The Weekly Dump 7.1.16

4th of July Means Illegal Fireworks Free For All in Santa Cruz

bigtimerIn large part because the city of Santa Cruz refuses to have an official, city-sanctioned fireworks display for the 4th of July, Santa Cruz will look and sound like a war zone as thousands of people descend into Santa Cruz to shoot off their illegal fireworks. The city has tried to prevent this seemingly every year, and every year the problem not only seems to get worse, it starts a week before the actual holiday. SCPD will claim a lack of resources, and truth be told it is pretty difficult to catch someone in the actual act here. And the concept of “safe and sane” fireworks is neither safe or sane. It’s like a gateway drug to bigger, louder, more dangerous fireworks for the closet pyromaniac. The issue will never be completely eradicated. But I would hope that at least, the issue wouldn’t get worse every year. It would be easy enough to stick a barge outside the harbor and have a city sanctioned display over the bay, something that could be seen from most if not all local county beaches. The city will cry poor and say they don’t have the money for it, then they spend gobs of money on overtime for SCPD on the actual 4th to facilitate all the community complaints about fireworks in the neighborhoods. Oh, and let’s not forget we’re a spark away from a major wildfire here.

Dirty Needles Found on Local Beaches by Junior Guards

mainbeachI’ve heard from a number of readers that numerous times over the past few weeks, needles have been found by kids and staff participating in the city’s Junior Guards program. The Junior Guards is one of the most popular summer programs run by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. On at least 2 different days, a needle was found on Cowells beach by an instructor one day and a 10 year old the next day. This was confirmed by Parks and Rec staff and apparently staff is in the process of sending something out to parents to inform them of the incidents the steps being taken by the department. Another needle was said to be found at Rio Del Mar beach at another county run Junior Guards program. I’m going to try to get a copy of the Parks and Rec letter being sent out to parents. I hope it doesn’t say “hey we’re sorry you found a needle, but we have to keep feeding the junkies with free needles because it’s the compassionate thing to do…”. Collateral damage to a terrible program that’s being forced on the community by a minority of people. Unfortunately, this story from 2013 sounds pretty familiar. You’d think they’d have figured this out in the last 3 years. Nope. Kids still have to worry about HAZMAT on California’s dirtiest beach. Way to go Santa Cruz.

City Council Election Watch

So we’re into July now, and soon the candidates running for the city council will become much more visible. You’ll start seeing their signs popping up everywhere all over town. You’ll see them at community forums debating local topics. So maybe it’s time to start looking at who they actually are. I’ll start by sharing a bit of what I know. I’m also going to rate them on what I’m calling my “Progress-o-meter”. 1 being a Trump Republican. 10 being Don Lane. I’m not endorsing anyone yet, as more candidates may still declare. But I still have an opinion about the candidates who did declare!

Declared Candidates:

  • J.M. Brown
  • Dru Glover
  • Nate Kennedy
  • Steve Pleich
  • Cynthia Mathews
  • Steve Schnaar
  • Martine Watkins

J.M Brown:
Brown is a former reporter for the Sentinel. He works in communications and brand management with a successful local firm, and has an impressive list of endorsements. They include Assembly member Mark Stone, County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty and former mayor Hilary Bryant, also a campaign advisor to Brown. He is currently serving as a City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Commission member and a member of the Santa Cruz County Housing Advisory Commission. I wouldn’t go so far as to proclaim him a “moderate” candidate, but he’s moderate compared to most of the others. He’s close to Katherine Beiers, who I consider a local disaster. She endorses him. He has the endorsements of 4 of the current 7 council members (Comstock, Noroyan, Terrazas, and Chase) and would likely get Mathews endorsement if she wasn’t running against him. So he’s a “mixed bag”. Or as I like to say a “wild card”.

