january 11-17, 2024 montereycountyweekly.com LOCAL & INDEPENDENT Monterey Amberjacks’ future at bat 8 | The oldest band 24 | january is for mocktails 32 A surveyor’s journey to the Monterey Peninsula shines a light on 1861 culture and commerce. p. 16 By William H. Brewer Historic Series, Part III Grizzlies, Ruins and Pebble Beach
2 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY january 11-17, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com january 11-17, 2024 • ISSUE #1849 • Established in 1988 Michael Kohler (iPhone 14 Pro) Late afternoon sunlight filters through the incoming fog, as seen from the Rec Trail in Monterey near the Naval Postgraduate School. Monterey County photo of the week Send Etc. submissions to email@example.com; please include caption and camera info. On the cover: This photo, taken circa 1868, is believed to be the oldest photo of downtown Monterey. Cover Photos: Map: Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division Inset: Monterey County Historical Society’s Pat Hathaway Collection etc. Copyright © 2024 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: $300 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 firstname.lastname@example.org (x103) Publisher Erik Cushman email@example.com (x125) Editorial editor Sara Rubin firstname.lastname@example.org (x120) features editor Dave Faries email@example.com (x110) associate editor Tajha Chappellet-Lanier firstname.lastname@example.org (x135) Staff Writer Celia Jiménez email@example.com (x145) Staff Writer Pam Marino firstname.lastname@example.org (x106) Staff Writer Agata Pope¸da (x138) email@example.com Staff Writer David Schmalz firstname.lastname@example.org (x104) Staff photographer Daniel Dreifuss email@example.com (x140) MONTEREY COUNTY NOW PRODUCER Sloan Campi firstname.lastname@example.org (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 email@example.com (x108) Graphic Designer Kevin Jewell firstname.lastname@example.org (x114) Graphic Designer Alexis Estrada email@example.com (x114) Graphic Designer Lani Headley firstname.lastname@example.org (x114) SALES senior Sales Executive Diane Glim email@example.com (x124) Senior Sales Executive George Kassal firstname.lastname@example.org (x122) Senior Sales Executive Keith Bruecker email@example.com (x118) Classifieds business development director Keely Richter firstname.lastname@example.org (x123) Digital Director of Digital Media Kevin Smith email@example.com (x119) Distribution Distribution AT Arts Co. firstname.lastname@example.org Distribution Control Harry Neal Business/Front Office Office Manager Linda Maceira email@example.com (x101) Bookkeeping Rochelle Trawick firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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4 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY January 11-17, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com 831 It isn’t uncommon to see parents and their children at Mexican markets walking down the aisles speaking Mixteco, Triqui, Chatino or any of the other indigenous languages of Mexico. Many of them moved here seeking a better life for themselves and their families. For generations they have cultivated the land, and they continue to do so. But other tasks, such as getting a driver’s license, seeking medical care and interacting with a child’s teachers are not as routine for those who don’t also speak English or Spanish. Three decades ago, leaders from Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales, a binational organization based in California, founded El Centro Binacional Para El Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño—or The Binational Center for Oaxacan Indigenous Development— with a broad goal of supporting and empowering such communities. “They saw a lot of injustices around the health system,” explains Sarait Martinez, CBDIO’s executive director. “We have stories of people who were sent to jail because who didn’t speak the language, who suffered discrimination, that were not treated right.” The organization offers a range of services, including translation, as well as the interpretation of documents on topics such as immigration, legal services, labor rights and health care. Volunteers work with local facilities like Santa Rita Unified School District and Natividad Hospital to aid understanding. They also organize civic participation groups and cultural workshops. CBDIO accomplishes this through some 30 people working in four offices in three counties—Monterey, Madera and Fresno. Combined, the team is fluent in six indigenous languages and 13 unique variants of Mixtec, Zapotec, Tlapaneco, Amuzgo, Chatino and Triqui. During the pandemic, CBDIO’s services stood out. They created videos to inform the community about Covid-19, available resources and vaccination programs. During this time, the organization distributed $4.5 million in aid and opened a location in Salinas. Since then, the group has been active in Salinas. CBDIO has encouraged parents to speak at City Council and SRUSD meetings. Concerned parents demanded better signage and lights outside of Santa Rita Elementary School. Parents also voiced concerns about bullying and discrimination, resulting in the creation of a Mixteco after-school program run by CBDIO. Carlos De la Cruz, a Mixteco farmworker, was one parent who spoke up at the meetings. De la Cruz says his 7-year-old daughter, Ana Lucia, faced bullying and that he feels more comfortable that the school will have trilingual workers to help the kids and the parents. Martinez says the goal of the Mixteco after-school program is to create a sense of belonging and pride. “I arrived here, and I didn’t have enough resources,” says Maricela Ramirez Rivera, a CBDIO Mixteco interpreter, adding that when she moved to the U.S., she wished for the same level of support. “I didn’t know where to go and when you go [ask for help] people look down on you.” Ramirez Rivera says she now feels proud whenever she helps someone or when people get involved in the community. “It’s a significant achievement because you don’t see a lot of indigenous people going to the council.” When the organization started, most workers were bilingual. Now they also have trilingual staff. Having English speakers on board has extended CBDIO’s presence in the broader community. Meanwhile, they have added training on labor and human rights, and they continue to organize cultural events like la Gueleguetza, an annual celebration. In December, CBDIO celebrated its 30th anniversary in Fresno. A second celebration is planned on Thursday, Jan. 11 in Salinas at the CSU Monterey Bay @ Salinas City Center. Translators Maricela Ramirez Rivera and Teresa Merino Ruiz contributed to this report. CBDIO is located at 921 S Main St., Suite B, Salinas (2562942) and 140 El Camino Real, Greenfield (856-8004). For more information, visit centrobinacional.org. Removing Barriers A local organization helps immigrants who speak indigenous languages, in Monterey County and beyond. By Celia Jiménez Salinas CBDIO staff, from left to right (back row): Clarisa Reyes-Becerra, Estela Martinez Vargas, Estela Hernandez Martinez, Teresa Merino Ruiz, Maricela Ramirez Rivera; front row: Yesica Guzman Rodriguez, Aracely Merino Merino and Graciela González Reyes. “When you ask for help, people look down on you.” TaLES FrOM THE arEa CODE CELIA JIMÉNEZ 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!
