Blog Archives

September 2 – 8, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Neary Lagoon/Felix Street Victory, Covid meeting spaces, Goodbye Chuck Hilger. GREENSITE… City does an End Run around the Wharf Master Plan EIR. KROHN…is  \away this week and will return next week. STEINBRUNER…Grand Jury and fire warnings, Air quality, Front Street monoliths, collecting fire insurance, wildland fire starting approval. PATTON…Fact Checking. EAGAN…classic Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES… “COVID”


OUR NON-DESTRUCTIBLE CITY. This was taken in 1894, right after fire destroyed so much of our Downtown. Wooden structures changed to cement and brick, and the earthquakes took many of them down again. Floods have filled Pacific Avenue to knee-deep height, and still our city rebounds. Looking closely, you can see out Town Clock atop the ODD Fellows building. This was the corner of Pacific and Cooper Streets.
photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

STRAWBERRY STEMS, HOW TO REMOVE. My kitchen awareness has improved greatly since Covid has been hanging around. I needed to stem a few containers of our local strawberries, and checked You Tube. This really works beautifully.

JUST ONE WAVE PER DAY. Watch what these folks do when a freighter creates the expected wave.

DATELINE August 31
NEARY LAGOON/ FELIX STREET VICTORY. Just a few weeks ago I was emailing back and forth with a group of citizens who were fighting against Cypress Point Developers erecting a bunch of apartments on Felix Street. Felix is that little street across from the Santa Cruz High football, field off of Laurel. Their address is/was . I didn’t think they had a chance to stop the development, but the timing was perfect. Martine Watkins didn’t vote because she’s running for re-election, and didn’t want her pro development pushing labeling her with the progressive vote. The same went for Cynthia Mathews — who can’t run again right now, but will start her usual two year campaigning in January.

The Save Neary Lagoon group just sent this…

The Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday evening, August 25th, voted to not continue with the 101 Felix Street Project and rejected an amendment to the General Plan, which the developer would need to continue! This is fantastic news!  

Their votes were as follows: 

  • Mayor Justin Cummings – NO, do not continue with the project 
  • Vice Mayor Donna Meyers – YES, continue with the project 
  • Councilmember Katherine Beiers – NO, do not continue with the project 
  • Councilmember Sandy Brown – NO, do not continue with the project 
  • Councilmember Renee Golder – YES, continue with the project 

This led us to a favorable majority of 3 to 2 votes! The 101 Felix Street Project has been killed and the developer does not have the support needed to continue. 

The wildlife, heritage trees, and neighborhood all thank you deeply and wholeheartedly. This was not possible without the outpouring support of the community. Those who emailed us, called us, texted us, and expressed their opposition to the City: THANK YOU. You did this. It’s amazing what’s possible when a community comes together. 

Onwards, upwards, and with love, 

Your friends and neighbors of the Neary Lagoon Neighborhood.  

Earlier on in their battle…they made these pleas and points to the City Council.

Do not amend our General Plan and Local Coastal Program to rezone! These documents are from a long, community-involved process, many citizens envisioned sustainable development areas and what areas to protect in Santa Cruz. Rezoning would allow up to 30 dwelling units on any parcel in the Lower Westside.  For this site, it would allow up to 267 units (for a total of 507 units),  We do not want 1500 more cars, up to 1014 pets, next to a rare, wetland and wildlife sanctuary.

This is not a designated (high density neighborhood) or “infill” site! Infill in the General Plan is planned in the downtown center and long large streets like Soquel, not next to fragile open spaces! Neary lagoon is a biological hotspot, supporting endangered species, over 228 bird species alone, regularly foraging, resting, breeding and nesting. 36 trees help out climate by absorbing about a ton of carbon and give about 144 people a whole day’s supply of oxygen.

It does not matter if some of these 36 trees are next to a parking lot or near a walkway, they are still essential habitat next to the lagoon and full of birds and wildlife!

Neary Lagoon is an unusually diverse habitat and has an abundance of threatened and protected species, many of which are very sensitive to light pollution and human disturbance. Lighting travels hundreds of meters, affecting nocturnal species including owls, bats, mammals and night-flying insects. Noise and human activity disrupt nesting and reduce fitness of sensitive species. The impact of 1 to 2 years of construction will be significant and negative!

The building site is at the end of an already very dense street in a fire, flood and tsunami hazard area- it is unreasonable and a public safety hazard to make Felix Street more dense.

The so-called “affordable units” are not truly affordable. $2125 plus $400 apartment fees = $2525. for a small 1 bedroom apartment is not “affordable” for most students and working families! That is why people fill the units with 4 to 6 tenants now.

p.s. I don’t know where Cynthia Mathews and Martine Watkins were when this came up for a vote. I would certainly guess that they stayed away for partisan political reasons not wanting to expose their constant pro development support.  

