august 31-september 6, 2023 montereycountyweekly.com LOCAL & INDEPENDENT All aboard the fire truck 8 | What’s next for Pajaro? 14 | Jazz at the ranch 31 | fair fun 32 With a widening gulf between left and right, it can feel impossible to talk across the aisle. But a nonprofit guides people in how to find a way. p. 20 By Deanna Ross Post Partisanship


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4 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY august 31-september 6, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com august 31-september 6, 2023 • ISSUE #1831 • Established in 1988 Eric Palmer (Nikon D7500) A watchful hawk perches on top of a raptor nesting box overlooking ReGen Monterey’s composting yard. The facility encourages raptors, which provide chemical-free rodent control. Monterey County photo of the week Send Etc. submissions to etcphoto@mcweekly.com; please include caption and camera info. On the cover: Political identity is increasingly divisive in American life, but Braver Angels argues it doesn’t need to be. An annual convention guided 700 people on how to have disagreements and remain civil. Cover photo by Adobe Stock with illustration by Kevin Jewell etc. Copyright © 2023 by Milestone Communications Inc. 668 Williams Ave., Seaside, California 93955 (telephone 831-394-5656). All rights reserved. Monterey County Weekly, the Best of Monterey County and the Best of Monterey Bay are registered trademarks. No person, without prior permission from the publisher, may take more than one copy of each issue. Additional copies and back issues may be purchased for $1, plus postage. Mailed subscriptions: $120 yearly, pre-paid. The Weekly is an adjudicated newspaper of Monterey County, court decree M21137. The Weekly assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials. Visit our website at http://www.montereycountyweekly.com. Audited by CVC. Founder & CEO Bradley Zeve bradley@mcweekly.com (x103) Publisher Erik Cushman erik@mcweekly.com (x125) Editorial editor Sara Rubin sara@mcweekly.com (x120) features editor Dave Faries dfaries@mcweekly.com (x110) associate editor Tajha Chappellet-Lanier tajha@mcweekly.com (x135) Staff Writer Celia Jiménez celia@mcweekly.com (x145) Staff Writer Pam Marino pam@mcweekly.com (x106) Staff Writer Rey Mashayekhi rey@mcweekly.com (x102) Staff Writer Agata Pope¸da (x138) aga@mcweekly.com Staff Writer David Schmalz david@mcweekly.com (x104) Staff photographer Daniel Dreifuss daniel@mcweekly.com (x140) contributors Nik Blaskovich, Rob Brezsny, Sloan Campi, Jesse Herwitz, Jeff Mendelsohn, Steve Souza, Jacqueline Weixel Cartoons Rob Rogers, Tom Tomorrow Production Art Director/Production Manager Karen Loutzenheiser karen@mcweekly.com (x108) Graphic Designer Kevin Jewell kevinj@mcweekly.com (x114) Graphic Designer Alexis Estrada alexis@mcweekly.com (x114) Graphic Designer Lani Headley lani@mcweekly.com (x114) SALES senior Sales Executive Diane Glim diane@mcweekly.com (x124) Senior Sales Executive George Kassal george@mcweekly.com (x122) Senior Sales Executive Keith Bruecker keith@mcweekly.com (x118) Classifieds business development director Keely Richter keely@mcweekly.com (x123) Digital Director of Digital Media Kevin Smith kevin@mcweekly.com (x119) Distribution Distribution AT Arts Co. atartsco@gmail.com Distribution Control Harry Neal Business/Front Office Office Manager Linda Maceira linda@mcweekly.com (x101) Bookkeeping Rochelle Trawick rochelle@mcweekly.com 668 Williams Ave., Seaside, CA 93955 831-394-5656, (FAX) 831-394-2909 www.montereycountyweekly.com We’d love to hear from you. Send us your tips at tipline.montereycountyweekly.com. We can tell you like the print edition of the Weekly. We bet you’ll love the daily newsletter, Monterey County NOW. Get fresh commentary, local news and sundry helpful distractions delivered to your inbox every day. There’s no charge, and if you don’t love it, you can unsubscribe any time. SIGN UP NOW Sign up today at montereycountyweekly.com/mcnow

www.montereycountyweekly.com AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 6, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 5 On July 14, 2023, Salinas Valley Health was one of just two medical centers in the nation to perform the new FDA-approved DETOUR procedure. This revolutionary treatment provides near-immediate relief for debilitating leg pain that millions suffer from due to blocked arteries. This medical milestone was achieved through the innovation and leadership of our outstanding team who works continually to raise the bar in patient care. Revolutionary Relief for Leg Pain SalinasValleyHealth.com

