Blog Archives

September 23 – 29, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Save Neary Lagoon, Soquel Creek Water Board Election, Surfer Statue and RBG, City Council candidates, Vice Mayor Meyers property questions, films. GREENSITE…Last words on the Wharf. KROHN…City Council Cabal, Save the Farmer’s Market, Best Council candidates. STEINBRUNER…Soquel Creek Water Board election, fire insurance, trading water rights, golf course water, RTC meetings. PATTON…Everybody Got to Move. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics. Deep Cover.  QUOTES…”Supreme Court”.

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THE OCTAGON AND OUR COUNTY HALL OF RECORDS. The County Court House existed from 1866 to 1894. The Cooper House wasn’t built until 1894. The Octagon was built in 1882.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email photo@brattononline.com

TOM NODDY ON THE CODE. Tom was thoughtful and sent us this link to one of his performances…check it out.

AOC Rips McConnell for ignoring RBG’s Dying Wish.

DATELINE September 20      

SAVE NEARY LAGOON. The folks trying to Save Neary Lagoon had a momentary victory when the City Council voted against the three-story development, Cynthia Mathews couldn’t vote, due to her owning rental property there ,and it turned out that Justin Cimmings voted against it. But as the preservationists emailed… “Now we find out there is a SECOND vote coming up and to be made on this resolution. The Planning Dept. is preparing and this time we need an additional vote. 4 votes. We are not sure why. This is after literally hundreds of hours spent on this project.”

The Lagoon Savers went on to say that “the CITY PLANNING DEPARTMENT is where three or so people are making the decisions to create Santa Cruz’s future. We need a Progressive City Council to represent us”.

Ryan Bane, Senior Planner at City Planning, wrote in response to their inquiry … “The item cannot be heard at the 9/22 meeting as it requires public noticing which needs to be prepared 2-3 weeks ahead of the meeting.  I have 20+ projects that I’m working on, so between the workload and the city being on furloughs I haven’t had time to prepare the resolution and staff report in time for the 9/22 meeting. I use the word “tentatively” as the Mayor and City Council make decisions regarding the agenda scheduling.  So while we currently have the item on the 10/13 agenda (and expect it to remain on the agenda), there are sometimes circumstances that arise where it could be moved to another agenda.  This could be due to other time sensitive city items, budget actions, high priority city projects, etc”.

SOQUEL CREEK WATER BOARD ELECTION. Becky Steinbruner wrote in her BrattonOnline statement last week that she is supporting two candidates for the Soquel Creek Water Board. I had little or no idea how political these positions are. I heard that Becky is a Republican, but she isn’t — she’s a registered No Party Preference person — but her two favorite candidates are Republicans. I must insert right here that I can’t see what difference party affiliations could or should possibly make, but it is what it is…. Or they are what they are.

The two incumbents Bruce Daniels and Tom LaHue are both credentialed scientists and are endorsed by a long list of Democrats, such as Monning, Stone, Keeley, Friend, Leopold, Coonerty, Beiers, and Cummings. They are also endorsed by the Sierra Club, the California Democratic Party. I’ve known Bruce Daniels for many years. I’ve interviewed him on and off air. He has ideal credentials for the position and has done a fine job all these years and I’m supporting Daniels and LaHue.

RUSSELL BRUTSCHE’S LATEST. If there ever was a Santa Cruz artist….Russell Brutsche would own the title.

Here’s his latest, a sketch from photoshop….special to BrattonOnline….

THE SURFER STATUE AND RBG. Whoever dressed our Surfer Statue in a RBG dress with a crown needs an award. It’s that kind of community spirit that RBG would have appreciated.

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES. By now, even with our council elections a bit in the distance, candidate positions and support have been made very clear. Forums, town halls, benefits, all campaigning will get into an even higher gear. Now we know Sandy Brown, Kelsey Hill, Kayla Kumar and Alicia Kuhl all deserve, need and want your support. They are the candidates that respect our community and will fight to keep Silicon development out. They’ll fight the proposed parking garage, support rail and trail, affordable units in new developments, and more. Go here to get the full picture. 

