BRATTON…Santa Cruz for Bernie, Measure O movie, tribal propositions vote. GREENSITE…on the Library and Affordable Housing. KROHN…measure O, measure N, People Power. STEINBRUNER…Coonerty and Zach are no shows, Pleasure Point re-zoning, new library parking problems, live Oak Senior Center closing? fire advisory commission jobs. HAYES…Golden crowned sparrow and germinating. PATTON…An important article (but hard to read). MATLOCK… struggles with reality and a very stable genius. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS PICK OF THE WEEK…America’s Got Talented Swedes?…QUOTES…”FALL”
DATELINE September 26
SANTA CRUZ FOR BERNIE. I don’t remember ever disagreeing with Santa Cruz for Bernie endorsements. Go here… then go here to see and learn more about all the local issues and also about Sean Maxwell and who endorses him… . You’ll read names like Sandy Brown, Katherine Beiers, Felipe Hernandez and many more.
EASY VIEWING RE…MEASURE O. Russell Brutsche created another of his you tube movies and this time it focuses on the library and a sense of scale. Look closely and you’ll see his amazing scale model of our downtown.
THOSE TRIBAL GAMBLING MEASURES. It’s mind boggling to have to watch so many of the very expensive TV ads for measures 26 and 27. After much debating and seeking of the truth behind their promises I’m voting NO on 26 and YES on 27.
I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.
THE OUTFIT. (AMAZON PRIME MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). It’s a delight to critique a movie as good as this one. Mark Rylance (a familiar British face) is the very serious lead in this 1956 Chicago mob war movie. He’s become a tailor/cutter and allows his shop to be shared with the local mob members. The pacing is good the acting is superb, and it’s all done within the tailors shop. Download this by all means.
GOODNIGHT MOMMY. (AMAZON PRIME MOVIE) (5.6 IMDB). Naomi Watts wears a complete head mask through almost all of this mystery. She has twin sons (actually played by twins) and they too want to see why she’s wearing that coverage. They begin to doubt that she’s their real mom and the plot thins not thickens here. The ending might just surprise you if you haven’t seen the other movies based on the same script. Watch it with care and patience.
DON’T WORRY DARLING. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (6.2 IMDB). This much hyped movie directed by and starring Olivia Wilde is a less than wonderful mix of Stepford Wives and The Truman Show. There’s a super tight and isolated “perfect community” where the husbands all drive to some secret work while the wives maintain a forced happiness. Florence Pugh does a superior job of acting while Olivia mugs her way through the faked image. You’ll stay glued to it just to see what the mystery is/was all about…but few if any awards will be given here.
FATHER STU. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.5 IMDB). Mark Wahlberg grins and mugs his way through this true to life story of a boxer named Stuart Long who decides to not just give up women and his life as usual to become a Roman Catholic priest. Mel Gibson plays his drunken, mean father and Malcolm McDowell from Clockwork Orange is Wahlberg’s spiritual teacher! Even if it’s true his saga is difficult to believe. Yet the closing credits have photos and statements from the real life of the hero. Be very aware, it’s hammy and very religious.
PLAZA CATEDRAL. (NETFLIX MOVIE). (7.1IMDB). A well to do Mexican architect/saleswoman gets very involved with a street kid who teases and begs her for money. She lost her own child years ago and has trouble adjusting to her husband and life in general. It’s near perfect acting by these two leads and the photography is excellent too. In very real life the young star who plays the kid was murdered just days after the film was finished.
SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.
SEE HOW THEY RUN. (DEL MAR THEATRE).Sam Rockwell (from Daly City) created a fine British accent and leads this absolutely wonderful comedy thriller. Saoirse Ronan is his accompaniment in this excellent spinoff from the play by Agatha Christie “The Mousetrap” which is still the world’s longest running play. I haven’t laughed so much at a movie in many years. It’s clever, perfectly acted and just good fun.
THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL. (NETFLIX MOVIE). (5.9 IMDB). Set in Rome, Italy in 1975 this tragedy/almost documentary is based on a real happening. Some very rich private school boys play with death and exhibit very dark humor throughout the film. It all leads up to the final minutes of a horrific sex driven act. Absorbing, detailed, it’s slow at times and you’ll almost feel like some peeping tom but it’s difficult to stop watching.
THE U.S. AND THE HOLOCAUST. (PBS 3 PART SERIES). Another Ken Burns masterpiece documentary. This time it uncovers the very embarrassing US history of immigration beginning with the Jews and leading all the way to January 6 and our present day immigrant issues. Hitler, FDR, Lindberg, Hollywood, Henry Ford, are all included and involved. It’s a part of our history and today’s politics that we never hear or talk about. Don’t miss it…it’s available at PBS.org.
GOLD. (HULU MOVIE) (5.4 IMDB). Zac Efron has never worn such tortured, hard bitten makeup in any movie. He plays one of two guys who accidently find a huge gold boulder in the Australian outback. How they work at trusting and betraying each other is the entire saga. It’s grim, dirty, vicious, and even boring about half way through. You will never guess the ending it’s a complete surprise and watching Zac Efron disintegrate becomes a habit for one and a half hours.
END OF THE ROAD. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (4.7 IMDB). Queen Latifah is the very serious mother who takes her kids from California and hopes to get them to Houston, Texas. On the way they encounter dangerous drug dealers and tons of money. The evil forces are led by a double dealing sheriff played by Beau Bridges (Lloyd Bridges son). Plenty of plot holes and not a very new plot but it does keep you glued just watching for the next hunk of violence.
