Blog Archives

September 16 – 22, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…reusable shopping bag rules, Vice-Mayor Meyers property, The Social Dilemma, UCSC growth plans. GREENSITE…on final days for the future of the Wharf. KROHN…follow the developer money, list of developments. STEINBRUNER…Soquel Creek Water board candidates, Board of Supes and $27 millionon virus issues, no hotel at 7th and Brommer, Health Services’ empty words, merging fire districts. PATTON…Old age and Page Smith. JENSEN…local movie theatres open and showing The Personal History of David Copperfield. EAGAN…classic and brilliant Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES… “FORESTS”

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TROLLEY TO THE VUE DE L’EAU CASINO. 1893.

The Casino is to the right. This was at Woodrow Avenue near Garfield Park.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email photo@brattononline.com

SANTA CRUZ PIER FISHING. That’s pier, not wharf.

ANDY KAUFMANN DOES ELVIS IMPRESSION ON Johnny Carson show 1977.

DATELINE SEPTEMBER 14

REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS…RULES NEEDED. Now that the “R” months are back I was out shopping for my favorite food since early childhood…raw oysters. Being semi-environmentally concerned, I always bring one of my reusable shopping bags. I was puzzled and weirded-out to find; Shoppers Corners has signs outside stating NO reusable bags allowed inside. Safeway cashiers almost always bag your reusable bags gladly. Staff Of Life cashiers allow you to bring in your bags but won’t touch them. Lucky cashiers touch your bags but won’t pack them for you. Why hasn’t our county or state authorities stepped in to investigate this crazy situation and issue standard & safe rules for all grocery stores, chain and independents to follow? 

VICE MAYOR MEYERS PROPERTY QUESTION. Last week in this space I ran a photo and a treatise on an unsigned bunch of documents and notes from 2015 that I received regarding the legality of Vice Mayor Donna Meyers zoning laws, and her house plot being legal…or not. Readers wondered why I ran all of it… and now I’m wondering too. In all my 45 years of writing weekly columns I’ve never received such an anonymous package. Even though this is now, and always has been, an opinion column and not news (or even fake news), I figured it was maybe the tip of a huge neighborhood issue that needed solving. I figured that since it wasn’t signed the sender must figure there would be some huge reaction. There wasn’t. The sender is probably a former friend of Donna’s, or a very angry neighbor who still holds a grudge. Thanks to all of you who wrote and woke me up. 

THE SOCIAL DILEMMA. This one hour and 20 minute documentary a Netflix original is so important, good, and timely that I’m taking it out of my film critiques so you’ll be sure not to miss it. It focuses on the control the internet has over us now, and the inevitable growth it will take as time goes by. The control goes much deeper than your searching for a toaster on Amazon and seeing toasters pop up on the next 20 screens you open. It’s about how Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and many more are controlling how long we watch and how often we click on any site, then selling the data from our views to advertisers. They work hard to change our groups of friends, to bring people with similar views together politically or religiously — and change our lives in the process. My notes while watching say things like…the future Utopia or oblivion, causing a civil war, ruining a global economy, prioritizing what keeps us on our screen, election advertising, existential threat, can’t agree on what is truth, assault on democracy” and on and on. Do see this documentary and think about it and us and yourself.  

UCSC GROWTH PLANS. Fred Geiger sent the following quote from a group titled “Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods”…“The California Supreme Court is allowing a neighborhood group to sue UC Berkeley for allegedly failing to consider and reduce the local impacts of an enrollment of more than 8,000 since 2005”. Fred adds that he thinks it would be a good idea if applied locally, like right here.

STREAMERS, SCREENERS,  CRIES & CRITIQUES. With atypical (no ads) fanfare the local Santa Cruz Regal 9, Capitola’s and Scott’s Valley movie theatres re-opened this week! (See Lisa Jensen’s review of David Copperfield below.) Also UCSC reversed its’ shutting of station KZSC so Dangerous Dan Orange will be back again this Friday from 6 am -9am with Bushwhackers Breakfast Club and I’ll be critiquing films from 8:10- 8:30 am. “Coast Elites” is HBO’s masterful so called comedy that centers on our very present trials and tribulations caused by Trump, fires, and solitary confinement in our own homes. Better Midler starts the series of 5 monologues. It’s new, innovative and immensely thought producing. Watch it, think about it. See my separate critique of “The Social Dilemma” in the spaces above. To repeat last weeks’ critiques… 