VICE MAYOR MEYERS PROPERTY, AGAIN. One astute reader sent this thoughtful  note…just a reminder that The Donna Meyer’s documents came to light in 2015. Funny that this wasn’t an issue when she ran for council – no mention of it at all…
But then in early 2016, Micah Posner was raked over the coals about a non-compliant dwelling: There was a whole council meeting on whether they should formally reprimand him.

Donna Meyers seems to be made of armor, no one wants to say a word against her.  Even after her infamous brutal display of anger during a council meeting against Drew Glover. It should have led to a reprimand by her peers on the council, but nothing came of it – complete silence on the Council and the papers.

Has this property situation been rectified or does it still exist?  Was it “grandfathered in? Why is it disappearing?”.  Good questions, anyone got any new answers?

STREAMERS, SCREENERS, CRIES & CRITIQUES.
Now our local movie theatres are open, from what I hear, I can see little or no reason to go. First of all the movies aren’t getting good reviews, and we have no idea how much the movie watching experience has changed. Six feet apart? Masks in the popcorn/candy lines? I’ll probably be going because “I have to”, but so far I can’t encourage it.

CHALLENGER: THE FINAL FLIGHT. We’ve never heard much about this 1986 NASA shuttle flight disaster. This is a  four-part documentary, with J.J. Abrams doing the producing. The NASA flight was done for much-needed social approval, and a brilliant, pretty, school teacher was included among the astronauts. The Challenger blew up less than two minutes after launch, and all the crew perished. The film shows NASA’s faults, details all the world’s reactions, and will teach you some necessary features involved in our space programs.

RATCHED. Named and promoted as a back story to the famed Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher in Jack Nicolson’s and Ken Kesey’s  “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nestnovel. For some reason the hospital is changed from a military rehab center in Menlo Park — where Kesey did time — to a spacious retreat in Lucia, near Big Sur. Judy Davis, Sarah Paulson, Cynthia Nixon and believe it or not, Sharon Stone are in it. It’s a gruesome movie with scenes like a doctor hammering an ice pick into a patient’s eye, or being given a severed head as a present. The lesbian sub plot is very insensitive, as is the sodomy story…don’t bother.

THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME. This is a Netflix thriller set in the town of Knockemstiff, Ohio (a real place). Robert Pattinson (of Twilight fame) plays a knockabout country minister who does bad things to good people. Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard and Mia Wasikowska do fine jobs of acting… but the plot is predictable, stodgy, and adds nothing to cinema history 

ALIVE. This Korean zombie thriller has absolutely nothing new, exciting or creative. People become Zombies by catching a virus (duh!!!). They act and look and stagger like every zombie we’ve ever seen on screen. They bleed a lot and smear the blood on walls, windows, everywhere. A sweet young girl is found by a nice young boy across the huge patio in their apartment building. You know the rest, trust me. 

COAST ELITES is HBO’s masterful so-called comedy, that centers on the very present trials and tribulations caused by Trump, fires, and solitary confinement in our own homes. Bette Midler starts the series of 5 monologues. It’s new, innovative and immensely thought-provoking. Watch it, think about it. 

THE SOCIAL DILEMMA. This Netflix original documentary is important, good, and timely. 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 you searching for a toaster on Amazon and then 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 and religiously… and change our lives in the process. My notes while watching say things like…the future a 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. … 

RAKE. 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.

AWAY, starring Hillary Swank on HBO, is Hollywood tripe at its corniest, and about five 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. 