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6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY January 11-17, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH We know that protest is clearly protected as free speech by the U.S. Constitution. A standard-issue feature of protests are signs that read, “Honk if you support __.” It’s a way to amplify the message. Only problem: Such honking is illegal in California, where vehicle code prohibits using a car horn for any purpose other than ensuring safe operation of a vehicle. David Loy, now legal director at First Amendment Coalition, was legal director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties in 2017, when Susan Porter was ticketed for honking her horn in solidarity with a protest. In 2018, ACLU challenged the law on Porter’s behalf, but lost in the district court and again at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. In November, FAC filed a request asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the matter, with implications for 41 states with similar bans. “We live in a politically charged climate, where all kinds of noise— shouting, singing, cheering and yes, horn-honking— are part of civil discourse,” Loy wrote. “We’re not saying anyone should be allowed to honk their horn at any time at any volume. We’re saying the government can’t ban the use of horns for self-expression.” Good: The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History celebrates 140 years of existence and its beloved icon, Sandy, the life-size gray whale sculpture created by artist Larry Foster. Through February, guests can enjoy a temporary exhibit highlighting people and events over the past century-and-a-half. Among the historical characters featured in the exhibit is Sandy. For decades, Pacific Grove residents have enjoyed climbing on or taking photos with the whale statue, which has rested in front of the building on Central Avenue for over 40 years. The museum has an array of events leading up to Sandy’s birthday all about whales and whale migrations: an animal camp (Jan. 15), a lecture on whales by local author James Dorsey (Jan. 20) and “Science on Tap” with brews from Peter B’s (Jan. 25). The celebrations will culminate with Sandy’s birthday party: a free “Science Saturday” event 10am-3pm Sat. Jan. 27. GREAT: While New Year’s resolutions might still be on your mind, they are also front and center for the City of Salinas. With $300,000 allocated by City Council in the 2023-24 budget process, a judging panel has decided on six community-based organizations to receive prevention and wellness grants this year. The grantees are César Chávez Fútbol Academy, which provides mentoring and coaching to 70 teen soccer players; California Youth Outreach, focused on reducing recidivism and gang activity for youth; Harmony at Home, which offers bullying prevention programs; YWCA Monterey County, which offers therapy and other services to survivors of domestic violence; Community Homeless Solutions, which provides drug and alcohol counseling to unhoused adults suffering from addiction; and Youth Orchestra Salinas, which has a new mariachi band. Each group received $40,000-$60,000. GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY Hospital admissions for flu in California the week of Dec. 29-Jan. 5, a 6-percent decrease from the previous week. In the same time period there were 3,122 hospital admissions for Covid, a 2-percent decrease. Source: California Department of Public Health 1,593 QUOTE OF THE WEEK “Leaving this position comes with a heavy heart.” -Salinas Police Chief Roberto Filice in a resignation letter submitted on Jan. 5. He is leaving after a little over two years on the job for the East Bay Regional Park District (see story, mcweekly.com). We are pleased to announce that Communications Systems Specialist, Jacob Newman and Coach Operator, Omarr Wilson have been selected as MST’s Employees of the Year for 2023. On October 11, 2023, while working in the Communications Center, Jacob received a call from a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer reporting an unconscious and unresponsive passenger on Line 23 as reported by another passenger onboard. Jacob calmly and efficiently coordinated with the CHP officer to identify the bus and its location while simultaneously directing Operator Wilson to pull the bus over at a safe location and apprising him of the situation. After safely pulling over, Operator Wilson assessed the unconscious passenger’s vital signs before public safety officers and medical responders arrived. Recognizing the gravity of the situation while responders were on scene, Operator Wilson calmly cleared the coach of passengers to ensure the needed space for the rescue. Additionally, Operator Wilson assisted an elderly, mobility-impaired passenger off the bus and ensured that all customers experiencing delays received extended transfers, avoiding additional fare charges later in their journey. Thanks to the professionalism and quick actions of Jacob and Omarr, public safety and emergency medical responders arrived promptly and quickly delivered lifesaving treatment to the passenger in need. Congratulations to Jacob Newman and Omarr Wilson for their outstanding dedication and teamwork, which exemplify the values and commitment of MST’s employees. Connecting communities. Creating opportunity. Being kind to our planet. Congratulations 2023 Employees of the Year EmplOyEEs Of thE mONth JANUARY Lori Lee FEBRUARY Mago Rodriguez MARCH Marzette Henderson APRIL Matthew Deal MAY Navin Nischal JUNE Francisco Castillo and Alejandra Chavarin JULY Manuel Garcia Villareal AUGUST Yohana Reyes SEPTEMBER Renaldo Hernandez OCTOBER Vince Dang NOVEMBER Omarr Wilson and Jacob Newman DECEMBER Aventor Kubulan Jacob Newman systems specialist Omarr Wilson Coach Operator
www.montereycountyweekly.com JANUARY 11-17, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 7 Apply Today! From a House to a Home Turn your house into your perfect home with a Home Equity Line of Credit. 831.479.6000 or toll-free at 888.4BAYFED, ext. 304 www.bayfed.com/HomeLoans 1524 N. Main Street | Salinas Federally Insured by NCUA | Equal Housing Lender 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 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
