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may 23-29, 2024 montereycountynow.com LOCAL & INDEPENDENT Gaming the deep sea 6 | California’s budget crunch 13 | All-American culinary classics 36 Cali Roots Festival extends its musical reach while remaining true to its foundation. p. 18 Like a fine wine p. 19 Genres in common p. 22 The green wave p. 24

2 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY may 23-29, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com may 23-29, 2024 • ISSUE #1869 • Established in 1988 George Garibay (Canon D90, 500MM F4) York School student-athlete Emma Gaino-Wilcox (second from right) won the JV race, helping her mountain bike team, The Monterey Bay Lightfighters, win their fourth consecutive NICA NorCal League High School Championship on Sunday, May 19. Monterey County photo of the week Send Etc. submissions to etcphoto@montereycountynow.com; please include caption and camera info. On the cover: Rebelution performs during the 2023 edition of California Roots Music & Art Festival. The group has been a mainstay in the festival’s growing lineup of the best in reggae, hip-hop and beyond. 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, prepaid. 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.montereycountynow. com. Audited by CVC. Founder & CEO Bradley Zeve bradley@montereycountynow.com (x103) Publisher Erik Cushman erik@montereycountynow.com (x125) Editorial editor Sara Rubin sara@montereycountynow.com (x120) associate editor Erik Chalhoub ec@montereycountynow.com (x135) features editor Dave Faries dfaries@montereycountynow.com (x110) Staff Writer Celia Jiménez celia@montereycountynow.com (x145) Staff Writer Pam Marino pam@montereycountynow.com (x106) Staff Writer Agata Pope¸da (x138) aga@montereycountynow.com Staff Writer David Schmalz david@montereycountynow.com (x104) Staff photographer Daniel Dreifuss daniel@montereycountynow.com (x102) Digital PRODUCER Sloan Campi sloan@montereycountynow.com (x105) contributors Nik Blaskovich, Rob Brezsny, Michael Dadula, Robert Daniels, Tonia Eaton, Caitlin Fillmore, Jacqueline Weixel, Paul Wilner Cartoons Rob Rogers, Tom Tomorrow Production Art Director/Production Manager Karen Loutzenheiser karen@montereycountynow.com (x108) Graphic Designer Kevin Jewell kevinj@montereycountynow.com (x114) Graphic Designer Alexis Estrada alexis@montereycountynow.com (x114) Graphic Designer Lani Headley lani@montereycountynow.com (x114) SALES senior Sales Executive Diane Glim diane@montereycountynow.com (x124) Senior Sales Executive George Kassal george@montereycountynow.com (x122) Senior Sales Executive Keith Bruecker keith@montereycountynow.com (x118) Classifieds business development director Keely Richter keely@montereycountynow.com (x123) Digital Director of Digital Media Kevin Smith kevin@montereycountynow.com (x119) Distribution Distribution AT Arts Co. atartsco@gmail.com Distribution Control Harry Neal Business/Front Office Office Manager Linda Maceira linda@montereycountynow.com (x101) Bookkeeping Rochelle Trawick rochelle@montereycountynow.com 668 Williams Ave., Seaside, CA 93955 831-394-5656, (FAX) 831-394-2909 www.montereycountynow.com We’d love to hear from you. Send us your tips at tipline.montereycountynow.com. now [nou] adverb at the present time or moment Monterey County Now Local news, arts and entertainment, food and drink, calendar and daily newsletter. Subcribe to the newsletter: www.montereycountynow.com/subscribe Find us online: www.montereycountynow.com

www.montereycountynow.com MAY 23-29, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 3 Images (clockwise): David Ligare (b. 1945), Magna Fide (detail), 2014, oil on canvas, 60 x 80 in. Collection Monterey Museum of Art. Museum Purchase in honor of David Ligare's 75th birthday, with additional funds provided by Judy and Tom Archibald, Elizabeth Barlow and Stephen McClellan, Linda and David Keaton, Sally Lucas, Judith and Frank Marshall, and Lila and James Thorsen, 2020.008. © David Ligare | Frans Lanting (b. 1951), Tide Pool (detail), 2021, archival inkjet print, 38.5 x 53 in. Courtesy of the artist. © Frans Lanting | Valentin Popov, Sun Sardine Canneries 1991.201.137 Monterey Museum of Art Summer Exhibition Season Now on View

4 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY MAY 23-29, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH As newsrooms shrink and reporters are asked to do more with less, many are turning to artificial intelligence to help boost their productivity. An April report by the Associated Press found that nearly 70 percent of the 300 journalists and newsroom leaders surveyed used AI in some capacity, whether it was to craft headlines or compose article drafts. Gannett, which owns hundreds of newspapers across the country, including the Salinas Californian, is rolling out a program that adds AI-generated bullet points at the top of its online stories. The dangers of AI, however, have been well-documented, and not only have journalists been worrying if they will be replaced by robots, but they must also fact-check the oft-unreliable information drafted by AI. While the Society of Professional Journalists doesn’t see a need to ban AI in journalism, it does call for its use to be limited. At the Weekly, editorial staff occasionally use Otter.ai to transcribe audio interviews, which is used as a tool to organize notes. Good: Salinas City Elementary School District unveiled 10 new electric school buses on Wednesday, May 15, giving students a smoother and much cleaner ride. The wheelchair-accessible vehicles will mostly be used to transport students with special needs. SCESD also installed chargers for each bus, allowing them to fully juice up in four-and-a-half hours. The buses will take over two routes that cover 14,400 miles per year, and another eight routes that run 8,100 miles. The district estimates the buses will save more than 17,143 gallons of diesel fuel per year, and offset 100 metric tons of CO2 annually, or the equivalent of taking 24 gas-powered vehicles off the road. There’s other health benefits as well: The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine estimates that children who ride electric school buses are 8-percent less likely to develop pediatric asthma that requires hospitalization. GREAT: For many families earning a low income, affording the basic necessities is a challenge, let alone paying for museum admission. But a growing federal program aims to help more people to explore the wonders of museums by eliminating that barrier, and it’s now expanded its local reach. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is the latest to join the more than 1,300 museums across the country in the Museums for All initiative. Beginning Monday, May 27, anyone enrolled in federal food assistance benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will receive free admission to the Aquarium for up to four people by showing their SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer card and photo ID at the door. “Joining Museums for All supports our vision of a future where the ocean flourishes and people thrive in a just and equitable world,” Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard said. GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY The amount visitors to California spent in 2023, surpassing $144.9 billion spent in 2019, overcoming losses endured during the pandemic. Monterey County has not fully recovered: Last year travel spending was at $3 billion, a 0.4-percent increase over 2022 but 8.6-percent below 2019. Sources: Visit California and See Monterey $150.4 QUOTE OF THE WEEK “If you don’t have a good selection of burgers, you can’t call yourself an American restaurant.” -Gina Phinny, owner of restaurants in Carmel Valley and Monterey, speaking about the staple dishes of summer holidays (see story, page 36). billion SCAN ME Take a brief survey to share your thoughts on visitors and other tourism related issues in Monterey County. TOURISM MATTERS TO MONTEREY COUNTY AND SO DOES YOUR OPINION Dr. Brynie Kaplan Dau, MS, DVM 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 SURGERY DERMATOLOGY FELINE & CANINE MEDICINE PET BOARDING PREVENTATIVE CARE REGENERATIVE MEDICINE PRP (PLATELET-RICH PLASMA) LASER THERAPY EXOTICS AND MUCH MORE

www.montereycountynow.com MAY 23-29, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 5

6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY MAY 23-29, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com 831 There was a time, circa 2016, that the Pokémon Go craze took over. It became common to see people walking around town, arms extended with phone in hand, looking for fictional Pokémon creatures on their screens. Bioengineer Kakani Katija, who lives in Carmel Valley Village, observed this and thought: There might be a way to channel it into her deep-sea research goals. As a principal engineer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, Katija leads the Bioinspiration Lab. Her big goal is to identify all life in the oceans, which takes place largely through designing instruments that can get to the deep, dark unexplored waters, accounting for an estimated 80 percent of the oceans; an estimated 30 to 60 percent of ocean life is still unknown to scientists. Fortunately for ocean explorers like Katija, humans need not get to these deep, inaccessible waters to see what’s there. Robots can capture footage. The challenge for researchers is that while technology enables them to collect data, they need people power to process that data. Katija hopes to eventually train artificial intelligence to comb through it—but first, machines need to be trained using human learning. That’s where the Pokémon Go concept comes in. “There are parallels between the two, except for the fact that oceans are real,” Katija says. She spent years on a collaborative effort (with &ranj Serious Games, Internet of Elephants and Monterey Bay Aquarium, funded with $500,000 from the National Science Foundation) developing the game FathomVerse, which launched on May 1. Now anyone anywhere can play on a phone or a tablet, watching colorful creatures flutter and float across the screen, using their thumbs to grab them to collect them in particular animal groups. (As for Katija’s approach: “I have a soft spot for gelatinous things. I will probably collect anything gelatinous— cyanophores, larvaceans, comb jellies.” Her own gaming experience is quite limited, but she’ll play anything Zelda.) It’s a game, but the animals and footage—collected by entities like MBARI, NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Schmidt Ocean Institute—are all real. “Most of those are animals nobody has ever seen before,” Katija notes. By gamifying the task of watching underwater footage, researchers can hope to make a dent, starting with 44 animal groups. And early signs show it is working: Within the first week, 5,000 players had generated 1.2 million animal identification. Players are also learning as they go, similar to iNaturalist or eBird. Some early adopters include marine researchers, although Katija hopes FathomVerse catches on widely in the gaming community. Marine biologist Ziyu Wang at Texas A&M University discovered FathomVerse via the Aquarium’s YouTube channel, downloaded it and started to play. “I am obsessed with unlocking new taxa,” he says. “The more I explore, the more animals I can unlock. It’s very exciting. And some fish really look hilarious, they really make my day.” He is more of a fish expert, and has been learning about different invertebrates through playing: “Sometimes they look very similar.” Wang has been playing as a “time-killer,” while waiting in line; 10 minutes is usually enough time to complete a dive. “I wish there were more games like this, where I can actually contribute to science,” he says. Beyond fun—a beautiful color scheme, courtesy of Mother Nature, and the satisfying action of collecting life forms a la Pokémon—contributing to science is, of course, the point of FathomVerse. Katija notes that a variety of policy decisions will be coming soon around issues like deep sea mining and offshore wind turbines, and data is limited because so much of the ocean remains unexplored. “How do we prepare to make informed decisions around these activities? We don’t have a baseline, even,” she says. “By playing a game you are helping us get through the data backlog so we can inform these decisions.” FathomVerse is available for free in the App Store or on Google Play. For more, visit fathomverse.game. Deep Dive Scientists at MBARI needed help exploring the deep sea— so they made a game. By Sara Rubin Gamers conduct “dives” that last about 10-30 minutes, in which they watch life forms move through ocean currents. Pressing with your thumb enlarges an animal for more information, and the opportunity to annotate it. “Some fish really look hilarious, they make my day.” TALES FROM THE AREA CODE COURTESY OF LILLI CARLSEN/MBARI

