Blog Archives

October 6 – 12, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…UCSC Growth Plans, Pogonip support, Goodbye Lee Quarnstrom, Eloise Smith memories. GREENSITE…will be back next week. KROHN…reruns of ICE raids, Democratic cities, Airbnbs. STEINBRUNER…State money landfall, CZU fire rebuild rules, County growth goals, allowing warming fires? HAYES…Support prescribed fires, visit former fire areas, banana slugs, what loss of trees? PATTON… “Take It from Tim” and 831 Water Street. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Pumpkins”

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VENETIAN WATER CARNIVAL, June 1895. The Venetian Water Carnival was created after the 1894 fire destroyed our downtown, and was held here on the San Lorenzo River between 1895 and 1927. The event lasted at least five days. Ambrose Bierce and Frank Norris covered it for out of town newspapers, it was that spectacular…and unusual.                                                       

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

October 4    

UCSC PROPOSED GROWTH PLANS. John Aird is a Member of the Community Advisory Group, and a long involved Community Leader in the 2008 UCSC-City-County -CLUE Settlement Agreement. He sent this letter to the members of the UC Board of Regents     Financial and Capital Strategy Committee…

“For the past several years, I have been an active community-representative participant in UCSC’s development of its 2021 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP).  Throughout that process, I along with others repeatedly highlighted issues of serious community concern about proposed growth, most especially its exacerbation of Santa Cruz’s current crises in housing, traffic, and water security.  These issues and the others have been outlined in comments submitted by The Santa Cruz City-County Task Force on UCSC Growth Plans to the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee (F4 on its agenda) relative to the LRDP and its associated EIR, documenting in detail the EIR failure to adequately meet the requirements of studying and disclosing the full impacts of the Plan in multiple areas along with the identification of sufficient mitigation measures.

Santa Cruz is UC’s smallest host community.  It simply does not have the resources or the capacity to deal with a 44% increase in student enrollment by 2040 unless all of that growth is supported by UCSC providing housing for 100% of it on campus.  It’s relevant and therefore needs to be noted and emphasized that the previous two LRDPs outlined specific plans for on-campus housing and necessary infrastructure to support planned growth, yet they either were accomplished long after the growth had occurred or not at all with all the shortfall simply having been effectively passed onto the Santa Cruz community itself, causing tremendous negative impacts as a result.

Given the above, I would urge The Regents to take one or more of the following actions on the LRDP and EIR before you:

  1. Suspend consideration of approval until such time as UCSC has the funding and the needed time to adequately “catch up” with the last round of growth in its 2005 LRDP, including most particularly (1) housing a higher percentage of its existing student enrollment on campus, thereby helping in part to relieve some of Santa Cruz’s existing critical housing crisis and (2) developing the additional needed classroom and laboratory infrastructure required to better serve its existing student population.  
  2. Deny approval of the 2021 LRDP and the Certification of the EIR, directing that it be revised and re-circulated once its current identified inadequacies have been adequately addressed.
  3. Tie all future enrollment growth directly and completely to the provision of commensurate on-campus housing with all needed housing in place prior to enrollment occurring.

Finally, a personal note:  I am the 3rd generation of family members to have had a UC connection.  My grandfather Dr. John William Aird was an early UC Medical School graduate, my father Dr. Robert B. Aird was a Professor and Founder of UCSF’s Department of Neurology and I received a Masters of Public Health from UC Berkeley.  So all the above comments should be seen as coming from one who is supportive of UC and its mission as a whole while also being equally supportive of the Santa Cruz community of which I am a part.

Thank you for your consideration. 

John C. Aird 

A VIEW FROM POGONIP. Joan Gilbert Martin wrote this letter to the Santa Cruz City Council… “As co-author of the definitive history of Pogonip, Pogonip: Jewel of Santa Cruz, I am writing to support the Homeless Garden Project’s relocation to a small portion of the Pogonip Upper Meadow. This meadow is extensive and beautiful. It is important that it be preserved. However the proposed garden will use only a miniscule portion, leaving almost all the meadow in its current pristine state. In short, the garden will not destroy the meadow. 

Most of the garden will occupy land that was previously developed. When Pogonip was a social club, that area supported a tennis court as well as an outdoor restaurant. The dilapidated clubhouse, now enclosed in a chain link fence, could be retrofitted as a restaurant serving the organic food produced by the garden. 

In the twentieth century, Pogonip was a playground for Santa Cruz Society. In the twenty-first century Pogonip can provide new hope to our homeless population”. Joan’s a longtime area historian and supportive and active in numerous preservation actions. 

