Blog Archives

November 16 – 22, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…election reactions, Stacey Falls on results and consequences, Nancy Abbey about Cuba, Paul Lee’s passing, looking at Lookout. GREENSITE…has gone to Cuba and will return soon. KROHN…will be back next week. STEINBRUNER…1000 new downtown residents, drinking sewage water, county general plan, Kaiser Med. Facility issues, Freedom Campus, builders remedy. HAYES…Human-non human compatibility. PATTON…Growth ? Good MATLOCK…A Red ripple and voting in the streets. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week: historical nuggets. QUOTES…”Thanksgiving”


SOQUEL AND BRANCIFORTE STREETS December 20 1960.If you look closely you’ll see that high octane gas was 34.9 per gallon and regular was 30.9 per gallon. Note also the tree filled mountain tops that are in view. Those were the days.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE November 14


One way or the other Santa Cruz, well a disappointingly small part of Santa Cruz, has spoken. Nagging minds will forever debate whether it was home owners versus renters, or long timers versus Silicon Valley half residents, or maybe students versus locals, but we took a setback no matter how you read it. The pro-growth city council aided and abetted by officials like Lee Butler will have our skyline rising beyond belief. Butler was interviewed on KZSC’s Bushwhackers program and stated that we have no hope in controlling growth because the State mandates that we grow. What he and so many of our “leaders” are failing to do is to fight and amend those state mandates like many, many other cities continue to do. We can control growth but only if we elect the right people. Fred Keeley, our new mayor, will take some close watching to see where and how he comes down on development. He’s got a huge interest in the Warriors property and as a semi-permanent Mayor he’ll have a lot of persuasive moves to make


Stacey Falls is and has been a staunch supporter of what’s best for Santa Cruz. She wrote this piece for a FB page last week.

“great. santa cruz voted based on real estate interests. we decided that rich people who own mansions that they visit a few weeks of the year don’t need to help out our housing crisis in any way. we decided that the pretty white landlady who skips more city council meetings than all the other councilmembers combined can just keep doing her thing. and our new mayor is a rich, white, straight guy (also a landlord) who danced on his chair when the empty home tax failed.

we used to have a city council that had 0 white men, and we just elected two old white men to the council, voting down the only hispanic to run in years.

come on santa cruz. is this really the city we want to be? we just went 30 years back in time”.

OUT LOOK FOR LOOKOUT continues. Many folks have noticed the number of writers who have left Lookout now the rumor grows about Lookout quitting after the end of this month. Though its Hat’s Off to Wallace Baine and the piece he did on Paul Lee’s demise. It is detailed, heartfelt and pretty thorough.

Nancy Abbey, one-time Santa Cruz activist and long-time advocate for normalizing relations with Cuba, now lives in Maui surrounded by family and enjoying a view of Molokai . She sent these comments that are well worth reading and working on…It’s about our ascribing the poverty in Cuba to socialism and the poverty in other countries as just poverty.

“I’m increasingly frustrated with the spin given by even the most liberal of political commentators when it comes to describing immigrants. Consistently, without fear of contradictions, immigrants who come from economically struggling countries are described as fleeing poverty – except for Cuba.  Cubans they say are fleeing communism.

Are they? Or are they fleeing the food shortages and the substandard living conditions that must be attributed to a major extent on the 60 year blockade as much, or more than, their economic system? After all, reducing the island to the lowest possible economic level – humans be damned in the process – is the entire purpose of the decades long policy.

If Cubans are fleeing communism, why aren’t Mexicans, Haitians, Guatemalans, Asians and Filipinos fleeing capitalism? Aren’t they fleeing an economic system that isn’t working for them?

There’s a subtle message here that’s easily ignored by readers and listeners and woven into the accepted belief in this country that Cubans flee communism. In reality, Cubans don’t flee the abject poverty and violence of developing countries, but they come to this country for the economic promise held out to them by a government that welcomes them with open arms, greets them with a monthly stipend, eases their path to a green card and, ultimately, to citizenship.

Do Cubans enjoy the political freedom we do?  No, they don’t. With a major enemy 90 miles from its shores, political freedom is curtailed to an extent greater than ours. (One does have to ask though, if Iraq and Iran were 90 miles away, would someone advocating for the Taliban be free to walk the streets? Or, wait a sec – are they free to do that now?)

Contrary to popular belief here, dissidents do live and operate in Cuba until they cross the line to work with the U.S., and Cubans complain non-stop without fearing reprisal. Were in-the-street protestors last October met with a police crackdown? Yes.  Were they protesting their government? Yes. They were angry about blackouts, shortages of food and medicine, and they blamed their government because their government is supposed to assure a decent standard of living.

Were they protesting communism?  I wouldn’t pretend to answer that question. Do we protest capitalism when we march in the streets?”.

PAUL LEE IS GONE! Santa Cruz won’t be the same now that Paul Lee passed on to the next place last week. He had great ideas and those ideas changed our community in a very good way. His teaching at UCSC, his support of the homeless, his restaurant in the old Cooper House, leading the Penny University and dozens more will never be and can’t be forgotten.

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.