8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY january 11-17, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com news The 2024 Pecos League baseball schedule has a noticeable absence. For the first time since the independent minor league established its Pacific Division, the Monterey Amberjacks will not be taking the field. Pecos League owner Andrew Dunn and the City of Monterey could not come to an agreement on a contract renewal, with insurance requirements and security among the reported sticking points. “From our side, we need to make sure everything is insured,” explains City Manager Hans Uslar. “It’s a little cumbersome, I get it. We’re looking to get this accomplished by 2025.” Dunn also indicated that the league would be open to returning to Sollecito Ballpark in the future. Monterey was one of the original Pacific Division squads when the league expanded in 2017. “This is not [a city] we would like to leave,” Dunn says. “But we have to move forward.” According to Dunn, after the initial five-year contract expired at the end of the 2023 season, he received notice the city was not going to renew the agreement as it stood. The city said negotiations were ongoing. On Nov. 14, however, Dunn issued a statement announcing an end to the Amberjacks. Among Dunn’s complaints are the limited availability of the ballpark, which is used by city recreational leagues—the Amberjacks could only play home games on weekend evenings—and the fact that the league could not operate a food concession stand. Uslar remains optimistic about the return of minor league baseball to Monterey. “It is exciting to have a pro team,” he says. “It’s January—we can still be flexible.” The team finished 31-18 in its final campaign. No ’Jacks City Monterey Amberjacks drop from the schedule, but both city and league hope for a return. By Dave Faries Last summer, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors was eager to usher in a new era of management of the county-owned Laguna Seca Recreation Area. They voted 5-0 on July 18 to approve a concession agreement with nonprofit Friends of Laguna Seca for up to 55 years, if the concessionaire meets certain obligations and invests millions of dollars into the track along the way to 2078. The vote was met with applause. But the first set of conditions— those that are required to be met before the concession agreement takes effect—have not been met, despite the approved agreement being set to begin on Jan. 1, 2024. Management of the track continues by A&D Narigi LLC. “We’re still running as we always have,” Laguna Seca spokesperson Barry Toepke says. “It took longer dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s [than anticipated].” He’s referring to conditions of approval included in the county’s contract with Friends. Those include: Friends depositing $6 million into the bank; sign-off from the U.S. Department of Interior, due to the old Army deed; and a financial statement both the county and Friends agree to. The contract states that if conditions are not met, the parties have 90 days to work it out or terminate the agreement. The Board of Supervisors has several times discussed negotiations with Friends of Laguna Seca in recent weeks in closed-session meetings. Ross Merrill, president of the nonprofit, did not respond to the Weekly’s request for comment. Meanwhile, the contract also faces a challenge in court. On Dec. 12, the Highway 68 Coalition filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to block the concession agreement from taking effect. (Friends attorney Jason Retterer says the suit has donors nervous about committing money, hence the organization has yet to meet its $6 million obligation.) Regardless of who operates the track—A&D, Friends, the county itself or some other entity—the plaintiffs claim the volume of racing events, and associated traffic and noise, are a violation of the county’s zoning ordinance. The case hinges on exactly how much track activity—a non-conforming use of the property—is grandfathered in. “What they’re proposing is in excess of historical use,” argues Alexander Henson, representing the Highway 68 Coalition. The parties appeared in Monterey County Superior Court on Jan. 9 to discuss next steps in the case and the scope of what documents need to be produced to litigate exactly what does or doesn’t constitute historical use. “From the county’s perspective, we are asking to get this cleared up so we can continue operations at Laguna Seca, which is a large operation, and doesn’t need this cloud hanging over it,” Deputy County Counsel Michael Whilden said. “Many of us are cautiously optimistic we might be able to come up with some kind of rapprochement with [the Highway 68 Coalition],” says County Supervisor Mary Adams, whose district includes Laguna Seca. “It’s a precious gem and I don’t think it’s ever been properly managed, and that saddens me.” The 2024 event calendar kicks off with the Sea Otter Classic April 18-24, then the Trans Am series, IMSA race and Ferrari challenge in May. A new bridge at Laguna Seca was built in 2023, part of $18.4 million in improvements paid for by the county. A site plan from Friends of Laguna Seca remains TBD. Off Track A nonprofit was set to take over management of Laguna Seca Jan. 1, but the contract remains in limbo. By Sara Rubin Action during the Amberjacks’ second season of Pecos League play in 2018. The team shared Monterey’s Sollecito Ballpark with city Parks & Recreation leagues. “I don’t think it’s ever been properly managed.” Daniel Dreifuss nic coury
www.montereycountyweekly.com JANUARY 11-17, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 9 HAPPY HOUR SUNDAY BREAKFAST 4PM TO 6PM LATE NIGHT 9PM TO 10PM 9:30AM TO 11AM Catch all your favorite teams on 18 HDTV’s LOCATED BEHIND THE PORTOLA HOTEL & SPA | COMPLIMENTARY PARKING (831) 649-2699 | PETERBSBREWPUB.COM VOTED BEST SPORTS BAR BY MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY READERS! • Tire Rotation & Air Pressure Check • Test Battery, Starter, & Alternator • Clean Battery Terminal • Inspect All Bulbs • Inspect All Belts & Hoses for Cracks • Inspect All Fluids Levels (excludes oil) • Test Heating System • Inspect 4WD & AWD System (if applicable) • Suspension Check • Test Drive New Years Deal $87 Winter Special *Most vehicles. Cannot combine with any other offer. Some restrictions may apply. Additional diagnostics not included. Must present coupon at check-in. Limited time only. 831-230-0910 1730 The Mall | Seaside SullivansAutoService.com Prevention, Education, Treatment & Recovery serving youth, adults and families in Monterey County, San Benito County & San Luis Obispo County Recognize the signs and learn to take action when a drug-related overdose happens. Support youth prevention services www.SunStreetCenters.org Fentanyl is the single deadliest drug impacting youth and families. Make your voice heard. Speak up for youth in foster care.