GOODBYE LEE QUARNSTROM. Beyond his own journalism for area newspapers, Lee was a uniting influence for so many of us in the local media business. Through his natural open-heartened humor and stubbornness he influenced — and also offended — more of the public than most of us will ever know. I lost track of how many times he got married, and only went to a couple of his ceremonies. His birthday parties were near-legendary and verged on drinking brawls….we’ll miss him, and them, a lot. He was a constant reader of BrattonOnline, and we emailed constantly after he moved to La Habra in Orange County, of all places. There has never been his equal — and there never will be…goodbye Lee. 

ELOISE SMITH TRIBUTE. This is from the Smith Memorial website…

Page and Eloise Smith died only one day apart, both of cancer, at their daughter’s home in Santa Cruz. They were 77 and 74 respectively. Eloise died on August 26, 1995 and Page, a romantic to the end, joined his wife in the early morning of August 28. They died as they had lived, together. Deep loss is felt throughout the community the Smiths helped create, then nurtured and fought to maintain. Page and Eloise were a model in their mutual love and devotion, involvement in their community, integrity and honesty to act on their ideals and power to inspire and encourage others. What they gave cannot be measured in words but stands all around us in countless forms–Eloise Pickard Smith Art Gallery and Charles Page Smith Library, UCSC, Spectra Art Program, Cultural Council, William James Association, Penny University, Homeless Shelter and Garden Project, California Prison Arts Program, and many other community and arts programs. Anne Easley, Eloise and Page Smith’s daughter sent a very short video of the show about Eloise Smith (less than 4 minutes) and she uploaded it to YouTube and is sharing it with people she thinks might be interested, or are too far away to come and see the show. She added that it’s nice too that the little environment was constructed.

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.

THE GUILTY. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Jake Gyllenhaal, and the voices of Ethan Hawke, Paul Dano and Peter Sarsgaard. (69RT). A shockingly tense and well-made remake of the Danish original film of the same name. Jake plays the Los Angeles Police Department officer on duty at their main emergency 911 call office. He takes a call from a woman, and the film goes from tense to weird, to wondering… as he tries to get help to her. Do watch it, Gyllenhaal is at his very best and deserves an award or three.

THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK. (HBO MAX SINGLE). Michael Gandolfini, son of James Gandolfini (original Soprano), plays Tony Soprano as a lad growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. There’s race riots, drugs, school room silliness and further boring story lines. Ray Liotta plays Tony’s friend, and unbelievably plays his twin brother for some screwed-up plot reason. Vera Farmiga is wasted as Tony’s mother. It drags on and on with little or no warmth or connection to the deep plot in the original series. You do not need to see this, except to appreciate how great the Soprano series was.(74RT) 

LA BREA. (HULU SERIES).(11RT). A dull and poorly acted piece of silliness about a huge hole opening up at the La Brea Tar Pits in LA. The effects for the first ten minutes are worth viewing, but stop there. People fall into the gaping hole and live in a new world, while their families worry about how to reunite. There’s animal animation that is way below standard and remains only laughable. Watch the first ten minutes only if you’re from LA.

TITANE. (Del Mar Theatre). An engrossing horror film that won Film Festival awards all over the world. With a woman (Julia Ducouranu) director, this mind bending, challenging, innovative, twisting story will stay with you long after leaving the theatre. A little girl is in a car accident and has a titanium plate placed inside her head. The rest of the story is beyond anyone’s belief, and if you like challenges you’ll love this movie. Not for the faint of heart…only for the folks who love complex and new plots. Go for it.

THE MADWOMAN’S BALL. (AMAZON PRIME- SINGLE). (84RT) A wonderful movie based on a true account of Dr. Charcot, who in the 19th century (1885) directed a clinic devoted to “cure” the insane. One woman is punished by her family and sent there. She sees ghosts of the staff member’s families, and drives her favorite nurse into helping her escape. It’s a huge production and very much worth your time and subscription.

THE STRONGHOLD. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Three frustrated French cops are very tired of watching their territory being taken over by candymen/drug dealers, in the Marseilles district of France. Doing their best to stop local crime, they face opposition from their directors and go on to plot and plan a huge drug raid on their own. The plot is fast, clever and you’ll watch a fine use of the camera. Go see it somewhere.

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

BLUE BAYOU. The “hero” is a Korean-born immigrant to the USA, who makes a poor living as a tattoo artist. He and his wife face horrible legal USA immigration laws and policies that ruin their lives. Justin Chon is the lead — he wrote and directed the film too. I haven’t cried at a movie in years…I wept during this one, three times. It’s brutal, touching, draining, and well worth your time.  

MIDNIGHT MASS. (NETFLIX SERIES). On an island with a population of only 127, teenage boys and a guy recently returned from prison start this series with many good possibilities. There’s also the problem of some mysterious pandemic/evil force killing many of the island’s cat population. I’ve only seen 1 episode of the new series, but it’s diverting.