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). A serious story from a book about a very young girl who was deserted by her family and forced to live her life known as the Marsh Girl. Perfectly acted by Daisy Edgar-Jones and aided by David Strathairn as her attorney its deep, colorful, and threatening as she learns how to cope with the few humans in her life plus a murder.  The ending is a shocker and it’s very worthwhile watching.

THE CROWN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.7 IMDB). This is the fifth (that’s 5!!!) season of this Queen Elizabeth saga and it does lack something. We Americans (and much of the world) have always been so fascinated by the British throne and surroundings so we watch anything and everything about those royals. Here we watch Princess Diana and Prince Charles’s marriage remain in hell especially having Dominic West playing Charles. He just isn’t right for the part, but watch it anyways just to get one more take on all the sadness and mistakes the royals make decade after decade.

CICI (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.3 IMDB). A Turkish movie that starts off in black and white and goes to full color as the movie works hard to reveal the terrible intra family relationships between father and mother and all their children and relatives. It’s depicted as some of the relatives reunite while they attempt to film their own movie of their families past. Its slow moving, flips from present to their past many times and even gets confusing and requires careful paying attention.

BANSHEES OF INISHERIN. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (8.2 IMDB). A nearly perfect movie that I would give many Academy Awards to. First of all to Colin Farrell who plays a longtime friend to the older Brendan Gleeson. These two guys live on a very small fictional island off the coast of Ireland and suddenly Gleeson tells Farrell he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. It baffles Colin and all of their friends on the island. It’s a deep but nearly humorous self-inspection that Colin goes through that makes us all relate to our own friendships. Well worth watching and admiring such talent.

ROBBING MUSSOLINI. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.5 IMDB). This silly movie starts off with a bunch of thugs from Milan trying to decide and plot how to steal Benito Mussolini’s wartime treasures back in 1945. Then 10 minutes into the plot it turns to cartoons and Marvel Comics tricks and lost me completely. I stopped it after 25 minutes.

SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

ENOLA HOLMES 2. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.9 IMDB). This is take 2 about Sherlock Holme’s sister Enola. Henry Cavill is back as Sherlock and it’s a semi-serious comic look at how Enola Holmes solves crimes and she looks at the camera a lot which was clever once or twice. Helena Bonham Carter has a small role, and it’ll take your mind off politics.

GOD FORBID. (HULU MOVIE) (6.9 IMDB). An amazing shocking beautifully done documentary about Jerry Falwell’s fall from power and his secret sex life. It covers Falwell’s Christian church manipulations and digs right into his relationship with Donald Trump and the whole Florida fiasco…don’t miss it, you’ll be surprised.

BLOCKBUSTER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (5.4 IMDB). There really is one Blockbuster Store left open and running but this isn’t in this simple minded comedy. It’ simple minded not clever and I’m not sure why it was produced. Don’t waste your time.

THE PERIPHERAL. (PRIME SERIES) (8.4 IMDB). Chloe Grace Moretz is always a pleasure to watch and she’s the lead in this trippy sci-fi adventure. It’s just outside of London in 2090 and she has a brother who obtains nerve bending headsets that projects Chloe into simulations that will keep you very near the edge of your seat.

THE WHITE LOTUS. (HBO SERIES) (8.4 IMDB). Back again with a new locale and almost all new cast set in Sicily. Again it’s about tourists staying in a fancy hotel and some dead bodies are discovered. Jennifer Coolidge returns as the extra-large and outgoing married babe with issues. Intrigue and suspicions bounce around and there’s lots of Italian scenery to look at as well as the very clever twisted plot.

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.9 IMDB). If you’ve seen the original 1930 movie from the book by Erich Maria Remarque you’ll almost recognize many, many of the bloody cruel scenes all over again. There’s little plot except to show us once again just how pointless and evil war has and will always be. It’s in German and centers on World War I and how it ended. Excellent and 5 thumbs up!!


Gillian is in Cuba and will return shortly

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


(Chris is covering the UC Strike and will be back next week)

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

Email Chris at


November 14


If you haven’t been in downtown Santa Cruz lately, you may be amazed by what you see happening near Front Street and Laurel.  Here is what’s coming…

Six Blocks: Downtown redo aims for 1,000s of new residents, 6 multistory buildings — and revived riverfront

This is only the beginning….


Finally, the Soquel Creek Water District website has information about the important December 1 Virtual Public Hearing for the Title 22 Recycled Water Engineering Report

The Virtual Public Hearing will open at 5:30pm to review the critical 1552-page document that essentially outlines the PureWater Soquel Project with environmental analysis that should have been done long ago before embarking on this cost-inflated Project.

Will it work?  Recently, District Director Bruce Jaffe admitted he’s not sure.

Read through this important information if you care about what the PureWater Soquel Project will do to our drinking water supply.  Note that Public Comment period ends December 8.


Last Monday (11/7), the Santa Cruz City Water Commission heard the final presentations regarding potential water supply augmentation projects to provide water during future droughts.  The group approved the recommendation to present a very lengthy Resolution to the City Council that includes a palette of possible projects, including desalination and using treated sewage water from the PureWater Soquel Project or a new independent treatment plant at the wastewater treatment plant.

The cost of the option to inject treated sewage water into the aquifer was the most expensive…over $10,000/AcreFoot.  Wow.

