiermann for her lovely work.
MAKE ONE CALL. WRITE ONE LETTER. REVIEW A DRAFT EIR AND SEND IN YOUR COMMENTS. JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
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 KI6TKB@yahoo.com
A walk on the ocean bluff is invigorating, so close to many amazing natural phenomena, but these areas see too little ecological protection. Ecotones- the area between two habitats- are well known to host the most species. Birders understand the delight in exploring the edge of riparian or other forest habitats to encounter the most species. Likewise, humans are drawn to the edge of the ocean, and if they are aware of the life around them they have the opportunity to see layers upon layers of life.
Picture the many individuals and groups of people enjoying West cliff drive, strolling the bluffs at Wilder Ranch, gathering at the cliff edge across from Davenport, and driving Big Sur’s Coast Highway. Millions of people a year along the edge of the Pacific Ocean are standing, walking, or driving on a biologically precious part of our landscape.
Ocean, beaches, bluffs, and more
In the span of very few yards, many things come together. The ocean dynamically intersects with the beach, which in turn interdigitates with bluffs, creeks, rivers, and lagoons. At each of those intersection sites, biological life explodes with diversity. The ocean’s movement back and forth at the edge of the land is an engine of life, mixing air with water, stirring saltwater with fresh, mixing together and grinding up life, redistributing nutrients and lying bare new areas for colonization by new life. The saltwater spray soaks sand dunes and nearby soil, coating nearby leaves, and limiting what life can thrive to those species which can take the salt, a harsh drying mineral. As you back away from the bluff and beach, each yard gets less salty, less windy, and less harsh. The plants at the bluff edge have evolved to be nearly flat but just a bit back the same species is short, but upright. Way away from the coast, a species that was ½” tall at the bluffs is 5′ tall in the understory of an oak forest. Seeds grown from each population of those plants will produce plants that are similarly flat, short, or tall. The forces of the ocean drive individual species’ genetic diversity while forming more macro habitat diversity.
A windy north-facing dune face has short mostly perennial vegetation with an understory of moss and ferns to remind us of the cool, sunless moisture. A south-facing dune slope has taller, more drought resistant plants – more flowers, many annual plants. The slightest depressions in dunes and adjacent grass- and shrub-lands are moister and less windy; the slightest elevation gets more wind and is drier. A 6″ elevation difference profoundly influences what plants grow where on the flat terraces behind the windswept bluffs. Those differences have been levelled off in farm fields focused on agricultural production as well as in developed urban areas. Unfortunately, this precious ocean interface has been largely obliterated by humans.
Trampling at the ocean-beach interface, trails through the dunes and bluffs, roads and trails as close as possible to the bluffs, housing with nearby ocean views, agriculture where houses have yet to be built. All those well-known human activities have obliterated this biotically rich interface.
Walking and Thinking
Whenever anyone visits me from far away, the ocean-beach-bluff interface is where we want to go. There are legions of humans that rarely get to experience the beauty of our beaches or the wonder of our bluffs. As we hike bluff trails, I see a wide swath of bare ground underfoot, right where I would otherwise look for the most interesting plant life. On the inland edge of the trail, where the trampling peters out, less frequent foot traffic maintains a level of disturbance that fosters interesting plant diversity. Here I find 5 species of showy red, purple, and yellow native clovers, unusual bright white popcorn flowers, fluffy lavender annual paintbrush, dainty native dandelions, and many more species. Further from the trail still, where few ever tread, the plant diversity plummets: a few tall shrubs or a sea of a handful of grass species. This is a good place to see the effects of varying disturbance regimes and to dream of what is best for species conservation.
On the oceanward side of the trail, too perilous for most people to step, there is a different array of native diversity. Yellow-orange fiddleneck flowers twine with seaside daisy, large-leaved strawberry plants, mat-forming perennial lupines, flat-growing meadow barley and brome grass, and the white-sappy-sticky buds of bright yellow flowering gumweed. In that narrow strip, I regularly count 25 showy native plant species in a hundred feet of walking. Soon, those plants will have nowhere to go, as the ocean chisels the soil from under them and the trampling prevents them from migrating inland.
