march 28-april 3, 2024 montereycountyweekly.com LOCAL & INDEPENDENT rana creek ranch comes to life 8 | skating to a stop in pacific grove 12 | Laugh out loud 38 CULTURE OF DENIAL Carmel Unified School District has a history of repressing sexual abuse allegations. Now on its seventh superintendent in nine years, many longtime leaders still act as if all is well. What needs to change? By Sara Rubin [p. 18]


www.montereycountyweekly.com MARCH 28-APRIL 3, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 3 Thank you to our Monterey County doctors for serving the people of our community with excellence and compassion, every day. Happy Doctors’ Day

4 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY march 28-arpil 3, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com March 28-April 3, 2024 • ISSUE #1860 • Established in 1988 Don Blohowiak (iPhone 15 ProMax) Thousands of by-the-wind sailors (Velella velella) have arrived on the shores of Monterey Bay in the past few days. Above, they are shown on sand and rocks at low tide in Pebble Beach on Saturday, March 23. Monterey County photo of the week Send Etc. submissions to etcphoto@mcweekly.com; please include caption and camera info. On the cover: Students at Carmel High School, the largest school in Carmel Unified School District. Fallout from the community’s own MeToo movement has continued to contribute to turnover in leadership at the school district. 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 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, Tonia Eaton, Caitlin Fillmore, 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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6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY March 28-April 3, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH If you write a message in a public place, what rights does somebody have to erase that message? That question is part of the basis of a lawsuit filed on March 18 in Monterey County Superior Court by Sara Khalil, Maryam Khalil and Pearl Warrick against Max Steiner. Steiner also faces misdemeanor charges in connection to the Oct. 12 incident, in which he confronted the trio just after they had written “Free Gaza” out of plants on a sand dune widely known as Scribble Hill in Sand City. The criminal case focuses on whether Steiner grabbed and threw a smartphone (he is charged with assault and vandalism), while the civil case focuses on the right to free speech. “All members of our community have the right to peacefully express their opinions and disagree in a manner that enables the vibrant marketplace of ideas,” according to the suit. That Steiner removed the message in an allegedly violent and threatening manner is the basis of the suit, not simply that it was removed. “We stand firmly against the actions that sought to silence these voices through intimidation and physical harm,” said civil rights attorney Jeffrey Wang of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is representing the plaintiffs. Steiner has not yet filed a response in court. Good: It’s a good week for pastry-chefsin-training. Rancho Cielo Youth Campus in Salinas received $1 million in federal funding, making it one of 14 projects in Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s, D-San Jose, district to be awarded through the Congress’ Community Project Funding initiative. The funds will be used to expand Rancho Cielo’s Drummond Culinary Academy with a new 1,200-square-foot pastry kitchen. Rancho Cielo plans to create a social micro-enterprise, giving students real-world experiences in the culinary world and helping them gain entrepreneurship skills. The kitchen will be adjacent to the central kitchen and dining room, including a lab/ classroom, production room, administrative office, storage space and restrooms. “This funding will allow us to offer more specialized training and continue shaping the next generation of culinary professionals,” says Drummond Culinary Academy Executive Chef Estevan Jimenez. GREAT: The City of Salinas will have a new park next year: Ensen Community Park. The six-acre facility at Carr Lake will have picnic areas, playgrounds, courts, a dog park and more. The park concept has been years in the making and construction on the first phase, Ensen Community Park, is set to begin by March 31 and wrap up in 2025. (“Ensen” is an indigenous word that means blackberry. Blackberries were an important fruit in the diet of indigenous peoples who lived in the area that is now Carr Lake.) On March 19, the City and Big Sur Land Trust entered into a memorandum of understanding for the nonprofit to transfer the park to Salinas as each phase is completed. The “ultimate goal” is to turn all 73 acres of Carr Lake into a city park. The second phase includes a 67-acre restoration area. For this project, BSLT has raised more than $27 million in donations; the entire project is expected to cost $40 million. GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY Hours of work completed by three Moxi robots in Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in one year. Since the first one was acquired on March 15, 2023, the robots have fulfilled tasks like delivering prescriptions to and from the pharmacy, saving staff time. Source: Montage Health annual meeting 11,000 QUOTE OF THE WEEK “I hate endings like this.” -Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto, speaking about the efforts to find missing hiker Caroline Meister in the Ventana Wilderness. Her body was found at the base of a waterfall on March 22 (see story, mcweekly.com). *APY =annual percentage yield. To earn 8.33% APY on the first $10,000 of balance for any monthly statement cycle, you must make at least 25 debit card purchases, have logged into MCU online banking at least once during the 90 days preceding the end of the statement cycle, and be enrolled in e-statements. Portion of the balance that exceeds $10,000 earns 8.33% to 0.18% APY. Fees may reduce earnings. Dividend rates and APYs are variable and may change after account opening. MCU may determine debit card purchase requirement