I’m still enthralled with watching RAKE. It’s one of the most consistent brilliant funny, curious, serious, series I’ve ever seen. It’s a Netflix feature from Australia back in 2010. This week Netflix introduced Charlie Kaufmann’s newest movie “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”. You need warnings about Kaufmann’s films. Remember “Being John Malkovich”, “Synecdoche, New York” and especially “Eternal Sunshine of the Eternal Mind”. “I’m Thinking” is one of his impressionistic, dreamlike. Psychological adventure voyages. It’ll stay with you for days after.” Lovecraft Country” on HBO is also well worth your time and your mental gymnastics. I almost forgot and it should be forgotten…it’s AWAY starring Hillary Swank on HBO. It’s a series of Hollywood tripe at its corniest about five very mismatched astronauts on their way to Mars from the moon. The first episode is taut at times when they do some space walking outside their space ship but it’s downhill from there.

September 14

A SHORT WALK ON A LONG PIER 
The city took 4 years to draft an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the widely unpopular changes it is planning for the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf (actually a pier but popularly called the Wharf). Comments on the draft EIR were received  from 3 state and local agencies, 4 organizations and 27 individuals. Agencies raised issues, all organizations documented serious concerns and all but 1 of 27 individuals opposed the make-over. Ever the optimist, I had some expectation the city would respond to the issues raised and amend the draft for the final EIR released last week. That did not happen. The final EIR is substantially no different from the draft. 

One tiny change is the reassurance that the 8 feet tall, 70 feet wide proposed entrance sign may not end up being that wide after future public input. However if the EIR is approved unamended by council, that sets the legal stage for the sign to be that wide. Another small change is to add the phrase “cruise ships” to the entry that says the second boat landing, designed for 200 ton displacement vessels, “is not intended” for tenders from large vessels including “cruise ships”. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. One member of the public requested that the wording be changed to will not be used for tenders from cruise ships.”  That request was ignored. 

For those unfamilar with how the process works, an agency’s curt dismissal of one’s heartfelt comments can feel rude. CEQA (CA Environmental Quality Act) requires an agency to study and assess specific environmental impacts from a proposed project: Aesthetics, Biological Resources; Cultural Resources; Geology; Transportation; Water; Untilities; Enegy and Land Use. Personal opinions are invalid unless grounded in analysis of the listed categories. The loss of the Snowy Egret pictured is irrelevant according to the city since it doesn’t breed here. That it is magical to have its presence on the Wharf is neither here nor there. The task is to show that the agency has failed to adequately assess or mitigate the impacts. Expressions of opposition to a Project, relevant in the political realm such as at council meetings are ignored or dismissed under CEQA as in the following city’s standard response to comments:

Wharf Expansion. The comments states that the proposed wharf expansion will “seriously diminish an important community resource.” Response: The comment is acknowledged, but does not address analyses in the DEIR and no response is required.

Or, this from another individual: I mean renovate by all means, but taking my kids up there as a single dad at the weekends so they could watch guys fishing, peep down at the sea lions – eat breakfast perhaps or get a bowl of chowder. But please don’t change what it is to so many – its one of the last charming structures the city has left – please don’t destroy it. Response: The comment is acknowledged, but does not address analyses in the DEIR and no response is required.

Many comments received were summarily dismissed. There is nothing wrong with that. To do otherwise would show the city’s ignorance of CEQA and it would not be in their self-interest. However, the dismissal of comments that do fall under CEQA and raise substantive issues is another matter. The final EIR is riddled with distortions and dismissals of legitimate environmental concerns from the Sierra Club as well as other environmental groups.

At the public hearings expect rebuttals that include job creation from all the proposed new construction on the wharf, akin to applauding job creation for new construction following the loss of homes from the wildfires. Expect reference to the low-income, the disadvantaged, the minorities who will benefit from all the new jobs that will magically appear with the Wharf Master Plan’s ability to attract reinvestment, a shaky claim at best. The WMP is all about gentrification and the losers will be the thousands who have expressed their love of the current Wharf including those of modest means who cu rrently enjoy fishing, viewing the sea-lions and maybe that bowl of chowder that will unsurprisingly cost twice as much after the dust settles; the sea-lion viewing holes are covered up, the fishing areas much reduced and tangled up with pedestrians and bicycles. All that glitters is not gold.

