4.4

Google Reviews assigns 4.4 of 5 stars to Felton Covered Bridge Park. That is the average of the ratings of 480 reviews. Only 18 of these 480 reviews, which is less than 4%, mention ‘homeless’. Regardless of such mentions, these 18 reviews generate an average rating of more than 3 stars, with only 3 assigning 1 star, but 3 assigning 5 stars.

Haters prefer to portray Felton Covered Bridge Park very differently. They neglect to consider its innate assets that others appreciate, but complain almost exclusively about a few mostly minor problems, and blame such problems on homeless people. Haters are merely a scant few of the thousands who live here, but believe that they represent the majority.

Incidentally, haters seem to have generated few, if any, of the current 480 Google Reviews that mention ‘homeless’. These review seem to have been composed mostly by people who visited from other regions, and generally expressed legitimate concerns, even if somewhat exaggerated.

These are the 18 current Google Reviews of Felton Covered Bridge Park that mention ‘homeless’, arranged from least stars to most, with commentary:

1 STAR – a year ago

We decided to take the kids to the park near this covered bridge. I curiously started walking thru the bridge and ran into a few homeless people who were mumbling and saying strange stuff, so I walked back to the park and sat and started seeing a number of homeless people in the area. I won’t be back anytime soon.

* Fortunately, this unpleasant person ‘won’t be back anytime soon’. When this posted a year ago, most of those who lacked domestic situations here had lost their respective homes to the CZU Fire. Most of the previously ‘homeless people’ had secured domestic situation by that time. If they all had gathered together on Felton Covered Bridge, there would have been only a ‘few’, as described, but with none remaining to appear within the Park afterward. Perhaps a few too many were misidentified as ‘homeless’ because they did not conform to the discriminating standards of the observer. Perhaps it is still impolite to eavesdrop.

1 STAR – 2 years ago

Unfortunately I have to give it only one star.i used to love it there until the homeless took it over. Don’t get me wrong there always have been homeless people there, unfortunately some of them are very vulgar and loud. It’s very hard to take your kids or grandchildren their without them hearing vulgar words and seeing things they shouldn’t see.

* Children hear more egregious language and see more egregious activity online, on television and in movies than they experience at Felton Covered Bridge Park. Even the spelling, punctuation and capitalization of this review could be considered to be slightly egregious. Although a few people who are not necessarily ‘homeless’ behave inappropriately on occasion, their activity is no justification for depriving children of a Park that is intended for everyone to enjoy. There are less people who are ‘homeless’ here now than there had been. They have not taken over Felton Covered Bridge Park.

1 STAR – 3 years ago

Love it except for all the homeless taking over! Feels unsafe to walk around!

* As mentioned above, the ‘homeless’ are not taking over. It is only unsafe to walk around because of gophers.

2 STARS – 3 years ago

Nice place but there is a homeless population that uses the park quite essential they keep to themselves but occupy picnic tables and benches through out the park

* Punctuation would have been useful within the context of this review. Apparently, or seemingly, someone feels entitled to the exclusive use of all of the picnic tables and benches within Felton Covered Bridge Park, and does not want to share with others within our esteemed Community. There are more benches and picnic tables than there are homeless people. They could not occupy all of them if they tried.

2 STARS – 4 years ago

This park was small and disappointing. It has a lot of potential but it is dirty and filled with the homeless. It is clear that Felton is not keeping food place up or providing better services for the unfortunate people who find themselves sleeping in the park.

* It is unfortunate that someone is disappointed with Felton Covered Bridge Park. It is actually dirty, but only because it is constructed on top of . . . dirt. It is not filled with ‘the homeless’ though, and was not so filled even four years ago when this review was composed. No one sleeps there. Food is readily available, but irrelevant in this regard.

3 STARS – 2 years ago

The covered bridge park is a place I have been coming since I was a baby. It is a nice spot to have a picnic, and it is right across the street from safeway. The bathroom situation is a little sketchy, being only porta potties that are also used by junkies and homeless.

The park in general is kept clean and safe. But there is an uneasy drug presence at the end of the park where the houses all are. This is a great spot to go in the daytime, and the bridge is beautiful, majestic and historic. I would try to avoid it past sundown, but the park is closed anyways so there is no reason to go…

The county is good at keeping the park equipment updated and clean, I have never come here thinking it was old and out of date.

* This review is not so bad. The only oddity is that it expresses a concern that ‘junkies and homeless’ use the ‘bathroom situation’. The situation would likely be worse if they did not do so. Vandals who vandalize the ‘bathroom situation’ should be more of a concern.