is not met if cardholder manipulates transactions (for example by making multiple small dollar purchases at the same merchant on the same day) to meet eligibility requirements. Rates accurate as of 03/18/2024; subject to change without notice. **Member must not have had an MCU checking account in the previous 12 months or have previously received an incentive to open an MCU checking account. Member must meet eligibility requirements and enroll in MCU’s online banking and mobile deposit services. One per household, determined by residence address. $200 paid in the form of an MCU check that can only be deposited to an MCU account via mobile deposit. Not available on business accounts. Limited time offer; subject to change without notice. on the first $10,000 with our Wealth Builder Checking Account! And you may qualify for a $200** account opening bonus today! Visit a branch nearest you: Monterey . Salinas . Hollister Monday - Friday | 10:00 am to 5:00 pm or call us at 831.647.1000 www.montereycu.com 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

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8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY MARCH 28-APRIL 3, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com 831 Last fall, as Kat HardistyCranstone was entering her first semester as a grad student at CSU Monterey Bay studying environmental sciences, she took a trip out to Rana Creek Ranch in Carmel Valley with her professor Fred Watson. Their aim was to inquire about an internship for Hardisty-Cranstone with the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County. Since the ’80s, the sprawling 14,000acre Rana Creek Ranch was owned by former Apple chairman and CEO Mike Markkula, and after years of trying to sell it, he finally did last summer. The nonprofit Wildlands Conservancy bought it for $35 million, $26 million of which came from state agencies. The conservancy acquires land with the intent of opening it to the public— free of charge—for hiking and camping, and outdoor education programs for youth groups. Once the deal was done, the conservancy established a partnership with the Esselen Tribe so that it could help provide guidance about the history of the land, and its natural and cultural resources. (The conservancy intends to sell to the tribe the approximately 2,000 acres of the property south of Carmel Valley Road.) Hardisty-Cranstone landed both an internship with the tribe and a job as preserve manager for the Conservancy. She now lives onsite in a ranch home not far from the modest estate Markkula sometimes vacationed at. On a recent March day, Watson and Hardisty-Cranstone meet at the property’s 9,000-square-foot conference center, just a short drive north through the locked gate at Carmel Valley Road. Their aim is to make further progress on Hardisty-Cranstone’s internship project, which is to assess the quantity and biodiversity of the property’s vernal ponds, which Watson says are unusually common on the vast property, which is filled with grassy, rolling hills dotted by oak trees as far as the eye can see, and much further. They decide to start off with a few ponds just south of Carmel Valley Road, and after hiking through some saturated grassland, come upon the first pond of the day. Both set about examining life at the pond’s edge, and Hardisty-Cranstone quickly spots some western toad eggs, which look like a pile of clear udon noodles with a chain of black eggs encased within each. She also spots a number of tadpoles, which she can tell are toads—she calls them “toadpoles.” There are also dozens of tiny chorus frogs hopping about, which she cautions against stepping on. Watson turns his focus to the plants—he says they’re mostly non-native, and adds that the fault lines running down this part of Carmel Valley are what created these ponds over millennia by lifting the land up and tilting it. “Faults create the pond, cattle come and trash the pond,” he adds. Later in the day, Watson leads the way up Aqua Mala Creek, lined with stately valley oaks that are hundreds of years old. He explains that cattle grazing has, in part, prevented the regeneration of oaks across the state, and points to a foot-tall oak nub with only a few leaves, which he guesses is about 15 to 20 years old—it gets nibbled back every year. Hardisty-Cranstone emphasizes that exactly how the conservancy plans to utilize the land is still an open question. “This place is kind of a blank slate,” she says. “There hasn’t been a lot of research done here for decades.” Public access is coming—both from Carmel Valley Road and where the property hits the Salinas Valley—but is a few years in the offing, after baseline environmental assessments. Whether or not all or parts of the ranch are eventually closed off to cattle grazing remains unknown—the idea now, one that both the tribe and conservancy are invested in, is getting a clearer picture of ecosystems as they exist right now, which will help inform how to manage the property going forward. “The opportunity here is absolutely ridiculous,” Watson says, adding that the entire Sierra de Salinas range has historically been closed off to public access. “There’s so much opportunity to do the right thing with an incredibly unique chunk of land. You don’t want to go picking wildflowers when you could really make a dent in a California conservation priority.” Wide Open Rana Creek Ranch—a vast, majestic property in Carmel Valley—is slated to become a recreational treasure. By David Schmalz Kat Hardisty-Cranstone and Fred Watson look at a vernal pond on Rana Creek Ranch, a property in eastern Carmel Valley acquired last year by The Wildlands Conservancy. “The opportunity here is absolutely ridiculous.” TALES FROM THE AREA CODE DANIEL DREIFUSS “At Santa Cruz County Bank I know exactly who to call when I need answers. The Bank makes decisions at a local level – the same way I do. The Treasury Management team walked us through the efficiencies of online and mobile banking and the security of having positive pay protection – all of which keep our bookkeeper very happy!”