To read the final EIR, go here. Make sure it is the Final EIR (the city’s website is not user friendly). Scroll down to Section 4, Comments and Responses. Read carefully since the Response is hidden in the text following each Comment.

The two hearings that will decide the future of the Wharf are October 1st at the Planning Commission and October 13th at City Council.

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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September 14

JUST FOLLOW THE MONEY
This is a theme I return to this week, follow the money, because a lot of it is on the table in Santa Cruz, and especially since the writer most closely related to this phrase, Bob Woodward, was back in the news this week. He’s likely only following his own money trail as he stands to receive enormous profits from a recently published book. Seems like he conducted multiple interviews with Donald Trump over the past several months, but revealed nothing until last week. Woodward’s rightly being criticized for not revealing his own Donald Trump tapes until now. His new book is called, Rage. What is rather disturbing is that if we follow the money in Woodward’s Rage case, it seems to lead to his tape revelations coming when he can maximize coverage, and ultimately sales, of the new book. He did 18 interviews and some of what Trump told Woodward about the Covid-19 pandemic flatly contradicted Trump’s own public statements earlier this year. It is not surprising Trump would lie, but that Woodward did not reveal such damning contradictions earlier.

Following the Money Locally
But in following the money in Santa Cruz real estate and development, as we will this week, you will see that it leads to the rich getting richer, more of the middle and lower middle-class leaving town, and the poor seeking camping space in San Lorenzo Park or at the latest camp site cattycorner to the infamous, Ross Camp, along Highway 1 at River Street. Of course, it is more difficult to follow the Santa Cruz money trail. There is no Woodward. No Bernstein. There will likely not be an All the President’s Men blockbuster movie to protect the community from predatory capitalist practices either. In the movie, the Woodward character played by Robert Redford has arrived at a dead end in the Watergate story and is looking to Deep Throat, who we now know was Mark Felt the number two guy at the FBI at the time, for more information about presidential misdeeds. In the movie, Deep Throat says, “Forget the myths the media’s created about the White House…these are not very bright guys. Things get out of hand. Follow the money. Just follow the money.” 

Stewards of Santa Cruz
So, let’s forget the myths created about “housing providers,” about what “affordable housing” is in reality, and about how much money it costs to “pencil” out a project. Let’s just follow the money. Who’s it up to if we are to preserve community values and not allow Santa Cruz to be sold for short-term monetary, and in some cases, political gain? It is up to the public, the city council, the city commission process, and the courts to protect residents from the continuous housing development schemes now playing out in the guise of we need housing now…all housing is equal…and one of my favorites, of course I’m for affordable housingIf you look over this Santa Cruz Planning Department web site it becomes quickly obvious for whom housing in this town might be being built. And with the catastrophic wild fires, the continued pandemic, and UCSC students turning toward on-line classes, we will be seeing more second home buyers, displaced fire victims, and Silicon Valley tech workers who for the most part, are all now free to work from home. The following projects are not the only ones being built or proposed, just the largest. There are others on the Planning Department web page as well.

What’s on the Table?

  • 190 West Cliff. It will contain 89 condos and two levels of underground parking, which will be dug into the west cliff of Santa Cruz. It will be a development that will shadow neighbors living in the mobile home park next door. It squeaked by on a 4-3 city council vote and was vehemently opposed by several neighbors in the area. The neighbors’ pleas now wait for a Coastal Commission decision on the project. Status: Approved.
  • 908 Ocean Street. The project will combine 20 parcels along Ocean Street between Water and Marianne’s Ice Cream in order to build 408 “small ownership units.” Is this the largest housing project ever undertaken in Santa Cruz? I think so. The Planning Department web site says the city’s Planning Commission will meet this Thursday, Sept. 17 at 7pm, but this project is not on their current agenda. Tune in to the Planning CommissionZoom Meeting – Meeting ID# 934 9841 1853. Status: Plans submitted.
  • 1930 Ocean Street Extension. Originally 40 units, but scaled back to 32-unit “residential condominium project.” The property sits across from the Santa Cruz Memorial Cemetery. Status: Approved, but as I understand may be facing a law suit by neighbors.
  • 428 to 508 Front Street(along the San Lorenzo River). This is proposed to be a “seven-story, mixed -use building with 175 residential condos.” Funny thing is the developer is proposing building 20 units of affordable housing, but the current city inclusionary ordinance calls for 20% of the units to be affordable, which is a total of 35. What gives? Status: Plans submitted.
  • 101 Felix Street. Cyprus Point Apartments’ out of town owners seek to expand the 240-unit mistake at the end of Felix Street. The management is arguably one of the most egregious in town and the owners want to add 100 more units to a riparian corridor. This project was turned down at the last city council meeting, but I have heard the Planning Director, Lee Butler, desperately wishes to bring it back to council and get it approved. So neighbors, please stay vigilant on this one. Status: Not out of the water yet.
  • 530 Front Street. This project will be “170 residential condominiums (to be made available as rental apartments) with frontage on Front Street, Soquel Avenue, and the San Lorenzo River levee…”Status: Plans submitted.
“Unbelievably—as the West Coast burns amidst record-breaking temperature—Trump continues to deny the reality of climate change. Despite his delusions, we must take on the fossil fuel industry & transform our energy system to sustainable energy. The future of the planet is at stake.” (Sept. 14)
(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His term ended in April of 2020.

