february 8-14, 2024 montereycountyweekly.com LOCAL & INDEPENDENT carmel’s changing gallery scene 11 | a fix for county roads? 13 | that famous nfl moment 30 Local people promise to make a difference and they are asking for your vote. Our endorsements for the March 5 primary. p. 16 People, Power and Politics
2 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 8-14, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com february 8-14, 2024 • ISSUE #1853 • Established in 1988 Daniel Dreifuss (Canon EOS R6m2, F/5.0, 1/80, ISO 1000) High winds downed trees throughout Monterey County on Sunday, Feb. 4, including this one that took out a power line near Lyndon Street and Withers Avenue in Monterey. At one point, over 31,000 local households were without power. Monterey County photo of the week Send Etc. submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org; please include caption and camera info. On the cover: Kate Daniels is running for county supervisor in District 5. She lives in Carmel Valley and currently serves on the Monterey County Planning Commission. Cover Photo: Daniel Dreifuss 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 email@example.com (x103) Publisher Erik Cushman firstname.lastname@example.org (x125) Editorial editor Sara Rubin email@example.com (x120) associate editor Erik Chalhoub firstname.lastname@example.org (x135) features editor Dave Faries email@example.com (x110) Staff Writer Celia Jiménez firstname.lastname@example.org (x145) Staff Writer Pam Marino email@example.com (x106) Staff Writer Agata Pope¸da (x138) firstname.lastname@example.org Staff Writer David Schmalz email@example.com (x104) Staff photographer Daniel Dreifuss firstname.lastname@example.org (x140) MONTEREY COUNTY NOW PRODUCER Sloan Campi email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org (x108) Graphic Designer Kevin Jewell email@example.com (x114) Graphic Designer Alexis Estrada firstname.lastname@example.org (x114) Graphic Designer Lani Headley email@example.com (x114) SALES senior Sales Executive Diane Glim firstname.lastname@example.org (x124) Senior Sales Executive George Kassal email@example.com (x122) Senior Sales Executive Keith Bruecker firstname.lastname@example.org (x118) Classifieds business development director Keely Richter email@example.com (x123) Digital Director of Digital Media Kevin Smith firstname.lastname@example.org (x119) Distribution Distribution AT Arts Co. email@example.com Distribution Control Harry Neal Business/Front Office Office Manager Linda Maceira firstname.lastname@example.org (x101) Bookkeeping Rochelle Trawick email@example.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
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4 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY FEBRUARY 8-14, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH In 2022, state lawmakers set out to try to solve a few problems plaguing the journalism industry. Could they use state funds (from a then-surplus) to help bolster the staff of local newsrooms, and also encourage a new generation of up-and-coming journalists to get long-term training and a liveable salary? The California Local News Fellowship was born, which pairs up to 40 early-career journalism fellows in newsrooms around the state for a period of two years; the fellowship pays most of their salary, with newsrooms kicking in a portion. The first cohort started in 2023, and the second cohort is now open for applications from prospective fellows. Monterey County Weekly is proud to be one of 38 participating newsrooms for 2024-26. The program is run by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and the application period is open until Feb. 25. (Read more or apply online at fellowships.journalism.berkeley.edu/cafellows.) Other participating outlets this year include The Sacramento Bee, Myanmar Gazette, Tahoe Daily Tribune and Open Vallejo. Good: Good news for access to life-saving tools: On Jan. 23, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors approved a policy to administer naloxone, widely known as Narcan, at Monterey County Free Libraries. All MCFL branches will have five units to use if an overdose is suspected, while awaiting medical assistance. Staff will be trained in administering the nasal spray, which reverses the effects of opioid overdose. “Public libraries are places where many of the populations who may need the medication congregate, receive services, and seek assistance,” MCFL Director Hillary Theyer noted in a report to the board. “As with other safety training and resources staged in public libraries, this contributes to robust services that have the potential to save lives.” MCFL is working on implementation and no firm date is yet set when all branches will have Narcan onsite. GREAT: It was a great week indeed for PGA Tour professional Wyndham Clark. On Saturday, Feb. 3 during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the 30-year-old from Denver fired a 60 on the par 72 Pebble Beach Golf Links to break both the event and course record. No other golfer in the long history of the course— not Jack Nicklaus, not Arnold Palmer, not Tiger Woods—had played Pebble Beach so well. Clark started the day 6 strokes back of the leaders in a tie for 23rd. His record round propelled him into the lead, and gave him the win when officials called the tournament after 54 holes due to weather conditions, giving him a check for $3.6 million. The previous ProAm mark was 62, held by three golfers. The previous course record was held by Hurly Long, who scored a 61 in 2017 as a senior at Texas Tech playing in the Carmel Cup. GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY Monarch butterflies counted in the annual Thanksgiving count in 256 overwintering sites on the West Coast, including 6,508 in Pacific Grove. Numbers were down by about 50 percent compared to 2022, closer to 2021 numbers. Source: Xerces Society Jan. 30 report 233,394 QUOTE OF THE WEEK “I want to thank everyone who sheltered in place.” -Sheriff Tina Nieto speaking on Monday, Feb. 5, after lifting shelter-in-place orders in Pebble Beach due to high winds and storm-related hazards (see story, mcweekly.com). 147 El Dorado St., Monterey, CA (831)241-6154 gatheringforwomen.org firstname.lastname@example.org Gathering for Women Thanks to supporters like you, in 2023, we served almost 20,000 meals to unhoused and housing insecure individuals and helped 10 individuals find homes! GFW is celebrating our 10 Year Anniversary! With your help, we will DO EVEN MORE in 2024! WE LOVE OUR SUPPORTERS AND VOLUNTEERS! HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY FROM Learn more at gatheringforwomen.org
