Blog Archives

November 10 – 16, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Threat to our  Monterey Bay district representation, movie critiques, Live Here Now. GREENSITE…on how new projects gain acceptance. KROHN…Pandemic and time, closed businesses, camping ban, murals, closing streets, council zoom sessions, empty homes tax. STEINBRUNER…Soquel Creek Water district loses motion, Soquel parking fees gone, Kaiser Med project issues, redistricting county, supervisor’s priorities. HAYES…Coast Live Oak Woodlands. PATTON…Losing the thread. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover.  QUOTES…”Veterans Day”

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 PACIFIC AND LINCOLN STREETS 1953 at 5:45 P.M. That’s now the Om Gallery where we see PEP Fountain Candies. The Bank of America became New Leaf Market and these wide streets became narrow and more populated.                                               

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE November 8

DANGEROUS THREATS TO OUR DISTRICT REPRESENTATION. Plans are afoot to radically change the State Assembly and Senate district maps. We would be under new jurisdiction based in the same districts as San Francisco and northern cities. It would be goodbye to Senator John Laird and Assembly member Mark Stone. We’d lose connection with our Monterey Bay neighbors. Santa Cruz City Council person Justin Cummings released a statement that should be memorized and followed. Yes he’s running for Ryan Coonerty’s Supervisor seat, and it shows he’s on top of things. He wrote…

“On October 27, 2021 the California Citizens Redistricting Committee released their preliminary Congressional, Assembly and Senate legislative redistricting maps for the state of California and the lines being drawn for the City of Santa Cruz are extremely troubling to say the least.  The current congressional district 20 provides the City of Santa Cruz with representation that covers the Monterey Bay Area.  The new district (VCD_GREATERSA_1027) would exclude the City of Santa Cruz from having representatives that have an influence on the Monterey Bay.  Similar to the changes to the Congressional District, our current state Senate boundaries (District 17) includes all of the cities that share Monterey Bay, while the future lines (VSD_PENINSULA_1027 and VSD_SCOAST_1027) would split the representation for the Monterey Bay Area.  Finally, similar to the new Congressional District proposal, the new Assembly proposal would also remove Santa Cruz from the district that has the most influence on decision making for the Monterey Bay.

The City of Santa Cruz shares the Monterey Bay area with the many other coastal cities along its shores and there is no justification for why the City of Santa Cruz should be removed from Congressional and Assembly Districts that have an influence over one of our greatest natural treasures and for why our senate district should split the Monterey Bay Area into two districts.  I would like to urge you all to write letters and encourage your governing bodies to do the following: 

  • Oppose the new considerations for Senate districts VSD_PENINSULA_1027 and VSD_SCOAST_1027 that split the Monterey Bay Area into two separate districts and draw lines that ensure that all cities that share the Monterey Bay are in the same district.
  • Oppose the new redistricting considerations for Congressional District VCD_GREATERSA_1027 and Assembly District VAD_SMATEO_1027 that exclude the City of Santa Cruz from the Monterey Bay Area and draw new districts that ensure that all cities that share the Monterey Bay are in the same Congressional and Assembly Districts.  

Santa Cruz is fortunate to have representatives that have long fought for the preservation of the Monterey Bay and we have had a long history of working with cities and counties in our region to preserve our natural environment.  Removing the City of Santa Cruz from the Congressional and Assembly Districts, and splitting the Senate District, that represent the Monterey Bay will only make decision making and lobbying for the Monterey Bay area more difficult and we must tell the redistricting committee NO on the currently proposed maps and demand that cities that share the Monterey Bay be included in the same district.  I would also like to urge elected officials to place an item on the agenda at the earliest convenience to oppose the new districts as well.  To view the current and proposed Congressional, Assembly, and Senate maps, please visit We Draw the Lines or see the maps below.  If you visit the website you can click on the current and proposed map options to see how the maps will change.  To voice your opposition please visit https://www.wedrawthelinesca.org/contact  and please share this broadly”.

Ask him any questions about this here: Cummings for Supervisor: Why am I running?

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.

SPENCER. (Del Mar Theatre Single). (7.2 IMDB). I hope someone asks filmmakers when they will do a film about Princess Diana’s mysterious and largely unsolved death in that tunnel!!! Spencer is a “fable” about Diana’s worst problems: her bulimia, her self-cutting, her purposeful fall down stairs, and even more bad escapes from her sad reality. Kristen Stewart and Timothy Spall do absolutely magnificent jobs in their roles and Stewart is being promoted as a big-time Academy award winner.

LAND. (HBO MAX SERIES). (6.6 IMDB). Robin Wright is back as the star and director of this lonely woman saga. The woman has a sad background that we only find out near the end and takes to the woods and a cabin in the very remote mountains of Wisconsin. She faces suicide and makes friends with a fine gentleman who helps her stay alive. Terribly dramatic, almost purposeless, but so scenically created that you’ll have a good time watching it. 

FINCH. (APPLE SINGLE).(7.0 IMDB). The always enjoyable Tom Hanks is back as the last man on an earth that was destroyed by radiation. He’s a former tech guy who only has two robots and a dog to keep him company. It’s corny, very familiar and predictable, and even has a tornado that looks straight out of Oz!! Watch it when you need a diversion, you’ll smile a lot.