Every Friday morning on KZSC (88.1 fm or live online at KZSC.org) from 8:10am-8:20am or thereabouts I present my “B Movie Bratton” segment of short critiques (not reviews) of what’s on our screens of any size. Dangerous Dan Orange hosts the rest of the Bushwhackers B. Club. Tune in this Friday and listen to my critiques 

September 21 

ALL’S QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT

Standing in line last week at a local market, I spotted a card with a painting of the Wharf by local artist Marie Gabrielle. It’s a beautiful rendition of the Wharf as seen from Indicators on West Cliff Drive. The artist has captured the Wharf’s unique character complete with sea lions visible through the pilings even at that distance. I bought the card and have since ordered a print, mindful that this image may be only memory if the city council votes to approve the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and the Wharf Master Plan at its meeting on October 13th.  

The above photo of the Wharf is from the top floor of the Dream Inn, a once in a lifetime birthday treat from my beloved. A warm, calm February 2nd. with a raft of young sea lions barely visible relaxing in the water on the west side. The feeling is one of peace and tranquility co-existing with a busy commercial scene inside the restaurants and bait shops. Such balance is difficult to maintain. It requires careful thought and must include a sense of place, a feel for history and respect for community sentiment. The planners for this project lack all of that.

The Wharf Master Plan, designed by the upscale SF design firm ROMA and paid for with a grant obtained by the city’s lying to the Department of Commerce, pays lip service to this Santa Cruz treasure and unique habitat. The EIR skirts the issues and makes findings of convenience not fact. Whether by intent or sloppiness, the section on Alternatives contradicts itself and in doing so misleads the reader. 

The value of an EIR is that it is required to look at alternatives to a project including not doing the project. In this case, Alternative 2-Modified Project states on page 5-18 that the new 45 feet “Landmark Building” the one proposed for the south end of the Wharf, the most out of scale and the most unpopular, will be reduced by 5 feet. The next page states it will be removed. Hallelujah! That plus removing the Western Walkway as proposed in this Alternative and we might have something to negotiate. Unfortunately not. I sought clarification from the project manager on this contradiction. He thanked me for pointing it out, confirmed it is a mistake and that it will be corrected for council and the city’s website tomorrow. The new 45 feet building is a go although 5 feet lower if this Alternative were to be adopted. 

Not to make too much of it, anyone, even highly paid consultants can make a mistake. Yet somehow it captures the central problem in this as in other big projects being forced down our necks. Local interests, local feelings don’t count for much. Catering to wealthy tourists, building for those who don’t yet live here, gentrifying with upscale, out of scale developments is the city’s primary focus. The planners can rationalize that this project will swell the city coffers in a time of need but that economic analysis is not included. Historically, in lean times only locals have kept the Wharf solvent. Visitors have made it clear they like the current Wharf rather than a gentrified makeover with the feel of a platform not a pier; views blocked by big buildings; birds and sea lions dispersed. “Access” under such conditions may not be the plus the city and its consultants are promoting.

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 21

GLOBAL CLIMATE DISRUPTION
First Do No Harm

In the city of Santa Cruz there is currently a cabal of government officials–led by  Martin Bernal (city manager), Bonnie Lipscomb (economic development director), Mark Dettle (public works director), and Cynthia Mathews (councilmember pushing for a project near property she owns)–who desperately seek the construction of a behemoth parking structure along Cedar Street, between Lincoln and Cathcart. They are about to commit $240,000 into this money pit for the warehousing of internal combustion engines. Forget all of this town’s other problems. Despite a gnawingly dyspeptic local economy, the loss of innumerable businesses all over the city, finding housing for fire victims flooding into town from the charred ruins of the Santa Cruz mountains, and as of this writing, 2,276 individuals having tested positive for Covid-19 in this county, this group of Park-eteers wants to commit real money towards a last-century white elephant, a five-story parking garage in a prime downtown location. From the ice caps melting to the seas rising, this singular project, a 400-space car park on one of the most desirable lots downtown, which will displace our beloved Farmer’s Market, is perhaps this generation of Santa Cruzan’s greatest challenge in the quest to help mitigate climate disruption here at home. Remember the fates of the once impossible to stop developer dreams:  a convention hotel on Lighthouse Field, thousands of single family homes on Wilder Ranch, and the community effort to save the Pogonip? Santa Cruzans today have the opportunity to invest in maintaining a downtown space for the people of this town. It will take work, but when has it ever been easy? Nelson Mandela said, it is impossible until it is done. Santa Cruz, we can do this.