Do I know them personally? No
Progressometer Rating: 7

Dru Glover:
Founder of “Project Pollinate”, a community activism group that likes to throw parties 4 times a year in San Lorenzo Park. Not sure if he works or what his paying job is. Seems to be popular with the younger “progressive” crowd (UCSC students in particular). Has never held public office before. Seems like a very intelligent guy, very good public speaker with charisma. Supports many of the local progressive causes and much of their agenda, though he seems to cherry pick who he works with (doesn’t really work with Norse or the HUFF loons).

Do I know them personally? No
Progressometer Rating: 8

Nate Kennedy:
Nate is a local homeless (or perhaps formerly homeless) guy who is known for making origami cranes out of paper and handing them out to people walking along Pacific Avenue. He seems to have a few past scrapes with law enforcement, and may suffer from ongoing medical issues. But he actually brings some good ideas to the table. He brings some completely wacky ideas to the table too. He has the support of the local progressives (but probably from a distance). I think he’s mostly running so that his ideas get heard. In reality, he has little to no chance of winning a seat. But he brings color and flair to the summer debates!

Do I know them personally? No
Progressometer Rating: 9

Steve Pleich:
I’ve known Steve for a few years. Not really well but we know each other. I actually like Steve personally, but I have my issues with him on the city council. He seems to try every 4 years and always comes up well short, so I don’t really expect this time to be much different. He loves attention. He loves the limelight. He loves to hear himself talk. He has run twice before, largely on repealing the sleeping ban and other homeless issues.

Do I know them personally? Yes
Progressometer Rating: 9.9

Cynthia Mathews:
Current mayor. Long time city council member. Long time property owner and manager. Has been involved in Santa Cruz politics for at least 20 years. Has been Mayor previously. She has had a history of leaning progressive but has become more moderate in recent years. I can’t really say we’re friends but I know her and I have a lot of respect for her. She always seems to have the best interests of the entire community in mind, not just a favored group.

Do I know them personally? Yes
Progressometer Rating: 6

Steve Schnaar:
Founder and director of the Santa Cruz Fruit Tree project, and a volunteer mechanic for the Bike Church. Long time social activist. Has had previous issues with SCPD and the city council. Married to Stacy Falls, longtime progressive advocate for homeless issues and co-founder with Brent Adams of the sanctuary camp project.

Do I know them personally? No
Progressometer Rating: 9

Martine Watkins:
A mother of two, Watkins works as the senior community organizer in the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. I know Hugh thinks highly of Watkins, and I think highly of Hugh’s opinion. She also has a strong, mixed bag list of endorsements from local politicians and leaders. I thunk she leans progressive but not when it gets in the way of public safety.

Do I know them personally? No. But Hugh does!
Progressometer Rating: 7

Hugh’s News!

hugh copyBy Hugh Jorgan
(Hugh is off this week so I’m filling in….Ben)

This week’s city council meeting lacked some of the usual circus sideshow elements of your typical meeting, but it had it’s moments. It wasn’t without a couple of sensitive issues, including a vote on banning RVs from the city during certain periods of the night (midnight until 5am, basically “overnight”, without a 72-hour residential permit, at $5 each). They voted to approve in a 5-2 vote on the second reading, with Micah and Don Lane opposing. The item also set fines ranging from $43 to $268 for oversized vehicle parking and violations of the city’s one parking space per vehicle law. I was expecting a lot more blow back from the usual blowhards but Norse was pretty much the lone blowhard (and really, nobody blows harder than Norse!). And as usual, pretty much everyone just tuned him out. The final vote came after seemingly endless months, maybe even years of trying to fix the issue of transient RVs taking over the west side neighborhoods and west cliff drive. It sounds like this is just the start of the reform process for this. I know the city felt crippled by the Coastal Commission’s jurisdictional grab (at least as it applies to the water side of west cliff drive), and they’ve had to basically water down what they really wanted. If we see a significant change for the better, I’m pretty sure we can all move along from this issue, but if not, the CC is going to keep hearing from the community about it. Because if they don’t go way, the cranky residents who have had to tolerate what amounts to an illegal camping free for all are not going to go away.

