Majority Report | November 26, 2017

Visit the Beach Flats Community Garden Now… everything like these marigolds, exploding!


‘Cause That’s What Friends are For…

My friend, the culture czar/bike anarchist/re-use guru/bioneer/heart-person extraordinaire, Grant Wilson mentioned to me last week, “Hey Chris, I like reading your column, but I don’t always have time. Can you make a bullet point version,” he suggested, “like a ‘what happened and what’s going to happen’ kind of piece?” The answer to your query Grant is, yes, I can and here it is, in bullet fashion with some web sites if you want more information. (But, after reading it over, the bullet points are perhaps too long for ‘bullets.’

Full Disclosure: Only one of the following stories was covered in the Santa Cruz Sentinel this past week that I am aware. In fact, I have not been contacted even one time since the election a year ago by Sentinel city council reporter, Jessica York. Housing reporter, Jondi Gumz has emailed me four times. I queried Sandy Brown and she too said the Sentinel has not contacted her this past year. On the other hand, I have had multiple inquiries from at least three Good Timesreporters, Georgia JohnsonJake Pierce, and Ardy Raghian.

Campus Hot SpotThis picture might not look like much until you know what the scene is…this is part of the 22-member Long Range Development Plan, Community Advisory Group (CAG). They were surveying where new campus housing might go in the upper UCSC campus. Those included in the picture from L-R are Melissa Whatley (Government Affairs for UCSC), Sarah Latham (vice chancellor of Business and Administrative Services at UCSC), Ted Benhari, unknown woman, Charles Eadie (former UCSC, SC city, and Watsonville city planner), Gage Dayton (UCSC Site Steward Director), John Aird (Coalition to Limit University Expansion, CLUE), Gary Patton (former SC county supervisor), Lee Butler (SC city planning director), and four other people including SC county supervisor Ryan Coonerty and SC city councilmember Cynthia Mathews.

