february 29-march 6, 2024 montereycountyweekly.com LOCAL & INDEPENDENT Honest Huckster 6 | Balloon Ride 11 | Low Riders and bikinis 22 | Food & Wine returns 30 Flood-stricken Pajaro wonders: How much longer for relief? p. 16 By Celia Jiménez February 2024 March 2023 One Year After

2 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 29-march 6, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com february 29-March 6, 2024 • ISSUE #1856 • Established in 1988 Jessica Cedillo (Canon EOS R6 Mark II with Canon 70-200mm IS II F/2.8 lens) The Stevenson boys’ varsity soccer team made history as the 2023-2024 CCS Champions, winning 2-0 against The Kings Academy on Saturday, Feb. 24 at Del Mar High School in San Jose. Monterey County photo of the week Send Etc. submissions to etcphoto@mcweekly.com; please include caption and camera info. On the cover: Floodwaters are no longer rushing through Pajaro. But a year later, the town is still under water in other ways. Cover photos: 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 bradley@mcweekly.com (x103) Publisher Erik Cushman erik@mcweekly.com (x125) Editorial editor Sara Rubin sara@mcweekly.com (x120) associate editor Erik Chalhoub ec@mcweekly.com (x135) features editor Dave Faries dfaries@mcweekly.com (x110) Staff Writer Celia Jiménez celia@mcweekly.com (x145) Staff Writer Pam Marino pam@mcweekly.com (x106) Staff Writer Agata Pope¸da (x138) aga@mcweekly.com Staff Writer David Schmalz david@mcweekly.com (x104) Staff photographer Daniel Dreifuss daniel@mcweekly.com (x140) MONTEREY COUNTY NOW PRODUCER Sloan Campi sloan@mcweekly.com (x105) contributors Nik Blaskovich, Rob Brezsny, Nic Coury, Tonia Eaton, Jeff Mendelsohn, Jacqueline Weixel, Paul Wilner Cartoons Rob Rogers, Tom Tomorrow Production Art Director/Production Manager Karen Loutzenheiser karen@mcweekly.com (x108) Graphic Designer Kevin Jewell kevinj@mcweekly.com (x114) Graphic Designer Alexis Estrada alexis@mcweekly.com (x114) Graphic Designer Lani Headley lani@mcweekly.com (x114) SALES senior Sales Executive Diane Glim diane@mcweekly.com (x124) Senior Sales Executive George Kassal george@mcweekly.com (x122) Senior Sales Executive Keith Bruecker keith@mcweekly.com (x118) Classifieds business development director Keely Richter keely@mcweekly.com (x123) Digital Director of Digital Media Kevin Smith kevin@mcweekly.com (x119) Distribution Distribution AT Arts Co. atartsco@gmail.com Distribution Control Harry Neal Business/Front Office Office Manager Linda Maceira linda@mcweekly.com (x101) Bookkeeping Rochelle Trawick rochelle@mcweekly.com 668 Williams Ave., Seaside, CA 93955 831-394-5656, (FAX) 831-394-2909 www.montereycountyweekly.com We’d love to hear from you. Send us your tips at tipline.montereycountyweekly.com. We can tell you like the print edition of the Weekly. We bet you’ll love the daily newsletter, Monterey County NOW. Get fresh commentary, local news and sundry helpful distractions delivered to your inbox every day. There’s no charge, and if you don’t love it, you can unsubscribe any time. NOW IN YOUR INBOX Sign up today at montereycountyweekly.com/mcnow

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4 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY FEBRUARY 29-MARCH 6, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH Throughout the country, laws require governments to post announcements about city council meetings, elections and other public business in the newspaper. These postings are often the largest source of revenue for news outlets, especially critical for those treading water. But in recent years, citing declining print readership, governments have increasingly introduced legislation that allows them to bypass the local newspaper and instead post notices on their own websites. However, that concerning trend seems to be reversing so far in 2024, the Public Notice Resource Center reports. As of the end of January, new legislation authorizing local news websites and papers to provide statutory notice in lieu of print had been introduced in at least six states, while bills allowing the move from print newspapers to government websites had been introduced in only two states, one of which has already died, according to PNRC. By this time last year, 12 states had introduced legislation to forgo newspapers. Good: It’s a good week for local nonprofit organizations who serve children, after the National Charity League - Monterey Bay Chapter donated over 2,500 books to the Village Project, Inc., Community Partnership for Youth, the Salvation Army and others. The books were collected in January by the NCLMB charity book drive committee, led by volunteers Shira Diallo of Monterey, Lupita Cepeda of Seaside and Sharla Klingel of Carmel, and made up of mothers and daughters in grades 7-12. In its second year, the book drive committee collected 1,200 books, with another 1,300 readers donated by the Tularcitos Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization. The readers were delivered on Feb. 21 to the Village Project, which plans to use them to help pre-K to fifth-grade students learn to read and improve their skills. NCLMB members also donated 100 homemade bookmarks and several Reading Rainbow-style read-along videos. GREAT: On Jan. 8, Monterey-Salinas Transit had 10 interviews scheduled to fill 19 open positions. That same day, the MST board, after their meeting, tried their hand at bus driving on MST’s training course in the former Fort Ord, which both the Weekly and KSBW covered. After those stories, MST General Manager Carl Sedoryk says the agency received a flood of applications, and now has 23 new coach operators, which he believes is the largest class in MST’s 50-plus-year history. Sedoryk says even though 23 is four more than positions they officially had open, they’re going to retain all of them and put them to work on the agency’s busiest routes, mainly between Salinas and Monterey. He adds that MST is planning to start hiring again in April, with the hope of adding intercity routes in Gonzales, Soledad and Greenfield, where a minibus circles each city every 30 minutes on weekdays. GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY The number of calls received by 211 since its launch 15 years ago this month in Monterey County. The free information service connects callers to essential community services like finding food, housing, job training, after-school programs and more. Source: United Way Monterey County 228,000+ QUOTE OF THE WEEK “This is going to be a very costly exercise for the city.” -Pacific Grove City Councilmember Chaps Poduri, speaking on the council voting 4-2 to extend sidewalks and demolish parklets (see story, mcweekly.com). WHERE TO APPLY: MONTEREY.ORG/SUMMERJOBS The City of Monterey is an Equal Opportunity Employer. THE CITY OF MONTEREY Now Hiring! APPLY Today!  