THE HARDER THEY FALL. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (88RT) (6.0 IMDB). It’s unique in “filmdom” to have an all-Black cast in a western. This should be classified as a parody of our earlier Hollywood cowboy movies. Idris Elba and Delroy Lindo lead the typical western plot with gold pistols, dramatic music, and plenty of motherfuckers shouted about. It happens in Salinas, Texas, and what they call Redwood City. But its bloody, violent, brutal murders take place in a fake and foolish Hollywood-style village that we’ve seen in dozens of earlier westerns. I have to mention too that the characters sometimes break out singing which adds to the odd direction of this mess. 

COME AWAY. (PRIME VIDEO SINGLE). (29RT). Almost a Disney copy of Peter Pan meets Alice in Wonderland. Stars such as Angelina Jolie (now just 46) joins with Derek Jacobi, David Oyelowo and Michael Caine but it doesn’t make this worth watching unless you’re under six years old. It has little charm, no new ideas, and the British accents sound phony.

THE TIME IT TAKES. (NETFLIX SERIES). There are ten episodes in this series and …warning…each episode is only 13 minutes long. That means credits, data, details each time you get involved. It’s about a woman and her boyfriend and their couple’s therapy and how their lives change every 13 minutes. It’s odd, unusual, and flips back and forth from past to present yes, every 13 minutes. Try it and see if it’s your cup of tea.

 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, 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.  

FEVER DREAM. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (5.3 IMDB). (70RT). An intense drama with a mother whose son has serious issues. Mom has a good woman friend who adds to the complexity of the “family’ she tries to create. There’s horse breeding and a witch doctor and even near monsters to add to this slow-moving but attention-keeping drama. Watch it. 

THE FOUR OF US. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (5.3IMDB). Basically, this is a German movie involving switching partners. Two couples who have lived together in the past rent a place for a weekend and we watch while they mostly argue. There are a few laughs/smiles and it will make you think about your former affairs…no matter what or how they evolved. There’s vomit and testicle scenes if that helps you decide. 

ARMY OF THIEVES. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (70RT)Fans and followers of Wagner’s Ring Cycle operas will enjoy this clever, witty, and well-produced safe cracker saga. Taking place in Munich and ending in Las Vegas these brainy, dedicated thieves make a good, fun, and funny comedy. Hans Zimmer did the music so it has extra class, and I almost forgot that it’s a prequel to Army of the Dead and indeed does contain zombies. 

HYPNOTIC. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (31RT). A very predictable soapy drama about a woman who gets tricked by a hypnotherapist. You can guess the rest…it’s that unimaginable! He tricks her into everything you’d guess at and it takes place in Portland. Sex, violence, past lives, and exploiting our normally worst fears under hypnosis. 

THE FRENCH DISPATCH. (DEL MAR THEATRE). Wes Anderson movies have many fans, many very dedicated fans…I’m not one. Dozens of movie stars are in this drab comedy and as usual, Anderson makes both open and hidden references to “intellectual” stuff in our lives. Mostly it’s The New Yorker magazine that receives his sly opinions and he delivers it in departments like the New Yorker does. Anderson enthusiasts are divided on this one, I’m not.

SETTLERS. (HULU SINGLE).(4.7 IMDB). This one starts off and ends with a family plus a friend or two who have been living on Mars. Earth has destroyed itself and these loners face the fears of being alone forever. The dad dies and mom has the problem of dealing with the only man left to help her raise her daughter. Then too there’s a robot named Steve who has more personality than the family does. It’s a hackneyed plot that could have taken place on earth because there’s no back story development.

THE UNBELIEVABLE. (HULU SINGLE). A terrible invasion from unknown sources invades and kills thousands of folks in Stockholm, Sweden. A mean-tempered dad who can’t get along with his son is driven to great extremes to protect his community. The many backflips in time have his son as a talented pianist with deep problems. Who or what is it that is doing the attacking? Go for it…good suspense.

STUCK TOGETHER. (NETFLIX SINGLE). A definitely French and flimsy comedy set in very contemporary Paris. So contemporary that everyone wears masks and deals with Covid issues. It’s the only film I’ve seen that makes fun with the pandemic problems. Not funny haha but funny peculiar!!

THE ANGEL OF AUSCHWITZ. (PRIME SINGLE). Such a sensitive subject that should create deep compassion but this movie is a complete flop. Poor acting, IMDB viewers hated it and I only watch 27 minutes of it. The flimsy plot concerns a midwife taken from a Camp hospital and sent to work at Auschwitz. Do not watch this failure.

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NEW MUSIC WORKS. The New Music Works are back with their 43rd season and their next concert is Saturday, November 13 at 2 p.m. in the Heart of Soquel Park and it’s free to the public!!! Phil Collins is the music Director and Tandy Beal is the choreographic Conjurer. They’ll perform Terry Riley’s Minimalist Masterwork. Go to www.newmusicworks.org for necessary details 

CONCERT CANCELLED!! SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FESTIVAL. They’ll perform a special Beethoven’s 250th Birthday Fundraiser on Sunday November 14 at 3 p.m. It’s a historically informed performance on period instruments (in person) and will be in UCSC’s Music Recital Hall. Go to P.O.Box 482 or call 457-9693.