6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY August 31-september 6, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH Eight candidates for the Republican presidential nomination traded barbs on a debate stage in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Aug. 23, though it’s not clear what the point of it was. That’s because the runaway frontrunner for the nomination is former president Donald Trump, who is facing four criminal indictments—two federal, one in Georgia and another in New York—which could tie Trump up in court for much of 2024 and keep him off the campaign trail. Despite this, only two of the candidates on stage—former governors Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson—said they wouldn’t support Trump as nominee if he was convicted of a crime. Meanwhile, at the same time of the debate, a pre-taped interview was streamed on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) where Tucker Carlson asked Trump questions over the course of an hour, which included Trump calling his critics “savage animals.” Trump also made his own return to Twitter after previously being banned due to incendiary comments promoting violence on Jan. 6, 2020. He posted his mugshot and a call for donations. Good: Monterey County’s Sustainability Program received a six-figure state grant that will help fund climate resilience projects in some of the county’s most underserved communities. The $300,000 Transformative Climate Communities Planning Grant, provided by California’s Strategic Growth Council, will focus on a five-square-mile area that includes the town of Pajaro. The county will partner with Watsonville-based RegeneraciónPajaro Valley Climate Action to build a community coalition that will look to identify three-to-five greenhouse gas-reducing projects that can be implemented in the Pajaro Valley. The work could potentially lead to future grants to fund the development of those projects. “Equitycentered climate work is about connecting with community members who feel left behind on issues that directly affect their quality of life,” said Sustainability Program Analyst Cora Panturad. GREAT: Congratulations to the Big Sur Land Trust, which received unanimous approval from the California Wildlife Conservation Board on Aug. 24 for $8.6 million in state funding toward the acquisition of Basin Ranch. The grant means the nonprofit expects to be able to close the deal for 5,015 acres near Arroyo Seco by November, with plans to co-manage the property with the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County. (Big Sur Land Trust will be responsible for the remaining $86,800 of the $8.68 million purchase.) “This ranch and the entire range are a critical wildlife corridor and a region of deep cultural significance to Indigenous people,” Rachel Saunders of BSLT said in a statement. She emphasizes the unique opportunity to forge a partnership with an Indigenous organization to preserve cultural values of the land. “We hope this will serve as a model for other land trusts in the state of California.” GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY Loan amount awarded to Watsonville Community Hospital from the Distressed Hospital Loan Program, created by the California Legislature in May. The hospital was in danger of closing in 2021 but remained open after Pajaro Valley Healthcare District purchased the hospital on Sept. 1, 2022. Source: California Department of Health Care Access and Information $8.3 QUOTE OF THE WEEK “The Hawaiian culture—it’s reciprocal.” -Louella Sumler, director of the Marina-based Pacific Island dance and culture group Ná Haumána Hula Hálau, speaking about the motivation to organize a benefit for the people of Lahaina (see story, mcweekly.com). million CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL 5716 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel, CA 831-624-2015 www.carmelbethisrael.org SELICHOT (Preparing yourself for the High Holy Days) Saturday, September 9 8 p.m. Study Session 9:30 p.m. Service ROSH HASHANAH Friday, September 15 7 p.m. Erev Rosh Hashanah Saturday, September 16 9:30 a.m. Morning Service 12:30 p.m. Family/Children’s Service 4 p.m. Tashlich on Carmel Beach below 13th Ave. Sunday, September 17 10 a.m. Second Day Service MEMORIAL SERVICE Friday, September 22 3 p.m. Memorial Service at Mission Memorial Park, 1915 Ord Grove Avenue, Seaside KOL NIDRE (EREV YOM KIPPUR) Sunday, September 24 7 p.m. Evening Service YOM KIPPUR Monday, September 25 10 a.m. Morning Service 12:30 p.m. Family/Children’s Service 1:30 p.m. High Holy Days Discussion 3 p.m. Afternoon Service *4:45 p.m. Yizkor Service *5:30 pm Neilah Service (Closing of the Gates) *6:30 p.m. A Light Break- the-Fast *Times are approximate on Yom Kippur afternoon www.carmelbethisrael.org On Sunday, September 10, from noon to 2 p.m., we invite you to visit Congregation Beth Israel for an Open House in advance of the High Holy Days — check out our warm and welcoming Congregation and all that we have to offer! Join us for this “Taste of Jewish!,” featuring festive Jewish foods for the New Year and more! 2023 – 5784 HIGH HOLY DAYS SCHEDULE OF SERVICES NO RESERVATIONS OR TICKETS REQUIRED NO CHARGE TO ATTEND ANY SERVICE — DONATIONS WELCOME ALL SERVICES AT THE SYNAGOGUE UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED Rabbi Bruce D. Greenbaum and Cantor Alisa Fineman KICK OFF 5784 WITH AN OPEN HOUSE AT BETH ISRAEL!