The Wide, Flat First Terrace
Outside of the trail edge and out into the few ‘pristine’ native places near the coast, unmanaged prairies are a sea of weeds. On a tour with conservationists recently, I sensed surprise that such places needed management attention. A subsequent hike across the old growth (untilled) prairie north of Año Nuevo illustrated how some types of prescribed burns can help some native plant species proliferate- there were huge patches of tiny blue native iris, grand displays of white native hyacinth, and other wildflowers all integrated into a complex tapestry of native grasses, sedges, and rushes. Bumblebees, long-horned bees, and a wealth of native pollinators bounced between flowers. That’s what the west side Santa Cruz and the expansive brussels sprout fields used to look like.
As much as we ‘know’ about the terrible impacts to the ocean-beach-bluff interface, we are doing little to correct the situation. We know that sea level rise is accelerating with climate change. We understand that armoring (sea walls, tide gates, levees, and the like) are not viable solutions to the sea level rise crisis. Public parks managers are aware that recreational use of the ocean interface zone poses grave threats to increasingly endangered wildlife and plants. Conservationists all agree that the natural, intact habitats on California’s first ocean terrace are critically imperiled, having been almost entirely eradicated by development. This knowledge provides a rich opportunity for restoration solutions, if only there was any kind of leadership.
As our society retreats from sea level rise, “green infrastructure” IS the solution. Ecological restoration of the ocean-beach-bluff zone is the only sustainable way to address accelerating sea level rise. The beautiful salt and wind resistant native plant species found in the few remaining natural areas of the bluffs and beaches provide the template for the restoration we need. However, hikers and bikers are literally trampling those templates to death across the entire length of California’s coast. The seeds of plants adapted to this critical habitat are disappearing under foot and tire. Tragically, the California Coastal Commission, which would be the natural lead in protecting these few remaining areas, is increasingly providing pressure to increase visitor use and the consequent negative impacts that recreational access brings.
In a parallel situation, the brackish water species that inhabit the far reaches of our lagoons and estuaries are the same ones that we will rely on to keep the salty ocean water from flooding into every low-lying place along the coast. Those backwaters have largely been destroyed: Highway 1 on the North Coast obliterated the back portions of every lagoon – Laguna and Lidell Creeks, San Vicente Creek, and many others. Agriculture cuts deep into these low-lying brackish areas, destroying soils and habitats of the back of the Elkhorn, Tembladero, and Moro Cojo Sloughs. We need to learn how to restore the plants and plant communities in those systems, which are essential at moderating the combination of outgoing freshwater flooding and incoming tidal surge waters, which would otherwise erode massive new channels, carrying sea level rise further inland into built areas and across low-lying agricultural fields.
Stop the Stomp
You can mainly address much of what I mention above through voting for candidates that talk about facilitating “managed retreat” and “green infrastructure” solutions to sea level rise. But, you can also help by pressuring managers to better address recreational use of the beaches and bluffs. If you live in Santa Cruz, there are active discussions about the bluff erosion along West Cliff: are there any politicians talking about long term solutions, managed retreat, and green infrastructure…or, are they just passing the inevitable exorbitant costs to future generations? Your vote matters there or wherever you live- these issues are pervasive.
If you visit parks along the coast, notice how they are managed at the precious ocean-beach-bluff interface. In the last month, I have encountered two people that have reported problems to parks managers. In one case, parks maintenance personnel bulldozed and added gravel to an ocean-side trail, obliterating wetlands occupied by photo documented endangered California red-legged frogs. In another case, an individual reported parks maintenance personnel driving through saturated soils, degrading endangered coastal prairie habitat and associated wetlands. We need to pressure managers to move ocean-side bluff trails away from the bluffs to allow for the expansion and migration of coastal bluff vegetation. Agricultural fields on parkland need likewise to retreat. Oceanside trails should never be graveled, paved, or otherwise hardened. If you care about these things, let’s make some noise! It is high time that State, County, and City Parks create restoration plans for this critical life zone, and those plans should work out solutions to recreational impacts that prioritize conservation.
