Blog Archives

October 19 – 25, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…A Ballot rundown, every vote counts. GREENSITE…on the Wharf Master Plan revisited. KROHN…Keeley’s campaign “facts”, City workers strike, yes on N, yes on O. STEINBRUNER…Measure D, Swenson &Aptos Village, 908 Ocean Street development, lack of fire trucks, grand jury and you, No to measures K & L. HAYES…(More) Signs of fall. PATTON…Complications of the Ukraine War. MATLOCK…No pillow talk, ‘cuz here come the judge. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week. QUOTES…”Halloween-part 1″


DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ 1895. This was the Chesnutwood Business College located at the corners of Walnut and Pacific. It was operated by John Agnew Chesnutwood and was surprisingly successful according to newspapers of that time. The property was sold to Chesnutwood by F.A. Hihn.   Go here if you’d like more history

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE October 17

AS PREVIOUSLY STATED. We’ve almost all received our ballots… now the task at hand is to make those conscientious and community minded decisions. As printed here last week I agree with Tony Russomano on voting NO on both Tribal gambling measures…26 and 27. Then there’s YES on Measure 28 the one that gives $ to schools for arts and music. There’s too many lives at stake to not have doctors and/or medical staff present at the money making dialysis clinics = YES on measure 29. YES again on 30, taxing the wealthy folk. YES even again on prohibiting flavored tobacco products. Too many of my young friends and relatives are hooked on Vaping. YES on K&L which would bring more money to our starving city school systems. YES on the Empty Homes Tax measure N, we’ve got to apply more attention and support to our homeless. YES on O and stop the money driven plot to build a new library and displace the center of our City. YES again on increasing the visitor tax by 1% for hotels and motels and by 3% for vacation rentals.

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.

ROSALINE. (HULU MOVIE) (6.4 IMDB). Rosaline was Juliet’s cousin from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This comedy is based/stolen from that classic and the gimmick is that they mostly use modern English slang when they speak. Minnie Driver gets a chance at movies again but can’t do much here. Romeo is a doofus and when you are using a master Like Shakespeare to steal from you need more of his brilliance to pull it off. If you’re wondering like I was/am it may be possible that William Shakespeare actually had a woman in his life named Rosalind or Rosaline according to scholars.

THE WATCHER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.9 IMDB). An unlikely couple Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale buy a mansion with a history and a serious mystery. Some dis embodied voice sends letters and all kind of messages to Naomi and bobby about their being watched. It’s slow moving, and not at all exciting. Neighbors seem to be involved and so does Mia Farrow (from Woody Allen) and Jennifer Coolidge (from White Lotus) but no reason to get excited or involved.

BLACKOUT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (3.9 IMDB). This absolutely miserable attempt at a mystery has Josh Duhamel waking up in a hospital and not knowing how and why he got there. An old Nick Nolte (81) does his best to learn Josh’s secret and that’s about all of the plot. It’s Mexico and the cartel is involved but I stopped watching after 30 minutes…let me know if it got any better.

OLD PEOPLE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.0 IMDB). This German horror movie uses every trick in the cinema world to make us believe that old people in their 70’s and above have some sort of haunting evil ghost thing inside their bent bodies. For an obvious reason old people don’t scare me at all. This plodding, slow moving is brutal, boring and just isn’t scary. There’s no tension, no danger, no threats just plodding. I won’t reveal the ending because I couldn’t watch anymore and didn’t care what happened.

DAHMER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.2 IMDB). What is/was a surprise to me is that this movie is the second most viewed English language movie in Netflix history. Like so many other hit movies nowadays this too is very deep into violence. It’s the true story of Jeffrey Dahmer the serial killer from Milwaukee who brutally murdered 17 teen age boys. Evan Peters does a very good job as Dahmer and it’s a well-produced movie. It is however extremely violent, full of gay tragedy, cannibalism and how Dahmer would keep his victims hearts in special bags. Richard Jenkins plays Dahmer’s father as the drama tries to expose all the problems that Dahmer had while growing up. Only watch it after careful thinking.

GIRL IN THE SHED. THE KIDNAPPING OF ABBY HERNANDEZ (HULU MOVIE) (5.7 IMDB). A genuinely deep and twisted apparently true story of the kidnapping of a 14 year old girl by a right wing militia member. He tries his best to be kind to her and she works very hard to become his friend so she can escape. The FBI gets involved and we find out that he got sentenced to a 45 year sentence in prison.

 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.

LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.5 IMDB). Mila Kunis has created an excellent lead role in this deep, fascinating, complex story. Her history is a mystery that unfolds slowly and painfully. It’s about sexual abuse and the dangers in revealing the tragedy to the public. Her shame, her privacy, her civil rights and how we the public react are the chapters in this generational expose. An excellent movie.

HARRINGAN’S PHONE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.0 IMDB). It’s usually a pleasure to watch Donald Sutherland starring in any movie or TV show. In this one he plays the part of a very rich old man who has retired in a mansion in Maine. He’s hired a young neighbor boy to read classic books to him once a week. The friendship they develop is deep and lasts until after he dies. It’s from a short story by Stephen King. Well worth watching.

LAST SEEN ALIVE. LAST SEEN ALIVE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.6 IMDB).The familiar face of Gerard Butler takes the lead in this tantalizing, puzzling tiresome chase movie. Butler who plays a wealthy real estate developer and his wife had an argument and she disappears soon afterwards. The entire movie is about his chasing and gunning for her kidnapper.


The Santa Cruz Chamber Players present Women’s Words and Music

Music by women composers and poets of the 19th, 20th, and 21st century. This concert highlights women composers and poets of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, using the deeply resonant and rare combination of soprano, viola, and piano. The first half premieres a new piece by Chris Pratorius-Gomez based on a text by Mary Oliver, followed by several of Clara Schumann’s lieder and Rebecca Clarke’s Viola Sonata. The second half begins with a recently discovered cycle by Margaret Bonds. It also features Caroline Shaw’s beautiful In manus tuas for solo viola and concludes with William Bolcom’s epic work exploring life and death using the poetry of Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, and Jane Kenyon.