www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 8-14, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 5 KEEP RISING The heart is a strong muscle, built to last a long lifetime. With proper care, it will. Salinas Valley Health delivers world-class cardiac treatment including advanced diagnostics and minimally invasive procedures. In addition to pioneering solutions, our Cardiac Wellness Center provides individualized rehabilitation and educational programs, helping you keep your heart strong. Your heart care, our focus. Learn more at SalinasValleyHealth.com/heart
6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY February 8-14, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com 831 Children dressed in colorful superhero and princess costumes run around and laughter fills the community room at the Marina branch of Monterey County Free Libraries. But the lively scene quickly settles into rapt attention once John Upshaw begins reading. Some kids gather even closer as Upshaw turns the book into a vocal performance, changing his tone for each character. Every month, local children enjoy a special storytime at the Marina library called Dads Read! Men—most of them fathers, although it’s not a requirement—read to dozens of kids. Sometimes the storytellers pick the books, perhaps an old favorite. But the librarians are happy to select from the most popular children’s book titles. On most occasions, the event takes place outside near the playground. Damp weather moves the reading indoors. The reason Friends of Marina Library call on men to volunteer their storytelling skills is simple: “There’s always a lot of women reading to kids, but not as many men,” notes Dana Cleary, a member of FoML, the organization that sponsors the event. She acknowledges that reading to a group of youngsters for the first time can be surprisingly intimidating. “Sometimes we’ll have 200 people here and it’s wild,” Cleary points out. So first-time readers get some time to prepare. Upshaw has participated in Dads Read! several times. And he came to the program with experience as an emcee and DJ for audiences at weddings and other events. Yet even he admits to butterflies the first time. “I was a little more nervous than usual because I’d never read a book to the whole room,” Upshaw explains. “So I just took some to get everything together and focus and say, ‘Hey, you know what? I’m here to DJ. I’m here to read to the kids. This is the best day of my life, and it’s gonna be a great time for them.’” The event has been around for several years, but it almost went away after the couple running the program moved from the area. FoML revived it about three years ago using funds they collected during Monterey County Gives! They also partner with local organizations and businesses to bring additional activities—including gymnastics, rock painting and music—to kids. On this particular morning, when the storytelling comes to an end, a party begins. Children of all ages—parents are part of the audience—take to the community room stage and start dancing to music Upshaw prepared for the day. There is popcorn and there are toys. Dads Read! is intended to be a family event. In addition to being read to, children socialize and play. Their parents meet up and share experiences. They can also grab groceries from the Food Bank for Monterey County, buy used books or exchange clothing from Buy Nothing Marina. “You’re able to connect with other parents while your kids are just having fun playing,” says Felicia Ibarrola, a Marina resident. She and her two sons, Caden and Jonah, are regulars at Dads Read!. Ibarrola says her sons are very social and look forward to joining other children at library events. But Dads Read! fills another purpose she feels is important. For Ibarrola, who is a single mom, events like this allow her sons to spend some time with a male figure. “They don’t really have that relationship, but it still gives them an idea of what it should be,” Ibarrola says. The men who read during story time come from different backgrounds. Often, they play up the part. Daniel Lopez, a high school language arts teacher, showed up as Spider-Man on one occasion. At the December reading, Gene Doherty came as Santa Claus. For Cleary, Dads Read! is a community gathering—and a successful one. “When we conceived of this library branch, our goal was not just to have a place where you checked out books,” she says. “It was a place where it could be a community center.” Dads Read! usually runs the second Saturday of the month. The next Dads Read! takes place on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 10am-noon. For more, call 682-8016 or email email@example.com. Dad Time Every month, a man with a book enchants dozens of kids at the library in Marina. By Celia Jiménez Every month a different man reads to children during Dads Read! The readers come from different bacgrounds—musicians, engineers, plumbers and teachers. Here Herbert Cortez takes his turn reading outside of the Marina library. “Sometimes we’ll have 200 people and it’s wild.” TaLeS FrOM THe area CODe DANIEL DREIFUSS The Chamber Informs We are informative, serving on advocacy-focused committees and task forces to stay on top of key business, government and community issues and educating our members on topics impacting businesses in our region. If you're looking for a platform to initiate important conversations and grow your business, we invite you to join our business association on the Monterey Peninsula! Join Today! • montereychamber.com • firstname.lastname@example.org • 831.648.5350
www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 8-14, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 7 Unique and rare items from around the world Collectables, Furniture & Art 50% OFF Jewelry 30% OFF Diamonds, Gold & Coins at great prices! VISIT EARLY FOR BEST SELECTION | ALL SALES FINAL MONTEREY COIN SHOPPE | Since 1970 same street for 40 years 449 Alvarado St., Downtown Monterey | 831.646.9030 | www.montereycoinshoppe.com
