January 4-10, 2024 montereycountyweekly.com LOCAL & INDEPENDENT fairgrounds future 10 | end of an era for driscoll’s 28 | Alvarado Street everywhere 30 To write a bestseller set largely underwater at Monastery Beach, novelist Daniel Kraus relied on a local diver’s knowledge to set the scene. p. 16 By Agata Pope˛da A Whale Tale

2 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY january 4-10, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com january 4-10, 2024 • ISSUE #1848 • Established in 1988 Li Liu (Nikon Z9, Nikkor 180-600mm/6.3 at 600mm, f/6.3, 1/1600s, iso 200) A storm in the Pacific Ocean brought a large swell to the Monterey County coast in the final days of December, including this big wave off Pebble Beach. Meanwhile, wet weather created perfect rainbow conditions, as seen behind the pelicans. Monterey County photo of the week Send Etc. submissions to etcphoto@mcweekly.com; please include caption and camera info. On the cover: California’s golden kelp is one of the reasons why diver/video photographer Connor Gallagher chose the Pacific over the Atlantic as his home base. Gallagher helped with research for a bestselling 2023 novel, Whalefall, by Daniel Kraus. The novel takes place at Monastery Beach near Carmel. Cover Photo: By Connor Gallagher 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 Agata Pope¸da (x138) aga@mcweekly.com Staff Writer David Schmalz david@mcweekly.com (x104) Staff photographer Daniel Dreifuss daniel@mcweekly.com (x140) MONTEREY COUNTY NOW PRODUCER Sloan Campi sloan@mcweekly.com (x105) contributors Nik Blaskovich, Rob Brezsny, Nic Coury, Tonia Eaton, Jeff Mendelsohn, Jacqueline Weixel, Paul Wilner 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. NOW IN YOUR INBOX Sign up today at montereycountyweekly.com/mcnow

www.montereycountyweekly.com JANUARY 4-10, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 3 Healthy, how you want it. You’re in control of the path you take. Regardless of where you are in your journey towards a healthier you — Montage Health can help you reach it. For exceptional care within your community, visit montagehealth.org.

4 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY January 4-10, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH We’ve written in this column recently about challenges facing the news industry overall, and the world of alternative news media is no different. Three of the Monterey County Weekly’s peers announced in the final weeks of 2023 that they are contracting. The Chico News & Review will publish its final print edition on Jan. 11. “For the past three-and-a-half years, the newspaper has persevered, publishing monthly with the hope that ad sales would bounce back postCovid pandemic,” Editor Jason Cassidy wrote in a letter to readers. “Unfortunately, they haven’t.” CN&R plans to continue publishing digitally. Meanwhile, Colorado Springs Independent Publisher Fran Zankowski announced on Dec. 20 that the paper is taking a break. “Faced with overwhelming debt and an unsuccessful rebranding attempt, we have had to make difficult choices,” Zankowski wrote. The hope is to pay down debt and return to publishing as early as February. And in Oregon, the Eugene Weekly stopped publishing amid allegations of embezzlement by an employee, and laid off all staff on Dec. 22, the day after publishing a final print edition—for now. The paper’s staff hopes to bring it back. Good: Good news for Pajaro families, specifically for Pajaro Middle School students, is that in December, the Division of State Architects approved remodeling plans for the school to repair the water damage it suffered during flooding in March 2023. The project was approved less than four months after Pajaro Valley Unified School District submitted the application. The $4 million project will repair an area of 45,600 square feet, including classrooms, offices, a library, locker rooms, restroom renovations to fulfill ADA compliance and more. Pajaro Middle serves 450 students and has been closed since March. The project will go out for bid on Jan. 16; construction could start in February and be completed by the end of June, ready for the next school year. Most project costs will be covered by FEMA, CalOES and PVUSD’s insurance. PVUSD anticipates spending $2 million from its general fund. GREAT: Families are moving into the newly completed Alfred Diaz-Infante Apartments in East Garrison four months early, after a push by nonprofit developer CHISPA, State Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, and Pacific Gas & Electric, which agreed to streamline metering issues. The first family moved into an apartment in late November, and since then more families have moved in, including a family of eight from a garage and a family of seven who’d been living in a condemned one-bedroom trailer, just in time for the holidays, according to a joint CHISPA/PG&E press release on Dec. 25. CHISPA received 1,800 applications for the 66 apartments. The complex was named for Diaz-Infante, CHISPA’s late president and CEO. “I hope that somewhere, Alfred is smiling down on us for finally beginning to move residents in,” current President and CEO Geoffrey Morgan said. GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY Books per Monterey resident checked out from the Monterey Public Library in 2023. A total of 275,000 items were checked out during the year. Source: Monterey Public Library 9.72 QUOTE OF THE WEEK “Never turn your back to the ocean!” -A forecast from the National Weather Service’s Monterey office regarding the potential for up to 40-foot waves on west-facing beaches when a high tide and large swell converged on Dec. 28 (see story, mcweekly.com).