Listen to the excellent presentations about the project options (minute 1:16 or so) and the stark Curtailment Goals (minute 2:07)

The interesting issue raised was just how much sewage water would Soquel Creek Water District be allowed if the District doubles the production volume of recycled water to share with the City of Scotts Valley (via a new pipe along Graham Hill Road)?

Please plan to participate in the November 29 City Council review of this important question….”Where will the water for all the future development come from?”


The first of two public hearings for the sweeping changes our County General Plan will see come before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, November 15.  The second hearing is happening December 6.

Get Involved

Take a look at the notable Impacts this new General Plan would cause (beginning on page 11)

*Significant loss of farm land (page 12)

*Significant loss of riparian habitat by dense development at Thurber Lane /Soquel Drive (page 14)

*Significant loss of historic structures (page 16)

*Significant and unavoidable traffic congestion and increased vehicle miles travelled (page 24 and 25)

But take a look at this on page 20!

Impact HYD-2: Groundwater. Adoption and implementation of the proposed Sustainability Update would not directly or indirectly substantially decrease groundwater supplies or interfere substantially with groundwater recharge such that the project may impede sustainable groundwater management of the basin.  NO IMPACT???

But this is reversed on page 25:

Impact UTL-2: Water Supplies. Adoption and implementation of the proposed Sustainability Update could lead to development that could result in future increased demand for domestic water supplies, but two existing providers (City of Santa Cruz and Soquel Creek Water District) may not have sufficient water supplies available to serve the development indirectly resulting from implementation of the Sustainability Update and reasonably foreseeable future development during normal, dry, and multiple years

Maybe the plan is to have everyone drinking treated sewage water by then…

The Final EIR is worth reading, especially the Comment Letters.  Amazingly, there were only 14 submitted for this massive document that will change the face and feeling of our County.  Of note, the comment sent by AMBAG Planner Heather Adamson leads one to believe that the Plan would build even more than what AMBAG is mandating (see page 66)

And on page 68:

While the projected growth in the Draft EIR is this greater than AMBAG’s population forecast, the growth rate resulting from the project would continue to be consistent with historic growth rates and the County’s Measure J annual growth rates as discussed on Draft EIR pages 4.13-13 to 4.13-15. As indicated, the proposed Sustainability Update could accommodate an increase of approximately 4,500 new dwelling units between 2020 and 2040, which could generate approximately 11,385 new residents based on the average household size in unincorporated Santa Cruz County. This estimate provides a worst-case scenario of theoretical maximum project buildout for the purposes of CEQA analysis, and it is not known whether this growth would actually occur. 

Santa Cruz City Water Dept. Manager Rosemary Menard did well to gently suggest the EIR Hydrology section should include discussion of the County Water Quality Ordinance (Chapter 16.24) (see page 71)

Read the interesting Comment Letter from the Coastal Commission (page 86-87) pointing out that the proposed annexation and dense development to the west of Watsonville, near the Pajaro Valley High School, would violate the MOU with the Commission that was made when the new school was approved. “The objective of making any changes at all is unclear.”  “…and would not serve anyone well.”  The Coastal Commission recommended all land use changes in areas west of Watsonville be dropped.

Read the Comment Letter from California Highway Patrol opposing the reduction in the amount of lanes on Portola Drive. (page 105)  The Consultant dismissed the opposition, because the Kimley-Horn consultant study said it will all work just fine.  Hmmmm….

Participate in these public hearings, as overwhelming as they may seem, because this is what is shaping the future of our neighborhoods.


As usual, many large critical projects are flooding in during the upcoming holiday season.  If you are concerned about the impacts of the proposed 4-story Kaiser Medical facility and attendant four-story 700+ car parking garage in Live Oak, keep your calendar open for December 14.  The County Planning Commission will be reviewing this massive project then in a morning virtual meeting.

Here is link to the Plans

No public transportation service there?  Hmmm…..

Based on this comprehensive contamination assessment of the site, there will have to be a lot of remediation, possibly involving contamination monitoring of the shallow groundwater table


Very soon, the former site of the County Courthouse on Freedom Blvd. in Watsonville could become a two-story complex, with 160 residential units filling up the five acres that once housed the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake survivors in over 100 FEMA trailers.

I happened to find the extensive environmental review for this Project, whose CEQA public comment period quietly ended on Halloween.

The site is potentially archaeologically-sensitive, relating to Native American uses of the nearby Corralitos Creek area.  Local tribal leaders requested to be involved in any ground disturbing construction activity. (see page 44 and page 144)

I do wonder why Rincon consultants have seemingly copy-and-pasted certain aspects of this CEQA document in a rather sloppy fashion, evidenced on page 60 with a discussion about Bonny Doon geologic hazards??  Hmmm….

And imagine this:

Policy 7.18.2. Written Commitments Confirming Water Service Required for Permits. Concurrent with project application, require a written commitment from the water purveyor that verifies the capability of the system to serve the proposed development. Projects shall not be approved in areas that do not have a proven, adequate water supply. 