8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 8-14, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com news Primaries can be relatively quiet elections. In a two-way race—like that of Wendy Root Askew and Jeremiah Pressey in District 4—it will be decided outright, no need to go to a November runoff. (Pressey reports zero fundraising compared to Askew’s $166,678 in the bank as of Jan. 20, according to the latest campaign finance reports.) In District 1, there is no contest; Luis Alejo is running unopposed. That could be in part because of his campaign war chest. As of Jan. 20, he reported $250,940 on hand. In District 5, there is a three-way race for an open seat. That means the top two vote-getters will face off again in a November runoff, unless one candidate—Alan Haffa, Kate Daniels or Bill Lipe—wins outright on March 5. That requires over 50 percent of the vote. Daniels reports a significant fundraising haul, $259,945 in 2023. She raised 13 times more than Haffa, who reported raising $19,546 last year. Lipe raised just $3,400 in 2023, and reports one $5,000 gift in 2024 so far. Despite running against each other, Haffa and Daniels each received a donation in January of $1,000 from the Monterey County New Progressives, a political action committee that seeks to train and financially support candidates for local office. The PAC’s largest campaign contribution this election cycle was $4,000 to Fernando Ansaldo, who is running for a seat on Soledad City Council. Donors to the New Progressives PAC in 2023 included elected officials such as Askew; Del Rey Oaks City Councilmember Kim Shirley; and Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board member George Riley, a cofounder of the PAC. Money In Campaign fundraising for county supe candidates ranges from zero to over a quarter-million. By Sara Rubin Sticker shock is how best to describe what the residents of the Mountain Shadows Townhomes in Monterey felt last month during a scramble to find property insurance, after Farmers Insurance declined to renew their policy. Previously the homeowners association paid $22,000 a year for fire insurance. Now they pay $250,000 a year. Their deductible went from $25,000 to $100,000. On Jan. 29, they had to put down $100,000 cash in order for a new insurance package to kick in at midnight on Feb. 1. Because of the jaw-dropping increase, HOA fees jumped from about $500 a month to $1,436. “All my life, I’ve been waiting to live here and now I don’t know if I can afford to stay here,” says Pat DeMasters, secretary of the HOA board. She did much of the legwork on finding new insurance. “We called over 40 insurance companies. It’s like drinking from a fire hose,” she says. The reason for the increase: Mountain Shadows is located in Skyline Forest, classified as an area at the highest risk on the state’s Fire Hazard Security Zones map. Like many other insurance companies, Farmers has pulled out of writing policies in California, and is reluctant to renew homeowners—the Mountain Shadows HOA filed two claims for damages caused by falling trees in the 2023 winter storms, reason enough to decline renewal. The HOA turned to insurance broker Eileen Topete, CEO of Wright & Kimbrough, who walked DeMasters through the process of finding insurance through the California FAIR Plan, a syndicated fire insurance pool composed of all insurers licensed to write property policies in the state. It was created by the state Legislature in 1968 as a temporary solution for owners having trouble finding insurance. Through FAIR, Mountain Shadows found coverage through a layer of five companies—four covering fire insurance and one for liability. The fire insurance alone is $250,000. Liability costs over $5,000. “We are in an insurance crisis in the State of California,” Topete says. It’s the worst she’s seen in her 40-year career. “Over the last 24 months, carriers have either completely ceased writing policies, or put a pause on writing anything new.” The FAIR plan is reportedly receiving over 1,000 applications a day. Topete says that for every dollar insurance companies take in, they pay out almost $1.90 in claims. Some of the biggest wildfires in the state’s history, fueled by climate change, have cost insurers a combined $13 billion. “Insurance carriers are saying, ‘Forget trying to break even or make a profit. Until something changes we’re choosing not to write [policies] in California anymore,’” Topete says. Last September, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order for “prompt regulatory action,” and the California Department of Insurance is said to be working on solutions. In the meantime, Topete advises homeowners who are renewed to pay the higher premium because it will be cheaper than finding something new. By law, companies must give policyholders 75-days notice on nonrenewal. If they’re not renewed, policyholders should immediately ask their agents to apply for insurance with the FAIR plan. Time is of the essence—it could take up to two months to get quotes from the agency. Pat DeMasters and Alan Romero live in the Mountain Shadows Townhomes in Monterey, where the fire insurance premium ballooned from $22,000 to $250,000. Sky High The state’s fire insurance crisis means Skyline Forest homeowners face steep rate increases. By Pam Marino Jane Parker (above) served as a county supervisor until she retired in 2020. She cofounded Monterey County New Progressives PAC, the largest donor to Parker’s successor, Wendy Root Askew. “I don’t know if I can afford to stay here.” Daniel Dreifuss nic coury
www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 8-14, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 9 PAID POLITICAL AD | AUTHORIZED BY JIMMY PANETTA FOR CONGRESS | P.O. BOX 103, CARMEL VALLEY, CA 93924. FEC# C00592154 ON MARCH 5TH OR BY MAIL VOTE JIMMYPANETTA.COM FIGHTING FOR OUR VALUES IN THE 19TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT – Birt and Kathleen Johnson, Jr. CFMC donor advised fundholders “We trust the Community Foundation as a partner in philanthropy because they care.” www.cfmco.org • 831.375.9712 Design your giving plan. We can help. Family Philanthropy • Donor Advised Funds Charitable Estate Planning (CGAs, CRTs) IRA Charitable Distributions Scholarships & More Read their story: cfmco.org/Johnson 831.375.9712 | cfmco.org | montereysymphony.org • (831) 646-8511 PALO CORONA MUSIC DIRECTOR, JAYCE OGREN LARA DOWNES, PIANO SUNSET CENTER, CARMEL DISCOUNT CODE: BRANDNEW NEW TO THE SYMPHONY? TRY US! FEBRUARY 17 I 7:30 PM FEBRUARY 18 I 3:00 PM 30 $ (TIER 2 & 3 SEATS)