www.montereycountynow.com MAY 23-29, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 7 Dear Friends and Neighbors, In our ever-changing world, the decision of where to live in one’s golden years is incredibly significant. At Canterbury Woods, we understand that the cornerstone of a great senior living community lies in trust, care and an unwavering commitment to excellence. It’s why we continually strive to not only meet but exceed the expectations we set for ourselves in every aspect of our service. Canterbury Woods embodies this philosophy through its comprehensive continuum of care, encompassing independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing services. We ensure that every resident receives the highest standard of care, respect and dignity. Our residents are at the heart of everything we do, and this reflects in our vibrant activities, high-quality food and robust safety measures. As a not-for-profit senior living community, transparency and communication with our residents and their families are paramount. We believe in building a community where every member feels heard, valued and actively part of their own care journey. Our team is dedicated to creating a safe and engaging environment that nurtures both the body and spirit. We invite anyone exploring senior living options to visit Canterbury Woods. Meet our caring staff, take a tour, chat with our residents and see for yourself the environment we are proud to call home. Experience the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved ones are in good hands. We are not just providing a place to live; we are offering a place to thrive. Contact Us To Explore Your Options (831) 373-3111 | canterburywoods-pg.org Warm regards, Executive Director, Canterbury Woods Elvyra Abare License No. 270708224 651 Sinex Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY MAy 23-29, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com news On Tuesday, May 21, Salinas City Clerk Patricia Barajas announced the rules by which 11 candidates would make their pitch to be appointed to a vacancy on council. They would be in a conference room with no devices, then in a randomly selected order, each would be escorted into the council chamber, where they have 10 minutes to answer questions. Each of the 11 were seeking to represent District 3, vacated by Steve McShane, who resigned May 10 after 14 years on council. The applicants included people with a range of professional and volunteer credentials. Among them were Cary Swensen, an educator and small business owner who ran unsuccessfully against McShane in 2022; Joel Panzer, a land-use planner and vice president of the Oldtown Salinas Foundation, who also ran previously for District 3; Jesus Valenzuela, who works as community engagement manager for the City of Soledad; Angela McNulty, a Rotarian who recently retired from a 37-year career as a prosecutor; and financial adviser Albert Fong, who’s served for 10 years on the city’s Library and Community Services Commission. Current councilmembers expressed thanks to all of the applicants for stepping up. “I commend all of you,” Councilmember Tony Barrera said. Anthony Rocha made a motion to appoint Swensen, which failed 2-4. Andrew Sandoval followed with a motion to appoint McNulty; it was Rocha’s next motion, to appoint Valenzuela, that passed 5-1. Valenzuela has experience as a community organizer, with the UFW Foundation and Building Healthy Communities. Staff retention and community engagement are his priorities. Seat Swap After considering 11 applicants to a vacancy, Salinas City Council appoints Jesus Valenzuela. By Celia Jiménez The City of Seaside has long wrestled with questions about how best to grow, which is something that, to some extent, it must do: Back in the 1990s, when Fort Ord shut down, local municipalities accepted thousands of acres from the U.S. Army, for free. Seaside was primary among them, but the catch is the land in many cases needed to be cleaned up, whether of munitions, or lead paint- and asbestos-laden buildings. And even back in the 1990s, there were questions about the former Fort Ord’s water supply. But if the cities—Seaside included—can’t develop the land, it becomes an albatross, an added expense in things like police and fire patrol, and maintenance. One of Seaside’s boldest attempts to develop its former Fort Ord land, Monterey Downs, was planned as a sprawling single-family home development with a horse track. It was initially approved by the City Council in 2016. But that approval was rescinded when the developer, Brian Boudreau, wouldn’t agree to sign an agreement that would indemnify the city from any future liability associated with it—at the time, two lawsuits over the approval had just been filed. The city has since been courting other developers, and while there’s been some progress with infill development in the city—the Ascent housing project on Broadway is going up right now—it’s a struggle. Developing on the former Fort Ord is expensive. The latest salvo on that topic is that the Seaside City Council, in closed session on May 16, approved paying Sacramento-based developer Paul Petrovich $850,000 in a settlement to make a lawsuit he filed against the city in 2021 go away. Broadly speaking, Petrovich alleged that the City misrepresented itself, and the available water supply, when he entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Seaside in 2017 to acquire and develop the approximately 60-acre Main Gate property. (The City Council approved an environmental impact report for a specific plan to develop the property in 2010.) There might be more lawsuits coming. Also on May 16, Seaside City Council approved a new general plan, called Seaside 2040. Jon Farrow, an attorney for Landwatch Monterey County, wrote