Blog Archives

September 29 – October 5, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…state’s No on Recall value, BrattonOnline adjustments, movie critiques. GREENSITE…Oversized Vehicle Ordinance. KROHN…Hot Topics in Town, empty homes tax, downtown future, credit union’s hotel, Pogonip & homeless garden, UCSC issues. STEINBRUNER…is back with Supervisors and fire rebuild problems, Sierra Ryan as new County Water manager, Soquel Pure Water project, Big Creek Lumber, Watsonville City Council, EPA corruption. HAYES…new column about the Natural World, biological diversity, Monterey Bay, hikes and walks. PATTON…Under a Green Sky. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES… “October”

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PACIFIC AVENUE 1882-1894 (1:55pm.) The building in front, with the people and horses, is the Ely Block Building. They’d buy your produce and market it. On the right is the original I.O.O.F (Odd Fellows) building, with our still-extant town clock up on the roof. On the far left is our County Courthouse, built in 1866. No trolley tracks or cars yet ,but it won’t be long.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE September 27

ABOUT NEWSOM’S NO RECALL. Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle (9/26) had another great piece by regular columnist Joe Mathews, titled, “Recall election was a bargain”. He pointed out some facts including that it cost less than $7 per Californian. That’s less than 1% of our current budget surplus, and about one tenth of one percent of the overall state budget. If that doesn’t convince you, how about the fact that the No on Recall “cost $100 million less than the Los Angeles Dodgers are paying their right-fielder”. Even more importantly, the recall defeat “affirmed Newsom’s big impactful acts of governance, and set the stage for more aggressive action, especially around the pandemic”. 

BONLINE ADJUSTMENTS. BrattonOnline has been online since 2003. Since that time we’ve added and dropped at least six regular contributors. After long talks and considerations, we’ve added Grey Hayes’ new weekly column, and returned Becky Steinbruner’s regular writings. Thanks so much to all readers (and especially subscribers) who’ve sent in their reactions…it means a lot.

Be sure to tune in to my very newest movie streaming reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMARAICA. A very sad telling of the enormous issues that immigrants face when trying to get into and stay in the United States from Mexico. It’s well-acted and has many plot holes, but you’ll watch ICE raids and babies in cages, and realize just how widespread this torturous story is. The bigger problem of how to change such tragedy… remains.  

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

THE CARD COUNTER (DEL MAR THEATRE). Oscar Isaac should be given some Academy Award right now…he’s perfect and totally believable in this poker playing and war veteran drama. But more than poker Isaac has a past that is revealed about like a poker hand….slowly and with much hesitation and heavy betting. See this movie it’s well worth your time and see it at the Del Mar if you live nearby.

LANGUAGE LESSONS. (DEL MAR THEATRE). It seemed crazy to actually attend a real movie theatre like the Del Mar to watch a new movie which was all presented as Zoom online scenes. Mark Duplass is a gay Oakland guy who loses his partner and works hard to become friends with his online teacher Natalie Morales who lives and signs in from Costa Rica. It’s depressing, artificial, and pointless. 

SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE. (HBO SERIES). I haven’t seen Ingmar Bergman’s original film in decades (since 1974) and this new adaptation will rip your marital guts out. Starring Oscar Isaacs and Jessica Chastain it becomes a beautiful, but scathing examination of any, all of your marriages past or future. It has five episodes and after just seeing the first one you’ll know you’re in for a truly great viewing experience. Do not miss this opportunity.

THE VOYEURS. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE). It looks and seems like NYC but it’s actually filmed in high rise apartments in Montreal. A couple gets hooked on watching, spying, eavesdropping through their neighbors windows. It’ll remind you of Jimmy Stewart’s Rear Window but more so! I can’t say much more without giving away plot details. Watch it, it’s totally absorbing and surprising. 

MALIGNANT. (HBO MAX SERIES). Hard to classify this one, probably a horror movie is best. A pregnant woman is violently pushed and beaten by her husband. She has visions or dreams of torture and somehow there are some actions happening in Seattle’s underground city. You do not need to see this movie.