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November 8, 2021

Pictured above is yet another significant project slated for downtown. This time it’s a hotel, 6 stories with 228 rooms plus ground-floor retail, banquet room, conference room, restaurant and bar. Note the fore-grounded people to trick the eye as to its scale. It will be called Cruz Hotel although you could be forgiven for thinking the partly covered lettering spells Crud.

It requires the demolition of the building that houses the Community Credit Union as well as six other lots combined to accommodate the new building’s footprint. The Credit Union sold the building to the developer, over the objections of many Credit Union members of which I am not one. Some feel this site should be for housing and not a hotel. I don’t find that argument compelling. There are numerous 6 and 7 story mixed-use buildings (housing plus retail) either being built, approved for building or in the planning stages for downtown. Housing doesn’t generate much revenue for the city while in good economic times, hotels do. I oppose this building as yet another generic project erasing the feel, character and sense of place that the Santa Cruz community consistently says it wants to preserve. The zoom meeting for this project is November 16th from 6-7:30 PM.

Sunday I biked along the San Lorenzo River levee to and from the bench lands, the site of the city-managed houseless camp. Once a week under the leadership of the indefatigable Jane Mio, a small group of houseless residents, Downtown Streets Team and community members, work for two hours along the edge of the river removing trash, collecting sharps and hacking away the invasive vines that choke the river willows. It’s rewarding work and an opportunity to get to know a few of the better functioning members of the houseless community. Many others are barely functioning. Most are drug-addicted. Despite the availability of dumpsters, trash is everywhere.

On my ride home I again encountered a number of tents and their inhabitants on the inside levee, right where the Crud Hotel is planned. These tents are not city-managed and are unsanctioned. I was forced off the levee path because a resident was moving house as in relocating two mattresses further along the path. From the outside looking in the scene was one of despair and filth although a woman at the bottom of the levee, squatting against the Community Credit Union building, surrounded by garbage, waved as I rode by.

I have asked city department heads why this situation cannot be improved, as in better for the houseless, better for the housed, better for community health and better for the environment. There is space in the city-sanctioned bench lands camp, although that will be eradicated with winter storms and a rising river with no Plan B. in sight. I get vague answers such as “we can’t force them to move.” My answer is “yes you can!” I have a hunch as to the real reason.

The more run-down an area appears, the more tents, garbage and strung out inhabitants there are, the more appealing the new developments are viewed. This was true for La Bahia, which the Seaside Company allowed to fall into disrepair and some people, including some council members at the time predictably noted it needed replacement because it was an eyesore.

For years I wondered why the city was allowing Front Street to fall into disrepair with cracked and dirty sidewalks and struggling uncared for trees having replaced a previous avenue of beautiful red flowering Corymbias. Now I know why. Front Street will be spiffed up with a line of 70-80 feet tall big projects, the new hotel being just one of many.

Allowing the lower San Lorenzo River to become a rodent-filled, trashed, houseless encampment with no rules or standards creates the perfect context for welcoming the upscale new projects with as few dissenters as possible. It’s the new business-model. Expect to see more of this trend as the plan to extend the downtown area south of Laurel starts to take shape.

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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November 8, 2021

BIG CHANGES DURING THE PANDEMIC

The V.I. Lenin Time Machine
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin once mused that there are decades in which nothing happens…and then, there are weeks where decades happen. Sometimes I feel the pandemic has yielded up such a time machine in which decades have simply flown by in a matter of 18 months. So many changes to consider in Surf City. Some occurred when few of us were paying attention, but the tree (and bulldozer) does make a sound even when we cannot yet hear it.

Closed Businesses
Perhaps nothing before or since the 1989 earthquake has so devastated Pacific Avenue business life than Covid-19. Pick a favorite downtown business, anyone, and it has likely succumbed. In just one block the cupcake place next to Peet’s Coffee is gone; Peet’s too is vacant now and so is the Palace Arts store on the other side of Pete’s. Regal’s Cinema Nine is no more, but another, Santa Cruz Cinema, has moved in. It was not a good pandemic for brewpubs either. The Poet and Patriot, 99Bottles, Rosie McCann’s, and a newer one, Pour Tap Room, all made swift exits. I doubt few are missing Starbucks, good riddance, especially with the Coffee Roasting Company right across the street. Lost to construction were Taco Bell, Santa Cruz Glass, and the old Community TV offices. Pre-pandemic losses downtown were already mounting and include Benten Japanese restaurant, Logos bookstore, Tampicos restaurant, Noah’s Bagels, Andy’s Auto Supply, Game-Alot, Marini’s chocolates, Joe’s Pizza, and the eclectic Cafe Pergolesi. It’s a lot to take in. Luckily, the Del Mar Theater is back, and I hear the Nickelodeon is on its way back too. Some corporate entities found a way to survive though, led by Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, and The Gap. Go figure.

The Camping Ban
Chapter 6.36, Camping Services and Standards, of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code has been a point of contention for at least a couple of decades, until it recently wasn’t. A San Jose judge ordered that campers in the Benchlands not be moved during the Covid pandemic because it would subject them to increased risk of obtaining the virus. Most political observers never thought this day would come to pass in Santa Cruz, but it did. Allowing local residents to sleep outside is nothing anyone is necessarily proud of, but it does acknowledge that human beings have a right to sleep and that sleeping should not be deemed a criminal act. The same judge has since ruled in favor of the Santa Cruz city attorney’s multiple pleas to exercise police powers to move campers whenever the city manager wishes. So far, Interim City Manager Rosemary Menard has refrained from ordering campers along the San Lorenzo River and Benchlands area to move, but the same city auspices have cooked up a draconian measure aimed at those living in their vehicles–RVs, cars, and vans. The measure, in fact, is on this week’s city council agenda. Tell the city council how you feel about this latest revamped version of the Chapter 6.36 saga. It’s the “Vehicles and Traffic” ordinance, item 23 on the council agenda.