10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 8-14, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Wearing a PG&E hard hat and standing in front of the company’s Monterey County base camp—a collection of white trailers and tents within view of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca—Teresa Alvarado, PG&E vice president for the South Bay and Central Coast region, spelled out the impact of the Sunday, Feb. 4 storm. “It has proved to be among the most damaging storms that we’ve ever experienced,” she said at a press conference Monday, Feb. 5. “In terms of outage totals, this was one of the top three most damaging single-day storms on record,” she said, comparable to storms in 1995 and 2008. With wind gusts of over 90mph in some locations within PG&E’s service area and the state’s first-ever warning for hurricane-force winds, even healthy trees toppled, pulling down power lines with them. “We have a lot of work ahead of us and we’re taking an all-hands-on-deck approach until the job is done,” Alvarado said. By late Sunday, over 31,000 PG&E customers were without power across Monterey County, mostly concentrated in Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Carmel, Carmel Valley and surrounding areas. Incident Commander Joe Holbert said he had 37 crews representing about 400 workers tackling the outages, about 105 in the county. “Sensitive customers” like Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and schools were prioritized, but crews had to wait until winds subsided and fallen trees and debris were removed to be considered safe in order to begin repair work. On Monday afternoon, Feb. 5, the number without power was at 23,500, and that decreased by nearly half as of Tuesday morning. Pebble Beach and parts of Pacific Grove remained the most heavily impacted Tuesday, with an estimated restoration time of 10pm Thursday, Feb. 8. That may have been a conservative estimate: Some neighborhoods advised to expect power would be restored by late Wednesday saw power back two days earlier. The Laguna Seca base camp and level of communications were in sharp contrast to March 2023, after one of the final in a series of punishing storms hit the region. A main power line felled by a healthy cypress tree in Monterey caused around 37,000 customers in the southern Peninsula to lose power. A base camp was located in Santa Cruz County, and getting information from PG&E was a challenge. Restoration times promised early in that outage proved impossible for PG&E to meet, leaving residents frustrated. A community center can bring people of different ages together and give them a sense of belonging. It’s also a venue for people to learn new skills, gather and hold forums. They can turn into shelters during a disaster, a power outage or inclement weather. The cities of Gonzales and Soledad are seeking private donations to invest in their community centers. Both cities are at different stages: Gonzales will start the first construction phase of its community center complex in May. (The need for a community center has been on the radar for over a decade.) The first phase includes a new home for the Monterey County Free Libraries branch (now in a shopping mall), a teen innovation center, meeting rooms, an amphitheater and more. “It’ll be great for the high school students to have a place to call their own,” says Patrick Dobbins, Gonzales’ public works director. The total cost of the project is $35 million. As of November, the effort has raised $24.7 million including $5 million in state grants and a USDA loan of $9.7 million. (The loan will be paid back with the local Measure X funds that Gonzales voters approved in 2020, increasing the city’s sales tax from 0.5 to 1 percent.) Otto Construction/WRNS Studio are building the project, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2025. Meanwhile, Soledad has an aging community center that is used regularly and needs upgrades to keep up with demand. The list of needs includes a new kitchen, indoor and outdoor lighting, electrical upgrades and ADA compliance. Soledad currently has $500,000 from federal Covid relief funds set aside, plus $50,000 from a T-Mobile Hometown Grant. But they anticipate needing $2.4 million. “We’re very fortunate to have this asset in our community,” City Manager Megan Hunter says. She notes a new community center of this size, 23,000 square feet, would easily cost $30 million today. The first round of upgrades will go out to bid in the next couple of months. Power Up After a punishing storm, PG&E overcomes widespread damage to restore power. By Pam Marino news On the Plate The Monterey Police Department holds a town hall meeting about automated license plate readers. 6pm Thursday, Feb. 8. Monterey City Council Chambers, 580 Pacific St., Monterey; you can also attend via Zoom at bit.ly/3Hx8dXQ. 646-3803, email@example.com. Bus Stop Monterey-Salinas Transit will be tabling at Seaside’s farmers market to provide information about the SURF! bus rapid transit project. The MST board of directors will also receive a progress update at an upcoming meeting. Tabling 3-7pm Thursday, Feb. 8 at Laguna Grande Park, 1259 Canyon Del Rey Blvd., Seaside. MST board meeting happens at 10am Monday, Feb. 12, 19 Upper Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, or via Zoom. mst.org. For Rent The City of Monterey is establishing a new Rental Assistance Program for eligible households facing housing instability challenges. Property managers and renters are encouraged to participate in the survey, or attend a drop-in session in Monterey. Noon-2pm Sunday, Feb. 11 at Laguna Grande Park, 401 Virgin Ave.; 6-7pm Monday, Feb. 12 at El Estero Park, 777 Pearl St.; and noon-2pm Sunday, Feb. 18 at Montecito Park, 220 Montecito Ave. Free. To fill out the survey in English or Spanish, visit haveyoursaymonterey.org/rentalassistance. Housing Draft The City of Gonzales welcomes input on its draft housing element. Monday, Feb. 12 is the deadline to comment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or deliver comments in writing to City Hall, 147 4th St., Gonzales. 