The Challenge
Santa Cruz voters cannot start in the Arctic, or the Brazilian rainforest, or in the Maldives, but we can start right here in the Monterey Bay. One of the greatest hoaxes in the history of Santa Cruz will potentially be funded this Tuesday through the contracting of a firm to manage the building of a parking garage and library. There is little community support for such a project, but it is being rammed through by a few insiders hoping to provide more parking for future luxury condo dwellers downtown. Building this garage on top of the Farmer’s Market while cutting down 11 heritage trees would be a monumental environmental mistake, greater perhaps than a previous city manager’s decision to destroy the original Cooper House at Pacific and Cooper Street. I am including a letter that went out this week to Attorney Bill Parkin urging him to litigate on behalf of the Campaign for Sustainable Transportation in order to stop this quarter of a million-dollar decision the city council is being asked to make in order to pay a consultant to oversee this project fiasco.

The Letter

Dear Attorney Parkin,
The City Council and its staff have embarked on a course of action in relation to the mixed-use library/garage/housing project on Lot #4 that the Campaign for Sustainable Transportation regards as involving clear economic malfeasance, dereliction of due diligence, and perhaps violation of administrative law and the Brown Act. Given that this matter will come to a head at the City Council meeting next Tuesday, September 22, I am in touch to explore the possibility of legal action on a very time-driven basis. I am hoping you can let me know at your very earliest convenience whether and how you might help us. Here is a brief summary of the situation.

The agenda for next Tuesday’s council meeting includes item #12, “Award Contract for Mixed Use Library Owner’s Representative Contract to Griffin Structures, Inc.,” for $240,000 (see the attached agenda report). However, when the City Council passed a resolution on June 23rd to move ahead with the mixed-use project, they directed city staff to provide a report by September 23rd on financial and other aspects of the project’s various components (parking garage, library, affordable housing, commercial space). According to the meeting minutes, the City Council resolved to:

  1. Direct staff to provide a report to City Council at the earliest possible time, but no later than three months, containing:
  2. Detailed financial information regarding each component of the mixed-use project;
  3. A work program and timeline for implementing the affordable housing units, library, and parking garage to include a public engagement process; and
  4. General schematics showing the integration of the library, housing, parking, and commercial use components. (emphasis added)

The city manager, Marin Bernal, reaffirmed this obligation at the August 25th council meeting (transcript available if you want). But the city council agenda packet for September 22nd contains no such report.

Even if staff cobbled together some sort of written report before the 22nd, or if staff provided an oral report without sharing its details in advance, city councilmembers would not have time fully to explore its import concerning the economic feasibility of the project prior to considering the resolution to spend a quarter of a million dollars to hire an “owner’s representative.” This, at a point when the city’s deficit over the next few years is projected to be around $30 million.

Absent the fully detailed report on the components of the project that the Council directed staff to provide, it strikes us as inappropriate, reckless, and probably illegal for the City to spend $240,000 for an owner’s representative. In any reasonable administrative governmental process, the City Council should have a period of time to absorb and digest the staff report they called for before making a financial commitment of this size, especially in economically uncertain times.

We are therefore asking whether you would be willing to write a strongly worded letter of legal warning, insisting that the City Council postpone consideration of the agenda motion until such time as city staff include the detailed financial information as part of the 72-hour advance agenda packet for a meeting at which appointing an owner’s representative is to be considered.