The concert features Emily Sinclair, Concert Director and Soprano Polly Malan, Viola and
Josiah Stocker at the Piano.

Saturday, October 22 2022, 7:30 pm and Sunday, October 23 2022, 3:00 pm

Learn More   the concerts will be at Christ Lutheran Church
10707 Soquel Drive, Aptos (Off Highway 1 at Freedom Blvd.)



This photo of the end of the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf with the sea-lion viewing holes to the east, the Dolphin restaurant in the middle, fisherfolk to the west and Monterey to the south would look unrecognizable today if the city had not been challenged by the Don’t Morph the Wharf! vs. City of Santa Cruz lawsuit.

As some well remember, the city’s  Wharf Master Plan (WMP) included, among other unpopular make-overs, demolishing this restaurant and erecting in its place a 40 feet tall empty shell of a building covering the current sea lion viewing holes and replacing them to an undefined “somewhere,” reducing the linear space for fishing and terminating the ability of fisherfolk to have easy access to their vehicles, a popular activity for lower-income people from a wide spectrum of immigrant communities.

On February 18, 2022, the city’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Plan was ruled by Judge Paul Burdick to have violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the city was commanded to void its prior approvals for the Wharf Master Plan and its certification of the EIR. A case management conference was set for October 7 before Judge Burdick to determine that these requirements had been met. As October 7 drew near, upon enquiry by attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley, it was learned that the city had failed to void the WMP and EIR and staff was busy revising the EIR which should follow not precede council action.

Not that there was a dearth of Wharf work that couldn’t be done in the meantime. The Writ allows, at our suggestion, that the city could proceed with specific projects without further CEQA review, including fixing the Wharf Road and its substrate, replacing the 5% of pilings that are unsound, replacing the oversized dumpsters and dump trucks with a system less injurious to the Wharf’s structure and providing new accessible bathrooms. That and a coat of paint is really all the historic Wharf needs to continue through its second century. However, the city apparently has its eyes on the gentrified, unpopular parts of the Wharf Master Plan, which to repeat, was required to be voided by council action.

The item was finally on city council’s agenda for Tuesday October 11th with the case management conference postponed by the court until early November. The item consisted of a Resolution on the consent agenda. That seemed straightforward enough. I shared it with Don’t Morph the Wharf! attorney the morning of the council meeting since the city had neglected to send her a copy. She immediately noted that the Resolution was inaccurate. Its wording included only a partial decertification of the WMP and EIR which was not the ruling from Judge Burdick. The city attorney agreed to correct the error and have the corrected version available for the afternoon’s council agenda.

Two of us attended the council meeting in person, representing Don’t Morph the Wharf! Our intent was to request a scoping meeting which usually precedes the preparation of a draft EIR. While not mandated, it allows for public input into what topics an environmental review should include. It is clear the city wants to have another go at morphing the wharf and the community deserves to weigh in on what should be studied in a revised EIR for such a significant, controversial project before the preparation of said environmental document.

We were dismayed by the comments of the city attorney, the city manager, and the director of Economic Development (ED) who misled the council into believing that a scoping meeting would necessitate “starting a new EIR from square one, take a year and cost $100,000.” They contrasted that daunting scenario with just revising a few sections or in their words, “the court only identified a couple of minor issues to be addressed in the revisions. This is not a completely new ballgame. It’s just fixing what was found defective.” Except that it’s not. The Writ commands the city to void the entire EIR and the entire WMP. A revised EIR is the full document. Councilmembers Sandy Brown and Justin Cummings tried hard to get support for the more open process that a scoping meeting would afford but without success. Cummings then tried to get a meeting on the council agenda so the public could comment on what they do and don’t like about the WMP. In this he was supported by Mayor Brunner and councilmember Brown, but the motion failed, opposed by councilmembers Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, Martine Watkins, Donna Meyers and Renee Golder. In the final vote council did include a community meeting but only after the draft EIR is released, probably later this year. Input at that stage is far less impactful that input before they start work on a revised EIR. Although all questions on a draft EIR must by law be addressed, unfortunately experience shows that input at that stage rarely changes the document.

The value of a scoping meeting is that it would allow the community to let staff and consultants know what it wants studied in the revised draft EIR. For example, maybe this time around they should study the impact of the 40-foot building blocking views from that end of the Wharf and the open-air feeling of being at sea? The voided EIR failed to adequately address this issue. Then there’s the issue of access for migratory birds to their nests under the Wharf, not studied in the past EIR. And yes, it may take a while longer than just cutting and pasting from the old, voided document but what price democracy?

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.



Fact-Checking the Mayoral Campaign of One Frederick Keeley

  • Fred: I am 72 years old and if elected, I will serve no more than one-term as Mayor of Santa Cruz.

Fact Check: On Monday, Lookout Santa Cruz reported, “Fred Keeley, one of Santa Cruz’s preeminent local politicos and mayor hopeful, might be looking at only one term as mayor if elected. However, the former state assembly member and county supervisor would not commit, at this point, to not running again in 2026.”

  • Fred: I will stay out of Measures N and O. I will not take a public stand.

Fact Check: He’s donated to No on Measure O and said recently in Lookout Santa Cruz that he will vote against both initiatives. I wonder what “public” really means?

  • Fred endorsed both Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson and Justin Cummings for Third District Supervisor.

Fact Check: As recently as last week he has evidently de-endorsed both candidates. Why?

  • Fred: I will abide by the city’s campaign spending limits of $40,000.