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10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY march 28-april 3, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com news It is the classic American beach snack shack, painted red, white and blue, and serving up all the treats anyone could want for a day at the beach. The Grill at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove, “home of the PG Beach Burger” as its sign once stated, currently sits empty, awaiting a new operator to fill up soft serve ice cream cones and pass out corn dogs. The city issued a request for proposals on March 19 with hopes of the snack bar reopening in time for tourist season, beginning June 1. “The city is seeking an innovative and experienced business operator who can provide high-quality food, beverages and snacks to local residents and visitors at this iconic waterfront location,” the RFP states. The 300-square-foot snack bar benefits from foot traffic from the Recreation Trail, Lovers Point Beach and park, according to the city. Already 30 people or companies have expressed interest, says P.G. Finance Manager Lori Frati. The snack bar has been closed since the end of February, after the lease expired at the end of December with former operator Joe Cavallaro. The city is interested in awarding an initial fiveyear lease, with up to one five-year renewal at the city’s sole discretion, depending on how successful, clean, well-staffed and profitable it is for the city— rent is based on percentage of gross income, with a guaranteed amount paid to the city every month. There’s a mandatory pre-proposal meeting and site visit for prospective operators on Friday, April 5. The deadline for proposals is April 24, with interviews through May 5, and contract negotiations through May 13. The P.G. City Council is scheduled to consider awarding a contract on May 15. Snack Attack Pacific Grove awaits replies to its call to take over the Lovers Point concessions stand. By Pam Marino Construction is underway on a project widening Imjin Parkway through Marina, changing the routines for thousands of commuters that travel from and to Salinas. But drivers aren’t the only ones impacted. Hikers and equestrians who use Fort Ord trails near the Marina Equestrian Center and CSU Monterey Bay are finding access blocked. About a quarter-mile from MEC, barriers now prevent visitors from getting onto the main trails nearby. “I want my trails back,” says Doug Hatran, a partner-owner of Chaparral Ranch, the concessionaire that operates the MEC. (The rides they offer now go alongside fencing, rather than on a trail.) The reason the barriers are up is not temporary due to construction. It is an environmental mitigation to protect the native plant Monterey sand gilia. Widening Imjin means decimating some of the plant’s habitat. In order to get the green light for the project and offer meaningful protection of the plant, the City of Marina set aside land for gilia habitat. “You have to compensate for the loss of endangered species by protecting land elsewhere,” says Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado, who is also a botanist working on Fort Ord lands. The Measure X-funded project started in late February and will widen Imjin Parkway from two to four lanes, and includes the addition of four roundabouts, bike lanes and more. Hatran says protecting the plant is important and it aligns with Chaparral’s conservation goals, but he would prefer to see cable fencing through the mitigation area, keeping people and horses on trails while continuing to allow public access. There are two fenced-off areas— the one near the Marina Equestrian Center, and another near the CSUMB campus—cordoning off a total of 61.5 acres for habitat mitigation. Horseback riders come to Fort Ord National Monument from all over Monterey County, as well as from Watsonville, Gilroy and beyond. One of them is Aromas resident Robert Robe. Robe rides his Appaloosa, Nelli, and his wife rides Karl, a thoroughbred gelding, every Saturday. They both have ridden in the area for over 20 years, but since the barrier was installed their rides have been cut short since they can’t access other sides of the park. Since Chaparral Ranch took over management at the MEC about a year ago, the facilities have had a facelift since the former concessionaire, the Marina Equestrian Association, lost a bid to continue. There is no longer rusty or visibly broken fencing, for example. The association had been offering year-round boarding of horses, despite a prohibition on doing so. Members had to find other boarding facilities for their horses. It isn’t easy to find affordable boarding nearby. In early March, Pebble Beach Equestrian Center announced it will close permanently in June, putting further strain on boarding options. The Marina Equestrian Association is still in the mix, with plans to build a long-term boarding facility for horses on a three-acre, city-owned parcel near the Marina Equestrian Center, which would alleviate the boarding crunch. On March 19, the City of Marina and the association agreed to a memorandum of understanding for that project. But if it gets built, horses and their riders may not have easy access to Fort Ord trails. A popular trailhead for equestrians riding from the Marina Equestrian Center, above, has closed. It is a habitat mitigation measure for the Imjin Parkway widening project. Path Forward Widening Imjin Parkway is impacting plant habitat— and public access to beloved Fort Ord trails. By Celia Jiménez The Grill at Lovers Point has been closed for nearly a month after the former operator’s lease expired. Around 30 people or companies have expressed interest in taking the space over. “I want my trails back.” Daniel Dreifuss Daniel Dreifuss