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8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 6, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com 831 Don’t be surprised if you see a fire engine driving around Monterey County with party people on board and “We Are Family” blasting from the engine’s speakers. Firefighters on a break? Have they been drinking? The answer to both is no—even though Red Engine Rides offers regular “brewery pub tours” in Monterey. The party people wave and make noise not because they are drunk, but because they are experiencing good, clean ecstasy—going for an open-roof ride in an old fire engine. And yes, the truck is real. And the firefighters on the engine are real firemen, even though Red Engine Rides is separate from their firefighting jobs. It turns out children and adults alike are crazy about fire trucks, as well as the experience of being a passenger on one, wearing a fireman jacket and a big helmet. No one knows it better than Monterey firefighter Raul Pantoja, a father of three. But while many fire stations around the U.S. offer station tours, no one really offers engine rides. That’s how the idea of a private, part-time business came to Pantoja’s mind. “We should do something like that,” he said to his colleague Corey McVeigh. However, to have a fire engine-based business, one has to have a fire truck. And that’s not something that you can order on Amazon. They found one, though, in Boulder Creek in Santa Cruz County—a retired engine from the 1970s that would take part in local parades. Pantoja and McVeigh bought the vehicle and renovated it. From online research they knew there’s a niche in the market; really only a few services like it seem to be available nationwide—San Francisco, Nashville and somewhere in Texas. They researched, improved on the idea (for example, by adding upbeat pop music) and in early 2020, they opened up Red Engine Rides for birthdays, wedding parties, or people just looking for fun. “We love our jobs, but it takes a toll on us,” Pantoja says about firefighting. But people who call Red Engine have no emergency. “They come here to have a good day. And for us, it’s another great way to be woven into the community,” Pantoja adds. They hit all the age groups, partnering with MY Museum and offering short rides around downtown Monterey for children, catering to tourists and locals on other routes. Up to 10 people can be on the truck that has nice red benches and seatbelts, but otherwise looks like a firetruck should. The company has a scenic tour option along the coastline of Monterey and Pacific Grove and “holiday lights rides” for the upcoming holiday season. The latter hits such local holiday landmarks like the famous Pacific Grove Candy Cane Lane. Hiring the red engine is one delightful way to show your family around the Monterey Peninsula; they go as far as Salinas and the Salinas Valley. Locals know how to take advantage of the opportunity too, hiring the engine for private tours. Pantoja and McVeigh had someone proposing by Lovers Point; there was also a groom delivered to his bride on their big day. Would you like to play your own Spotify playlist? Not a problem. For now, the partners are able to work without additional staff, sharing the responsibility for the rides that sometimes require both of them. If they happen to give a ride to tourists and cruise down Alvarado Street or Calle Principal, they get a lot of questions about where to eat. “We don’t say anything negative,” McVeigh says, proud to be an ambassador of Monterey tourism. One thing about firemen’s work is chronic stress. Hanging out with happy people provides for a nice change for those Monterey firefighters. Another thing is that firefighters, due to their demanding job, tend to retire from the profession early. That being said, they are still young enough to be doing other jobs. McVeigh and Pantoja say they have found the way to ride an engine for years after eventual retirement, and we are all invited along for the ride. Red Engine Rides, firefighter-owned and operated. 222-RIDE, redenginerides.com Fire Break Looking for the hottest way to celebrate your birthday or propose or just have fun? Look no more. By Agata Pop˛eda A group waves to onlookers from the bed of a firetruck during a Red Engine Ride through Monterey as Raul Pantoja keeps an eye on the road. The business is so eyecatching that Pantoja and partner Corey McVeigh have received offers to buy it. “They come here to have a good day.” TALES FROM THE AREA CODE DANIEL DREIFUSS Join us for lunch as an impressive panel of federal, state and local elected officials cover topics such as: new projects taking place in their jurisdictions, new business coming to the region and important issues that have impacts on the future viability of our economy. PRESENTED BY WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 6, 2023 PORTOLA HOTEL & SPA • 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM $75 MEMBERS • $90 PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS INCLUDES LUNCH REGISTER NOW AT MONTEREYCHAMBER.COM EVENT SPONSORS


10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY august 31-september 6, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com news After winter storms created washouts on Arroyo Seco Road this past March, the road was closed indefinitely to the general public, effectively cutting off access to one of the most beloved recreational areas in the county—the Arroyo Seco River and campground in the Los Padres National Forest. All summer, locals looking for a good swimming hole and a rock to lie on in the sun have had to look elsewhere. But there is now good news to report: On Friday, Sept. 1, the county will be receiving bids for two separate projects along the road. The plan, says Enrique Saavedra, the county’s chief of public works, is that repairs will be completed by the end of the year. Combined, the two projects are estimated to cost $5 million to complete, with an additional $500,000 spent on planning and another $500,000 to oversee the construction. The expense for the project is expected to be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but earlier this year the state gave the county about a $20 million advance (with the expectation that FEMA will reimburse the state) so that cash would flow and work could get started. One of the projects on the road, Saavedra says, involves drilling 22 concrete pipes, 30 inches in diameter, under the pavement—a “stitch pile.” The bigger issue, perhaps, which is outside