Fact Checking in Progress: Fred Keeley’s campaign, in his last filing on Sept. 24th is at $39,100 in reported donations. Will he respect the voluntary campaign spending limit? He said in August he would. When it came time to file as a candidate his opponent signed the pledge, but he did not.

And, a Rather Strange Quote: Recently, Fred Keeley told Lookout Santa Cruz reporter, Christopher Neely, “[A double endorsement] is not unusual for me,” Keeley said. “I’m with my friends and I’ve got friends on both sides. This is part of me not wanting to bigfoot my way into the mayor’s race.”

City Workers On-Strike

They get up early to pick up our garbage and stay late to make sure the sewage flows away from our homes. Many got sick from Covid-19 during the 2-year pandemic because they stayed on the job for us. They are some of our community’s “essential” workers. They are the members of Service Employees International Union, SEIU Local 521, and they are now officially on-strike. That’s right, for at least five days there will be no garbage pick-up, no parking passes sold, no building permits approved, and no parks and recreation events scheduled. The workers walked off their jobs in the city of Santa Cruz at 7am this past Monday and they say they aren’t coming back without a contract. This kind of strike has never occurred before in Santa Cruz according to SEIU officials. This week on Talk of the Bay, I will take a deep dive into what is on the table between city workers and City Manager, Matt Huffaker’s, office. It’s some in-depth coverage of union solidarity vs. a city administration slowly melting down because of dissatisfied employees who no longer can afford to live in Surf City on slum city wages. Listen to the show on KSQD 90.7 and Tuesday from 5-6pm. If you miss it, just go HERE to listen to it and all past “Talk of the Bay” shows.

David Candidates vs. Goliath’s Money

Shebreh Kalantari -Johnson’s “received a whopping $118,525.29 in donations to her campaign, and more than 40% of that money, according the SC Good Times, is from donors who reside outside of Santa Cruz. That 40% I believe is unprecedented in local elections.

Justin Cummings’ money raised: $57,940.23

*Note, these figures are as of the Sept. 29th financial disclosure statement. Candidates and measures’ next statement is due Oct. 27th.

Measure N, Yes on Affordable Housing, money raised:  $35,166

No on Measure N, “No on affordable housing,” money raised: $133,538

Measure O, Our Downtown, Our Future money raised:  $30,872.22

No on O, (No downtown, no future?) money raised:  $110,056

What’s wrong with these numbers? For these two initiatives to pass, they both have to rely on people power and not realtors, developers, and wealthy friends.

Voting Has Begun

We have six, yes 6 campaigns that are endorsed by labor, SC4Bernie, the People’s Democratic Club, and the environmental community. All of these candidates and measures are being heavily outspent by their opponents. For example, No on Measure N has already raised more the $200,000. The No on O group is closing in on $150,000. (see city clerk web site on Oct. 27th when next campaign financial disclosures are due.) Our folks are doing what we always do against the predatory forces of real estate and market-rate housing builders. We are busy walking precincts and talking to voters, putting up yard signs, flyering, and posting on social media in order to even the playing field and reach voters. All that these campaigns need are a few more dollars to help pay for yard signs and get out the final mailing. Here are the campaign donation buttons below…please give generously.

“The oil and gas industry is making huge profits. The pharmaceutical industry is making huge profits. The food industry is making huge profits. Outrageous levels of corporate greed are fueling the inflation that is hurting so many people.” (Oct. 16)
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

October 17


Last week, I attended the Elderly & Disabled Transportation Advisory Committee (E&D TAC) meeting, affiliated with the County’s Regional Transportation Commission (RTC).  This is a great group of people who are independent, astute, and want to work together in a cooperative way to improve the transportation options and public safety in our County for everyone, but especially those who are blind, low-vision, or with mobility challenges.  They are kind, reasonable, respectful, and have a wonderful sense of humor.

The Committee had a full agenda, including the review of how the Measure D sales tax money will be spent.

Here are my notes:

Spend about 1/4 of money on Highway 9 in Boulder Creek to improve sidewalks Anna Eshoo got the County $3.4 million in federal money.

PAGE 148:   Agenda-October

Highway Corridors get 25% of revenues.

Continue implementation of previously approved projects. Includes funding and financing plans approved by the RTC in Spring 2022 to leverage federal, state, and other grants. The proposed Highway Corridors 5-Year Plan updates include:

  • Highway 1 – 41st Ave to Soquel Ave Auxiliary Lanes & Bus on Shoulder and Chanticleer Bike/Pedestrian Overcrossing. Update funding based on actual expenditures in prior years and shift previously approved funds between years and based on the current project schedule. In September the RTC programmed an additional $1.8 million Measure D based on construction bid amount.

Total Measure D programmed: $5 million

  • Highway 1 – State Park Drive to Bay/Porter St Auxiliary Lanes & Bus on Shoulder, reconstruction of Capitola Avenue Overcrossing and Bicycle/Pedestrian Overcrossing at Mar Vista Drive. Update funding based on actuals and shift previously approved funds between years and based on the current project schedule.

Total Measure D programmed: $18 million

  • Highway 1 – Freedom to State Park/Coastal Rail Trail Segment 12 Project: Add $33 million in Measure D based on updated cost estimates over amount programmed by RTC in May 2022. These funds are being used for preconstruction and to serve as the local match for upcoming competitive grant applications for the Auxiliary Lanes & Bus on Shoulders, widening of the bridge over Aptos Creek/Spreckels Drive, 2 new Hwy 1 bicycle and pedestrian overcrossings, 2 new Soquel Drive bicycle and pedestrian overcrossings as part of Segment 12 of the Coastal Rail Trail through Aptos Village. (also partially funded by Measure D-Active Transportation/Trail)

Total Measure D programmed: $123 million

The RTC is applying for a $100 million grant and will know next spring if they get it.