www.montereycountyweekly.com March 28-april 3, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 11 EASTER BUFFET Celebrate Easter at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa and enjoy a thoughtfully prepared buffet of seasonal favorites and coastal specialties by Chef Michael Rotondo SUNDAY, MARCH 31 | 9AM - 2:30PM $115 ADULTS $49 CHILDREN Ages 6-13 Free for children under 6 Tax and service not included RESERVATIONS (831) 645-4058 JOIN US EVERY SUNDAY BEGINNING MARCH 10 FOR 400 CANNERY ROW, MONTEREY coastalkitchenmonterey.com 400 Cannery Row, Monterey | montereyplazahotel.com 3 COURSE CHEF’ S TASTING MENU WITH FREE FLOWING CHAMPAGNE with available enchancements including signature Seafood Tower Sundays 9am – 2pm $75 per person Brunch Sunday

12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY march 28-april 3, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Milo Costa may have a career in politics in about 15 or 20 years. He approached the Pacific Grove City Council podium on Wednesday, March 20, to deliver a polite and clear message with an added edge of humor. “I would like to point this out,” he said, holding up a homemade poster that read, “One Skatepark Please (and thank you).” He was one of the eight kids who made comments that night in support of a skatepark. Costa noted they cared enough to stay at a city council meeting past 8pm on a school night. A temporary skatepark concept was outlined by Public Works Director Daniel Gho. The idea, following a directive from the City Council to the P.G. Recreation Board in November, was to repurpose an employee parking lot located on 16th Avenue between the P.G. Fire Department and Youth Center into a smooth surface with wooden ramps. It would be in place for three to six months as a trial period. However, the Council’s discussion foreshadowed disappointment—something supporters of the P.G. Skatepark Project have come to expect. City officials had already rejected three other prospective locations, and the intent of a temporary site would be to “result in a consensus as to where the skatepark should be ultimately located,” Gho wrote in a report to council. Mayor Bill Peake along with councilmembers Luke Coletti, Nick Smith and Lori McDonnell, opposed the temporary proposal, saying the $132,896 preliminary quote—excluding maintenance and some additional costs—was not worth a non-permanent solution. Audible boos were heard in the chamber after the 4-2 vote to nix the temporary skatepark, with Joe Ameilio and Chaps Poduri dissenting. Alex White, one of the P.G. Skatepark Project leaders who first brought forward the idea with her two sons in 2022, is frustrated. “We listened to literally everything [the City Council] said,” White says, citing the list of requirements for the location of the latest proposal from the P.G. Parks and Recreation Commission: at least 100 feet from any residence, on an already-paved surface, one-tenth of the cost of the original skatepark proposal, close to resources like the youth center and temporary in nature for the purposes of gauging interest. White admits it will probably take a new City Council with fresh faces to advance a skatepark. Hopefully for supporters of the project, that will be before the time that Costa will be eligible to run for office. Approximately twothirds of Monterey residents are renters, and the engine of the city’s economy is tourism. Yet as rents have consistently trended upward in recent years as the lack of new housing has constrained supply, some renters—including those who work in the city’s tourism industry—have struggled to make ends meet. Addressing that issue was at the heart of a program the Monterey City Council approved on March 19, in a unanimous 4-0 vote (Alan Haffa was absent). Council approved a pilot program to allocate $250,000 toward assisting renters with making payments for rent or deposits, or other associated housing costs. (The funds will come from the current 2023-24 fiscal year’s general fund.) As he introduced the draft regulations, City Manager Hans Uslar emphasized the program is a new one, and that city staff would continue to learn the nuances of implementing it through experience. He urged the council to approve the regulations so that assistance could start going out the door as soon as possible. “Let’s not let perfect get in the way of good,” Uslar told the council. And while the council had some suggestions for potential tweaks in the future, they approved the draft regulations as proposed: Up to $5,000 from the pot could go to renters to help with housing costs, with the potential to get another $3,000 for things like legal or financial consulting fees. Among other things, residents have to provide a valid lease agreement, show a history of making payments and proof of being Monterey resident for at least a year, and prove their household income is below 120 percent of the county median to qualify. The funds will be allocated on a first-come, first serve basis until they run out. Mayor Tyller Williamson thinks it’s a program that will stick. “I see it staying [in place] permanently,” he says. “Even once you get housing developed, that’s not going to be enough to get rid of the shortfall so many in our community are dealing with.” Wipe Out Pacific Grove City Council rejects temporary skatepark, all but killing the idea. By Sloan Campi news Right to Choose Stacy Cross, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, speaks about the organization’s efforts to provide abortion access in light of rollbacks to reproductive freedom in other states. 11:30am-1:30pm Thursday, March 28. Hilton Garden Inn, 1000 Aguajito Road, Monterey. $40/Democratic Women of Monterey County members; $45/ non-members; $25/students. info@ dw-mc.org, dw-mc.org. Where there’s a will Interim, Inc. hosts a webinar about how to take care of loved ones with special needs and create a legacy for them. Hear insights from an estate attorney on steps to take to keep public benefits, administer a trust and understand the role of a fiduciary. 5:30-7pm Thursday, March 28. Virtual event. Free; registration required. 