This Was the Week That Was

    • Best thing I participated in, along with Councilmembers Sandy Brown and David Terrazas, was calling in the city code compliance officers and asking them to explain how six UCSC undergrads were put out onto the street because the house they were living in was red-tagged. I think we made some headway for tenants in the area of eviction protection. The council directed the city attorney, Tony Condotti, to come back with an ordinance that would have the city help those evicted when the city acts in the face of landlord violations. With two of the six students telling the council their horrific story about being put out, our code compliance staff would only say that they did everything by the book, which no one in the room was contesting. Because of this ordinance, the city in supporting tenants, could place a lien on the house and sue for expenses incurred. Seems like what city guv should be about, no?! ( )
    • Now contrast that to the some not-so-good news to come out of the Nov. 14th city council meeting: The Downtown Recovery Plan Amendments were approved on a 5-2 vote with NO affordable housing provisions that I am aware, while they will allow developers to build up to five and six-stories along the San Lorenzo River on Front Street, from Soquel Avenue to Laurel Street. If you are wondering if this is an OMG pro-growth moment, well…yes, it is. And by the way, a seventy-five- foot hotel width (small boutique style) was changed, first to a 200 feet width and then to NO LIMIT at all. This means that Front Street could have one continuous line of hotels from Soquel to Laurel Street. Yes, unbelievable! This hotel part of the amendment has not been much debated by the community, nor did the city council say much in their discussion on Nov. 14th. The community will have another chance when it comes back to the council on Nov. 28th for the mandated “second reading” of the ordinance.
    • The above-mentioned council meeting was quite the affair, even awe-inspiring from a developer-real estate perspective. It literally gave one the sense of who actually wields power in Surf City. THE FAB FIVE “yes” votes clearly understood who’s in control. Somehow Brown and Krohn’s NO vote in the absence of any inclusionary provision just doesn’t “pencil out” for developer-class. Under the same roof touting build-baby-build were Robert Singleton of the Business Council, Developer Owen LawlorCasey Beyer of the Chamber of Commerce, the personnel director from Looker was there, Ted Burke of the Shadow Brook restaurant, Developer Craig Rowell, and there was even some cheerleading from former Councilmember Mike Rotkin (“The plan does many things in a synergistic way….” Rotkin said.). Indeed, those developer-real estaters present were all quite pleased that this item passed…high-fives, shoulder slaps and big grin$. More Santa Cruz seed corn sold. Check.
  • The lowest-paid worker for the city of Santa Cruz will get a less than hefty raise on January 1st. The wage will go from $10.71 to $11.00. So, while the lowest paid worker was making 21 cents over last year’s $10.50 minimum wage, next year they will be making exactly the eleven-dollar minimum. Something does not seem right here. Bernie Sanders’ “fight for $15” needs to begin right here at home.
  • The city’s Public Works department will be spending $1,244,822 in purchasing four non-hybrid garbage trucks. Seems first generation hybrids were good, but not second generation, according to PW director, Mark Dettle. So, we wait for the third generation, I guess?
  • The city’s Cannabis Ordinance passed with flying colors on its second reading on Nov. 14th, so it is now law. It will go into effect on January 1, 2018 and it appears that long-serving and long-suffering local medicinal supplier, WAMM, will be first in line for a permit. The only contention among councilmembers was raising the current 7% city tax one more percentage point, to 8%. That extra one percent would go to fund “children’s programs” in Santa Cruz. Councilmember Cynthia Mathews vehemently opposed the increase. She preferred it be decided at a future time and to be dedicated to help fund the city’s $2.4 million deficit. Mathews was out-voted. Richelle Noroyan and Cynthia Chase were with her in the debate, but not on the final vote. The vote was 6-1 to dedicate 1% to the children with Mathews holding to her principles, and I admire that.
  • The SC4Bernie meeting was attended by 35 people who were word-smithing the future of the Bernie movement, something that fit in “justice,” “equality,” “advocacy,” “nurturing,” “promoting a healthy planet…” Good stuff like that. Stay tuned on what the final brand will be. I am mightily impressed that this group is trying to architect a future that includes working on issues of social justice, labor, single-payer healthcare, realizing a progressive city council majority in Santa Cruz, and forming coalitions with other like-minded groups throughout Santa Cruz County.
  • The People’s Democratic Party quizzed new Police Chief, Andy Mills on keeping the BearCat Tank, further militarization of SCPD, and homelessness and camping in San Lorenzo Park and other places in town. I believe the group came away believing Mills was someone they could work with on these issues.
  • The big meeting of the week was the city’s formatted, perhaps somewhat canned and uber-scripted, “City Hall to You.” It was held at the Bible Church on the eastside on Frederick Street. The fireworks centered around the “Corridors Plan” (what else!?) and affordable housing. City staff present wanted to talk about other things, but the large group was having none of it. Not wanting to be shut out by the 3 by 5 cards, many residents were forced to shout questions and comments from the audience. Only Mayor Cynthia Chase, City Manager Martin Bernal, and Planning Director Lee Butler had a firm grip on the microphone and were not willing to give that up. While the Police Chief entered like a rock star, quite comfortable addressing the over 200 neighbors present, it was the long-time staff who appeared uncomfortable and not ready for prime-time. While SCPD’s Mills leveled with residents about his plan for not ticketing homeless campers and allowing them to sleep temporarily in San Lorenzo Park, other city staff–affordable housing “guru,” Carol Berg and senior planner, Ron Powers–seemed to obfuscate issues and shy away from what those present wanted to hear about, namely how the Corridors Plan will be killed. Everyone, whether they agreed or not with the PD Chief, appreciated his straightforward and down-to-earth attitude. Other city staff members seem to want to anticipate how residents might hear their words, so they hem and haw and back off on sharing with them the realities of city planning, second home buyers, university growth, high rents, and affordable housing. There was trouble on the eastside of Santa Cruz last week and it’s not going away anytime soon.
  • Many talk about “food deserts,” but we have a real local “news desert” here in Surf City. I advocate all of you to send BrattonOnline ( your news items and we will try to follow-up and report on them. News in the new millennium has become much more of a collective endeavor, but with mixed results. “Fake News” abounds, but so does real on the ground information at the airport, conditions on 17, real-time video from around the corner or around the world of breaking news. We do not have to rely on the networks as much now, but we have to keep our eyes wide open and use the multiple sources that do exist–alternative and mainstream–in order to stay informed. Read wisely my friends!

News Flash!—–Go To: for updates on city council business!

Bernie Tweet of the Week
“If we are going to stop Republicans from taking health care from millions and slashing Medicare to give tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations, NOW is the time to stand up and fight back.” (Nov.16)

Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, former Santa Cruz City Councilmember (1998-2002) and Mayor (2001-2002). He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 12 years. He was elected last November to another 4-year term on the Santa Cruz City Council.

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