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: www.greyhayes.net
Email Grey at email@example.com
Lots of people seem to be thinking that we are caught inside a “doom loop,” or maybe several different kinds of doom loops! An explanation of what it means to be caught in a “doom loop” can be provided as follows: Things are bad, and are getting worse. Everything bad that happens makes some other bad things happen, so the doom gets darker, and the doom gets deeper, and catastrophe ultimately ensues.
A “doom loop” signifies that a possible catastrophe will become an inevitable catastrophe. Things are bad. We’re in a “doom loop,” and doom results. You get the picture! That “doom loop” thinking appears to be going around.
The diagram above shows how the Euro-zone is heading towards an economic disaster. The discussion that accompanies this “doom loop” diagram references an article in The Economist.
To provide another example, the San Francisco Chronicle has been speculating about the future of the City’s downtown. That future is being described in the following terms: “Can San Francisco dodge a ‘doom loop’?”
The San Jose Mercury News has the same concern, with its article titled, “Bay Area exodus: Wealthy resident departures worsen ‘doom loop’ fears.”
New York Times columnist David Brooks is also worried by the “doom loop” phenomenon: “My greatest fear,” he says, “is that we’ve entered a distrust doom loop: People are so untrusting of their institutions and their neighbors that they are unwilling to reach out, to actively renew their communities and their country, and so the dysfunction will continue, and the distrust will increase, and so on and so on.”
Vox, an online magazine, has written about the future of public transportation, and Vox is at least trying to think positively, and to find some way out – some way to escape the “doom loop” they see coming. A recent article is titled, “How to save America’s public transit systems from a doom spiral.”
In the Silicon Valley, where you might expect to hear applause when a major new technology is created, people are not, apparently, all that happy about the deployment of the newest A.I. chatbots. “Catastrophic thinking” seems to be prevailing, with all the characteristics of a “doom loop.” At least, that is what David Wallace-Wells is reporting. Wallace-Wells is the author of The Uninhabitable Earth, and it’s pretty easy to discern a characteristic set of “doom loop” circumstances in his report on global warming.
I am quite familiar with the “doom loop” phenomenon – and also with its antidote. I still vividly remember my first exposure to a discussion that opened my eyes to the phenomenon known as “circular and cumulative causation.” I found out about it when I was an undergraduate student, at Stanford University. More or less by chance, I picked up a slim little book by a Swedish economist, Gunnar Myrdal – who was, by the way, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. The title of the book I am talking about is Economic Theory And Under-Developed Regions. That book was published in 1957, and I believe it is now out of print. I value the copy I have! Myrdal makes clear that the phenomenon he describes can operate in both directions. His book was about how to stimulate economic development in underdeveloped regions. His prescription was just like a “doom loop,” but moving in the opposite, and positive, direction. Start doing good things! Everything good that happens means more good things can and will happen, and….. Voilà!
My understanding of reality postulates that we live, most immediately, in a “human world,” and that this human world is created by our own actions. Nothing is inevitable in the world we create. “Doom,” specifically, is not inevitable. It is quite possible that “doom” may eventuate, but “doom loops” are not self-generating or self-sustaining. We can observe what has happened in the past, and what is happening now (and we may well be able to take measurements within a real, and growing, “doom loop,” and see that such a “doom loop” is in progress). However, the continued progress of the “doom loops” we discern is not preordained. Description is not destiny. The reality we create – the reality that eventually precipitates itself from our past and current actions – will ultimately depend on what we do, and the actions we take. “Possibility” (including both good and bad possibilities) is the commanding category for the world in which we most immediately live. “Inevitability” is not!
Because that is true, and because the principle of circular and cumulative causation can operate in both directions, our future is never “predictable.” Something new and revolutionary may occur, and that can break any “doom loop” whose progress we may be observing.