The Rincon Consultants do not really address whether or not there is water available for this large new County Government Freedom Campus facility, merely describing the sewage treatment facility existence. But here is a shocking tidbit of information from page 154:

In the City’s 2020 Urban Water Management Plan, it was determined that the City’s 2020 water consumption was 87 gallons per capita per day (City of Watsonville 2020). Wow.  That’s nearly double the per capita water use of other areas of the County.


Well, never mind.  The consultants deemed the Project deserves a Mitigated Negative Declaration and will move forward.

Here’s the description, with no mention that the existing Master Gardeners’ Teaching Garden will be obliterated.

The Master Plan would involve a multi-stage redevelopment of the project site, including demolition of all six existing on-site buildings, construction of up to one or more new health services and other County buildings that would consolidate existing County health services and other County uses, and designate an approximately four-acre portion of the site for residential development consisting of one or more residential buildings with a combined total of up to 160 housing units. The building or buildings would be two stories in height, with an average floor-to-floor height of 15 feet and a total building height of approximately 35 feet. Regardless of the number of buildings, the building(s) would comprise a total of 70,000 to 85,000 square feet. Up to 5,000 square feet of the building(s) would be dedicated to community-serving uses, which may include but would not be limited to a community teaching kitchen and a multi-purpose community room. The project would also involve providing on-site parking for the health service building or buildings. Parking would be either surface parking or a new parking garage, or a combination of both.


Last Wednesday, the County Planning Commission heard a clear report from the new Senior Planner, Mr. Matthew Sundt, about the new State-mandated housing construction numbers the County will be required to get built by 2031.  It was sobering.

This big stick is known as the Regional Housing Number Allocation (RHNA).  Contrived by regional agencies for each area of the State, the goal is to require all cities and counties to “build their fair share” of housing, especially affordable housing, for what the State determines is the likely future demand.  In our area, the Association of Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) did that formulation for Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties and cities within, based on economic development models, but who knows exactly how those forecasts were developed?

Under the new RHNA 6th Cycle requirements, any vacant and “underutilized” parcels that have been on the books as such for the last 15 years and not built upon will not be allowed to be included for consideration to meet the new mandated dense building areas.

By December 15, 2023, Santa Cruz County has to have all vacant and/or “underutilized” parcels rezoned for dense infill housing, with taller buildings, larger Floor Area Ratio (aka, less green and open space likely and small trees to replace the large ones cut down) and the Board of Supervisors must have it all approved.

The report lists a timeline and “we intend to stick to it” said Mr. Sundt, showing the County Planning staff inventorying all parcels in the Unincorporated Area and within the Urban Services Line to see what is vacant or “underutilized”.

“Builder’s Remedy” would allow any developer with a Project that meets code and CEQA (which the County always declares “exempt”) would have AUTOMATIC APPROVAL of their Project upon submitting the application.  No public hearings.  Just imagine what a heyday Barry Swenson would have.

NO one addressed any of my questions.  It was an informational item only, so the Commission took no action.  I phoned Mr. Sundt afterward to again ask my questions, but added one: “Will the County consider using eminent domain at all to achieve these RHNA housing numbers be met on these vacant or underutilized parcels to be identified?”  His quick answer was “NO.”

He said he knew nothing of the sewer hook-up moratorium in the Rodeo Gulch Basin area of Live Oak, the area targeted for dense in-fill tall buildings.  He had mentioned to the Commission, but did not explain, the use of a “Wisdom Council” concept to gain public acceptance of these shockingly massive developments, currently focused on Pleasure Point.  This is something new that Chair Manu Koenig proposed and the Board approved unanimously to try in an effort to bring the public onboard.   Mr. Sundt took time to explain to me how the Healthy Democracy consultants had assembled the panels in Eugene, Oregon and Petaluma, CA, then said he needed to get back to work.

I later learned that Mr. Sundt was the former Planning Director for the City of Gonzales, and successfully annexed 1,300 acres with a goal of building 6,200 residential units there.  Wow.  He began his work for Santa Cruz County Planning Dept. just three months ago. Here is his LinkedIn profile

Read Mr. Sundt’s staff report about the RHNA numbers coming our way


For those who like to see slide presentations and feel that looking Commissioners in the eye when you speak with them is important, take heart.  According to the report given at last Wednesday’s County Planning Commission, those in-person meetings will resume next January.

Call-in option will be kept available for the public but all Commissioners must be in-person.  It will be interesting to see who will represent Districts 3 and 4, with the new Supervisors in place.


When it rains, I enjoy watching and listening to the rivers and creeks swell. Here’s a way you can watch those levels from your computer, rather than the riverbank

Let’s hope for some good rains, in measured amounts.

How will you save some of the rainwater for later use in your landscape?  That’s something we all can do, and that local water agencies need to do, given the information of Climate Change models showing less frequent storms but more intense rain when they do arrive.


The Live Oak Library Annex, being funded by Measure S Library tax money, is moving along, blocking access to the Simpkins Swim Center and existing community spaces.

How can anyone ever accept this can be called a “Library” when there will be no books or library staff available?  This is precisely what the Grand Jury asked in their investigation


I used to take my young children to the County Building on Election Night to watch the ballots come in from polling stations.  There were floodlights to secure the area, and Poll Managers had to show ID as they entered and turned over the precious boxes of votes.  The basement hallway was buzzing with activity, checking in and verifying the locations of the polling stations and the people handling the boxes of ballots.  It was exciting, and meaningful.