www.montereycountyweekly.com JANUARY 4-10, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 5 PATHWAYS TO WELLNESS Resources designed to help you live your best life. Programs include: Events Community Activities Support Groups Yoga Flow Classes Mindful Meditation WELL-BEING ACTIVITIES Free cooking demos and online well-being classes that help build resiliency into your life. For more details and to register, visit MontereyCounty.BlueZonesProject.com/events or scan the QR code. Start your journey to a healthier you today! Scan to learn more. Scan to learn more. New Year’s Wellness Starts Here At Salinas Valley Health, we are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of everyone in our community. JOIN US

6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY january 4-10, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com news In August 2020, in wake of the Carmel Fire, the County of Monterey hurried to clear culverts along Cachagua Road, much of which was burned over in that fire. The County Board of Supervisors had already approved a major disaster declaration with respect to that fire and the nearby River Fire. Such a declaration is intended to expedite work on the ground by, in theory, removing a lot of bureaucracy and environmental review, It also comes with the hope of reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But with respect to the county’s work on the road to clear the culverts—work the cost about $1.5 million—FEMA denied the county’s request for reimbursement in September, citing concerns about a lack of environmental review for impacts on California tiger salamander and California redlegged frog, both of which are protected under the Endangered Species Act. County Public Works Director Randall Ishii wrote a letter in October to the California Office of Emergency Services, asking for help urging FEMA to reconsider. In early December, Ryan Buras, deputy director of OES, wrote to FEMA asking them to do just that, stating: “Because the USFWS does not typically consider roads as critical habitat for endangered species, consultation with the USFWS prior to the start of work was not needed. Finally…the work was performed around dry, ephemeral watercourses not considered Waters of the United States, therefore FEMA [environmental] reviews prior to the start of work were not required.” On Dec. 22, U.S. Reps. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, and Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, added to that with a joint letter to FEMA reiterating the request. Road Rash County rushed to clear culverts after 2020 Carmel Fire; it’s unclear they’ll get reimbursed. By David Schmalz In 1945 a widow named Della Walker, known formally as Mrs. Clinton Walker, wrote a short letter to Frank Lloyd Wright, in hopes the famed architect would design a home for her in Carmel. “I own a rocky point of land in Carmel, Calif. extending into the Pacific Ocean,” Walker wrote. “I am a woman living alone—I wish protection from the wind and privacy from the road and a house as enduring as the rocks but as transparent and charming as the waves and as delicate as a seashore You are the only man who can do this—will you help me?” Wright said yes. He designed a house made up of a repeating pattern of triangles and hexagons on a foundation of Carmel stone, which looks like the bow of a ship pushing through the waves. It was constructed in 1951-1952. Wright called it Walker’s “cabin on the rocks.” In February 2023, the home was sold for $22 million to Esperanza Carmel, the company founded by Patrice Pastor, a wealthy developer from Monaco who’s purchased multiple Carmel parcels in recent years. In April, the company applied for a Mills Act contract with the city for the Wright-designed home, looking for a significant reduction in property taxes, in exchange for maintenance to preserve the historic home. Since joining the voluntary state program in 2010, Carmel has approved 14 Mills Act contracts, with the amount of property tax reduction determined by the County of Monterey Assessor’s Office using a complex formula. Carmel’s Mills Act properties have received reductions of between 50-85 percent. In December, Carmel City Council enacted a moratorium on all new Mills Act contracts while they review the city’s policy ahead of potential changes; Esperanza’s application and three others were pre-existing and not subject to the moratorium. “We think it’s the poster house for the Mills Act,” said Christopher Mitchell, Esperanza’s representative, to the council on Dec. 5. Mitchell estimated that the $240,000 in annual property tax on the house could drop to $153,000. Carmel receives 6 percent of what owners pay, with the rest going to other entities; the reduction would mean a loss of $9,100 to the city. A list of renovations the home needs totaled $1.3 million over 10 years. The math did not add up for three of the five councilmembers—Jeff Baron, Karen Ferlito and Alissandra Dramov. They were bothered, in part, that the Carmel Unified School District, which receives 60 percent of property taxes, would see a loss of over $90,000. Mitchell argued that it’s a loss of only 0.08 percent of the $69 million the district receives in property tax revenue. The three said they couldn’t get past one of five criteria for a property to be eligible for the Mills Act, that the contract will represent a fair and equitable balance of public and private interests and not be a financial burden to the city. “I’ve heard [Esperanza Carmel’s] fair and equitable interest arguments, but I’m not persuaded,” Baron said. He also questioned whether the tax reduction would be greater than the amount Esperanza will pay in renovation costs. When it became clear the contract wouldn’t pass, Mitchell agreed to a postponement, which was approved by the council 5-0. The issue will come back at a date to be determined. The Mrs. Clinton Walker House, which its architect Frank Lloyd Wright called Walker’s “cabin on the rocks,” needs a new roof and over $1 million in other repairs. All’s Fair The Carmel City Council puts the brakes on a property tax break for a wealthy landowner. By Pam Marino Firefighters battle the Carmel Fire in 2020. The blaze burned 6,901 acres and destroyed 73 structures, according to Cal Fire’s reporting. “We think it’s the poster house for the Mills Act.” Daniel Dreifuss parker seibold

www.montereycountyweekly.com JANUARY 4-10, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 7 ERIC J. DEL PIERO, M.D. A MEDICAL CORPORATION Dr. Burckhard was born and raised in North Dakota. He attended medical school at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. His ophthalmology residency was at the University of Wisconsin and he completed a prestigious fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery at West Coast Retina and California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. He will bring cutting edge vitreoretinal therapies and surgical techniques to Monterey County. 871 Cass Street, Suite 200 Monterey, CA 93940 www.montereyeye.com Welcomes his new associate, Braden A. Burckhard, M.D. in January of 2024 Appointments will be available in Monterey and Salinas. For more information call 831-375-5066 SAVE THE DATE 2024 SIGNATURE EVENTS Tuesday, January 23 • 2024 Membership Luncheon Monterey Marriott Saturday, March 23 • Annual Awards Dinner Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa Thursday, July 18 • Business Excellence Awards Monterey Conference Center See the full schedule of events and register today at montereychamber.com REGISTER TODAY!