FOUNDATION. (APPLE TV SERIES). This huge super-extravaganza cinema giant film is based on Isaac Asimov’s early sci-fi books. Those books were the source of the Star Wars series, and you can see some of the theories and plots developing here. There are floating spaceships, no R2 D2 or goofy beasts, but deep and intricate interstellar plots galore. Universes are collapsing, warlords are fighting, and the plots only get thicker with each of the episodes. Watch it  — but stay alert, you’ll love it.

THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE. (DEL MAR THEATRE). Seeing Jessica Chastain’s intricate and perfect makeup on a big screen like the Del Mar’s adds a huge amount to this near-documentary. Jessica plays Tammy Faye Bakker, wife of Jim Bakker, the religious head of the televangelist’s religion. Andrew Garfield plays Jim Bakker, but is no cinematic match for Jessica or Tammy. Because their world is so showbiz and church-oriented, there’s little chance of taking any of it seriously…much more like a comedy attempt. (64RT)

 AMERICAN TRAITOR: THE TRIAL OF AXIS SALLY. (PRIME SINGLE). This is a dramatized version of the pro-Nazi propaganda broadcasts made by Mildred Gillars an American woman who lived and played in Berlin during World War 2. Al Pacino mugs and stammers his way through the movie playing her attorney. It’s a very poorly acted and directed courtroom drama about an incredibly interesting part of the German-American relations during that war. Watch it for historical data only.

MUHAMMED ALI. KEN BURNS DOCUMENTARY (PBS SERIES) …It deserves the (100RT) and even more. Cassius Clay was so much more than a boxer and conscientious objector. Ken Burns has always been great at documentaries and this I even better. Muhammed was a brilliant thinker, super showman, and a very giving human being. No matter how much you remember about him or think you know watch this series 

SUPERMAN & LOIS. (HBO MAX SERIES). Growing up when we could buy Superman and Batman Comics for 10 cents at the cigar store they have always been repressed heroes of mine. That’s why this updated Lois Lane married to Clark Kent in Metropolis and Smallville, Kansas raising twin teenage sons was/is so much fun. At first Superman doesn’t tell the boys who he is, then later they find out they have power problems of their own. Later in the series we find out that Superman’s greatest enemy also from Krypton is none other than Lothar. Its diverting, professional, escapist go for it…when you have the time.

AMARAICA. A very sad telling of the enormous issues that immigrants face when trying to get into and stay in the United States from Mexico. Not well acted and many plot holes. You’ll watch ICE raids and babies in cages and then you’ll realize just how wide spread this torturous story is. The bigger problem of how to change such tragedy stays with us.  

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JEWEL THEATRE’S HEISENBERG. It was startling and wonderful to sit closely (and masked) among fellow theatre-goers to experience the play Heisenberg. It’s playing in the Colligan Theatre at the Tannery. It stars Paul Whitworth as the 75 year old butcher, and Erika Schindele as the 42 year old Georgie Burns, in a succession of views of their relationship over time as they move apart and together. There’s laughs, deep thinking and fine acting from both. It’s playing now thru Oct 10, 2021. Go here for tickets, dates and info. Of course Jewel Theatre is a fully vaccinated company. All patrons must present proof of vaccination, with matching ID, and be fully masked. 

NEW MUSIC WORKS. Director, composer, and ceaseless worker Phil Collins tells us that big plans are underway for New Music Works, despite the Covid related setbacks they’ve endured. He’ll keep us posted, and its happening!!!

BLITZER GALLERY. They’re having an Open Studios Art Tour Preview Exhibit with work from artists in outlying studios. That’ll be the first three weekends in October and open from 2-5 pm Saturday and Sunday. It’ll feature artists’ exclusive to Davenport, Bonny Doon, San Lorenzo Valley, Scotts Valley, La Selva Beach and Watsonville. Stop by the preview to plan your Open Studios Tour. Gallery hours are limited due to Covid: Open Tuesday and Thursday 1-4 pm or by appointment. The Gallery is in the old Wrigley Building at 2801 Mission Street. Go to rblitzergallery.com rblitzergallery.com   or call 831-458 1217.

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Gillian will be back next week.

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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October 4. 

Reprinted in large part from his Political BrattonOnline Report of 2/27/2017

Note to Reader: I am running a column written in February of 2017 as a way of illustrating how intractable issues are…well, intractable…here are two big ones, the ICE raid that took place with assistance from the SCPD, and the long-standing housing crisis.

Was ICE—Immigration and Customs Enforcement—actually a part of the recent DHS urban blitzkrieg? 