Do you enjoy helping children?  Are you flexible and adaptable?  Do you have a positive attitude? SUMMER JOB OPPORTUNITIES • Playground Recreation Leader • Day Camp Counselor • Field Sports Recreation Leader • Camp Quien Sabe Resident Camp Counselor, Support Staff (Kitchen Helper, Handyperson, Crafts Assistant), Crafts Leader, Lifeguard and Cook Choose the Realtor Who Gets You. Renee Catania prides herself in providing a top-tier level of service in real estate with a genuine, personal approach. Hard-working, personable and efficient, Renee takes the time to understand the true needs and wants of her clients while providing crucial guidance along the way. Renee Catania 831.293.3668 www.ReneeCatania.com ReneeC@MontereyCoastRealty.com REALTOR® | DRE#01954589 Top 1% of Agents in California & Top 35 Highest Performing Individual on the Monterey Peninsula

www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 29-MARCH 6, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 5 “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 9 MONTH CERTIFICATE 5.29%APY 22 MONTH CERTIFICATE 4.50%APY SPECIAL LIMITED Time CERTIFICATes APY = annual percentage yield. Minimum opening deposit $10,000. Maximum opening deposit $999,999.99 Funds to open this certificate must be new to Monterey CU. New to Monterey CU means the funds must not have been on deposit with Monterey CU in the last six months. Limit one promotional share certificate per member. This offer is available for a limited time starting January 1, 2024, and subject to change or cancellation without notice. Early withdrawal penalties apply. Visit us at www.montereycu.com or call us at 831.647.1000 made in italy new arrivals sport coats soft coats knitwear trousers jackets shirts 831-625-8106 • carmel plaza & ocean ave • khakisofcarmel.com “I brought my Subaru to Hartzel on advice of a friend and I was so pleased with the service & attention I got from them. Not only finished on time, but under the estimate I was given. Very rare these days. So pleased with the whole experience & great peace of mind knowing it was done correctly. Highly recommend this guy.” —David F., Seaside 2/14/19 510 California Avenue | Sand City | 394.6002 hartzelautomotive.com EXPERT SERVICE WHEN YOU NEED IT. Subaru Mazda Lexus Infiniti Saab vintage MG SCHEDULE YOUR NEXT SERVICE ONLINE TODAY

6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY February 29-march 6, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com 831 A wise man once told Will Roberts that if he wanted to become an amazing magician, he first needed to learn how to act. At that time, more than 40 years ago, Roberts was a “misguided youth,” he says, but had found a passion in magic at Zucchini’s Tricks N’ Things, then located in the Edgewater Packing Company on Cannery Row in Monterey. Roberts had bought every trick there was at the shop, and was such a regular that owner Bryan Whitehead offered him a job. The sage advice stuck with him. He went on to perform in dozens of theatrical productions in Monterey, and his now 45-year acting career has seen him in countless films, television shows and commercials. He most recently portrayed General George C. Marshall in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Through it all, magic has also been a constant for Roberts. Going by the stage name Honest Huckster, Roberts is a member of prestigious magician societies such as Magic Castle and Magic Circle, and as a professional cowboy, holds the Guinness World Record for Gun Spinning and Most People Inside a Spinning Lasso. With a career that features numerous accolades and credits, he recently returned to where it all began. Roberts is the owner of Zucchini’s Tricks N’ Things, the oldest brick-andmortar magic shop in California, which in recent weeks underwent a transformation and moved across the street from the Monterey Canning Company to 660 Cannery Row, Suite 119. Now called The Magic Wand at Zucchini’s Magic Shop, the shop features custom magic wands created from wood salvaged from Monterey Bay shipwrecks and driftwood. Seance Cannery Row is now located inside the shop, led by Chris Herren on stage with regular shows. Roberts says he keeps in contact regularly with Whitehead, who suggested Roberts take over Zucchini’s. At the time, Roberts, who currently resides in the Los Angeles area, wasn’t entirely sold on the prospect, living seven hours away. But the actors’ strike of 2023 caused him to rethink the proposal. “I turned to my wife and said, ‘you know, I think I might take over Zucchini’s,’” he says. Then located at 711 Cannery Row, Suite H, Roberts set about gutting the place, painting it red and black to make it more mysterious. The renovation left a large empty spot inside the shop, and Roberts, with his background in theater, sensed an opportunity. He joined forces with fellow magician Herren, who suggested bringing his one-man seance show to Cannery Row. Roberts thought it was a perfect fit. “I wanted it to not be a ‘pick a card’ show,” he says. “I didn’t want it to be cheesy with the ruffled shirt and bow tie. I wanted it to be something where it actually took on a little bit of life of Cannery Row.” As such, Seance Cannery Row touches on the historical people of Cannery Row, and before the show, Roberts leads a ghost tour of the area to give audience members a taste of the past. And he is quick to point out that the “seance” doesn’t involve what might come to some people’s minds after hearing the word. “I promise you there’s no sacrificing of goats,” Roberts says. Although the shop was housed there for more than 20 years, the location had its limitations. Mainly, it was tucked away deep in the Monterey Canning Company building and not immediately visible to passersby, Roberts says, prompting the move. The shop’s involvement with customers doesn’t end after they purchase a magic trick and walk out the door. “I want you to walk out and really feel as though you understand how it works,” he says. “Magic is probably one of the funnest, easiest things to do, and yet it can be extremely difficult. If you need someone to help you along, we’re your virtual wizards.” The Magic Wand at Zucchini’s Magic Shop is located at 660 Cannery Row, Suite 119 in Monterey. For information, visit zucchinismagicshop.com. Will Roberts performs 6pm Monday, March 4 at Oscar’s Playground, 685 Cannery Row, third floor. Tickets are $20. 241.6616, oscarsplayground.com. Cannery Conjuring California’s oldest brick-and-mortar magic shop adds wands and ghost tours to its repertoire. By Erik Chalhoub The newly rebranded The Magic Wand at Zucchini’s Magic Shop on Cannery Row features custom magic wands made from shipwrecks and holds regular ghost tours and seances to teach customers about the history of the area. “I promise there’s no sacrificing of goats.” TaLeS FrOm The area cODe DANIEL DREIFUSS