Murals, Murals Everywhere
Santa Cruz homeboy, Taylor Reinhold, aka Tae Lion, had a homecoming recently and he brought along 24 artist-friends to paint the town, a project called Sea Walls Santa Cruz. They created 19 murals throughout the city of Santa Cruz. Have you noticed? From the front wall of Lenz Arts on River Street to the downtown library parking lot to the parking garage walls of Frazier Lewis Lane (behind Betty’s Burgers and El Palomar), art is everywhere. It’s a wondrous collection of colors and designs to behold. I’ve always dreamed of living in a city of murals and fountains…half a loaf is better, for sure. Take an afternoon, walk around and peruse these works of art…they are big and bold and bursting with bright colors and accompanied by subtle messages about plastic pollution, habitat loss, and endangered species. And what is art without a message? It’s a minor art explosion, but a major step in Santa Cruz continuing to punch above its weight in the art world. Look out Santa Fe, Sedona, and Marfa!

Closing Streets to Cars
For years, loud voices on the street, and some less loud inside of city hall, have clamored for closing Pacific Avenue to cars. Let’s create a pedestrian paradise many bellowed. But business as usual prevailed while frightened business owners and the city manager’s office fretted for the people who would be hampered in driving their car and parking close to downtown establishments. But then came Covid-19 and streets across America have been closing to traffic and opening to pedestrians and diners. Pacific Avenue, between Lincoln and Cathcart Streets, is currently closed to vehicular traffic. There can be no going back. Moving forward must be the reclaiming of even more streets for walkers, joggers, bikers, and baby strollers. Add pedestrian-friendly to the great cities list that includes fountains and murals. The city council will be looking at extending these street closures this week (agenda item 30) Urge them to go even further.

Government in Secret
Santa Cruz city council pandemic “closed sessions” have been longer than any before in recent memory. These closed sessions often see major decisions made before little input is ever heard from the public. Zoom meetings also, does not a democracy make. There are often dropped calls of those waiting long periods to speak to the city council, incorrect zoom addresses, and the inability to display graphics properly. Meeting attendance has also decreased, but how low? No audience member really knows because the number of meeting participants does not appear on the Zoom screen. As other city councils (Hayward, S. San Francisco, Fresno, and Napa) move beyond the pandemic and meet in person, the Santa Cruz City council continues the Zoom farce…who wants the pesky public to get in the way when we have important decisions to make seems to be the “fab five’s” rallying cry. Finally, a motion passed and the council may be having in-person meetings once again at the city council chambers at 801 Center Street. Stay tuned, reportedly the first in-person council meeting will be November 23rd, but the option has been left for council members to still appear at the meeting via Zoom. I wonder which council members will be present in person, and who will keep up the Zoom charade?

Government by Initiative
One of the many reactions to government-by-zoom, besides constituents voting with their eyes and not attending city council Zoom meetings, is the surge in citizen-initiated ballot measures now seeking registered voter signatures. Often, when an empire strikes at the people, the people strike back. The Empty Homes Tax is one measure out there. It seeks to tax second and third homes people own, but do not live in for more than 120 days a year. The tax would be $6000 for single-family homes and $3000 for apartments and condos. The other initiative, Our Downtown, Our Future, takes on many status quo sacred cows, but if it passes it will be a major boon to civic life. The ballot measure sets out a bold agenda including designating downtown city-owned lots as affordable housing sites along with a designated funding stream to build or acquire housing. It also preserves the Farmer’s Market and ten heritage trees where they now stand. In addition, this initiative remodels the downtown library while making it a cornerstone of a real civic plaza. Both measures are looking to be on the Tuesday, November 8, 2022 ballot.

End-note
This just in from The Daily Poster: New York Times has its “Thumb on the Scale.” Nice insightful piece on how to read, and not read, the corporate media.

“That’s the larger point here: This is corporate media culture, not a series of isolated incidents. The Times’s decision to preference and launder Penn’s corporate talking points spotlights how ideology is quietly baked into corporate media — not just through writing, but also through story framing, voice selection, credential washing, and editorial omissions.”


I was utterly amazed to see these flowers growing up through the asphalt on the recently paved Green Street in Santa Cruz. Resilience and resistance, even the flowers are doing it.
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 KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at ckrohn@cruzio.com

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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A SIGH OF RELIEF…JUDGE DENIED SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTICT’S MOTION TO IMPOSE $143,439.57 IN MONETARY SANCTION AGAINST ME
I lost a lot of sleep over the chance that the judge would grant Soquel Creek Water District’s attempt to penalize my legal efforts against their PureWater Soquel Project major modifications without Public Hearings. I nearly cried with joy last week when the judge denied their motion for sanctions because he could find no evidence of bad faith actions.