Last week in Santa Cruz began with a blitzkrieg-style raid by agents of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A Bear Cat-style tank was seen near the Boardwalk. It was reported by several residents that children were left alone after their parents were taken into custody. An immigration raid? Searching for terrorists? Or was it both? Pretty serious stuff. These actions were carried out in Santa Cruz County’s mostly Latino neighborhoods: Beach Flats, Live Oak, and Watsonville. My week ended at an academic conference on the UCSC hill, “Democratizing the Green City: Sustainability and the Affordable Housing Crisis.” It was a discussion that ranged from Ernest Callenbach’s, Ecotopia to the current research findings of UCSC sociology professors, Miriam Greenberg and Steve McKay concerning the Santa Cruz plague of high housing rates combined with low wages. They invited a bunch of their friends from New York City, Minneapolis, Seattle, Berkeley and Davis to share their research as well. Turns out we’re screwed, but not alone.

Surreal Week

I felt like it was a surreal week and that these two events were perhaps interrelated. While the raid was an out-of-nowhere slap-upside the head to all undocumented area residents who are not members of the Mara-Salvatrucha 13 gang, the conference was a further head-scratching discussion of the age-old question, ‘Who gets to live in Santa Cruz?’ The Greenberg-McKay investigation of the extreme differences between the high cost of housing and the miserably low wages paid to workers right here in Surf City often pushed hard against Callenbach’s visionary book. That book was a green revolution bible for many, but essentially it presents a segregated nation-state concept that seeks to transform the Sixties dominant paradigm into a green paradise with a hippie veneer. Who knew that Callenbach’s greening—trees, greenbelts, bike lanes—would end in a boon to real estate developers while failing to produce a cross section of housing for all income groups? Is equity even possible in Santa Cruz? Or Minneapolis, Berkeley, Davis, or New York City? 

Can Democratic Cities Be Made Green? Conference participant, Jennifer Rice, a professor of geography at the University of Georgia quoted an activist in Seattle, but could’ve easily been describing one from Santa Cruz. She said, “Our planning department continues to approve significant numbers of market rate housing (and upscale hotels) while people with families are forced to move,” (first to Live Oak then to Watsonville and finally out of the county). Of course, many of us are keenly aware of those who perform even a different housing dance. The first move is often from their house or apartment into a vehicle, then inside a tent they go looking up at the trees within the university footprint, and finally they may end up under the eaves of city hall or the post office. Prof. Rice also suggested in her talk that residents can successfully protest large capital projects in Seattle, for example, where a proposed $160 million police headquarters was scratched in favor of affordable housing bonds. It seemed to be one positive activist response in the era of sky-high housing costs.

Gawd, I love this town!

The late Herb Caen used to use the phrase, “Gawd, I love this town,” and I am appropriating those words in this week’s column. I love Santa Cruz because our people can put up a fight in the face of injustice, no matter how well-armed the foe may be. There were urgent, organized, and immediate responses by neighbors and activists to the DHS raids this past week. Homeland Security’s intrusions into our community sent ripples of fear and uncertainty through the homes of hardworking Santa Cruzans. A day later, several groups were present at city hall to confront the city council I serve on. They were led by “Sanctuary Central” and demanded a community forum to talk about DHS’s tide of terror that was witnessed by residents, many who are now too fearful to even leave their homes. The Activists shut down the meeting for about twenty minutes as the city council huddled in the back room wondering what to do next. Before additional police officers actually arrived to clear the room of protesters as called for by some councilmembers, a negotiation of sorts took place. Vice-mayor Terrazas and I waded back into the council chambers to open negotiations with the 200-plus crowd. An agreement was soon reached that agenda item 17, which had to do with Santa Cruz sanctuary city status, would be moved up so that those present could immediately comment on the DHS-ICE raids from the day before. The police never had to arrive to clear the room, and residents were able to vent about this serious and delicate issue. Is that what “a win-win” is?

Bottom Line

The affordable housing conference at UCSC cannot have come soon enough because Greenberg and McKay actually provide plenty of data, on the ground interviews, and open-ended analysis of the severe housing crisis that is no longer the elephant standing in the Santa Cruz city living room. This crisis is now front and center and may be the story within the story in the immigrant neighborhoods that were raided. Mayor Cynthia Chase, upon taking office this past January said she would be pursuing an affordable housing agenda this year. The community appears urgently poised to join her.

Short-takes on Local Issues

In between the raids and the conference, I encountered several other locals and experiences that made me say to myself again and again, “Gawd, I love this town.” I will offer a Cliff Notes version here of those conversations, while hoping to expand upon the themes in future columns.