of the county’s jurisdiction because it’s on private land, is a hillside next to the road that, after being saturated by weeks of ongoing rain, started to shift. Saavedra says the state’s Office of Emergency Services is actively monitoring the site, but that for now, it’s holding tight enough. Mending A Gateway Storms damaged Arroyo Seco Road in March. The County now has a plan to fix it. By David Schmalz In 2013, the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau encouraged potential visitors to “Grab Life by the Moments.” That message continued for 10 years while visitor numbers ticked upward—until Covid-19 struck in March 2020. Grabbing life by the moments took on new meaning for people hungry to leave isolation behind after travel restrictions were lifted, yet wasn’t enough to bring back visitors to pre-pandemic levels. It was time for a major brand overhaul, bureau leaders agreed last year. “Find Your Way Here” is the new tagline, developed after a year of research that included 1,200 consumer surveys and focus group testing in other parts of the U.S., says CEO Rob O’Keefe. “It’s an emotional appeal,” he says. People are “looking for authentic natural connectivity, they’re looking for inspiration,” he says. The connection they seek is to nature, family and themselves. “Especially coming out of Covid, that connectivity is more important than ever,” O’Keefe says. The bureau’s name is changing to See Monterey, in part to clear up confusion between MCCVB and other local agencies with similar acronyms, O’Keefe says. (The new name has been the web address for years: seemonterey.com.) O’Keefe was set to unveil the new tagline and marketing campaign, along with the new name, at the bureau’s board of directors annual meeting at the Monterey Conference Center on Thursday, Aug. 31, after the Weekly’s deadline. O’Keefe’s goal remains the same as it’s been since hotel travel resumed: to increase the number of hotel nights that visitors stay in Monterey County, especially those who fly in. One additional night’s stay per visit could reap approximately $877 million a year in financial benefit to the region through tourist spending and increased sales and hotel tax revenues, according to O’Keefe. The goal has remained elusive, as tourism numbers continue to lag behind 2019 levels. Reasons for that lag include a decrease in overall international travel to the U.S., as well as travelers from the U.S. heading overseas. “We’re losing the race when it comes to domestic visitors,” O’Keefe says. Additionally, visitors stayed away during and after this winter’s weather. “The storms were a pretty big punch in the stomach,” O’Keefe says. Carmel, which was hit particularly hard, reported hotel occupancy for fiscal year 2022-2023 was down by over 10 percent compared to 20212022. It was 20-percent lower during the storm period, January through April 2023, compared to the same period in 2022. Monterey is seeing some gains in occupancy, says City Manager Hans Uslar. That is especially true downtown, where it was up by 13 percent in fiscal year 2022-2023 over the year prior, “indicative of the rebounding conference center business,” Uslar says. Conferences and group travel are areas See Monterey is targeting, since group travelers spend up to 158-percent more than leisure travelers. It’s too early to know exact occupancy numbers during Car Week, but O’Keefe expects room revenue to be up over 2022. Uslar reports that Monterey’s hotel occupancy was 94.4 percent for Friday, Aug. 18, at an average daily rate of $774 per room. The estimate for Monterey’s hotel tax revenue in August is around $5 million, roughly equivalent to last year’s revenue for the same time period. A week before the Labor Day holiday weekend, visitors enjoy a sunny visit to Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Their spending translates into valuable revenue. New Again The county’s tourism bureau updates itself to boost lagging business after Covid shutdowns. By Pam Marino Rainfall in March caused Arroyo Seco Road near Greenfield to wash out and become unstable. It has been closed to the public since, cutting off access to a popular recreation area. “We’re losing the race.” Daniel Dreifuss courtesy of Monterey County

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12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY august 31-september 6, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com On an overcast morning on Friday, Aug. 25, as jets of water from sprinklers rain down on the surrounding fields of lettuce, a gaggle of journalists, politicians and public officials are gathered at a press event along the Pajaro River levee, just more than a stone’s throw from where it breached last March. The breach occurred after weeks of sustained rainfall on the Central Coast, and it wasn’t a surprise—for over 50 years, federal, state and local officials have known the levee was deficient, but there was never enough buy-in, or urgency, to do something about it. Seemingly, that is starting to change, but time will tell if it’s real, or just a public relations band-aid to save face after the flooding in the community of Pajaro, which displaced thousands of residents from their homes and left some of those homes unlivable. The topic du jour was an update on repairs to the existing levee, and the main takeaway was that the repairs would be completed—hopefully—by the end of November. Monterey County Supervisor Glenn Church, whose district includes Pajaro, called the project “an opportunity to make a better, stronger, more resilient levee.” Supervisor Luis Alejo said, “Monterey County is committed to staying in the foxhole to the very end” with respect to the project. The Army Corps of Engineers, which originally built the levee in 1949, is responsible for the current repair and ultimate reconstruction of the levee system, but once the agency’s work is done, it falls upon local jurisdictions to maintain it. Mark Strudley, executive director of the Pajaro River Flood Management Agency says the reconstruction of the levee system—not the repairs, which are happening right now—is expected to begin sometime in 2024. But that timeline is dependent on the proposed project sailing through the regulatory process with little resistance. To that end, California Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, introduced a bill, AB 876, that is intended to reduce those hurdles. It’s expected to be voted on by mid-September. In a statement Rivas’ office sent out Tuesday, Aug. 29, Assemblymember Dawn