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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September 14, 2020

TWO EXCELLENT CANDIDATES FOR SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT BOARD
Two excellent and well-qualified people with loads of experience and respect for the ratepayers are running for the Board of Soquel Creek Water District.  Mr. Corrie Kates and Ms. Maria Marsilio will bring a new voice for the ratepayers and work to get customer rates to an affordable level.  They recognize that the District’s plan to treat and inject sewage water into the aquifer is either environmentally sound nor affordable for the customers.

Join them every Thursday (Sept.17 )at 7pm for a Zoom meeting to ask questions, or meet them in person every Saturday morning at the Cabrillo Farmers Market.  katesandmarsilio.com – Time for a Change   (look under ‘Events’ for Zoom access information)

  • The incumbents approved increasing rates significantly every year for five years to pay for the PureWater Soquel Project before they even approved the environmental analysis of the Project.
  • The incumbents approved adjusting the Tier 1 levels to maximize revenues from families of over 3 in a household to pay for the expensive PureWater Soquel Project.
  • The incumbents have approved over nine separate consultant contracts for the PureWater Soquel Project, causing the construction cost to double to at least $200 Million, including debt burden to the rate payers.  That equates to over $13,000 per customer!
  • The PureWater Soquel Project operations requires yet another big contract for specialized staff because the District staff do not have the necessary expertise. 
  • The PureWater Soquel Project would require significant energy to operate, driving the up annual operations costs by at least $2.5 Million that ratepayers will have to shoulder.
  • Engineer studies have shown that a number of contaminants cannot be completely removed by the energy-intensive purification process but since these contaminants are not regulated by the State, Soquel Creek Water District plans to inject the treated sewage water into the groundwater drinking water supply anyway.
  •  Chairman Bruce Daniels wrote this in response to a citizen’s question as to why the District continued to pump and sell water known to have high levels of the carcinogen 1,2,3-TCP to Seascape and La Selva Beach customers:

    “If a well is unused for even 12 months, then the State DWR declares that
    the well is abandoned and mandates that it be destroyed. Given how many
    millions of dollars we have invested in that one well and therefore how
    many millions we would need to spend to replace that well, then we can
    not risk its loss.”

With that attitude, can people trust the District to stop PureWater Soquel operations if something goes wrong? 

We cannot afford to keep incumbents Bruce Daniels or Tom LaHue on the Board of Directors for Soquel Creek Water District.  We do not want to be forced to drink expensive sewage water with unknown and potentially toxic contaminants. 

These two incumbents have been on the Board for 17-20 years.

It’s Time for a Change! 

Vote for Corrie Kates and Maria Marsilio 

COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS APPROVES SPENDING $27.7 MILLION FOR VIRUS PROBLEMS
The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors is under the gun to quickly spend $27.7 Million in State and Federal money to cover issues related to the economic shutdown ordered by Governor Newsom, and which they happily went along with to get money.  “Time is of the essence to spend these funds..” since it all has to be spent by December 30.  The question is: Why? 

Accept and file status report on the Coronavirus Relief Fund programs, as recommended by the County Administrative Officer – Santa Cruz County, CA  

The title of Consent Agenda Item #25 lends no information to the public regarding how monumental this item really is.  How is the County spending that wave of state and federal revenue, soon to become a tsunami of public debt?  A friend was kind enough to go digging for me to get this information while I was out cutting brush with my neighbors to improve fire defensible space.  Take a look at the staggering figures that are vaguely explained in the attachments at the end of this blog. 