to the council, calling into question a multitude of things. Farrow asked that Seaside East—a 635-acre slice of land east of Gen. Jim Moore Boulevard—be excluded from the plan, and argued the general plan’s environmental impact report is fundamentally flawed. So too did Sofia Prado-Irwin, a scientist with nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity. She closed by writing, “Given the possibility that the Center will be required to pursue legal remedies,” all documents must be preserved. During the May 16 meeting, Mayor Ian Oglesby said that there were no immediate plans to develop the Seaside East land, but that the general plan is a city-wide document and he doesn’t want to hinder future city councils. “I’m not supportive of all of a sudden making it open space,” he said. Sheri Damon, Seaside’s city attorney, says that any proposed development on the site, which harbors numerous protected plant species and is currently open space, will need to have a separate plan approved. The Main Gate property is located north of Lightfighter Drive, and between Highway 1 to the west and Second Avenue to the east. Trip and Settle As Seaside stumbles through trying to develop its Fort Ord property, liability keeps cropping up. By David Schmalz Jesus Valenzuela will be sworn in on June 11 to serve in a temporary appointment. The District 3 seat will be up for election in November for the remainder of the term, through 2026. “I’m not supportive of all of a sudden making it open space.” JOel Angel Juárez celia jiménez

www.montereycountynow.com MAY 23-29, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 9 PETER B'S BREWPUB PRESENTS SUMMER MUSIC SERIES Join us every Thursday from 6PM to 9PM Indoors at Peter B’s Brewpub or Outdoors in our pet-friendly Beer Garden* 5.30 COASTAL COMMISSION 6.6 DJ FREDO [INSIDE] 6.13 COASTAL COMMISSION 6.20 60 EAST BAND 6.27 COASTAL COMMISSION *Outdoor dates subject to weather conditions. LOCATED BEHIND THE PORTOLA HOTEL & SPA | COMPLIMENTARY PARKING (831) 649-2699 | PETERBSBREWPUB.COM Open Tue-Sun 11am-9pm and Mon 4-9pm Or order to-go,and take it home 2149 N. Fremont St. • Monterey • 831-642-9900 MontereyCookHouse.com What s Cooking Authentic Italian Am ican Cuisine Mundos is a registered trademark and cannot be used without expressed written permission OPEN Mon-Fri 8-5:30, Sat 10-5:30, Sun 10-5 2233 Fremont St, Monterey • 831-324-0369 www.3MundosSandwichShop.com Comin Soon MontereyLanes NORTH FREMONT STREET BUSINESS DISTRICT 2004 Fairgrounds Rd. Enter at Gate 5 (831) 372-0315 • www.montereycountyfair.com Admission $7.00 Wednesday – Sunday 10:00 am – Closing Over 40 televisions 12 tracks per day Full Bar – Drink & Dinner Specials Thursday – sunday $9.00 3Mundos half pound burgers Mundos is a registered trademark and cannot be used without expressed written permission NOW OFFERING the Vegan Milanese and Mundos Beyond Burger Burger and Fries $8.99 Quality • Flavor • Comfort Guaranteed OPEN Mon-Fri 8-5:30, Sat 10-5:30, Sun 10-5 2233 Fremont St, Monterey • 831-324-0369 www.3MundosSandwichShop.com Expanded private patio and contactless drive-thru window NOW OFFERING Vegan and Vegetarian Options Quality • Flavor • Comfort Guaranteed Expanded private patio and contactless drive-thru window WARNING: For more information, please call: 1-800-523-3157 11-23 Crude oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, and other petroleum products can expose you to chemicals including toluene and benzene, which are known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. These exposures can occur in and around oil fields, refineries, chemical plants, transport and storage operations, such as pipelines, marine terminals, tank trucks, and other facilities and equipment. For more information go to: www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/petroleum. The foregoing warning is provided pursuant to Proposition 65. This law requires the Governor of California to publish a list of chemicals “known to the State to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.” This list is compiled in accordance with a procedure established by the Proposition, and can be obtained from the California Environmental Protection Agency. Proposition 65 requires that clear and reasonable warnings be given to persons exposed to the listed chemicals in certain situations. VALERO Refining and Marketing Company, Ultramar Inc., and their affiliates and subsidiaries AERA ENERGY LLC PBF Energy Western Region LLC its affiliates and subsidiaries EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION its affiliates and subsidiaries PHILLIPS 66, including its divisions and subsidiaries (and under the trademarks 76) SHELL OIL PRODUCTS US Tesoro Refining & Marketing Company LLC (a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corporation) and its affiliates (and under the trademarks ARCO, Shell, Thrifty, Exxon, and Mobil)

10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY MAy 23-29, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com Time is ticking for those who want to provide feedback on Marina’s downtown specific plan. The last day for public review is Friday, May 24. The goal of the plan is turning a portion of old Marina, near the intersection of Del Monte Boulevard and Reservation Road, into a more walkable, higher-density downtown. Under the current plan, an unknown number of properties would become nonconforming, a fact that has caught the attention and concern of several property owners. “It would prohibit us from renovating or remodeling,” says Bob Garrison of Sierra Properties, which owns Seacrest Plaza Shopping Center on Reservation Road. One factor is drive-thrus. Existing establishments, such as the Starbucks on Del Monte, would become nonconforming; Garrison says pharmacies also increasingly rely on drive-thrus. Anne Russell Rudolph of Marina Self Storage and the Reindollar Crest Commercial Center on Reindollar Avenue says she has been involved for years in the downtown specific plan update process. “I don’t consider where we are downtown,” she says. Her concern is that the plan as proposed would have the effect of pushing out many existing, low-density businesses that would become nonconforming uses. “You can’t make anything bigger. The