PAGE 149:

Active Transportation/MBSST-Coastal Rail Trail (17% of revenues)

  • Electric Rail Transit & Trail Project: Add funds (exact amount to be determined following receipt of top qualified consultant’s cost proposal) to partially fund preconstruction phases of Segments 13-20 as part of the Electric Rail Transit & Trail Project for professional services, project management, and community outreach. This funding will also serve as the local match to leverage state and federal grants.

Work on passenger rail transit will be funded by Measure D-Rail category funding.

In another item on the E&D TAC, a fellow from AMBAG wanted suggestions for funding pedestrian-friendly projects that would connect dense housing areas.  I suggested the Kaiser Medical Project area that currently has no public transportation and no sidewalks.


Last July, County Public Works abruptly closed Soquel Drive in Aptos Village without notifying the business owners or public.  Why?  Because someone high up in Dept. of Public Works made a decision to help Swenson again by using Measure D funds to pay for slurry seal on Soquel Drive and paint new markings to accommodate Swenson’s Parade Street entrance to the Aptos Village Project, but the slurry contractor was ready to go back home to Sacramento.

Poof!  Close the main road and coat the road.

I filed a Public Records Act request to find out how much this favor to Swenson cost the taxpayers.  I learned that the rapid decision came at the last minute, using about $12,000 in Measure D Resurfacing funds that had not been approved publicly by the Board of Supervisors or budgeted.

Take a look at these responsive public documents

I have been able to successfully open and review them.

However, it is still unclear who caused Mr. Nguyen to issue the initial Change Work Order in early June to Mr. Orozco (not Ms. Duran) for the Measure D re-surfacing to include the area of Soquel Drive accommodating Phase 2A for Swenson Builders.

This work cost the taxpayers nearly $11,000 and caused a closure on Soquel Drive that was not properly noticed to the local merchants or the public.

I have written the County to ask for those pieces of correspondence, but have received no response.

This reminds me of what former County Public Works Dept. Traffic Engineer Jack Sohriakoff told me about the Aptos Village Project agreements….”There are written agreements, and there are unwritten agreements.”

That definitely seems to be the case.


City of Santa Cruz staff announced at last week’s RTC Elderly & Disabled Transportation Advisory Committee meeting that next year, it will spend $1.5 million to improve Ocean Street with resurfacing and pedestrian safety improvements between Water Street and Plymouth Avenue, near Highway One. (SEE PAGE 167):  It struck me that this is the same general location of a mammoth development at 908 Ocean Street.  Sure enough, the Project is under pre-application review with a new developer applying.  908 Ocean Street *New Pre-Application | City of Santa Cruz

When I inquired about why the City would spend $1.5 million to improve Ocean Street and quickly have the developer’s construction tear it up, the staff replied, somewhat irritated, that “we don’t know when this project will be built, but the City has a grant for $1.5 million that has to be spent now to improve Ocean Street. The developer will be required to restore any damage caused during construction, but most of the utility work will happen on May Avenue, not Ocean Street.”

Hmmm… a developer would normally be required to improve the streets impacted by their development.  So, why is the City of Santa Cruz using public grant money to do it for this large 908 Ocean Street developer?

When I phoned the Planner reviewing the Pre-Application, I learned the new developer is High No. Cal Development, Inc., with the parent company of Trammell Crow

Here is what Trammell Crow has asked to do, even before the property transaction is complete:

Pre-application for the demolition of commercial and residential buildings, the combination of 20 parcels and the construction of a mixed-use development with 351 dwelling units (requesting a 35% density bonus from a base density project of 260 units) and 7,850 square feet of commercial space.

Is the City Public Works Dept. working to accommodate this new developer?  Ask Curtis Busenhart 420-5175


Last Thursday’s Central Fire Board Meeting agenda packet failed to include a copy of the Draft Fire Code of Santa Cruz County, which will update regulations Countywide in a uniform manner, seemingly with no oversight or review by individual fire agencies.  Fire Marshal DeMars explained this year, things are being done differently, and only the County Board of Supervisors will have jurisdiction on the approval of the updated Fire Code.

The curious thing is that Fire Marshal DeMars did not include the Draft Countywide Fire Code in the Central Fire Board agenda packet in Item 11, the final item on the agenda.  There is only a one-page vague timeline of approvals on page 210 (the last page) but with the definite date of January 1, 2023 when the new rules take affect.

Fire Marshal DeMars did say that the Draft Countywide Fire Code will be reviewed and possibly adopted by the Board of Supervisors on November 15.

The Board did not seem interested in this, even when I spoke up that the public will not know of these potentially sweeping and strict regulations until 72 hours before the Board of Supervisor meeting to consider the matter.  The Board did not seem to care that the Draft regulations were not included in their agenda packet for them to see.

“You can find it in our packet from last month,” said one Director.  I had to remind him that last month’s document for the item was incomplete, including only the final page of what was obviously a larger document.

‘Oh.  Well, you know more about this than I do.” the Director said.  YIKES!

Fire Marshal DeMars reminded me that he had handed me a hard copy of the Draft at the last Board meeting, when the matter had been postponed for the Board to review Central Fire District’s Fire Code updates for 2023.  That document was clearly a work in progress, and he had informed the Board that the Fire Code Committee was going to review it the following day.

“There were no changes to that document,” he assured me, as I stood in front of the Fire Board asking for more public transparency of the proposed rules.

I left the meeting feeling very troubled, and at the same time incredulous, that the Central Fire Board members seemed so uninterested in such a potentially influential document that will affect the entire County, and did not seem bothered that they were not allowed to see it.

A kind staff member followed me out into the parking lot, and informed me that there was a Draft hard copy of the Santa Cruz County Fire Code in the lobby.  It is 21 pages of serious stuff.  She kindly made a copy upon my request.

