- Que Sera, Sera
- Train Wreck At MCN Or Fait Accompli?
- No Glamping Permit On Rays Road
- Class Angle
- The Short-Term Rental Nuisance
- How The Civilized World Lives
- Susie's Blue Bar & Other Hacks & Hijinks
- Drug Bills
- Water Dreams & Visions
- The United States Of Dystopia
QUE SERA, SERA
Voila! Just like that I found a few sweet blackberries on my walk this Sunday morning, ushering in a season hopefully better than the last. And it was just Friday morning that I got the sweet news that the permit application for hundreds of glamping event participants including amplified music on a parcel of land just across the street from my Ray’s Road residence had been withdrawn. I offer out my thanks and deep appreciation (if there is any difference between the two) to all entities involved with both events. May human nature and Mother Nature find a righteous peace in the tumultuous prospects for the future - though Doris Day spoke to me as a budding teenager the reality quite well decades ago in her rendition of Que Sera, Sera – Whatever will be will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que, sera, sera. What will be will be. I might add – We will see, we will see. Or at least the ones of us a bit younger than I.
On a maybe a not so distant track, back in those budding teenage years of mine I had been for a few years traveling between San Rafael and Alderpoint in Humboldt County on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, in those days powered by steam, and I loved the sounds, smells and experience. One time, arranged by my brother-in-law who was General Manager of the L&W Lumber Company, I even got to ride out to a fire in one of the many tunnels along the route on a walkway on the engine that placed me right above the cowcatcher as we chugged along. A couple years older and by then with diesel engines I found myself playing hobo and hopping freight trains just for the fun of it and traveling up into Oregon and back getting off and on wherever I was moved. Of course doing so always left some time to explore the new environs while waiting for another train to stop that was going in the direction that I wanted. Yes, I did love the railroad. Then as some of my generation found God I, was reborn as a full blooded Wannabe Native American Indian and I began to see trains as just one of the very first monster machines used to conquer, rape and destroy the beautiful and peaceful West both environmentally and socially. Just expressing here my anti- capitalist sentiments on the Skunk Train encroachments now being proposed for parts of our fair land that for thousands of years were far better tended and loved by the Indigenous population than those of us now so full of the often degenerate entrepreneurial spirit.
TRAIN WRECK AT MCN OR FAIT ACCOMPLI?
Thursday, July 7 at 7pm the Mendocino Unified School District (MUSD) held a Special Board meeting to discuss options/take action in regards to ownership of the Mendocino Community Network (MCN). Unfortunately the meeting was not well advertised.
MCN is a business that has been owned and operated by MUSD for the last 28 years. Their mission is to provide high-quality, personal internet services to the school district, their customers, and the communities that they serve. So far they had 3 different managers. In 2013 they wanted to sell the business, but thanks to community input did not.
For the last few months they were looking for a new manager as Sage Statham resigned. His wife and five others applied for this position, but no one at MUSD was ready to hire any of the people who showed interest. A beginning salary for a manager would be $78,000 plus benefits. Unfortunately housing is not easily available, or not affordable. As MCN lost the top two technical people in this eight person business, MUSD is forced to at least hire a bookkeeper for now. The MUSD enrollment has dropped in the last 28 years and the district is faced with $60,000 cuts for this coming school year.
The board accepted community input. At least 7 community members praised MCN and urged MUSD to continue to support MCN. Even though MCN brought in $25-50K annually to MUSD and in the early internet days generated a quarter mill-plus annually, the board voted unanimously (4:0) to list MCN as a surplus property and voted to sell it to the highest bidder.
If you are interested to watch the meeting here is the link:
The next school board meeting is August 24, 2022.
NO GLAMPING PERMIT ON RAYS ROAD
To: Mendocino County Zoning Administrator, Ms. Julia Krog, Planning and Building Director
Dear Ms. Krog:
Some neighborhoods seem to thrive over time and others become part of what is more like rural sprawl. I now live on Ray’s Road and have for some years. I worked at Unicorn Ranch, a facility for the rehabilitation of troubled youth who were court ordered residents. I’m a retired psychologist and my license describes me as “inactive.” For over thirty years I walked the land, participated in the rehabilitation and education of residents, and collaborated earnestly with staff and the owners of Unicorn Youth Services. So I know the land, the road and many of the people on Rays Road.. I have previously met Ms. Zeebel-Radicevic but since she has purchased the land and site that housed Unicorn I have not recently sat down together with her. I’ve called for an appointment more than once and look forward to our face to face conversation(s).