6494522, interiminc.org. Have Hope Carry a beacon of hope for people in crisis by becoming a suicide responder. Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast is holding an intensive training and a seven-week training for residents to acquire essential knowledge and skills and to be part of a compassionate community to help those in crisis. If you are in crisis, dial 988 for the suicide lifeline. The intensive training dates are 10am-2pm Monday-Friday, April 1-12 via Zoom. The seven-week training meets from 5:30-8:30pm on Wednesdays, April 17-May 29 via Zoom. Free. Apply online. 423-9444, sp524hr@fsa-cc.org, suicidepreventionservicecc.org. Help Here The Pajaro Assistance Center is open to help residents and business owners apply for support through the County of Monterey’s Unmet Needs Program, which has $10 million total to distribute to those who were affected by winter storms and flooding in Pajaro last year. Hours are 10am-7pm Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 2-7pm Thursdays and Fridays; 10am-2pm Saturdays, until April 27. Bring documentation such as proof of residency. (888) 451-4649 (English), (888) 807-0790 (Spanish), montereycountyworks.com. Rent or Own The Monterey Rental Inventory is open for property owners to register, and city staff are available to help. Drop-in hours are available for assistance with online registration. 1-4pm Tuesdays and Thursdays, until April 18. Monterey Public Library solarium room, 625 Pacific St., Monterey. 242-8740, rentalinventory@monterey. org, monterey.org/rentalinventory. Hands Helping The City of Monterey is moving forward with a pilot program to assist struggling renters. By David Schmalz Alex White spent years organizing and advocating for a skatepark in Pacific Grove. All proposed concepts, most recently in a city parking lot (above), were rejected. e-mail: toolbox@mcweekly.com TOOLBOX “We listened to literally everything [the City Council] said.” Daniel Dreifuss

www.montereycountyweekly.com March 28-April 3, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 When it was built in the 1970s, Seaside’s fire station on Broadway Avenue was situated in a central location, allowing for even response times to all areas of the city. But as the city continues its northern march into the former Fort Ord, firefighters have to travel further, increasing response times when every second counts in an emergency. According to fire department data, the average response time citywide from call to the first arriving units is 6 minutes and 51 seconds, while in the northernmost area of Seaside, that extends to 11 minutes and 34 seconds. (Monterey Fire Department, by comparison, averages 6 minutes, 42 seconds for small incidents, while larger incidents requiring more units average 10 minutes, 37 seconds). In 2022, the Seaside City Council approved conceptual designs for a second fire station at the corner of Gigling Road and First Avenue. The station took another step toward construction with the release of a mitigated negative declaration study on March 21. Public comment will be accepted through April 22. Such a study means the project is expected to have minimal environmental impacts. (The study can be found at ca-seaside.civicplus.com/802/ProjectOutreach, or in person at City Hall or the Seaside branch library.) According to the plans, the project will include a 13,010-square-foot fire station, as well as 54,106 square feet of training facilities. It will also construct a community room for public use, two apparatus bays and a three- to four-story training tower in the future. It will also have living quarters for firefighters, with nine personnel on duty. “Having the second fire station is going to not only help significantly with response times, but it also increases the number of firefighters on duty every single day,” Seaside Fire Chief Mary Gutierrez says. “It will give us more depth.” The Presidio of Monterey’s fire station, located a block away from the new station’s site, is leased from the City of Seaside. That station’s lease was set to end in August 2023, as Seaside plans out the massive Campus Town development on the property, but was extended for another two years. Gutierrez points to the number of new housing developments in the area that are in the pipeline, further necessitating a new station, including the Campus Town project on the former Fort Ord, which is expected to add up to 1,485 units, whenever it may be built. Even before the new residents move in, Seaside’s emergency calls continue to increase on an annual basis. In 2023, the department received 3,469 calls, 230 more than the previous year. With final designs nearly complete, now come decisions on how to pay for the station. The full project is estimated to cost about $30 million. Funding for construction and hiring firefighters will be discussed during City Council’s budget talks in May. The goal is to put the project out to bid in late summer, and have the first phase completed and staffed with firefighters in September 2025. Station Sparked Seaside’s second fire station takes a step toward construction with environmental documents. By Erik Chalhoub Seaside Fire Chief Mary Gutierrez shows the site of the city’s second fire station. “[The station] will allow us to have more firefighters and better assist our partners who assist us on a regular basis.” NEWS “It will give us more depth.” DANIEL DREIFUSS Fevers don’t punch out at 5:00. Neither do we. After-Hours Virtual Care available at Pediatrics – Monterey genpeds.stanfordchildrens.org Personalized Care: We get to know your pet’s unique needs and preferences to provide the perfect environment for them to feel relaxed and happy. Expert Staff: Our compassionate team of professionals is trained to care for pets of all shapes and sizes, including those with special medical needs. Clean & Safe Facilities: Your pet’s well-being is our top priority. Our facilities are meticulously maintained to ensure a clean and safe environment for your beloved companion. Outdoor Playtime: Our spacious, secured play area allows your pet to enjoy fresh air, exercise, and socialization while staying with us. PEt bOarding at Pacific Grove Animal Hospital Why we’re the best choice for pet boarding: 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