I have scanned and attached it to this Blog, because I feel the public needs time to read this and contact your Supervisor.  It seems the fire agencies are now completely out of the loop, as is the County Fire Dept. Advisory Commission, a liaison to the Board.

There are significant changes to regulations relating to buildings, roads (Chapter 7.92.503 adds “Fire Apparatus Access Roads”), bridges, abatement and enforcement.  Of note is the amended creation of the “Board of Appeals”.  (Chapter This will change the composition to include members of the various fire jurisdiction boards to serve as the Appeal Board.  Currently, the Board of Supervisors holds that power for the County.  However, it used to be a Committee of local industry people that would consider all such fire and building appeals, but then-CAO Susan Mauriello changed the rules to do away with that in about 2009, essentially stripping any hope of a reasonable or fair hearing away from the people aggrieved.

At the time of this writing, the document is still not provided on the Central Fire Dept. website, however, upon a call to Central Fire District (685-6690), I am assured it will be soon found on   the Community Risk Reduction webpage for the District.

Please read all 21 pages carefully and contact your County Supervisor with your thoughts.  They will review this document on November 15.


Another shocking bit of news came from last Thursday’s Central Fire District Board meeting in that it was revealed the City of Santa Cruz Fire Dept. has had to borrow a fire engine from Central Fire District because there weren’t enough to cover shift personnel needs.

Central Fire Board approved a first-ever policy to charge rental fees on borrowed equipment after three days.   Staff regretted having to charge the City of Santa Cruz for what would usually be a Good Neighbor agreement, but it has become clear that the City has long-term problems with its equipment.

At one point, Chief Nee stated, the City Fire Dept. had five engines out of service.

The 2021 Santa Cruz County LAFCO Countywide Service and Sphere Review had this to report about Santa Cruz City Fire Dept.:

  1. The Department has financial constraints. SCCFD has ended with an annual deficit during the last six years. As of June 30, 2020, the City is operating with a net position of approximately $54 million. LAFCO believes that this negative trend will continue unless total revenue is increased in order to cover annual costs.

Fire MSR Staff Report

Here is a link to the newly-approved Central Fire District’s Fee Assessment Schedule and  Agreement, Item 10.9, beginning on page 197

Does this worry you, too?

Contact the City Council <>


The Santa Cruz County Civil Grand Jury has been doing some excellent investigations and publishing reports that are meaningful.  Although they have no enforcement power, the Grand Jury can bring to light findings, based on their unlimited ability to interview people and view documents.

I encourage you to file a Complaint with the Grand Jury if you feel there is really something amiss in local government.  One good example might be this:  Why didn’t Santa Cruz County Fire Dept. or CalFire conduct an After Action Review of the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire and include the volunteers in the process that will improve planning and response for the next disaster?

To date, the County Fire Dept. volunteers have not been involved in anything except dismissals because they stayed to defend their neighborhoods and witnessed questionable back-burns and non-response.

Grand Jury


Think about this a moment:  What have we learned in the last few years about fire defensible space, home hardening and what to do if a wildland fire happens?  Can rural residents depend on emergency responders showing up?  Maybe not.  Do people still want to live in the rural areas?  Yes.

Fire knows no jurisdictional boundaries, and people living in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) know that and have to accept the risk, while meanwhile appreciating and thriving in the peace of the rural communities, shared by deer, wild turkeys, bob cats, mountain lions and many, many birds and insects, breathing  clean air amidst the woodland shade.  Forcing these people to live in a 400SF “affordable by design” box in a concrete/pavement-ladened city is a recipe for unhappiness and an empty soul.

Opinion: Climate change puts these readers’ rural towns at risk. Why they want to rebuild

Many thanks to the leaders of two very active FireWise Communities for working together with local officials to recognized the issues of rural and semi-rural living:

Your local Firewise groups invite you to a Town Hall Community Meeting on fire and emergency preparedness Tuesday, October 18, from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at DeLaveaga Elementary School.

Prospect Heights Firewise and Highland Firewise are hosting this event with the vision of creating a constructive dialogue with our public leaders on these important issues. We have invited City and County elected representatives and agency heads to give us status reports on the issues of fire preparedness, improved communications, homelessness response, and evacuation planning.

There will be time for questions and problem-solving about our shared concerns at the conclusion of the presentations.

Speakers will include: City Councilmembers Kalantari-Johnson, Meyers, Watkins,

First District Supervisor Manu Koenig, as well as representatives from the City Fire

Department, Police Department, Parks and Recreation, Office of Homelessness

Response, and local faith communities.

This is an opportunity to hear some encouraging updates, learn about the difficulties we face, and find ways to work on solutions together in an atmosphere of mutual respect. We thank City Councilmember Kalantari-Johnson for partnering with us in planning this event. This is an in-person meeting, however a recording will be available after the event for viewing online. For more information contact: or


How many additional taxes can any one property owner on a fixed income manage to pay, and still have money for food and water? Santa Cruz City School District is coming back for more…and more.. and more, without really making good on what they promised the voters they would do with the previous taxes.

I remember helping campaign for the last round of those school bonds, Measure A and Measure B.  Our homeschool was promised nice permanent structures to replace the rotting wooden portables we could stick our finger through with ease.  We all worked hard, and the Measures passed. Did our school get what was promised?  NO.  The bulk of the money went to Bayview Elementary, and to what turned out to be a needless excavation around Branciforte Grammar School for drainage when simply fixing a roof drain pipe would have fixed the lower level flooding problem.

The homeschoolers got more portables, and lost the school garden and many beloved trees in the process.

As parents, and former parents, we all know that saying NO is important to help kids learn many things.  Likewise, saying NO to Measures K and L will be fiscally responsible for those who are barely making ends meet now, and to teach those in charge of the school budgets that they have to be accountable and responsible for how they spend public tax dollars, and to stop being so ridiculously wasteful.