3 STARS – 3 years ago

I love this park so much, and I’m very sad to say that it’s becoming unsightly and dangerous due to the homeless encampments in the wooded areas around the park. Trash, illegal bonfires, drug dealing, and fights are commonpiece these days and I no longer feel safe walking to my neighborhood shops through the covered bridge due to harassment from occupants drunk and/or high on meth and heroin. Almost every morning I pick up the trash strewn about the dumpsters by scavengers looking for cans… I wish the local law enforcement would take steps to restore the safety of this beautiful neighborhood.

* Of these 18 reviews, this one features the most fallacies, and blames them all on those who lack domestic situations. No one camps ‘in the wooded areas around the park’. Trash is not exclusive to homelessness. If bonfires, drug dealing and fights were so common and attributable to homelessness, than at least one of the other 480 people who composed reviews should have made similar observations. Credibility is too compromised to sustain claims of harassment by people who are impaired by alcohol or illicit narcotics, or that scavengers scatter trash. This Community is very safe.

3 STARS – a year ago

The bridge itself is very nice, but in the bridge there was a homeless person sleeping and two others in the entry

* This review does not explain how the ‘two others in the entry’ qualify as ‘homeless’. If they were also asleep, then they were likely also ‘homeless’. Otherwise, they may have merely been mistaken as such because they did not conform to the discriminating standards of the observer.

3 STARS – 4 years ago

This is a great park for taking a stroll, or a nap, but not for sleeping in overnight if you’re homeless or a crusty traveler. Get a bagel across the street and try to make it up to SF or down to Santa Cruz.

* This review is just weird.

3 STARS – 3 years ago

Small park…beautiful historic covered bridge to walk over..Lot of homeless hang out and sheriff runs them off…

* Even when this review was composed three years ago, there were not a ‘lot of homeless’ here.

3 STARS – 2 years ago

This is a good family park. There is a play area for children, and large lawns to run and play. The Redwood trees, the river, and Felton Covered Bridge add to the special ambiance here. It is a place where one can put down their phone and experience some of the other important things in life…. if one would want. There are sometimes homeless here. They seem to enjoy the nature of these woods also.

* That seems to be accurate.

4 STARS – 2 years ago

Gorgeous bridge and nice playground but the drunk homeless looking folks getting arrested kind of brought the mood down. The police seemed to make a lap around the park rousting anyone who looks homeless or are drinking, like they do it all the time. Would have been perfect if not for the police presence and arrests (they were peaceful arrests).

* Actually, the deputy sheriffs do not roust anyone merely for being or appearing to be homeless. Although this review attributes nothing directly to homelessness, it does not describe what ‘homeless looking’ is either.

4 STARS – 4 years ago

Nice park, great historic bridge, but Santa Cruz is famous for homeless, and this place is no exception.

* That is credible.

4 STARS – a year ago

Very historic (but there was a homeless dude in there lol)

* This is also credible. Homelessness should not be so amusing though.

4 STARS – 4 years ago

Nice park but to many homeless.

* Perhaps even just a few homeless people are to(o) many for some observers.

5 STARS – 5 years ago

Great park for the kids to play at. You will have to over look the homeless that like to hangout there. They really are ok people, kind and respectful for the most part.

The kids will have a great time playing there.

* How nice!

5 STARS – 2 years ago

Felton is a place to go covered bridges where I go to walk my dogs everyday or every other day if I can homeless people are no bother well mannered and polite

* This review is nice also, even without punctuation.

5 STARS – 5 years ago

Beautiful and peaceful. I love the homeless that live around there.

* Ah!

Memorial

An obituary typically precedes a memorial, to inform the Community of a subsequent memorial. In retrospect, the memorial was at 3:00 last Saturday afternoon at the Footbridge Service Center, at 150 Felker Street in Santa Cruz. Those of us in Felton only became aware of it two days prior, on Thanksgiving Day. Time was insufficient to gather the information that is necessary for the composition of an obituary.

Besides, it is not easy. It is downright difficult. I will not even attempt to compose an obituary now. It will take a few days.

To be perhaps disrespectfully brief, our old friend, David Lindberg of Boulder Creek, while asleep early in the morning of November 13, succumbed to infection associated with a scorpion bite. He had attempted to meet with a physician at HPHP (Homeless Persons Health Project) during the previous day, but arrived late, so intended to return during the following morning. He had not perceived the infection to be severe enough to justify seeking emergency medical attention at Dominican Hospital earlier. He was fifty five years old, and living unhoused in Santa Cruz at the time.