ultimate goal is for all of us to be gone,” Rudolph says. Marina City Councilmember Brian McCarthy says the focus remains on the big picture. “What we’re trying to do is bring businesses along with us, and there’s going to be some growing pains in doing that,” he says. “Marina absolutely deserves a downtown that is enjoyable to spend time in.” Exactly where the boundaries of that area are and how it is defined in terms of factors like density, setbacks and drive-thrus are the details that business and property owners like Garrison and Rudolph are worried about. “We’re hoping the city will work with us,” Garrison says. “We’ve proposed the idea of an overlay district, so we wouldn’t have to conform to the plan until we were ready.” According to the current version of the plan, legal nonconforming buildings would have a five-year grace period to come into compliance with design guidelines, if 25 percent or more of a structure is modified. Comments can be submitted until 5pm on May 24 by emailing gpersicone@cityofmarina.org. View the plan at City Hall or online at cityofmarina. org/201/downtown-vitalization. Soon, Monterey One Water customers will no longer receive a bill in the mail every other month. Beginning July 1, wastewater fees will show up on a parcel’s annual property tax bill for the year, eliminating the bimonthly bill. M1W spokesperson Mike McCullough says once the transition is fully implemented, the agency estimates it will save about $400,000 annually. “The bulk of the savings will be reinvested back into replacing and renewing many of the agency’s aging infrastructure assets,” he says. Monterey One Water operates the regional treatment plant in Marina, where wastewater transported from 30 miles of underground pipes connected to Salinas, parts of North County and the Monterey Peninsula is cleaned. Some of that is used to replenish local drinking water basins, via Pure Water Monterey. Nonpotable recycled water is distributed to irrigate agricultural fields. M1W estimates about 17 million gallons of wastewater is pumped into the facility every day, with more than 250,000 residents and nearly 7,000 businesses comprising its service area. The agency’s five-year rate schedule, approved in 2021, predates the switch in billing. Starting July 1, a single-family home will see an annual charge of $611.40 on its property tax bill, in addition to other fees for wastewater collection set by cities. Property tax bills can be paid monthly via a third-party vendor authorized by the Monterey County Treasurer-Tax Collector. Monterey One Water also offers a low-income assistance program to help customers pay the fees. “This change is possible because we are a public entity with public approval procedures,” McCullough says. “Other private utilities will not ‘be next’ to convert their billing to the tax rolls. Wastewater is also a mandated service that can never be turned off, even with nonpayment, unlike water or power.” McCullough recommends customers visit montereyonewater.org/ billing-change for more information. To Town As Marina crafts a downtown plan, property owners worry it will be bad for business. By Celia Jiménez news Human Beings A symposium featuring expert speakers, panel discussions and interactive sessions aims to raise awareness about human trafficking in Monterey County. This day-long event brings local leaders together to seek solutions. 9am-3:30pm Thursday, May 23. Monterey Peninsula College, 980 Fremont St., Monterey. Free; registration required. 784-4227, communications@montereycoe.org. Of the People Hear from Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo and County Housing and Community Development Director Craig Spencer at a town hall meeting focused on the county budget and housing. Community members are encouraged to give feedback. 6-7:30pm Thursday, May 23. El Gabilan Library, 1400 North Main St., Salinas. Free. 755-5011, district1@co.monterey.ca.us. Come Together Gather in the name of healing and community at the 3rd Annual George Floyd Community Engagement and Building Bridges Symposium. Hear presentations by educators, law enforcement and community leaders, then participate in a hands-on art activity facilitated by transformational leader and author Glodean Champion. Presentations happen from noon3:30pm, followed by the art activity from 3:45-5pm on Saturday, May 25. Oldemeyer Center, 986 Hilby Ave., Seaside. Free; lunch provided; registration required. 375-4731, bit.ly/georgefloydsymposium. Green Fields Help kids compete in a clean and fun environment at Blue Zones Project’s first Salinas Regional Soccer Complex cleanup event. Volunteers should meet at the concession stand and bring comfortable clothes, shoes, a hat, sunscreen, a trash-picker (if you have one), gloves and water. 5-6:30pm Tuesday, May 28. Salinas Regional Soccer Complex, 1440 Constitution Blvd., Salinas. Free; registration required. 800-7355, montereycounty.bluezonesproject.com. Energy Level Central Coast Community Energy seeks volunteers to fill a vacancy seat to represent Monterey County on its volunteer Community Advisory Council. The CAC is an advisory body to 3CE’s Policy and Operations Boards and members serve as connections to the communities the utility serves. Friday, May 31 deadline to apply. Send questions to boardclerk@3ce.org. Roll Out Monterey One Water is changing how it bills customers. By Erik Chalhoub A map of the area flagged as Marina’s downtown. Community Development Director Guido Persicone says nonconforming businesses can remain operational in perpetuity. e-mail: toolbox@montereycountynow.com TOOLBOX “I don’t consider where we are downtown.” courtesy of City of Marina

www.montereycountynow.com MAY 23-29, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 11 MPWMD.NET When completed in 2025, this additional recycled water will expand the Pure Water Monterey water supply to 5,750 acre-feet per year. That’s over half of the Peninsula’s drinking water and all the supply needed for housing, jobs, and drought for decades. PWM Expansion is right on track to deliver a sustainable water supply. Science Skateboard Lego Art Slime Register for and much more! Open for kids entering 1st - 6th grade www.cityofmarina.org 831 884-1253 Financial Assistance available!