Measure K Argument Against
Measure K Argument For Rebuttal
Measure L Argument Against
Measure L Argument For Rebuttal



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


October 16


Out of doors, in Nature, all around us wildlife, plants, and all manner of living things in transition between the warm, dry summer and the cold wet winter. Some critters are fleeing south, others excited for what the rain promises. Some plants are slowing down, others preparing to greet the rains with flowers.

Seed Fall

Coyote bush is getting its fur and oaks are raining acorns.

The most common shrub in our area: coyote bush. There are male and female coyote bushes, and females just got ‘hairy.’ This shrub grows well in full sun, invading grasslands or holding its own side-by-side with sagebrush and poison oak in shrubby areas, especially near the coast. Like dandelions, this species is in the aster family. And, like dandelions, the female bushes produce fluffy seeds that are blown about on the wind. Right now, there are so many seeds on the bushes that they appear to be hairy. When we get bigger breezes, the bushes release so many seeds that it can seem like snow. Piles of tiny seeds enmeshed in that fluffy stuff roll around on bare soil, down sidewalks, or along the road.

Meanwhile, much larger seeds are dropping with solid thuds from various species of oak trees. For the coast live oaks on the North Coast, it is quite a year for acorn production. California scrub jays, Steller’s jays, and acorn woodpeckers are very busy carrying acorns one-by-one to their favorite storage spots. The jays bury the acorns. Scientists note that a jay can bury 1200 acorns in a season and recall where 80% of them were stored, another remarkable trait of the bird brain. The 20% that they forget become the next generation of oak trees.

Acorn woodpeckers are communists on paleo diets. These woodpeckers store acorns in “granaries” way off the ground. First, some of the woodpeckers carve acorn sized holes in live tree bark or into the wood of dead trees. And, whoever gets the job of gathering nuts flies off to gather individual acorns, returning with one acorn jutting out from its beak, which gets packed into the best fitting drilled out hole. Big woodpecker groups tend and guard their collectively gathered cache, eating the acorn stash for carbohydrates when they get hungry. Otherwise, they get their protein from eating bugs. They get just a couple of months to gather a year’s worth of acorns and it is game on right now.

Pollen Prep

Meanwhile, conifers are preparing to fill the air with sneezy pollen.

Concentrated on ridges in the chaparral, in deep sandy areas, in a big patch near Año Nuevo or across most of our forests, six types of local conifers are forming miniature male and female cones right now. Knobcone and ponderosa pines are in the chaparral, the first in rocky places and the second on deep sands. On those same deep sands is also an extremely endangered cypress: the Santa Cruz Cypress. The also endangered Monterey pine grows in one of its 5 stands near Año Nuevo, including along Swanton Road, where thousands of seedlings are regenerating after the 2020 wildfire. The more widespread redwoods and Douglas firs are also preparing to flower.

The male cones of these six species of conifers will open in January and many people will suffer. When it is rainy, the pollen gets washed out of the air, yellowing puddles and streaking car finishes. When it dries out, the first breeze of the day can carry what looks like clouds of smoke from coniferous forests.

It takes quite a sleuth to find tiny male conifer cones as they form: why not try to spot them?

More That the Rains Promise

The first flower show of winter is in stands of manzanitas, and their buds are forming right now. We have nine species in Santa Cruz County, and the first one to flower is the most widespread: brittle leaf manzanita.

Non-flowering species are also budding up: the fungi. The early equinox rain triggered mushrooms to emerge. I’ve seen tasty, fresh oyster mushrooms erupting from alder wood near local streams. And, someone was showing me photos of porcini from Monterey County. Time to get out in the duff!


Whales are moving toward their winter season spots. There are lots of humpback whales in the Monterey Bay right now, but they will soon move to warmer waters. And, there are good reports of a pod of orcas in the Bay – also a transient species. Around the corner, starting in December…gray whale migration.

Birds on the Move

People are seeing various species of warblers that aren’t supposed to be around here- waifs that were headed south with the rest of the neotropical migratory songbirds but got off course and ended up here. The summer resident neotropical migratory songbirds that are normally here mostly have taken off for their southern haunts.

I was pleased to see and hear a few flocks of geese headed south recently. A hundred geese were flying in their characteristic V shape, a fluid ribbon hundreds of feet overhead at dusk. Local experts say there were cackling and white fronted geese headed through our area at that time. I visit big flocks of white fronted geese in nature preserves in the Central Valley, so was wondering why they were headed south along the coast. Apparently some go as far south as Mexico from their summer homes in Alaska! Good luck long distance flyers!

I previously wrote in this column (reprinted here) and on my website about the bird species that migrates to here from the North, and stays the winter with us…the golden crowned sparrow.

In Conclusion

I recommend that you take the time to watch the remarkable film Winged Migration, which does an epic job of capturing the remarkable journeys of birds.

And…I hope you will get outside, maybe even out on the Bay, and enjoy all that is unfolding in the fast-changing times of this seasonal transition.

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


October 15

#289 / Complications Of The Ukraine War

As I have revealed in previous blog postings, I am quite nervous about what flows from our sense that Ukraine is in the “right,” with respect to the current and ongoing war, and that Russia is in the “wrong.” However true that may be (and to be clear, I do think that is largely true), the sense that Ukraine is “good,” and that Russia is “bad,” may be stifling what could be a more vigorous effort to terminate the current war in Ukraine.

I think we ought to be trying to do that – to terminate the war – which might well mean that we should be less zealous about provisioning its continuance. The fact that Vladimir Putin, pictured above, has threatened to use nuclear weapons in the war (which no one denies he could do) has fueled my discomfort and concern. Our own president, Joe Biden, has candidly said that if Putin does use nuclear weapons that the world will then face “Armageddon.”

