Blog Archives

November 3 – 9, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…the future of our downtown, movie critiques, live here now. GREENSITE…On Santa Cruz: A Sense of Place. KROHN…Issues-R-Us. STEINBRUNER…Seacliff Hotel Issues, County Supervisor boundaries, Mimi Hall’s new job, residents doing firefighting. HAYES…Colorful Madrone Forests. PATTON…Downtown garages Coast to Coast. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”VOTING”

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OUR CINEMA TEMPLE, 1954. The Del Mar opened in 1936, and is generally described as Art Deco. In 2002 it was converted from one downstairs screen to three. Cohen Media bought it from Landmark Theaters. Here’s some news about Charles Cohen, the CEO of Cohen…
“In his role as President and CEO of Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation, Charles S. Cohen is one of the country’s most important commercial real estate owners/developers, as well as an influential patron, innovator and visionary of culture and the arts. With an eye and portfolio dictated by design, art and architecture, Mr. Cohen’s distinctive portfolio of office buildings and design centers are located in New York, Texas, Florida and Southern California. Mr. Cohen also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, The Lighthouse International Theater, The Public Theater, Real Estate Board of New York, the Stella Adler Studio and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
In 2008, Mr. Cohen was executive producer of the film Frozen River, which received two Oscar nominations and was awarded the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. He also directed and produced a short film, which was the recipient of a Kodak Movie Award.

photo credit: private photo collection.
Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE November 1

GETTING IT TOGETHER. Area issues keep on boiling, and it’s rare that so many of our Santa Cruz community organizations get it together to work on solving those problems. Our Downtown, Our Future is a new organization of groups and citizens uniting to apply as much pressure as possible where it’s needed. They held their first gathering last week, and it was exciting and rare to see and greet so many likeminded community members. I asked Bob Morgan, one of the organizers, to report on how it went. He wrote… “Our Downtown, Our Future launched its petition drive to qualify its initiative of the same name on Friday, October 29th at Farmer’s Market Lot 4 (Cedar and Cathcart sts.). Attendees listened to the inspiring comments of Co-chairs of the Our Downtown, Our Future committee, Lira Filippini and John Hall, and featured speakers Santa Cruz City Councilwoman Sandy Brown and Campaign for Sustainable Transportation chair, Rick Longinotti. Former Mayor Jane Weed spoke compellingly of the need to preserve the last, largest open public space Downtown, a place to enhance and reimagine as a community space, one now home to the Farmers’ Market and Antique Faire.

The speakers talked passionately about affordable housing, renovating the library to 21st century standards at its current location and not building a 400-car garage on Lot 4. These elements form the cornerstones of the initiative. The parking garage, in particular, motivated the Youth 4 Climate Justice marchers, numbering in the hundreds, who converged on Lot 4, to support the initiative as a part of the group’s broader climate justice demands. They understand that building a 400-car parking garage to replace open public space both exacerbates the climate crisis and creates a Downtown that is less safe for walkers and cyclists, making their future a bleaker one in Santa Cruz.

If you want to learn more about the initiative, please visit our website, and sign our petition, or call our action line: 831-200-4131″

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.

FEVER DREAM. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (5.3 IMDB). (70RT). An intense drama about a mother whose son has serious issues. Mom has a good female 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). A German movie involving switching partners. Two couples who 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 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. Starting in Munich and ending in Las Vegas, these brainy, dedicated thieves make for a fun and funny comedy. Hans Zimmer did the music, so it has extra class. I almost forgot: it’s a prequel to Army of the Dead, and indeed does contain zombies. 

HYPNOTIC. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (31RT). A predictable and soapy drama set in Portland, 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 … sex, violence, past lives, and the horror of having our worst fears exploited 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 feature 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 attention this time, 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). Earth has destroyed itself and these loners face the fears of being alone forever on Mars. The dad dies, and mom faces the problem of dealing with the only man left to help raise her daughter. There’s a robot named Steve who has more personality than the family does, and this hackneyed plot 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 show his son to have been 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 very French and flimsy comedy set in very contemporary Paris. So contemporary, in fact, 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 ha ha but funny peculiar!

THE ANGEL OF AUSCHWITZ. (PRIME SINGLE). A sensitive subject that should engender deep compassion, but this movie is a complete flop. Poor acting, IMDB viewers hated it, and I only watched 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.

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, HBO, 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.  

GRUDGE. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Istanbul has a new police chief, and the city is full of politics. There’s a murder, and the Chief is involved. This is a fast-paced, well-plotted, adventure film. The twists, suspense, acting and adventure make a great one to watch, go for it.