The Water District customers paid attorneys $32,961.50 to file for sanctions because they claimed my action was frivolous and in bad faith to challenge them regarding their 2020 Project modifications that lacked full environmental analysis and provided no Public Comment period in keeping with the intent of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Although the District is very quick to dismiss the validity of my Pro Per legal challenge, done solely for the Public Benefit and to protect the environment, there are established case decisions that state: “just because a case loses in court, it does not define the action as unreasonable or without merit. The Court must remember that even when the law or the facts appear questionable or unfavorable at the outset, a party may have an entirely reasonable ground for bringing the suit.” [Christanburg Garmaent Co. vs. EECO (1978) 434 US 412, 421-422]

“The courts should not penalize citizens for taking action in their government, as citizens should be encouraged to do.” [White vs. Lee (2000) 227 F3d 1214, 1227]

NO MORE PARKING FEES IN SOQUEL VILLAGE
At a Public Hearing November 9, the County Board of Supervisors will likely approve Resolution 258-2021 will dissolve the Soquel Village Parking Program and all assets, including parking meters acquired for the Program will be sold.

The Legal Notice in the Sentinel included the explanation that the Program never successfully funded it’s own operation.
Here is the County Code relevant to this soon-to-be-defunct Parking Program.: Chapter 9.42 SOQUEL VILLAGE PARKING AND BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT AREA

The reason behind the dissolution is that it was not financially self-sufficient. I think this makes sense, and will be a great improvement for the merchants and customers in Soquel Village, including the park in the Village.

DISAPPOINTING COMMUNITY MEETING ABOUT KAISER MEDICAL PROJECT
The PMB developer held a virtual Community Meeting last week, but failed to really provide meaningful answers to the many excellent questions posed by the public.

How can a project that would include a 730-space parking garage claim to pose no traffic impact on the already-congested Soquel Avenue frontage road? The developer claimed this Project will have no significant CEQA traffic impact because it will actually reduce overall Vehicle Miles Traveled by 20,322 miles per day, because Kaiser patients will no longer have to drive to Gilroy and San Jose for their medical services.

While the developer touted doing Level of Service analysis of many affected intersections that is no longer required for environmental analysis, (but a much more realistic analysis of actual traffic impacts), they never actually discussed what impact the Project would have on the Level of Service to the community (i.e., how much longer will it take to navigate through these intersections with the added traffic?)

They also did not discuss what the Level of Service might be for the NEW TRAFFIC LIGHT they plan to install on Soquel Avenue frontage road, at the entrance to this large Kaiser Medical facility.

The developer confirmed there will be no public transportation to the large medical facility, and feels that elderly and disabled people can just use ParaCruz or LiftLine. That may be helpful for those that qualify, and if those services are even available…it is no simple task to arrange for them and scheduling is limited.

Somehow, the developer plans that most of the customers and staff will ride their bikes to the facility, using the new Chanticleer Pedestrian/Bicycle Overpass that is scheduled to be built in the near future. However, the only sidewalks the developer would install would be on the block of Soquel Avenue fronting the medical facility, and would not connect to the Gross Road neighborhood.

Residents of the Gross Road 225-household neighborhood continued to ask how a traffic diversion that would essentially block access to their own community could possibly solve the traffic nightmare, but got no answers from the developer. Somehow, putting overhead signage in the area will solve the existing congestion that would be exacerbated by the Kaiser Medical traffic.

The developer insisted that adding speed bumps to nearby Maciel Avenue would take care of any cut-through traffic on that quiet residential street, yet the image of the speed bumps in the presentation shows the bumps on Mattison.

As the meeting went forward, the answers got even more vague (“We are working with Public Works on that.” and “We recommend you read our report.”)

What about the loss of affordable housing units that the Project’s rezoning would cause? (“We are following the Sustainable Santa Cruz County Plan.” but the developer failed to acknowledge that the Draft EIR for that Plan has not even been released for public comment.)

Can’t we try a pilot mock-up of that Gross Road diversion now and see if it really works? (“That idea has come up before.”)

Someone asked if Supervisor Manu Koenig were participating in the meeting? If so, he did not make his presence known. However, I was grateful for his help in making sure the developer posted the presentation’s 33 slides on the website before the Community Meeting began, so that those who participated by telephone could also view them. [pdf]

What’s next, now that PMB has checked off the “community meeting” box? The Planning Commission will consider the Project sometime in January, 2022, and the Board of Supervisors will consider approval sometime in the first quarter of next year. Stay tuned, and write your Supervisor.

BOARD OF SUPERVISOR HEARING ON REDISTRICTING THIS TUESDAY

I sincerely advise everyone to watch the video recording of the October 15 ARC 21 Special Meeting

The Board should direct the Advisory Redistricting Commission (ARC 21) to reconvene and continue working on other proposals they felt were important and necessary. The ARC 21 simply had insufficient time after receiving the Census data only on September 20, to complete all recommendations at their October 15, 2021 Special Meeting in order to meet the deadline to send material to the Board of Supervisors for the October 26 public hearing.

These areas include UCSC, the Jewell Box neighborhood in Capitola, and the Beach Road neighborhoods in Watsonville that include Pajaro Dunes. The Commissioners had understood that Assistant County Administrative Officer Elissa Benson would present that sentiment in her staff report to the Board at the Board’s Special Meeting October 26. She didn’t.

The Board merely accepted the recommendations as presented by the CAO, and asked virtually no questions. They instead seemed focused on making no changes.