ON THE VERGE. (NETFLIX SERIES). Four kooky women led by Julie Delpy and Elizabeth Shue traipse through Los Angeles with other women friends also in their 40’s. It’s supposed to be a comedy but none of the “stars” have any concept of timing, or expression. Avoid this series before it’s too late.

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

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

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

BLITZER GALLERY. They’re having an Open Studios Art Tour Preview Exhibit with work from artists in outlying studios. That’ll be First Friday October 1, 4-7 pm and the first three weekends in October 2-5 pm Saturday and Sunday. It’ll feature artists exclusive to Davenport, Bonny Doon, San Lorenzo Valley, Scotts Valley, La Selva Beach and Watsonville. Stop by the preview to plan your Open Studios Tour. Gallery hours are limited due to Covid: Open Tuesday and Thursday 1-4 pm or by appointment. The Gallery is in the old Wrigley Building at 2801 Mission Street. Go to rblitzergallery.com   or call 831-458 1217.

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September 27

PUTTING THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE.

In case you missed it, the SC City Council deliberation and public input on an Amendment to update the Parking of Oversized Vehicles Ordinance was an exercise in frustration. Not that there is not a problem. Oversized Vehicles (OSV), defined as those over 20 feet in length and parked long-term especially on the lower Westside, have generated over 400 emails calling for action, according to SCPD Chief Mills. He added that, “nothing has changed in 20 years. The goal of the Ordinance is to balance services with enforcement.” 

I disagree that this is a 20-year old problem.  Not that people haven’t ever parked RV’s on the relatively unpopulated streets of the western edge of town. My son did that for a period in the 1990’s when he was houseless. However, the influx of rows of OSV’s along Delaware and adjoining streets and the illegal activities of some of the occupants is more recent. I now notice more OSV’s with garbage outside and ripped State Park trees. It’s not a bad location for OSV’s. It’s the environmentally destructive behavior on the part of some that is the problem. There is an RV sewage dump station at Soquel and Highway One at the Union 76 station. That’s is not a long distance away. Why is this not an easy fix to one of the perceived problems?  

In 2021 there were 2400 calls for abatement of such vehicles, 294 vehicles tagged and 12 OSV towed. When you factor in that tags and citations are ignored, these numbers point to an inability to handle the situation despite a plethora of ordinances, rules, police and parking officers.  Perhaps having the city attorney able to cite is a game-changer but that was not the central issue discussed.

Photo from SCPD Chief Mills’ presentation to council

At the first iteration of the OSV Ordinance in 2016, mainly to address RV parking along Westcliff Drive, the CA Coastal Commission appealed the city’s Ordinance and found it a substantial issue, effectively overruling it.  Their main question was, where would OSV’s be able to park? That question has not been answered 5 years later, despite countless hours of deliberation and now, council action. 

Public comment was predictably polarized.  Very few who had a problem with the RV parking spoke. Message to public: if you feel strongly about an issue you have to show up. Opponents had some good points and some unfounded generalizations. Describing the Amendment as an attempt to “just appease the well-fed bellies of the Westside property owners” the speaker ignored the fact that the houseless have opportunities for very well-fed bellies, courtesy of the many organizations that provide food. They also have free cell phones, courtesy of Obama. Claims by others that the Ordinance Amendment would impact primarily peoples of color, gender non-conforming and LGBTQ communities are unfounded and exploitive of such communities. Perhaps those opposed to this proposed Amendment could engage the few troublemakers and get them to comply with existing health and sanitation policies so that we need fewer new Ordinances?

Cut to the chase. This Amendment is slated to be in effect only when there are sufficient Safe Parking Places provided. Why wasn’t that provision secured prior to launching the Amendment?  The head of the All Faith Communities (AFC) that provide current Safe Place Parking said that the city has not provided any funds for their program. Nor have they (AFC) been included in the city’s dialogue.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The motion that passed unanimously, including holdouts Sandy Brown and Justin Cummings included reference to the safe parking program and included the phrase “should one be established.” How that qualifier was missed is a mystery. I doubt the CA Coastal Commission will be so unobservant.