In another item, the council unanimously approved a city law putting responsibility on hypodermic producers and distributors to fund and provide public disposal containers on-site in Santa Cruz. Good luck with enforcement there. Or the legality of it. While it obviously makes sense, and I’m glad they are trying to do something, there’s so much more that could be done. By the county of course, not the city. But the fact that it’s being discussed (the needles and finding them in public) is a good thing, it’s more than the county is willing to do with the issue. The county seems to intentionally willfully disregard the issue.

And in large part to the efforts of Council member Richelle Noroyan, the council voted unanimously to approve an emergency ordinance, effective immediately, to specifically address and increase fines to $150 for beach trash dumping and littering. The law also makes it illegal for people to leave trash next to full containers, rather than disposing of the litter at an alternative site. This is a direct attempt to curb the ongoing trash issues taking place on Main Beach. It’s a good start and will hopefully put a dent in the issue. But it’s no good unless it actually gets enforced (like so often is the case in Santa Cruz, we have laws, we don’t enforce them).

Earlier in the day, the council also denied an appeal of a city Planning Commission ruling against KC’s Sports Bar and Grill. This was an interesting, often contentious discussion. First, a member of SCPD outlined the issues, infractions, calls for service, etc. for KC’s bar. It was an eye opening list. Stuff you never hear about (since our local news options suck). Then, KC’s lawyer gets up and tries to refute the points made by SCPD, acting like it was some kind of conspiracy by SCPD against KC’s bar. Really? None of this is self inflicted here? The council members individually shot them down on a number of issues, then they supported a request from SCPD Chief Vogel to modify the restaurant and bar’s hours, reducing from a 1:30 a.m. closure time to 11 p.m, which is more in line with their operating license and permit. It sets a good precedent here. Stick to what the permit says. Running a bar locally is a privilege, not a right. Don’t serve alcohol to minors. Don’t hire bouncers that beat up patrons. You know, obvious stuff. I hope KC’s gets their act together. Many people hoped it would clean up that corner of Pacific and Laurel, and in some regards it has made it better. And I do think the owners are trying. It’s for sale. It tells the new owners they’ll have to try harder.

Well, that’s about it for this week. Once I saw Pat Kitler get up to speak at oral communications, I was out of there! Hopefully Hugh will be back in 2 weeks with his slant.

Free Concert With The Tubes at the Boardwalk!

The Tubes Featuring Fee Waybill return to the Boardwalk on 7/1 for their annual summer show! The Tubes emerged onto the San Francisco music scene in 1969. In the early 1980s they released the hit classic rock songs “She’s a Beauty,” “Talk To Ya Later,” and “The Monkey Time.”. Free shows at 6:30 and 8:30.

DeCinzotized – Classic Steven DeCinzo



Weekly Shoutouts!

Weekly shoutout again to City Councilmember Richelle Noroyan for organizing an emergency ordinance (with stiff fines) to try to reduce the trash on Main Beach. Shoutout to Neal Pearlberg of KSCO for having a few folks from local public safety watchdog group Take Back Santa Cruz on his show to discuss the plague of dirty needles that litter our town (and the county’s willful ignorance in dealing with it). I hope the Board of Supervisors heard it (or at least heard about it). The suck stops there. And thanks Neal for reminding the slobs to pick up their trash.



  1. Arthur Macmillan

    If I am reading your roundup of the current candidates for city council what you are saying is, ‘We are going to look back on the period of time we have had with the current city council members as, “The good old days!”

    And to the current city council members: Thanks for the progress that has been made, especially in your attempts to keep Santa Cruz safe!

  2. I don’t know if I’d call this time we are in “the good old days” but it’s possible I’ll say that in the future, given this list of candidates. Of the 2 council members leaving for certain, I’m only going to miss one of them. Pamela Comstock did a terrific job and her willingness to tackle the sensitive issues with a non status quo attitude has been refreshing. That’s what I fear we’re losing more than anything. As for Don Lane, I hope he enjoys the next couple years doing something else. I’ll enjoy the next couple years of him doing something else.

  3. Pingback:The Weekly Dump 8.12.16 | Santa Mierda!

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