10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY january 11-17, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com In May 2022, Paul Sciuto, general manager of Monterey One Water, was under his house building a shed when he got a call from Brent Buche, then-general manager of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency. As Sciuto recalls it, Buche said something to the effect of, “The growers need water, now.” Monterey One Water, aka M1W, operates two water recycling projects known as Pure Water Monterey (PWM) and the Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project (CSIP), the latter of which was launched in 1992 after growers recognized that seawater intrusion into groundwater posed an existential threat to those growing crops along the coast (the project started delivering water in 1998). It’s a problem created by overpumping, as seawater inches inland—underground—to fill the vacuum, making the water unusable for irrigation. 2022 was a drought year—and it came after an even drier 2021—so ag fields were more parched than usual. Sciuto put out the word to M1W staff: Stop diverting water into Pure Water Monterey and start putting it toward CSIP, even though at the time Pure Water Monterey had a right to that water. “It seemed like the right thing to do,” Sciuto says. Did Sciuto get flowers from growers, thanking him for the help in irrigating their fields? “No, I got yelled at the whole year by people saying I was stealing water,” Sciuto says. “I cannot find a place where we stole water, but I found places where we gave [growers] some. Could my board have yelled at me and said, ‘Why are you giving water away?’ Yes. But if it happened today, I would still make the same decision.” Such is the line M1W walks every year as it both fills its contractual obligations and strives to do right by the community. There has been a lot of concern and, sometimes, misinformation surrounding Pure Water Monterey in recent years, as ag interests and Cal Am desal proponents argue that the project is taking water meant for growers, and that it’s not “drought-proof.” Part of that stems from the fact that the expansion of PWM, still underway, was concurrent with recent dry years when growers wanted more water than CSIP could deliver, as increasing water conservation means less water down drains. The latest salvo came in a Jan. 5 letter to M1W and MCWRA from Nancy Isakson and Christopher Bunn, presidents of the Salinas Valley Water Coalition and Salinas Basin Water Alliance, respectively. It asks for a detailed accounting of the source of waters flowing into M1W’s operation, and where the water goes that flows out of it. A chief concern expressed in the letter is that the agreements M1W has made with MCWRA to provide CSIP with water will be honored in perpetuity—as required in the agreement, MCWRA is entitled to all the treated wastewater it needs, but only if that water is available. And due to conservation, the available water has slowly been decreasing over time—there’s less water going down drains. As far as Pure Water Monterey not being drought-proof, that’s only true if, as Sciuto puts it, there are, say, 10 drought years in a row. If that happens, “We have a lot of problems all over the place.” Growers need water in drier months, which is when M1W ramps up its delivery to the project. In wetter months, that water is diverted to PWM, which is then injected into the Seaside Basin to be used when there’s demand for it. The PWM expansion is utilizing winter flows that would otherwise go out to sea. Water conservation is a reality that’s not changing, but the irony—if one can call it that—is the PWM expansion, theoretically, could increase the water going to growers in drier months. (CSIP has first right of refusal to most municipal wastewater; from fall to spring, those waters are mostly diverted to Pure Water Monterey.) The expansion of PWM could theoretically compel the state to lift the cease-and-desist order against Cal Am for overpumping the Carmel River, which in turn would facilitate new water connections on the Peninsula, which would create more water going down the drain—and therefore to CSIP—in the summer months. To date, Sciuto says CSIP has provided about 312,000 acre feet of water to 12,000 acres since 1998—water that would otherwise have been pumped from a critically overdrafted groundwater basin. Ara Azdherian, MCWRA’s general manager, thinks concern stems from a few things. One is a fear that historic users of water, or those who have primary rights to use it, will be edged out. Another is in the accounting of the source waters; there is a delta between what M1W says and what MCWRA and Cal Am say, per filings with the California Public Utilities Commission, and a concern that M1W’s assessment of supply falls short. “I don’t think this is about blame or disparagement,” Azdherian writes by email. “Rather, growers’ requests for source supply information is more about transparency, accountability, and an assessment of risk.” The Peninsula could get all the water it needs by recycling its own water—46 percent of the municipal wastewater flowing into M1W treatment plants come from the Cal Am or Marina Coast Water District service areas, totaling around 8,700 acre feet annually. That’s more than enough to supply PWM with 5,750 acre-feet annually and 600 for Marina Coast, per signed agreements. Curtain Call Recycled water to supply Peninsula raises eyebrows from Salinas Valley growers. By David Schmalz news Bloody Good Idea The American Red Cross is encouraging residents to fold up their sleeves and donate blood to replenish the blood bank. 9am-1pm Friday, Jan. 12 at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1024 Noche Buena St., Seaside. 9am-1pm Tuesday, Jan. 16 at St. Mary’s by-theSea Episcopal Church, 146 12th St., Pacific Grove. Free. redcross.org/giveblood.html. language learned An eight-week class for adults on English as a Second Language features conversation, short readings and dictation, among other activities. 