675-5000. Parenting Pros The Central Coast Early Childhood Advocacy Network presents the fifth annual Parent Power Summit. The bilingual event brings together support for thriving families by building relationships with other parents, caregivers and elected officials. 10am-2:30pm Saturday, Feb. 10, Sherwood Hall, 940 N. Main St., Salinas. Free; reservations required; childcare provided; sold out. email@example.com, eventbrite.com. Short Terms Hear from County Supervisor Mary Adams and Acting Director of the County’s Department of Housing and Community Development, Craig Spencer, about regulations for short-term rentals in unincorporated Monterey County. 11:15am Wednesday, Feb. 14. Livestream available by requesting an invitation at LWVmryco@gmail.com. Free. my.lwv.org/california/monterey-county. Building Community South County cities seek private donors for two community centers. By Celia Jiménez PG&E responds to a fallen tree that damaged a power line on Short Street in Pacific Grove on Monday, Feb. 5. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org TOOLBOX “We have a lot of work ahead of us until the job is done.” Daniel Dreifuss
www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 8-14, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 11 Five galleries have closed in Carmel, the Central Coast’s mecca for visual arts, in the past two months. Dolores Street, where the 1927-founded Carmel Art Association has its headquarters, seems to be the site of the exodus. Sometimes the story is simple, as in the case of Rieser Fine Art gallery, where James J. Rieser decided to retire in December, after 26 years of business, and moved back to Ohio. The same can be said about Howard Portnoy Gallery. Portnoy retired last fall after 20 years of business. Gallerie Amsterdam’s owner, Anthony Vanderploeg, died in 2023 and the gallery closed after 29 years on Dolores. The space was rented out to Craig Rose, who in August 2023 opened Nematic gallery, the first gallery in Carmel to sell NFTs (non-fungible token, a digital identifier is recorded on a blockchain and used to certify ownership). That gallery has also since closed after its brief tenure. Another artist/gallery owner, Mary Titus, is done with her most recent gallery, Mary Titus Gallery in Carmel. In fact she is done, after 40 years, with the art-selling industry. Titus will continue as an artist, now represented by The American Art Gallery. Titus says Carmel is still not seeing the full economic recovery (read: visiting art collectors and art-buying tourists) needed to bring back the fine arts industry post-Covid. The pandemic dip was preceded by the 2008 economic crisis. “People go to San Francisco or Los Angeles to buy art,” Titus says. “They don’t come here, for whatever reason.” “But it can’t be just the economy,” offers Sally Aberg, the gallery manager at the Carmel Art Association. “CAA is doing great.” Ashley Bennett-Stoddard, who closed the long-time family business, Bennett Sculpture gallery, and moved to full-time sculpting, also says that there’s nothing to be alarmed about. “Gallery owners are old,” she says, pointing to generational changes. And new galleries are coming, bringing new art, such as Gallery MAR, she says. Since 2008, MAR has been representing young American artists (many of them Californians) in a diverse array of consistently changing artwork. Another gainer in the situation is artist/gallery owner Joaquin Turner, who is moving to the former Rieser Fine Art gallery, four times the size he has now, one of the best locations for an art gallery in Carmel, he says. (It’s on Dolores and 6th Avenue.) He praises his landlord who doesn’t raise prices and consciously supports art. “A lot of leases were up at the end of year ,” Turner says about various closures and moves. “Also, the cost of living along the coast on the Monterey Peninsula goes up and it’s harder for artists to survive. And the sales are not what they used to be.” William Karges Fine Art gallery is also moving to one of the vacant places, better and bigger than its previous space. “It’s very expensive to run a gallery,” Karges says. “Also, young people prefer minimalism. They don’t buy heavy paintings. It’s all screens now.” Art Show The Carmel art gallery scene gets an update with at least five gallery closures since December. By Agata Pop˛eda A block of Dolores Street, between 5th and 6th avenues, is the site of recent closures and changes in Carmel. Don’t be surprised to find your favorite gallery in a different spot. NEWS “It’s harder for artists to survive.” DANIEL DREIFUSS
12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 8-14, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Heating Up I just read your piece in Monterey County NOW—you are right on! (“Repeated atmospheric rivers are not good—we get that. So why don’t we get climate change?” posted Jan. 29.) I spent much of my life doing ice research in the Arctic—U.S., Canada and Norway—and got to see the dramatic results of rapid warming firsthand beginning in the late ’80s through to the present day. I find it incredible that people are still not waking up and that some even view the topic as “politics.” Keep up the great reporting. David Dickins | Monterey Thank you for this article on the single most important issue of our time. I am finding it difficult to get traction for any activism here. I started a [chapter] of 350.org in Riverside, California in 2017 that is still working. I moved here and have found no groups except Extinction Rebellion, and they are mostly in Santa Cruz. The more media attention like yours the better. Keep it coming. Jana Young | via email Elizabeth Kubler Ross studied people’s reactions from the time a doctor informed them that they were terminally ill from cancer until they died. She documented a five-step process in her book On Death and Dying. 