  • Airbnb is large—$37 billion and growing—and an exceedingly complex corporation. Its social reach includes the disabled, the temporarily unemployed, or single moms just renting out a room in order to make ends meet, all the way to individuals renting and re-renting large numbers of units and in the process wholly transforming Santa Cruz neighborhoods. In addition, I fear the Airbnb model is more numerous than any of us might have imagined. It is now estimated that there are 577 dwellings, and counting, according to one local well-placed real estate investor. This same close observer also told me that “perhaps hosted vacation rentals represent even a greater threat than un-hosted ones.” Stay tuned, the STVR—Short-Term Vacation Rentals—committee is studying the vacation rental issue and will send it to the city council “soon,” perhaps by May or June I am told. But a couple of sticking points that may not go away are the existing ADA provisions along with parking requirements that could be enforced on each vacation rental?
  • Who is the “General Strike Planning Committee” and what are their intentions?  I do know that hundreds have turned out to their five “planning” meetings and beer hall (Lupulo) reading group discussions. In fact, over 100 showed up at the Louden Nelson center last Friday to participate in an “(Un) President’s Day” event. It was a smorgasbord of social justice and environmental groups presenting themselves and all organizing in the spirit of resistance during the age of Trump. Along with the Woman’s March it seems very encouraging, if somewhat chaotic with lots of unplanned planning sessions along the way.
  • At the UCSC affordable housing conference I was struck by NYU sociology professor named, Gianpaolo Baiocchi. One of his solutions to the rental crisis included: “Squatting is a pretty effective housing solution.”
  • The Fruit Tree Project, led by Andy Moskowitz, Debora Wade and Steve Schnaar, organized a work day to plant fruit trees where San Lorenzo Blvd. meets Riverside Ave., alongside Mike Fox Park. Seventy-five volunteers showed up one morning to assist in furthering the local community garden revolution. Wow!
  • From the too many conversations I’ve had with locals I’m fast becoming convinced that the enduring 3-legged stool of high rents is caused by a) the university’s ability to allow in more students and its inability to provide more beds; b) the city’s Rental Inspection Ordinance that took out hundreds of housing units, many unpermitted but not unsafe according to a certain local architect; and c) the rampant growth of Airbnb and the entire vacation rental market. 

Four Years Later…the Same Truth:

But what is really troubling is that the seat of this stool is not really for the people of Santa Cruz to sit on, but is actually a resting place for the enormous derrière of Silicon Valley’s wads of disposable income.

“Look, the Republican Party has already been bought and paid for — they are not going to do anything to help working people. We know this. But I hope very much and I expect that the Democratic caucus will stand firm and will fight for the working class of this country.” (Oct. 3)

“This sign was posted recently explaining the removal of bells in the city of Santa Cruz. It reads in part: “The destructive impacts of colonialization continue to be felt by California’s Indigenous communities today in the form of intergenerational trauma, dispossession from ancestral lands and widespread poverty. As the true history of California is brought forward, so are important conversations about what it can look like to move towards repair and healing in the 21st century.” Wow! I am proud to live in a town that acknowledges a hurtful past and a hopeful future.
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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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OCTOBER 4

SENATOR LAIRD’S PRESENTATION TO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPES: “SO MUCH MONEY, WE COULDN’T SPEND IT ALL.”
The State budget this year was the likes of nothing ever seen before…“There was a $75 Billion excess. The legislature spent half of the excess, and ended up giving back the other half!!! ” 

State Senator John Laird gave a legislative update and budget report to the County Board of Supervisors on September 28.  You can listen to his 30-minute presentation on the video here: (Item #7 begins at about minute 57:00)

A lot of money went to homeless support services.  “Per Capita, Santa Cruz homeless numbers are higher than San Francisco or Oakland.”  He and Mark Stone got a bill pushed through that will give the City of Santa Cruz $14.5 million for homeless services.  Wow.

He talked then about various legislation that the Governor has signed or await his signature.  One is a bill to set out a 5-year plan for forest management and wildfire risk reduction….but he did not say it would actually accomplish any projects.  

He talked about SB 9 and SB10 that will take away local control of land use and permitting, and concluded with his discussion that was with a UC Regent about the UCSC Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) that just came out, announcing UCSC will increase enrollment to 28,000 by 2040.  He said he tried to convince UC Regents to move the controversial 150 new housing units planned for the big meadow to another location, but they refused.  There are 3,000 other new housing units planned in other areas of the campus.

[UCSC releases campus plan, staking out ambitious vision of growth by 2040]

PRIVATE MONEY FUNDED STUDY THAT WILL AFFECT CZU FIRE REBUILD, REQUIRING 20% REDUCTION IN NUMBER OF STRUCTURES.
The Board of Supervisors heard staff presentation of the “Atkins Study” debris flow model last Tuesday, identifying high-risk debris flow areas and defining the areas CZU Fire survivors will be required to record a Covenant on their deed that their land has “unknown” geological risks.  

This harmful action will devalue property, cause problems with lenders and insurance requirements, and possibly cause brokers of existing mortgages on these properties to call the loan, and likely force the owner into default.