UNDER HER CONTROL. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (4.8 IMDB). This Spanish thriller has a very domineering woman fashion director who controls and ruins the life of a beautiful and talented girl employee who trusts her. It reaches total melodrama status and has an ending that will make you re-think what motherhood is all about. Be very aware.
TURLOUGH O’CAROLAN CELTIC MUSIC CONCERT.
Turlough O’Carolan was a contemporary of J.S. Bach, O’Carolan (1670-1738) was Ireland’s most famous harper. Though blinded by smallpox at age 18, a patron gave him a harp, a horse and a guide, and he supported himself for 50 years as an itinerant harpist, becoming the most famous of all Celtic composers. Many members of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival will be performing. Linda Burman-Hall, Director, harpsichord, virginal. Shelley Phillips, harp, Baroque oboes, folk flutes. William Coulter, guitar, bodhran. Robin Petrie, hammered dulcimer Deby Benton Grosjean, traditional fiddle, Baroque violin. John Weed, fiddle and Barry Phillips, on ‘cello. The concert is FREE and will be at 3pm October 9 Santa Cruz County Veterans Memorial Hall.
HOW A TOWN LOSES ITS CHARACTER
The rendition above, from city files, is a small section of the controversial (Measure O) proposed mixed-use project which includes a new downtown library (the glass front section), the 3 stories of parking garage behind, with 5 stories of affordable housing behind and above the garage, making the overall structure 8 stories tall. For comparison, the new project under construction at Laurel, Front and Pacific is 6 stories tall, with 5 stories framed at time of writing.
When we were misled into voting for Measure S, the library renovation tax, we sure didn’t know that the mammoth structure above was in the minds-eye of those who fooled the public. The affordable housing was added to sweeten the deal only after community outcry greeted the news that the plan was to relocate and build a new library attached to a large new parking structure.
So, let’s take a closer look at the housing element of this project. Proponents keep saying the housing is for our very low-income families. “Families” is the term used in their promotional op-eds. A roof-top garden for families to grow vegetables was suggested by one council member supportive of the project, and of course the child-care center will be ideal for all the low-income families’ children, they say. Except, there are only 26 three-bedroom apartments in this 125-apartment housing project with an additional 28 two-bedroom apartments, which, together, is less than half the total. The rest are one-bedroom units plus a few studios, all around 450 square feet in size. Yes, this appears better than the numerous other multi-family (that word again) big projects approved, and, in the works, which are predominantly SRO’s (single-room occupancy) or one -bedroom projects but it is far less than the hype would have you believe.
Who in fact will end up living in this library/cum parking garage/cum housing project if Measure O fails? The proponents want you to believe (and some may believe themselves) it will be local “workforce” families who are currently being forced out of existing housing due to ever-increasing rents. Leaving aside the issue of apartment size, the zoom presentation last week from the city’s consulting team for the project, Eden Housing and for the future Housing and Ten Over Studio, Inc. in response to questions posed by the public in the Q&A on this issue made it clear that the housing cannot be earmarked for local workers. To do so would violate Fair Housing laws. So, anyone living anywhere in the state, at qualifying income levels will be able to apply and get on the list for the lottery from which will be drawn the lucky few. In response to the question of whether students can apply, the consultant fudged the answer (which is yes) by saying that there is a lot of paperwork involved and the need to be low-income (neither of which disqualifies students.) Others may disagree, and I love our students, however I do not agree that we should forever change the character of our town to cater to the growth machine of the UC system which has failed to plan and failed to direct prospective students to UC campus communities not experiencing an affordable housing shortage as drastic as ours. Nor do I agree that students are as an important constituency as are our local working families who have lived in town for decades, who keep this town running and who are fast losing their rental housing. If you want proof about which constituency has benefitted from past affordable housing units, demand that the city gather and make public that data. I’ll lay bets it is predominantly UCSC students.
The consultant-run zoom presentations on this library/parking garage/housing project are slick and well manipulated. If city management staff was really working for the city, that is the public, one might expect that since an Initiative has qualified for the ballot, Measure O, that they would acknowledge the public is wanting a referendum on this issue and call a halt to spending more millions on consultants prior to a vote of the people. On the contrary, the number of consultants appears to have quadrupled since the last presentation. Their method of obtaining public input via zoom surveys is geared towards a pre-determined answer. Their responses to Q&A are cherry-picked. I wrote four times, my question regarding the heritage trees, namely why isn’t the building design preserving some of the heritage trees onsite, as is required by city law? Never answered. The closest to an answer was management staff saying there would be an arborist report accompanying the staff report when this project goes to council. That is doublespeak for, we have determined that none of the existing heritage trees will be incorporated into the design despite city heritage tree law requiring just that.
As if confirming that outcome, one of the consultants shared that “12 new street trees will be planted and will give scale to the building over time.” Yes, I noticed that phrase “over time.” Rip out century-old magnolias, plant saplings and just wait….
|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.|
FOLLOW THE MONEY, Part II
Two weeks ago I wrote in this column about the money coming after Measure O, the Our Downtown, Our Future November ballot initiative. (See below for a re-print) Measure O seeks to remodel the downtown library where it now sits, on Church Street, and it creates a permanent home for the Farmer’s Market at its current location, the place most Santa Cruzans want it to be, while also preserving the heritage trees. This initiative also designates eight downtown lots as affordable housing sites. Well, there’s big money coming in to defeat Measure O and it has only gotten worse since the column I wrote. According to mandatory financial disclosure form 497, the Seaside Company, aka the Boardwalk, aka Charlie Canfield and Karl Rice, have all jumped on the “No on O” campaign train with a hefty admission fee of $10,000. Now, as promised, a look at the “No on N,” a campaign to defeat the affordable housing measure, “Yes on N,” or the Empty Homes Tax.