When we start hearing about all sorts of “doom loops” (as we currently are), we need to begin charting new set of processes that can change the direction of the processes now underway – the ones taking us towards “doom.”
Because we tend to see ourselves, mostly, as “observers,” as opposed to seeing ourselves as “actors,” the “doom loops” that we construct in our minds, based on the accurate observations we make, seem to take on the quality of reality itself.
However, this mistakes our actual situation. The processes that result in the realities we inhabit are always “loops,” because the realities we inhabit are all the product of some type of circular and cumulative causation. So, let’s not be fooled. The “doom loops” we observe are not “inevitabilities.” They may seem like it, but that’s not an accurate perception of where we really are. “Observers,” when that is all they do, find themselves trapped in the “loops” they see around them, whether those “loops” are doom-tinged or benign. Forget the “doom loops,” at least insofar as you are tempted to think them as defining some sort of inevitable reality that is coming for us.
Action is the antidote.
Let’s do what we need to do to start those “loops” turning in a positive direction. “Possibility,” not “inevitability” is the nature of the reality we actually inhabit. Mesmerized by our “greatest fear,” to use the words of David Brooks, we may forget, as we watch those “doom loops” spiral, that we can take an action that will change the world.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
LIFE IS HARD AND OTHER DESASTERS ON THE HILL WE CLIMB
Life is hard as we all know, and it has been really hard for the extreme members of the US Extreme Court of late. Poor welfare queen Clarence Thomas has been pounded for weeks about his acceptance of largesse by his benefactor Harlan Crow, who incidentally, is terribly fond of mama Thomas’ home cooking…worth millions. Not to mention associate-justice-pro-tem and co-conspirator Ginni Thomas who simply smiles as her coffers are filled quietly, out of sight from the IRS and other prying eyes. But poor Chief Justice Roberts is in such torment over what he described in a speech to the American Law Institute as his most difficult career decision to date – in eighteen years of jurisprudence on the high court! The institute, established in 1923 to promote the simplification and clarification of US common law, is a research and advocacy group for judges, lawyers and legal scholars as it seeks to interpret our changing social needs. We can only imagine that the attendees were all ears, grasping the edges of their seats as they awaited Roberts’ revelation regarding his tough decision. We can also imagine the air hissing out of the cracks and crevices of the room as he voiced his pious, preachy, priggish pangs of anguish over…having to erect fences and barricades around the court building following the invalidation of Roe v Wade! And, how about the Greek Chorus of Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett, and Thomas whining away behind the curtain giving him sustenance to carry on with his, and their, victimhood, lamenting the disregard for their entitlement of respect? The egotistical whining, the pompous, high and mighty conceit reminds us of what President Harry Truman called ‘Potomac Fever,’ which he defined as a “prevalent, ludicrous Washington disease characterized by a swelling of the head to abnormal proportions.”
As Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC’s The Last Word, and Bocha Blue writing in The Palmer Report were quick to point out, the court certainly has no concern over how many women have died or have fallen into the cracks of an uncaring medical system since their betrayal in reversing Roe. Both critics brought up the case of the ten year-old Ohio rape victim who had to cross state lines into Indiana for an abortion because medical professionals in her state were fearful of the government’s wrath had they accommodated her. Carrying to term a rapists baby is one thing, but for a pre-teen? This is so messed up! Indiana obstetrician-gynecologist Caitlin Bernard was eventually reprimanded and fined $3000 for publicly speaking about the case and violating the patient’s privacy, though she had not provided any identifying details and had complied with all laws. Volumes of women’s appalling horror stories could already be written in the short time since the court’s disastrous decision, and it can’t get any better with this whiny bunch of unsupervised, unfettered lifers who Truman would have hated. A Texas woman during a miscarriage developed sepsis, but was still unable to get medical attention; and, a miscarrying woman in Oklahoma was told to “go sit in the parking lot until you bleed out,” before help would be available. A good start for the Extremes lies in coming up with a code of conduct, written in conjunction with the two other branches of government…seems the justices can only hold a pen to endorse checks, or their lame decisions. With this hard-hearted bunch who don’t grasp the real world, they should heed the advice of one who said, “Don’t bother walking a mile in my shoes. That would be boring. Spend thirty-seconds inside my head. That should freak you right out!”
Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis finally pulled the trigger in announcing his GOP presidential bid, detonating a flurry of laughter on both sides of the political aisle as his Twitter Spaces feed with Elon Musk fell apart with technical glitches…designated a ‘DeSaster‘ by the multitudes. In trying to out-Trump Trump, he is succeeding in that everything he touches turns to pyrite. Conspiracy theorist and goofball of note, Musk, was the designated conversationalist, with moderator David Sacks, a Sean Spicer wannabe, leading the charge to persuade the masses in this first-of-its-kind campaign intro to join this rambling culture warrior in his sinking crusade. Mickey, Minnie and Goofy are yipping it up on the new ‘It’s A Small-Minded World Ride,’ with certainty. And, Musk may be having second thoughts about rehiring all the competent Twitter personnel he fired…umm, not a chance…it was simply the chocolate pudding-coated control board, hardly a failed rocket launch! Steve Schmidt writes in his ‘The Warning’ blog, that in listening to this drivel, “I’ll be honest, my mind wandered during the event, particularly as DeSantis read his stump speech sitting next to Musk and Sacks in Twitter headquarters. I was overwhelmed by an intrusive thought that placed me in the middle of the ocean on a boat with these three, surrounded by hungry sharks. It was an easy choice. I jumped in.” Steve goes on to say, “What the debacle demonstrated is that Ron DeSantis isn’t a contender, but rather a clown. His $200 million in campaign cash isn’t enough to overcome his narrative of pugilistic incompetence, weirdness and disdain for people. Ron DeSantis has imploded. It’s already over. By the way, has anyone seen these new photos of the Titanic?”
Donald Trump, Jr. launched his attack on DeSantis, in defense of his father, calling the Florida governor “nasally and effeminate” during his Twitter blast with Musk. However, it took a bad turn for the Former Guy when Junior got the names mixed up and misread the script by saying, “Trump has the personality of a mortician, and the energy that makes Jeb Bush look like an Olympian.” Hee-hee!
Governor Ron DeSantis‘ ‘runnin’ up that road, runnin’ up that hill’ toward a presidential bid, gets uglier everyday as he attempts to “Make America Florida.” As a result of his book-bashing fascism, the poem written by Amanda Gorman for President Biden’s 2021 inauguration, “The Hill We Climb,” was removed from the elementary section of a Miami-Dade public school and placed in the middle school section after a one-person complaint and a subsequent school review. The complaint reads, “It is not educational and have [sic] indirectly hate messages, and the poem could cause confusion and indoctrinate students.” Complainer Daily Salinas, a Cuban whose first language is Spanish, later issued a bizarre apology for antisemitic Facebook posts, assuring us that she “loves the Jewish community” and watches an Israeli series on Netflix. She has also challenged books on Black and Cuban history, which the school relocated for older student access. She had to be removed from a school board meeting for protesting approved sex education books. Oh, and Salinas has been photographed at several Proud Boys rallies, in addition to having ties to an extremist Christian group…the list goes on for just a simple, ordinary citizen, nothing to see here. The first-ever Youth Poet Laureate, Gorman, 22 years old when she read her composition, was partly inspired by the J6 Insurrection, and said she was “gutted” to discover this censorship. “I wrote “The Hill We Climb” so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment. Ever since, I’ve received countless letters and videos from children inspired to write their own poems,” she wrote. “Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.”