12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY May 23-29, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com Tucked away on a property just off Highway 1 and northwest of Castroville, Navarro’s Mixed Nursery is a singular place. Over nearly an acre, exotic cacti and succulent species are interspersed with pots of vegetables that owner Manuel Navarro puts on his kitchen table. It’s like a botanical garden, except that most everything is for sale, and Navarro has a lot of selling to do: He has just the rest of this year to sell enough inventory, he says, to come up with about $400,000-$500,000 to secure a loan to buy the property. His landlord is selling the property, which includes a house, and Navarro has come to a tough realization: It would cost him just as much to move the business somewhere else as to buy it, so he’s trying to stay where he’s at. That means moving product out the door—or gate, in this case—and several pots on his property are nursing young succulents and cacti to keep the inventory intact. Normally, he says, the bulk of his business (65-70 percent) comes from contractors doing big projects in places on the Monterey Peninsula or in Carmel Valley, but he says a downturn in construction over the past few years has hampered revenue. “Contractors used to come every day, about three to five, and now it’s two to five a week,” he says. “I am not making money the way I used to anymore.” But Navarro is hopeful. “We’re going to try to throw every punch we can to see if we can stay here,” he says. Sales were down in the dreary winter, but he says he sold roughly $70,000 worth of inventory in April, clearing about $40,000 in profit. In 2021-22, he says, he was selling between $100,000- $200,000 a month. Part of what Navarro is trying to sell is not just beautiful cacti and succulents, but a new way to think about landscaping in an increasingly water-starved Central Coast. “I’ve been promoting these plants for the last 15 years,” he says. In order to move inventory, Navarro says he’s selling at wholesale prices, and in his estimation, he has about $4 million worth of plants and pots. It’s a business he built from scratch after the Great Recession, when his construction company—Bullet Homebuyers, which bought, fixed up and flipped homes—went belly-up, and he was left with only about $6,000, he says. He used that to start the nursery. Should he succeed, Navarro has big plans for the future, and wants to build out the property. (He’s staunchly against paying taxes, he says, so he uses every opportunity he can to reinvest in his business to offset them.) Navarro, like some of his plants, is a unique specimen. At 73, he looks younger than his years, which he attributes to his raw food diet of plants, with nuts and seeds as his primary protein. “I’m a spiritual healer, I only pull information out of the cosmos,” he says. His outside-of-the-box spirit is precisely what makes his nursery a singular place, and why he’s banking on its future success. “People all over the United States know who we are,” he says. Growing Back A unique Castroville nursery is trying to stay in business by buying the property it leases. By David Schmalz Manuel Navarro at his nursery, located on a property that is slated for sale for about $1.3 million. He encourages cultivation of succulents as a way to cut down on water usage and maintenance. NEWS “I am not making money the way I used to.” DAVID SCHMALZ Learn more, give and see all sponsors at cfmco.org/womensfund THANK YOU 2024 WOMEN’S FUND LUNCHEON SPONSORS AND DONORS for investing in local women and girls! DIAMOND SPONSORS Leavy–Galvin–Knight Family Tonya Antle PLATINUM SPONSORS PRESENTING SPONSOR WINE SPONSOR CLEAN AIR INCENTIVES LANDSCAPE EQUIPMENT EXCHANGE PROGRAM Incentives for replacement of old, working, polluting lawn and garden equipment with zero-emission, battery-electric equipment (e.g. lawn mowers or leaf blowers). MBARD.ORG | 831.647.9411 WOOD STOVE CHANGE-OUT PROGRAM Incentives are available to replace non-EPA certified wood stoves, fireplace inserts, or open-hearth fireplaces with a low smoke emitting, certified wood or pellet stove, fireplace insert, electric stove/insert, or ductless mini-split heat pump. Low-income qualified applicants and applicants in low-income or disadvantaged communities can receive up to DOUBLE THE INCENTIVE AMOUNT. MONTEREY, SAN BENITO & SANTA CRUZ COUNTIES

www.montereycountynow.com MAY 23-29, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 California’s budget crunch is forcing the Legislature to scale back its agenda this session. Facing estimated deficits of tens of billions of dollars over the next two years, leaders of the State Senate’s Appropriations Committees said May 16 that they had to make especially difficult decisions as they held or amended hundreds of proposals with a significant cost during the biannual culling process known as the suspense file—though most of the bills in each committee still passed. “The budget had a huge impact on what we did,” says State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, who chairs the committee. “We were trying to keep costs down and really trying to live within our means.” Of the 341 bills on the Senate suspense file, 87 (about 25 percent) were held, in line with the average over the past decade. Another 121 were amended. “Authors were asked to amend their bills to take out the more expensive stuff,” Caballero says. “We don’t have the money.” The Assembly’s Appropriations Committee held 233 of the 668 bills on its suspense file, or about 35 percent, slightly higher than last May. Those included an attempt to establish a single-payer health care system in California. “We needed to be responsible with taxpayers’ money, so that’s why we had to make some tough calls,” says Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, who chairs that chamber’s committee. Assemblymember Ash Kalra, who authored the single-payer bill, said after two years of negotiations, he was confident it would have passed the Assembly. “I am deeply disappointed the Assembly Appropriations Committee failed to recognize the significant cost-saving potential of AB 2200,” he said in a statement. “Study after study has shown that a single-payer system will not only cost less than our current system, but can safeguard the State from future deficits while stimulating economic growth.” Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled his proposed spending plan earlier this month to address a looming shortfall, estimated at $56 billion over the next two fiscal years. With more than $30 billion in cuts to education, public health, environmental and other programs on the line, Newsom is likely to have little appetite this year for pricey new legislation. He has already urged discipline over the past two sessions, vetoing dozens of bills that he said would add unaccounted costs to the budget. The suspense file has also long provided the Legislature with an easier way to kill controversial or undesirable bills. Caballero refused to discuss any of her specific decisions, citing only cost considerations, including shelving SB 1012, which would have legalized the use of hallucinogenic drugs in therapeutic settings. Newsom vetoed a broader decriminalization of psychedelics last year and supporters hoped their focus on therapy would provide a path forward. This story first appeared in CalMatters. Budget Blues California’s budget deficit spells the death of lots of legislative ideas, including single-payer health care. By Alexei Koseff and Sameea Kamal State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, still represents Salinas until the full scope of redistricting takes effect. She is shown above chairing the Senate’s Appropriations Committee on May 16. NEWS “We were really trying to live within our means.” FRED GREAVES FOR CALMATTERS Federally Insured by NCUA | Equal Housing Lender 831.479.6000 • www.bayfed.com • 888.4BAYFED Business Loans to Help You Grow ƒVehicle Loans ƒEquipment Loans ƒLines of Credit Proudly serving the businesses that build our community. Visit a branch today! 1524 N. Main Street | Salinas

14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY MAy 23-29, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com Home Count I so appreciate how you make local issues so approachable for residents (“The County of Monterey’s first stab at its housing plan is questionable at best,” posted May 14). Karen Strickland | via email On May 15, County of Monterey staff presented their proposal for the State’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). They informed the Monterey County Planning Commission that the proposal was in the works for nearly two years and had an extensive outreach program. However, participant after participant complained of the lack of transparency. Entire communities were left out of the discussion, whereas staff did outreach to developers. Many participants at the meeting complained that they had no idea of the proposal until the night before. Community members complained about specific sites that seem to violate the basic premise of 1) protecting desirable land uses, 2) preventing soil erosion and enhancing water quality and 3) minimizing risks from fire. The staff-calculated need for affordable housing is for approximately 3,326 units which did not include the units that are already in the pipeline. The actual number of units needed in the low- and very-low-income units are 210 and 886, respectively. However, the staff recommended building over 10,000 housing units to subsidize the developers for building the affordable units. The Planning Commission found problems with the staff proposal. The staff will return on June 5 to present their reply to the Planning Commission. Andy Hawryluk | Monterey Note: Hawryluk is president of the Olmsted Road, Highway 68 Conservation Consortium. Long Road Big Sur is not a “product” (“Limited access on Highway 1 creates hardship, but also some magic, in Big Sur,” May 16-22). I was shocked to hear a Big Sur resident and manager of Deetjen’s call Big Sur “a destination product.” His attitude reminds me of a pointed comment made by another resident who doesn’t see it that way. Marcus Foster once said, “They’re pimping out Big Sur.” Indeed they are. Marilyn Ross | Carmel To the tune of “Pride of Man” by Hamilton Camp, circa 1964: Turn around, Go back home, Back to San Jose! Can’t you see that flashing sign Telling you the road is closed? There’s no detour to reach Big Sur Rich in treasure, wide in fame Oh No! Highway One Slid into the sea again! Bruce Merchant | Carmel Campaign Season This article is hypocritical, sexist and ageist (“Two districts in Monterey have open City Council seats; a slate of candidates has coalesced,” May 9-15). Monterey County Weekly replicated the very concept in its 2022 endorsements article that criticized outgoing mayor Clyde Roberson and councilmember Dan Albert Jr. for coordinating retirement/campaign launch saying, “That’s the old way of doing things in Monterey and frankly, it stinks. The old boys club ought not get to decide who is the next ‘king.’” How then, do you justify direct involvement highlighting a blatantly orchestrated assist to this trifecta of candidates—not as a “clean” slate—but as a younger generation of the same good old boys club?! It’s patronizing to serve up this club as the main course and treat a candidate of Jean Rasch’s caliber as a side dish! Jean is the only candidate you failed to quote. She also happens to be a woman in a demographic not represented on this council, nor in the juvenile version of the boys club. Lori Mazzuca | Monterey Kick Off I absolutely loved your story on Joe Kapp (“The legacy of Joe Kapp, a football legend who cut his teeth in Alisal, is getting a fresh look,” May 16-22). What a phenomenal read. Joaquin Ruiz | Whittier, California I wish I’d had the chance to meet him. I unknowingly followed in his footsteps, growing up in Salinas. I followed him to Cal (Class of 1972). And I despise bullies. A truly remarkable man forged from our wonderful Salinas Valley. Thanks for a wonderful romp down memory lane. Walter Wagner | Salinas Both Sides Thank you for sharing this information (“A new arts and culture group is subtly advancing a right-wing agenda,” May 16-22). In these times, it is so important to question and research. You were clear in your last sentence, “What began as a brainstorming session has evolved. It’s important we know what the group’s real agenda is.” Colleen Ingram | Pacific Grove Although I am a member of CASI’s diverse board of directors, I do not ascribe to Sara Rubin’s incorrect statement that all board members are right-wing conservatives. I am not a conservative; I am a classical liberal/ libertarian on the “left.” The political spectrum is based on the classical liberal/libertarian revolutionaries who seized the Bastille in 1789 and sat on the left side of the French Assembly; authoritarian monarchists and church leaders sat on the right. I consider myself an adherent of the “Free Left” in opposition to the collectivist and aggressive “Fascist Left.” Lawrence Samuels | Carmel Retail Therapy Thank the lord! (“Monterey County’s Macy’s stores are not included in the planned closures of 150 locations nationwide,” posted May 16.) Suzanne Orlando | Monterey It’s a shame that they decided to leave the Salinas location open. The Monterey location is much better though, and I’m glad it is staying open! Stef Helbock Pummell | via social media Can we ditch the Macy’s and get a Nordstrom please!? Nicole Ashley Abbruzzetti | via social media Letters • CommentsOPINION Submit letters to the editor to letters@montereycountynow.