The $264,500 plumbing maintenance expense makes me wonder.   Food costs of $11,156,680 and another $16,200 is remarkable… that’s those catered meals 3 times per day to the people staying in the six County-rented hotels, I suppose.

The eyebrow-raiser is the two “Contributions to Other Agencies” for $1,619,000 and $1,500.000.  What are those other agencies and what did they do to justify receiving such a massive amount of public money?  No details given.

I wonder where I might find the pay for the four people who have been sitting in a room on the 3rd floor, Monday-Saturday, 8am-6pm, waiting for someone to call with questions about COVID?  They have been there since day one in all this, and are still there filing their nails.

click here to continue (link expands, click again to collapse)

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

Cheers, Becky Steinbruner 831-685-2915  

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.

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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September 12
#256 / Old Age (And Page)

Pictured above is Page Smith, who was directly responsible for helping to make the University of California, Santa Cruz into a powerfully impactful institution of higher education. In saying this, I am speaking specifically of the university’s early years. Smith was the founding Provost of Cowell College, the first college established on the Santa Cruz campus. Click the link to Page’s name, above, for a very nice tribute by John Dizikes, another faculty member who helped make UCSC, in its early years, into a truly unique place to study and to learn. If you would like to review the Wikipedia entry for Page Smith, here is the link to click

I was fortunate to know Page Smith personally, and other than The Chicken Book, which I never did read, I pretty much read everything he wrote – at least I thought I did. I even read his A Letter From My FatherThe Strange, Intimate Correspondence of W. Ward Smith to His Son Page Smith.” This is a book that is probably filed under “biography,” though “erotica” might be more accurate. Page’s writings include quite a few books – mosttly about American history. Check the link to the Wikipedia entry for what turns out to be a “partial list.” I thought I had read all of Page’s major books until I chanced upon one I had never heard of, as I visited one of those “Little Free Libraries” that I have mentioned before

Wikipedia, which doesn’t list it, would probably be as surprised as I was when I came across the following little book:

Naturally, particularly since the price was right, I promptly commandeered Old Age Is Another Country: A Traveler’s Guide, and took it home with me. I am very glad I did. I am definitely in that “Old Age” country right now, but I can unreservedly recommend the book to you, whatever your age. It is not aimed only at the “old.” 

In Page’s book, he goes out of his way to denounce “retirement.” I am with him on that, and didn’t need his book to tell me that going on cruises and playing golf is not the best way (at least for me, as for Page) to realize the joys of being alive.

I liked the jokes that Page included in his book. This one, for instance:

An old man sees an old friend sitting on a park bench, weeping. He greets him and, somewhat embarrassed, asks him how things have been with him. “Wonderful, wonderful,” the old man says through his sobs. “I inherited a fortune, I bought a beautiful apartment and married a lovely, sexy young woman.”

“Then why are you weeping?” his friend asks.

“I can’t remember where I live.” 

Page urges, in his book, as one of the central themes of A Traveler’s Guide, that with age comes wisdom. At least, Page claims, there is a lot more wisdom in what older people know than is often acknowledged. I gather he was trying to console his older readers (and himself) with that observation; however, I do think he is right!

Page ends his book with a section entitled, “Joy and Love Are the Answers,” and the very last lines of the book (found on page 225) quote Robert Browning’s “Love Among the Ruins.”

Oh heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
Earth returns
For who centuries of folly, noise and sin!
Shut them in!
With their triumphs and their glories and the rest
Love is best.

Old age knows that.

RECOMMENDED (FOR ALL AGES) 

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

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “Friends, rumors of the untimely demise of my career as a movie critic (mostly spread around by me, in these uncertain times) turn out to be premature. I’m back on the movie beat this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express (http://ljo-express.blogspot.com ) with The Personal History of David Copperfield (hint: I loved it!). Now playing at the Regal Cinema 9 downtown, 41st Avenue, and Scotts Valley (at least until the next COVID surge)” .  Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975. 

    “FORESTS”

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
~John Muir 

“If you go to a desert, you will hear this mysterious voice: Be wise, protect your forests!”
~Mehmet Murat ildan 

“If you destroy thriving woodlands to establish a so-called smart city, it won’t be a ‘development.’ Development and conservation should go hand in hand.”  
~Shivanshu K. Srivastava  


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
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Sometimes when people are really funny, like Randy Rainbow for instance, you don’t give them enough credit for their musical skills and talents. There is little risk of that with this guy…

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