WHAT HAPPENED BRITTANY MURPHY. (HBO MAX SERIES). A documentary series dealing with the sad truth of young and talented actress Brittany Murphy. She died in 2009, at the age of 32, and had an unusual talent for a woman of that age. I’m not now, and never was, a fan – and only watched part one of this series.

TU ME MANQUES (I MISS YOU). (HBO SINGLE) This takes place in the town of Santa Cruz — in Bolivia. A middle-aged man has a gay son that he’s unable to relate to, and he’s more cruel than we’d believe. The movie explores gay life and goes way deep into visuals. It was too much for me, and I left it ½ way through, but it is poignant.

DUNE. (HBO MAX). This legendary book by Frank Herbert (written in 1965), and the movies based on it, have gone beyond the normal cinema and literary reactions. Because the book was/is so popular everyone has a different opinion of the book sequels, and the remakes of the movie. This movie is only the first half of the story: the second half will be filmed IF this movie is a financial hit. The story/plot is complex and involves warring families, drug influences and great, no, fantastic scenery. Timothee Chalamet, Oscar Issac, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, and Charlotte Rampling all make it good fun, and even thoughtful. Watch it, maybe even twice. 

THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN. (DEL MAR THEATRE). Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy trip through this lighter than air supposed-biography of a man who apparently changed the world’s opinion about house cats. It’s a diverting, odd, and curious near-comedy about a curious person. 

MY BROTHER, MY SISTER. (NETFLIX SINGLE). An Italian film about a brother and sister whose father died, leaving them with significant problems. Her son is schizophrenic, and Dad’s will says these fighting family members must live together to inherit his estate. The brother is a windsurfer and generally a low achiever, and they fight all of the battles that all couples do. Watch it, it’s delicate, well-directed and all too familiar.

THE TRIP. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Noomi Rapace is back into making good films and this Swedish film has a lot going for it. It’s a very bloody but funny film once you catch on to the style of humor involved. She’s half of a couple who go on a vacation with secret plans to kill each other. Their plans change dramatically, but I’d ruin the plot by telling you more. It’s good fun, intelligent, and well worth watching.

THE ANGEL OF AUSCHWITZ. (PRIME SINGLE). You’d think a topic like being the true story of a midwife who worked at Auschwitz would be engrossing. This movie is simply terrible, however, and not worth even peeking at. The acting is zero, the pacing, content, photography are all beneath discussion… and other critics agree.

THE FORGOTTEN BATTLE. (NETFLIX SINGLE). It’s World War 2, and Eastern Europe is fighting back against the Nazi invasion. Canadians, French, the Dutch are facing the enemy and dealing with traitors, very brave locals. A brutal war film. The battle scenes in the trenches are some of the finest and most realistic I’ve seen in years. 

IN FOR A MURDER. (NETFLIX SINGLE). A Polish film that loops between a Hitchcock murder mystery and a Three Stooges comedy. A woman is murdered, and a detective is helped and hindered by a frustrated wife (not his). It’s dull, derivative, and poorly acted. Skip it.

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SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS. At last they too are returning to a “full” live season!
Their first concert will be: A World Tour of Nationalist Trios with Music by Turina, Piazzolla, Dvorák on Saturday, November 6, 7:30 pm and Sunday, November 7, 3:00 pm. Their concerts are held at the Christ Lutheran Church, 10707 Soquel Drive. It’ll feature THE VERVE TRIO: Chia-Lin Yang, Concert Director & Piano Learn More

NEW MUSIC WORKS. The New Music Works are back with their 43rd season and their next concert is Saturday, November 13 at 2p.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.   

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November 1

LOSING OUR SENSE OF PLACE.
Given the speed with which the city is intent on transforming our town into San Jose by the sea with generic high-rises, I’m rerunning an old piece with some edits.

San Francisco essayist and author Rebecca Solnit has a quote that resonates with me. “Sense of place is the 6th sense, an internal compass and map made by memory and spatial perception together.” 

For me, a sense of place includes all of nature that is familiar as well as structures that have some history, however modest and are of human scale. In the natural world, it includes the weather patterns, the ocean tides, the changing beach profiles, the trees and migratory birds to name a few. It takes time for these to become an internal compass. When I first arrived in Santa Cruz in 1975 I had yet to internalize a sense of place. The birds were sparse and dull compared to Australian birds, the water cold, and what was this stuff called fog? Yes it was objectively pretty but it was not yet a part of me that I would fight to defend. That would soon change.

