The Weekly Dump 7.29.16

The Weekly Dump 7.29.16

Park Rangers Begin Beat Patrols on Pacific Avenue


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Members of the new “Ranger Downtown Unit”, a group of four seasonal city Parks and Recreation Department rangers, have begun taking over for the former “Downtown Hospitality Program”, which featured the easy to spot hosts in their blue and yellow uniforms, usually standing around talking to each other along Pacific Avenue. Led by lead Ranger Jeremy Mathews, in their first three weeks the rangers recorded more than 500 visitor and public relation “contacts,” 50 citations and 700 verbal warnings. The downtown rangers arrived even as the city launched tougher rules regulating what vendors sell on downtown city sidewalks. Unlike their predecessors, the rangers will not need to call in police officers to enforce minor city law violations.

This is a positive step towards bringing back some sanity to Pacific Avenue. People whining and hiding behind civil liberties in order to justify not paying rent to sell their flea market crap has gotten old. I’m fine with the Great Morgani busking but that guy selling glass pipes from a blanket on the sidewalk? Get lost. There’s at least a half dozen merchants paying rent to sell the same crap. It’s frustrated merchants for years. And I’m also not a fan of the merchant sign boards, and tables of merchandise that belong inside. It cuts both ways. Get it all off the sidewalk. The sidewalks are made for walking, not blocking. Hopefully the crackdown on vending will actually happen, and be taken seriously by the people clogging the sidewalks who have never taken seriously any threats to this before.

Big Sur Fire a Reminder of Wildfire Danger Locally


The Soberanes Fire, a stubborn wildfire in the wooded canyons and ridges south of Carmel in Monterey County, grew to 23,500 acres late Tuesday and is only 10 percent contained, firefighters said. This is a sobering reminder of the inherent danger of fire season locally and how something like this could happen here, and how it might effect us all if it did. We are surrounded by redwoods, but even potentially more dangerous are the abundance of Blue Gum Eucalyptus trees, an extreme fire hazard. These non-native trees, that grow majestically large and are a favorite of the Monarch butterfly (and local tree huggers as well), have extremely flammable sap, and often shed their bark and leaves in abundance. Think of them as a tree equivalent of a gas pump. “Blue gum eucalyptus is one of the most fire-intensive plants,” says Tom Klatt, who manages environmental projects for UC Berkeley and serves on the UC Fire Mitigation Committee. “Trees not only put a lot of fuel on the ground as they shed bark, leaves and twigs, but in intense fires, volatile compounds in foliage cause explosive burning. Once bark catches fire, it gets blown ahead of the flame front and drops burning embers by the tens of thousands per acre in the urban community.”

Another really big issue to consider are the number of points of egress we have locally in the event of a large scale wildfire that may require local evacuations to be mobilized quickly. In the city of Santa Cruz, we basically have 4 points of egress in the event of an emergency. Only 2 (HWY 17N and HWY1 South) are really capable of moving large amounts of traffic quickly away from the city. Both routes could also be impacted and shut down in the event of a large wildfire. The other 2 points of egress (HWY 9 and HWY 1 North) offer a 2 lane road option that could also conceivably shut down in the event of a wildfire.

rvOne of the biggest concerns in the community right now is the large number of dilapidated, run down RVs, many of which are being used as “mobile” homes by the homeless (or in some cases they aren’t mobile at all, see photo). It’s also alarming that many of these semi-mobile firetraps can be found continuously parked along these various “points of emergency egress”, specifically along Highway 9 and Highway 1 North. In many cases, it is the responsibility of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s office to patrol and enforce parking ordinance violations in these areas, yet we see RVs parked in these areas for weeks at a time. Sometimes the RVs just get abandoned there, and nobody from the city or county does anything to get rid of these “ticking firebombs”. Just one of these abandoned RVs could spark a wild fire of epic proportions locally. One abandoned RV like the one above could devastate a town like Felton or Boulder Creek. But clearing out these fire hazards just doesn’t seem to concern the city or county of Santa Cruz much. We’ve seen them sit for weeks without anyone taking action to get rid of them. We’ve heard excuses (“oh we don’t have the right kind of tow truck…”). What’s the excuse going to be when one of these causes a major fire locally? Let the Soberanes fire be a warning. An inferno begins with a single spark.

Drug Overdose In Bathroom of Pacific Avenue Peet’s Coffee


In a story that most likely won’t make the local news anywhere but here, an eyewitness passed along that there was a drug overdose in the bathroom of the Peet’s Coffee on Pacific Avenue on Sunday morning. Just another non news story in downtown Santa Cruz. How’s that needle give away working for you? So why don’t we hear about these kinds of incidents? Maybe the city doesn’t want us to. Maybe the downtown merchants don’t want us to. Maybe Peet’s doesn’t want us to. Maybe all of the above? I think it’s great that Peet’s allowed the public to actually use their bathroom. None of the other businesses on Pacific Avenue except Bookshop Santa Cruz will do that anymore. Why? Maybe it has something to do with junkies shooting up in their bathrooms.

Bicyclist Mowed Down at Ocean and Broadway


A bicyclist was run over by a driver at the corner of Ocean and Broadway on Friday evening. An eyewitness shared this account of the hit and run:

“Just witnessed a horrible aggressive driver yell at a cyclist to get out of the road, when he had nowhere to go, then proceeded to vier right and run him over. Knocked him off the bike and ran over the bike with him under it. Cyclists please be careful out there. Luckily he got up and is alive”

Apparently the car in question is dark blue Mercedes. If you see a car matching this description, please contact SCPD.