What began as a single Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree, is developing into a grove too quickly. At the beginning of the rainy season, another Monterey cypress was to be added for another old friend who succumbed to cardiac arrest last year. Now, a third Monterey cypress must be added for David Lindberg. Fortunately, two more Monterey cypress will be assets to the landscape. However, it is saddening that they are necessary. Although death is an unavoidable consequence of life, it seems that too much of it has been happening during the past few years. Perhaps that is a consequence of remembering.

Thankful

There is so much to be thankful for. It sounds cliche, and it is easy to forget while there is obviously so much to potentially be unhappy about. Fortunately, neither is contrary to the other. For example, it is quite normal to be unhappy about the loss of a stable domestic lifestyle. However, those who are houseless here can still be thankful to reside within such a compassionate and proactively supportive Community.

There is no shortage of friends here. Those who temporarily lack employment here are often hired by neighbors and friends, even if merely for minor tasks, and even if merely temporarily until more appropriate employment becomes available. Neighbors and friends sometimes provide temporary shelter to those who need it, and were particularly generous about doing so after the CZU Fire. Neighbors and friends here are innately gracious with sharing their resources with the less fortunate who would likely experience very different reception within the context of another Community.

There is more than Community to be thankful for. The mild climate, which is pleasant to those who inhabit homes, is more of a major advantage to those who lack shelter. The availability of free resource, such as food and clothing, prevent those of us who temporarily lack personal resources from experiencing unfounded hunger or becoming uncomfortably shabby. Tents and bedding are available to those who need them.

We should also be thankful for the rare but aberrant haters. They remind us of some of what we should be thankful for. We should be thankful that we are not so disdainful of humanity that we are compelled to disregard that which we should be thankful for in the diligent pursuit of dehumanizing others. We should be thankful that we are not like haters. We should be thankful to be thankful.

Misconceptions

“Hola!”, was an unexpected greeting from a notably pallid bank teller in Santa Cruz with whom I expected to deposit a check. I paused briefly, and before I could ask if he could speak to me with English, he asked, “Hablas ingles?”. I paused again, and replied, perhaps with a Californian accent, “Yes; do you?”

As he efficiently adjusted his linguistic obligation and conducted the transaction, I felt compelled to mention that, on rare occasion, my complexion generates such misconception. I probably should have said nothing, and avoided the subsequent discourse.

“Where are you from?”, he asked.

“Here.”

“No, I mean where are you parents from?”

“Here, . . . Sunnyvale and Santa Clara.”

“Where were they originally from?”

As I wondered why white people believe that they were here before anyone else, I briefly explained that my very distant ancestors came to North America from Europe while all sorts of other Caucasians were doing the same; and that my complexion was inherited from ancestors who left Italy a very long time ago. None of my ancestors spoke Spanish.

“Do you know people in the ‘Old Country’?”, he invariably asked.

“. . . Well, . . . since just about everyone I know lives in California, YES!”

Misconceptions associated with homelessness are much more bothersome, and are sometimes used to justify potentially serious discrimination and mistreatment. ‘Homeless’ simply describes a lack of a home. It does not describe reasons for such lack. Nor does it describe symptoms of such lack.

Although some stereotypes of homelessness are more likely to apply to some who are homeless than those who are not, they are neither exclusive to the homeless Community, nor inclusive of everyone within the homeless Community.

For example, addiction is more common among the homeless Community merely because so many who are addicted to some sort of ‘substance’ are more likely to become homeless as a result of such addiction. However, many and actually most who are afflicted with addiction inhabit homes. Furthermore, many who are homeless are not afflicted with addiction.

Only a few residents of Felton are presently homeless. If all of them but no one else were afflicted with addiction to some sort of ‘substance’, then such addiction would involve only a few residents of Felton. Obviously, such addiction is a much more significant problem, and the majority of those afflicted with it inhabit homes. Yet, those who inhabit homes are not necessarily stigmatized as addicts simply because they inhabit homes as the majority of addicts do.

Generalizations generally do not apply to everyone they are intended to apply to, and can initiate inaccurate misconceptions. Everyone has a unique story.

The Good Life

We have it good here. It is not always easy, and it sometimes gets difficult, but generally, we have it good.

That is not much consolation for many of those who formerly inhabited homes that were destroyed by the CZU Fire more than a year ago. Nor does it seem like much help to those who were deprived of their former domestic situations for other reasons, or are currently involved with such processes. It might not become apparent until after recovery. 