8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY january 4-10, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Women dressed in skimpy clothing walking along streets in Salinas has become a common scene near some apartment complexes. Residents living around Kings and Roosevelt streets see sex workers regularly when they go to work, take their kids to school or attend church. And for months, they have been asking Salinas officials to take action to stop it. This area has long been prone to prostitution and the Salinas Police Department had implemented strategies to crack down in the past. Previously, loitering for the purpose of prostitution was a misdemeanor. In 2023 Senate Bill 357 took effect, decriminalizing loitering for the purpose of prostitution. (The law doesn’t decriminalize prostitution, just the loitering part.) The aim of the legislation was to reduce profiling, discrimination and harassment based on appearance and clothing, but in this Salinas neighborhood, it has had an unintended consequences: the proliferation of sex work. “The State of California is making it difficult for us to combat this locally,” says City Councilmember Orlando Osornio, who represents the area. City leaders agree there is a problem that needs to be addressed. “You have three square blocks of 30-plus women and a line around the block of johns, creating a horrible quality of life for our residents there,” Mayor Kimbley Craig says. She adds that she has spoken with California Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, D-Hollister— who supported the bill—about the unintended consequences of SB 357. “He was just as surprised as I was,” she says. “We’re working with his office to try to create awareness around it.” Without SPD’s old enforcement tool, city officials have been looking for alternatives. On Dec. 5, City Attorney Chris Callihan suggested adding the state’s Red Light Abatement Act to the municipal code. With that, city officials would have the power to declare repeated sites of prostitution as a nuisance, expanding the city’s ability to take action to seek a court order allowing abatement efforts. It would enable enforcement against property owners, and give the city a mechanism to recover its costs. Osornio points out when there are more police officers in the area, loitering moves to nearby streets. “That’s not the answer,” he says. Salinas City Council is set to vote on Tuesday, Jan. 9 on whether to pursue the Red Light Abatement Act and incorporate it into the municipal code. For decades, Sand City has had dreams of hotels along its beaches, which culminated in just a single project gaining conditional approval—the Monterey Bay Shores “eco-resort” north of Scribble Hill, a project that is still collecting dust while litigation sorts out an ownership dispute. It turns out the city’s first hotel is instead coming on the east side of Highway 1. Sometime this month, construction crews are expected to begin staging equipment on the property known as South of Tioga to prepare for a February groundbreaking. Ebbie Nakhjavani, CEO of EKN Development, which is building the four-story, 215-room hotel in partnership with Gam Development, expects construction to be complete by early 2026. He hopes the hotel’s restaurant and bar will become a “nucleus” for both locals and guests to gather, whether it be for trivia nights or wine tastings. If that proves to be true, it would align with late developer Don Orosco’s vision for the property— Orosco brokered all the land and property acquisitions necessary to develop the site (he had to buy some people out)—which he coined in 2017 as “Venice North.” He was speaking about how early local establishments close after the sun goes down, and told the Weekly back then that “when the rest of the community rolls up their doormat,” his hope was that “everybody heads to Sand City.” The hotel will be a Marriott-branded Courtyard and Residence Inn, and its restaurant and bar will be centered around a courtyard with a pool area. What’s not yet clear is the timeline for the two-building, 356-unit residential complex on the property. The project has all the required approvals, all the subsurface infrastructure is in and it has all the necessary water available. What it needs now is a buyer to acquire and build it. The process could be a test case for how quickly development does or does not occur when the lack of water is not an obstacle. Red Light Seeking to abate a surge in sex work, Salinas officials look to nuisance law. By Celia Jiménez news Storm ready Rain and flood warnings are affecting the Central Coast this winter, and residents and visitors should be prepared for upcoming emergencies. The City of Carmel hosts a resilience forum. Attendees will learn how to plan and respond to winter storms and disasters and what the city is doing for emergency preparation. 10-11am Saturday, Jan. 6. Sunset Cultural Center, San Carlos Street at 9th Avenue, Carmel. Free. 620-2020, communityactivities@ci.carmel.ca.us. Color It In It’s fun to see colorful and meaningful murals in public spaces. The North County Recreation & Park District invites the public to weigh in at this community meeting to discuss an upcoming mural planned at the North County Recreation Center. 11am-noon Saturday, Jan. 6. North County Recreation Center, 11261 Crane St., Castroville. Free. 633-3084. Seeking Equity The League of Women Voters of Monterey County hosts a virtual talk titled “The Equal Rights Amendment—The Centennial and the Big Picture.” Activist and artist Zoe Nicholson leads the presentation. Attendees can expect to learn about the ERA’s history and Nicholson’s participation in a 37-day fast at the Illinois State Capitol in 1982. Noon Wednesday, Jan. 10. Free to attend; to request an invitation and link to participate, send an email to LWVmryco@gmail.com. Virtual event. More information at my.lwv.org/california/monterey-county. Safe Roads The City of Seaside is establishing a Local Road Safety Plan. Collision data and community input will be incorporated to address road safety needs across the city. At this workshop, learn about collision trends, see the proposed priority location list and learn about strategies to improve road safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. 6-7:30pm Thursday, Jan. 11. Oldemeyer Center, 986 Hilby Ave., Seaside. Free. 899-6700, ci.seaside.ca.us. Creating Memories Creating a scrapbook is a fun way to organize your treasured memories. Monterey County Free Libraries is starting a scrapbooking club, and all you need to do is bring your own photographs. Most materials will be provided. 4-5pm every Thursday starting on Jan. 4. San Lucas branch, 54692 Teresa St., San Lucas. Free. 286-6833, slcir@ co.monterey.ca.us, bit.ly/mocolibraries. Sand Castle After years of trying, Sand City is finally set to see a hotel built within its borders. By David Schmalz A woman wearing skimpy bottoms speaks to a driver on Roosevelt Street in Salinas. Residents say the presence of sex workers creates heavy traffic in the neighborhood. e-mail: publiccitizen@mcweekly.com TOOLBOX “[It’s] creating a horrible quality of life for our residents there.” Daniel Dreifuss

