Many people lost their homes to the CZU Fire last summer.
A few homes were damaged or destroyed by trees and debris that were blown down by strong winds early last week.
Before all the damage could be repaired, and all the mess and clogged drainage could be mitigated, the rain started.
Now, an evacuation warning has been issued because wind and rain predicted for Tuesday night is likely to cause debris flows and perhaps flooding within or downstream from areas affected by the CZU Fire.
It seems to be so unfair that homes, which we expect to be reasonably safe and secure, can be so vulnerable.
We all know the risks associated with living here, but such risks do not often affect so many within such a short time.
In fact, the CZU Fire was the most destructive fire in local history, and involved the most significant evacuations.
Those of us who lack homes must contend with the risks associated with living here as well. Just as rain is a problem for anyone who can not repair a damaged roof in a timely manner, it is a problem for anyone who lacks a roof. The current evacuation warning is unlikely to affect locations inhabited by those who lack homes, but flooding of creeks or the San Lorenzo River might.
Most of those who had recently been deprived of their homes have fortunately procured residency elsewhere, even if just temporarily. Very few lack adequate shelter here. Of those who do, some inhabit sites that are close to water. Those who are in situations that will likely be inundated as creeks and the San Lorenzo River rise need to relocate. This will not be easy in the rain.
Fortunately, rain is not predicted for tomorrow (Monday).
(Apologies for the delay of posting this recycled article from last year. It could not be reblogged, so got reposted, . . . . or whatever happened.)
Michael Savage wrote the book. It is supposed to be well worth reading. I have never done so. Nor do I intend to. I know I would not enjoy it. My prejudice is not based on what I believe the book to be about. It is derived more from the expectation of an objectionably straightforward presentation of accurate but unpleasant information that really should be common knowledge.
Conservatism is not perfect either. If extremist liberals could compose more than a few coherent sentences, one might write a book about it. Neither conservatism nor liberalism is the worst of the many social complications that those who identify with one but most definitely not the vilified other should be concerned about though. Extremism is what enhances the worst of both.
Homelessness and all the problems associated with it are social problems. They affect all of society. They are neither liberal nor conservative. Yet, extremists so readily blame politicians for causing such problems or allowing them to continue, as if they do so intentionally. Conservative extremist blame liberal politicians just like liberal extremists blame conservative politicians.
How many of those who blame others for homelessness actually do anything about it? Do any of them help the homeless procure domestic situations? Do any of them help the unemployed procure employment? Do they donate food or clothing to those who are in need of such resources? It seems that most are pleased to continue to complain about what others are not doing.
Fortunately, there are many within our Community who are very supportive in regard to helping the homeless, unemployed and needy. We do not hear much from them because they are not so unconstructively outspoken. They do not so blatantly blame others for problems that they are not willing to help out with.
It is good to be hopeful. It is also good to be realistic.
So many seem to be overly pleased that 2020 is over and done with, and expect 2021 to be so much better. It very well could be. However, there are no guarantees. Fire Season is over, but only until next fire season. After all, it is an annual event. The president that so many here despised will be replaced soon enough, but the nicer replacement is not exactly exemplary either.
The Pandemic, or whatever it is known as, was the major news last year that everyone wants to leave in the past. Unfortunately, the new year means nothing to the virus. Progress has been made, but did not eradicate the virus precisely at the stroke of midnight between 2020 and 2021. No one really knows how much worse the situation will get before it significantly improves.
Furthermore, the associated repercussions continue to evolve. While many are enjoying more outdoor activities and gardening, many more are unable to work to earn revenue to pay for the most basic of necessities. Some have procured other employment, but for less compensation. Those who have managed to continue with their employment may have found business lacking.
The eviction moratorium expires at the end of the month. No one really knows what will happen at that time. Some people who can not afford their rent or mortgage could become homeless. Those who rely on rental income may have been lacking some or all of such income for quite a while and may continue to do so. They may consequently be unable to pay their mortgages too.
The local homelessness rate, which had been decreasing for a while, only recently began increasing, and, sadly, has potential to get significantly worse.
December 13 is the birthday of our dearly departed friend Steven Ralls. His ‘Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree‘ that was planted on May 2, for the third anniversary of his passing, is doing well, and likely appreciates what transpired overnight. Now that it got the opportunity to disperse roots through its first season in the ground, it will receive no more supplemental irrigation.
Such irrigation will no longer be necessary. The tree is a native Monterey cypress, which survives on annual rainfall, within a locally limited season. It was only occasionally irrigated through its first season, while it was busy dispersing roots. It should do well without any such intervention next year. Now that the rainy season started, the soil will not get dry until late next spring.
Yes, it is now the beginning of the rainy season here. The second small storm passed through early this morning and continues as I write this. The first arrived on Friday night. A minor prior storm was something of a lone stray, and did little to disrupt the naturally dry weather pattern that had persisted since late last spring. Now, more rain is expected for Wednesday afternoon.