Addis, D-Morro Bay, called the bill a “thoughtful and urgent response” to the flooding in Pajaro earlier this year. State Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, said in the statement that he “strongly [supports] expediting repairs and enhancements to flood protection to ensure Pajaro can both recover as quickly as possible, and be protected from future catastrophes in this new age of unpredictable weather.” Various pandemic relief funds that served as a cushion to help pay rent or cover burial and funeral costs are phasing out. Some relief programs, including California’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), still have money to keep providing services while they last, and are transitioning to something that goes beyond an emergency. The rental assistance program helped over 8,200 low-income households in Monterey County with paying overdue past rent and up to three months of future rent. “We really believe it made a difference,” says Josh Madfis, vice president of community investments at United Way Monterey County, the agency charged with administering the program locally. United Way still has $1.6 million of the $50 million of combined state and federal dollars it was responsible for distributing to qualifying renters. In March, the U.S. Department of the Treasury shifted ERAP funds from rental assistance to rental stabilization. The local ERAP application process closed in April 2023, and fewer than 100 families remain on ERAP’s waiting list; United Way is working to process their applications. “We think we have enough funds to help those people, but we’ve also now been able to provide funding for this new program—housing stabilization,” says Katy Castagna, CEO of United Way Monterey County. About $600,000 will be used to help those remaining waitlisted families. The remaining funds (about $1 million) will be distributed through United Way’s partners in the new housing stabilization program. So far, United Way has distributed $349,150 to five partners, including the City of Greenfield, Monterey County Office of Education and Goodwill Central Coast. Each partner will use the funds to provide housing stabilization resources that best serve their community. That may include rental application fees, deposits or landlord mediation. Slow Flow Neglected for decades, the Pajaro levee is finally holding attention of policymakers. By David Schmalz news Build Up Here’s your chance to weigh in on what design features you’d like to see in an affordable housing development. Nonprofit developer Eden Housing is seeking public input on a project coming to 855 East Laurel Drive in Salinas, to be located on currently vacant County of Monterey property. Burritos from El Charrito will be provided at this meeting. 6-8pm Thursday, Aug. 31. Everett Alvarez High School theater, 1900 Independence Blvd., Salinas. Free. (510) 582-1460, edenh ousing.org. Clean and Green Volunteer to pick up trash at Lovers Point Park and keep this public space beautiful. 9-11am Monday, Sept. 4. Lovers Point (meet near the Beach House Restaurant on the lawn), 631 Ocean View Blvd., Pacific Grove. Free. 6483100, cityofpacificgrove.org. Talk to the Manager Monterey City Manager Hans Uslar holds a monthly presentation to provide updates on city policies and programs and respond to public questions. 9:30-10am Wednesday, Sept. 6. Event takes place virtually at youtube.com/ cityofmonterey. Work For It The Monterey County Workforce Development Center offers a job fair with multiple employers. Learn about career opportunities and bring your resume. 1-4pm Wednesday, Sept. 6. Cesar Chavez Library, 615 Williams Road, Salinas. Free. 796-3341, montereycountywdb.org. How Fast? Monterey County Parks officials are considering an update to a county ordinance on e-bikes. The current ordinance allows the use of e-bikes on paved roads only—no dirt trail use is allowed. They invite the public to weigh in through a survey. Whether you’re a hiker, equestrian or cyclist, your input is welcome. Sept. 15 deadline to complete survey online at bit.ly/MoCoebikesurvey. Serve the Sea The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is seeking applicants to serve on its advisory council, representing the public’s interest. Seats are open for two at-large positions and an alternate, as well as people who represent the tourism industry, and the education, commercial fishing and diving communities. Sept. 15 deadline to apply. 647-4206, Haven.Parker@noaa.gov, montereybay. noaa.gov/sac/recruit.html. In House United Way starts a rent stabilization program with remaining Covid-19 rental assistance funds. By Celia Jiménez Mark Strudley of the Pajaro River Flood Management Agency—a multi-jurisdictional body that includes Monterey County—speaks at a press conference on Aug. 25. e-mail: publiccitizen@mcweekly.com TOOLBOX “Monterey County is committed to staying in the foxhole.” Daniel Dreifuss

www.montereycountyweekly.com August 31-september 6, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 Money Market Advantage Saving for your future just got more exciting! ƒMinimum opening balance just $0.01* ƒNo monthly service fee ƒEasily withdraw and deposit funds ƒGreat rates – highest dividends paid on your first $2,500 Open an account today! 831.479.6000 • www.bayfed.com • 888.4BAYFED Federally Insured by NCUA | Equal Housing Lender *Bay Federal Credit Union membership required. Membership is open to individuals who live, work, attend school, volunteer, or worship in Santa Cruz, San Benito, or Monterey Counties. Terms and conditions apply. Visit www.bayfed.com or a local branch for full details. 1524 N. Main Street | Salinas JOIN US FOR FREE CONSERVATION WEBINARS Join us for free, interactive workshops in September, presented by Green Gardens Group via Zoom. The Monterey Peninsula is a leader in water conservation. Thank you for your commitment to being water wise! Learn more at: montereywaterinfo.org/events Thursday, Sept 14 Beautiful Gardens, Even in Drought/Downpour 6 p.m.–7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept 26 Protecting the Trees 6 p.m.–7:15 p.m. DR. BRYNIE KAPLAN DAU, MS, DVM Voted Monterey County’s BEST VETERINARIAN TWO YEARS IN A ROW! ’22 ’21 SURGERY DERMATOLOGY FELINE AND CANINE MEDICINE PREVENTATIVE CARE AND MUCH MORE Now Offering Regenerative Medicine, PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) and Laser Therapy Utilizing the body’s own cells to heal and regenerate damaged tissues in acute and chronic conditions 1023 Austin Avenue, Pacific Grove • 831-318-0306 www.pacificgroveanimalhospital.com