14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY march 28-april 3, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Park Power Another fantastic project with help from our friends at the Big Sur Land Trust (“A new place to play breaks ground soon in Salinas,” posted March 22). This will indeed be a huge win for the folks in Salinas. Congratulations to all those involved who have worked so hard behind the scenes to help bring this vision [for Carr Lake] to life. Bravo! Derek Dean | Monterey A World Divided Thank you for your writing, your efforts to help people see Palestinians as humans deserving of our concern, attention and empathy (“A P.G. woman from Gaza fights to save her family, against the odds,” March 21-27). The Hamas attack against civilians was atrocious and morally repugnant. But given Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians over decades, the attack was probably to be expected. And Israel’s response is as immoral as immoral gets. Slaughter. Genocide. Certainly a crime against humanity. Thank you for highlighting the humanity of the Palestinian people. Michael Marsh | Salinas By the way, Hamas started this war. Ask the PhD about their charter calling for genocide of all Jews worldwide, including you and me. That’s all I need to know. My dad, a World War II veteran, liberated death camps in Germany, an ally of Israel. Carl Silverman | New York Due to the complexities of the Middle East, an inclusive approach that tackles the underlying causes of conflict and promotes effective interaction among all parties involved is necessary (“Time and time again, the United States gets foreign relations with the Arab world totally wrong,” March 21-27). Tensions have only become worse and divisions have gotten deeper as a result of military operations and unilateral acts. Diplomatic solutions that uphold the dignity and sovereignty of all parties involved must take priority. The UN and other global organizations play an important role in helping to organize peace talks and assisting with conflict resolution. The international community’s support for a coordinated diplomatic effort can offer the framework required to manage intricate geopolitical issues and advance inclusive peace processes. We cannot afford to do nothing about the continued misery and war in Palestine and Israel. It is our responsibility to urge our political leaders to take action and to speak out in favor of justice and peace. Ruben Ortiz | Salinas After the devastating terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas, resulting in the murder of 1,200 people and more than 240 taken hostages, James J. Zogby writes: “Fourand-a-half months later Israel is pursuing a devastating war against Palestinians in Gaza.” Of course it is. I wonder what he would write if the U.S. suffered a devastating terrorist attack. He adds, “Too many of our policymakers see the Middle East through the lens of Israel exclusively.” Israel has, since its onset, been forced to defend itself against surrounding nations—which have Israel’s destruction as their primary objective. Can you imagine Zogby criticizing U.S. policymakers for not being nicer to neighboring countries who wish to destroy us? Not to mention that attacks against Israel often occur to disrupt peace talks between Israel and its neighbors. And time and time again Palestinians have rejected a two-state solution, preferring to concentrate on terrorist attacks against Israel. Betty Oberacker | Santa Barbara Pay Out This is so sad (“A local equine therapy group falls victim to UnitedHealth cyberattack,” March 14-20). A lot of good companies, providing needed therapies to people around the country, are going to have to close their doors due to this catastrophic event. My thoughts are with them and all victims of this hack. Lexi Morris | via social media Quantity over Quality In a recent California Public Utilities Commission hearing on water supply and demand, Cal Am claimed the Peninsula would need 14,480 acre-feet a year by 2050 (“Peninsula’s water supply drama is now playing out in court,” posted March 13). The Peninsula’s use has dropped by thousands of acre-feet over the last 10 years. We only used 9,083 acre-feet last year, but Cal Am claims we’ll need another 5,397 AFY by 2050. How could we use all that water? We can’t. To justify Cal Am’s proposed $400 million desal plant, they inflated demand by double counting for growth. The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District argued we’ll only need 10,599 AFY by 2050, about 1,500 AFY more than we now use. There’s no demand for the massive amount of water Cal Am projects. It’s far more than we could use by 2050. Melodie Chrislock | Monterey Note: Chrislock is managing director of Public Water Now. Soup’s Up Fisherman’s Wharf has had a notso-good reputation for food over the years, basically a tourist trap (“Some of Monterey’s most admired restaurants are on a strip that some residents avoid,” March 14-20). My husband and I decided to brave this reputation and give it a try. We ate at Old Fisherman’s Grotto and it was very good. Why we won’t go back: parking. Got a $48 ticket. There was no security in the parking lot that we could see; at night this is a little concerning. We tried to find street parking, not successfully. A. Hubbard | Monterey The Grotto has the most amazing chowder bread bowl topped with shredded crab, shrimp and cheese, baked for a bit before serving. Stef Helbock Pummell | via social media Abalonetti has been my go-to since I was little. Robert Backus | via social media I love eating on the wharf—have found some really great places to eat, and we go to