It was shocking to see that the Commissioner representing District 4 did not feel that the proposed Apple Hill shift recommendation in Watsonville would really benefit the people, but agreed to go along with the other Commissioners to accept it for the sake of moving numbers and getting something done to present to the Board of Supervisors.

It was the Commission’s hope that the Board of Supervisors would direct staff at the October 26 Special Meeting to reconvene the Commission so that they could continue to work on these areas for which they were close to reaching concensus upon, but not quite, given the short amount of time they had been given since officially receiving the Census data on September 20, 2021.

The Commissioners discussed whether or not to include a memorandum outlining the additional work they hoped to continue, but decided not to when the CAO Benson suggested they only include items for which there was concensus, assuring them her report would include the unfinished work and their desires to continue. She did not do this at the October 26 Special Board of Supervisor meeting.

I feel that there has been virtually no public input at the ARC 21 meetings, and that the Board should schedule an additonal meeting for December 7 to adopt final maps, and solicit broader public input.

This option was adopted on June 8 by the Board at staff’s recommendation (Option A: “Two public hearings on November 9th, including one evening public hearing in South County. One public hearing on November 16th. Final public hearing on December 7th to adopt final map”.)

There is absolutely no information at all about the County’s redistricting effort in the Capitola or Downtown public libraries, and the reference librarians could find no information at all in the system.

Finally, I feel the Board needs to understand that the idea to split representation for all four cities was a NEW IDEA presented and adopted only in the 2011 redistricting work, and was not established “two or three decades ago” as staff presented at the October 26 Special Board Meeting.

In 2011, the idea met with significant resistance from City Councils of Scotts Valley and Watsonville, but the plan was adopted anyway. Now the City of Scotts Valley and multiple residents of that city are again requesting that the city’s representation be under one Supervisor. Scotts Valley Mayor Derek Timm submitted a draft map to accomplish that, and Watsonville City representative R. Garcia asked the ARC 21 about this issue at the 9/20/21 Commission meeting.

The Board needs to evaluate whether or not the benefits claimed by splitting these Communities of Interest are really valid, and to seriously review reuniting all four cities such that a city would be represented by a single District Supervisor.

Here is a link to this Tuesday’s November 9 Board hearing, scheduled for 10:45am (Item #11)

Please write your Supervisor with your thoughts.

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS LIST THEIR LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
This Tuesday, the Board is scheduling a Special December 7 meeting with legislators to present their requests for special funding in the coming legislative year.

What are they requesting? Take a look at Item #19 (right after the list of tax-defaulted properties to sell.)

The first request is for $2,600,000 for acquisition of land for a new South County Park that would offer hiking trails, recreational opportunities, and habitat conservation. Hmmmm….

That seems nice, but the problem is that, being adjacent to the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, the land is not anywhere near the City of Watsonville population center, so kids cannot easily get to this park. There is no bus service to help anyone get there, and if you’ve ever experienced the long HIghway 152 traffic jams on weekends in that area associated with the flea market and church services, you too would question why anyone would think it would be a good idea to add even more traffic or to expect kids to ride their bikes to events at the new South County Park. There are no sidewalks anywhere along this busy and dangerous road.

According to another of the legislative requests, Highway 152 and Holohan is one of the busiest intersections in South County, and requires major safety improvments.

Surely, the County can find a better location for a new South County Park that will truly serve the recreational needs of the youth in a way that is realistic for independent transportation.

Why not the large parcel the County already owns on Freedom Boulevard at Crestview Drive? This was teh site of many FEMA trailers after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, offering homes to about 100 households damaged by the tremblor. The County seems to reject using this parcel for anything similar, choosing instead to house COVID transitional youth in trailers at teh Seventh Day Adventist Camp and later at Cabrillo College parking lots. For years, I have aske dthat the County create a community garden space on the very large vacant lot….no response.

So now, why not a Park for South County, and use the requested $2,600,000 to develop the Park, rather than making a developer richer and having no money left to actually do anything on a remotely-located parcel that would not serve the youth well?

Please write Supervisor Greg Caput with your thoughts: Greg Caput [greg.caput@santacruzcounty.us]

What are some other special funding the Supervisors are asking?

  1. SLV WASTEWATER IMPROVEMENTS $2,000,000 for design and planning services, permitting, site acquisition and other needed services for new wastewater system to serve neighborhoods impacted by the CZU Lightning Complex fire. The project would replace aging septic systems with a new wastewater system serving the Boulder Creek community, with a total project cost estimated at $25 million.
  2. SANCTUARY SCENIC TRAIL, SEGMENTS 10-11 $4,000,000 to complete final design for Scenic Trail Segments 10 & 11. Project would include 4.7 miles of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail spine between 17th Avenue and State Park Drive,
  3. INPATIENT TREATMENT FACILITY $2,000,000 for design and architectural services, permitting, site preparation and other preconstruction costs for a 16-32 bed inpatient treatment facility for individuals experiencing behavioral health issues. Project development is underway and would be located on County-owned property. Full project cost expected to exceed $11,000,000.
  4. DAVENPORT DOMESTIC WATER SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS $2,500,000 for design and planning services, permitting, site acquisition, and other needed services to develop construction plans for an independent and resilient domestic water system for the town of Davenport. This project would require 100% grant funding.
  5. MORAN LAKE RESTORATION $1,607,000 for Moran Lake County Park improvements.
  6. HOLOHAN/152 SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS $1,708,000 to fund operational and school safety improvements at one of the busiest intersections in South County, located at Holohan Road and Highway 152. Project would improve safety and reduce congestion by adding turn lanes, extending existing lanes and making bicycle and pedestrian improvement. Total project cost is $3,910,000, of which $1,708,000 is unfunded.
  7. APTOS STORM REPAIRS $1,700,000 to make storm-related road repairs, restoring mobility and access for residents impacted by storm-related road damage on Valencia Road and White Road.
  8. SOQUEL DRIVE BIKE/PED SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS $4,700,000 to provide a local match for the Soquel Drive Buffered Bike Lane project, which encourages alternative transportation and healthy lifestyles by making bicycle safety improvements along Soquel Drive, the only major north-south connector in the County other than Highway 1. Project has federal funding and County has identified more than $4 million of an estimated $9 million local match. Total project cost to exceed $20 million.