www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 29-MARCH 6, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 7 We are here for you. All day. All night. Estamos aquí para ti. Todo el día. Toda la noche. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s isn’t always easy. Cuidar a alguien con Alzheimer no siempre es fácil. 24/7 HELPLINE 800.272.3900 | alz.org 24/7 LÍNEA DE AYUDA 800.272.3900 | alz.org/español DR. BRYNIE KAPLAN DAU, MS, DVM SURGERY DERMATOLOGY FELINE AND CANINE MEDICINE PREVENTATIVE CARE REGENERATIVE MEDICINE PRP (PLATELET-RICH PLASMA) LASER THERAPY EXOTICS AND MUCH MORE COMPASSIONATE CARE WITH EXCEPTIONAL MEDICINE. 1023 Austin Avenue, Pacific Grove • 831-318-0306 www.pacificgroveanimalhospital.com VOTED MONTEREY COUNTY’S BEST VETERINARIAN THREE YEARS IN A ROW! ’23 ’22 ’21

8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 29-march 6, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com news When Monterey City Manager Hans Uslar addressed his city council, staff and the public in his Feb. 15 State of the City speech, he began on a note of levity, saying that he’d recently read a headline asserting that artificial intelligence is coming for white collar jobs, and he pointed to his white collar. He told those assembled that he asked ChatGPT to write his speech, and began reading what it had generated: “Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed residents and business owners and distinguished guests, welcome to the annual State of the City address for the beautiful City of Monterey. As your city manager it’s both an honor and a privilege to stand before you today to reflect on the progress we’ve made, acknowledge the challenges we face, and outline the promising future that lies ahead for our beloved community.” Uslar then dispensed with the levity and got onto his main points, which are sobering, not humorous. “We don’t have a revenue problem in the city of Monterey,” Uslar said. “We have a spending problem. We are spending too much on too many assets.” In prefacing that remark, Uslar noted that many key city facilities—a lot of them built in the 1950s—were either in need of replacement or complete overhaul. Among them: the library, built in 1950, with an estimated price tag of $20-50 million; the existing police and fire headquarters next to City Hall with a top-line estimate of $150 million; the tunnel and wall at the marina, an estimated $25 million; and a host of other city facilities—one thing Uslar noted is that Monterey has five community centers. A city of comparable size typically would have one. He also brought the Neighborhood Community Improvement Program (NCIP) into the discussion, which garners its revenue—an estimated $6 million annually—from transient occupancy taxes generated by hotel stays, but questioned the wisdom of investing in an eight-court, city-funded pickleball facility in Ryan Ranch— which residents and non-residents alike would have to drive to—while there are sewage backups in the police station, peeling paint in the fire stations and leaking roofs in the community centers. “You do not build a brand-new porch when the roof is leaking,” Uslar said. The Neighborhood Community Improvement Program launched in 1985, giving neighborhood representatives an opportunity to decide how to reinvest money generated by tourism into projects proposed and ranked high by residents. While Uslar lauded the community benefits of NCIP projects, he added with every project there come maintenance costs, and stacked atop each other year over year, it’s a mountain of money over time. Meanwhile, the city only dedicates 2 percent of its general fund revenue to capital improvement projects. And there are increasing concerns and hopes regarding undergrounding utilities in the city, as climate change-induced storm patterns, coupled with the aging Monterey pine trees all over much of the city, have led to frequent power outages in recent years, and also raised concerns over wildfires sparked by downed lines. In certain neighborhoods, that’s already impacted their ability to get homeowner’s insurance. Those are some key things, Uslar said, that the city needs to prioritize going forward, and that while they may not be as “exciting” as new development, they are critical. A Feb. 22 NCIP meeting held at City Hall addressed some of those questions, and highlighted that there are 69 new project applications in the last year spanning the city’s 12 neighborhoods. Just five of them seek to address utilities, and only some of those include undergrounding. How things will ultimately play out will be up to the current and future city councils, but Uslar planted his stake in the ground and told some hard truths. He says the $2 million the city’s general fund budget puts annually toward capital improvement projects is nearly the same as when he started working at the city more than 20 years ago. The city’s overall annual revenue is around $100 million, the majority of which goes to pay its full-time staff of about 400, and about 200 part-time employees. So what to do? Uslar’s ask was that others empowered with the purse—councilmembers, NCIP board members—keep all that in mind, and the coming year will help fill in the blanks. (The city has also launched a public poll on its website, under the “Have Your Say Monterey” umbrella, that allows residents and others to click in on priorities.) Mayor Tyller Williamson looks at some of the challenges as potential opportunities, using the library as an example. He thinks both that the city should invest in a “library of the future,” and isn’t sure it’s worth revamping a building constructed decades ago—he’s for starting anew, putting the library somewhere else, and perhaps turning the location into future affordable housing. “That’s me being idealistic, I don’t know how much meat is on the bones there,” he concedes, adding, “I think