Among what I would say to her is as follows: Without a permit the owner could have nearly one hundred people here with their cars and equipment for gatherings throughout the year. Even that number would tax Rays Road and neighborhood community. The sound would fill the neighborhood and increased activity would strain resources. This is a small village of but a few hundred people spread out over hills and valleys so as to be sparsely settled. With the permit application AP2021-0010 this use of the property could destroy the present nature of who we are as a community. The most visible center of community activity would come from the cities for group involvement through road usage, entertainment, sounds and other interests.
We (I speak as a former Unicorn service provider) worked with difficult populations and managed them well-and were very aware of any disturbances visited upon our neighbors. I do not think Planning or the County would be able to protect the rights of residents living in the midst of this environment while sharing the flora and fauna with other life forms if this permit is approved. The stability and wellbeing of our community is worth saving and we request your support by denying the above referenced permit. We can then sit down and work equitably with our new neighbor.
Gregory K. Sims, PhD
Rays Road Resident
Let’s talk about dealing with drought. Expensive new infrastructure benefits the wealthy. Water rationing benefits most of us. In a Zoom presentation by various Sonoma county agencies, I heard about new infrastructure, not about conservation.
My town of Sonoma asked for a 20% decrease last year and got about 4%. It is the wealthy neighborhoods that use the most. Do their gardeners dare let lawns go brown for the summer? At the state level, Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to build expensive desalination plants. Who ends up paying for it?
My husband and I have cut our use to about 60 gallons per day per person by transitioning to drought-tolerant landscaping, flushing with shower water, etc. We feel it’s our civic duty. Is this low enough? People in denser neighborhoods and apartments don’t even use that much, yet their rates are going up because of how the state is responding to the drought.
This letter isn’t even touching on agriculture, where there is even greater need for conservation.
We could get a lot more bang for our bucks by requiring and enforcing cutbacks. Let’s call it what it is; this is a class issue.
THE SHORT-TERM RENTAL NUISANCE
This year, assuming a return to pre-COVID travel, Sonoma County will welcome more than 5 million overnight visitors to Wine Country. Most will stay two to three nights in hotels, small inns or short-term rentals available through Airbnb and similar services. Collectively, they will spend roughly $1 billion, with about half that amount dedicated to lodging.
Sonoma County and its cities, including Santa Rosa, levy a transient occupancy tax on all lodging fees, irrespective of location or zoning.
While hotels and inns have long been classified and permitted to operate only as a commercial use, short-term rentals are treated differently. In Santa Rosa, the county's largest city, they operate as an unfettered residential use anywhere they please.
This zoning loophole has unleashed a proliferation of short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, causing significant quality-of-life problems and public safety concerns. It has also reduced permanent housing stock for Santa Rosa residents and contributed to the dramatic rise of full-time rental prices.
A check of Airbnb listings show more than 400 short-term rentals in greater Santa Rosa alone — nearly all of them in residential neighborhoods. Some blocks have multiple rentals, and as only 255 have applied for permits, at least 150 short-term rentals appear to be operating illegally.
Most owners offer their property for rent through Airbnb. Since specific addresses are not revealed, owners can easily “hide” from the city and escape payment of transient occupancy taxes.
There is growing uncertainty about this growing corner of the sharing economy in our community. In a survey conducted by the city of Santa Rosa last August, 66% of respondents preferred that short-term rentals not be allowed anywhere in the city or that they be limited to operating in areas zoned for commercial use.
In October, the city recognized the spiraling problems associated with short-term rentals and adopted an urgency ordinance to reign them in. Unfortunately, enforcement has been difficult, and its goals have not been met.
However, the ordinance lays important groundwork by defining “hosted” and “non-hosted” rentals. Hosted rentals are those where the owner lives on-site full-time and rents a portion of the property to visitors. These should be welcomed in our community. Conversely, non-hosted rentals are unsupervised, whole-house rentals where guests can use the property as they please, often generating adverse impacts.