5:30-7pm every Thursday from Jan. 11-Feb. 29. King City branch of Monterey County Free Libraries, 402 Broadway Ave., King City. Free. 8837597, catalog.emcfl.org. Serve your city A great way to get involved in your community is by signing up for a local board, committee or commission. The City of Monterey has several vacancies, including on the Parks and Recreation Commission and Disabled Access Appeals Board, and is encouraging residents to apply. Priority review for applicants who submit their application by noon on Monday, Jan. 22. Apply online bit. ly/3tD8N2V or in person at City Hall, 580 Pacific St., Monterey. Free. 6463935, monterey.org/bcc. Pet fund SCAR, a South County animal rescue organization, is partnering with Salinas City BBQ to raise funds. A percentage of lunch and dinner sales will be donated to the nonprofit. Lunch and dinner on Thursday, Jan. 11. Use SCAR code while purchasing online at salinascitybbq.com or show a SCAR flyer (bit.ly/3vo46dA) at the restaurant. 525-5160, scar.pet. Open Registry The City of Monterey’s new rental inventory is now open for enrollment from all residential rental property owners. All are required to register, or request an exemption. Jan. 1- March 1 is the initial registration period. $50/per unit. For more information, call 646-3995 or visit monterey.org/rentalinventory. Play Time The City of Salinas wants to hear from residents on their preferred playground concept for Northgate Park. There are three options to choose from and cast your vote. Survey closes on Monday, Jan. 15. To vote in English, visit tinyurl.com/ ngparksurvey; to vote in Spanish, visit tinyurl.com/ngparksurvey. Free. 7587306, email@example.com. M1W General Manager Paul Sciuto pictured with the Pure Water Monterey system, one of two recycled water projects operated by M1W. The other, CSIP, serves agriculture. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org TOOLBOX “If it happened today, I would still make the same decision.” Daniel Dreifuss
www.montereycountyweekly.com January 11-17, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 11 The State of California and five cities—including Salinas and King City—are working to save hundreds of Homekey apartments from foreclosure, due to a developer who the state says improperly took out third-party loans on seven properties. That developer, Shangri-La Industries, is now defaulting on those loans, endangering the fate of projects meant to house people experiencing homelessness. On Monday, Jan. 8, the California Attorney General’s Office, working on behalf of the Department of Housing and Community Development, filed a lawsuit against Shangri-La and its nonprofit partner that provides supportive services to tenants, Step Up on Second Street. Also named as defendants are the five cities where projects are located, as well as the financial institutions that loaned Shangri-La money. The cities applied for Homekey grants, provided to the state through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, with over $100 million going directly to ShangriLa for the purchase and rehabilitation of hotels, according to court documents. In addition to suing for breach of contract, HCD is asking the court for an order of “quieting and conforming title,” meaning that, if granted, the state would be recognized as a title owner of the properties. HCD is also asking that the deeds remain restricted to either 10, 15 or 55 years for supportive housing per original contracts and is suing Shangri-La, Step Up and loan companies for fraud because they allegedly entered into loans without prior written consent from HCD. It’s asking the court for all the grant money back. Shangri-La officials did not respond to requests for comment. In interviews with other news outlets, they blamed the state for not providing funds in a timely manner. HCD officials pushed back in a written statement: “The difficulties [Shangri-La] find themselves in are of their own making. HCD will continue to make every effort to ensure Homekey dollars go toward housing individuals experiencing homelessness, and not enriching developers.” Tod Lipka, president and CEO of Step Up, did respond, saying they are “surprised and devastated with the problems at Shangri-La” and the impacts on Homekey properties. Step Up has been providing services since November 2020 at the first Homekey project in Monterey County, in Salinas. Two other Salinas Homekey projects are now on hold. In King City, where Shangri-La was supposed to rehabilitate a hotel to house people previously living near the Salinas River, those people are being housed by the city in a different location at least until June, with Step Up providing services, according to Mayor Mike LeBarre. Salinas Mayor Kimbley Craig says her city is banding together with King City and three other impacted Southern California cities “doing whatever we can to, one, preserve the projects, but two, protect ourselves from the defaults of Shangri-La.” The goal is to preserve the needed housing. Big Mess The state and cities fight to save units meant for those without homes after a developer defaults. By Pam Marino King City Mayor Mike LeBarre in March 2022, shortly after the state announced it was providing $12.4 million for purchase of the Days Inn. The project is now on hold due to developer Shangri-La’s issues. NEWS “The difficulties are of their own making.” DANIEL DREIFUSS Sun - Thurs 12pm– 8pm Fri & Sat 12pm – 8:30pm 720 BROADWAY AVE. SEASIDE Call 831-899-1762 to order DINE IN / TAKEOUT / DELIVERY Great Dough Great Pizza is Thin crust & Sourdough pizzas Salads & Calzones • Pasta • Subs Draft beer on tap • Wine • Dessert Serving handmade pizzas with fresh, quality ingredients At The Oven, we believe Try Us First. We Pay The Highest! MONTEREY COIN SHOPPE Since 1970 same street for 40 years Open Mon-Fri 11am-4pm Call for an appointment: 831.646.9030 449 Alvarado St., Monterey www.montereycoinshoppe.com WE BUY Gold and SilvEr, JEWElrY, CoinS, diamondS, WatChES, art & rarE antiqUES italian sport coats outerwear jackets shirts sweaters denim carmel-by-the-sea, carmel plaza 831.625.8106 • khakisofcarmel.com selected sport coat reductions new arrivals