14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 6, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com To some degree, a sense of normalcy has returned to the community of Pajaro in North Monterey County, nearly six months after the Pajaro River levee breached and flooding forced evacuations in March. But not everyone is back on their feet. There are still families receiving aid and living in hotels while their homes—moldy or with structural damage—remain uninhabitable. The County of Monterey provided aid to 264 people through its non-congregant shelter program, a temporary lodging program at the Rodeway Inn hotel in Watsonville, since a shelter at the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds closed on May 15. According to county data, most of those recipients (202 people), have either returned to their previous homes or found a new one. The remaining 62 people received a notification to relocate to the Country Inn hotel in Marina. “Our hope is that we could continue to step down the program in an attempt to eventually close it, because this is not long-term housing,” says Kelsey Scanlon, director of the county’s Department of Emergency Management. County officials are working with the Housing Authority of the County of Monterey to put Pajaro residents at the front of the line to obtain housing vouchers, a process that can take years. Sister Rosa Dolores Rodriguez of the nonprofit Casa de la Cultura, says the home base for these residents will move further from the centers of their lives—school, community, workplaces. “They’re stressed enough,” she says. “And then to be moved to another place without any reason…” She adds that many residents lost cars due to flooding, making transportation an ongoing challenge. The County is providing bus passes and the Monterey County Office of Education is working with the Santa Cruz Office of Education to ensure kids attend school. “We don’t like to displace students,” says MCOE spokesperson Teri Pimentel. She says the first resort is keeping students at the school they attend, but parents also have the option to transfer their kids to Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, which covers Marina. (Pajaro Middle School remains closed for the 2023-24 school year due to storm damage.) According to a Cal Fire assessment in March, 406 structures suffered damage from flooding impacts and three were deemed uninhabitable. Many repairs don’t require a permit from the County, which has only received four applications for related permits and issued two. Meanwhile, the County Department of Emergency Management is developing a Pajaro Recovery Plan with a community-led task force. The Long Term Recovery Plan Committee launched on Tuesday, Aug. 29. The committee will guide the expenditure of $20 million in state funds for residents—regardless of immigration status—for things like home inspections and repairs, rental and vehicle assistance, infrastructure, community outreach and more. The Pajaro Recovery Plan will take months to develop; Scanlon expects it will be approved and implemented by June 2024. Long Game Monterey County is phasing out temporary shelters for Pajaro as long-term recovery continues. By Celia Jiménez Seven displaced families decided to stay in Watsonville rather than relocate to Marina. Casa de la Cultura is paying for their continued stay at the Rodeway Inn to avoid further disruption to their lives. NEWS “This is not long-term housing.” DANIEL DREIFUSS SEPTEMBER 28, 2023 | 6 – 8 P.M. 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www.montereycountyweekly.com AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 6, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 15 The owners of a 220-acre property in the scenic Corral de Tierra area are facing opposition from neighbors over their designs for a small-scale commercial chicken farm. Since acquiring the property at 18000 Corral Del Cielo Road in 2020, Ben and Tarin Christensen have drawn up plans to set up a farming operation, called Abalone Creek Ranch, on a roughly 30-acre portion near Corral Del Cielo. They want to use the pasture to graze nearly 500 chickens, as well as a smaller number of sheep, cattle and pigs; construct a 400-square-foot container-like structure to process the chickens on a monthly basis; and also build several barns and sheds spanning a combined 18,000 square feet. But the residents of a 27-home subdivision across the road have taken exception to the Christensens’ plans—claiming that the farm will bring unwanted noise and blight the surrounding viewshed, and also strain the neighborhood’s roads and water supply. The residents have organized and raised objections before the local Toro Land Use Advisory Committee and the county’s Agricultural Advisory Committee, and hired Carmel attorney Jennifer Rosenthal to lead their fight. Rosenthal says her clients are concerned about the scale of the proposed processing facility—citing how the Christensens originally planned to have around 700 chickens, but reduced that figure to just under the 500-bird threshold that would require a poultry farm permit. “Clearly their intent is to have a commercial chicken processing plant, but not go through the regulatory process because they’re going to have one less chicken,” she says. But Tarin Christensen insists that her family is “more than willing to comply” with the rules, stressing that Abalone Creek Ranch will not be the “industrial”-type operation feared by neighbors. While the Christensens live in San Jose (Ben works as an engineer for Meta), Tarin says they purchased the property with the intention of creating a “sustainable family farm” that they could share with their children and eventually retire on. “There’s no intention of ruining someone’s beautiful, idyllic landscape view,” she says, adding she’s been “surprised at the pushback” given that the land is already zoned for agricultural use. Given that zoning, as well as ag-friendly state laws like the Williamson Act and the “Right to Farm Act,” it’s unclear whether the organized community opposition will be enough to prevent or alter the Christensens’ plans. The local Toro LUAC already recommended against the project in July. The county’s Ag Advisory Committee punted on such a vote on Aug. 24, when it was asked by planners at the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development to provide recommendations on conditions of approval. The committee is expected to revisit the project in the coming months following completion of an environmental review, while the final decision on the project will lay with the county’s Planning Commission. Farm Fury A planned chicken farm in Corral de Tierra is facing fierce community opposition. By Rey Mashayekhi Lisa Stewart is among the local residents who oppose the proposed chicken farm. She is part of a group that has organized under the name Concerned Neighbors of the Pastures of Heaven. NEWS “There’s no intention of ruining someone’s idyllic view.” DANIEL DREIFUSS montagehealth.org/ohana