A very concerned and active community member sent this email. It’s worth of more than thinking about it: the City Council should take action.

“Today I heard that NBA teams will be opening their stadiums to serve as polling locations where needed.  I have been wondering for weeks why we are not using our Warriors stadium as a location that can host city council meetings in a safely spaced way.  It is important to resume open meetings , as many municipalities have already done   .Has the city manager pursued an alternative location that is safe and  currently underutilized in order to resume our very important, live council meetings  ?  Has there been a council discussion about this already ? I would like to know if every effort to achieve this has been looked into”. Can we expect action? Probably not.

It was back around the mid 80’s when I first met Chuck Hilger. That was long before the effects of Agent Orange began its killing effects on him. He fought many battles (including Eloise Smith) to bring the Art Museum from its place within and above the Santa Cruz library, to the back of Weber’s Photo Store on Pacific, to where it is today. He stayed true to his artistic talents and worked hard to deal with historians to combine interests and share the jail space where MAH is today. We walked and stalked together seconds after the ’89 earthquake, to check the damage from those 15 seconds. We partied a lot ,and shared a lot of absolutely great times…the world won’t be the same without him. Christina Waters interviewed Chuck in November 1985 for The Santa Cruz Express. She and he covered his plans beautifully check it out   

B MOVIE BRATTON & BUSHWHACKERS. Due to the fires and UCSC rulings radio station KZSC has no live broadcasts as of August 31. So no film or streaming reviews on air. I’m still enthralled with watching RAKE. It’s one of the most consistent brilliant funny, curious, serious, series I’ve ever seen. 

August 31


Just as fossil fuel polluters are taking advantage of the pandemic to hustle bills through the state legislature, so the city of Santa Cruz is hustling the Wharf Master Plan (WMP) through the local legislative  process, including applying for state grants for two of the Plan’s significant projects, prior to a city council vote on whether to approve the Plan’s Environmental Impact Report. 

Before Covid 19 struck, before wildfires ravaged the county, the Wharf Master Plan was arguably one of the city’s biggest, most controversial projects of the past decade. In 2016, most of the community, aside from city management insiders and selected stakeholders, was unaware of the Plan to dramatically change the character of the Wharf. This was until an op-ed for the Sentinel exposed it. The response was swift and vociferous with over 2,000 people signing a petition in opposition in two weeks. Long-time locals were incensed at the plan for three, forty-five feet tall buildings towering over the Wharf. The perfunctory environmental review for the project was legally challenged and the city sent back to the drawing board to do a proper Environmental Impact Report (EIR). 

Four years later, the final Environmental Impact Report has not been released for the public yet agenda dates are set for its review and vote by the Planning Commission (September 17th) and City Council in October. 

The city lied to the Federal Department of Commerce in order to receive a three- quarters of a million dollar grant for the Wharf Master Plan. On its application Form ED-900 the city wrote: ” The Wharf was severely damaged by the March 2011 tsunami natural disaster.” No it wasn’t.  You-Tube videos, hundreds of onlookers and Wharf crew can confirm that fact. I stood on the cliffs above Cowell Beach and watched as the tsunami- impacted water pulled back and forth six times with children at the water’s edge and surfers walking out to catch a wave. There were barely perceptible ripples at the southern end of the Wharf. The Small Craft Harbor was severely damaged due to the funneling effect but the Wharf was undamaged by the tsunami. 

First the deception and now an end run around council to apply for further grant monies for the project prior to a vote on the EIR. The August 25th city council meeting included an item on the Consent Agenda. I regrettably missed the meeting and was unaware of the item. It was from the Economic Development Department. It consisted of two Resolutions authorizing the City Manager to apply for, accept and appropriate funds from the State of CA Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) Public Access Program (PAP) that has billions of dollars to distribute from Prop. 68. Staff explained they had already applied for the grants on August 20th, unable to present the applications to City Council “due to the tight grant application timeline.” The council vote would be after the fact. Council voted unanimously in favor of the Resolutions with no comments or questions asked, save for the Mayor asking when the EIR would be ready. 

The grant applications cite two projects of the Wharf Master Plan: the Small Boat Landing and the South Landing Project. The latter involves constructing a landing on the east side of the Wharf closer to its southern end with the capacity to dock vessels of 120 feet in length with 200- ton displacement. Whether this landing will also accommodate tenders from large vessels such as cruise ships is up to a future city council and the future of cruise shipping lines but nothing rules that out. The impact of this project on marine mammals and migratory birds was inadequately studied under the draft EIR and there is no precedent for a turn-around in the final EIR.  