I am unequivocally against Armageddon, which is a shorthand expression for “end of the world.” I think the United States government should be against that, too. That means, from my perspective, that there should be a real, grassroots demand that our leaders start working to solve the problems that led to the current war between Russia and Ukraine, and to bring the war in Ukraine to an end, rather than simply continuing to help Ukraine “win” the war.

We need, in my view, to be at least somewhat skeptical of our own government, and not just assume, since we don’t like what Russia and Mr. Putin are doing, that whatever our government says is the right reaction, and the right thing to do, is in fact the right reaction and the right thing to do. At the very least, we ought to be having a very spirited and public debate about what’s going on, and what the United States should be doing about it.

Hillsdale College is a small, Christian, classical liberal arts college in southern Michigan. The college puts out a periodic newsletter, called Imprimis, which is unfailingly “conservative” in its political perspective. Imprimis has recently published an essay by Christopher Caldwell, which is titled, “Complications of the Ukraine War.”

Below, I am providing an excerpt from this article, the text with which Caldwell begins it. I encourage you to read the whole thing.

According to what we hear from the White House and from the television networks, the issues at stake in the Ukraine War are simple. They concern the evil of Vladimir Putin, who woke up one morning and chose, whether out of sadism or insanity, to wreak unspeakable violence on his neighbors. Putin’s actions are described as an “unprovoked invasion” of a noble democracy by a corrupt autocracy. How we ought to respond is assumed to be a no-brainer. The United States has pledged vast quantities of its deadliest weaponry, along with aid that is likely to run into the hundreds of billions of dollars, and has brought large parts of the world economy—particularly in Europe—to a standstill.

Now, whenever people in power tell you something is a no-brainer, there’s a good chance that it’s a brainer. And the Ukraine War is more complicated than we’ve been led to assume….

Besides reading this article, it probably also makes sense to read Mr. Putin’s latest speech, which he gave at a ceremony welcoming new territories to Russia, such territories supposedly having voted overwhelmingly to leave Ukraine and join Russia.

Caldwell contends that “the Ukraine conflict is full of paradoxes and optical illusions, and that the theater we are entering has been, over the past 150 years, the single most violent corner of the planet…. Unless we learn to respect the complexity of the situation [he says], we risk turning it into something more dangerous, both for Europeans and for ourselves.”

I tend to think that Caldwell is giving us some pretty good advice, here, but those reading this blog posting should realize that I long ago took a position on war in general, which definitely affects my current views on the war in Ukraine. From way back when (back when I resisted the draft, and refused to go into the United States Armed Forces to fight what the government claimed was a justified war in Vietnam), I have pretty much been “against war,” period, and I am not much disposed to believe that we should all support our government, whenever it wants us to go to war.

And just to say it once again, I am against Armageddon, too! If you happen to share that view, consider letting other members of the public, and your federal representatives (from the President on down), know that you think our government should be trying to reconcile the parties and resolve the conflict,* not just push on, further, towards “Armageddon,” because we know we’re “right.”

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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

October 16


It was hardly a quiet week in MaraWoebegone for the Former Guy, DJT, as the Supreme Team he appointed to the high court let him down by rejecting his plea for rescue from the Justice Department as they investigate his heisted documents caper. There was no mention of any dissent from the nine justices on the unsigned order which basically denied the former prez’s contention that the 11,000 FBI-removed documents belonged to him and not the government. We can bet that Justice Clarence Thomas got an ear-pulling, and maybe a jackboot up his rear when he arrived home that evening, courtesy of Consort and Election Denier Ginny. No supper for a week…go straight to bed, and no pillow talk until this dreadful vote is fully explained!

The Justice Department wasted no time in asking the appeals court to overturn the ruling appointing a Special Master to review the documents taken from Trump’s Florida home in August, tearing asunder the lower court’s ruling favoring Trump, as well as the Orange One’s argument that a third-party review of the collected evidence was needed. “The uncontested record demonstrates that the search was conducted in full accordance with a judicially authorized warrant, and there has been no violation of Plaintiff’s rights — let alone a ‘callous disregard’ for them. Plaintiff has failed to meet his burden in establishing any need for the seized recordsindeed, a substantial number of them are not even his—or in establishing any irreparable injury in their absence,” said DOJ in their brief. The Department won a previous filing with the 11th Circuit Court which seemed to suggest that federal district court Judge Aileen Cannon erred by initially appointing a Special Master. DOJ’s filing said that Trump had failed to demonstrate, and Cannon failed to weigh fully each aspect of needed legal tests before a court can impose limits on a federal investigation. Repeating many of their arguments to the district court, they claim that Trump cannot use executive privilege to block functions of the current executive and that he has no claims on presidential records as personal property.

DOJ maintains that it needs all records removed, both classified and unclassified, to aid in their investigation. The fact that both types were commingled provides evidence that the records were accessed after being removed from the White House, and possibly, who may have had access to them or seen them. Trump has attempted to minimize the severity of the charges by claiming he had declassified the docs, being unable to back up his claim, while continuing to say, “Mine, mine, mine.” The Donald is persistent with his claim that some files could be considered his personal property under the Presidential Records Act, to which the DOJ responds, “That claim is dubious, not least because the entire purpose of the PRA would be defeated if a President could simply designate all of his official records as ‘personal’ ones. Plaintiff plainly would not be entitled to the return of evidence solely on the ground that the evidence belonged to him when it was seized. If that were the case, evidence rooms nationwide would soon be emptied.”