12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY january 11-17, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Truth to Power Thank you for your reporting (“One Pacific Grove councilmember is taking a wrecking ball to City Hall,” Dec. 28-Jan. 3). I appreciate that the Weekly is standing firm in the facts of this matter. There are a couple of elected officials within Pacific Grove who act as if they are beyond reproach, though their actions deserve public scrutiny. The others are complicit in the overreach through their silence. Please continue to hold our council accountable. John Mothershead | Pacific Grove Thank you for your continued investigations into the issues with Pacific Grove City Council. It is well documented in the recorded council meetings that some of the elected officials have issues with the city staff. Choose any meeting in 2023 to see the staff being treated with disdain. We have residents that think Coletti is the “savior” of Pacific Grove (“Letters,” Jan. 4-10). We have other residents that feel Mr. Coletti is a manipulator and an entitled bully. My guess is the truth lies somewhere in the middle, as it always does. I have personally witnessed hostile treatment of the former city manager and staff in some council meetings by Mr. Coletti. In my 40 years of working and volunteering, I have never heard an authority figure speak to another colleague or subordinate that way. It was rude, inconsiderate and bordered on bullying. If any of my managers spoke to me like that, I would go directly to HR and file a complaint citing a hostile work environment. Staff and City Council should be a team, working together for the City of Pacific Grove. There is no reason to berate another human for not being able to read your mind. Communication is a twoway street and the manner of communication has been inappropriate and unprofessional. Coletti has become a liability to Pacific Grove. Other members of the City Council and the mayor are complicit in allowing the harassment to continue. He does not treat people with respect and is costing the taxpayers a lot of money. Bottom line, he should be asked to resign or, at the very least, announce he will not run for re-election in 2024. Mary Walker | Pacific Grove Without an ordinance for a council code of conduct with consequences to such action, there will be no check in place for this situation. Councilmember Luke Coletti has also been known to bully constituents who challenge him. I speak from firsthand experience. Others that have been mistreated are reluctant to speak out. Coletti is driven and works hard, but this isn’t a good match. It’s honestly dangerous when power is used this way, and we as residents must be willing to take some action to change it. How much are we willing to overlook? We can make progress without stepping on people. Not only does Coletti need to step down, but the city needs to codify consequences to this behavior. Thank you, Weekly. Colleen Ingram | Pacific Grove Ride On Interesting idea (“A gap in the Rec Trail might finally get closed – as long as it keeps room for trains,” Dec. 28-Jan. 3). I ride the bike path several times a week and don’t have a problem with the current Sand Dunes Drive alignment (though it would be great if the city did a better job of promptly removing sand after storms). It would probably be better for Sand City and Seaside residents to help connect to the coastal parts of the trail. That said, the trail along the dunes is much more scenic and pleasant than being sandwiched between auto shops and warehouses. Josh Warburg | Seaside Democracy FTW The third anniversary of Jan. 6 is a solemn reminder that we cannot take our fundamental freedoms for granted, including our right to vote and choose our leaders (“Looking back— and ahead to the next election—on the third anniversary of Jan. 6,” posted Jan. 5). Despite the fact that Donald Trump is facing charges for inciting the insurrection and conspiring to overturn the will of voters in 2020, he is still running for president. Too much is at stake for the American people to allow Trump to take back power. Trump is desperately seeking a second term in the hopes of avoiding accountability for his crimes by pardoning himself, and he and his allies are already plotting to weaponize the Department of Justice against his enemies. After seeing how far Trump was willing to go on Jan. 6, we should take all of his threats seriously. Preserving our democracy takes work—and this year, we must all do our part. It’s up to all of us to ensure they do not return to power. Susan Whitney | Salinas Home price I too believe my house is a “Poster House” for an 85-percent reduction in property tax (“The Carmel City Council puts the brakes on a property tax break for a wealthy landowner. Jan. 4-10). I promise to inject those savings back into our local bars and breweries! Christopher Hauswirth | via social media Outdoors for All Thank you for your article (“Latino Outdoors has a new, local chapter that brings novice adventurers closer to nature,” Dec. 28-Jan. 3). The trails are meant for everyone to enjoy. Barbara Dieterle | via email Weather report I’m from metro Boston and I’m with you! (“Monterey County makes for easy dreams for the New Year,” posted Jan. 2.) Transitioning here and coming to accept the tragic loss of autumn I am finally fine with it. You are absolutely right, suiting up like that every day is for the birds! And I remember that ice storm! Everything covered in ice is so spooky and scary with trees still with leaves on it and power lines. Thanks for the memories! Kate Bergam | Salinas Your intro made me laugh, because I’ve lived nearly all my long life near or at the Pacific coast. Your good-natured description of real life somewhere else seemed very amusing. I know it isn’t. Thank you for reminding us superlucky people who live here that life is not idyllic everywhere. Marilyn Brown | Pacific Grove Letters • CommentsOPINION Submit letters to the editor to email@example.