Things have changed.

Last week, my daughter and I went to the County Building as the polls closed on Election Day, having observed at a couple of the Vote Centers.  The parking lot was mostly dark.  A solitary security guard was guarding the first floor entrance to the building as the vehicles filled with boxes of votes pulled up to the nearby basement entrance.  There, the hallway was empty:

Up on the third floor, tables set up in the hallway were ready, with a few volunteers opening boxes and verifying Vote Center origins.  The busiest action was in the room where scanned ballots had irregularities and had to be adjudicated.  A team of two worked at lightning speed, their split-second decisions visible to observers from the hallway monitors.

Having watched new voter after new voter enter the Voting Centers we had observed (one Station had averaged 6-10 voters in a day but got nearly 400 on Election Day) register to vote on the spot but showing no proof of ID made me wonder about whether our Country is doing all it can to preserve the importance of secure informed voting while supporting the ability to vote?






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

November 14


How is it that we humans can be more compatible with the many non-humans around Santa Cruz? This was the theme recently when I joined hundreds of others to experience Chris Eckstrom’s and Frans Lanting’s fascinating illustrated discussion of their newest project ‘The Bay of Life.’ That experience made me think more about how we live in this super-biodiversity hotspot and how we might be more responsible and compassionate in our day-to-day lives.

Compatibility Histories

Peregrine falcon, California condor, whales, sea otters, and mountain lions: all examples of species that have rebounded after humans realized how to be more compatible with them. It took Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to catalyze a movement leading to the ban (in the US, but alas not elsewhere) of DDT, a pesticide responsible for the thinning of bird eggshells, resulting in the endangerment of many bird species.

There is a more recent history of toxin control for bird species. Because of the work of dedicated scientists and regulators at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California recently banned lead bullets for hunting. After DDT was banned, lead was the major threat to the recovery of the California condor. This toxic metal was causing terrible health impacts to condors who scavenged animals that had been shot by hunters.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act along with work by the Sea Shepard and Greenpeace has gone a long way to bringing back whales on our central coast. Sea otters also benefited from that Act, recovering so well that we are discovering behaviors never seen before like using the Elkhorn Slough as their favorite nursery…leading to a possibility that they’ll further recover in the extensive tidal wetlands of the San Francisco Bay.

In 1990, a state law passed banning sport hunting of mountain lions, which were elevated to being ‘candidate’ species in 2020- meaning they receive protection as if they are endangered until the State makes that finding. Mountain lion conservation is a very modern effort by leaders in nonprofit conservation organizations working with scientists and the State to create laws that protect the species.

Current Compatibility Efforts

There are important things occurring right now that are improving upon the historic legacy of human compatibility with non-humans. The Highway 17 wildlife tunnel has just been completed and wildlife are already making tracks in the loose soil under the highway. This allows wildlife to move safely from the southern Santa Cruz Mountains to the north, improving the ability for mountain lions specifically to move around to hunt and to get fresh bloodlines to avoid inbreeding depression. The tunnel will allow other species to move past Highway 17, including deer, which will reduce highway accidents that can also kill and injure humans.

New measures are being taken to protect whales, as well. This year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife restricted the timing of crab fishing to ensure safe passage of blue and humpback whales, orcas, and leatherback turtles which have been entangled in the trap equipment and died. There is some talk about new ‘whale safe’ technology to be used for trapping crabs.

Another notable wildlife compatibility effort underway is by the private, nonprofit conservation partners managing the San Vicente Redwoods property in northern Santa Cruz County. The property will soon be open to the public who can visit newly created trails. This is the first time in our region that recreational use of a natural area will be governed by a modern carrying capacity analysis that defines limits of acceptable change. If those limits are surpassed, the land managers will change their approaches to address the issues. For instance, if a certain number of recreationalists do not abide by restrictions limiting their visitation to the ‘open’ areas of the park, the property managers may limit or close visitation; they may also delay opening of more trails until the unauthorized uses come into control.

Future Compatibility Needs

The Bay of Life presentation covered much of what I outline above and closed by featuring a series of speakers from local conservation organizations. Each of those speakers asked for public support to better address human-nonhuman compatibility issues around the Monterey Bay. The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County focused on redesigning agriculture to have less toxic runoff and more wildlife-friendly buffers in the southern parts of the county. Watsonville Wetlands Watch focused on urban tree planting as a way to address climate change while providing more shade and habitat. The National Marine Sanctuary asked for volunteers to monitor wildlife and recreation compatibility on the Bay. And yet, these actions are a fraction of what needs to happen if we are to have healthy wildlife populations for future generations in our region.

Pesticides, Toxic Runoff, and Trash

Not enough has occurred to ensure that our agricultural systems are compatible with wildlife. For instance, more work is necessary to assure that pesticides are used in ways that are compatible with non-human animals. Fungicides and neonicotinoid pesticides have been shown to impact non-human animals such as monarch butterflies, which have plummeted in numbers in recent years.  The US EPA doesn’t have the political support it needs to address the huge backlog of pesticide reviews in cue. Runoff from agriculture continues to carry massive amounts of nutrients into the Elkhorn Slough each day, poisoning habitats and leading to the degradation of marsh soils. As I previously reported in this column, urban pollution from roadways and cityscapes is often very poisonous during ‘first flush’ – and yet, there is little enforcement by the Central Coast Regional Water Board of water quality standards to address these issues.