What is Measure N?
Placing a tax on Empty Homes to fund affordable housing, Measure N, is likely one of the best ideas in a long time that has dropped right into our community lap. Measure N essentially puts into law a serious question many of us have been asking for years. If you do not live, or rent out, a dwelling for at least four months per year, then why aren’t you taxed? If Measure N passes each vacant home property owner will pay a $6,000 tax, or $3k for an empty apartment in complexes of 8 or more units. Oh, by the way, you can sell the property too and not pay any empty home tax. But of course, there is stiff opposition to this measure, which begs the question, how many people can afford to have two or three homes and leave them empty? It is estimated by the city of Santa Cruz that there are roughly 1000 empty homes out of 23,600 plus homes in the city. Santa Cruz Local reported last August that “[A] vacancy tax started in 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia has raised $105.6 million, according to a Vancouver city report. Vacant properties have decreased by 26%, according to the report.” This measure would affect less than 4% of the homes in Santa Cruz and many of these owners possess multiple houses. It is fairly safe to say that Measure N will effect less than 1% of the people who currently reside in the city.
The Nasties Trying to Defeat Affordable Housing
Here is a list of only those who have contributed more than $1,000 as of September 21 to defeat Measure N, the affordable housing initiative that is on this November’s ballot. Some of the same anguished corporate real estate and for-profit housing developers who do not look favorably on Measure O, are also frantically trying to defeat Measure N. Santa Cruz Together (SCT) [article behind a paywall] seems to be rounding up donations and SCT’s treasurer is attorney Brad Brereton, located at 1362 Pacific Avenue. On the clerk’s page it lists these individuals and entities as having made donations, but through SCT. And don’t forget, these are only the donations they have had to report because they are over one thousand dollars. It is likely the largesse is much greater and will be known when the regular report for all donations is filed in October. So, who’s against it?
- Barton Pecchenino of Fresno, employment status “unknown,” $1000
- Cory Ray, Santa Cruz, Retired, $1,000
- Katherine Peterson of El Dorado Hills, “General Partner,” $1,000
- Ken Carlson of Santa Cruz, “investor,” $1,000
- Hallie Richmond of Santa Cruz, Property Manager Surf City Rentals Inc., $1003 ($3.?)
- Yes, the Seaside Company-Rice, Canfield, et al., is in for at least $5,000 (another one was reported to SCT on 5/12/22, but does not show up on the cumulative total)
- Bailey Properties of Aptos, Bob, Robert and Paul Bailey and “140 plus agents,” $2,500
- John Burroughs of Santa Cruz, Retired, $1,000
- Peter Davis of Santa Cruz, Retired, $1,000
Will People-Power Save Us?
I certainly hope so. People-power is what won us Lighthouse Field, Wilder Ranch, the Del Mar Theater, the Pogonip, Moore Creek Uplands, 60% of the Beach Flats Community Garden (we are still working on getting back the other 40%), and also put a stop to off-shore oil drilling, fracking, Boardwalk expansion, and multiple incarnations of a convention hotel. But why do realtors oppose Measure N? Wouldn’t you think that if real estate is changing hands, being rented or sold, that realtors would be in favor of this measure? Nope. Their big fear is the “R-word,” registry. Well, a tax registry already exists at the county’s accessor’s office. The city has a registry of landlords set up by the rental inspection ordinance. The city’s finance department has a registry of all vacation rentals. And now, a registry for empty homes is proposed. Once Santa Cruz voters know the facts, I doubt many will reject this novel idea. Some voters will likely be propagandized into voting against affordable housing, as a result of all the money being spent against N, but not too many.
Good signs of the times as seen on Chestnut Street in Santa Cruz.
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 email@example.com
Email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
DESTROYING THE PLEASURE POINT COMMUNITY WITH ULTRA-DENSE RE-ZONING
Last Wednesday (9/21), the County Planning Commission met virtually to continue review of the County Draft Sustainability Plan, Draft General Plan Update, and Draft EIR. A few members of the public were in attendance. Several people spoke out to protest and question why Pleasure Point has been targeted to have all of the new Ultra High Flex (UHF) zoning that would allow 45-80 units/acre all on Portola Drive.
Commissioner Shepherd revealed that Planning Staff had answered her question about what appeals might cost for zoning appeals to the Planning Commission…$199/hour with a likely minimum of 10 staff hours…and up. That means any of the business owners who will be obliterated with this dense 45-80 units/acre in the concentrated area will have to pay over $2000 to appeal and try to save their businesses.
Commissioners Rachel Dann and Allyson Violante (both are analyst aides to County Supervisors) had worked together to present a comprehensive list of questions for staff. Some questioned why public notice was being reduced or eliminated for project applications in their rural neighborhoods and why notices would be sent out for a vacation rental permit application, no notice would be sent for a B&B that could host up to 25 guests.
Commissioner Lazenby felt that projects in neighborhoods with small parcels should get a higher level of review when project heights are a consideration. Bravo. Hopefully this will be reflected in how staff amends Code 13.10.323(F)(6)(a) regarding noticing.