The number of big trees, especially cypress and eucalyptus that graced the lower Westside in the 1970’s was prodigious, with many over a century in age. Now all but a few have been cut down. Gone with them are the owls and hawks. Bearing witness is not easy and I feel the needle of my compass de-center with each death. Nearly every new project in Santa Cruz includes the removal of heritage trees. Planting saplings in their place is a fools’ errand in a world on the brink of climate disaster.

A sense of place is personal and to each their own. Many prefer a city with bright lights, hustle and bustle. Fortunately for them, no one is working to knock down the tall buildings, turn off the lights and plant trees. My preferred sense of place has sunshine, trees and skies dominant, buildings small with the occasional iconic landmark such as the Civic or the Palomar. Unfortunately for me, there are those who are working to knock down the old buildings, yank out the trees and urbanize the town, destroying my sense of place and imposing their own. That others have done this before to indigenous peoples does not make it more tolerable.  

I didn’t come to Santa Cruz, look around and decide I’d prefer it if the town were bigger, more upscale and then set about to achieve that vision. I allowed Santa Cruz to reach into my heart and build a sense of place for me. Not so the new urbanites, the YIMBY’s. Where I see familiarity and feel comfort in the small-scale businesses on Soquel, Water, Mission, Center and Front streets they see “underutilized space,” “dated buildings” and apparently feel nothing in their heart. A blatant example of heartlessness was when the head of ROMA, the San Francisco firm hired for a million bucks to write up the Wharf Master Plan, which would morph the wharf into an unrecognizable upscale tourist destination, said over his power point: “And here’s Gilda’s (mispronouncing the name) not awful but we can do better.” My internal compass swung wildly at that insult. If Santa Cruz is in the heart, then the Municipal Wharf and Gilda’s is its center.  

The city’s Economic Development Department and Planning Department are central players in this transformation of Santa Cruz with developers courted to sit at the table as they figure out how to make the most money out of urbanizing the town.  That most don’t live in the city helps explain their surprise that some of us care about the old buildings and familiar places. Accusing us of “nostalgia” is a cheap shot at dismissing a sense of place that is Solnit’s sixth sense. Destroying our sense of place is like tearing out our eyes. 

Demolishing the downtown library and killing the old magnolias is but one in a long list of transformative city planning projects. The passion that motivates residents to try to save the library, renovated at its historic place in the civic center and save the site of the Farmers’ Market as a public commons, wells up from a deep and sacred place. It should not be underestimated.

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 1

ISSUES –R- US

A Lot Going On…Let me Count the Issues…

  • Successful climate march led by Santa Cruz High students and supported by both middle school and UCSC estudiantes, check!
  • Outstanding soft kick-off of the Our Downtown, Our Future ballot initiative last Friday afternoon. The initiative opposes the city’s Public Works and Economic Development Agency’s attempt to build a garage on Lot 4 where the 10 heritage trees shade the weekly Downtown Farmers Market, check! What about a Santa Cruz Central Park on that site? There’s a lot of interest. Watch for a future downtown kick-off party when petitions begin hitting the streets in full force. Volunteers needed now!
  • The Empty Homes Tax petition to levy substantial fines on 2nd and 3rd homes that allow their homes to remain vacant more than 8 months a year began collecting signatures this past Friday, check! If you want to sign the petition, volunteer to collect signatures, or offer a donation to pay for legal help and print more petitions, please go here.
  • Nineteen murals completed in the city of Santa Cruz by some 25 artists from around the country, check! The Sea Walls project took one week and the results of that work is everywhere: Frazier Lewis Lane (behind the Palomar restaurant) contains three; there are two more on the backside of 1010 Pacific Ave. and over at the Mission self-car wash there’s a couple more. It’s a project headed up by Santa Cruz local, Tay Lion, aka Taylor Reinhold. Reinhold has found his calling in painting murals and designing logos. Besides heading up mural efforts in the Bahamas and New York City, he’s brought it to his hometown too. The breadth, subject, and politics of these murals cannot be underestimated or dismissed. Reinhold will be discussing the mural project on Talk of the Bay, Tues. Nov. 2 on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org 
  • And yes, there was quite a dance jam in the progressive streets of Santa Cruz this past weekend after current Watsonville city manager, Matt Huffaker was chosen (oops, sorry Ryan…) to be the new Santa Cruz city manager, check. Huffaker reportedly begins his tenure on January 1, 2022.

Issues to Keep an Eye On

  • Homeless Garden move to the upper Pogonip…could a law suit be far behind? Keep checking back.
  • Santa Cruz Community Credit Union SCCCU sale to the New York Hotel group…it’s not over ’til it’s over. The project still needs to buy the so-called “remnant” city parcels to make the deal work, and that sale has yet to be approved.
  • Legal action seeking to reverse the 831 Water Street project, recently defeated by a 6-1 (Sonja Brunner the dissenting vote) city council vote, may be filed any day now by California Yimby, Yes, in my backyard, almost check!