it would be smart to have something like that.” Williamson also paid close attention to what Uslar characterized as “nice to have” over “need to have” facilities, and he thinks the $150 million price tag for the new police/fire headquarters includes a lot of “nice to have” things, and hopes that number can come down. Rafaela King, who the city hired in September 2021 as finance director, says that in her first week, she was led on tours of the city’s police and fire headquarters and was shown all the deficiencies in each respective facility. And King seems to share Uslar’s vision that there are urgent needs to be addressed now, so as not “to push it down to next generation.” Part of both Uslar and King’s message is the need to bring awareness to the city’s fiscal issues, and as King says, “This is something we need to start addressing. We can’t do it in one year, we can’t do it in five years.” But the power of the purse is largely outside the purview of Uslar or other city staff—it will come down to the public, the council and NCIP board members. Should undergrounding be an urgent priority? If so, should it jump other NCIP projects in the queue? And what about all the buildings that need replacing or an overhaul? Monterey has had decades of seeing new, nice-to-have things. The lifespan of its infrastructure now demands a closer look at the need-tohave things. The cost estimates to overhaul or rebuild the Monterey Public Library and the city’s fire and police headquarters across the street are up to nearly $200 million. Bills Due The City of Monterey has lavish revenue, and expenditures. The latter is coming home to roost. By David Schmalz “We don’t have a revenue problem in the city of Monterey. We have a spending problem.” Daniel Dreifuss

www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 29-MARCH 6, 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 For Children and adults Consultation, testing and testing and individual sessions for remediation of learning problems and learning disabilities. “I am so impressed with your services and the work you do. One of the members on the IEP list has credited you with saving her grandson’s educational life.” “...very professional and dedicated. I can say that Dr. Rita Rispoli is not only a specialist who loves working with students, but that she was born to her profession.” “We would like to thank you for your support. S__ was very happy to see his good report card and I, for the first time, realized how hard he has been trying to achieve what he wanted. We owe you tremendously. Again, thank you for your dedication to students like our son. We appreciate your sincerity and kindness.” rita rispoli Ph.d., BCet | (831)375-9450 1011 Cass Street, Suite 116, Monterey www.LDspecialist.com | rrispoli@comcast.net Difficulty learning?

10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 29-march 6, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Developer Patrice Pastor of Monaco has acquired a hefty portfolio of properties in the tiny village of Carmel, beginning with the purchase of a home in 2015, growing to at least 16 properties totaling nearly $124 million. The latest purchase for $7.5 million, of the historic La Rambla building on Lincoln Street, prompted one Carmelite to tell SFGATE that residents were “terrified” by Pastor’s expanding Carmel real estate empire. News publications in New York and Europe picked up on the story. Pastor is chairman of the family development company founded by his great-grandfather, J.B. Pastor & Fil. He’s also head of Pastor Real Estate, based in London. His family is reportedly worth billions, with control over vast real estate holdings in Monaco. In recent years he reportedly experienced a falling out with the ruler of Monaco, Prince Albert II, attracting press attention in Europe and internationally. In Carmel Pastor operates under a few limited liability companies: Esperanza Carmel, Esperanza Carmel Commercial and Esperanza Carmel Residential. He started off buying three homes over three years, including two next door to each other on Scenic Road, purchased separately in 2016 and 2018. His commercial purchases took off from there—between October 2018 and December 2020 he purchased multiple properties, including L’Auberge hotel, home to Aubergine Restaurant, and the building where Hog’s Breath Inn is located, once famously owned by Clint Eastwood. In 2023 he purchased three properties, the most prominent of which was the Mrs. Walker Clinton House on the ocean, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, purchased for $22 million. Company representative Christopher Mitchell did not respond to a request for comment. Pastor told the Daily Mail he couldn’t understand why locals would be worried. “We love the town, and we want to protect its unique history and character,” he said in a story published on Feb. 20. Pastor has experienced some hard lessons in what Carmelites consider “village character.” It took three attempts with the Carmel Planning Commission to land on an acceptable design for his proposed multi-use Ulrika Plaza at the corner of Dolores Street and 5th Avenue. Last year he lost a bid to move a decorative wall in the way of another project near Dolores and 7th after the Carmel City Council deemed it historic. For many, landlines are almost an urban legend. But for people who live in isolated areas with unreliable cell phone service such as Cachagua, Royal Oaks or Big Sur, landlines might be the only way to communicate when they’re facing an emergency. In March 2023, AT&T Corporation sent a request to the California Public Utilities Commission to be released from being a Carrier of Last Resort, which is a designation that requires it to offer landline telephone service. “This obligation requires AT&T California, but not its major competitors, to wastefully operate and maintain two duplicative networks: one, an antiquated, narrowband network with an ever-dwindling base of subscribers, and the other, a forward-looking, fiber and wireless broadband network,” AT&T officials wrote in their request. County Supervisor Chris Lopez says landlines are a “lifeline” for many areas. “I think about communities like Arroyo Seco that recently experienced a landslide,” Lopez says. “Their only way to communicate with the other side of that landslide was through those copper wires that are required to be maintained by AT&T.” On Feb. 20, 15 members of Congress, including Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, sent a letter to Alice