Is this just an exercise by senior staff to keep us snarling at each other as the situation worsens? Makes one wonder.

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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Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2021

Hot Topics Updates

Empty Homes Tax

Have you noticed a lot of empty homes while jogging on West Cliff or walking on King Street or Bay or just visiting friends at the end of Frederick Street or in the Prospect Heights area? These homes sit empty while so many in Santa Cruz struggle to find housing, and when they find it, they are paying stratospheric rents more akin to the West Village in Manhattan or San Francisco’s Mission District. How many homes are empty?  Vancouver, Oakland, and Portland found an answer: plenty! This ballot initiative aims to not only find out what homes are vacant, but also to tax every empty house $6000. The goal? To either force the owners of empty homes to rent it, or pay the six grand, which will go into an affordable housing fund to both build and acquire housing for “low and very low income” residents. Is it THE solution to the housing crisis? No, but it chips away at that enormous accommodations boulder encompassing the neck of Surf City. Stay tuned, or go their website, EmptyHomesTax.org

Our Downtown, Our Future

Hot topic item #2, the future of downtown. For many residents, the future of the once leafy, pedestrian-congested, and the community’s grand living-room, is in peril of being sign, sealed, and delivered to the highest bidder. It started with the cockamamie scheme of getting a library bond passed, Measure S, in 2016 and then handing over its fate to Public Works director, Mark Dettle, and Economic Development Director, Bonnie Lipscomb who were to lead this legacy project of City Manager, Martin Bernal. You guessed it, Bernal is now long-gone and the new, interim, CM is Water Director Rosemary Mennard. Some say that she’s not so keen on continuing the project. Time will tell, but again, the good people of Santa Cruz are by-passing the city council and city manager and have organized a petition drive to a) modernize and rebuild the library where it has been for over 100 years; b) dedicate “Lot 4” as a permanent home for the Farmer’s Market; c) maintain all those climate-mitigating heritage trees on Lot 4 to provide post(or pre?)-pandemic shade, d) create a downtown Central Park, and e) designate all city-owned downtown lots as affordable housing sites. A tall order?! So was Lighthouse Field, acquiring the greenbelt, stopping a freeway down Chestnut, creating the Tannery Arts Center, and bringing the Del Mar Theatre back to life. People, we’ve been here before, now it’s on with gathering the 5,000 signatures from registered voters to put these issues before voters and take them out of the hands of bureaucrats and corporate real estate-elected councilmembers. It’s time.

Credit Union cum Large Hotel?

About that New York hotelier who’s involved in the remake of the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union (SCCCU) property…it’s true, his name is Stephen Chan and his email chain with local developers and the Economic Development Director were uncovered through a freedom of information act request recently. Stephen’s company, (can I call you “Stephen?”), Eagle Point Partners LLC, is located on Lafayette Street in Lower Manhattan. The city of Santa Cruz owns two “remnant parcels” within the future dreamed-about hotel footprint, which according to the emails, have got to be included if the deal is to go forward. In the meantime, the parcels were on last week’s city council closed session agenda and guess what? The deal has yet to be consummated. The group now organizing to Stop the Hotel, is reaching out to SCCCU members to force another meeting of the board. Lots going on, so stay tuned on this one too. It ain’t over ’til it’s over! 

Not So Fast: Homeless Garden Project Encounters Legal and Moral Hurdles as it Seeks to Occupy Prime Greenbelt land in the Pogonip