There are problems with this study:  

  1. Ms. Katie Webb pointed out that the Atkins Study did not evaluate the debris flow potential of the Scott Creek area in the Swanton Community, yet classified Scott Creek as “high risk”.   (see written comment on Item #12 and minute 3:58:02)
  2. The model is based on data from studies in Ventura County from 2005 and the Goodwin Fire near Prescott, Arizona in 2018, not local geologic, or topographical vegetation studies.
  3. The model used prediction data for a 500-year storm, which has a 0.2% chance of probability.
  4. Based on this modeled data, the Atkins Study would cause a 20% reduction in the number of homes lost in the CZU Fire to rebuild.

Because County leaders claimed earlier this year that they did not have the $200,000 to pay for a debris flow model the State required for grant funding for recovery efforts, they asked a private entity, Community Foundation, to step in and fund a study.   Community Foundation contracted with SNC-Lavalin, based in Montreal, Canada, to do the debris flow modeling.  

How was this company chosen?  Unknown.  And because the Community Foundation is a private entity, one cannot file a Public Records Act request to find out.  However, SNC-Lavalin, with specialty in promoting “sustainable societies”, has a very troubled history involving criminal charges related to bribes paid in exchange for obtaining contract.  

On September 23, 2021, two high-level SNC-Lavalin managers were arrested by the Canadian Mounties on criminal charges.   In 2017, SNC-Lavalin acquired the Atkins group, which seems to specialize in feasibility studies of large international capital improvement projects.  The Atkins group conducted the debris flow model for the Community Foundation.

Last Tuesday, September 28, many CZU Fire Survivors filled the Board chambers to implore them to rescind an earlier decision to force people who can’t afford expensive geological studies to record a Covenant on their deed, stating the property has “unknown risks”, and indemnifying the County. 

While the Board agreed to scale back the recorded Covenant on deed title, and to continue public outreach with CZU Fire Communities to better craft a waiver, the Last Chance Community may not be included, and will have to record a Covenant on deed if they do not pay for expensive geologic tests..  This is because the Last Chance Community is enrolled in a Class K Pilot Program for special discretionary approval process, and the rules are all different. 

To add insult to injury, CAL FIRE is refusing to sign off on permits in the Last Chance Community beyond the first mile of the road.  The people are being held to comply with the yet-to-be-approved new Board of Forestry Fire Safe Regulations.  Is that legal?

[Santa Cruz County, CA | Agenda Item DOC-2021-827]

Take some time and read the 18 letters sent to the Board of Supervisors re: the CZU Fire Covenant on the October 5 agenda  and listen to the many testimonies of the CZU Fire Survivors following the Item #12 Staff presentation on September 28

GROWTH GOALS FOR THE COUNTY
The Board of Supervisors later reviewed and approved a 0.25% rate of growth as part of the County’s 2022 Growth Goal, as agenda item #8: (begins at about minute 1:47:00) on September 28.

It is troubling to read that the County population as a whole decreased by -3.42% in 2020, similarly down from the previous year’s rate of -0.53%. The state population also decreased by -0.46% in 2020, the first annual decline since state population estimates have been recorded. The Dept. of Finance reported the cause was due the continuing national trend of low birth rates compared to death rates, continuing declines in immigration that have been accelerated by recent federal policy, and increased deaths as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

[Santa Cruz County, CA | Agenda Item DOC-2021-823]

Much of the Growth Goal Report focused on affordable housing projects in the County, and that the State’s required level of Regional Housing Number Allocation (RHNA) will TRIPLE next year.  

Capitola has not had an affordable housing project in 10 years. [Capitola Closes in on First Affordable Housing Project in Nearly a Decade | Good Times Santa Cruz]

CAL FIRE LIFTS BAN ON WARMING FIRES IN WILDLAND AREAS OF SANTA CRUZ & SAN MATEO COUNTIES

I wonder why CAL FIRE would do that?  According to Chief Ian Larkin, the ban was instituted in early September for our area because of the expected high numbers of tourists flooding into the area over Labor Day weekend.  Now that the holiday is over, and we’ve had some foggy mornings to raise coastal fuel moistures, CAL FIRE felt the warming fire ban was no longer necessary.  Hmm….

[2021 Burn Ban lifted]

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FIRE WILL ADD MORE CAMERAS TO QUICKLY SPOT WILDFIRES
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors likely approved Consent Item #11, moving forward to secure property agreements and utility sources to add more cameras that will help spot wildfires quickly.  These locations include Watsonville Fire Station #2 Cell Tower, City of Santa Cruz coastal area (wharf, Dream Inn, Long Marine Lab), Silver Mountain Winery/Summit Area, Davenport Cement Plant, Cabrillo Horticulture/Mid-County, and Mount Madonna Center.

Currently, there are such cameras at Chalk Mountain Lookout, Mt. Bielawski, Bonny Doon, Brookdale, Loma Prieta, Mt. Madonna, Prunedale, and Fremont Peak that have the capacity to look into and around our County.