Many full-time residents live with constant fear and stress, wondering if and when the next batch of unfamiliar visitors in a non-hosted rental will disturb their neighborhood and compromise their safety, especially during wildfire season.
Without a policy change, you might soon be a short-term rental neighbor.
If you are hesitant to speak out, consider that since 2019 there have been more than 50 shooting incidents at non-hosted short-term rentals in the U.S., according to a review of news accounts. Many of these incidents resulted in multiple deaths. Believing that this is not possible in Santa Rosa would be a tragic mistake.
Local real estate professionals and out-of-town investors continue to market, purchase, operate and profit from non-hosted rentals by exploiting the desirable character of our residential neighborhoods. Consequently, Santa Rosa is ranked by AirDNA as one of the top 25 short-term rental markets in the U.S., with the third highest average annual revenue potential, behind only Maui, Hawaii and Key West, Florida.
The only proven way to effectively regulate non-hosted rentals is to eliminate or severely limit their existence in residential neighborhoods. Healdsburg and Rohnert Park have already done this, as has the county in unincorporated areas. Santa Rosa can too, simply by adopting any one of several proactive, easily enforced methods successfully deployed by other cities and counties.
Non-hosted short-term rentals are unsupervised commercial lodging enterprises. They are neither homes nor residential uses. Let's start treating and regulating them for what they are.
Want to help? Contact Save Our Santa Rosa at SOSR.org.
David Long, civil engineer
Founding member of Save Our Santa Rosa.
HOW THE CIVILIZED WORLD LIVES
I have experience with the social democracies in Europe and could talk for hours about them. In my younger days I was a merchant seaman working on Scandinavian ships and lived in Sweden for a year. That was 40 years ago and at that time the big political issue they were dealing with was “you cannot have true equality without economic equality”. In more recent years they have worked on developing “capitalism without growth”. If you think Sweden has a socialist economy try finding a parking place in a big IKEA parking lot on a weekend afternoon. Part of the attraction is they provide childcare and good, cheap food. What the Swedes have is a social welfare system that provides security for their citizens (What is government for?). They complain about the high taxes but recognize that they get so much in return: free education, good public transportation, good healthcare, beautiful free homes for the elderly and access to many lifestyle enhancing benefits – recreational facilities, 32 hour workweeks, 30 to 60 day vacations, and livable wages. The Swedes own more second homes than anyone else. The goal is to live close to work in beautiful, safe cities and go to a small cottage in the country for those three day weekends. When I lived there over 90% of the workers were unionized and they never had a strike. They stress cooperative learning in the schools and highly value honesty in life and business. For decade at least half of their government representative have been female. I could go on.
I am presently here in Paderborn, Germany visiting my wife’s family. In my two weeks here traveling from Dusseldorf, I have not encountered a homeless person or seen any trash on the streets. The price of gas is around $8 a gallon but we bought a monthly bus and train pass for $9 that allows us to go anywhere in Germany. We take several busses every day and I enjoy mixing with the people. Masks are required on public transportation and everyone does it without complaining. We spent two days visiting a cousin and elderly aunt. The aunt is 92 and in failing health suffering with painful gout in one foot. With one day’s notice a doctor showed up bag in hand for a home visit. He wrote a couple of prescriptions and the aunt is doing better. No money exchanged hands. The medical system provides help for the elderly in their homes where they want to stay and in the long run it is cheaper. The German healthcare single payer system cover everyone at 50% (half) the cost per person as the American system. And I have never heard anyone have a complaint.
Just a few comments on the German economy. It was about 10 years ago that China displaced Germany as the world’s largest exporter of goods. Please note that the German’s do it with 80 million people and high salaries. When I ask members of my wife’s family about the secret of the German economy they all have the same answer: “precision German engineering” Remember that we stole some of their scientists to start our space program and so did the Russians. I have also discovered another important factor. Unlike US they have maintained their manufacturing base. One fourth of the workers are employed in the automobile industry producing the best cars in the world. This has been maintained by a law that requires half of the board of directors of a company to be line workers from the company. They don’t vote to send their jobs overseas. The CEO’s make about 40 times a line worker. In the US the CEOs sit on each others boards, make about 300 times as much as a line worker and look for cheap labor elsewhere. Germany is also highly unionized.