16 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY august 31-september 6, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com Up and Away The term “business friendly” is always a euphemism for states and cities that will let a company pollute the local environment without any detrimental consequences to that company’s financial bottom line, among other things (“Joby Aviation reportedly snubs Marina for its new factory, will choose Ohio or North Carolina,” posted Aug. 25). It’s also a euphemism for that company not wanting to pay their fair share of taxes and not wanting to pay good living wages and benefits to their employees. I would support bringing in any company that is environmentally and socially responsible, but without those ethics, let them go to locales that encourage Third World conditions. Teri W. | Prunedale Business is business, but a pity. RJ McMillen | via social media Fast Track I walk the Rec Trail regularly between Lovers Point and the end of the Window on the Bay (“How fast is too fast on a bike path?” posted Aug. 23). Most bicyclists let you know they’re coming, don’t go too fast, and are courteous and fine. But some seem to think it’s their raceway and pedestrians don’t belong. Even scarier are the ones on e-bikes. They all go too fast. A Rec Trail that is for both bicyclists and pedestrians is by definition a place to move slowly. Marilyn Maxner | via email The Netherlands has been doing it right for a long time. Bikes have a bike-only lane that cars and walkers can’t easily mistake for theirs. Speed sensors are just kicking the can. The multi-use path is unsafe whenever there’s an oblivious dog walker or a group focused on themselves. Ducking the need for a bike-only path connecting Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and Carmel, knowingly risks the lives of cyclists. Gary Struthers | via email Pay attention and be courteous— unfortunately we don’t see that from many cyclists. I’m talking specifically regarding the Rec Trail in Pacific Grove from Lovers Point to Hopkins Marine Station. Walkers are supposed to walk on the dirt trail with bicycle riders on the paved section, but what about the surreys, the baby carriages, the older people with walkers or wheelchairs. Even before the e-bikes, many cyclists would yell rude remarks at the occasional tourist or other non-suspecting person who got in their way as they raced past. This is supposed to be a Rec Trail for all to enjoy. Does it take an older person getting killed to get these racing bikers off the trail and onto the street? if they want to go as fast as cars, they belong in the street. These aren’t cyclists just trying to get from Point A to Point B. They think they are in a race. Now that e-bikes are in the mix it’s only gotten worse. It would be nice if [the 12mph speed limit in Pacific Grove] was actually enforced with big fines. It would help our city coffers, and keep us all safe. Susan Clark | via email As a frequent tourist, I use the Rec Trail to walk to the wharf from Cannery Row and back all the time. I have been concerned by how some bike users seem to think the path is their own speedway. I’m surprised that not more accidents have happened due to bike speeders. Terry Kosaka | Los Angeles Excellent piece on the Rec Trail. I did some research on multi-use rec trails. It seems they don’t work at a basic level. The Dutch, the world’s most avid cyclists, have this figured out. Cyclists want to travel fast without dogs, kids or wandering pedestrians in their way. They don’t want speed limits or to have to use a bell or say, “On your left” when passing. Pedestrians want to be able to walk next to each other, not single file to open up the path. They don’t want to be yelled at to get out of the way of a cyclist. Sadly, city planners and engineers don’t understand this and try to compromise with “multi-use.” Until and unless we get separate paths for each group, the problems will persist. With e-bikes that can speed up to 30mph, the problems will worsen. Monterey can widen and separate the trails—they just need to be willing to do the hard work. Peter Gerbino | via email Rotten or Not? Luke Coletti is being maligned for doing his job as a Pacific Grove City Council member (“The ouster of Pacific Grove’s city manager empowers the bullies,” Aug. 10-16). Coletti is a direct, persistent councilmember who does his research and holds people accountable. He asks explicit questions, perhaps uncomfortable questions. These qualities do not make him a bully; rather, they make him an able councilmember. Do we not want councilmembers who demand city staff do their job and are not afraid to ask the hard, detailed questions? Coletti is looking out for P.G. residents. The departure of the city manager under murky circumstances does not mean he was fired; the agreement specifically states he resigned. Because he received a separation package that exceeded the contractual stipulation, it is possible there were circumstances to which we are not privy. The public doesn’t know what performance criteria he did not meet, nor about any liability the package removes, such as potential disagreements about performance evaluations. Cathy Wooten | Pacific Grove Big STars Super cool cast and really nice crew! I hope Season 3 is a hit (“A hit Korean reality TV show takes over the Asian Market in Marina for nine days,” Aug. 17-23). Nick McIlroy | via social media Correction A story about author Jane Smiley (“Out of 31 books by award-winning author Jane Smiley, 22 were conceived and written in Carmel Valley,” Aug. 24-30) inaccurately reported her husband’s name. It is Jack Canning, not Steve Canning. In addition, the story described author Alice Munro as still actively writing; she is still living, but announced her retirement from writing in 2013. Letters • CommentsOPINION Submit letters to the editor to letters@mcweekly.com. Please keep your letter to 150 words or less; subject to editing for space. Please include your full name, contact information and city you live in.