www.montereycountyweekly.com JANUARY 4-10, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 9

10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY January 4-10, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com At 88 years old, the Monterey County Fair and Event Center in Monterey has seen a lot of history. Fairs, of course, but also major national and international musical and cultural events —think Jimi Hendrix and other greats performing at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Music Festival and the long list of renowned jazz artists at the Monterey Jazz Festival. It’s also the site of personal life events like weddings, quinceañeras and anniversary parties. “Our event calendar is quite busy, which is great because that’s what keeps us afloat,” says Kelly Violini, CEO of the Fair. Rentals are the bread and butter of the fairgrounds, but that means wear and tear on aging facilities. Bringing in the possibility of creating more revenue while simultaneously upgrading the grounds prompted the Monterey County Fair Board and the fair’s Heritage Foundation to plan for a new 3,150-square-foot enclosed barn that will not only serve as home to beef and dairy cattle during the fair every Labor Day weekend, but also as a small yearround event center with an attached 1,000-square-foot patio and barbecue area. Last fall, the foundation launched a $1 million capital campaign to finance the barn that’s expected to cost about half that amount for construction. The other half is earmarked for renovating restrooms attached to the Monterey Room, at the western end of the fairgrounds, built in 1965. Other structures are also in need of renovation, but it’s an ongoing financial challenge. “It’s a 22-acre aging property. The State of California—even though it owns the property—we don’t receive any funds to make the improvements that are needed,” Violini says. During a budget shortfall in 2011, then-Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated all funding to fairgrounds throughout the state, at the time just $32 million out of a $120 billion budget. It forced fair boards to form foundations to raise money to replace what the state removed and has not replaced. The Monterey County Fair Board, an eight-member body appointed by the governor, has a list of priority improvements, “but there are things that get in the way, emergency things like broken water lines, the things that aren’t very pretty,” Violini says. Another priority is upgrading the central Payton Stage. “And then the big dog is the Pattee Arena for a full renovation, anywhere from $5 million to $10 million,” Violini adds. The Fair and Jazz Festival partnered together to win grant money which paid for a research study outlining all needed improvements, including the arena, home to the festival’s Jimmy Lyons Stage. Violini says they plan on working together this spring to write more grants for renovations. As of Dec. 31, the foundation had raised approximately $312,500 of the $1 million goal. It’s enough to move forward with the barn plans, Violini says. They are waiting on approval from the state by the end of January and construction could be completed by May 1. They’re hoping to renovate the restrooms by the end of 2024. Barn Raising The Monterey County Fair Board is seeking $1 million for a new cattle barn and restrooms. By Pam Marino Kelly Violini, CEO of the Monterey County Fair, stands where a new barn is proposed. It will replace old pole barns that were removed in 2019, near the eastern end of the fairgrounds. NEWS “Our event calendar is what keeps us afloat.” DANIEL DREIFUSS Our Mission: “To educate all children toward becoming conscientious, compassionate, and responsible citizens of the world.” APPLY NOW! ISM invites ALL families to apply now for the 2024–2025 school year. For more information and to apply, do one of the following: • Go online to ISMonterey.org/admission • Call ISM at 831-583-2165 between 8:30 AM and 2:30 PM on any school day • RSVP for a tour online. Tours are on campus on Friday mornings from 9:15-9:45, Wednesday mornings from 10:15-10:30, and Tuesday afternoons from 2:30-3:00 • Drop in during one of our community outreach sessions for help applying online. For days and times, go online to ISMonterey.org/admission • Come to our Open House on campus on Saturday, January 6, 2024 9:30 - 11:30AM ISM is... • Public and FREE! • Open for ALL students, with selection through a blind lottery • A charter school serving grades K-8 in Seaside • A community of diverse families representing ALL races, cultures, ethnicig ties, abilities and family income levels. • An international school supporting global perspectives • Project-based and driven by student inquiry • Focused on student character and developing the whole child ISM is accepting applications through January 31, 2024 at 5:00 p.m. Our Mission: “To educate all children toward becoming conscientious, compassionate, and responsible citizens of the world.” APPLY NOW! ISM invites ALL families to apply now for the 2024–2025 school year. For more information and to apply, do one of the following: • Go online to ISMonterey.org/admission • Call ISM at 831-583-2165 between 8:30 AM and 2:30 PM on any school day • RSVP for a tour online. Tours are on campus on Friday mornings from 9:15-9:45, Wednesday mornings from 10:15-10:30, and Tuesday afternoons from 2:30-3:00 • Drop in during one of our community outreach sessions for help applying online. For days and times, go online to ISMonterey.org/admission • Come to our Open House on campus on Saturday, January 6, 2024 9:30 - 11:30AM ISM is... • Public and FREE! • Open for ALL students, with selection through a blind lottery • A charter school serving grades K-8 in Seaside • A community of diverse families representing ALL races, cultures, ethnicig ties, abilities and family income levels. • An international school supporting global perspectives • Project-based and driven by student inquiry • Focused on student character and developing the whole child ISM is accepting applications through January 31, 2024 at 5:00 p.m. Showroom DiSplayS for Sale 70% OFF! Visit our showroom Monday-Friday 10am-4pm 26386 Carmel Rancho Lane, Suite 104, Carmel www.carmelkitchens.com P.S. We are NOT going out of business! 