Trash is an ongoing issue for wildlife. Out in Monterey Bay, marine life gets entangled in trash and eats indigestible plastic clogging their digestive tracks. On land, condors feed bits of plastic to their chicks who can starve with their stomachs full of trash. As much as we ask volunteers to clean beaches, I watch trash hauling trucks from the City of Santa Cruz spewing trash out their back going to the dump every day. Many people seem careless about their trash at local beaches and in their backyards. More needs to be done.

More Habitat Connectivity

There is a need for more wildlife movement across our landscape, and habitat connectivity needs to account for more than just large creatures. Wildlife connectivity projects are planned for Highway 101 near Prunedale, Highway 101 north of Morgan Hill and along Highway 17 towards Los Gatos. These will be tunnels or wildlife bridges, and these projects will join the many popping up across the world. Those projects need to be designed so that plants, insects, amphibians, and all manner of life can move through them: climate change will require migration of many species. Also, bridges and tunnels are not enough for species like badgers and salamanders that will still try crossing roads unless they are guided to crossing points using fencing or other means.

Core Habitat Management

Crossing roads is a big issue, but it’s not enough. Wildlife needs core habitat areas, but we often do not know how to design those core habitat areas or how to manage them once they are set aside. Referring again to the San Vicente Redwoods property, the private conservation group landowners have designed what they hope will be a sanctuary for mountain lions, with no public access. They hope that they can manage to keep recreational users out so that mountain lions keep using that habitat to raise their young, but only time will tell.

The preserve area at San Vicente Redwoods is the only place in the Santa Cruz Mountains designed specifically to protect core habitat for wildlife. There will likely need to be more of these kinds of wildlife sanctuaries – managed and enforced to keep recreational visitors out. That will likely mean closing areas to visitors that currently have either renegade or legal trails: this will take a lot of public support that isn’t currently organized. Hopefully, we can learn more about which animals are sensitive to visitation and how to design and manage core habitat for their use. Can you think of a single environmental organization in our region that would champion this cause in public parks? I can’t.

What You Can Do

I hope that you will work to help humans be more compatible with nature. Clean up every bit of trash you see, make sure you aren’t contributing to toxic runoff or pesticide use, don’t use renegade trails on conservation lands, and only hunt with legal, non-lead bullets.

Political support is also important. Support political candidates that publicly support environmental regulations to protect our air, water, soil, and wildlife needs. Politicians and environmental groups that champion wildlife protection, habitat connectivity, and ways to reverse climate change deserve your time or financial support. Working together, we can keep the momentum to become more compatible with nature in the super biodiversity hotspot we call home.

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

Email Grey at


November 9

#314 / Growth ? Good

For the twenty years that I served as an elected Member of the Board of Supervisors in Santa Cruz County, California (from 1975 to 1995), I was known as the guy who didn’t want more “growth.” I led the fight to set aside important environmental areas, and to ban developments that could damage them. I led the fight to prevent any development of economically productive agricultural lands. In lots of ways, I was the “No Growth” candidate and the “No Growth” public official.

The person pictured above, Herman Daly, who died on October 28th this year, and whose obituary was published today in The New York Times, was a respected economist. Daly took a similar “no growth” position. I was happy to read his thoughts in the Sunday, July 24, 2022, edition of The New York Times Magazine, in one of David Marchese’s “Talk” columns.

Online, the conversation between Marchese and Daly is titled, “This Pioneering Economist Says Our Obsession With Growth Must End.” The paywall gods permitting, I hope you’ll be able to read the entire thing for yourself. Here is one, brief excerpt:

Historically we think that economic growth leads to higher standards of living, lower death rates and so on. So don’t we have a moral obligation to pursue it? In ecological economics, we’ve tried to make a distinction between development and growth. When something grows, it gets bigger physically by accretion or assimilation of material. When something develops, it gets better in a qualitative sense. It doesn’t have to get bigger. An example of that is computers. You can do fantastic computations now with a small material base in the computer. That’s real development. And the art of living is not synonymous with “more stuff.” People occasionally glimpse this, and then we fall back into more, more, more.

Bottom line? Just like my headline says: “Growth ? Good.”

Accelerating global temperatures make clear the importance of this lesson:

Learn or Burn

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

Email Gary at

November 14


Delusion, confusion, contusions, and transfusions…all descriptive terms for our pre- and post-mid-term election conditions. The organized and well-funded legal challenges by Republicans prior to the election over voter registration, voter access, voting machines, and procedures with mail-in ballots seemed to have so far been less successful for them than desired. Party leaders and allies are likely preparing challenges to the results as they search for evidence of shenanigans; and, as Benjamin Ginsberg, co-chair of the Election Official Legal Defense Network says, “Republicans charge fraud. Democrats charge suppression. Each side amplifies its position with massive and costly amounts of litigation and messaging.”