In Other News…

  • The 130 Center Street project sailed to a unanimous Planning Commission vote (as my colleague Gillian Greensite wrote about in BrattonOnLine last week), but still may face an appeal to the city council…any takers? Check is in the mail.
  • College 10 at UCSC was named after the late American statesman and civil rights leader, John R. Lewis. While no one could think of any direct link with Santa Cruz that Congressmember Lewis might have had with Santa Cruz, others wondered aloud why not now name College 9 after Prof. Angela Davis, someone who has been an icon in this community for many years, as well as a revered figure around the world? Check it out!

Sad Day for the Taxpayer
This Tuesday is the official Election Day. But a month ago we all received a long and mostly blank ballot, except for that one question, should 20% of the Cannabis tax that is collected by the city of Santa Cruz be set aside permanently for children’s programs? Who could be opposed to that? Frankly, very few in this community. As a member of the city council in 2020, I supported the original 12.5% tax and would support 20% now. But why is a “special ballot measure” to make the tax permanent needed? Because there’s political king and queen-making afoot. Wasting up to $177k of tax payer funds for a measure that could just as easily have been added to next year’s June primary or to the Nov. 2022 regular election, and the children would not have lost any funding, is a costly rookie mistake. Or, is there a larger political agenda being played out? City Councilmember Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson is running for 3rd District supervisor and presumably needs some issues to run on. She could’ve stopped this “special election” ballot because it was not an emergency, and therefore saved the city’s general fund a ton of money. Arguably, the 1/2 cent sales tax measure originally to be place on the ballot, but pulled because it needed a unanimous city council vote, was the reason for having a ballot at all. Seems that a cold-hearted council majority refused Councilmember Sandy Brown’s entreaty that city leaders first demonstrate a commitment to spending the new revenues responsibly, to address the low pay of front line city workers, as well as homelessness response and affordable housing., That was mistake number two by Kalantari-Johnson who expects the supervisor nod from city voters while padding her political resume with manufactured issues like passing this tax now. The council this year could have, and would have, voted for the 20% to go to children’s programming as well as place the measure before voters next November. It’s just that the supervisor election comes in March.  Given this smoke and mirrors ballot placement, the voters will decide now, and also get another crack at it in the June 2022 supervisor election.

“Think about this: the exact same medications, manufactured by the same companies, in the same factories are all available in Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan for a fraction of the price that the American people pay. And why? Because of Big Pharma’s greed. Time to end it.” (Oct. 30)

Long may it wave! How cool is this seeing the No Parking Garage, Climate Justice Now banner hanging over the “Lot 4” downtown at the kickoff of Our Downtown, Our Future. It is where hundreds of climate marchers ended the sojourn last Friday and held a big rally. “Keep dreaming,” they tell us…but we’re not the only ones…I hope someday you’ll join us….” (apologies to John Lennon)
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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NOVEMBER 1

THREE-STORY 19-UNIT SEACLIFF HOTEL GETS A NEGATIVE DECLARATION??
The Seacliff Community needs to take a look at this project and weigh in by November 15, because there are some issues worth pounding the table about. County Planner Matt Johnston has declared this project COULD NOT cause ANY adverse environmental impacts at all, and has blessed it with a “Negative Declaration”. This is a green light to move forward without any mitigations for possible impacts, such as traffic, noise, increased water demand to an over drafted aquifer, hazards of soil liquifaction, glare of light at night, blocking ocean views, ugly architecture, etc., etc.  

The developer claims this three-story structure is a Motel, because there are no ancillary facilities included, and therefore would pose no traffic impact.

The project would obtain water from the Soquel Creek Water District (SqCWD). Although the project would increase water demand, the SqCWD has indicated that adequate supplies are available to serve the project.  See page 43 for discussion of impacts on critically over drafted aquifer.  Sure, they’ll say that, if the developer gives them enough money.  I applaud Director Bruce Daniels for being the lone vote against extending the new 19-unit hotel service connections.

[CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ACT (CEQA) INITIAL STUDY/ENVIRONMENTAL CHECKLIST]

See the image of this incredibly tasteless proposed three-story with fourth level rooftop areas and elevator towers on page 64

See page 72 to read why no  traffic study is needed for the estimated 83 additional trips generated daily.

See page 87 where the geotechnical engineer states: 

“The most prominent feature of the site is the potential to undergo liquefaction. The medium dense sands and lean silt below the water table are potentially liquefiable.” yet the foundation will be a concrete slab. 