City Council Election Watch


One more new candidate this week. Sandy Brown went from rumored to declared. We’re almost into August 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!

UPCOMING CANDIDATES FORUMS:

  • August 27: Democratic Women’s Club Candidate Forum, 155 Center St.
  • August 29: Candidate Forum, 301 Center St.
  • September 22: Downtown Association Candidate Forum, 307 Church St.

Still Rumors (or being whispered about in small groups):

  • Micah Posner
  • Mark Primack
  • Cynthia Hawthorne

Declared Candidates:

  • J.M. Brown
  • Sandy Brown
  • Jim Davis
  • Dru Glover
  • Nate Kennedy
  • Cynthia Mathews
  • Steve Pleich
  • Steve Schnaar
  • Robert Singleton
  • 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

Sandy Brown:
Another person I know little to nothing about. She just announced. I’m hearing through the grapevine that she’s progressive. Really progressive. As in old SCAN progressive.

Do I know them personally? No
Progressometer Rating: 9 (rumored)

Jim Davis:
I’m beginning to learn a bit about Jim Davis. My inside sources tell me he’s not particularly progressive and leans more moderate. I guess time will tell when I hear it out of his mouth. I’ve been told he doesn’t support the needle non-exchange, and he thinks Micah’s an anarchist. That’s a good start!

Do I know them personally? No
Progressometer Rating: 6 (tentative)

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). One of my astute readers recently tipped me off that Dru lives with Leonie Sherman! Imagine that! Is he an anarchist too?

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

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 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

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

Robert Singleton:
Robert Singleton is the co-founder and CMO of Civinomics. Civinomics is an online platform that allows anyone to submit, vote on and fund ideas for improving their community. He is also apparently the Government Affairs Director at Santa Cruz County Association of REALTORS® . In other words, he’s a lobbyist. I’ve met him a couple times and he’s a nice enough guy. He’s smart, ambitious, and idealistic. He organized a survey on local homelessness that contradicted the “county sanctioned” ASR survey and showed better data collection methods that resulted in better, validated data. So he’s not afraid to tackle sensitive subjects and try to identify better solutions. He seems both progressive and pragmatic.

Do I know them personally? No
Progressometer Rating: 6

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 think 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

Starbucks is Coming to Ocean and Water


The long vacant dirt lot on the corner of Ocean and Water streets will be the home of a new Starbucks this fall. The permits all seem to have gone through now and construction is expected in the fall. No doubt it will do booming business with the court house and the county building next door. I’m not a huge fan of Starbucks, but it beats a long vacant dirt lot.

New Restaurant Coming to Pacific Avenue


Say goodbye to Benten Japanese Restaurant at 1541 Pacific (next to Plaza Alley). Didn’t even know they were closed. I ate there once years ago, it was ok. But with the very popular Mobo nearby and Shogun farther down Pacific in a better location for foot traffic, the Sushi market was kind of a tough act to follow downtown. The new restaurant (to be named “Barceloneta”) will feature seasonally inspired California-Spanish cuisine in a casual atmosphere. The menu will feature items such as paella, tapas, salads, sandwiches, seasonal specials, and churros. Sounds good to me! Construction is expected to begin in late summer/early fall. This menu sounds like the Gabrielle Cafe nearby, not sure if ownership is the same or if they are a new competitor to be.

Free Concert With Taylor Dayne at the Boardwalk!


Taylor Dayne is one of the most popular vocalists of the modern age, selling a combined 75 million singles and albums along the way. Originally signed by music mogul Clive Davis in the 1980s, Dayne has become a true crossover artist, someone whose popularity spans multiple generations and many different music formats. Shows at 6:30 and 8:30 as usual.

DeCinzotized – Classic Steven DeCinzo


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Weekly Shoutouts!


Weekly shoutouts to all the people feeding me tips. You know who you are (I never name names!).

Local Food Porn


bettyb

Betty Burgers, 505 Seabright Ave, Santa Cruz

Hugh’s News!


Hugh got a new kitten and will be back in August with his updates on the city council meetings.

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5 Replies to “The Weekly Dump 7.29.16”

  1. The Rangers are a welcome sight on Pacific. There’s been fewer problems and fewer problem people since they showed up.

  2. I drive Highway 1 north twice a day five times a week. I can’t believe how many broken down RVs I pass along the way. There has to be at least 20-25 between the city and the county line. Nobody ever chases them off. Sometimes they pull into a turnout and take up all the space like it’s their own personal campground. I’m fed up. What an eyesore.

  3. This was a great issue and a lot of important questions were raised. Really good journalism IMHO. Such as, but not limited to:
    – Do we need 40,000 acres burned right here in Santa Cruz before we dare limit unsupervised camping, and RV’s with dangerous electric, LPG, Butane, and who knows what else before someone actually takes preventive measures?
    – Are there other major cities where businesses on the whole, are afraid to let the public use their restrooms? Afraid of to deal with blood splatters, and dead or dying addicts paraded in front of their customers?
    – Was Leoni Sherman winning before the footage of her scaling buildings in a black ninja outfit. Is someone having to be reminded that the public did not take to kindly to the prospect of a full blown anarchist winning a council seat? Someone maybe trying to distance themselves?
    – Sandy Brown had been asked to run before, but demurred, but now it’s different because she want flex time? That’s a little hard to swallow. She has credentials and backers, and a lot of people were probably shocked that this sessions City Council was pretty effective and they down want the mistake of another city council that is not completely wild eyed progressive.
    -Taylor Dayne.
    -DeCinzo!

    I’m just trying to give you your props, man! This is really very good reading! Thanks for the good work!

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