Commissioners also discussed Code Chapter 18.10 and 18.62 regarding on-site notice posting and insisted such notices are clearly accessible and visible to the average person. [I wanted to tell them the story of Barry Swenson posting the Aptos Village Project change hearing notices that were mostly hidden behind the chain link fencing and a portable toilet.]
Commissioner Shepherd agreed that there should be good public notice of all such projects because it would “save misery if the neighbors know what’s happening.” Bravo. Hopefully, their suggested changes will show up in the Board’s copy of Code Section 13.10.322 and chapter BE-24 in the Sustainable Plan Guidelines.
Commissioner Dann felt the Draft Plan to reduce the amount of open space required for large dense developments from 15% down to 10% area was not a good idea. She felt all units should have decks that could be counted as Open Space. Commissioner Shepherd agreed, stating that corridors within a building should not be allowed to be counted as “Common Open Space”. Bravo, again!
Well, all that good discussion took nearly three hours, and continued into the afternoon following a lunch break. I could not stay to listen, but am grateful that the recording for the Sept. 21, 2022 meeting is available here
It appears the Commission completed their assigned task of reviewing the entire massive documentation that will create new land use policies and truly change the quality of life in our County
The next opportunity for public participation will be the Board of Supervisors and likely soon. I encourage you to listen to the Planning Commission discussion recordings, read what you can about what you care most about, and contact your Supervisor.
This is a big deal.
NEW BIKE LANES FOR WATSONVILLE WILL CONNECT TO FAIRGROUNDS AREA AND LIKELY HELP THE PROPOSED NEW COUNTY PARK ADJACENT
Watsonville City Council approved partnering with CalTrans to reconfigure Main Street and Highway 152 through the City, beginning at Highway One and traveling out past the County Fairgrounds to within 0.5 mile of Carlton Road, adding sidewalks and Class 4 protected bike lanes within the City Limits.
Focusing on “Re-imagining Downtown”, the project will reduce the number of traffic lanes within the downtown areas (termed a “road diet”) and add bulb-out sidewalk planters to slow traffic, hopefully reducing the existing pedestrian hazards.
CalTrans will pay 100% of the project costs.
Mayor Ari Parker and Councilwoman Rebecca Garcia expressed their thanks to CalTrans for the financial help but relayed constituent concerns about how putting the downtown thoroughfare on a diet would cause bloated congestion on auxiliary neighborhood routes. Staff assured them the traffic will be monitored and flexible for change to accommodate problems. One mitigation could be converting two-way traffic to one-way travel.
You can review the documents and listen to the Council audio recording of this Sept. 13 item 8a in New Business, Complete Streets:
Will the sections of Highway 152 in the County Unincorporated Area also include a Class 4 protected bike land and sidewalks? I hope so. Besides improving safety for Lakeview Middle School and St. Francis High School students and staff, this would significantly aid safe public access to the proposed new County Park at 188 Whiting Road, for which the County has secured a Purchase Agreement to buy and plans a new sports complex.
No County staff has yet responded to my message inquiries regarding what the bike lanes and sidewalks will look like along Highway 152 in the Unincorporated Area. I was surprised to learn that the Watsonville City Limits in that area do not include or even come near the major Holohan Road intersection. Take a look!
Contact County Public Works to find out about the portions of this large project in the Unincorporated Area, and ask for Class 4 Protected Bike Lanes and sidewalks. 831-454-2160 or Director Matt Machadomatt.email@example.com
UGLY RENDERING OF PROPOSED NEW DOWNTOWN LIBRARY BURIED IN PARKING TO BENEFIT OTHER DEVELOPERS
Take a look at the slide presentation renderings for the proposed new Downtown Library. Boy, is it ever ugly!
What gets buried in all this, in addition to a library suffering misrepresentational use of Measure S funds, is that the parking garage will greatly benefit other large developers who may not want to have to build parking for their towers. Think about that. It is all coming our way soon but could be halted with a YES vote on Measure O this November.
COUNTY COMMISSIONS REALLY NEED WORK
The Commissions appointed by County Supervisors are supposed to be advisory groups acting as liaisons between the public and the Board. However, some are so dysfunctional, they are worthless.
One example is the County Fire Advisory Commission (FDAC). This group’s purpose is to make recommendations to the Board on matters related to wildland fire and emergency response in the areas of the County not served by any other fire district. Here is their Mission, taken from the website:
The County Fire Department Advisory Commission exercises the following responsibilities in its efforts to ensure that the interests of the County Fire Department, career and volunteer fire companies, and citizens residing within the County Fire Department jurisdiction are protected and promoted by monitoring, studying, and advising the County Fire Chief and Board of Supervisors on the following:
- The preparation and implementation of the County Fire Department Master Plan; and
- Methods for improving the cost effectiveness and delivery of the County’s fire protection, as well as its rescue and emergency medical services programs; and
- County Fire Department’s budget priorities and specific budget recommendations; and
- The changing role or mission of each of the volunteer fire companies and the resulting changes in their requirements; and
- Such other matters relating to the county’s fire protection, rescue and emergency medical services program, as the committee desires to bring to the attention of the Fire Chief and Board of Supervisors.
- Agendas and related documents will be posted in accordance with the
Ralph M. Brown Act (Gov. Code 54950 et seq. | Understanding the Ralph M. Brown Act
However, last Wednesday’s FDAC agenda packet did not include any of the five e-mails I had sent to the Commission as input on important fire-related issues affecting residents in the Wildland Urban Interface. That is a Brown Act violation.