See page 115 to see how Soquel Creek Water District will allow this significant increase in water demand while claiming the aquifer is critically over drafted, but condones it by accepting large amounts of money. 

This property is adjacent to the railroad tracks, but there is no analysis of the project and potential future railroad transportation and /or trail access.  The Seacliff Village Plan cites the pedestrian/bicycle access to the rail trail as mandatory (see page 35 of the Seacliff Village Plan:

…sufficient land shall be left for vehicular access for site 4-and pedestrian access connecting the railroad right-of-way to Broadway to allow for a potential public trail along the railroad tracks and/or public access to a potential rail transit station/platform. Future proposed development shall not preclude the provision of vehicular and pedestrian access as described.”

[Seacliff Village Plan]  

Take a look at the project area on the County Assessor database GIS to get a better idea of how this all fits together.

What about the already-hazardous intersection at State Park Drive and Searidge Road?  Shouldn’t the developer be required to add improvements there to accommodate the increased traffic to the area? 

Your comments are due by November 15, 2021: Santa Cruz County Planning Dept. planner Randall Adams randall.adams@santacruzcounty.us   (the same guy who shoved the Aptos Village Project through without a full Environmental Impact Report. and allowed traffic mitigations that the County paid for.)

CHANGING COUNTY SUPERVISORIAL BOUNDARIES TO UNITE CITY REPRESENTATION?   NO!!
The Board of Supervisors held a Special Meeting last Tuesday evening and happily accepted recommendations that basically reject multiple requests to unite the City of Scotts Valley in one Supervisorial District to better serve the people, and to reject a proposed map that would do the same for all four cities in the County. 

NO, said the report, because County Staff Ms. Susan Pearlman, who was involved in past redistricting efforts, advised the 2021 Redistricting Advisory Committee that in the past, the 2011 Task Force had decided it would be better to divide all four cities between two different Supervisors, over objections of Councils from the City of Watsonville and City of Scotts Valley.

None of the current Supervisors bothered to ask why the split would be considered beneficial, even though Ms. Pearlman was logged in remotely on the public hearing.  None of the Supervisors bothered to ask if the benefits of this split representation have really manifested over the past ten years, and would warrant ignoring the multiple citizen requests to again unite Scotts Valley.  

All seemed to agree that it would just be too disruptive.

I wrote Ms. Pearlman, who kindly provided the attached 2011 Supervisorial Boundary Report (see below).

I read the report and recommendations and indeed found the statement on page 47 that:

“In addition to consideration of the legal guidelines, the Task Force’s Plan includes dual representation by two Supervisors for all four incorporated cities. Members believe that there is a significant advantage to advocacy by two Supervisors, and to enhanced representation for the Cities on boards, agencies, committee, special districts and commissions that members of the Board of Supervisors serve on.” 

I think it merits consideration by the Board now whether or not this recommendation, as implemented for the past 10 years, has provided any real benefit to the residents of all four incorporated cities.  The Task Force recommendations in 2011 to split all cities was a new idea, and was done so despite the objection of City Council leaders of both Watsonville and Scotts Valley.

What I heard at last Tuesday’s public hearing was that it is better not to make any changes, just because it would be disruptive.  However, I feel this critical issue bears closer examination and consultation with the City leaderships. 

Please write your City Council and ask that they get involved.  The remaining two public hearings before the Board of Supervisors will be November 9 and November 16, both during regular  9am meetings, but perhaps will be scheduled for 10:45am times.    The final boundaries must be approved by December 15, 2021.

Here is the link to the Redistricting Public Participation website.

You can find links to videos of all Commission meetings here: ARC 21 Agendas & Videos

Watch the video of the final Redistricting Advisory Commission Special meeting on October 15 to learn about the discussions, especially regarding UCSC areas (which ultimately were rejected). 

Interestingly, the Commissioner for District 1 argued that dividing Communities of Interest into fragments causes those residents in the fragments to lose their representation because of there being relatively few voters for the Supervisors to concern themselves with.

The website has a spot for submitting public comment, but I found it useless.  It will not allow posting unless you select your community, but there is no option for many of the County’s communities (such as Aptos).  Also, the selection of which item number you want to comment on is confusing because there are no item numbers until a Board hearing is scheduled.  Therefore, you are not allowed to comment much in advance of the meetings, leaving little time for Board members to read what you have submitted.