Oh boy, this is another, only in Santa Cruz stories. See if I get this right…way back in 1996, the Santa Cruz City Council, led by Scott Kennedy and Mike Rotkin, dealt away the then Homeless Garden Project’s Pelton Street property to a luxury-home developer. Result: eight or nine mini-mansions now sit on the once bucolic, community supported agriculture property. While the city received a pittance, about $2 million and change, the developer became evermore wealthier and HGP was out of a home until Ron Swenson offered up his Delaware and Shaffer Road property for a dollar a year. HGP has been on the Swenson property for more than two decades and could be cultivating organic veggies for a couple of more, but word spread (rumor?) that Swenson wanted to build on the property and the garden would have to vacate soon. That was at least 20 years ago and HGP leaders worked with the city of Santa Cruz to relocate to greenbelt land, the Pogonip. When the price to channel water to the lower meadow came in at over $2 million, the project was somewhat delayed. Local nonprofit executive, Cathy Calfo came in to save the day and has thus far raised more than $3 million to relocate the garden to the Pogonip. A lot of history here. After surviving intense opposition to relocate to the lower meadow, it turns out that land has to now be remediated because it was once a skeet shooting area. Lead and the shards of clay pigeons do not a garden make. Now the HGP negotiated to use the upper meadow, near the Pogonip Clubhouse, a once-venerable outpost for women’s polo enthusiasts. The city council signed onto the move in August, but now there is plenty of opposition. Cathy Calfo, meet your Pognip political neighbors, Grey Hayes, Gillian Greensite, and Kaitilin Gaffney. Long-time Save the Pogonip stalwarts, Celia and Peter Scott are also present in spirit and in their opposition to the upper meadow move. This looks like another legal battle brewing. The trio from Save the Pogonip (Again)’s simple argument is that open space is open space, and it was not set aside by the people of Santa Cruz for agricultural use. Last week, Grey Hayes brought to light three issues here in BrattonOnLine:

  • The original state funding source that supported acquisition of the Pogonip was for open space, watershed restoration, and habitat protection and does not allow use as a commercial farm. 2. The Lower Meadows site should be cleaned up expeditiously to remove the lead contamination on site. 3. If the Homeless Garden Project no longer wants to relocate to the approved Lower Meadow site, it should consider options such as a permanent location at its current site on the Westside or leasing land zoned for agricultural use.
UCSC’s Shuttle System Teetering?

What is up with UCSC’s shuttle system? They are using belching, lurching, diesel-spewing aging buses (wrecks?) to shuttle students around UCSC’s rather pastoral, heavily environmentally protected campus. Inside some of the shuttles is a spider web of caution tape. It courses around aging seat covers and windows that are hard to open. Maintaining social distance between drivers and students seems to be the idea, but the UC Regents says that campus policy does not include social distancing rules this year. Students and drivers alike are more than courteous, all glad to be back and give it a post-covid try, but it will not be long before these belching beasts either break down or are put out to a bus cemetery. What’s more is that student fees not only prop up the Santa Cruz Metro bus system, but also pay for these pathetic shuttle buses. The Metro is currently auditioning an E-bus on its Watsonville route. We can only hope that UCSC Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) does not continue to lag behind. Oy vey, students already pay more than $300 a year in transportation fees, while A-Lot parking stickers go for $765.12 per year, or $150 a month. Compare that with the recently increased city monthly parking garage permit fee of $76 per month, pre-Covid, and the climate-destroying $33 PER YEAR street parking permits. Something is not passing the overall city transportation smell test. I guess the diesel fumes are too strong and getting in the way.

News Sourcing Addendum

Thanks to all of you who wrote in with additional sources of news. How could I leave out Al Jazeera, not to mention Jimmy Dore Show and Counterpunch? I also learned about a bunch of new ones that include: The Gray Zone, Black Agenda Report, Nonsite.org, The Vanguard (“A couple of Kansas City bros”), Rising (Now With Kim Iversen), Secular Talk With Kyle Kulinski, Frank Analysis, Tim Black Show…and then there’s the podcasts: The Katie Halper Show, Chapo Trap House, Bad Faith With Brianna Joy Gray, Fred Hampton Leftists, Behind The News With Doug Henwood, Joe Rogan (“Yes, a Thoughtful and Mostly Leftist Thinker”), This Week With David Rovics…and the Substack Subscriptions of Matt Taibbi, and Useful Idiots. Wow, a lot to take in!