The main issue is that this grant application for specific projects within the WMP was done before any deliberation on the details of its EIR. Just in the off chance that a council vote may decline to approve the EIR or amend it to take out the landing for example, staff writes that “the City could then decline to accept the grant, should funds be awarded.”  Oh yeah?  Imagine the glares at anyone who dares to refuse grant money in an economic crisis even though the city had to put up Wharf earmarked monies towards the grants, you know money to repair the wharf road etc.  Puts council in an untenable position, especially any with enough integrity to challenge this unpopular, environmentally damaging Plan. Need I remind us again that the WMP includes covering up the sea lion viewing holes? 

For anyone with a feel for the historical significance of this 106 year-old Municipal Wharf, a community treasure, you should know that recent grants also earmarked a proposal to “replace a number of obsolete boating davits on the Wharf.”  ! 

No time for eye rolling. This move by city management to piecemeal a Project, by-pass council vote and bring a hugely unpopular Plan for a final vote via poorly functioning zoom while the community is reeling from the fires and the virus needs vigorous opposition. The city should wait until we are functioning as a community. There is no rush. In the meantime they could help the current wharf tenants get back on their feet before disrupting them yet again with massive construction projects that are dubious economically, unsound environmentally and hugely unpopular.  

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.

As I write this, 1,177 structures, 811 being homes, and nearly 85,000 acres have burned.  Last week, while volunteering at the Fairgrounds evacuation shelter, I met many who fled the flames, and helped care for their animals also displaced.  The sense of despair and shock seemed unreal.

My heartfelt condolences go out to those who have lost everything.  I am grateful to those brave souls who stayed behind and saved many homes in their neighborhoods, because CalFire just wasn’t there.

Why does CalFire allow warming fires during fire season when temperatures are 50 degrees or less? If this seems dangerous to you, please contact CalFire Chief Ian Larkin and ask that warming fires be prohibited until winter rains return.  

Here is why.

Last week, there was a fire in Nisene Marks State Park.  The report listed “human error”.  Most likely it was a warming fire for a camper that somehow ignited a cathedral grove of redwoods next to Aptos Creek.  Had conditions been drier or with more wind, the Aptos Hills communities and beyond would also be on fire.

I have written the County Board of Supervisors and State legislators to ask that warming fires be suspended.  Will you do the same?  Our County has seen too much devastation to allow Rule 438 to be letting people play with fire.

Chief Ian Larkin

County Supervisors

Greg Caput
Ryan Coonerty
Zach Friend
John Leopold
Bruce McPherson 

Fire reported at 6:18am in Forest of Nisene Marks State Park near Porter Picnic Area

Why does CalFire allow warming fires in these dangerous fire season times??? 

Just before the CZU Lightning Complex Fires, State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara was a guest of Supervisor John Leopold on a Zoom Town Hall Meeting.  He said that SB 824 legislation passed earlier this year to mandate a moratorium on insurance cancellations would extend relief to Santa Cruz County, “God forbid that wildland fire should happen”.

Well, it did.

So, will Commissioner Lara extend the moratorium on cancellations to Santa Cruz County property owners?  Write him and ask 

I wrote the County Board of Supervisors about it, but none responded. 

Here is information about SB 824 

This is one of the best Grand Jury reports I have seen in awhile.  I read it shortly after release in July, 2020.  Reading it again now is eerie.  

All fire and government agencies must respond by October 1, 2020.  Pay attention to their responses, and hold them all accountable, especially the County Board of Supervisors and the CAO, Carlos Palacios.Here is my comment to LAFCO for their September 2 discussion of the report as well as the related issue of protest proceedings policy changes that may apply to the Aptos/ La Selva and Central Fire consolidation.


I would like to submit the following questions and comment regarding Items #4b and  #6b  on the September 2, 2020 agenda.

 I respectfully request that LAFCO allow and encourage any and all agencies to hold a voter confirmation action, rather than a protest proceeding, to foster public participation and trust, as well as government transparency.

I am specifically concerned about how the revised Protest Proceedings established in Resolution 2020-25 could affect the impending consolidation of Aptos / La Selva and Central Fire Protection Districts. I find the language and legislative statutes confusing about whether or not a voter confirmation is required, or could be requested.   

The confusion for me is to what extent Govt. Codes 57077 and  56854 in various situations.  It seems to matter greatly whether LAFCO or the affected agencies requested the merger.

Govt. Code 57077 states:

If a change of organization consists of an incorporation or disincorporation, or if a reorganization includes an incorporation or disincorporation, the commission shall  order the change of organization or reorganization subject to confirmation of the voters. A protest proceeding shall not be conducted.