The mapping software is disturbing because in order to download the software to submit maps to the Supervisors, you have to agree to allow students of educational institutions to access your account data, and multiple students may use a single access portal.  County staff Mr. Paul Garcia answered my question about this issue, stating the software company (ESRI) controls all access issues.  However, the website provides a map of all existing District boundaries, which members of the public can download, print out, mark up, and submit.  I’m just not sure who will review them…

Maps of Existing Supervisorial Districts

But here is one more thought…are the existing five County Supervisor areas too large to lend effective and fair representation to all residents?  Maybe Santa Cruz County needs to have seven Districts.

WILL RETIRING COUNTY HEALTH SERVICES DIRECTOR BE IN VIOLATION OF FCC RULES? 
Mimi Hall, Santa Cruz County Health Services Director is quitting, and will instead, beginning next month, work as a Director of the largest non-profit health data network in California.

However, State law prohibits any government worker from moving directly to a non-governmental job when their knowledge and relationships built during taxpayer supported timeframes could allow inside influence benefitting the non-governmental job.

It’s called the One-Year Ban, or “Anti-Revolving Door” law

I recently contacted the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) with a question about whether it would be a violation of this law if retiring County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty were to win the appointment of Santa Cruz City Manager.  The FPPC legal advisor said the One-Year rule only applies if a governmental worker takes a job with a non-governmental agency in a related field of work.  The Rule would not have applied to Ryan Coonerty (he did not get the job…it went to Watsonville City Manager Matt Huffaker).

However, the question is, does it apply to Mimi Hall and her new job at Manifest MedEx now?  Contact the FPPC Advice staff and ask.

Read more about Mimi Hall here  

SOME RESIDENTS IN RURAL AREAS TAKING FIREFIGHTING MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS
Various resident groups around the rural West are organizing to protect their property during wildfires.   This is happening in Santa Cruz County too, given the problems with CAL FIRE’S lack of response during last year’s CZU Lightning Complex Fire.  

Here, those efforts are met with disdain by CAL FIRE.  However, in Oregon rangeland areas, fire district officials are linking arms and providing training and basic equipment, much like the Australian model.

When San Mateo County included the help and local knowledge of County Parks Dept. workers and equipment during the CZU Fire, they kept the town of Pescadero from burning to the ground.  CAL FIRE’S inaction in Santa Cruz County led to disastrous results.

Contact your local fire department and ask their opinion on this matter.  Refer them to the Oregon model…and ask when that type of cooperative work and training can happen in Santa Cruz County.  If you live in the rural areas of the County, write a letter to the County Fire Advisory Commission c/o Melissa Scalia melissa.scalia@ca.fire.gov .  That group meets November 15.

STATE APPROVAL NOW ALLOWS LOCAL CONTROL REGARDING SEPTIC PERMITS IN RURAL AREAS.
Finally, many rural property owners in this County, including the CZU Fire rebuild folks, will no longer have to gain approval from the State level staff for septic approvals to build or rebuild.  Santa Cruz County Environmental Health Dept. has been long-overdue in getting the Local Area Management Plan (LAMP) to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board for approval, causing many problems locally.  

However, the County’s LAMP gained state approval October 25. (see two attachments below). Let’s hope things will begin to go more smoothly for the CZU Fire rebuild folks.

MAKE ONE CALL OR WRITE ONE LETTER THIS WEEK AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

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 1

COLORFUL MADRONE FORESTS

No matter the time of year, madrone forests offer a distinct array of beautiful colors…and a few other surprises. Some might be confused to see my term ‘madrone forests’ because rarely are there enough madrone trees – in a large enough area – to seem like a forest. But there are such spots, a few acres in size that are especially enchanting. If you can’t find a madrone forest, you’ll have to settle for stepping under a single large madrone tree to experience some of the phenomena that I will soon describe. 

You might also be confused about the name. Madrones have many names depending on how old you are or where you live. A couple of generations ago, the trees were called by some madroño. More recently, I have seen a shift to “madrona.” When I visited Vancouver, British Columbia in the 1990’s, the people I met called madrone trees ‘arbutus,’ which is the Latin name for the genus. To further confuse things, you should know that they are close relatives of blueberry and azalea, as are manzanitas with which they are easily confused. Manzanita means ‘little apple’ in Spanish, and madrones have those same tasty ‘little apple’ fruits – mainly way up out of reach.