(Note: AOC apologized to supporters for voting “present” on the Israeli “Iron Dome” system, which is already financed by US taxpayers, but was looking for a billion dollars more. So, this week, it is not an AOC Tweet, but a strongly-worded apology issued by her, which included this:

“And, the reckless decision by House leadership to rush this controversial vote within a matter of hours and without true consideration created a tinderbox of vitriol, disingenuous framing, deeply racist accusations and depictions, and lack of substantive discussion on this matter. I want to be clear that the decision to rush this vote – virtually preventing any member from meaningfully consulting with their community – was both intentional and unnecessary. Even the night before, as it became clear that the discourse around this issue was quickly devolving from substance to hateful targeting, I personally had a call with the House Majority Leader to request a 24-hour stay of the vote, so that we could do the work necessary to bring down the temperature and volatility, explain our positions, and engage our communities. That request was summarily dismissed. Not only was the request dismissed, but despite the House having almost 8 straight hours of votes yesterday, this vote was chosen to be the first despite being one of the most controversial.”


Donning masks and hiking boots, with water bottles in hand, a new crop of UCSC students plants itself on the paths of the Great Meadow ready to explore the infinite possibilities of campus. To paraphrase the late great Herb Cain, Gawd, I love Autumn!
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Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at ckrohn@cruzio.com

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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September 27

1) County Board of Supervisor actions requiring CZU Fire survivors trying to get rebuild permits to record a Covenant on their deed that their property may be on a hazardous geological zone if the property owners do not conduct and pay for very expensive soil testing.  The hearing on Sept. 14 brought many of those survivors to the County Building to testify about having done soils testing, but the Planning Dept. rejected them.  Their insurance coverage is time-sensitive, and time is running out as the Planning Dept. and CAL FIRE continue to put up ever-changing requirements.

 I could not attend the hearing (same day as my County Fair work) but was able to watch the video.  See Minute 3:30, Item #12, scheduled 1:30pm hearing.   

It was shocking. The Board completely ignored the reasonable requests of the people, only answered one of the many questions, and proceeded to unanimously vote to require the recorded Covenant for those who refuse or cannot afford the expensive soil tests, even though these people said it will lower their property values and that those who were lucky to keep their homes will not suffer.   Supervisor Manu Koenig callously instructed the people to come back on September 28 with some real estate professionals to prove to the Board that the required Covenant will adversely affect property values…placing the burden of proof on the property owners, rather than asking staff for an economic analysis. 

Here is the link to this Tuesday’s 1:30pm scheduled hearing when the Board will review the results of the Atkins Debris Flow and Geologic Hazard Survey of the CZU Fire  areas.  The Community  Foundation funded this private study:  
Several of the people who testified before the Board on Sept. 14 asked that action regarding any Covenant deed requirements be postponed until this report was made public because the results could affect the need for expensive geologic studies in order to get permits to rebuild.

2)   A good article in the Sentinel’s front page about Sierra Ryan officially assuming the job of County Water Resources Manager. She serves on many local water agency commissions, including being the current Chair of the Santa Cruz City Water Commission and the lead manager of the MidCounty Groundwater Agency.

3)  Also on the front page is a photo of the PureWater Soquel Project construction traffic on Soquel Avenue frontage road.  Please notice that photo, and note that the Soquel Creek Water District Board is planning to discuss major changes to the Project at their October 5 meeting that will require additional environmental review and  CEQA Notice of Determination.   This action will likely not be in a public hearing with notice.

4) A wonderful article about Janet Webb and Big Creek Lumber in the Mercury News.  Janet also serves on the Santa Cruz County Fire Dept. Advisory Commission, and is a clear advocate of the people.  She has recommended the County partner with CAL FIRE to train civilian hand crews to help provide much-needed resources when there are wildfires here but CAL FIRE is basically gone because of strike teams sent to other areas of the state.  It was precisely this type of action that kept fires in San Mateo County from burning the town of Pescadero.