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www.montereycountyweekly.com JANUARY 4-10, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 11 montereysportscenter.org PURCHASE ONLINE! JANUARY SHAPE-UP JANUARY 1 THROUGH JANUARY 31 301 E. Franklin Street Monterey (831) 646-3730 20% OFF ALL PERSONAL TRAINING PACKAGES Apply at www.centcoastfcu.com, visit your local branch, or call us at (831) 393-3480 Big Become A Member Today and Access Your Home Equity NMLS# 786119 Become A Member Today And Access Your Home Equity A home equity line of credit (HELOC) can be an easy, affordable way to nance home improvement projects, so go ahead, Dream Big! Seaside: 4242 Gigling Rd. Salinas: 1141 S. Main St. Soledad: 315 Gabilan Dr. King City: 510 Canal St. DreamBig Ready to unlock the hidden value in your home? *Terms and conditions apply. Apply at www.centcoastfcu.com, visit your local branch, or call us at (831) 393-3480 Prioritize doing something fulfilling. Make time to do something impactful and life-changing. Prioritize being a CASA volunteer!

12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY january 4-10, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Fighting City Hall I think you are absolutely wrong about Luke Coletti (“One Pacific Grove councilmember is taking a wrecking ball to City Hall,” Dec. 28-Jan. 3). He asked questions of staff; he did not give orders. At least we have one councilman willing to ask questions and make inquiry before making decisions. He has my vote. Why don’t you apply for the city manager position? I imagine it pays better than the Weekly. And CalPERS is a wonderful benefit (have you planned for your senior years? A defined benefit pension will have you sleeping soundly at night.). Glen Grossman | via email I wish the Weekly would stop the cheap shots at P.G. City Councilmember Luke Coletti and do some serious reporting on the city’s government, I think you could change your biases and tone pretty quickly. You may not like Coletti’s inquisitiveness and determined questioning, but that’s exactly why a large majority of voters put him on the council. He has been effective. If well-paid government employees think of questions as “bullying” and not “accountability,” maybe they should try working in private businesses. Please take an honest look at the performances of some of the staff, including some of the former employees you seem to be championing. I think we need more Luke Colettis in our local government while we still have a Pacific Grove worth keeping. Thom Akeman | Pacific Grove We, the citizens of Pacific Grove, love our Luke Coletti! This latest dumb piece of journalism (?) about him “taking a wrecking ball to City Hall” is pure nonsense. What Luke DOES do is thoroughly examine and research all problems being addressed by the city, and call out mishandlings AND the “mishandlers.” He doesn’t stop investigating or pushing for solutions because someone’s feathers get ruffled. Thank you, Luke, for your factbased questioning, and your never-ending work for the best interests of our town. Your “vendetta” against our hero is wearing very thin. Diana Howell | Pacific Grove Why is the Weekly reporting on the repercussions of one councilmember’s aggressive behavior? Because it is costing the city LOTS of money and staff. Outside consultants and labor representatives agree. Coletti was recused from Ben Harvey’s job performance reviews due to his behavior, but was given a spot on the subcommittee to find a new city manager. He has complaints against him for his behavior with staff but is allowed to bring forward an ordinance that would allow him to continue his behavior. Even in the council meeting to present this ordinance, the mayor had to interrupt Coletti’s persistent questioning/interrogating of staff. What the Weekly is doing is sounding the alarm. This head-scratcher is a mirror to what is going on in our national politics today. I just hope enough residents are listening and will speak up. Colleen Ingram | Pacific Grove I have a great deal of respect for Luke Coletti. However, I would urge caution on this issue. I truly hope the Council will consult a law firm that has deep experience on employment law before locking this ordinance into place. Many of us have been in the untenable position of having too many bosses, and bosses with different styles. And bosses that are more or less versed in what distinguishes a hostile work environment. There is an assumption that “public servants” are somehow more beholden to their employers (the “public”) but they are also employees that are human beings who should be afforded all the considerations of fellow beings. We get it. Members of the Council want answers so they can make decisions. But asking lower-level employees to make determinations, perhaps requiring inordinate time and effort, is at root poor management of Human Resources. How is an employee to prioritize one council member’s inquiry over another? The “lines of authority” chart presented by Coletti illustrates the problem—a line from Council to staff. There is some merit to codifying the vague sentence in the City Charter, but this cake is still half-baked. Tom Hicks | Pacific Grove Slow Drip Thank you for your continuing reporting on local legal matters (“The drip continues in MPWMD’s efforts to buy out Cal Am,” posted Dec. 21). As a retired lawyer, I know how tedious and time-consuming reviewing court files can be. Keep up the good work. Jim Tarhalla | Corral de Tierra Mission Statement Thank you for this nice article about the California Mission Walker program (“Moved by faith, Bob Brunson walked 800 miles to visit 21 California missions,” Dec. 21-27). We are so fortunate to have historic missions in our county. Karen Jernigan | King City Bob is to be congratulated for raising awareness about a