Berry Bright
Bright orange madrone berries are hanging this year thicker than anyone has ever seen. Right now, you can recognize madrone trees from a long way away, just by their fruit. The towering orange-red trees especially stand out given the common backdrop of varied dark greens of live oak, fir and redwood. The madrone fruit crop always attracts hungry birds, but many other animals are having feasts right now. I was quite happy to recently spot a noisy cedar waxwing flock in the top of a fruit-filled madrone. This and every year, I see clumsy-rowdy loudly cooing band tailed pigeons feasting at the top of fruiting madrones. The fruit hasn’t started falling much, but when it gets a bit riper the ground beneath the trees will be strewn with bright fruit, and then you can get a closer look. The berries are spherical and there are many in large clusters throughout the tree canopy. As they ripen from a plain green, they first turn a light orange and then ripen to a deep orange-red. The berry surface is very bumpy, not shiny-smooth. The flesh isn’t very thick, but it is thick enough to be worth tasting. Pick out the deepest colored fruit: like strawberries, it is sweetest right before it starts fermenting. It is nicely sweet with a taste like apple-strawberries, but watch out- there are large, rock-hard seeds inside! 

Dogs and people alike enjoy madrone fruit. I used to look forward to walking with my favorite dog friend when madrone berries had fallen. When he realized that the fruit were on the ground, he smiled broadly, panting with glee before getting to work lapping up only the ripest of fruit. Off he went ahead of me on the trail looking for the next patch of fallen berries, tail spinning with delight. I imagine coyotes and foxes, and maybe more critters, will soon be doing the same thing. The fruit has long been food for people, too. When I encounter very ripe fruit on the ground, I’ll pop a few in my mouth to remind me of the season. Native Americans ate them fresh, cooked, and dried. There are reports from northwestern California of indigenous people steaming the berries and then drying them.

A Colorful and Early Fall
The fruit ripen long after madrones have completed their annual and very colorful leaf fall. In late August or early September, madrones lose a lot of leaves, but they retain enough foliage to very much be an evergreen tree, casting a signature type of shade year-round. The falling leaves are mostly a bright pale yellow, but some show a bit of orange or red, as well. The freshly fallen leaves colorfully carpet the ground and then turn light brown and get crispy dry. At this same time, the trees start shedding their thin, papery red bark. You can hear the bark crinkling away from the trees on warm days. It peels back patch by patch to reveal the smoothest of skin beneath. Sometimes, mostly on smaller branches, that skin is green and photosynthetic. Medium sized branches have skin that is smooth and deep red-brown. As the trees get big, the bark stops peeling off and is coarsely netted in tiny square patterns of a deep-dark brown.

Madrone forests are noisy places to visit. If you try to walk through a madrone forest in late summer, you will make especially a lot of noise as you step on those brittle and loudly crunching leaves. In a good stand of madrones, the freshly fallen leaves get ankle high. When the leaves are alive, they are bright and shiny green on top and whitish on their undersides. So, the leaves look bright when you are looking up through a tree’s canopy; this also makes for a different kind of shade. Native peoples had a few uses for the leaves. For instance, they placed the leaves to separate layers of food in ovens. And girls counted on good luck by tossing leaves during puberty ceremonies in the tribes of northwestern California.

Fast-Growing Fine Wood
Madrones can get very tall with massive trunks and huge basal burls. They grow quicker than you might think for how dense their wood is. Two feet of growth a year is normal, and I’ve seen more rapid growth on young trees. Around my home in the footprint of the CZU fire, some madrones seemed to have survived immediately after the fire but made lots of new basal sprouts. Those sprouts are five feet tall a year after the fire, and now the parent stems are dying. So, there will soon be a lot of fine firewood to collect. Madrone trees make the best firewood around, fetching a higher price than oak. Because the wood is dense, it also makes a good charcoal, and this once made madrone the West Coast choice tree for making gunpowder. In a pile, madrone wood stores longer than oak. It is dense and dark red-brown and splits more in chunks than with the fibrous splinters you are used to seeing sticking out of the sides of wedges of firewood. Some say madrone wood is a good wood for carving. Karl Bareis made a fine-looking Japanese timber frame structure using interlaced curvy-dancing madrone beams, which was unfortunately incinerated in the recent fire. 

Fire Trees
The trees look like flames on the hillsides right now with their orange fruit, and madrone trees are adapted for fire prone landscapes. If you find a madrone seedling, it is likely to have grown out of bare soil…which is plentiful after fires. One might suspect that the prolific seed production this year was a response to the fire. But even trees too far away from the fire to have felt the flames are producing lots of fruit. So, if the heavy fruit set is related to fire, perhaps the trees are responding to the smoke and ash? The other fire adaptation that madrone trees have is a basal burl, or ‘lignotuber.’ Large madrone trees bulge greatly where their trunks meet the earth. To touch a large madrone tree trunk, you have to climb up on this burl, which has many dormant growth buds waiting for fire. When a fire runs through a forest with madrones, the madrones can sprout back from those burls, growing fast above other vegetation, competing for light. Eventually, the redwoods and firs get taller than the madrones, so often you see a madrone trunk weaving back and forth far below the conifer canopy, telling its story of chasing historic patches of sunlight. Fires give madrones a chance, but only for so long. Hot wildfires can even destroy that dense, ground-hugging madrone burl. Some of the ‘smoking holes’ in the forest in the weeks/months following wildfire are madrone roots still afire underground. You can witness the size of the pre-fire burl because it can burn so hot that the soil is cooked into gray or red brick, leaving the outline of the burl with root holes snaking down and around it in amazing starburst patterns.