The Solution: Elect Brown, Kumar, Hill, and Kuhl

Election ballots go out Oct 5th, a mere 14 days from today. Santa Cruz voters have the unique opportunity to stop this climate-busting garage project by voting new councilmembers into office. Clearly, the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic disastrous results are the most important issues to be confronted by the next city council, not a $60-$70 million-dollar garage. Do we need a garage now, or ever? This project is estimated to cost more than police headquarters on Cedar Street; more than the sewage treatment facility on California; and more than the Tannery Arts Project on River Street. Each one of those projects was right and necessary and served the people of Santa Cruz. This parking garage is the wrong project in the wrong place during the wrong century. If you want to stop this project dead in its ill-fated tracks then please cast your ballot early for Sandy Brown, Kayla Kumar, Kelsey Hill, and Alicia Kuhl for the Santa Cruz City Council.

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“I am voting early and in person. 

What’s your voting plan?” (Sept. 20) 

(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 21

WHAT MATTERS IS A CANDIDATE’S QUALIFICATIONS
Last week’s announcement of two excellent candidates for Soquel Creek Water District seemed to ignite a controversy over political party lines.  Let me take this opportunity to emphasize that what really matters in electing a candidate for a non-partisan Director for a water utility is their professional qualifications, not their political party affiliation.

Mr. Corrie Kates and Ms. Maria Marsilio are highly qualified and ready to go to work to provide fresh leadership to a stale Board with incumbents ruling the roost for 20 years.  

Good evidence that Kates and Marsilio will respect all people is readily apparent in that they both paid the extra $150 each to have their Candidate Statements translated into Spanish.  Neither of the two incumbents did.  What does that tell you?

Here is the link to the VotesCount.com website link where you can see this for yourself.

FIRE INSURANCE AND MAKING YOUR HOME BETTER ABLE TO SURVIVE WILDLAND FIRE
Take a look at what the State insurance Commissioner is doing to try to help Californians protect our homes against wildland fires and trigger-happy insurance company policy cancellations: Is your home ‘hardened’ against wildfire? California regulator, insurers work on new standards

The State Insurance Commissioner’s office has assured me that Santa Cruz County property owners cannot have their insurance policy cancelled for the next year (until after August 18, 2021), or for two years if their home burned.

Make sure to tune in Tuesday, September 29, 9am to the County Board of Supervisor SPECIAL BOARD MEETING to hear further information about how the County Planning Dept. and CalFire will oversee who gets to rebuild in the CZU Fire areas…nor not.

TRADING WATER RIGHTS ON THE OPEN MARKET?
A recent article in Maven’s Notebook, a daily compendium of water-related information, posted the idea that trading water rights and shares in California is now out on the market.    What will this mean for small farmers and others in areas the State has deem groundwater supplies to be overdrafted?

California’s Water Market – Public Policy Institute of California

California Water Markets

More on this next week.  Right now, I am hard at work putting the finishing touches on my Opening Brief for the Appeal Court case against Soquel Creek Water District’s expensive and risky energy hog process to inject treated sewage water into the aquifer supplying drinking water for the MidCounty. 

Speaking of which…..

SEWAGE TESTING FOR COVID
Can everything really be removed from sewage water before injecting it in the aquifer?   Hmmmm…. 

WOULDN’T IT BE BETTER TO USE RECYCLED WATER FOR LANDSCAPE AND GOLF COURSE IRRIGATION RATHER THAN CONTAMINATING THE AQUIFER?
I attended the July 6, 2020 City of Santa Cruz Water Commission meeting and found the information presented during Agenda Item #3 relating to your PureWater Soquel Project interesting. 

Here is a link to the meeting notes from the website

Here is a link to the meeting agenda packet with documentation (see pages 16-32 for Item #3)

Below is the pertinent information from the staff report on page 25, and the replies to the questions Commissioners asked.  Your Board has not publicly discussed the necessity of the additional nBAF treatment facility for PureWater Soquel Project, due to the increasing levels of nitrite, ammonia and total organic carbon in the influent at the City Wastewater Treatment Facility, and how that will alter the PureWater Soquel Project design.  

Please do so, for the sake of transparency to District ratepayers.