Because many people, including myself, were unable to join the July 20 FDAC hybrid meeting due to the inaccurate remote access information on the website, I decided to attend last week’s meeting in person.
“The draft minutes for the July 20 meeting are not accurate. They are missing the presentation by Commissioner Pico…I was there in person at that meeting.” Said the only other member of the public attending in person.
“You can’t speak!” barked Chair Aumack. “You’ll get your chance during Public Comment!” The Board proceeded to approve the Draft Minutes that failed to include documentation that a significant report had been presented about the imminent consolidations being driven by LAFCO and also failed to record any members of the public having attended the meeting.
When I asked why NONE of my correspondence had been included in the agenda packet, Chairman Aumack did not answer, but Administrative Clerk Scalia admitted that she had contacted County Counsel to ask if she should include my correspondence? Counsel told her it was up to the FDAC Chair. “Yes,” said Chair Aumack, “I own the agenda.”
“How can I get my correspondence included on the FDAC Agenda?” I asked.
“Write me.” he said.
“I did that, and it was not included.” I responded.
Clerk Scalia replied, “Well, I didn’t have permission to include it.”
At that point, Chair Aumack said he would have to go back and look at things, and proceeded with the agenda.
Never again were members of the public allowed to speak during the meeting. Period.
The FDAC is not the only dysfunctional citizen advisory Commission. I have likewise heard similar stories from people who left the County Parks & Recreation Commission meetings because the Director Jeff Gaffney instructed the Commissioners that members of the public could only speak on an issue after the vote had been taken on the issue. Imagine that being compliant with the Brown Act requirements!
The County Arts Commission also fails to post their agendas on the website for public access.
Please contact the County Board of Supervisors and request a County Commission Policy Handbook be developed and approved so that these well-meaning appointees understand what they should be doing and make our Commissions meaningful.
SOON THERE MUST BE AN IN-PERSON QUORUM
Come January 1, 2023, all governing agencies, including special districts, must have a quorum in-person at meetings, and members will only be allowed a limited number of teleconference appearances. This comes along with the Governor signing AB 2449 into law.
Do you think that will mean Second District County Supervisors Zach Friend and Ryan Coonerty will actually have to show up in the Board chambers? NO one has actually seen them at a meeting since the pandemic began two and a half years ago.
At least this year, they have made their images public during important Board meetings and budget hearings, rather than a blank screen with a voice that may or may not have been theirs making decisions affecting the communities throughout the County.
LIVE OAK SENIOR CENTER CLOSING?
Last Tuesday, a member of the public let it be known that the Live Oak School District intends to close down the Live Oak Senior Center at 1777 Capitola Road by the end of this year. He was very concerned about what the Board could do to help the senior citizens who have relied on this facility for a number of services. No one answered him or directed him to any staff that could help him.
The parcel of land on which the Live Oak Senior Center sits is indeed owned by the Live Oak School District, according to the County Assessor database: Home Page
The Live Oak Senior Center was established in 1974 by a group of Live Oak residents committed to providing a place for resources for seniors. Today many of the original non-profits continue to provide services to seniors in the Santa Cruz community….but apparently not at 1777 Capitola Road. It seems the phone has been disconnected.
The question is…what will be built there instead? Maybe work force housing?
Contact Supervisor Manu Koenig and ask: 454-2200 or Manu Koenig firstname.lastname@example.org The Live Oak School District website is difficult to access for researching the School Board meeting agenda documents.
A POWERFUL PAPER MICROSCOPE?
A Stanford University student reportedly got tired of lugging heavy and expensive microscopes into the field for research, and developed this amazing paper microscope that costs about 50 cents. Wow. Let’s hope they are recyclable!
MAKE ONE CALL. WRITE ONE LETTER. LISTEN TO ONE COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION RECORDING AND LEARN ONE MORE THING ABOUT WHAT THE COUNTY GENERAL PLAN CHANGE WILL DO IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.
JUST DO ONE THING THIS WEEK, AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
Cheers, and Happy Autumn,
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
GOLDEN CROWNED SPARROW AND GERMINATING
Last week brought the Fall Equinox, a surprising germinating rain, and the return of golden crowned sparrows. In a short time, the season has shifted between summer and fall and all around us nature is transforming accordingly.
In case you don’t follow such things…a little about the significance of Fall Equinox. The first day of Fall was September 22, 2022. The very moment that the sun was shining directly above the Earth’s equator was at 6:04 pm that day. After that, the sun has moved south of the equator, and the days have become shorter than the nights. This week, daylight is shortening 2 minutes and 11 seconds each day. Here are sunrise and sunset times for Wednesday the 28th through Sunday October 1st, so you can see what’s going on:
|Wednesday 28th||6:44 am||6:39 pm|
|Thursday 29th||6:45 am||6:38 pm|
|Friday 30th||6:46 am||6:36 pm|
|Saturday 1st||6:46 am||6:35 pm|
Last week, an unusual storm brought much of our area enough rain to germinate annual grassland plants. Three-quarters to an inch of rain is all it takes to green up the grasslands. In the forest, redwood sorrel perked up, a newly lush green carpet under the towering redwoods. Curiously, I didn’t catch the ‘petrichor’ smell this round.
First Rains – What Next?
The shift to the rainy season demands attention. Our rainy season coincides with shorter days and a decline in average daily temperature. Cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers are what typify the rare Mediterranean climate regions like where we live. The wisdom of this area suggests that we must be prepared for the onset of stronger rains by October 15th, the average date of the first rainy storms.