Homework
Now that you know so much about madrone trees, it is time to find a madrone forest. The best places for madrone forests are at the edge of chaparral, on the lower ridges just below the tallest manzanita dominated ridges. Madrone stands might be surrounded by tanoaks. If you already know where a madrone forest might be, go to it! This is a great time to visit, especially for fall season crunchy leaf smell, sound and sight sensations or for bird watching. I suggest sidling up to a big madrone tree and give it a hug while standing on its sturdy burl.

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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October 29

#301 / Downtown Garages, Coast To Coast

Asbury Park is a beachfront city located on the Jersey Shore, a recreational area for New York City residents. Asbury Park has a beachfront Boardwalk, and is one of three cities covered by the triCity News

The triCity News is an alternative newspaper focusing on the arts, culture and politics in eastern Monmouth County, New Jersey. The picture above is from the newspaper’s website. There is no way to read the triCity News online because the paper wants you to read what they have to say in the old-fashioned way – on paper. One section of the triCity News website is titled, “No News,” and here is what it tells us: 

Too many print publications today put their content online, free of charge and then wonder why their paper version went belly up. We understand that in the fast paced world of news, you must have an online presence to compete. But at triCityNews, we don’t have to worry about keeping up with the media Jones. That’s because we create our own news…. All of what you see and read in triCity is 100% original to us.

One of my friends recently visited Asbury Park, and he came away with a couple of pages ripped from the September 30, 2021, edition of the newspaper. That’s why I am able to report what’s going on there, which seems strangely similar to what is going on here, in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California.

Apparently, the City Council in Asbury Park is considering building a new downtown parking garage, and it appears that the triCity News thinks that’s a bad idea. In an opinion column on page eight, titled “Publisher’s Message,” publisher Dan Jacobson comes out strongly against that proposed downtown parking garage, urging City Council Members to reject the idea: “The downtown stakeholders aren’t stupid. And our city officials shouldn’t be either.”

Seems like this idea of building downtown parking garages, using public funds (some of the funds being library funds, in the case of Santa Cruz) is not restricted to our own little city. We and Asbury Park, on opposite coasts, are both small cities with beachfront boardwalks, and both Santa Cruz and Asbury Park are catering to the recreational needs of massive urban centers nearby. 

Where do we differ? Well, in Asbury Park, the City Council has tabled the proposal to move forward on a downtown parking garage. Here? Just the opposite. The Santa Cruz City Council has voted to move ahead, and is spending a lot of money to advance the downtown parking garage dream. Those not keen on the idea (and there are a lot of them) call the Santa Cruz version the “Taj Garage.” 

In Asbury Park, the publisher of the triCity News is not confident that the City Council will keep that tabled motion on the table. He’s concerned that the Council might still move ahead with the downtown parking garage plan. If that were to happen, he says, “they’ve got to at least hold a referendum on it. This Publisher sure hopes it doesn’t come to that, as such referendums are unnecessarily divisive. That’s why it shouldn’t get that far. Let’s move on and forget this even happened.”

In Santa Cruz, where the Council did vote to move ahead with the downtown parking garage plan – with the Santa Cruz Council tossing in some affordable housing to sweeten the deal – an effort is now underway to let the voters vote on this idea. In other words, just what the publisher of the triCity News said should happen in Asbury Park, New Jersey is actually happening in Santa Cruz, California. 

Today (Oct.29)  in fact, there is a big kickoff celebration for an initiative campaign to terminate the Taj Garage plan, while still providing for affordable housing and a library. If you’d like to find out more, you can click this link and/or show up at the Farmers’ Market Parking Lot at 1:00 o’clock this afternoon. 

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

    VOTING

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
~Abraham Lincoln 

“It’s not the voting that’s democracy; it’s the counting.”
~ Tom Stoppard 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr 

“We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
~Thomas Jefferson 

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
~ Plato

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I love Mark Rober. He is brilliant and amusing, and he does really good work. This is about a fundraiser he is doing to clean 30 million pounds of trash out of the ocean.


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
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