This addresses one of the recommendations of the 2020 County Grand Jury Report “Ready? Aim? Fire!  Santa Cruz County in the Hot Seat”

TAKE A SURVEY OF YOUR HOME FOR FIRE DEFENSIBLE SPACE CLEARANCES

Welcome to DSpace

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK BY JUST DOING SOMETHING.

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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October 4.

REDWOOD ECOSYSTEM NOTES

Taking good care of yourself means getting out of doors, and the redwood forest is a good place to do that at this time of year. Our conservation history has focused on setting aside redwood forests around the Santa Cruz Mountains, so there are lots of parks beckoning for your next walk. Here are some things to look for and think about when you next visit those majestic trees.

The presence of redwood trees signals a lot more is going on. You can predictably find certain animals in your redwood forest excursions, if you take the time to look. Banana slugs are perhaps the easiest to find redwood wildlife. To find them this time of year, you’ll have to visit the low elevation redwood forests when the fog is so thick it drips. Redwood trees soak up fog directly through their needles, and the fog they don’t capture directly drips down through the canopy, moistening the ground. Those giant yellow slugs like the moisture, cruising around to munch leaves and fungi. I’ve seen slug evidence in the tracks they’ve left cleaning windows otherwise covered in dirt and algae in redwood shade. But, I haven’t seen slugs lowering themselves from the canopy on slime threads- have you? Its easier to see slugs than other redwood animal associates- marbled murrelets are one of the hardest. But, this year after the catastrophic fires in Big Basin State Park, Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom captured the first film of one of those elusive birds fledging! You might be more familiar with seeing Steller’s jays in the redwood forest- magnificent ‘blue jays’ with a pointy black crest on their heads and loud squawking alarm calls. Steller’s jay populations go way up around people because people are messy, leaving food out (pet food, picnic crumbs, garbage, compost, farm/garden crops) which makes it possible for these smart birds to raise more young. Artificially high jay populations are a major problem for other wildlife- they have a proclivity to being nest robbers- including eating marbled murrelet chicks. I saw the carnage of jays this spring when they raided house finch nests I was monitoring. Jays pecked to death and then ate 4 just hatched finches in one nest and, in a nest of older chicks ate one and pecked the other 3 to pulp and left them there. We need to be more ‘crumb free’ to keep our redwood forests more naturally in balance with the jays. 

           With wildlife and plants, redwood forests aren’t the most diverse of local ecosystems, but they do have some iconic and beautiful understory plants. When I think of redwood forests, I think of huckleberry and ferns. Huckleberries are our native blueberry and, though the fruit is small…it is tasty and one person I know was patient enough to gather so many as to make a huckleberry pie. For even the most amateur of naturalist, I recommend the well-illustrated Plants of the Coast Redwood Region. One thing we botanists are looking for these days are plant associations that are distinct in less disturbed or old growth redwood areas. One plant that might indicate more intact redwood areas is the trillium, with beautiful pink or white or deep purple flowers decorating the middle of three leaves in the spring. So much of our redwood forests have had such extensive disturbance- almost all of them were clear cut in around 1900- that plant indicators of less disturbance may allow us to learn more about the less-disturbed areas and set more meaningful management and restoration targets.

                   Redwoods are fire adapted and fared okay in the recent fires, except for tragic some old growth loss. People have been asking me about how many redwood trees died from the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. I say none, which shocks even people who are frequent visitors of the fire zone…people “in the know.” I haven’t seen a single redwood tree that isn’t sprouting from its base…aka ‘basal burl.’ What I’ve said is that, fire-wide, we might have lost 10% of redwood stems (trunks). Most of the redwoods are sprouting from their stems and many are sprouting from their branches. Since we will all see redwood trees sprouting from their stems, here’s a term: ‘bottlebrush trees.’ Along the line of logic of how many trees were killed, I point at a tree and ask: ‘how old is that tree?’ Because so many are familiar with the 1900-era clear cutting, if it is a large tree most people say something like “120 years!” I respond provocatively ‘Nope, it’s probably 15,000 years old.’ Redwood trees in the Swanton area arrived around that long ago, according to a record of pollen deep in the stratified sediment of a local lagoon. So, the second generation after the cutting of the old growth might be the grandchildren-sprouts of the original colonizers. 

With the global warming associated with climate change, we expect more frequent weather events- intense droughts, summer lightning storms, thunder snow, incredible flooding deluges….etc. Those resilient redwood root systems will be important to hold our hills together, stabilize stream beds, and generally keep the catch basins (‘watersheds’) intact…so we can have drinking water. If we can keep redwood tree canopies from burning through the expected increase in wildfire, the shade of redwoods will keep us cooler throughout the region. The key to that is increasing the amount of prescribed burning in our mountains- clearing the fuel from the redwood forest understory so that fires don’t get too hot, damaging the redwood shade. The best way you can help with our ability to apply prescribed fire is to congratulate and support those who are working on that. The ‘good fire’ people are hampered by public opinion…complaints about smoke or worry about fire. People also worry that even prescribed fire will harm the redwood forests that they care about so much. 