The House Select Committee may have wrapped up its final public hearing on Thursday, sending a loud and clear message to the Justice Department – pursue charges against former president Donald J. Trump! “I think they were trying to hand the Justice Department all the evidence on a silver platter,” said Ryan Goodman, co-director of the Reiss Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law. “I do think that it’s very significant information for a Justice Department with much more powerful tools to pursue a full-blown investigation. I do think that they did a very good job of handing that off, and, in a certain sense, showing what a closing argument can look like in a powerful way.” Committee vice chairwoman, Liz Cheney, noted that while it was up to the Department of Justice to make prosecutorial calls, the panel “may ultimately decide to make a series of criminal referrals” to them. “We have sufficient information to consider criminal referrals for multiple individuals and to recommend a range of legislative proposals to guard against another January 6,” she said. 

The panel presented previously shown interviews, along with new footage, tying it all together to make a tight case, the connective tissue necessary to take actions against issues as seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the US government with false slates of electors, and conspiracies to obstruct an official proceeding of the Congress. One bit of evidence presented, several times over actually, was Trump’s acknowledgement to staff that he had been defeated by Biden, but being prompted by several to simply claim he had won…even before the votes were counted. For this we can point to Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, and Tom Fitton, president of the conservative Judicial Watch group. In his October 31 email to Trump – sent four days before the election – Fitton included language encouraging Trump to say, “We had an election todayand I won.” The email also fixates on a faulty deadline, suggesting that Trump say “according to the ballots counted by the Election Day deadline.” This would obviously eliminate any ballots counted after the election date, a procedure which has always been accepted as legal, which plays into the GOP’s urging voters to go to the polls to cast ballots. The J6 Committee revealed plans were in the works to falsely claim victory as far back as July, verified by Brad Parscale, a former Trump campaign manager. David Laufman, who worked in leadership roles in the National Security Division in the Department of Justice and also represented two Capitol police officers who testified before the January 6 panel, thinks the evidence could be used to pursue charges tied to financial crimes. But in any case, it’s all a premeditation toward proving a conspiracy.

The preponderance of evidence that The Don knew the election was lost, through his comments to others, brings up whether he can possibly be charged with wire fraud for the tens of millions of dollars collected through his various website appeals, all echoing “Stop the Steal,” or “Make America Great Again,” or “Trump 2024.” Ryan Goodman says, “For prosecutors to bring a case, it’s not like they just want one witness. So the ability to layer many of these evidentiary claims with additional witness testimony or additional pieces of documentary evidence builds a stronger and stronger case and a very meaningful way for prosecutors,” he said. And, of course, the DOJ has assembled a grand jury to hear evidence related to those efforts to overturn the election of 2020. Former US attorney, Barbara McQuade, believes prosecutors have a burdensome task ahead as they ferret out evidence in this unprecedented case against a former US president.  “It is not necessary to show that Trump planned the physical violence on the capital on January 6, only that he agreed with others to use fraud to interfere with the lawful transition of presidential power. DOJ’s task is larger, of course, than just showing some evidence,” she said. “They have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, and anticipate any potential defenses. That means they need to talk with every witness who may have information about Trump’s knowledge, intent and statements, and review every document that might turn to show that he did, or did not have this intent.” 

As a prelude for moving this process along, the Committee voted unanimously to subpoena Trump to testify. As Cheney said, “the panel is ‘obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion.” “On a day-to-day level the investigation has been conducted by former Department of Justice prosecutors. That has a lot to do with the professionalism and accomplishments of this investigation,” David Laufman said. “Among the best decisions that [Chairman] Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney made was to facilitate the hiring of former prosecutors who, while dedicated to supporting the committee and its interests, surely, in the back of their minds, in the back of the Select Committee’s minds, are trying to ensure that everything they do could be a potential value to the Department of Justice, and from time to time to maybe gently put their finger in the department’s eyes to try to goad them into at least pursuing logical investigative steps to consider ultimately whether to bring charges against Trump.” 

True to form, the Former Guy responded quickly to Chairman Thompson with a 14-page diatribe, avoiding the question of responding to the subpoena, instead regurgitating his disproven claims of a stolen election. Trump chastised the committee’s expenditure, of “millions of dollars spent” in a “Charade and Witch Hunt,” instead of investigating the “Fraud that took place during the 2020 election.” He included photos showing the crowd size on the day of the riot, as he whined in his state-by-state breakdown of election irregularities. Even though Trump’s campaign found no evidence of fraud, nor did 62 courts which chose to throw out his filings, he goes on to say, “The people of this Country will not stand for unequal justice under the law, or Liberty and Justice for some. Election Day is coming. We demand answers on the Crime of the Century.” Ignoring the fact that many from the insurrection have been charged, arrested and convicted, Agent Orange defends those “great American patriots,” who questioned the election results. Tell it to the judge, Donny-boy…just like the ones you led astray had to do!!

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.


“If human beings had genuine courage, they’d wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween. Wouldn’t life be more interesting that way? And now that I think about it, why the heck don’t they? Who made the rule that everybody has to dress like sheep 364 days of the year? Think of all the people you’d meet if they were in costume every day. People would be so much easier to talk to – like talking to dogs. ”

~ Douglas Coupland, The Gum Thief

“The farther we’ve gotten from the magic and mystery of our past, the more we’ve come to need Halloween”.    
~Paula Curan

“Halloween is not ‘a yankee holiday’ celebrated only by gigantic toddlers wearing baseball caps back to front and spraying ‘automobiles’ with eggs. This is ignorance. Halloween is an ancient druidic holiday, one the Celtic peoples have celebrated for millennia. It is the crack between the last golden rays of summer and the dark of winter; the delicately balanced tweak of the year before it is given over entirely to the dark; a time for the souls of the departed to squint, to peek and perhaps to travel through the gap. What could be more thrilling and worthy of celebration than that? It is a time to celebrate sweet bounty, as the harvest is brought in. It is a time of excitement and pleasure for children before the dark sets in. We should all celebrate that.

~Jenny Colgan,


Some of these are just great 🙂

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