The Republican National Committee’s  ‘election integrity team,’ with its 37 lawyers in designated states, has trained a volunteer group to look for voter fraud, and has filed 73 lawsuits in 20 of those key states. RNC Chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, maintains that this team ensured that November’s vote was “free, fair and transparent.” As if they weren’t in the past, Ronna? Needless to say, Trump’s America First Legal which is run by the Orange One’s advisor, Stephen Miller, is in the midst of the scrimmage to contest results, as they continue their assault on democracy. These attacks go on despite the futility of the multitude of lawsuits filed by DJT’s crack team prior to and after the 2020 election, which then went on to become the catchword, the maxim, of the GOP to cry foul.

The Democrats have attempted to encourage registration and voting, assisting those who have been denied through intimidation, misinformation and delay by election officials, or threats and aggressiveness of ‘observers‘ at ballot drop box locations, or polling places. Elections workers themselves have been vilified and abused with threats of violence, have been followed and intimidated for doing their duty. On Election Day, the Oklahoma ACLU had several reports that poll workers in Oklahoma County and Cleveland County were telling voters to simply vote a straight party ticket, an option provided on that state’s ballots. Although the ACLU contacted all county election boards requesting they remind poll workers not tell voters how to vote or who to vote for, the Oklahoma State Election Board has made no public comment. However, the final vote tallies show not the slightest tinge of blue…go figure!

Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, Laurence H. Tribe, weighed in this week on the attempt to thwart the vote by Republicans. “It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Republican officials, too often abetted by federal judges appointed by Republican presidents, are making up technicalities enabling them to shred mostly Democratic ballots,” he says in an essay printed by the LA Times. By urging their supporters to spurn voting by mail and waiting until Election Day to vote in person, Republican officials have begun an effort to disqualify thousands of mail-in ballots in their scheme to disenfranchise voters through phony technicalities, who in all likelihood voted for the opposition. Michigan’s Republican candidate for secretary of state sought to toss out absentee ballots not cast in person by someone with a valid ID, was unable to offer a legitimate reason for doing so, leading any rational observer to conclude that it was targeted at the heavily Democratic, majority-Black city of Detroit – not the entire state. Tribe fears that technicalities of judicial timing and procedure will be piled atop technicalities of voting administration, all of which are directed toward tripping up Democratic voters, with the current judiciary wearing away our right to vote, the very foundation of American democracy.

With recently announced election results from Arizona and Nevada, Democrats will retain control of the US Senate, leaving Senator Joe Manchin out in the cold for the time being. The cliffhanger runoff election in Georgia, between Walker and Warnock is important but doesn’t hold the significance it had initially. Senator Rick Scott, the head of the campaign arm to elect GOP senators called the 2022 midterms a “complete disappointment for the party, with the predicted ‘Red Wave’ being a ‘Red Ripple.” Scott told Sean Hannity on Fox News that the tsunami of GOP voters simply did not turn out in sufficient numbers to counteract the Dems. With the constant criticism of President Biden and his administration, the GOP failed to offer a positive vision with which voters could identify, “we have to have a plan of what we stand for.” History has not been kind to sitting presidents in maintaining their power in the Congress, but this year defied the conventional wisdom, even with Biden’s low approval ratings and a frustrated electorate faced with an unmerciful economy. Perhaps Senator Mitch McConnell’s early campaign comment regarding “candidate quality” was spot-on? What say, Mitch? And, perhaps Senator Scott should have stuffed a sock in it before spouting that, “We have to do everything we can to help Herschel.” What’cha say, Mitch?

The story with the US House of Representatives is meeting expectations of control by the GOP, thanks in part to something much more mechanical than polling or historical patterns, with a nod toward a Republican majority being able to redraw district boundaries following the 2020 census. So, if current results hold the GOP will have control of the 435 seat body, led by Rep. Kevin McCarthy if he has his druthers. The state of Florida ended up redrawing a whole new districting map, approved by its legislature and signed by the governor, which in the end also gave them an extra district. Coupled with Governor DeSantis‘ overwhelming win over Charlie Crist, the state became a king-maker of sorts, sending a coattail-contingent to be seated in the House.

Four other states – Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Ohio – were allowed to use contested maps for this election cycle, even though significant legal challenges and outright recognition that legal requirements were violated – rulings that alone would have assured extra Republican seats. In Louisiana, a judge had rejected that state’s redrawn maps, pointing out the state’s history of disenfranchising Black voters; enter the US Supreme Court to block the judge’s order, a similar move to one they had approved in Alabama, both of which in essence had shuffled Black voters into districts that would lessen their voting power.

Taking much of the blame for the poor showing of the GOP is The Orange Albatross himself, who saw many of his endorsed candidates fall to Democrats (see Mitch McConnell’scandidate quality’ comment). Pennsylvania’s voters rejected Dr. Mehmet Oz, who Trump had supported (and was it Melania’s and Hannity’s fault that he was led astray on this endorsement?), but his early support of “ass-kissing” author J.D. Vance led to a successful Ohio election victory over Tim Ryan. The Don’s support of Adam Laxalt of Nevada was not sufficient to ward off a Catherine Cortez Masto senate victory, nor was support of Blake Masters effective in keeping Mark Kelly from returning to Washington. At of this writing, the Arizona governorship is still hanging, with Democrat Katie Hobbs maintaining a one percentage-point lead over Republican, and Marjorie-Taylor-Greene-wannabe, Kari Lake. Will she, or won’t she, accept defeat?