pilgrimage in our own backyard that tells the story of California by retracing the steps of those who came before us. Ronald Briery | Medford, Oregon In a Word I’ve contributed to your 101-word story contest in the past and have enjoyed reading the stories for years, but now I’m questioning the wisdom of my decision. The winner of this year’s contest took a jab at socialism by rewriting an old, distasteful political joke (“101-Word Short Story Contest 2023,” De. 21-27). Without America’s social programs, countless seniors would be homeless and living without access to medical care. With the current contentious political environment in this country, I find it deeply troubling that you would allow your 101-word contest to make such a divisive statement. Robert Feist | via email A Photo’s Worth… Best photographs ever! The wonders of nature AND of the mid-century engineering feats (“Looking back at 2023: The year in ETC photos,” posted Dec. 29). Happy New Year, Monterey County Weekly! Brita Ostrom | Big Sur 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 january 4-10, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 The violence that has happened in Israel and Gaza since Oct. 7, 2023 is unthinkably horrific. The ever-growing death toll has not abated. Suffering continues. And here in the United States, a polarizing division continues to frame the way people think about this war. The high-profile fallout continues daily, with the announcement on Jan. 2 that Harvard President Claudine Gay would resign after the university’s leadership faced criticism— including grilling at a congressional hearing—over its response to anti-semitisim on campus. The narrative that has run throughout almost all of this discourse since the day of Hamas’ brutal attack on Israelis has been compelling us to pick a side. The idea I insist on clinging to—that I am on the side of life and humanity, that people of different origins who call a place home should be able to do so peacefully—gets dismissed as naive in conversation. Yet it is, as far as I can see, the only viable option. As a local newsperson in Monterey County, I am not here to offer my policy provisions on how to get there—plenty of other thinkers can explain. All I know is that the sanctity of human life has been utterly ignored in the us-vs.-them narrative. There has been pressure on individuals and organizations to issue statements, articulating which side they support. (A local reader created an anonymous email address to ask me which side I was on, then disabled the email account before my response was delivered.) The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, a nonprofit that supports economic development in the tri-county region, issued a position statement on the IsraelHamas War on Dec. 12, more than two months after it began, in support of diversity. “Leaders here in the Monterey Bay region and beyond are appealing to our better natures, reminding us that we are better than our disagreements and perceived divisions. We are connected, all of us—on a neighborhood, community, regional, and global level—and it’s important to remember that challenging times needn’t be polarizing,” the statement read in part. “It’s these moments when we must lean into our humanity and advocate for each other.” I agree. If we cannot see each other’s humanity in a time of crisis, we reduce each other to enemy status. And MBEP’s statement is shocking for its neutrality and its choice to value life over picking a side in a foreign policy crisis. “Talking with each other, breaking bread, getting to know ‘the other’—that’s where the solution is,” says Tahra Goraya, MBEP’s president and CEO. “As leaders and individuals, we show up with multiple identities.” Well before this war began, Goraya was experiencing life with an identity as a Muslim American woman, visible to all thanks to the headscarf she wears. She is also a mom and a nonprofit executive. As a Muslim living in a minority-Muslim community, she and others like her were working to create community. Goraya and Lynn Bentaleb, whose children are Muslim, started a Facebook group called Monterey Bay Muslim Neighbors to give Muslim residents a place to share ideas and find camaraderie. They did so not related to a war, but last year during Ramadan, when kids in school reported teachers saying condescending things, showing they did not really understand what it meant for kids to celebrate the holiday. (“It’s about joy,” Bentaleb says, noting the narrative of deprivation doesn’t capture the occasion.) Part of the goal of their virtual group was to build community among themselves. From there, it follows that they would build community with others. Muslims and Jews and Christians and a list of people of faiths too long to list here all live in Monterey County. It’s up to us to figure out how to do so as a community where all are safe. The war continues unabated and people are dying every day. But I hope the polarizing intensity in our own community has faded. Gone are the days of considering county resolutions in solidarity with Israel—organizations can now issue statements in support of humanity. Perhaps we can start to demonstrate a model for peaceful coexistence in our own small, community-scale way. As MBEP put it, “Peace and safety fuel thriving economies, locally and globally.” If empathy doesn’t call to you, try economic self-interest—it’s what’s best for all of us. Sara Rubin is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at sara@mcweekly.com. One for All As war in Gaza continues, local leaders look for a way to say yes to life. By Sara Rubin Breaking Bread…Squid had a lovely New Year’s Eve in the lair, but it was nothing fancy, just a dinner with friends and then a bowl of shrimp-flavored popcorn, a good book and some reflection on the year gone by. One thing that made Squid smile was that on Dec. 14, Squid’s colleague crashed a party at the palatial home of Paul Bruno, head of local construction company Monterey Peninsula Engineering and vocal supporter of Cal Am, the investor-owned utility that serves water to the Peninsula’s taps. In fact, the party—which was ostensibly a Seaside Groundwater Basin Watermaster holiday affair—was co-sponsored by Bruno and Cal Am (both hold positions on the Watermaster board). There was valet parking, a wait staff serving hors d’oeuvres and Champagne, and two massive spreads of charcuterie and sushi. Upon arriving