SUSIE'S BLUE BAR & OTHER HACKS & HIJINKS
I am disappointed at never having been to Nantucket. In his book “Fresh Air Fiend” Paul Theroux paddled himself to Nantucket. I regret never having been to a sing-along messiah. The crooked straight, the cooooked straight, and the rough places plain.
With two or three words typed on your computer you may get all of the pornography you can stand. It goes on and on. In pre-revolutionary Cuba you could see pornography live in a theater for one dollar. On and on it goes with a cast of thousands, a larger cast than football, basketball, baseball and hockey combined. Pornography is America's number one spectator sport. Gabrielle Garcia Marquez saw Hemingway on the other side of the street in Paris. He shouted out “Maestro!” Hemingway shouted back “Adios amigo.” I have read Sherwood Anderson but I did not know she was a female.
As I mentioned four months ago, Vladimir Putin will have two be dealt with in Russia. NATO is scared that Putin has nuclear capabilities and will use them. Putin knows he can get away with destroying cities and killing children.
It used to be that a writer of books spent more money for cigarettes while writing the book than he got paid from the book sales.
I have read for “briefly noted” in the New Yorker each week. About 200 year, 2000 every 10 years, and I've never seen one I would like to read. Once in awhile a child is born with a pigtail. The most recent was a girl in Missouri. The tail was cut off.
Mr. Biden has very low approval ratings. I ask those who criticize him what exactly he has done? What do you need him to have done differently? Who do you suggest? Would you rather have his job? I thought he screwed up the departure from Afghanistan by advertising that he was going to leave in advance. Ron Desantis says schools in Mendocino County have a drag queen story time each day. Question: What is the meaning of the word “naive”? Answer: people who are influenced by Bruce Anderson's writing about Mike Sweeney (32 years), Mike Thompson and friends (31.5 years), Richard Shoemaker, Richard Johnson, David Colfax, Dan Hamburg, Jared Hoffman, Mike McGuire and Jim Wood.
I thought a tricky basketball idea. Each team would have four players who pass, dribble and shoot and one player who is kind of a goalie whose job it is to retrieve all the balls that were shot whether or not a ball went through the hoop and pass the ball to a teammate. The four players would have red bands around their heads so that the goalie can easily see them. This will result in more shooting attempts. The goalie is in a better position to see balls in the air and get under the hoop quicker.
There are now 13 judicial districts, up from nine. There should be 13 justices. You didn't like my idea to trade for Fidel for Clarence Thomas 25 years ago.
Adventures in the copra trade. Copra has always been a big part of the South Pacific economy. Copra is a coconut product. The island of Cebu in the southern Philippines is covered with coconut palms. Cebu city is probably the largest copra port in the world. The waterfront, about two blocks long, has a about a dozen piers. There are always several ships loading coconut copra including bulk coconut oil. Across the street from the piers are almost exclusively bars and their hostesses to service hundreds of seamen day and night. It's a very competitive business with more girls than customers. The girls have to hustle in order to get a date for the night. I can't tell you what the girls say about each other to get an “edge” because it will never pass Marquess's moral code to be printed in the AVA. Some of the bars have a printed list of names of girls working there posted outside the door. One bar is called “Susie's Blue Bar.” Everything is painted a hideous dark blue and all the girls wear costumes of the same color which barely covers their private parts. Enterprising Susie also has an old bus which slowly runs up and down the waterfront street named “Susie's Blue Bus” painted the same dark blue. There are two or three girls on the bus you can make “arrangements” with, plus a cooler stocked with a dozen cans of San Miguel, Philippines' national and only beer. South of Cebu is the island of Mindanao. Next we come to a “pineapple port” (canned) named Bugo. It's about 10 miles from the town of Cagayan de oro where there is a large night fish market. The fish have to be sold right away. No refrigeration. One block square. Crowded and smoky oil lamps on tables of many varieties of fish. Wooden tables piled high with fish. At a kiosk I found a copy of the international issue of Time magazine in Bugo. There is a dock for one ship in one building made entirely out of bamboo. A nightclub. It looked like the operation elsewhere. Scantily clad hostesses and several rooms are in back. Once you went back with a hostess you found out that all of the entertainers were transvestites. All sex was oral. In the Philippines they are called “billy boys.” When we had loaded some pineapple for Oakland we found two of our crew members tied to a palm tree. They must have drunk too much San Miguel and misbehaved. We stopped in Manila to pick up several wicker baskets with handles. Mangoes for Hong Kong. Thousands of them. Many families live on junks in Hong Kong harbor. If your ship anchors in the harbor and the gainway goes down, teenage girls come aboard without a word and head for the showers. They know where they are. When they are finished they quietly leave. Food in Hong Kong may have the same name as Chinese food in the United States but it's not the same. Once I was on a ship in New York headed for Curacao. We ran into a big storm off New Jersey. A lot of birds were blown out to sea and about 50 of them landed on the ship. The crew did everything they could think of to keep those birds alive. Every kind of seeds, water, etc. But when we reached Curacao they were all dead.