Slow it Sink it Spread it
We prepare by making sure that things don’t runoff. “Slow it, sink it, spread it” is the rainfall mantra for our dry climate. Our job is to slow down rainfall so that it has time to infiltrate into the soil. We build raingardens to help sink the rain into the soil. Where we can’t sink it in small areas, we spread the flow out onto larger areas to give it more chance to slow and sink…and less chance to erode the precious soil which is impossible to replace, and which can pollute streams.
Rain isn’t the only thing that runs off with the advent of the rainy season: the first flush of rain carries with it a whole summer’s worth of accumulated pollution. The first flush, as the runoff from the first rainfall is called, is the most polluting runoff event of the year.
A Legacy of Runoff Monitoring, Disappearing
There used to be a program led by the Coastal Watershed Council that organized volunteers to sample the first flush runoff from municipal drainages from many cities around the Central Coast, including Santa Cruz. That ‘First Flush‘ program gradually degraded and then apparently disappeared – one wonders if the very concerning data were the reason.
In the early years, the program actually sampled the first flush, but it later curiously shifted to sampling in summer months. What continued was something the group calls ‘Snapshot Day‘ in early summer, after one would expect that rains had cleansed drainages and runoff declined; curiously, even that program found many areas of polluted runoff concern.
The First Flush monitoring program highlighted high concentrations of pollutants, especially phosphorous but also zinc and copper, which are toxic at the concentrations they documented. In 2003, the First Flush monitoring report suggested that all the sites had runoff that was toxic to mussels, the indicator species used to assess water quality. In subsequent years, that measure was excluded, and the reports became more and more difficult to interpret. Then, the program gradually declined in scope, and reports after 2016 are not in evidence on the Coastal Watershed Council’s website.
The Return of the Golden Crowned Sparrow
I have written another essay about golden crowned sparrows, but want to give you a synopsis and a few more interesting facts. I also hope that you will welcome the return of this species to your neighborhood. This species has a very distinct call that will help you to recognize them. I woke last Wednesday morning to the smell of fresh rain and to that distinct song. Flocks of golden crowned sparrows had returned to my yard! They had flown all the way from Alaska. Bruce Lyon at UCSC has shown that the birds have a good survival rate to return to the same shrub patches that they occupied the prior winter. I keep hoping that I can find the time to get to know the behavior and color patterns of enough of the 40 or so birds that flock around my house to recognize them when they return.
These sparrows are grazers, though when they arrive from their journey south they mainly eat seeds for a bit. Their grazing helps to create big barren areas at the edges of shrubs adjoining grasslands; the taller the adjoining bush, the farther out the bare patch extends. Golden crowned sparrows also graze my vegetable garden: soon, I will have to cover up anything they like, a drastic switch from the summer. I will guard my winter greens crop – kale, collards, chard, arugula, and lettuce – until early April when they depart.
For a while, I thought the golden crowned sparrows would leave at Spring Equinox just to keep things simple. After all, if they always arrive at Fall Equinox, why wouldn’t they leave at a similar time? I haven’t kept a good logbook of their departures, but I’ve been tricked several times when they stopped calling right around my house. It turned out that the flocks move out to graze the deep lush cover crops in the farm fields nearby before taking off for Alaska and British Columbia where they spend their summers.
Although we’ve had a germinating rain, we don’t know what the future holds…the past 2 years have had curious weather phenomena: rain followed by hot drought, grasslands drying out and then regreening. This year, there is a strong La Niña in effect – in recent years, this meant drought. The last two years had heavy duty heat waves right up to Thanksgiving when the first big rain occurred.
So, we may get some more time to prepare for the First Flush and the onset of the rains. Do what you can…create or maintain your raingardens – water them if you can to prepare them to filter runoff.
While the golden crowned sparrow friends are around, I hope you will say hi to them and appreciate their rainy season song.
Welcome the Fall!
Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at: www.greyhayes.net
Email Grey at email@example.com
N.J. (Nate) Hagens has written an article I would like to recommend. I think the article is important. I didn’t find the article easy to read, however, and I doubt you will, either.
Here is a link to the article I am talking about. It is titled, “Economics for the future – Beyond the superorganism.” Hagens’ article was published in Ecological Economics in 2020 [169 (2020) 106520].
Scholarly articles are often hard to read. All those footnotes! The academic nature of the article is one of the difficulties with “Economics for the Future.”
But there is another reason, too, that this article is hard to read. As the point Hagens is making in the article begins to sink in, the article illuminates the reality that underlies the palpable sense of discouragement and doom that hangs over all of us who are alive today. Our worst fears are being confirmed, in rather neutral, scientific language.
So, be advised.
Hagens is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota, and he teaches an Honors Seminar titled: “Reality 101 – A Survey of the Human Predicament.” Hagens describes the class as “an interdisciplinary overview of: anthropology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, energy, economics, population, ecology, systems thinking, [and] environmental science.” The objective of the class, according to Hagens, is for “students to see through the cultural blindspots on energy, behavior and the future, [and thus] to see the general shape of the 21st century. This allows for greater personal clarity for future decisions, and insights into the leverage points to be effective at larger scales.”
Hagens lists three “main conclusions” that he hopes his students will take away from his class. They are:
1) That human population combined with our aspirations and consumption function akin to a giant superorganism, and that our aggregate actions are directly causing the 6th great extinction.