1. Denial 2. Anger and blame (frequently at the doctor) 3. Bargaining 4. Depression 5. Acceptance Most died before reaching acceptance. Global warming is an accelerating existential threat for which most of us are in Denial or Anger and Blame. The green movement is, sadly, a form of bargaining. It’s better than nothing and practiced by people I admire, but way too little. What are the culprits, and what can we do about them? I suggest that the primary drivers of global warming are population and standard of living. The human population was 2.2 billion in 1937, when I was born, 4 billion in 1973, and over 8 billion today. Yet, birth rates have fallen by twothirds during my 86 years. Since 1973, we have more than tripled our use of fossil fuels despite solar and wind breakthroughs. Bottom Line: The improvements we cherish have produced our existential crisis. Early in my engineering career, I learned that there are no correct answers or permanent solutions. If you believe you’ve found one, you don’t understand the problem. All choices are temporary tradeoffs. Edwin Lee | Carmel Teeing Off I think the new format is good! (“Changes to the Pro-Am stir nostalgia, as well as expectations of bigger rewards for the county,” posted Jan. 31.) The old format got stale. It will elevate the status of the tournament and attract a sophisticated crowd of fans to the area. Scott Fradin | Carmel Valley I will certainly miss the celebrity interactions with the gallery and the players. I don’t like seeing traditions broken, they never will be the same (“Working quickly, tournament organizers transformed the Pro-Am, attracting a different set of superstars,” Feb. 1-7). Rayna Dale Lammers-Myers | via social media Bravo (“Wyndham Clark breaks course record to take Pro-Am lead,” posted Feb. 3). Patricia Qualls | via social media Oil Wars As stated in David Schmalz’s article about Trio Petroleum Company’s activities in South Monterey County, Measure Z was passed by 56 percent of the voters in the 2016 general election (“Despite the will of local voters, the South County oil industry is showing new signs of life,” Feb. 1-7). Last August, the California Supreme Court ruled against Measure Z. Voters in California will have a chance to speak loud and clear to the petroleum companies in the November 2024 election. In 2022, the California State Legislature passed SB 1137, which prohibits oil and gas drilling within 3,200 feet of public places such as schools, homes, hospitals and community centers and to monitor existing wells within the 3,200-foot limit. The oil companies have a referendum on the November 2024 ballot to overturn SB 1137. It’s time to protect our health, our water and our planet and support SB 1137 at the polls. Laura Solorio | Salinas Note: Solorio is president of Protect Monterey County, the group that initiated Measure Z. Police Pay About time they did something right for the city (“Salinas City Council unanimously approves a two-year contract for police officers,” Jan. 25-31). Brian Gertsch | via social media Make a Run For It I was really happy to see a cover story about local running clubs (“The first rule of run club? Build community around a traditionally solitary sport,” Jan. 25-31.). Great photos by Daniel Dreifuss and reporting by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier. Thank you for pointing out that “you don’t have to be an accomplished runner to join a run club.” People are often intimidated to join running clubs, but our local clubs attract everyone from beginners and walkers to speedy racers. As the article mentioned, they are social activities and I’ve met lifelong friends. I can attest that joining running clubs has kept me accountable to showing up for scheduled exercise. Thank you to the local breweries and running stores for your generosity and support for these community gatherings—join a club and shop local! Eric Palmer | Monterey Laugh Out Loud So grateful for Ginger’s wisdom (“For better mental and physical health, laughter yoga calls on participants to laugh—even if it’s forced,” Jan. 25-31.) Love this story. Moni de Groot | via social media 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 february 8-14, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 Another storm, another series of setbacks to Monterey County’s road conditions. You don’t need an engineering degree to see the immediate damage from flooding, fallen limbs and debris covering roadways. Potholes are now small ponds. But the deteriorated conditions go back to before this year’s storms or last year’s storms. Back in 2020, County Supervisor Mary Adams and then-County Supervisor John Phillips (since retired) asked county staff to come up with a plan to get county roads up to a standard of “fair” within 10 years. Sounds like a pretty modest goal. That is, until you start measuring it. At that time, there was an estimated $1.2 billion worth of deferred maintenance for the county’s 175 bridges and 1,257 miles of county-maintained roads. That’s enough miles, Randy Ishii is fond of pointing out, to reach one-third of the way across the United States. Ishii is director of the Monterey County Department of Public Works, Facilities and Parks, and has been tasked with coming up with a strategy to get all of those roads from “poor” to “fair” based on a standardized pavement quality index. Since the board referral in 2020, things have largely gotten worse thanks to the weather. In the first four months of 2023, there were 666 requests to the County for pothole repairs, three times more than the previous year. In the first six months of 2023, there were 24 legal claims filed for pothole-related damage, compared to 11 in all of 2022. But Ishii today sounds optimistic about a plan to meet the modest goal of “fair,” and also about a whole new framework for how the county pays for road maintenance. On Jan. 31, the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve a new methodology for how we pay for road repairs. The Local Road Rehabilitation Program 2.0 is a new formula championed by Ishii. Instead of issuing about $66 million in bonds that would need to be paid back over time—with interest, to the tune of a whopping $43.3 million in plan 1.0—version 2.0 will use what is known as a “payas-you-go” formula. The idea calls for a mix of funding sources. One is to bring back a dedicated chunk (25 percent) of the county’s transient-occupancy tax for roads. Funds from local transportation sales tax Measure X (roughly $7.5 million per year) and