5) The Countywide Fire Protection District Service and Sphere Review from LAFCO will be publicly discussed at the October 13 virtual meeting.  It is a very well-done and comprehensive review.  LAFCO will consider a recommendation to annex many areas to other fire agencies, and to dissolve the County Service Area (CSA) 4 for Pajaro Dunes, combining it with the broader CSA 48 County Fire Dept. That is sure to set off some interesting discussion in the South County.   It also recommends that Branciforte Fire District merge with Scotts Valley Fire.  That will definitely ignite revolt in the Branciforte area, based on what happened at a recent community meeting for FireWise application and organization. [October 2021 Agenda]

6) Tension in Watsonville City Council, now that District 1 Councilman Aurelio Gonzalez abruptly resigned for family reasons.  The Council now stalls at 3:3 votes on issues, including a recent heated discussion over whether the City would sponsor Mayor Dutra to attend the California Contract Cities Association meeting, which encourages cities to issue private contracts for fire and law enforcement services rather than fund their own.  See Consent Item 8c

Watsonville City will hold a Special Election on December 7 for candidates running to replace the District 1 Council member. There are two. 

This matters to all County residents because this Councilmember will serve on many commissions, such as the RTC, Metro, LAFCO, and others, whose decisions have broad implications. 

7) An investigation into the Environmental Protection Agency corruption that affects everyone, because evidence is clear there are human health hazards inherent to certain chemicals that the EPA has knowingly ignored. [Article from The Intercept]

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK AND JUST DO SOMETHING!

Cheers, Becky

Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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September 27

WELCOME TO SANTA CRUZ – A NATURAL PERSPECTIVE 

Whether you are new, visiting, or have long lived in this area, how you are growing to appreciate the nature of this place to its deserving depths? Nature inspires, heals, and supports us all, and the land around Santa Cruz is as special as nature gets. And yet, I find few people prepared to describe that richness in the ways that they more easily describe the culture, the recreational opportunities, or the human history. Will you take some time with me over the coming year to grow our appreciation of nature together, to be better able to describe this wonderful place? 

I will be writing a series for BrattonOnline weekly, and through this writing I hope to inspire you to appreciate our place in the world more deeply, so that you will feel more comfortable describing our ecological wealth to others. Over the longer term, I hope we can help to improve more broadly our cultural relationship to the natural world and work to restore the web of life. That way, many generations in the future, people will be proud of our stewardship culture and benefit from the richness that we co-create. The alternative is horrifying to those of us who see the trend and love what is left of nature.

I can describe some of our natural wealth, but I encourage you to invest some time to get to know it more closely, through personal experience, and to enter into more discussions about what’s going on around us. For instance, I can describe the incredible biological diversity driven by oceanic upwelling and the Grand Canyon depths of the Monterey submarine canyon. This might inspire another trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to learn more…there is always more to learn there. And, maybe during our next visits, we will walk a little slower, look a little more intensely and take time to chat with a knowledgeable volunteer. You might also travel onto the Bay on a whale watching boat to experience firsthand the teeming of life. Patient walks along the bluffs peering oceanward also reveal hints of the Bay’s diversity. Many of us have done these things…but how often and with how much focus? How often have we tried to inspire and teach others about the Monterey Bay? Conversations can help bring us together, deepen our appreciation, and create a better culture. For nature and ourselves, we cannot do it often enough.

Without majestic whales, a Monterey Bay Terrarium, or (as yet) scientific institutions and economies to train and support land-based eco-tourism, it is not as easy to learn about our terrestrial natural world. And yet, the species diversity and diversity of natural habitats around the Monterey Bay offer endless fascinating experiences. In a very short trek, we can travel from sand dunes through estuaries and lagoons, along rivers and streams, into vast coastal prairies, under the canopies of so many forest types- Monterey pine, redwood, coast live oak, etc- and weaving through sagebrush scrub and manzanita chaparral. Almost anywhere else in the nation, and even the world, one would travel hundreds of miles to visit this number of varied habitats. Each of these habitats has its own scents, critters, flowers, and seasonal changes.