2) That nature – and human systems – are based on quality energy and natural resources, 98% of ‘labor’ in human economies is now done by machines, with 85% of that via fossil slaves (coal, oil and natural gas) – the cost of finding, extracting and delivering these -in addition to rebuildable tech like PV/wind to a complex societal infrastructure is so high as to limit further growth.
3) Most importantly, [that] we don’t have an energy or environmental problem so much as a human brain mismatch – we evolved to be ‘wrong’, and our reflexive responses to our problems are really responses that were formed in the Pleistocene. Until we acknowledge who we are, where we came from, what we’re doing and what really motivates us/makes us happy etc, we will continue on current trajectory. But…we are the first generation of our species – of any species to know these things, and our neural plasticity + cultural evolution gives reason for hope.
This three-point list, which comes from Hagens’ self-description on his LinkedIn profile, is pretty much the message of the article I am recommending. Read the article and you won’t have to take Hagens’ course. In essence, Hagens is advising us – in fact, he is demonstrating to us – that the social, political, and economic realities that define our current world are profoundly unsustainable, and that the world in which we live, and which most of us take for granted, and which we want to continue to take for granted, is (to use that word again) “doomed.”
The last point in Hagens’ three-point list is a rather general message of hope, offered to offset that sense of “doom” that might otherwise prevail. We are smart, says Hagens, and our reasons for hope are not just “wishful thinking.” Human beings have overcome many past difficulties, and we can do that again. In providing this counsel, Hagens is agreeing with my friend Richard Charter, whose recent book outlines the same kind of problems Hagens discusses, and concludes that “hope is our most promising antidote.”
I would like to take just one step beyond “hope,” though, and make two specific points.
First, the “superorganism” that Hagens describes makes that “superorganism” sound like some kind of “blob.” In fact, the way I’d put it, Hagens is really claiming (in using that “superorganism” description) that we are all “in this life together,” and on a global scale. That is one of my consistent contentions, as those who read my blog on a regular basis certainly know. Becoming aware of our ultimate connection, beyond all the boundaries and divisions that seem more “real” than the actual reality of our interconnection, is critically important. If we don’t embrace our global interconnection, then the “doom” that we can see coming becomes a near certainty. Division and difference, as problems arise (as they certainly will, if Hagens is correct), leads us directly into conflicts and contentions that will destroy the world. Frequent readers of my blog postings will remember my not infrequent introduction of pictures like the one below, to underscore this point:
The other thing to say in response to Hagens’ three-point list – my “second” point – is that we are not simply the objects of our own observation. We are “actors,” too, not simply observers, and nothing that exists in the human world that we have constructed, from neolithic times till now, makes that world inevitable, or impossible to change. In fact, hard to read though it is, Hagens is telling us that the time in which we live is a time in which we will (because we must) create a giant transformation of the world we currently inhabit. Everything can be changed.
And that’s not impossible, either. My favorite Bob Dylan song, Mississippi, puts it poetically:
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
“Where are we going?” Nate Hagens asks. We’re moving. We have “got to move.” We have got to move, “somewhere.” Hagens’ paper makes that very, very clear. That’s “Reality 101.”
So where are we going? We can hope it will be good, but I am talking about something different from hope. Let’s not discount “hope,” but we should be shooting for “joy.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
STRUGGLES WITH REALITY AND A VERY STABLE GENIUS
Donald Trump continues in his struggles with reality as exhibited on numerous occasions this past week. With a shot across the bow by New York Attorney General Letitia James unveiled a long-expected civil suit against The Don, three of his adult children, and his Trump Organization executives, as she seeks $250-million to settle the 222-page complaint in the alleged fraudulent practices against the state of New York. James alleges the Trump Mafia falsely inflated their net worth by billions of dollars to secure loans, getting favorable terms and gaining tax benefits. The complaint says Trump and co-conspirators “knowingly and intentionally created more than 200 false and misleading valuations of assets” from 2011 to 2021. Of course, scuttlebutt has it that the ten year period in question, could actually extend into another lifetime of criminality should a prosecutor choose to pursue it.
In addition to the monetary settlement, James‘ punishment would include a five-year ban on Trump acquiring commercial real estate in New York, or applying for loans, along with a lifetime ban on Trump and progeny, Ivanka, Eric, and Don, Jr., from serving on the board of any New York business. In The Don’s best-selling book, ‘The Art of the Deal,’ the supposed author makes himself out to be an energetic, clever, and prosperous native of his city, so it is fitting that the AG threw it back in his face with, “Claiming to have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It is the art of the steal.” By fraudulently presenting to banks that the company had more assets than in actuality, he was able to obtain loans at a lower interest rate, and insurance at a lower premium. The savings in unwarranted benefits for the ten-year period is estimated to be $250-million, thus the basis for the penalty amount.
Trump and his legal team immediately launched an attack on James, who had jeopardized the existence of the Trump Organization and drew blood from the delicate sensitivities of the Orangeman. The ex-prez vented that James is a “racist on a witch hunt, and a fraud,” while his attorney charged Democrat James as a politician looking to flesh out her political future. James pointed out that Trump contends his apartment in Trump Tower encompasses 30,000 square feet, being worth $327-million…far more value than any New York apartment has ever been sold for. She cuts it down to reveal the actual size at around 11,000 square feet instead of 30,000, an easily provable lie. Additionally, AG James disclosed that several rent-stabilized apartments were valued 65 times the actual value, and that Trump’s tower was worth only $200-million instead of $524-million as evaluated by Trump. She also discounted the claims of cash-on-hand as non-existent, and that the application of a 14-karat gold-plated nameplate does not jump the evaluation of any property.