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.montereycountynow.com MAy 23-29, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 15 Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. That is a bit of a celebration for the hospitality industry. That is also true in Big Sur, where hotel and restaurant owners are grateful that 24/7 access on Highway 1 at Rocky Creek opened on Friday, May 17, ahead of schedule. The initial Caltrans projection of opening on Monday, May 27, felt to many like a taunt: Why hustle if you’re going to wait until the end of a busy holiday weekend? In a separate hustle anticipating the unofficial start of summer, Chevene Simmons, recreation officer for the Monterey District of the Los Padres National Forest, has been looking at the myriad public recreation destinations most popular this season. “My plan was always to have a plan by Memorial Day for opening major recreational sites in our district,” he says. “My plan was never to have everything open by then.” Far from everything will be open by then. Some closures have been in effect for years, mostly related to roads. Two Forest Service campgrounds on the eastern side of the Santa Lucia Mountains near Fort Hunter Liggett are closed while Nacimiento-Fergusson Road remains closed—since January 2021—to vehicles for ongoing construction. (I was under the impression that the lower campground, Ponderosa remained open, but Simmons says that was a mistake—somebody, unauthorized, moved the gate. Now it’s back where it should be, with a sign proclaiming that the forest is closed.) “I would anticipate before the end of summer there will be some indication on when and if those two campgrounds will be available,” Simmons says. Arroyo Seco Road, the only access road to the popular Arroyo Seco Recreation Area, closed in March of 2023 due to storm damage. While the County’s Public Works Department announced on April 18 that it was again open to the public, the Forest Service doesn’t yet know when the day use area and campground will reopen. (There is still an active slide area and falling rock—while the county has installed K-rail and fencing to capture the debris, it looks like a construction zone, says Public Works Director Randy Ishii. Simmons says the road is not yet in condition to accommodate large trailers, or long lines of hundreds of vehicles waiting to get to the gorge on hot summer weekends.) The County got Arroyo Seco Road open in a little over a year, but the public is waiting to regain access to public lands. Meanwhile public lands on the other side of the mountains at Bottchers Gap remain open for recreation—but the upper part of the road to get there, Palo Colorado, has been closed for seven years. The County’s budget to fix what still needs fixing is $17 million, and Ishii says there’s roughly a $15 million shortfall. Meanwhile campgrounds like White Oaks and China Camp located along Tassajara Road in Carmel Valley are not closed, but Tassajara Road has been closed for over a year—meaning you can walk in if you want to get there lawfully. If you’re frustrated, you’re not alone. I’m with you, for one. These are our public lands, but we can’t even get to them. Simmons is also frustrated. “There’s frustration all around, not just from the public, but from us as we try to get some transparent answers,” he says of ongoing road work. Meanwhile in Big Sur, California State Parks is on track to reopen all 189 campsites at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park on Thursday, May 23, just in time for Memorial Day, but almost four weeks after Highway 1 began allowing public traffic. State Parks issued refunds for roughly 3,000 campsites during this closure period. (The delay, Monterey District Superintendent Brent Marshall says, is due to staffing back up and getting utilities restored. “We are working diligently to shift our operations from emergency support back to our regular campground activities,” he writes.) Even when roads are open, access is another issue. For example, a trail to Pfeiffer Falls, a gem in the redwoods of Pfeiffer Big Sur was closed due to a fire in 2008 and finally reopened in June of 2021. But it lasted just briefly—that beautiful, accessible trail closed again in January 2023 due to a fallen tree on a bridge. The new timeline to reopen the trail is 2025. Sara Rubin is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at sara@montereycountynow.com. Into the Woods There is a ton of public land in Monterey County. Good luck accessing it. By Sara Rubin No Show Time…Squid oozed down to Seaside City Hall on Tuesday, May 14 with a bucket of shrimp-flavored popcorn, curious to see a hearing for deposed City Manager Jaime Fontes, whom the City Council had placed on paid administrative leave April 18. The hearing was called pursuant to Seaside’s city code, which allows a city manager, if they receive notice of the council’s intent to remove them, to request a hearing within seven days. Fontes submitted his request, handwritten, on April 25, the last day of the deadline. Promised to be interesting, Squid thought—Squid’s been trying to sort out what, exactly, happened inside City Hall that led to his removal (and that of others). And Squid has never seen a hearing like this before. Unfortunately, that’s still true: Fontes was a no-show. Everyone sat around for about five minutes until Mayor Ian Oglesby adjourned. It’s the latest twist in the drama that’s been rocking City Hall lately, and it made Squid wonder: Why would Fontes request a hearing and not show up? Perhaps there was a legitimate reason he couldn’t make it. Or did Fontes just want to give a middle finger to the council, forcing them to waste time? Most likely, Squid thinks, is that if Fontes wants to later sue the city, he might want to show he at least requested a hearing. In any case, Squid oozed out of City Hall with the popcorn untouched. Globe (Not) Trotting…Squid has not traveled the world, except vicariously through TV shows, either through the foodie likes of Anthony Bourdain (RIP), or Stanley Tucci, or the more recent comedic stylings of Conan O’Brien or Eugene Levy. Speaking of comedy, Squid got some big laughs out of a recent See Monterey press release, “Explore the World Through Monterey County,” although Squid gets the feeling that’s not what the visitors’ bureau was going for. The announcement encourages people to skip foreign travel in favor of exploring right here around Squid’s lair, with such entreaties as: “Pass on Provence, Come to Carmel Valley” and “Skip St. Andrews in Scotland, Try Pebble Beach.” Somehow Salinas Valley is a substitute for Ireland, although it’s not well explained. It’s green—for about a month? If Squid had an eyebrow to raise, Squid would have at the suggestion to “Miss Morocco. Make it to Marina.” How does Marina compare to Morocco? Supposedly Marina’s sand dunes—“the highest on the Central Coast”—are comparable to the vast dunes of the Sahara. The press release concedes that there is no “dupe” for Big Sur; it’s unique. Maybe if Squid squints really hard these locations will look like foreign locales. Maybe. But more than likely they look like what they are: beautiful Monterey County. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. “My plan was always to have a plan.” Send Squid a tip: squid@montereycountynow.com

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