Each Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer, I have favorite hikes to immerse myself in these various habitats to experience what they have to offer at various times of year. Recently, I walked in the understory of one of our recently burned redwood forests. The scent of charcoal and blackened redwood trunks are relatively new to me, but the ripening acorns, orange-blushed madrone berries and the cooing and loud wing flaps of band tailed pigeons remind me of the fall’s wildland harvest time. Creekside walks are especially nice right now with the sound of water, lush ferns and blossoming monkeyflowers contrasting with so much of the brittle dryness of late summer elsewhere.  Soon, there will be rain, and the manzanitas unfurl clusters of urn-shaped, honey scented flowers. The chaparral is the first habitat to erupt in bouquets with the smell of fresh rain on soil. Bees will bumble and hummingbirds will dart between the many chaparral blossoms. Rehydrated back to fluffy life, lichens and mosses will add depth to the chaparral’s colors and textures, accentuating the change brought by the annual wet season we call winter.

Through the coming months, I will share notes about the places I visit and help connect you with ways to learn more. There are books, interpretive trails, guided field trips, multimedia internet resources, museums, and events that will help us continue to explore this wonderful place. Meanwhile, I hope that you will regularly remind yourself that we are living every day alongside one of the nation’s most densely diverse natural areas and that there are opportunities to explore it, real close by. Experts note that relationships last best between people who remain curious and are willing to stretch and grow; I posit the same is true for our relationship with nature. Remaining experientially and physically engaged with nature, we will be healthier emotionally and physically. Learning more about nature and having more frequent conversations about what we have experienced and learned will help to protect and steward nature.

Each week, I will present a bit of homework for specific direction to go deeper with the concepts I introduce. This week: do some ‘forest bathing’ in the redwood understory or walk near a stream. Read a bit out of Kat Anderson’s Tending the Wild, Burton Gordon’s book Natural History and Cultural Imprints of the Monterey Bay, and Ellen Bakker’s An Island Called California. Visit the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. Talk to someone about your personal experience with the nature around us.

And, each week, I will list a few of the new things I have experienced in nature the past week. This past week, I saw the arrival (from Alaska!) of golden crowned sparrows as well as (from I don’t know where) western meadowlarks; geese flew overhead geese in huge honking V’s; the sun hit its midway point moving south to north- last Wednesday was Equinox – now the nights are longer! Send me a note about something you noticed that is new in nature so that I might add it to this list in future posts.

Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz.

Email Grey at coastalprairie@aol.com

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#270 / Under A Green Sky

Elizabeth Kolbert has written a book titled, Under A White Sky. In that book, Kolbert reports on a number of current efforts to deal with our global warming and environmental crisis. The policy issue propounded in her book is whether or not geoengineering efforts can be successful in helping the Natural World to recover from the injuries that have been inflicted upon it by the past and continuing actions of human beings, and particularly by our continuing and increasing release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

I have commented on Kolbert’s book in an earlier blog posting. Her book is definitely a cautionary tale. Engineering our way out of the global warming crisis that human beings have caused (and continue to exacerbate) is anything but a sure bet. The “White Sky” that Kolbert forecasts, should we actually try to implement one of the most popular “geoengineering” solutions to our global warming crisis, is an omen of a world we never want to inhabit.

oooOOOooo

More recently, I have read a book by Peter D. Ward, who is a paleontologist. Ward’s book, Under A Green Sky, was written before Kolbert’s book, and I have to believe that Kolbert was aware of what Ward wrote. Surely Kolbert’s title was not the result of some kind of bizarre convergent evolution. Ward’s book, like Kolbert’s, deals with global warming and mass extinctions. Ward’s book is also, most definitely, a cautionary tale.

At one level, Under A Green Sky is a rather exciting detective story, as Ward and other paleontologists roam through the entire world, uncovering and interpreting geologic strata to help them discover what caused the various mass extinctions that we know have occurred over geologic time. 