uninvited, Squid’s colleague quickly ran into people they knew—dozens of them, elected and not—grazing and drinking and talking, across enemy lines. For example, it was wild to see Rem Scherzinger, general manager of Marina Coast Water District, chopping it up with Kevin Tilden, head of Cal Am, while their respective employers are locked against each other in litigation. Bruno explains the point of the party, a December tradition: To bring people together who may have different views but that are all part of this community, and to maybe find out that if you remove this issue or that, they may have more in common than not. That’s a vibe we all need to carry into 2024—it’s gonna be a real one. For Rent…Squid is no math whiz, but Squid knows basic arithmetic. And Squid knows that 70 percent is equivalent to a C- grade. It’s certainly not what Squid would call “exceptionally high,” but that didn’t stop the marketing team behind The Dunes shopping center in Marina from sending a year-end push announcing plans for The Promenade in 2024. “Demand Exceptionally High,” they boasted. Exceptional, it turns out, means 70 percent of the retail space is accounted for—and that includes the Promenade’s anchor, the Cinemark Century Marina movie theater, already in operation at a massive 23,500 square feet. (Squid wore pink and went to see Barbie there on opening night in 2023.) Beer is slated to arrive this year in The Brass Tap, at 3,200 square feet. And a mysterious grocery store—identified as a “well-known specialty grocer not yet named”—is expected in a 12,500-square-foot spot. “This leaves just 12 retail units remaining in five buildings,” the chipper announcement reads. Just 12 units. That’s more businesses than Squid can run, even with 10 appendages to dip into the retail world. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. “We must lean into our humanity.” Send Squid a tip: squid@mcweekly.com

14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY January 4-10, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com California Dreaming Voters statewide will have a busy year at the ballot box to chart the future. By Dan Walters FORUM California enters the new year with its existential issues still unresolved, and a new one—an immense budget deficit—threatens to make dealing with them even more difficult. California has made little progress, if any, on its shortage of housing, or its levels of homelessness and poverty. Its population is declining as Californians decamp for other states. The Legislature’s budget analyst has calculated that California faces a $68 billion gap between revenue and already programmed spending over a three-year period that began in 2022. Annual deficits are in the $30 billion range thereafter. Next week, Gov. Gavin Newsom will quantify his version of the yawning gap and how he proposes to close it, touching off six months of negotiations with the Legislature on a 2024-25 budget. It will dominate election-year discourse in California and complicate Newsom’s simultaneous efforts to expand his national political image by portraying California as a model of compassionate and effective governance that should be emulated elsewhere. Newsom and other statewide officials will not be on the ballot this year, and it’s certain that Democrats will continue to enjoy supermajorities in both legislative houses. The big election year action will be on a spate of high-dollar ballot measures, particularly those that would affect how Californians are taxed. While it’s coincidental that tax issues are arising just as the state experiences one of its periodic budget deficits, the juxtaposition does give the campaigns for and against an added flavor. The most prominent tax measure, sponsored by the California Business Roundtable and other corporate groups, would make raising taxes more difficult. If passed, it would require voter approval of any state tax increases and increase voting thresholds for local taxes. Democrats and their allies, especially public employee unions, despise the measure, and the Legislature seeks to undermine it with a constitutional amendment— also on the November ballot—that would increase the required voting margin for measures that increase margins for taxes. In addition to those dueling propositions, a third measure, also placed on the November ballot by the Legislature, would lower the voting threshold for local taxes and bonds for infrastructure improvements. Having competing ballot measures on the same issue has become something of a trend in recent elections. Those, however, are just three of the propositions that could be placed before voters this year. Statewide voters will decide on at least a dozen measures in November. Competing interests could easily spend a quarter-billion dollars trying to persuade voters. Interestingly, and perhaps sadly, none of them will materially affect the aforementioned existential issues that have come to define California in the 21st century. The chances are that when Californians look back on 2024, those issues will be as depressing as ever. Dan Walters a columnist for CalMatters, where this story first appeared. OPINION Competing ballot measures has become a trend. Apply in person at Pebble Beach Human Resources Offices Monday – Friday 9A.M. – 4P.M. 2790 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach (Next to Pacific Grove Gate) Interviews on the spot These opportunities are for the period of January 29 – February 4, with most shifts February 1-4. Hiring for all areas Bartenders, bussers, barbacks, cashiers, cooks, purchasing clerks, servers, stewards, and many more! Special event applications will be available on-site. Questions: (831) 649-7657 Please come prepared to provide proof of employment eligibility. We are hiring for the AT&T Pebble Beach PRO-AM Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley, Inc. We provide more than just a meal… Nourishing & Nurturing Seniors Since 1972 Thank you for supporting our mission by donating thru

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16 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY january 4-10, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com In the Belly of the Beast There’s nothing like the Pacific and its golden kelp forest, glistening in the sun, according to Connor Gallagher, a Monterey diver and underwater video photography specialist, who was raised on the Atlantic coast.