For most of us with roofs, rain will be an asset. It sustains the forests and replenishes the aquifers. This year, it will rinse away the ashy dust deposited by the CZU Lightning Complex Fires. For those without roofs, rain, although appreciated, can cause significant problems. Prior to the CZU Lightning Complex Fires, very few homeless people resided here. It is not as simple now.
Sadly, many local residents lost their homes to the CZU Lightning Complex Fires. Although most are now residing in homes, even if just temporarily, some are not. Many are still cleaning up the mess where their homes had been. Rain will obviously complicate such unpleasant tasks. Furthermore, debris flows, which become more likely as rain continues, are now a major concern.
The end of the fire season at the beginning of the rainy season is no consolation for those who already lost their homes to fire.
July was when I was last able to write weekly for this blog. Since then, most posts were recycled older posts. I have mentioned a few times that I hope to resume writing new posts here, but so far, have been unable to do so. Other obligations require my attention for now. Realistically, I do not know when I will be able to resume writing weekly posts.
Facebook has likely been more interesting. I have not been there in quite a while. I am not sure I remember my password, or if I am a member of the group. I have been told that there are a few topics that are sometimes discussed there that I should write about here. I do not doubt that. So much has been happening!
I will post a brief article tonight, but it may be the last for a while.
Again, because of other obligations, I must recycle this old article rather than write something new for this week. It might be a few weeks before I can resume writing.
We never know who will read what we post online. It is not like old fashioned newspapers that could only be read as far away as the printed pages got dispersed. Everyone with access to the internet has access to this.
Nowadays, there is nothing unusual about that. Just
about everything is online. What is unusual is that so many outside
of our distinguished Community are interested in reading about us.
This ‘blog’ (Gads! I hate that word!) is not even a
month old, and contains only a few brief posts that are not
particularly compelling. Yet, posts have been read by quite a few
visitors, including some who are nowhere near here. There is
certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is rather gratifying.
It is just unexpected.
Many of the issues that concern our minor local
Community are common concerns that affect many other Communities all
over the World. Nonetheless, different societies contend with such
issues in their own unique ways. Are our techniques somehow relevant
to other cultures and other societies? How similar are they? How are
It will be interesting to see where outside of America
our posts get read. So far, they have been read in the United
Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India, France, Switzerland and
China. If it were possible, it would also be interesting to see where
within American the vast majority of those reading our posts are
Furthermore, all this interest in our distinguished
Community stimulates interest in others who are concerned with some
of the same issues that concern us, but from within the context of
potentially very differnt cultures. Is homelessness really as
tolerable in India as so many of us believe it to be? How do the
homeless of Switzerland survive the dangerously harsh winters? That
is what the World Wide Web is for.
The recycled article below is more than a year old, from a time when groups could gather. It may not seem to be relevant while there are no social events, but it will eventually become relevant again. It will be interesting to see how minimal the turnout for some of our familiar social gatherings will be. It was already very minimal prior to the current situation. So many who had formerly lacked a domestic situation or employment have become too busy with new domestic and professional obligations to attend.
(I am sorry that I am presently unable to write new articles as I had been. I do not know when I will resume. As I mentioned, the article below is recycled from more than a year ago.)
Big crowds are proportionate to the popularity of an event. They are sort of expected at exhibits of famous art, important baseball games, and Aaron Tippin concerts. There was quite a crowd at the Felton Remembers Parade and Covered Bridge Festival.
Smaller events draw much smaller but relatively significant
groups. It is always nice to see children celebrating birthday
parties in Felton Covered Bridge Park. Community Bridges (Mountain
Community Resources or MCR) still does play dates for children there
Our group is very unique. We get good turnout for our special
events too, if we plan ahead for them, and extend invitations.
Otherwise, for regularly scheduled events, such as lunch at Felton
Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, and lunch at Saint John’s on
Thursday, minimal attendance is an indication that more of us are
doing well, and are unable to attend because we are at work, or busy
with other responsibilities.
It is not as if we are an exclusive group that others want to be
members of. Although just about anyone can join, most do so only out
of necessity, but prefer to move onto better situations.
There were more of us in 2013 than there are now. Those who have
joined our group since then have been less numerous than those who
have found homes and employment. There are now fewer of us than there
have been in a very long time. In that sense, minimal membership is a
It is unfortunate that this is not a common trend in most other
places. Some of the same social difficulties that are less prevalent
here than they had been are instead becoming more common elsewhere,
particularly in more substantial towns and big cities, such as San
Jose, Watsonville and Monterey. Are we doing something differently
As I mentioned last week, other obligations presently prevent me from writing new posts, perhaps for several weeks. For now, this old article from May of 2019 will be recycled.
Fake environmentalism is a HUGE topic, so for now, will be limited
to fake environmentalism as justification for the eviction of
The yellow triangle in the picture above was the site of the
Hero’s Camp, which was more commonly known as Ross Camp, and located
behind Ross Dress For Less in Gateway Plaza in Santa Cruz. It is gone
now. This satellite image was taken by Google Maps prior to the
development of the Camp. I did not get pictures of the camp while
inhabited, but you have likely seen enough other camps in the news to
imagine what it looked like.