the beach afterward. Laura Gonzales | Ceres, California 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 march 28-april 3, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 15 In 2012, California became the first state in the country to pass legislation declaring clean water is a human right. “Every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking and sanitary purposes,” according to Assembly Bill 685. That should seem self-evident. And yet, here in Monterey County, some people cannot drink their water. How to regulate the agriculture industry’s runoff is a complicated and politically charged matter. Will overregulation kill the industry? How much regulation is enough to protect the integrity of drinking water? These questions, along with many far more technical questions have been the subject of 20 years’ worth of evolving regulations from California’s nine regional water boards, including the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. Those technical questions are now in litigation; both farming interests and environmental interests have sued. A central issue is whether water boards can set specific, numerical caps on nitrate fertilizer that can be applied to fields. Environmental and community drinking water advocates argue such caps are the only option, while the ag industry disagrees. Some community groups are now asking a broader question of who has a right to clean water, and in an administrative complaint filed on March 18 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, they say the ongoing problem of nitrate-contaminated water is a civil rights violation. “Groundwater pollution in the form of excessive nitrates has an especially disproportionate impact on Latinx populations,” the complaint reads. The very people who work in the agriculture industry and live in agricultural communities are the people who suffer the consequences. Those people are disproportionately Latino. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Complainants allege the farm irrigation regulations violate Title VI, on the basis that Latino people are disproportionately harmed by nitrate contamination. The complainants are Comité De Salinas; Misión San Lucas; nonprofit Monterey Waterkeeper; and The Environmental Justice And The Common Good, an initiative of Santa Clara University. Comité and Misión are groups of regular people experiencing real harm from nitrates. One member of Misión San Lucas is Maria Velasquez. I first met Velasquez in 2013 when I was first reporting on nitrate contamination in the small South County community. At that time, Velasquez was frustrated after years of advocacy. That was before the grower believed to be responsible for nitrate contamination drilled a new well—then, after that well fouled, another one that also failed. That was 11 years ago, and the people in the community of San Lucas still can’t safely drink the tap water. “I have been working for 10 years to control the problem of nitrates in our water,” Velasquez said in a statement. “And, today, I am still fighting for this same cause.” It’s a cause that matters to people beyond San Lucas. In their complaint, the groups analyze state groundwater monitoring data in the context of census data. They found that majority-Latino communities were 4.36 times more likely to have wells that tested high for nitrates over (10 milligrams per liter). The complainants are asking EPA to see their disproportionate impact as a matter of civil rights. They hope the federal agency pushes state water regulators to implement specific, numeric, measurable caps on the amount of nitrates growers can use. Some of that is technical, but it’s also common sense. Valentin Resendiz-Luna is one of Velasquez’s fellow members of Misión San Lucas. In a declaration in support of the Title VI complaint, he wrote: “Although the future of our town’s access to drinking water is unclear, it is inarguable that limiting the amount of nitrogen used on our local farmland will reduce the amount of nitrates entering our water supply.” Sara Rubin is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at sara@mcweekly.com. Something in the Water A new challenge to the state water board rules alleges civil rights violations. By Sara Rubin Fare Share…Squid relies mostly on the 10-appendaged power of Squid’s own accord to get around efficiently, especially when Squid doesn’t feel like driving the old jalopy. So when Squid heard that MontereySalinas Transit had decided to permanently install RFID readers for land-dwellers to pay bus fares on all of their buses, Squid was delighted. After all, buses are a good solution to keeping the oceans (including Squid’s lair) cool, and offering a modern, contactless method of payment might help boost ridership. One of Squid’s colleagues tried to ride a bus, only to find out that the RFID reader was not working properly. They didn’t have any cash on them to pay the fare. The bus driver was nonplussed and said the RFID readers are “hit-or-miss.” Squid’s colleague reached out to MST General Manager/CEO Carl Sedoryk, who says the new validators were installed on all of the buses last summer, and have a higher success rate than those used in a State of California pilot project. Sedoryk adds that the old cash fareboxes have many more issues with fare validation than the new contactless ones. The bus driver was kind enough to let Squid’s colleague ride the bus for free that day, but if mass transit is ever implemented underwater, Squid will carry an extra set of clams to pay in case the technology goes haywire. Thumbs Down…Speaking of messy technological implementations, Squid has been hearing about mishaps from Apple’s recent updates—a peace sign is perceived on FaceTime, for instance, and all of a sudden balloons pop up. (Double peace signs, and you get confetti.) Reactions have now come for a local public agency. On March 5, the board of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District