the state gas tax will go toward major arterial roads—both of Monterey County’s biggest industries, agriculture and tourism, strain road conditions. As far as prioritizing, the county will continue with a pilot program in communities including Spreckels, Aromas, Bradley and San Ardo—and down the road, such unincorporated communities will need to agree to finance some of their own ongoing maintenance needs through a Prop. 218 process. It’s a smart new formula to spread out the cost and avoid massive interest payments for bonds. But of course it comes with unknowns. Specifically, gas tax revenue is on a downward trend and as we transition to electric vehicles, it’s an old model that will generate less and less revenue. “It’s a challenge for all of us,” Ishii says of that statewide funding dilemma. Road projects are immensely expensive, largely for reasons beyond the county’s control—fuel, labor, materials costs. Consider the stretch of Harkins Road and Hunter Lane in Spreckels that were recently repaved, after getting chewed up by heavy agricultural use. Crews went at least 1 foot deeper than the old asphalt, pulverizing and recycling that material. Hot mix asphalt was then spread on top for a smooth new surface. Total cost: $7.1 million, for 2.9 miles of road. This is about $2.4 million per mile. The road reconstruction average is closer to $2 million per mile. Meanwhile, there are lower-cost maintenance approaches—like overlay “mill-and-fill,” for $1 million a mile, or “chip seal” for $250,00-$300,000 per mile that can extend the life of a road. The county ordered two “hot trucks” pre-pandemic, and the first one finally arrived after a delay. These vehicles ($270,000 each) can deliver the same hotmix asphalt that is used in brandnew roads to potholes, hopefully offering longer-lasting fixes. “We are trying to find newer and more efficient ways of doing our business,” Ishii says. Still, he offers some caution: “We should temper and set our expectations appropriately.” Sara Rubin is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Road Work County roads are terrible. Public Works hatches a plan to fix them. By Sara Rubin Photo Bomb…Squid loves sea snail mail, with regular correspondence from fellow cephalopods written lovingly in ink. During election season, Squid especially loves checking the mailbox, curious to see what the candidates are saying. Squid’s beak fell open when Squid received a mailer from Kate Daniels, running for county supervisor in District 5, and Squid recognized an image photographed by and published in Monterey County Weekly. Squid’s colleagues are serious about copyright and, as a rule, don’t license out editorial photos for commercial purposes—certainly not for political campaigns. A couple of days earlier, Squid’s colleague saw the photo in an Instagram ad and asked the campaign to remove it, which they did. But it was too late to stop the mail—18,000 copies were already with the U.S. Postal Service. Daniels says she mistakenly told her campaign team the photo was OK to use. “This is on me, and I apologize,” she says. “I was just not paying attention.” Squid’s boss will be sending an invoice to resolve this copyright infringement situation, and Squid hopes Daniels’ team learns something about copyright. Squid also hopes her team realizes “I was just not paying attention” is not a strong campaign slogan. Step Count…Speaking of sea snail mail, Squid loves following public agencies’ paper trails. Which is why Squid was fascinated by the paperwork problem that came before the Del Rey Oaks City Council on Jan. 23, where businessman Vince Pinaldi is planning to buy a property on Calle Del Oaks from the Davi Family Trust—which has owned the property for decades—for $4.2 million. Pinaldi’s company, an automotive restoration business, is already leasing it. In question is how many square feet the building is permitted for, which matters for its water allocation. Pinaldi and his attorney Tony Lombardo contended the property, since being built in 1978, has been taxed and valued based on it being 11,200 square feet with a mezzanine that may or may have not been used at times, and may or may have not had stairs to it. The hearing was their appeal of the city’s building official Joe Headley’s determination that, based on his records, there was never a stairway in any approved building permit, and therefore, the property was only 9,600 square feet, not 11,200—which means a reduction of 0.112 acre-feet of annual water allocation. Headley told the council that he can’t sign a form he believes to be incorrect—the permitted square footage: “Now it’s up to who will sign at the bottom of that form,” he said. The council punted, and voted to reconsider on Feb. 27. Squid will have popcorn ready. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. That is about $2.4 million per mile. Send Squid a tip: email@example.com
14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY FEBRUARY 8-14, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Thinking Big The first step in overcoming the challenges to American democracy is cultivating media literacy. By Susan Meister FORUM When the history of this extraordinary era of divisiveness in American society is finally written, the conclusion is likely to be that it was mainly caused by the widespread distribution of false news. Disinformation is affecting nearly every segment of human interchange—politics, public health, the environment, consumer welfare—leaving almost no category of discourse untouched. It is spread by internet sites enabled via algorithms to find and focus on specific audiences, and one of the most heavily targeted is students— those sitting in our classrooms now, who one day will determine the country’s future. Disinformation is defined as information of a misleading or biased nature, meant to promote a particular point of view. In its many manifestations, such propaganda can be disguised as legitimate news stories, difficult to detect. That is where media literacy comes in: the ability to critically analyze information and determine its accuracy or credibility. It is the most potent weapon we have in this era of fake news. This threat has recently been addressed by the state. A bill sponsored by Assemblymember Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, just