While Mr. Serrano has let me know in correspondence that this applies only to city incorporations, the language in statutes seems to include consolidations and mergers in descriptions of actions. 

In an effort to better understand this issue, I consulted a legal review by Best, Best & Kreiger on the  matter

“While typically a later enacted or amended statute (here, Section 57077) takes precedence over a previously adopted statute (Section 56854), the plain language of the statutes make harmonization of the statutes possible, albeit cumbersome. Whether this was the intent of the Legislature, is difficult to discern. On the one hand Section 56854 unequivocally provides that its provisions apply, notwithstanding the provisions of 57077 or 57107 (requiring mergers or establishment of subsidiary districts be subject to confirmation of the voters unless the legislative body of the city and the board of directors of the district have consented by resolution). On the other hand, the fact that the Legislature, since 2000, has on several occasions enacted amendments to Section 57077, and enacted no amendments to Section 56854, imply that the Legislature intended the both sections to be harmonized simply because amendments were made. The following is an attempt at a harmonization.

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


Cheers, Becky Steinbruner

831-685-2915   I welcome your discussion. 

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


#242 / Fact Checking The Text Will Not Be Enough

I watched President Trump’s acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention. You can click that link, above, to see him deliver this speech yourself.

This link will take you to the text of the president’s speech, fact checked and annotated by reporters from National Public Radio. Lots of others are fact checking, too. In general (no surprise) the speech is not getting very good grades for veracity.

The president’s speech was presented to a hugely enthusiastic audience gathered on the South Lawn of the White House (and let’s be clear, the crowd was definitely not observing health advisories that tell us that large assemblies are contraindicated during our current coronavirus pandemic).

Afterwards, the president’s speech was followed by one of the most impressive fireworks displays I have ever seen, centered on the Washington Monument, and clearly visible from the South Lawn. As the fireworks came to a close, they spelled out “TRUMP,” making the implicit claim that our nation’s capital, and all of its official buildings and monuments, are all now subsidiary to the TRUMP brand. The Hatch Act be damned, Donald J. Trump “owns” our government. That really is the claim.

The day after the president’s speech, The New York Times carried an article asking this question: “What if the Right Wing on Facebook Is the Real ‘Silent Majority’?” As ever, let me warn you about the paywall that non-subscribers will probably face when they try to read this article. If you can read it, though, I encourage you to do that. It is disturbing in exactly the same way that the president’s speech and fireworks show were disturbing to me: “What if this guy is actually going to win, again?” What if Donald J. Trump’s implicit claim to “own” our government turns out to be a pretty accurate statement of where we really are?

If you check the text of the president’s speech, you will find misstatements galore. As one example, the pandemic hardly even exists, to hear the president tell it. And there will be a vaccine by the end of the year.  No doubt about that. And etc.

The president is not worried about the “facts.” He is aiming to conjure up a world that a majority of Americans will recognize as the world in which they want to live, and to make clear that this is exactly the world that he will try to create. I, personally, was not beguiled, but I thought the president’s speech was very well-designed to beguile others. MANY others: Honest, good people. People hoping for a better future. Americans who love our country. Hardworking Americans who honor hard work. Americans who value law enforcement and place a high priority on public safety and public order. People who don’t have much faith in the national government, and who think their taxes are too high. MOST people, in other words. 

Carl Sandburg is quoted as follows:

If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.

As a lawyer, I know this principle very well. As a politician (for I still self-identify as such), I know that the exact same principles apply in the world of politics. This is a formula for success. Trump argues the facts when he can. Since he often can’t, he argues the political principles upon which most Americans agree. And he certainly pounds the table! Watch his speech; you’ll see what I mean. 

I am nervous about this upcoming election. Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump say the same thing; this is going to be the most important election in our lifetimes. They are both right about that! Checking the facts, and proving the president is full of it, won’t be enough. Those who want change are going to have to outdo the president in inspiring the American people. 

My bottom line recommendation? Don’t underestimate what we’re up against, here! 

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


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.  

Two giants, Betty White and Carol Burnett, competing in Celebrity Family Feud. Have some nostalgia, it’s on me!

1995 Family Feud Celebrity Special! Part 1/5 | BUZZR

Let's get ready to RUMBLE! Two ICONS, going head to head! #BettyWhite vs #CarolBurnett, squaring up on #FamilyFeud with Host #RichardDawson!

PLAY ALONG and watch with us, we’ve got the full episode from 1995! Who are YOU rooting for? #Betty or #Carol? ??????
Episode Number: 104 VTR: 01/25/1995

Posted by BUZZR on Wednesday, April 15, 2020


“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” 
~Wolfgang von Goethe 

“If you’re going through hell, keep going,” 
~Winston Churchill 

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”
~Martin Luther King Jr.

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

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