That reminds me of another trip to Curacao. I got on a tanker in Stockton loaded with jet fuel in Martinez for Hawaii. We discharged in Pearl Harbor, then went to Venezuela and loaded Arctic diesel for Newfoundland (not Annie Proulx side) and Labrador. Going up to Goose Bay we were directly behind an icebreaker but managed to cause a huge break in the bow. That's not a good place to break down. So everything was pumped out and we were sticking up in the air. We slowly made our way down to a shipyard in Curacao. After getting patched up we went back to Stockton where we started.
I forgot to mention that a prisoner of war camp was built during the war in Curacao and it was converted into an entertainment location named Camp Allegro. Girls are recruited from Central America for three months, then sent back home. Then another group is recruited for three more months.
Could be senior patients, like yours truly, could get a break on our drug bills. Sen. J. Manchin ("Darth Vadar") said he would support President Biden’s Medicare drug negotiating bill, assuming Sen. M. McConnell (“Grim Reaper”) and his league of GOP Senatorial followers, doesn’t nix it.
Stay tuned. Call your congressfolks.
Frank H. Baumgardner, III
WATER DREAMS & VISIONS
Sometime in 2020 I began to read about this proposal called the “two basin solution.” Every time I would read an article with this reference, it would make me wonder and shudder as I would contemplate the loss of the water supply that feeds Lake Mendocino. Finally in May of 2022, I spoke to our Board of Supervisors asking them for leadership regarding this extremely important issue. I was somewhat aware of work being done by Inland Water & Power Commission and the Mendocino County Farm Bureau, but I wasn’t aware of any organized response to educate and rally the local citizens to confront this threat. Since the water supply from the Project is used for fire suppression, fisheries, domestic and agricultural water supply, recreation and tourism affecting over 600,000 people in not only our county but also Lake, Sonoma, and Marin, I believe that destruction of this infrastructure is unthinkable. As in just about every situation, solutions are complex when we wish they were easy and black or white.
The Board of Supervisor’s recent proposal to bring a tax measure that would utilize the expiring assessment from Measure B to fund county fire and water needs certainly was never meant to be a threat to the proposed library initiative A that the virtuous and diligent efforts by our friends & neighbors qualified for the November ballot to establish permanent funding for our libraries. The issue is timing, that we are in the third year of a drought and we must deal with significant water issues county wide.
When I began composing this letter the board was discussing Supervisor Mulhern’s proposal to use the expiring tax money from the Measure B mental health initiative to fund fire and water needs. The short time to get this on the November ballot, lack of unity with the Board regarding the percentage of taxation, etc. caused the board to recently drop water from this discussion and proposal and and focus a future tax initiative solely on funding for fire needs.
We must have a vision for our future and therefore need to create a funding mechanism for water projects. By far the best way to bring about an initiative is from a grassroots petition effort from the citizenry. If we are successful in getting enough signatures to put a measure on the ballot we will know better if we have the needed support and also it would take 50% not 67% of the votes to make it pass. Furthermore, then the funds must be directed to this specific cause and will be non-discretionary, so everyone will be confident that the money is spent solely for this purpose. There isn’t time to do this before the next election in November. So we must begin now in preparation for the 2024 election and in the meantime hope that voters do not forget our current reality of drought which may have improved by then.