Busching Reynolds, CPUC’s president, raising concerns. “AT&T’s application to cease landline service in our communities threaten public safety in an area plagued by earthquakes, severe storms, floods and fires,” they wrote. If approved, the change would impact several cities in Monterey County, including Carmel, Greenfield and Marina, and unincorporated areas such as Bradley, Carmel Valley and Spreckels. Lopez is in talks with AT&T representatives to organize a meeting with South County residents and suggested residents submit comments to CPUC. As of Feb. 7, the CPUC has received over 3,000 public comments. After six in-person meetings, the commission holds virtual meetings on Tuesday, March 19 at 2pm and 6pm (tinyurl.com/54h3teyd). Big Buy Carmel lands in the spotlight as a Monaco developer snaps up more village properties. By Pam Marino news HEALTHY HABITS The County of Monterey’s Behavioral Health Commission invites those concerned with mental and behavioral health issues to attend a public meeting. The commission will consider appointing an ad hoc committee and hear presentations and reports, while members of the public are invited to comment. 5:30pm Thursday, Feb. 29. Marina Training Room, 299 12th St., Marina; or via Zoom. Free. 755-4509, co.monterey.ca.us/government/departments. SOCIAL CENTER Monterey County Supervisor Wendy Root Askew hosts a town hall meeting to discuss important updates proposed for the County of Monterey’s Social Services building on Broadway Avenue in Seaside. 6pm Thursday, Feb. 29. Oldemeyer Center, 986 Hilby Ave, Seaside. Free. 883-7570, morae2@co.monterey.ca.us. DREAM HOUSE Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity invites you to attend a workshop to help potential first-time homebuyers. The event focuses on creating a budget, repairing credit, shopping for a lender and everything else you can expect from pre-application to escrow—registrants who attend can qualify for HUD housing programs. 9am-5pm Tuesday, March 5. Virtual event. Registration required, one registration per household. Email hbe@ echofairhousing.org to register. Free. bit.ly/HBE0302. POWER UP Pacific Gas & Electric hosts a virtual town hall meeting for Central Coast customers to discuss savings programs and work happening in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. Company leaders, including Regional Vice President Teresa Alvarado, will be available to answer questions. 5:30-7pm Wednesday, March 6. Virtual event. Free. pge.com/webinars. GOING GREEN Monterey County’s Alternative Energy and Environment Committee holds a special meeting to discuss the status of the Community Climate Action & Adaptation Plan and hear a presentation on the Monterey County Green Business Network. Residents are encouraged to participate and give public comment. 1pm Thursday, Feb. 29. Board Chamber, 168 W. Alisal St., first floor, Salinas or via Zoom at montereycty. zoom.us. Free. co.monterey.ca.us. Dropped Call AT&T’s request to the state to cancel landline requirement would impact rural customers. By Celia Jiménez The historic La Rambla building in Carmel, built in 1929 in the Spanish eclectic style, is the latest purchase by Esperanza Carmel for $7.5 million. e-mail: toolbox@mcweekly.com TOOLBOX Pastor couldn’t understand why locals would worry. Daniel Dreifuss

www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 29-MARCH 6, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 11 As the global transition toward renewable energy ramps up, scientists have been empowered to explore the facets that transition may require. One potential source of renewable energy is marine energy, which is created by moving water, whether waves, tides or currents. But environmental protections enshrined in state and federal law mean that those looking to create renewable energy projects have to think carefully about the permitting process. That can be particularly tricky in a marine environment, where data about how organisms react to a new thing might be harder to come by. But in order to prove a project’s net environmental impact, that data is critical. Enter the Triton Initiative, a project the federal Pacific Northwest National Laboratory launched in 2015 to look at technologies and methods to monitor marine energy devices. The initiative is the U.S. Department of Energy’s pointy tip of the spear—or triton, if you will— to help thread that permitting needle (or not). And sometimes that pointy tip takes the shape of a balloon, or, in the scientific lingo, a “tethered balloon system,” aka TBS. PNNL, in partnership with the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico, along with NOAA, deployed such a balloon at NOAA’s Granite Canyon site in Big Sur for two weeks, from Jan. 22 to Feb. 2, which PNNL’s Alicia Amerson says went swimmingly. The idea to use a balloon for the Triton research was Amerson’s—she’s trained as a whale biologist, and knew she wanted to get an overhead view, but not too high, of the sea. Her initial thought was to use a drone, but the short battery life was untenable—she needed to let the sensors, which detect marine and bird life seaward of the helium-filled balloon, roll for hours at a time to get a meaningful data set. The first technology that allowed humans to fly still has its advantages, it turns out. Amerson helped lead the first TBS test run in La Porte, Texas in 2022, and she and her colleagues spent months afterward not just learning from the experiment, but also looking for a new location to try next, ideally one where the balloon could see migrating whales. Amerson’s marine science contacts led her to NOAA’s Granite Canyon site, which is key, because the same gray whales that migrate off the Central Coast also pass by Oregon, where the nation’s first utility-scale marine energy test facility—PacWave South—is being constructed off the coast of Newport. Because there’s generally a precautionary approach with approving projects, Amerson says the technology being put into monitoring their impacts is further advanced than the marine energy tech—PacWave South will be the first place for marine energy projects to sea-test their technology, and projects like Triton’s TBS will ideally be in place to help monitor their impacts. Amerson says the earliest that could happen is likely 2025 or 2026. “One of the things holding [marine energy] up is the lack of test facilities to take devices to test,” she says, adding she and her colleagues are excited to get started on it. Not Hot Air A federal research initiative to facilitate marine energy projects wraps its operations in Big Sur. By David Schmalz The helium-filled balloon was deployed at NOAA’s Granite Canyon site in Big Sur for two weeks, from Jan. 22 to Feb. 2, for an overhead data collection view. NEWS They spent months learning from the experiment. CAILENE GUNN:PNNL