took effect in January. AB 873 requires the teaching of media literacy in all grade levels from K-12, eventually integrating it in math, science, history and English. To accelerate the benefits of the new bill for Monterey County students, a group of community activists and educators has come together to promote it, first among high school students and later in all grade levels. The newly formed Media Literacy Coalition—comprising an elected official, academics, journalists, librarians and a deputy superintendent of the Monterey County Office of Education, as well as Monterey County Weekly—is sponsoring a half-day immersion in media literacy training modeled after the event originated by the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public. “Misinfo Day,” scheduled for May 7, will be the first similar program to take place in California for 11th- and 12th-grade students and their teachers. While young people are heavily impacted, all age groups are affected. That is why the Media Literacy Coalition therefore intends to develop initiatives that will engage the community at large, audiences of varying ages and backgrounds who could benefit from media literacy training. The goal is to help the community become resilient to disinformation—people will know how to identify it, and be encouraged to correct it through public comment, protests to local newspapers, and their votes. National Media Literacy Week, Oct. 21-25, will focus on the importance of this subject, just ahead of the November election, when disinformation is expected to be at its peak. There will be local events that will promote the importance of distinguishing between facts and propaganda. A democratic society relies on that vital skill. Susan Meister is a journalist and community activist. Email firstname.lastname@example.org about volunteer opportunities for Misinfo Day. OPINION Media literacy is the most potent weapon we have. “As your Supervisor, I will fight for affordable housing, renter protections, sheriff’s oversight, greater transparency, & community engagement.” Monterey City Council Member Board Member Professor Elect Dr. Alan Haffa Monterey County Supervisor www.electhaffa.org Paid for by Haffa for Supervisor 2024, FPPC #1461306 FRESH. LOCAL. TASTY. Fisherman’s Wharf FRESHEST SEAFOOD with PANORAMIC VIEWS Open Daily at 11:30am • At the end of Fisherman’s Wharf #1 www.rockfishmonterey.com • 831.324.4375 LIVE MUSIC Wednesdays 5–7:30pm
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16 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 8-14, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Candidates and measures on the March 5 primary ballot offer their vision to chart the future. By the Editorial Board As is routinely the case, the candidates at the top of the ticket—in 2024, that would be the office of President of the United States—tend to get a lot of attention in the media in the lead-up Election Day. This year, the presidential race was all but decided well before primary season even began. Instead of focusing on the presidential election, our focus here at the Weekly is on local elections. In a government of and by the people, it is our neighbors who are asking for your vote and seek to represent you. In our endorsement process, we invite candidates to answer questions in in-person forums or by email, and make choices about who we recommend based on those interviews as well as past records. These decisions are made by our editorial board, not our editorial staff—the news section includes continued coverage of all of these elections. Whether or not you agree with our endorsements, we hope you learn something about each of these races and most importantly, that you vote on March 5. This is a chance for all of us to help chart the future. We also welcome your opinions, including disagreements—reach out to email@example.com any time. Monterey County Weekly’s editorial board comprises Founder & CEO Bradley Zeve, Publisher Erik Cushman and Editor Sara Rubin. Forward Looking Ballot Box It’s easier than ever to cast your vote. Here’s what to know. Feb. 5 Ballots are mailed to all registered voters in Monterey County. (You may still opt to vote in person, or deliver your vote-by-mail ballot in person.) If you do vote in person, either early or on Election Day, bring your voteby-mail ballot with you. If you don’t, you will be able to cast a provisional ballot—it will be counted as soon as Monterey County Elections officials determine you have not already returned a ballot by mail. Also as of Feb. 5, in-person voting is available at the county elections office, 1441 Schilling Place, Salinas. Feb. 20 Last day to register to vote in the March 5 primary. You may still register to vote conditionally until Election Day. A note about partisan races: California has open primaries, meaning regardless of your party affiliation, you will have the option to vote for all candidates of any party in your district. The exception is for President of the United States. If you are registered as no party preference, you have until Feb. 20 to re-register with a party affiliation or to request a crossover ballot for the American Independent, Democratic or Libertarian parties, all of which allow no-party-preference voters to participate in their primaries. To register to vote online, visit registertovote.ca.gov. Feb. 24 Saturday voting is available at the county elections office from 9am-5pm. Feb. 27 This is the last day election officials recommend returning a vote-by-mail ballot. (Note that postage is already paid—you do not need to add a stamp.) An early voting location opens at Embassy Suites (1441 Canyon Del Rey Blvd., Seaside) in addition to the county elections office. March 2-3 Weekend voting is available at the elections office and Embassy Suites. March 5 Election Day. You can drop off your vote-by-mail ballot, or vote in-person (bring your mailed ballot to trade in). Polls close at 8pm. To find your polling place, visit montereycountyelections.us/voter-guide-and-polling-placelocator. March 12 Last day for vote-by-mail ballots to be counted. Track your ballot at california.ballottrax.net. You can also sign up at WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov to receive updates about the status of your ballot.