Following his campaign launch flame-out, DeSantis reported a “record $8.2 million fundraising windfall in the first 24 hours” after his announcement…the truth being that his people held a separate fundraising event after the Twitter debacle. That money is included within the $8.2M, so who knows how much was actually raised by each function…only DeRon knows! But, not record-setting…just more GOP/DeSantis fakery. Bill Palmer in his ‘Palmer Report’ says, “He spent all of 2021 and 2022 sitting on the sidelines and letting the mainstream media build him up as some super-savvy, super-disciplined, more charismatic and less prickly version of Donald Trump. Then he finally hit the national stage over the past couple of months, and he’s turned out to be an erratic dimwit whose personality ranges from nonexistent to just plain weird.” Palmer believes the media will continue to milk DeSantis for their own ratings, after all, it’s a cash cow for them. If they allow him to become a punchline now, it’s all over for him, so they will prop him up for now and get ratings later if it comes to punching him in the face. Ronno’s poll numbers have now cratered to half of the original numbers from two months ago, so Palmer thinks he is toast unless he can figure out how to discard the Ron DeSantis persona.
Donald Trump and RonDe, being populist politicians, are bullies by nature, but DeSantis is pretty much alone as a visibly relentless, gutless example. He is proud of his acts of far-right cruelty all for show to his followers…he really doesn’t care about any of it, and fears talking about his ‘accomplishments’ before audiences who might care. He won’t share his gutless use of the powers he holds such as attacking LGBTQ+ children, or their teachers, professors, parents who speak out against him, yet he panders to his base with his fake bravery. DeSantis could take some advice from Senators Rubio and Cruz who learned cowardice in their runs for the presidency after meeting up with a name-calling, blundering blowhard in 2016, but he’s simply a coward, evidently comfortable in running from his own shadow.
The NAACP has issued a travel advisory against traveling to Florida as a response to policies initiated by DeSantis that are discriminatory and anti-Black. Most of these policies have received much press coverage, but one of the most dastardly, underhanded plans is the enticement to relocate to Florida, directed toward cops who have histories of excessive violence, and have been cast aside by other jurisdictions. Since initiation of this program, several cops have been arrested for criminality –kidnapping and murder – not to mention their trademark use of excessive violence. DeSantis’ recently signed law, “License to Discriminate,” supposedly to allow healthcare providers and insurers to deny patient care on the basis of religious, moral or ethical beliefs. But who’s to say that it doesn’t also include injuries suffered in an accident if one is ‘driving while Black?’
Many are saying that Casey DeSantis is the driving force behind her husband’s campaign, an indomitable woman some have designated as ‘Lady Macbeth.’ She is said to be more ambitious than Ron, and has a taste for vengeance, never forgetting a slight. A former journalist, she is a breast cancer survivor, who it is said makes her husband more antisocial when she is present, being a standout when they are together on stage. But no matter what she does or how she comes across, Bocha Blue says, “She will never be able to change Ron from a charmless, miserable man into a charismatic candidate.”
In the midst of all this craziness, we can take some comfort as the Justice Department is wrapping up some significant prosecutions and handing out sentences to J6 insurrectionists, most notably, that of Oath Keeper Stewart Rhodes. He was found guilty in November and was handed an 18-year term, the longest prison sentence for a Capitol riot leader to date. Rhodes wasn’t actually in DC at that time, but was found to be instrumental in planning and assembling the mob responsible for that day’s destruction, and obstruction of Congress‘ duties. Two other Oath Keepers received sentences of eight years and six months, and four years as a jury acquitted them of the seditious conspiracy charges.
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: email@example.com.
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 TimEagan.com you will find his most recent Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.
“Drones can be useful tools, and I am all about useful tools. One of my mottos is ‘the right tool for the right job”.’
“Drones overall will be more impactful than I think people recognize, in positive ways to help society”.
“Drones are just another weapon, and they turn out to be a very effective weapon that puts no American troops at risk, and I don’t see why we shouldn’t use them against identified enemy targets”.
“Two days after the Boston marathon bombings, there was a drone strike in Yemen attacking a peaceful village, which killed a target who could very easily have been apprehended. But, of course, it is just easier to terrorise people. The drones are a terrorist weapon; they not only kill targets but also terrorise other people”.
I know we did some Ann-Margret a little while back. Well, I just read an interview with her where she said that Kristen Wiig did a perfect impersonation of her on SNL. Watch the video; I think you’ll agree…
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