Is the District considering a partnership with the City to provide irrigation water from Chanticleer to DeLaveaga Golf Course, or Pasatiempo Golf Course?  Doing this with the recycled water, rather than injecting it into the aquifer, would be environmentally beneficial, and exhibit responsible leadership on your part.  It could also open the door to better jurisdictional cost sharing of the substantial recycled water treatment project construction and operation costs burdening District ratepayers.

Please discuss this publicly as an agenda item next month.

Sincerely,

Becky Steinbruner

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

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND, THIS LAND IS MY LAND
In browsing the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) meeting videos on the Community Television ‘Government on Demand’ website, I happened to listen to the August 6 meeting and learned some shocking news about Measure D allocations.

Ms. Rachel Moroconi’s presentations about how none of this year’s reduced Measure D $20 million in revenue will go to do work on Highway One widening projects, in order to amass money that will be better leveraged against possible grant applications for bigger projects.  However, the RTC has decided to use $3 million from the Highway One pot of money to loan to the Wildlife crossing project for Highway 17.  Wow.

She explained this was decided because the $5 million wildlife crossing would take 30 years to build, at the rate promised to voters allocating the division of Measure D funding to various projects.   She also let it be known that the wildlife crossing now will cost $10-$12 million!   Commissioner Randy Johnson wanted to know how that could be, when the Project was described to voters as costing $5 million?  Ms. Moroconi explained the RTC always knew the project would cost closer to $10 million, but relied on assurances from the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County to make up the difference.  

Commissioner Johnson rightly pointed out this was not very transparent governance, and was somewhat misleading to the voters.  Bravo!

Also of interest at this RTC meeting was a presentation by Mr. Carey Pico about legal easements along the rail corridor.  Staff had difficulty showing his slides, but the information was excellent, and expounded upon a legal determination presented to the Commission as a Consent Agenda Item #7 report.  

It was a shame to hear Commissioner Mike Rotkin chide Mr. Pico for not just sending his information to them in an e-mail rather than asking that the Commission pull the Consent Agenda Item for better public discussion, enabling him to give his  informative presentation publicly.

Tune in on the August 6, 2020 RTC video here

Maybe Commissioner Rotkin has forgotten that the RTC purpose is to serve the  people on transportation matters. 

I wonder when we will hear more about the RTC bringing in the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Passenger Train Pilot Project?  Last I heard from Supervisor Leopold, it is due next month.  Stay tuned.

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  SUPPORT GOOD WATER CANDIDATES THAT WILL WORK FOR THE PEOPLE INSTEAD OF SUPPORTING THEIR OWN INFLATED EGOS.

MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK BY JUST DOING SOMETHING!

Cheers and Happy Autumn Equinox!

Becky Steinbruner, 685-2915
I welcome respectful 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 KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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September 18
#262 / Everybody Got To Move

This picture, of the Ranch Fire, in Azusa, California, is one of several horrific photographs included in an article that ran in The New York Times Magazine, and that was published online in collaboration with ProPublica. This was the second article in a series that began with “The Great Climate Migration.” 

The first article, which I have just linked above, took a global perspective. The second article, from which the picture comes, is titled, “How Climate Migration Will Reshape America.” It was published on September 15, 2020, and it focuses on the United States. The article is extremely long – but worthwhile reading! I am providing a short sample, below. I encourage those reading this blog posting to read the article in its entirety.

Let’s start with some basics. Across the country, it’s going to get hot. Buffalo, New York, may feel in a few decades like Tempe, Arizona, does today, and Tempe itself will sustain 100-degree average summer temperatures by the end of the century. Extreme humidity from New Orleans to northern Wisconsin will make summers increasingly unbearable, turning otherwise seemingly survivable heat waves into debilitating health threats. Fresh water will also be in short supply, not only in the West but also in places like Florida, Georgia and Alabama, where droughts now regularly wither cotton fields. By 2040, according to federal government projections, extreme water shortages will be nearly ubiquitous west of Missouri. The Memphis Sands Aquifer, a crucial water supply for Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana, is already overdrawn by hundreds of millions of gallons a day. Much of the Ogallala Aquifer — which supplies nearly a third of the nation’s irrigation groundwater — could be gone by the end of the century. 