The potential for recovery might be an early clue to how good the situation here is. The Community is so remarkably compassionate and supportive. That is why so few of us lacked domestic situations prior to the CZU Fire. The Community commonly assists the unhoused with procurement of habitation, even if just temporarily. Also, the Community sometimes assists the unemployed with employment to sustain such habitation.

Furthermore, no one goes hungry for long here. Food Distribution (between 11:00 a.m. and noon on Thursdays) at Community Bridges provides supplemental sustenance for those who have need for it, and is remarkably generous with surplus produce. Although it can not supply all necessary sustenance, it assists those with limited resources by offsetting their expenditure on particular grocery items. Although Felton Presbyterian Church and Saint John’s Church are still (temporarily) unable to serve Community lunches at noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays respectively, both continue to provide bagged lunches at the same times.

Not all Communities are so compassionate or accommodating. Some Communities are unable to accommodate everyone who is in need and receptive to assistance. It is saddening to observe the substantially more deplorable situations that some of the unhoused of Santa Cruz, Watsonville and San Jose must contend with. However, it does remind us that we have it good here.

All Saints’ Day

Halloween is over! Goodness! It is such a weird indulgence of degenerate behavior! Children are actually encouraged and expected to dress in costume, perhaps ghastly or shabby by design, and tour their respective neighborhoods to engage in aggressive panhandling. Some of their parents, perhaps outfitted with comparably inappropriate attire, or worse, shamelessly attend debaucherous parties.

This is fun?! This is socially acceptable?! Well, it should afford significantly more respect for those who request donations on the Pacific Garden Mall because they lack other options. They waste neither resources nor effort on their possibly shabby attire. Nor do they come to our porches at night expecting handouts.

Anyway, it is now All Saints’ Day. It will be All Souls’ Day tomorrow. In many cultures, both days are All Soul’s Day, or something similar with a different name. Regardless of the name, All Saints’ Day is one of only six Holy Days of Obligation. Halloween is merely the day prior to All Saints’ Day. It is what Christmas Eve is to Christmas. However, although almost everyone in America knows what Halloween is, not so many know what All Saints’ Day is.

How many of us are aware of what Saint Patrick’s Day is? Why is Cinco de Mayo such a minor holiday where it actually has some relevance in Mexico, but is just another excuse for drunken partying here? Has partying become so important on the Fourth of July that we forget that it had formerly been Independence Day? Mardi Gras really should be a day for (responsible) indulgences, but has somehow become more important than subsequent Ash Wednesday and forty days of fasting and abstinence from such indulgence during Lent.

Society can be impressively creative with justification for unfounded indulgence. A few in society can be remarkably selective with such justification.

BEST

B-enchlands E-stuary S-tewardship T-eam is the BEST! They remove both trash and invasive exotic (nonnative) plants from the portion of the San Lorenzo River that flows through Santa Cruz and into Monterey Bay. Some team members are residents of the Benchlands Encampment at San Lorenzo Park or nearby neighborhoods. Some are members of the Santa Cruz Downtown Streets Team, which also collects trash elsewhere in Santa Cruz County, including here in Felton. All are volunteers.

BEST was organized in response to concern about the sensitive ecosystems of the San Lorenzo River, and, among other issues, the consequences of habitation by unhoused residents within such ecosystems. Direct involvement of the associated unhoused residents not only utilizes their coordinated volunteer efforts as a primary resource, but also provides them with ecological and environmental insight, which is a collective asset to the local unhoused Community. Others of the local unhoused Community are more likely to respect the sensitivity of the ecosystems in which they reside if they are more aware of how detrimental some of their activity can be to such ecosystems, or if they are aware that others within their particular Community take the initiative to mitigate some of the consequences of potentially detrimental activity.

For a distinctly socially disadvantaged segment of the Community, BEST provides opportunity for social, as well as environmental, contribution and improvement. This is more than socially and personally gratifying. It is healthy!

For the distinctly disadvantaged animal and plant life that inhabits and interacts with the associated ecosystems, but is unable to defend them, BEST does what it can to alleviate various ecological incursion, and promote recovery. So, BEST is not only healthy for the human participants, but is also healthy for the native flora and fauna of the intricate ecosystems of the San Lorenzo River Estuary.

First Rain

Weather forecast at about 8:00 this morning, October 17, 2021 (which is incidentally the anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake).

According to the weather forecast from this morning, as illustrated above, rain should start to fall at any time, now that it is after four. It is delayed by about two hours according to the current forecast. Clouds are already here, with more arriving over Bonny Doon.