More hand-wringing is probably evident in GOP circles, than in Democrat environs about the pending candidacy of the former president. Republican leaders, and the Orange One’s own staff have cautioned him about declaring a run for the presidency before the New Year, or even before the midterms have been put to bed. When did this man-child ever listen to rational advice? With his declining popularity, and talk of possible contenders, he feels the need to start grabbing the cash, and attempt to garner the attention his ego craves. It’s not that he likes the job…it’s the grifting and the possibility of escaping prosecution from his monstrous evil-doing that spurs him on. Oh, and his sadistic revenge-factor to punish his Republican detractors who look on in horror!

Democrats had hoped to win big in the midterms with young voters and women, winning small majorities in each group, but winning big with young women. Exit polls showed that 72 percent of women in age group 18-29 voted for Democrats, which helped propel Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman over Mehmet Oz. As one absentee voter said, “As the Republican Party becomes more extreme and moves away from the core American principals of democracy and rights for all, voting Democratic is the only path forward.” Edison Research exit polls revealed that fifty-three percent of women overall voted blue in House contests. Women over 45 brought the party no advantage at all, while Democrats won a low 54 percent of votes from young men. Over the past two decades, Gallup Polls show young women trending liberal, while young men have remained relatively centrist. Competing AP VoteCast poll shows 58 percent of young women voting Democratic, compared to 47 percent of young men. The same poll shows only 49 percent of all women voting Democratic, compared to 43 percent of men.

The under-30s forcefully voted for Democrats, driven mainly by women. The over-40s went Republican, with Blacks overwhelmingly for the Dems, Hispanics and Asians favoring Dems, and Whites, including White women, going Republican. Married women were mainly in the Red column, with unmarried women for the Blue. President Biden praised the female vote after Tuesday’s vote, saying, “Women in America made their voices heard, man. Ya’ll showed up and beat the hell out of them.” However, the reality is that women as a group gave more votes to Republican House candidates from White, older, married, Southern, rural, and middle- to upper-income women.

“As you look over the election results across the country, please, I beg of you, do not forget that White women are white first,” wrote Jenn Jackson, a political scientist at Syracuse University, in a post-election Twitter post. “White men are not the only forces to struggle against. I assure you.” She goes on to criticize Hispanic women, who nationally favored Democrats, but were instrumental in reelecting Governor DeSantis in Florida, though favoring Beto O’Rourke in Texas. It was White women who pushed Governor Greg Abbott into another term. Political scientists attribute the ‘Me Too‘ movement, rising LGBTQ identification and former President Trump as factors in pushing young women to the left, with the recent motivator being the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision.

The post-midterm post-mortems continue with many saying that the GOP has followed Donald Trump over the cliff, with one Republican source saying, “If it wasn’t clear before it should be now. We have a Trump problem.” The ex-president’s criteria for picking his candidates had to do with their supporting the Big Lie, which probably kept his base in line, but the independent voter has sway here, usually known for voting against the party in power. But the GOP was too extreme on many issues. Even Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post ran a front-page headline reading ‘DeFuture‘ along with a photo of a smiling, victorious Governor DeSantis. And, to add insult to injury, the following day featured a front-page cartoon of Trump teetering atop a wall, labeled ‘Trumpty Dumpty.’ Another Trump loyalist forsaking the King of the Oompa Loompas?

President Biden has emerged from the midterms in a stronger position to run for a second term, but there are rumblings within the Democrat base that he will be too old to run again, that his lackluster ratings are too much of a drag, and younger candidates should be considered. Even Biden this week says that while his plan is to run again, it will be a family decision when that time comes, probably early next year. Exit polls show two-thirds of voters don’t want to see him on the ticket again. So, who could the Dems nominate instead to defeat another Trump run, or a DeSantis candidacy? VP Harris would certainly be given a high priority, though many think she needs to develop her chops a bit further to be a contender. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has a recognizable face and has managed to stay above the conflicts and political strife. Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer defeated a Trump-endorsee by double digits, turning her state blue and raising her star status a bit higher, especially considering she was on Biden’s short list for VP. California governor Gavin Newsom is viewed as a strong contender who is not afraid of standing up to Republicans, especially Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott. Other names will no doubt be thrown into the mix before it gets settled, but let’s all enjoy this brief hiatus before it starts to heat up again.

As reported in The New Yorker magazine’s satirical column, The Borowitz Report, Senator Lindsey Graham warned that Joe Biden’s “incendiary pro-democracy rhetoric” could lead to “voting in the streets.” Pray that Graham is right on!

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


EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.

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


“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence”.
~Erma Bombeck

“An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day”.
~Irv Kupcinet

“Even though we’re a week and a half away from Thanksgiving, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”.
~Richard Roeper

“My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor”.   
~Phyllis Diller


One of my favorite things about YouTube are all the interesting historical facts you can dig up…

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