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 11-17, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 It was one year ago that all of us got a crash course in learning how to read hydrological tables on river levels. There was the potential for “Monterey Peninsula Island,” with bridge access cut off. There were intermittent evacuation warnings and orders at various points along the Pajaro, Salinas and Carmel rivers. Everyone was on edge, but some of the worst predictions never came to pass, or if they did, they came with plenty of warning. “This is a slow-moving event,” Sheriff Tina Nieto said on Jan. 12, 2023. But the rain continued. Just after midnight on Saturday, March 11, the Pajaro River levee broke 2.9 miles upstream from Pajaro. It was a fast-moving emergency as roads, homes and businesses flooded, and the National Guard was called in, among other agencies, to assist with rescuing people, as staff reporter Celia Jiménez reported. For some evacuees, it was deja vu—they remember floods in 1998 and 1995. The levee system, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1949, had failed before then, too—its first of repeated failures came just six years after construction, in 1955, as staff writer David Schmalz has reported. That we knew catastrophic flooding was coming for Pajaro again is by now old news. What is different is the question of how much impacted residents, property owners and business owners are entitled to in damages, and who should pay those damages—which are destined to be increasingly present questions in this era of climate crisis. As the Weekly reported in July, some 800 Pajaro Valley plaintiffs are seeking legal recourse. They filed a claim in June, and followed up with a lawsuit filed on Dec. 22 in Monterey County Superior Court against seven government agencies: the counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz; the State of California; the City of Watsonville; Caltrans; the Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency; and Santa Cruz County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. (The lawsuit also addresses flooding on the north side of the river, in Santa Cruz County.) The suit focuses not on the Army Corps’ failure to build a new project—that was authorized 58 years ago, in 1966—but alleges failures to maintain existing infrastructure. “It’s a product of California having a decentralized system of regulating water channels. We have an aging water infrastructure,” says Shant Karnikian, an attorney with the Los Angelesbased firm Kabateck LLP, which is representing the plaintiffs, and also has similar cases in Merced and Tulare counties. “There is a lack of clarity as to who’s responsible for what.” The lawsuit alleges specific failures by agencies, claiming negligence for things like improperly designed culverts, drains and roads. The lawsuit also argues that ineffective vegetation clearing in the riverbed contributed to flooding. This is a message I’ve heard elsewhere—and it raises broader questions about how a river should be treated. Is it a river that changes course depending on the flow, or a channel we can control? I asked Miles Reiter, the former CEO of Driscoll’s, about the 2023 flooding, which he said was a repeat of 1995. The big difference this time, he says, was the outpouring of public concern: “In ’95 it got totally ignored,” he says. “It was dramatically different this time. But the real issue is a battle that’s been going on for at least 40 years, on how the river bed should be managed. I don’t think it needs to be scorched earth, but it’s a mess.” That idea, that a riverbed thick with willow trees and wildlife is “a mess,” is a common framing among advocates of rigorous channel maintenance—and channel maintenance is often a euphemism for cutting down trees. There are obvious tradeoffs there. In November, Schmalz reported on a momentous signing of agreements to get the Army Corps project finally moving along. But meanwhile, more immediate repair needs remain unfinished. In December, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and Monterey County Water Resources Agency sent a letter to federal officials urging the Army Corps to speed up repairs to segments of the levee impacted in 2023: “Any storm system this winter that elevates river water levels…jeopardizes the protection of life and property adjacent to the Pajaro River in those locations.” Sara Rubin is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. After the Flood Hundreds of residents and business owners sue over Pajaro flooding. By Sara Rubin Shot in the Dark…Squid thinks of Squid’s gelatinous, translucent body less as a temple than as a biological organism. Squid’s beak, mantle and each tentacle are perfectly adapted to make Squid happy as a clam (can we change that to happy as a cephalopod?) in Squid’s aquatic lair. Some current and former employees of Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula see their bodies as temples quite literally. In a 2021 lawsuit, 33 plaintiffs argued CHOMP’s requirement for staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19 was a violation of their religious liberty. “Their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and that to inject medical products that have any connection whatsoever to aborted fetal cell lines would be defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit,” according to the suit. (Even Pope Francis gave the OK for vaccines.) CHOMP seemed to think the bodies of its many other staff members, not to mention its patients, should also be treated as temples, or at least organisms that could suffer greatly if exposed to Covid. So they held firm, and instead offered those employees to take an unpaid leave of absence from Sept. 15, 2021-Sept. 27, 2022. Per court filings, only 11 of the 33 plaintiffs chose to return—and argue they are entitled to anywhere from $250,000 to $2.9 million. On Jan. 9, Monterey County Superior Court Judge Tom Wills set a trial date of May 12, 2025. By then, the plaintiffs’ bodies will have generated all new cells at least three times over. Just the Facts…Periodically, Squid likes to update the lair. A few new rocks and clam shells here, a new throw pillow there, helps Squid feel safe and cozy. Unfortunately Carmelites have not done the same for the Carmel Police Station on Junipero Avenue, which has undergone no updates since it was built in 1967. “It’s in awful condition to be truthful,” Fred Meurer, the former Monterey city manager hired by Carmel as project manager for a police station remodel, told the Carmel City Council on Monday, Jan. 8. “You’ve squeezed all the life you’ll be able to squeeze out of it.” Meurer’s news about the station’s condition was not a surprise to residents. What was a surprise was that Meurer and a council subcommittee of Mayor Dave Potter and Councilmember Jeff Baron were recommending that the city consider abandoning a remodel plan to instead build a new station in Vista Lobos Park, up the street. The cost of a remodel— which in 2018 was estimated at $750,000 and $1.4 million in 2020—is now at least $10 million to meet modern codes and police standards. A new station might cost $20 million or more. At this point Squid says the council better hurry before the price jumps up another several million clams. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. “We have an aging water infrastructure.” Send Squid a tip: email@example.com