This first episode of rain is not expected to last more than three hours, with only a forty percent chance of rain for the last hour. It will not be much. Nonetheless, it will be the first of the rainy season. More sustained rain showers are predicted for Wednesday, Friday and afterward.

Some of us who enjoy such weather are pleased with the first rain. It freshens the forests and home gardens, and can be a good excuse to stay inside and cozy by a warm fire and under a dry roof.

Those who are not so pleased with rain are aware that it is how seasons progress here. The weather is excellent for most of the time, but for a few brief months annually, it gets cool and rainy. Such cool and rain weather is unpleasant for those who lack the option of staying inside and cozy by a warm fire, or under a reliably dry roof.

That is why so many within our esteemed Community provide tents and tarps for those who lack domestic situations. Such provisions can not solve homelessness, but can make it a bit more bearable for those experiencing it. Fortunately, there are not as many who need such provisions here as there had been only a few years ago.

It will be a while before the rainy season ends next spring. Until then, some degree of damp and uncomfortably cool weather are will be unavoidable. Our resourceful Community will do what it must to contend with it.

October 10, 2021 – Memorial Tree Update

Memorial Tree – July 12, 2021

November 1, 2020, almost a year ago, was the last update for the resilient little Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park. Since then, it began to develop a form that is more appropriate to the park parking lot that it inhabits, with a single straight trunk and a reasonably well structured canopy. (The illustration above is about three months old, from July 12, but the Tree has not grown much since then.)

Of course, the canopy will need to be pruned for continued structural development after it defoliates for winter. For now, lower growth remains somewhat obtrusive within the associated curbed parking lot island. This growth will be pruned up high enough so that no one must duck under it. As the tree matures, limbs that extend into the driveway beyond the curb must be higher than fourteen feet, so that they will not be obstructive to large vehicles. Slightly lower limbs are tolerable but undesirable over the adjacent parking spaces. Since the main trunk divides at about six feet above grade, main limbs must ascend rather steeply to attain clearance of more than fourteen feet above the adjacent parking spaces, which are only about three feet from the main trunk. Fortunately, the roadway is a bit farther than the adjacent parking spaces.

Sadly, the Memorial Tree was damaged as it was struck by a freighter truck that was too large to turn around in the parking lot. Fortunately, the damage is not as severe as it could have been. Only a bit of bark was scraped from the main trunk. The worst of the damage is a basal fracture, which should compartmentalize efficiently as growth resumes next spring. The Memorial Tree was staked and bound with a more resilient stake. Although such binding is not arboriculturally correct, it will be temporarily helpful through recovery. Hopefully, all binding can be removed within a year, but the new stake may remain with a loose strap afterward.

It has been gratifying to observe the Community popularity of the young Memorial Tree through all of its hardships. The Maintenance Staff of Felton Covered Bridge Park (the Santa Cruz County Department of Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services) has been very protective of it, and offered to replace it if it had been too severely distressed to recover from various former damages, as well as its recent altercation. While it was not expected to recover from brutal vandalism in June of 2020, a few members of the Community, including someone who now resides in Southern California, likewise offered to replace it. No replacement is necessary. It survives and somehow thrives.

Bad Journalism

There are two primary reasons why the brief articles that post here have been of less than exemplary quality for the past year or so. Actually, they have been of rather substandard quality. (Okay, they have been downright ‘bad’.) I would prefer to avoid such unpleasant description; but that would merely defer the obvious.

Firstly, the second of the two primary reasons for the compromised quality of posts here is the lack of time to devote to composing them. I am simply overworked. It is a long and irrelevant story. To be brief, I continue to write horticultural articles for a few newspapers between San Francisco and the Los Angeles Region, while also working as many as three days weekly to help maintain landscapes at a local Conference Center. I know that I should retire from such writing, but can not bear to do so. Nor do I want to relinquish the landscape maintenance work, which was actually intended to be only temporary (a long time ago). Both are very enjoyable, but also limit my potential for other obligations.

Secondly, the first of the two primary reasons for the compromised quality of posts here is the lack of subject matter. There simply is not much to write about like there had been only a few years ago. This blog was originally intended to provide insight regarding the homeless and socially disadvantaged Community of Felton. However, so many of those who had previously lacked domestic situations presently reside in comfortable and safe homes, with stable lifestyles. Many who had previously been unemployed are presently gainfully employed, and therefore able to sustain their respective lifestyles. Relatively fewer have become deprived of domestic situations or employment while relatively more have procured the same. The socially disadvantages Community of Felton has been doing remarkably well. Ultimately, this is a good problem to contend with.