It can be difficult to see the challenges clearly because so many factors are in play. At least 28 million Americans are likely to face megafires like the ones we are now seeing in California, in places like Texas and Florida and Georgia. At the same time, 100 million Americans — largely in the Mississippi River Basin from Louisiana to Wisconsin — will increasingly face humidity so extreme that working outside or playing school sports could cause heatstroke. Crop yields will be decimated from Texas to Alabama and all the way north through Oklahoma and Kansas and into Nebraska. 

The challenges are so widespread and so interrelated that Americans seeking to flee one could well run into another. I live on a hilltop, 400 feet above sea level, and my home will never be touched by rising waters. But by the end of this century, if the more extreme projections of 8 to 10 feet of sea-level rise come to fruition, the shoreline of San Francisco Bay will move 3 miles closer to my house, as it subsumes some 166 square miles of land, including a high school, a new county hospital and the store where I buy groceries. The freeway to San Francisco will need to be raised, and to the east, a new bridge will be required to connect the community of Point Richmond to the city of Berkeley. The Latino, Asian and Black communities who live in the most-vulnerable low-lying districts will be displaced first, but research from Mathew Hauer, a sociologist at Florida State University who published some of the first modeling of American climate migration in the journal Nature Climate Change in 2017, suggests that the toll will eventually be far more widespread: Nearly 1 in 3 people here in Marin County will leave, part of the roughly 700,000 who his models suggest may abandon the broader Bay Area as a result of sea-level rise alone.

I read the article on the day it appeared, and I had what I think might be an unusual reaction. The article dramatically points out the horrors that are just over the horizon. In fact, where I live, in Santa Cruz County, California, thousands of community members have already been experiencing these horrors personally, as local wildfires have destroyed their homes in Last Chance, Bonny Doon, and the San Lorenzo Valley.

One very reasonable reading of what Abrahm Lustgarten has to say is that “we’re doomed.” Considering our current, dysfunctional response to the Covid-19 global pandemic, there seems to be little reason for any optimism that we can somehow avoid the massive, climate-caused destruction that we know is coming – that we can already see, in fact, coming like wildfire, over the hill.

Yet, I had virtually the opposite reaction. There is no doubt about the daunting – almost insurmountable – challenges ahead, which are the result of heedless, human-caused global warming. Surely, despair is a reaction that does makes sense! What struck me, though, was the fact that the challenges were so great, so serious, that it is now impossible for us to ignore the most important fact of our human existence. We are not a bunch of isolated individuals, separated by race, gender, nationality, income, and education; we are in this life together. 

There is no way our nation – and indeed the world – will be able to survive what is coming (what is already underway) without a fundamental restructuring of our lives together, what I call “politics.” All the divisions, from income inequality, to racial injustice, to gender discrimination, to you name it – ALL of them – all of these divisions which we have sanctified as inevitable and normal, must be swept aside. I think that is what is coming. That is what must come. 

Bob Dylan has a wonderful song, Mississippi, which has these lines in its final verse: 

“Everybody movin’ if they ain’t already there
Everybody got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now”

Everybody is going to have to move. But we can do it. Despair is not our only choice. There is such opportunity, adventure, and enterprise ahead. Really! I mean it.

Things should start to get interesting, right about now!

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

    “SUPREME COURT”

“The President and the Congress are all very well in their way. They can say what they think they think, but it rests with the Supreme Court to decide what they have really thought.”
~Theodore Roosevelt 

“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great good fortune.” 
~Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

“Free speech has been used by the Supreme Court to give immense power to the wealthiest members of our society”.
~Noam Chomsky

“What many people, I think, don’t really understand is how much their rights really turn on the interpretation of the Supreme Court”.   
~Kimberle Williams Crenshaw


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This is thought-provoking…

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