14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY JANUARY 11-17, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Off the Page A broad strategy is needed to contain Amazon’s monopoly and save the book marketplace. By Sandeep Vaheesan and Tara Pincock FORUM It’s a common trope in movies: A mob enforcer walks into a shop, looks around, and then says to the owner, “Nice place you got here. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.” Every viewer understands a shakedown is in the works. The shop owner can either pay up immediately, or else his livelihood will burn to the ground. But what do we call it when a large firm makes a similar, although not quite so blatant, threat to a smaller firm that is reliant on its business? In the book market, this is Amazon’s position in relation to publishing houses. Amazon is the largest bookseller in the world. Consequently, the publishing industry relies on it to get its product to market. Amazon earns an estimated $28 billion a year from selling books. In 2020, the House Judiciary Committee found that Amazon controlled more than 50 percent of the print book market and more than 80 percent of the e-book market. In other words, if a publisher’s titles aren’t available on Amazon, it might as well close shop. That’s why all publishers, including those in the “Big Five” such as Hachette and Penguin Random House, are afraid of doing anything that might upset the company. Amazon has proven time and again that it won’t hesitate to retaliate against publishers that step out of line. These retaliatory games include removing the “buy” button beneath a title’s listing on the site, delaying shipping books to customers, claiming that titles are out of stock when Amazon is actually just refusing to restock the titles, and rejecting pre-sales for new books. This kind of pressure represents a civic injury to us all, since a vibrant publishing market is critical for the free exchange of ideas. Facing an antitrust lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission and 17 states in September, Amazon will surely insist that it has achieved its dominance over the book market by competing in entirely legitimate ways. But in its early years, Amazon enjoyed a critical competitive advantage over brick-and-mortar bookstores by exploiting loopholes to avoid collecting sales taxes. According to Census data, between 1998 and 2019, more than 50 percent of U.S. bookstores closed. Amazon’s unfair practices contributed to this mass extinction. Federal and state antitrust enforcers have ample legal authority to challenge Amazon’s unfair competitive practices. The 2023 antitrust suit is a welcome and necessary first step. But it must be part of an array of actions. There’s a model to follow in the federal antitrust campaign against Google. In 2020, the government filed suit against Google over its practices in the search market— then, in 2023, federal regulators, in partnership with eight state attorneys general, launched an allied complaint against Google’s monopolization of digital advertising. In much the same way, the antitrust action against Amazon should help clear the way for a new case that focuses on the corporation’s domination of the book market. Sandeep Vaheesan is legal director and Tara Pincock is policy counsel for Open Markets Institute, an anti-monopoly advocacy organization. OPINION Amazon won’t hesitate to retaliate against publishers. Apply for Open Positions on Monterey’s Boards, Committees, and Commissions Get involved and impact your community! The City of Monterey is accepting applications from Monterey residents for volunteer positions on the following boards, committees, and commissions: • Appeals Hearing Board – One member (previously noticed recent vacancy) • Building and Housing Appeals Board – One member (previously noticed recent vacancy) • Disabled Access Appeals Board – Two members (one previously noticed recent vacancy, one ongoing vacancy) • Neighborhood and Community Improvement Program (NCIP) Committee– • One Representative for the Monterey Vista neighborhood (previously noticed recent vacancy) • One Alternate each for the following neighborhoods: Alta Mesa and Deer Flats (ongoing vacancies) • Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) – Two members (one new vacancy, one previously noticed recent vacancy) Applications for all vacancies will be accepted on an ongoing basis until the positions are filled. Priority review for the new PRC vacancy will be given to applications received by noon (12 p.m.) on Monday, January 22, 2024. Residents of the City of Monterey are encouraged to apply for these volunteer positions. Descriptions and requirements are noted on the application, available online at https://monterey.org/bcc. Mayor Williamson will review each application and conduct interviews of the candidates prior to presenting his recommendations to the City Council for appointment. For more information, email the City Clerk’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (831) 646-3935. Published: January 11, 2024 We Speak German… CARS! Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen and Mini-Cooper Using current modern technology our experienced staff will diagnose, maintain and repair your German car. Certified Monterey Bay Green Business 373.5355 249 DelaVina, Monterey www.ccrepairmonterey.com Copperfield Want to meet Copperfield? Please fill out our online adoption questionnaire. Things to love: approx. 11 years old - 18 lbs - male - Lhasa Apso Terrier mix Adorable Copperfield loves his pets and snuggle time, but his favorite pastime is exploring the outdoors by going on walks and backyard adventures. Copperfield loves people and dogs of all shapes and sizes and is just a super friendly guy overall. Ad sponsored by M.B.W.W.C. www.GoWhales.com If you’d like sponsor our next ad, give us a call. 831-718-9122 | www.PeaceOfMindDogRescue.org P.O. Box 51554, Pacific Grove, CA 93950