12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 29-march 6, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com What a Nightmare Hats off to David Schmalz for his excellent article exposing the iron fist handling of HOA affairs in East Garrison (“For some residents of East Garrison, their dream home has become a nightmare,” Feb. 22-28). A nightmare indeed! It is unfortunate that for the greater majority of homeowners to gain relief there are but two options. Either rally the majority and vote the bullies off the board, or take legal action against them. Doing so, however, means suing yourself. The board will use HOA funds to defend themselves, money paid in dues by the hardworking homeowners being harmed and seeking legal relief. This story reminds me of the proverbial tail wagging the dog. Cecil Reece | Marina One of East Garrison’s regulations is that residents can’t string a laundry line where it’s visible by the neighbors. Your article certainly took care of that for us, hanging our wash where everyone in the county can get a good look at it. So many tasks strung out on the line: before you hire a company, look into their record; really read the rules and learn how to change them; demand transparency; if you don’t like the direction your local government is going, vote and run for office if you can; hold developers and the county responsible for promises made. It was pretty embarrassing to be subjected to a public white-glove inspection. Hopefully, good reporting inspires everyone to clean house, not just peek at the neighbor’s laundry. Helen Shamble | East Garrison This article is reflective of the issues that have arisen over the past 18 months. Prior to the three members being elected to the HOA board, East Garrison’s homeowners enjoyed peace and harmony throughout our neighborhoods. This will change in September when we elect three new board members. John Ferrari | East Garrison I had an HOA from hell story that lasted several years when I bought a unit in the Pacific Heights development in Seaside in 1989. There was nothing in state law to monitor these self-proclaimed board emperors. I truly didn’t do anything wrong, not even a flowerpot. After a three-way lawsuit, I decided to sell below original value to stick it to the board. I couldn’t deal with the stress anymore. I would not buy into an HOA like that again. Jasmine Andrews | via email that’s politics It is embarrassing how thin-skinned and petty County Supervisor Luis Alejo is (“Letters,” Feb. 22-28). He should just be thankful that you all bothered to endorse him considering he is literally the only option. But instead he takes the time to criticize you for leveling any critique of him. Damian Maldonado | Salinas I agree with Barbara Moore: The Weekly should reconsider and promptly publish a dual endorsement for [County Board of Supervisors District 5]. Alan Haffa is a far stronger and more experienced candidate than Kate Daniels. His 12 years on the Monterey City Council have proven his commitment to a progressive agenda, from practical housing solutions for unhoused and lower-income residents, to environmental protections, including prohibiting fracking in South Monterey County and continued support for public ownership of our Monterey Peninsula water. Sidney Ramsden Scott | Pebble Beach I’m writing to comment on how awful that photograph of Kate Daniels was on the cover (“Endorsements: Candidates and measures on the March 5 primary ballot offer their vision to chart the future,” Feb. 8-14). The lighting is atrocious and would make anyone look bad! As a professional photographer for over 40 years I speak from authority on the subject. Your photographer, Daniel Dreifuss, clearly doesn’t know how to photograph people. It’s not just the cover photo, it’s also the inside photos. Those are the types of photos National Enquirer might use with the intention of making the person look bad. I have come to expect better from your publication. Gregg Wutke | via email Clear the Air The public deserves to know more about the health hazards associated with asbestos exposure (“Project Censored takes a look at the top 10 stories the mainstream media missed last year,” Feb. 15-21). Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, has microscopic needle-like fibers that were used extensively in various materials to enhance product durability, insulation and fire resistance properties. Once these asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, these fibers can be released into the air we breathe. Once breathed in, these fibers can become embedded in body tissues where they can’t be eliminated. Adverse health impacts, including asbestosis and mesothelioma, can occur. Asbestos is everywhere. Here are a few suggested steps we can urge our state leaders to take: • California should mandate materials disturbed in construction projects are thoroughly surveyed for the presence of asbestos. • Evaluate whether any asbestos-containing products are manufactured in the state and then ban the use of asbestos in manufacturing. • Ban the sale of all asbestos-containing products such as building materials, talc, makeup and brake pads. Shawn Boyle | via email Note: Boyle is Planning & Air Monitoring Supervisor at Monterey Bay Air Resources District. olive branch Sara Rubin states that, “...no olive branch is long enough to cross the gulf of Monterey Peninsula water politics” (“Peninsula water politics create a wedge on Salinas City Council,” Feb. 15-21). That has been historically true for decades so one may forgive her if she holds this divide across the “lettuce curtain,” aka “cypress curtain,” as inevitable. But for me it is cynical and divisive to reinforce these historical patterns, particularly around water. Now that FORA has been retired, M1W is the regional agency most disposed to resolving cross-county water battles. M1W is the venue to change the pattern. Let’s hope Anthony Rocha can bring a new sense of cooperation. Michael Baer | San Jose Letters • CommentsOPINION Submit letters to the editor to letters@mcweekly.com. Please keep your letter to 150 words or less; subject to editing for space. Please include your full name, contact information and city you live in.