        I encourage you to visit an area where the fire impacted the redwood forest. Visit soon! Each month after the fire changes so much. This past month, many burned redwood trees broke through their charred bark to show new light brown growth of their trunks. Green needles are erupting from redwood branches and trunks. And, the biggest redwood cones you’ll ever see are weighting down redwood branches, creating a seed crop to take advantage of the rare bare soil that they need to establish seedlings. Those redwood seedlings are the key to the next generation. The wood from a redwood seedling, since it is slower growing than a resprout, might be dense and the deepest red- like old growth! I am hoping that together we can support prescribed fire so that these seedlings will someday be giant old trees supporting marbled murrelets for many future generations to enjoy.

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.

Email Grey at coastalprairie@aol.com

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October 2

#275 / Take It From Tim

That is Tim Redmond, pictured above. Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than thirty years, spending much of that time as executive editor of the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills, which is an alternative news and culture site, and which carries on the tradition of the Bay Guardian

Launched in 2013, 48Hills now attracts 35,000 readers a week. “It covers news, politics, arts, music, nightlife, and a vast array of cultural topics.” 48Hills is entirely community supported, and you are certainly invited to assist. You can, however, without paying anything, sign up for periodic bulletins. If you are interested in politics – and particularly in the politics of land use – signing up for those bulletins would be a good idea. While the publication is San Francisco-centric, of course, 48Hills has lots of good information about state and national decisions and policies that are relevant to what goes on in most California communities. 

In fact, I decided to mention Tim Redmond and 48Hills in this blog posting because of a bulletin that hit my mailbox on the evening of September 26, 2021. Redmond’s advisory – definitely San Francisco-centric – was titled, “Sorting out the upcoming election madness.” Mostly, that September 26th bulletin provided information about upcoming political changes in San Francisco. However, it also talked about what Redmond called “The entire Yimby narrative.” While Redmond is focused on a particular project proposal in San Francisco, I think what he says is relevant in my own home town, Santa Cruz:

The entire Yimby narrative—and a contentious battle over the future of the Tenderloin and affordable housing—is set to come to the full board Tuesday/28.

At issue is a plan by a developer and a local Christian Science Church to build 316 units of what amount to tech-worker dorms at 450 O’Farrell St.

The original plan for the site called for a project with 176 units, including some big enough for families. That had broad-based community support.

But the Forge Development said that even traditional market-rate housing didn’t “pencil out,” so the church has asked to change the project.

As we noted Sept. 6:

Think about that message. Forge had all of its entitlements and no “Nimby” opposition. But the determining factor on what gets built in San Francisco is not, by and large, community input or approval delays. It’s international speculative capital deciding where the highest return is. And more housing for families (much less housing that’s remotely affordable) doesn’t seem to make the cut right now.

The hearing was continued from Sept. 7. The supes don’t like overruling the Planning Commission, but there’s massive opposition in the community to this one.

At lot of it will come down to Supe. Matt Haney, who represents the district (and is, apparently, running for state Assembly).

That hearing starts at 3pm (emphasis added).

The project just mentioned is a lot like a project that has become infamous in Santa Cruz – the 831 Water Street project. What really makes the difference and decides what happens (in San Francisco and Santa Cruz, both) isn’t what the community needs, but “speculative capital deciding where the highest return is.”

Demands for “more” housing – from YIMBY proponents and others – does not, in fact, mean more “affordable” housing, or even more housing that will meet the needs of local families. Again, that’s true in both San Francisco and Santa Cruz. 

Take it from Tim! He’s been around for a good long time, and he’s a pretty smart guy! He knows what really counts. What those demands for “more” housing mean – in San Francisco and Santa Cruz – is “more money for the guys who already have a quite lot of it.”

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

    PUMPKINS

“When life gives you pumpkins, make pie.”
~a play on Elbert Hubbard’s words. 

“Sometimes I think that ideas float through the atmosphere like huge squishy pumpkins waiting for heads to drop on.”  
~Neil Gaiman

“Let’s be honest: you can’t celebrate fall without its leading role – pumpkin! You can incorporate this flavor of the season in so many ways, from candles to lattes, pies to decorations.”
~Rachel Hollis

“Media elites, particularly those on the Left, love to hate the pumpkin spice latte.”
~Michael J. Knowles

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This popped up on my facebook feed as a memory from 2016. It’s worth a rewatch 🙂


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!

Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com

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