WRITE ONE LETTER OR MAKE ONE CALL THIS WEEK AND MAKE A BIGGER DIFFERENCE THAN YOU MAY REALIZE.

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 KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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November 7

COAST LIVE OAK WOODLANDS
Their graceful limbs are impossibly mighty, and they hold them wide. Their branches are more outstretched, more parallel to the ground than upright. Within a short distance of the City of Santa Cruz, there are hundreds of coast live oaks large enough to provide shade for 20 picnicking people. These trees invite climbing and most groves have a tree with a branch large enough, and slung low enough, to invite you to lie on its mossy arm. While you lie there, looking up through the dappled light, you will notice a world of life also sheltered by these friendly trees: clouds of insects zip and zag in and out of the shade, lichens cling and drape all around, and there are so very many birds!

To Know Them is to Love Them 
The coast live oak species (Quercus agrifolia) is one of several live oaks that co-occur in our area. Live oaks are called that because they keep their leaves year-round: these are evergreen oaks. The telltale sign of coast live oak is on the underside of its leaf, where the side veins meet the mid vein: there, find tufts of hairs ‘hairy armpits’ – no other oak has those. The oak that is most easily confused with coast live oak is the much rarer Shreve oak, which has dark furrowed bark, stands much more upright, and has deeper green more persistent leaves. Canyon live oak has golden fuzz covering the undersides of its new leaves. Coast live oak is the only oak with that characteristic smooth, white bark in large smooth plates separated by dark cracks that aren’t very organized. Learning to identify these three live oak trees is a good and doable challenge for everyone living around here.

Planet Ord’s Oaks
It is not hard to find coast live oak woodlands, but there are several kinds, each with its own characteristics and place. I find the most enchanting stands of coast live oaks to be behind Marina and Seaside at the Fort Ord National Monument. There, ancient rolling dunes are covered with thousands of acres of coast live oak woodland with miles of easily accessed trails. Fort Ord’s coast live oak forests are nice to visit this time of year, soon after or during a rainstorm. Dripping water falling through live oaks is particularly percussive, as drops hit the waxy tough leaves on the trees fall to the big drifts of dead crunchy leaves below. The coast live oaks at Fort Ord are relatively short and almost always have many trunks- 3 to 6 normally, sometimes more. Right about now, tree frogs are living up to their name, calling to each other with their odd croaking squinchy noise from up in the canopies of oaks. The forests there are particularly densely festooned by long draping lacy lichens.

Oaks Just North of Ord
North of there, and much less accessible to the public, similarly old sandy soils support coast live oak woodland in the hills around the Elkhorn Slough and in the foothills north of Watsonville. The Elkhorn hills aka “Prunedale Hills” have some remaining coast live oak forests where agriculture hasn’t taken them out, and the Elkhorn Slough Reserve is a great place to walk around to experience those. More north still but mostly inaccessible to the public, in the area between the Freedom Boulevard and Buena Vista exits off Highway One, there’s something called “San Andreas Oak Woodland.” Both of these types of coast live oak woodlands are taller than Fort Ord’s, though the presence of multiple trunks, a sign of previous fire, is also common. 

The Majestic Oaks of Santa Cruz 
Closer to Santa Cruz, in many public parks you can enjoy that relatively narrow band of majestic coast live oaks ringing most every large meadow. Sometimes, these oaks grow right out of the grasslands, so you can walk right up to their trunks without braving brambles or poison oak.

Sadly, long gone are the once magnificent coast live oak groves in the flood plains of the San Lorenzo River and many of the larger North Coast streams. But you might still encounter a coast live oaks blanketing the bottoms of drainages, mainly in thick, upright and impenetrable thickets wound through with tall poison oak.

Roosting Birds in Fall Oaks
Like coral reefs, coast live oaks attract a vast array of other life that unfolds before you the more you keep looking. As an example, I visit a couple particularly dense teenager coast live oaks at dusk to watch a particular wildlife drama unfold. These trees are only about 20′ around, but with canopies so dense you can’t see into them, even from underneath. Each evening, golden crowned sparrows flap noisily into these trees coming solo or in twos and threes. Forty birds later, this gets quite raucous – apparently there is a pecking order for who gets to sit where through the night. Sometimes, a bird decides to go to some other roost, popping into sight again and jetting off somewhere. The sparrows come early as the sun is setting, hanging out in the middle of the tree canopy. While the last sparrows are straggling in, right after sunset, quail whir into the top of the tree, settling into the upper part of the canopy. Now the squeaky chips of the sparrows are joined by the lower chucks of fussy quail. There’s a bunch of fluttering wings bashing about in the leaves and against one another, but eventually everything calms down then goes altogether quiet just as it is getting dark. This repeats every night, same trees, same drama. The night shelter of dense oaks is only one of the many services of coast live oaks…they also make acorns!