www.montereycountyweekly.com february 29-march 6, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 The first time Rick Antle, CEO of Tanimura & Antle, met Mike Avila, owner of Avila Construction Company, Antle had a serious question: “Did I call the right guy?” It was April 2015, after T&A plowed $100,000 worth of crops back into the ground due to a lack of workers. Convinced the company would have to invest in housing in order to remain successful, Antle wanted a contractor who could build a large apartment complex for approximately 800 workers and he wanted it done in a year, an unheard-of accomplishment. Avila remembers asking Antle multiple questions before he could answer. Did T&A have the land? Yes, they owned a business park in Spreckels. Was there water? Yes, they own Spreckels’ water system. What about sewer? Antle thought they had access, he’d have to check. “In that conversation I said, ‘I think I can do it, but I need a land use attorney,’” Avila says. T&A’s vice president and general counsel, Wesley Van Camp, was at the ready. The $17 million project proceeded at “breakneck” speed, Avila says, despite objections by neighbors who predicted workers living at Spreckels Crossing would bring drugs, prostitution, traffic and other ills. The project featuring 800 beds was passed unanimously by both the Monterey County Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors within five months of the meeting between Avila and Antle. Workers began moving in on April 15, 2016, a year after their meeting. Avila says he and his team were there the day the buses rolled in carrying workers from Yuma, Arizona. T&A employees left towels, washcloths and made sure there were sets of dishes in the cupboards. People just off the buses were calling their families saying, “You won’t believe this,” Avila remembers. “It is a real impact on these people and our whole group realized what had been accomplished through Rick’s decision.” Antle died just two years later after a brief battle with cancer at the age of 61. The predictions by neighbors never came to pass. Avila remembers overhearing some men from Spreckels at the gym he works out in Salinas expressing their concerns about negative impacts once Spreckels Crossing was open. He introduced himself and told them workers had already moved in. “They didn’t even know it was built,” Avila says. “There was no impact on Spreckels.” Since then Avila Construction has built over 4,100 seasonal farmworker housing beds in Monterey County for ag companies that are paying for the properties, with no government money. Another 224 beds have been constructed by other companies since, for a total of more than 4,370. It doesn’t take care of the entire problem of providing housing for seasonal workers, but it’s notable for what has been accomplished. Avila ticks off positive impacts: Ag company owners report higher productivity among satisfied workers with a safe place to live; some homes previously used for seasonal workers are now in the mainstream rental market, relieving pressure on housing; low-cost motels previously full from March through November are now available when people without homes need an inexpensive place to stay. “The other thing I don’t think folks realize is it takes a ton of traffic off the road,” he says. “The people that live in these places seldom, if ever, drive a car to the field. The bus takes them.” Every bus is 20 cars off the road, according to the construction company’s traffic studies. More seasonal farmworker housing is on its way. A 360-bed project on Susan Street in Pajaro is nearing completion, with another 250-bed project proposed next door, scheduled for consideration by the county Planning Commission on April 10. A 360-bed project in unincorporated Monterey County adjacent to the City of Salinas was approved by the commission last month. Avila says after 26 years with the company started by his brother Steve, he’s in a position to choose whatever kind of work he wants to do. Building seasonal farmworker housing is what he chooses. “The goal is to spread the housing out from King City to Hollister to Santa Cruz,” he says. “We’ve got good coverage in Salinas Valley, but we have more to do.” Clearly, Rick Antle called the right guy. Pam Marino is a staff writer at the Weekly. Reach her at pam@mcweekly.com Ripple Effect Building farmworker housing was and is the right thing to do. By Pam Marino Bully Pulpit…Squid does not take kindly to bullies, but Squid is never surprised when they do their bullying anonymously—that’s often how they roll. Such was the case with a letter—sent via snail mail—that an East Garrison resident received recently. Presumably, it was from someone who lives there and was unhappy about that person’s comments in a Feb. 22 cover story in the Weekly about residents’ complaints over what they view as an authoritarian homeowner’s association with a management company they feel like is spying on them, or at least doing the bidding of the HOA board. The person who received the letter was an on-the-record, named source for that cover story. Many other residents Squid’s colleague spoke to for the story would not go on the record, expressing fear of retaliation. Turns out, those concerns were legit: When the previously on-the-record source in question shared the letter with Squid’s colleague, they indicated they wanted to remain anonymous, at least for now. When Squid’s colleague saw the letter, he understood the concern, despite the return address on the envelope that reads: “Your Friends, East Garrison.” The typed letter begins, “We are writing to let you know that your neighbors hate you…The depths of your stupidity never cease to amaze. The fact that you are also an ugly pig only makes things worse. You look like some type of hunchback bug or beetle…Fuck off you loud mouth useless piece of shit