interviewed two candidates to fill a vacancy on the school board. Squid was tuning in remotely, and as Jayson Nissen and Sarah Ofstedal spoke about the purpose of public education, a thumbs-down emoji suddenly appeared right on top of Nissen’s head. Just as suddenly, it was gone. Was it a secret message from the IT wizard to the board (and the public)? Or just…Apple’s laptop operating system, as MPUSD’s Chief of Communications Marci McFadden tells Squid’s colleague. “The camera thought it observed somebody in the frame doing a thumbs down in the video and placed that animated reaction,” she reports. (Normally the IT team disables that function for video meetings, and in this case, it was inadvertently not done, McFadden adds.) The board voted to appoint Ofstedal to the seat, without remarking upon the little elves that run all the computers casting their vote against Nissen. For Squid’s part, it’s a clear no vote against Apple’s automatic and overly sensitive recognition updates. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. “Today, I am still fighting for this same cause.” Send Squid a tip: squid@mcweekly.com

16 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY March 28-April 3, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Who Owns Trump? The former president’s money troubles open him up to being bought and influenced. By Jeet Heer FORUM In “Atlantic City” on Bruce Springsteen’s masterpiece Nebraska (1982), a down-onhis-luck tough guy laments, “I got debts that no honest man can pay.” Spiraling downward, he decides to make some money by going to the Jersey Shore, rife with criminals and casinos, to “do a little favor” for a hoodlum. Donald Trump, who opened up the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City two years after Springsteen’s song was released, presents himself as belonging to a higher class than New Jersey wise guys—but he knows all about debt and desperation. That gambling den was shuttered in 2014, a familiar pattern with the real estate magnate’s projects. Trump’s financial history is often described, euphemistically, as checkered. The Atlantic City casino is only one of many failed enterprises Trump has tried his hand at (including Trump University, Trump Steak, Trump Vodka and Trump: The Game). He’s resorted to bankruptcy for his businesses four times. Despite having debts that no honest man can pay, Trump has remained a favorite with lenders, maintaining opaque and troubling relationships with institutions like Deutsche Bank. Although superficially a bad loan risk, Trump remained attractive to lenders for most of his business career because his brand had enough cachet that one could plausibly believe one of his endeavors would pay off. And in fact, Trump did ultimately hit pay dirt by winning the presidency in 2016. Since then, he’s been the favored child of money managers for another reason: Having a once and possibly future president in your pocket opens up all sorts of leverage possibilities. Imagine if you could call the standard-bearer of one of America’s two big political parties anytime for a “little favor.” Now gearing up for his third presidential run, Trump finds himself again in financial trouble—this time due to losses in the courtroom. Trump’s money troubles have dire implications not just for him and the Republican Party (with the RNC foolishly agreeing to help with their candidate’s legal costs) but also for American democracy. The scale of Trump’s fix is staggering. In a New York fraud case, he faces a $464 million penalty. He owes another $83 million for defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll after she accused him of sexual assault. Trump’s leadership PAC reported that it had burned through more than $5 million in legal fees for him last month alone, which is more than the entirety of what the PAC took in. It’s unclear how Trump can pull himself out of the financial pit he’s fallen into. Bankruptcy is one option—although an embarrassing one for someone running for high office. Another source of needed cash could be Wall Street. Some of the money will come from Republican donors. Trump’s big selling point to voters is that his wealth makes him an independent force in American politics, that he’s too rich to be bought. The truth is Trump will be wholly owned by Wall Street. Jeet Heer is a national affairs correspondent for The Nation, where this story first appeared. OPINION A president in your pocket opens up all sorts of leverage. FOR MORE INFO + REGISTRATION MONTEREY.ORG/REC (831) 646-3866 SCAN ME! REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! THE CITY OF MONTEREY BEST SUMMER EVER! CAMP QUIEN SABE OVERNIGHT CAMP WHISPERING PINES DAY CAMP TINY TOTS SUMMER CAMP SPORTS CAMPS SPECIALTY CAMPS LEGO, GYMNASTICS, WOODWORKING AND MUCH MORE!

www.montereycountyweekly.com MARCH 28-APRIL 3, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 17 WORSHIP Easter St. Mary’s By-The-Sea Episcopal Church Central & 12th St., Pacific Grove StMarysByTheSea.org Hol Wee an E ter a S . Mar ’ Maundy Thursday 7pm Holy Eucharist Good Friday 7pm Service Easter Sunday 10am Festival Holy Eucharist with choir, handbells, violin, and trumpet. Bring flowers for our outdoor cross. All services will be live-streamed. More details on our website, stmarysbythesea.org First Presbyterian Church of Monterey 501 El Dorado Street • Monterey • 373-3031 www.fpcmonterey.org The Rev. Mark Peake, Pastor The Rev. James Potts, Associate Pastor March 28 • Maudy Thursday Soup Supper and Communion March 29 • Good Friday Taizé Worship • 7:30pm March 31 • Easter Sunday Praise Worship • 9am Chancel Choir and Brass • 11am Easter Week Services JOIN US FOR EASTER SERVICES Church of the Wayfarer United Methodist Sunday, 3/31 EASTER 7am Sunrise Service in the Garden 10am Traditional Service in Sanctuary 11:15am Easter Egg Hunt e Reverend Karla J. Lundin Lincoln Street and 7th Avenue, Carmel-by-the-Sea churchofthewayfarer.com • (831)624-3550