As residents of Mendocino county we must not be naive. Those who wish to stop the less than 2% Eel River water diversion to feed the Russian River, who originally spoke of a “two basin solution”, don’t really care about leaving us any water now that PG&E has been directed to start the license surrender process. They have a severely misguided perception that the Eel can be saved by destroying the Project infrastructure and that seems to be their sole focus. The water needs for the people in the Russian River basin are not their concern.
No matter where you live in the county, the Ukiah Valley as the county seat is an economic hub for services, supplies and jobs. If there is no water to support these endeavors what is the alternative? If Mendocino County doesn’t stand together to support the water supply from the Potter Valley Project it will be a mistake equal to our lack of insight that caused us to only end up with less than 10% of the water rights of Lake Mendocino. Hindsight is always 20-20, so we must get a united vision to move forward. I am willing to be a catalyst to help us unite to gain this water right. I welcome ideas, and participation on any level to move forward now. Please if you wish to contact me you can call me at 707 485-7567 and please leave a message.
Your neighbor, friend, and lover of Mendocino county,
THE UNITED STATES OF DYSTOPIA
This July 4th, instead of celebrating the 235th anniversary of our country’s declaration of independence from a tyrannical king, Americans mourned the loss of our most cherished freedoms stripped from us by an illegitimate, extremist, right-wing, super majority on the United States Supreme Court. In the Court’s just ended term, six extremist justices, five of whom were appointed by presidents who did not win the popular vote of the people, decided that we Americans are no longer free to control our own bodies, to live free from religious coercion by the state, or to live free from fear in a safe and clean environment.
The Court struck down the 49 year old precedent of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion rights for women and girls. The Court’s new ruling allows state legislatures to pass laws that ban abortions, making criminals of pregnant women and girls who get abortions as well as their abortion providers. At this very moment, 26 states with Republican majority legislatures are feverishly working to enact and implement laws that force pregnant women and girls to give birth. In effect, these anti-abortion laws turn every woman and girl capable of becoming pregnant into a potential suspect who’s menstrual cycle and sex life are subject to surveillance by law enforcement agents. This state control over female bodies is the wet dream of Catholics and Evangelical Christians who have been working to overturn Roe v. Wade since its inception based on their religious belief that life begins at conception. With this Supreme Court ruling, all people who live in anti-abortion states will now be forced to abide by the strict religious edicts of these fanatical Christian fundamentalist sects. While Republicans claim to be the party of small government and individual freedom, they are in fact using the power of big brother to control the most intimate decisions of our lives.
The Court struck down long held precedent of separation between church and state when they ruled that a Washington state public high school football coach had a right to lead his team in Christian prayer on the field. The six extremist justices found that the public school official’s free speech rights trumped the public school students’ rights to be free from religious coercion by the state. Under this ruling, taxpayers are being forced to pay for the religious indoctrination of their children into a faith not of their own choosing. This ruling will open the floodgates to public school officials using public schools as a recruiting ground for their army of Christian soldiers.
The Court struck down a more than century oldNew York state gun law that placedrestrictions on carrying a concealed handgun outside the home. The six extremist justices found that because the state only issued public-carry licenses to applicants who coulddemonstrates a special need for self-defense, the law violatedthe Second Amendment right of people to bear arms. This ruling is based on a grossmisinterpretation of the Second Amendment that completely ignores the founders intention of arms born by/”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,”/not carried in public spaceswhere people havea right to live free from fear thatdeadly gunfire mightbreak-outat any moment by some malcontentwith a petty grievance. This Supreme Court ruling sendsan approving nod toself-appointed vigilantes.
The Court curbed the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants which severely limits the federal government’s ability to deal with climate change at a time when climate scientists are warning us we must act now to save our planet for habitation by future generations. The six extremist justices think that the “right” of the fossil fuel corporations to make profits, trumps the people’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the future, this ruling will be cited by every corporate interest to curb the federal government's ability to make regulations that protect the public interest.
All of these Supreme Court decisions are the culmination of a long term Republican project to turn America into a dystopian state where government agents are empowered to surveil citizens’ private lives, where religious fanatics run the public school system, where gun toting brown shirts patrol the streets, and where soulless corporations turn our planet into a hellscape. Welcome to the United States of Dystopia.