www.montereycountyweekly.com january 4-10, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 17 It’s a sunny November day on Highway 1 between Carmel and Point Lobos. Monastery Beach to the west serves as a natural billboard, announcing: The adventure starts here. Welcome to the kingdom of the ocean. The Carmelite Monastery on the east side of the highway seems to praise not the Christian god, but Okeanos—the total river floating around the world, according to the Greeks. In the oldest known representations from the 6th century B.C., Okeanos holds a snake in one hand and a fish in another. His eyes are the color of water in Monterey Bay. Monastery Beach is as wild as it is serene. It has powerful waves and a treacherous bottom. It’s a steep beach, but it doesn’t look like one to the many families that stop their cars here, children charging toward wet turquoise that looks like a shimmering scarf from afar. It’s a legendary spot for divers, too, especially North Monastery Beach. But legendary also is the beach’s nickname—Mortuary Beach. At least 30 deaths have been recorded here; many more people have been rescued. This is the setting of Daniel Kraus’ novel Whalefall, published in August 2023, which became a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. “There,” says Monterey wildlife cameraman and diver Connor Gallagher. His dark hair is speeding in one direction, with the wind. “Do you see the end of the kelp forest?” He points at a distant washrock, where the ocean darkens. Kelp needs sunlight to grow, preferring shallower water. Therefore, there must be a serious, cold drop into open water where the kelp ends—deep into one of the fingers of the Monterey Submarine Canyon, the most studied submarine canyon in the world. Monterey Canyon is similar in height, depth and width to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Its steep walls measure over one mile from top to bottom. If Kraus’ story about a young diver swallowed by a sperm whale could happen, it could happen here. “Carmel Canyon, a finger of Monterey Canyon, comes really close to the north here,” Gallagher says. He’s wearing shorts and flip-flops despite the 55-degree weather, which makes it a bit more believable that he dives in this cold, wild water. “The drop is 2,000 feet,” he continues. “It quickly can go even deeper.” That would be the point of interaction with the whale. The interaction with the whale is an idea from the Bible and the idea central to a 2023 novel set right here, in this real place, where real people like Gallagher can imagine fiction actually happening. Daniel Kraus lives in Chicago. The body of his work counts 21 books, from graphic novels to young adult series and writing collaborations. Himself a director of six feature films, Kraus co-wrote The Living Dead with filmmaker George A. Romero. He worked alongside filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, co-writing a novel based on the 2017 movie The Shape of Water, after coming up with the idea for this Oscar-winning film. Children’s book Trollhunters, from 2015, was co-authored with del Toro and adapted into a Netflix animated series. “I typically write horror, or something horror adjacent,” he says. “I like taking something inexplicable and maybe horrible, and then making sense of it.” Whalefall fits the above definition, even though it’s a different kind of horror, a human horror of slow, claustrophobic death. That was the whole challenge of writing it—problem solving, down to the nitty-gritty of a hypothetical entrapment inside the largest toothed predator in the world. Jonah? Perhaps, but also David and Goliath. Also, it seems even less probable that a 17-year-old diver can quote from Dante’s Inferno, as Jay, the main character, does, than the possibility of being swallowed by a whale. The protagonist, Jay Gardiner, is 17. After his abusive father dies, Jay’s mother and sisters start therapy, but Jay hasn’t shed a tear yet. That’s the problem—how to go through grief that is mixed with anger? Instinctively, Jay organizes a dangerous and instant shock therapy for himself. He returns to Monterey, a place beloved by his father. There, his father taught him to dive. It was he who told Jay that when you die in the ocean, you bloat. He introduced him to John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row that he used to treat like the Bible. Whalefall is a diver’s book, in many ways, with short chapters and technical language. Kraus confirms that many A bestselling novelist chose Monastery Beach as the point of an unlikely diver-whale interaction. By Agata Pop˛eda “I like taking something inexplicable and maybe horrible, and then making sense of it.” Writer and filmmaker Daniel Kraus during his 2020 trip to Monterey, shortened by the coronavirus pandemic. Here, visiting Monastery Beach, the author of Whalefall is standing next to a danger sign. Courtesy of Daniel Krauss