www.montereycountyweekly.com august 31-september 6, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 17 The Monterey County Weekly’s editorial staff spends a lot of time attending public meetings. There are city councils, planning commissions, zoning administrator hearings, architectural review boards and more. A combination of state laws govern the way various agencies must post agendas and conduct meetings. And such meetings provide a critical opportunity for members of the public to show up, look their government officials in the eye, and tell them what they think. It’s enshrined in the California Constitution, Article I, Section 3: “The people have the right to instruct their representatives, petition government for redress of grievances, and assemble freely to consult for the common good.” Of course, the pandemic changed the way that happens. Public meetings went virtual, and all of a sudden, instead of spending your Tuesday night sitting in a city hall for two minutes of speaking time, you could log onto Zoom from your kitchen with dinner in the oven. Virtual public meetings had the advantage of making it easier for both members of the public and governing members of the agency to participate. The premise of remote public participation is one we should keep. The same idea, however, should not universally apply to the decision-makers who serve on various boards and councils. They should be required to face the constituents they serve. But a series of bills pending in the California Legislature would make it easier for officials to meet remotely into the future. “There are reasons to do that, but the norm should be face-to-face accountability,” says David Loy, legal director of the First Amendment Coalition, which opposes the relevant bills. “Public officials don’t get to govern via video screen. Permanent government-by-video deprives the public of a basic tool of accountability.” Each of the bills addresses a specific issue, but Loy worries about a broader trend. While he believes (and I agree) that there should be provisions for people who are immunocompromised or have a disability to be able to serve remotely, he also argues that those should be exceptions, not the norm. A few bills are stalled in committee, including Assembly Bill 817 (authored by Assemblymember Blanca Pacheco, D-Los Angeles), which would enable continued teleconferencing. AB 1379 (Assemblymember Diane Papan, D-San Mateo) would make numerous changes to teleconferencing provisions in the Brown Act, which governs local and regional agencies. Meanwhile, three Senate bills are moving forward. SB 537, authored by State Sen. Josh Becker, D-San Mateo, would modify the Brown Act to allow both members of the public and governing members of a multi-jurisdictional agency— think of the Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency, which includes representation from Santa Cruz and Monterey counties—to attend meetings remotely. That bill passed 32-8 on the Senate floor and is now in Assembly committee hearings. SB 411, by State Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-San Fernando Valley, would enable ongoing remote participation for neighborhood councils in Los Angeles. SB 544, by State Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, deals with the Bagley-Keene Act, which governs state bodies like the Coastal Commission and Public Utilities Commission. It would require only 50 percent of members to be in-person just 50 percent of the time. Laird tells me that even as he emerges from a period of isolation due to an asymptomatic case of Covid, he plans to amend his bill: “I hear the concerns loud and clear and I will work to address them.” Amendments would include a sunset date of 2025, and a provision that at least half of the members are present 100 percent of the time, not 50 percent. A requirement about cameras being turned on for remote participants is under consideration. “This bill is all about balancing competing values. If you’re a senior or you’re disabled or you live in Crescent City and want to have an option to participate in Sacramento, the choice is participating or not participating,” Laird says. “I am committed to sunshine. I don’t want to be in a position of weakening that at all.” As we emerge from the pandemic, it’s time to apply the lessons learned in a way that maximizes sunshine, rather than weakens it. Sara Rubin is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at sara@mcweekly.com. In the Open Pending legislation threatens basic principles of public meeting rules. By Sara Rubin Wilted Bloom…As summer has finally arrived, Squid’s been out and about trying to get some rays on Squid’s translucent complexion. One place on Squid’s destination list is Lake San Antonio, which is managed by Monterey County Parks and is promoted as a recreational resource to get out in, or on, the water. It’s been a tough stretch of years for enthusiasts wanting to get out on the lake—it barely rained for most of them—but this year, Squid was thinking: Perhaps now is Squid’s chance. Except for the fact there has been an algae bloom. Then Squid got an email from the Monterey County Health Department informing Squid that the algae bloom has abated, and was downgraded from “danger” to “caution.” The email hailed this as “good news,” but also advises visitors to read what “caution” means: Stay away from algae and scum in the water, keep kids away from algae in the water or onshore, and as for fish caught in the lake, read the fine print. Nonetheless, the county’s email says now is the “perfect time” to take advantage of “reduced visitation,” while also extolling that “lab results…showed a significant decrease in toxicity.” Sounds fun! Not Cool School…It’s not just freshwater (see above) that has Squid scratching Squid’s head, but also oceanfront Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove. Squid has learned that Stanford University’s Doerr School of Sustainability, which includes Hopkins, is taking money from Big Oil. (Specifically, Squid counts a cool $20 million in 2019 from Shell.) This kind of big giving is part and parcel of what fossil fuel companies do—they pour money into fancy universities and also fund a lot of studies and scientists. In at least some of those cases, the research results show that oil isn’t so bad, and that it’s the way of the future. It’s equivalent to tobacco companies funding lung cancer research. Meanwhile, Maui burned a few weeks ago in the deadliest wildfire in modern American history. What also makes Squid hot, aside from the dystopian flavor of it all, is when highfalutin institutions like Stanford go against what science tells us, and for no other purpose than to bring money in the door. Squid is a sea creature, and has seen Squid’s habitat slowly transform over the years due to climate change, but here’s the thing—humans have seen it, too. In fact, a study published in the 1990s based on observations taken off the Hopkins Marine Station’s shore—a place that’s been monitored since 1919— was the first-ever paper to reveal the degradation of marine ecosystems due to climate change. Squid’s colleague reached out to the Doerr School for comment, but did not hear back. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. “Public officials don’t get to govern via videoscreen.” Send Squid a tip: squid@mcweekly.com