Well, what did cause them? Not gradual climate change, once thought to be the cause. Not the impacts of giant meteorites, either. No. All of the previous mass extinction events have been caused by good old carbon dioxide:

It seems fairly clear that by the end of the Permian period, ocean circulation had changed so that the deep ocean bottoms filled with great volumes of warm, virtually oxygen-free seawater, This seems like the same thing that happened at the end of the Paleocene epoch but at a vastly increased scale, and with vastly more destructive results. The Permian bottom waters were warmer than those of the Paleocene and much less oxygenated. The stage was set and needed but one more trigger, and it seems both had the same trigger – a short-term but massive infusion of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere changed the nature of the oceans (emphasis added).

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the recent news, the warming of the seas, accompanied by the loss of oceanic oxygen, is of growing concern to scientists. Between 2014 and 2016, for instance, the kelp forests off the Northern California coast were reduced by over ninety percent. There is also great concern about what is happening to terrestrial plant life. The scientists who are worrying about this have probably read Ward’s book. It is a rather compelling and disturbing thing to read. 

Beginning on Page 137, Ward proposes that “each of the greenhouse extinctions had a similar cause,” and then he outlines the sequential steps: 

First, the world warms over short intervals of time because of a sudden increase of carbon dioxide and methane…

Then, the warmer world affects the ocean circulation systems and disrupts the position of the conveyor currents. Bottom waters begin to have warm, low-oxygen water dumped into them.

Then, warming continues, and the decrease of equator-to-pole temperature differences reduce ocean winds and surface currents to a near standstill. 

Then, mixing of oxygenated surface waters with the deeper and volumetrically increasing low-oxygen bottom waters decreases, causing ever-shallower water to change from oxygenated to anoxic.

Finally, the bottom water is at depths where light can penetrate, and the combination of low oxygen and light allows green sulfur bacteria to expand in numbers and fill the low-oxygen shallows. They live amid other bacteria that produce toxic amounts of hydrogen sulfide, and the flux of this gas into the atmosphere is as much as 2,000 times what it is today. The gas rises into the high atmosphere, where it breaks down the ozone layer, and the subsequent increase in ultraviolet radiation from the sun kills much of the photosynthetic green plant phytoplankton. On its way up into the sky, the hydrogen sulfide also kills some plant and animal life, and the combination of high heat and hydrogen sulfide creates a mass extinction on land.

“What would Earth be like in the midst of such an event?” This is a question posed by Ward, who also provides the answer: 

No wind in the 120-degree morning heat, and no trees for shade. There is some vegetation, but it is low, stunted, parched. Of other life, there seems little…The land is hot barrenness.

Yet as sepulchral as the land is, it is the sea itself that is most frightening. Waves slowly lap on the quiet shore, slow motion waves with the consistency of gelatin. Most of the shoreline is encrusted with rotting organic matter…Yet that is not the biggest surprise. From shore to the horizon, there is but an unending purple color…not looking like anything of our world. No fish break its surface, no birds or any other kind of flying creatures dip down looking for food. The purple color comes from vast concentrations of floating bacteria, for the oceans of Earth have all become covered with a hundred-foot thick veneer of purple and green bacterial soup. 

Not far from the fetid shore, a large bubble of gas belches from the viscous, oil slick-like surface…The gas emanating from the bubble is not air, or even methane, the gas that bubbles up from the bottom of swamps – it is hydrogen sulfide, produced by green sulfur bacteria growing amid their purple cousins.

There is one final surprise. We look upward, to see the sky. High, vastly high overhead there are thin clouds, clouds existing at an altitude far in excess of the highest clouds found on our Earth. They exist in a place that changes the very color of the sky itself: We are under a pale green sky, and it has the smell of death and poison… 

White sky? Take warning. 

Green sky? Too late!

Let’s keep our planet blue. Let’s save life on this lovely planet, including our own lives.

There isn’t much time left!

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

    October

“It must be October, the trees are falling away and showing their true colors.” 
~Charmaine J Forde 

“Chicago is an October sort of city even in spring.” 
~Nelson Algren 

“There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir: We must rise and follow her, when from every hill of flame She calls, and calls each vagabond by name.”
~William Bliss

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It is almost October, which means it’s almost HALLOWEEN!!!! This is a fun DIY for a yard decoration 🙂


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

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

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
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