skank. Cheers, Your neighbors who despise you.” Squid omitted even more offensive lines from the letter, believing the above is enough for one to get the gist. But that’s not the only East Garrison news that’s popped up since the story came out. Cindy May, who also went on record for the recent story, sold her East Garrison home earlier this month—she closed escrow Feb. 9. A few days ago she received an unexpected thing in the mail: a bill for her HOA dues for a house she no longer owns. Baffled, she called her title company that handled escrow, and was assured that her HOA dues—along with dues owed by the new owners—were paid and sent to the HOA’s management company. But, she was told, the checks had not yet been cashed after two weeks. Furthermore, she says she hadn’t told anyone in the HOA, or her title company, her new address. So May is wondering how and why the HOA’s management company managed to both track her down, but also not cash the checks? She took to the East Garrison NextDoor page to ask how this could have happened, and to let her former neighbors know, but the post was taken down a day later by one of the page’s administrators. Squid thinks it’s generally good when neighbors look out for neighbors, but a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” approach? That’s Orwellian. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. “It takes a ton of traffic off the road.” Send Squid a tip: squid@mcweekly.com

14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY February 29-march 6, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com FORUM OPINION Search Party The once-mighty Google search engine is now rife with fraudulent search results. By Caitlin Fillmore I remember my first-ever internet search as a child in October 1999. My elementary school had upgraded to those adorable jelly bean iMac G3s. It was on Yahoo!, because that was the only website I knew. My friends and I squeezed into three plastic chairs, faces shining with excitement toward the comparatively tiny 15-inch screen. We were paralyzed by limitless choice and decided to search for the first thing we could think of. We were girls, so “girls” it was. As you may imagine, this went very, very wrong. Now 25 years later, I am still making elementary mistakes when it comes to seeking answers online—but it’s not all my fault. A few weeks ago I attempted to research Covered California. I Googled the name of this government program, the state’s online marketplace to find affordable insurance, and clicked on the first search result. It was like I was back in fifth grade and it was my first day on the internet. Even though Covered California is a robust website, operated as a partnership between the California Health Benefit Exchange and the California Department of Health Care Services, it is still a prime target for scam websites. In this case, a plain, white screen beckoned me to follow a link because Covered California had moved. Luckily for me and my screenglazed brain, this logic seemed fishy. I quickly backed out and located the correct website, coveredca.com—the sixth entry in Google search results. Covered California is well aware of the potential for scams and offers a Consumer Protection website to help insurance shoppers protect themselves. Notably, scam websites rank in the top three most common types of fraud for Covered California. The problem is growing. The 2022 blog “Google Search is Dying” and a 2023 article in The Atlantic, “The Tragedy of Google Search,’’ point to unregulated, revenue-generating tools like search engine optimization (SEO), AI and advertising as the culprits for the search engine’s dissolution. As Charlie Warzel writes in The Atlantic, “[Google Search] is also, like the modern web, creaking under the weight of its enormous size and an infinitely renewable supply of content, both human- and AI-generated…It’s harder now to find answers that feel authoritative or uncompromised.” The University of Wisconsin offers a few simple tips to search the internet more safely, including installing a VPN, analyzing the security and privacy settings on your browser of choice, and scrutinizing search results using services like Google Safe Browsing to verify links. This informative, trustworthy article was the first legitimate result in a Google Search for “tips for safe internet searches.” It appeared 18th on the list. As Congressional hearings continue to excoriate the internet’s titans (but not regulate them), it’s up to consumers to protect themselves against increasingly vulnerable search results. That is, if you can find the correct information. Caitlin Fillmore is a freelance writer based in Monterey. Her work appears at caitlinslhfillmore. com. “It’s harder now to find answers.” Try Us First. We Pay The Highest! MONTEREY COIN SHOPPE Since 1970 same street for 40 years Open Mon-Thur 11am-4pm and Friday by appointment only. 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 Is it time for a Room Refresh? Your home is your sanctuary and should support personal growth. Visit our website to schedule a complimentary call to discuss rejuvenating your space. VENTANADESIGN.CO A Monterey Bay Interior Design Firm 101 W. Laurel Dr, Salinas • (831)443-6161 Mon-Sat 9am-6pm Sun 10am-5pm $2.75 Rooster Chicks $4.00 Pullet Chicks with a purchase of one of the following items 50lb medicated chick start & grow 50lb non-medicated chick start & grow 35lb organic chick start & grow 50lb flock raiser crumble Chicks and feed must be purchased at the same time for special pricing to apply. Special pricing cannot be combined with any other discounts or offers. Special pricing does not apply to 25lb bags of feed. Offer valid while supplies last. Chick Days MARCH 22 Low cost vaccination clinic for dogs & cats. Microchipping. Prescription flea/tick medication. OPEN SAT 2:30PM-4:30PM • SUN 11AM-1PM