Harvesting Acorns 
Jays and acorn woodpeckers are harvesting the last of the acorn crop in the next couple of weeks. I have been watching a family of scrub jays carrying around acorns far from the nearest tree. A bird can only carry one acorn at a time, and it looks a bit silly with it…and sounds even sillier when it tries to call with its mouth full (which they do). Holding one of these oak nuts, a jay tilts its head back and forth, jumping around the ground memorizing the coordinates before it pushes it into the soil. I am careful to remain hidden watching this; if a jay sees me watching, it will shriek, dig up the acorn and disappear with it…headed to a more secret location. They are very wary of potential acorn thieves. I recall research suggesting that jays can bury hundreds of acorns a day, and they recall the location of 80% of them. Acorn woodpeckers also guard their acorns, but they do so communally. It takes a tribe to guard the cache, which they do in ‘granaries’ – often several adjacent trees that have thousands of holes pecked out that are just the right size to store acorns.

The Coming Wind
One wonders how the giant crowns and sprawling branches of coast live oaks fare in the wind. With global warming, we expect more frequent and more severe windstorms, and the windstorms of the last several years have knocked down some very old coast live oaks across the North Coast. They topple sideways and pull up a huge amount of the mudstone substrate, holding onto their root wads, which stand at least 10′ tall, full of jumbled rock and debris. Those wide roots provided for stability for more than a hundred years. May they keep the big trees upright for many more! I hope that this winter’s coming winds are not too harsh…

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 coastalprairie@aol.com

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 November 1

#304 / Losing The Thread

Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan and currently an opinion columnist for The Wall Street Journal, says that “America Has Lost the Thread.” That is the title on her column in the Saturday/Sunday, September 18-19, 2021, edition of The Journal

Reflecting on 9/11, twenty years later, Noonan says this: 

I want to stay with 9/11 to say something that struck me hard after the ceremonies last Saturday. The grief felt and expressed had to do with more than the memories of that day 20 years ago. It also had to do with right now.

It had to do with a sense that we are losing the thread, that America is losing the thread. We compared—we couldn’t help it, it is in the nature of memory—the America of now with the America of 20 years ago, and we see a deterioration. We feel disturbance at this because we don’t know if we can get our way back. The losing of the thread feels bigger than ideology, bigger certainly than parties. It feels like some more fundamental confusion, an inability to play the role of who we are, and to be comfortable in who we are. 

“Losing the thread,” as a metaphor for a kind of confusion that leads to heartbreak and sorrow – not to mention even worse outcomes – comes from the mythology associated with Ariadne, who fell in love with Theseus, the son of King Aegeus. Theseus volunteered to kill the Minotaur, hidden in a labyrinth, and Ariadne provided him with a sword and ball of thread so that Theseus could retrace his way out of the labyrinth of the Minotaur. In the end, they were separated and various stories seek to explain why and how.

Let us not lose connection with the “thread” that has connected us, today, to our national purpose, to our love of country, to where we began our decision to enter into the labyrinth of history, to make our way through confusion to be able to kill the monsters that are found at the heart of it. 

Let us not agree with Noonan that we have “lost” that thread, as though we might not ever be able to put our hands on it again. Surely that is not really the case; however much we may feel “lost” and without any certain direction, surely we can reclaim that “thread” that was available to us in the past, so we can find our way out of the labyrinth of our current confusion. 

For me, that thread is clear. We need but to grasp it again to find our way to a better place, beyond confusion:

  • The “thread” that provides us our guidance as a nation is solidly anchored to The Declaration of Independence and to its statement that every person has an unalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Anchored always there, the thread that guides this nation is secured to a place outside the labyrinth in which he have so often found ourselves. 

The thread leads on to:

  •    Our Constitution and The Bill of Rights, the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution.
  • The Gettysburg Address, reaffirming that we remain committed to a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” 
  • The Thirteenth and Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, abolishing slavery and guaranteeing due process and equal protection to all persons, and securing for all citizens the right to vote.
  • The Nineteenth Amendment, guaranteeing that the right to vote shall never be denied or abridged on account of sex.

I don’t think we have, truly, “lost” that thread, but if we are feeling “lost,” which is a different thing, we need to clear our minds of our confusion by grasping firmly to the long thread that has woven its way, always, through our history, still anchored to the Declaration that will always allow us to find our way out.

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. 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

VETERANS DAY

“On this Veterans Day, let us remember the service of our veterans, and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free”.    
~Dan Lipinski

“While only one day of the year is dedicated solely to honoring our veterans, Americans must never forget the sacrifices that many of our fellow countrymen have made to defend our country and protect our freedoms.      
~Randy Neugebauer

“As a former veteran, I understand the needs of veterans, and have been clear – we will work together, stand together with the Administration, but we will also question their policies when they shortchange veterans and military retirees”.
~Solomon Ortiz

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The Hope Diamond… I remember seeing this at the Smithsonian in my teens, and here are some really interesting facts!


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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