Trump’s contentious defense of his supposed wealth, marked by his well-known complaints directed at Forbes magazine which ignored his desire to be rated higher on their list of the wealthy, now has a civil lawsuit further fracturing his fragile ego. The GOP, in defense of Trump, is touting James‘ 2018 campaign during which she vowed to hold him accountable for his transgressions while calling him an illegitimate president. The party is saying since her move is a political one, there will be no political danger to Trump’s future should he choose to run for a second presidential term as the lawsuit only verifies the DEMs hostility toward their Bully Boy. Even former AG Barr, a staunch defender of Trump during his tenure, but who has been relatively outspoken of late regarding the Mar-a-Lago classified documents fiasco, said on Fox News, “It’s hard for me not to conclude that this is a political hit job. I’m not even sure that she has a good case against Trump himself, but what ultimately persuades me that this is a political hit job is that she grossly overreaches when she tries to drag the children into this.” A case of ‘the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree,’ Bill. C’mon!
With Trump’s growing legal challenges, his status within the GOP is being challenged, in particular by Florida governor DeSantis. The governor has made efforts to be more newsworthy by holding events outside his state in recent weeks, and his sending planeloads of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard have perked up the ears of the right-wing populist base of the GOP, though his scheme is not finding favor with the general public. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has commented about “candidate quality” with Trump’s backing of Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Herschel Walker in Georgia, and by inference are we to conclude this encompasses the ex-president? The Don’s NBC News poll ratings have held reasonably steady since April of ’21, but with the new outcrops of troubles, a shift shows a drop to 34 percent of voters holding a positive outlook of the former-guy. Many pollsters believe the electorate have grown tired of the constant election-denying, that it is no longer a normal or rational stance, a reality Trump can’t get past, and with evidence that voters are beginning to examine the possible 2024 candidates with more diligence. A former Trump campaign aide offered, “Elections are business decisions at the end of the day,” recognizing the investigations will become too burdensome for acceptance of a third Trump candidacy.
In their new book, ‘The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2027-2021,’ Peter Baker and Susan Glasser reveal that Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly, successor to Reince Priebus, secretly bought ‘The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,’ a 2017 best seller by psychiatrist Bandy Lee. Lee’s book includes the warnings of 27 mental health professionals, that the newly elected president was psychologically unfit for the office, which Kelly used as a guide in attempting to manage, and survive, Trump’s irrationality, and his distinct psychoses. Kelly’s reference to the White House as ‘Crazytown‘ is fitting, in light of the fact that he failed miserably at imposing order on the prez and his lackeys, which understandably led to a vitriolic parting of the ways. The views of the chief of staff were shared by others who saw Trump as a pathological liar having an oversized ego, with profound insecurities. One senior official is quoted as saying, “I think there’s something wrong with him. He doesn’t listen to anybody, and he feels like he shouldn’t. He just doesn’t care what other people say and think. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Use of the 25th Amendment in replacing a president was seriously discussed by cabinet members within a few months of the inauguration, but to ward off challenges and disruption, attempting to control Trump was erroneously decided upon. The amendment was again debated following the Trump-inspired J6 attack on the Capitol, which led to no action. John Kelly continues to criticize his former boss, telling friends, “Trump’s dishonesty is astounding…more pathetic than anything else,” calling him, “the most flawed person he ever met.” To be expected, Trump claims “Kelly didn’t do a good job, had no temperament and ultimately he was petered out. He got eaten alive. He was unable to handle the pressure of this job.” Trump doggedly disregarded assertions about is mental health and staff concerns, memorably telling the press in 2018 that he was “a very stable genius,” after the release of Michael Wolff’s book, ‘Fire and Fury.’
This ‘stable genius’ has disturbingly, and embarrassingly, adopted the support of political conspiracy movement QAnon, as he flagrantly wears the ‘Q’ pin on his lapel. He recently posted a photoshopped image of him with the catchphrase, ‘The Storm Is Coming,‘ along with the abbreviation, ‘WWG1WGA‘, for ‘Where We Go One, We Go All.’ His insanity prompted him to send posts on ‘Truth Social‘ with QAnon references, and in an appearance at a rally in Ohio, the background music sounded much like the ‘Q’ theme song, prompting supporters to raise hands while pointing a finger, alluding to the ‘Q’ slogan. Trump had always pretended obliviousness to the group who regards him as their central figure, their ‘savior,’ even though the FBI has warned they are a growing domestic terrorism threat.
Robert Brecker, on Nation of Change website, writes that no one can “love one’s country” without loving its core institutions, like fair elections, the law, and the Constitution; that no one loves America by seditiously poisoning majority rule; no one loves America by aligning it with predatory tyrants while ignoring historic democratic allies; no one loves America without knowing, then respecting American history. Knowing that Trump revels in his egotistical self-love, while ignoring or breaking all the legal, party or political rules as he tries to establish ‘the Era of Trump,’ only points to his ‘politics of revenge‘ tactics. In the end, Brecker maintains, MAGA will be seen as the greatest fraud of all, renamed by historians as MTGA, Make Trump Great Again, led by a con-man who cares not a whit about the destruction left in his wake.
Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email: email@example.com.
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.
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
~Henry David Thoreau
“But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
~Stephen King, ‘Salem’s Lot
You don’t see many Swedes on America’s Got Talent, but here is one 🙂
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