It really was as big as it looks, and really did exhibit all the
problems that you hear about in the news, although not to such an
exaggerated degree. Not everyone there used syringes to inject
illicit narcotics. Not everyone there was an alcoholic. Not everyone
was violent, from somewhere else, or a criminal. This is not about
such issues anyway. It is about how the two hundred or so unhoused
people who lived here affected the environment.
Was there trash? Of course there was. Was it more than what two
hundred people who live in homes generate? No. Houseless people do
not generate as much trash as the housed, simply because they lack
resources to purchase the commodities from which so much trash is
generated. The houseless certainly do not waste as much as the
housed. Their trash just happens to be more visible for outsiders who
do not know any better to see.
Furthermore, what is so typically described and perceived as trash
is actually the belongings of those who live in such camps. Without
closets, cabinets or furniture, our belongings would look about the
same, except much more voluminous. When we take just some of the
belongings that we don’t want or need and put them out in front of
our homes, it is a garage sale, and likely amounts to much more than
individual homeless people own.
The satellite image from Google Maps below shows the neighborhood
where my grandparents lived in Felton, less than seven miles north of
where the picture above was taken. Their old home is right in the
middle of the picture. There were not so many other homes there when
they arrived, just as World War II was ending. They lived a
relatively modest lifestyle, on a small suburban parcel. They were
not concerned about the environment.
Why should they have been? Even now, the people who live in homes
here can generate as much trash as they want to, and no one will
complain about it. They can fill their homes with their belongings,
and put them neatly away in closets, cabinets and drawers. There are
alcoholics in this neighborhood, as well as a few who are addicted to
illicit narcotics. Some are criminals. Some are violent. Few are
native. Again, this is off the main topic.
None of that is visible in this satellite image anyway. What it
shows instead is how the lifestyles of those who live in homes are
more detrimental to the environment than the lifestyles of those who
lack homes. This picture is the same scale as the picture above, so
you can see that only a few homes would fit into an area comparable
to that in which about two hundred unhoused people lived. Only a few
people live in each of these few homes.
What that means is that two hundred people like those who lived at
the Hero’s Camp live dispersed over a much larger area, on land from
which trees and vegetation needed to be removed. They all live in
homes that are made of wood derived from trees that grew in forests.
These homes are furnished with synthetic plaster, carpet, paint,
glass, vinyl, metals and all sorts of materials that needed to be
quarried, processed or manufactured.
It doesn’t end there. These homes consume energy for heating,
lighting and whatever else that gas and electricity are used for.
Cars driven by those who live in homes are also constructed from raw
materials, and then need fuel to function. Water is consumed as if it
were not a very limited resource. Much of it gets mixed with soaps
and detergents before going back into the environment. Chlorine
volatilizes from chlorinated swimming pools.
Then there are the landscapes and gardens, the parts of domestic lifestyles that we actually believe to be beneficial to the environment. They contain exotic (non-native) plants that compete with native species, and interfere with natural ecological processes. Irrigation of the landscapes stimulates growth of redwoods, and accelerates decay of oaks. Soil amendments, fertilizers and some of the pesticides change the chemistry of the soil and ground water.
Just compare these two pictures. As bad as the mess at Hero’s Camp
was, the two hundred people who lived there were less detrimental to
the environment and the local ecosystem than those who live in just a
few of the homes visible in the picture below. Those who claim to be
concerned about the environment should be more concerned about the
ecologically detrimental lifestyles of those who live in homes than
those who lack homes.
(Incidentally, the title was changed slightly from the original post [in another blog] to conform to the meme of ‘Hypocrisy’.)
Other obligations prevent me from writing something new for this week. I may not be able to write anything new for quite a while. Instead, this old article that was re-posted from my other blog in May of 2018 will be posted again. (I am getting significant mileage out of this article.) The other blog happens to be a gardening blog, which is why this says more about the trees than about the campsite below them. This is the article below:
There happen to be quite a few campgrounds in the region, with one
about a quarter of a mile upstream from where this picture was taken,
and another less than three miles past that. Both are primarily used
by school age children. The vast redwood forests with creeks flowing
through are ideal for such campgrounds.
This is a campground too. I know it does not look like it. It is
located between a creek and an industrial building, the eave of which
is visible in the top right corner of the picture. The herd of
dumpsters that is barely visible at the bottom of the picture might
include a dozen dumpsters at at time. (I tried to get both the eave
and the dumpsters in one picture.) There really are two rows of
barbed wire on top of that fence behind the dumpsters.
Nonetheless, it is a campground. You see, individuals who lack
adequate shelter occasionally camp on a flat spot next to the creek,
right below the big cottonwood tree in the middle of the picture. It
is not a big space, so can only accommodate one or maybe two people
at a time. No one has been there for quite a while. Yet, on rainy
days like today, it is saddening to imagine someone camping there, so
close to inaccessible buildings.
Because the area is outside of landscaped areas, I do nothing to
make it any more comfortable as a campground. I only cut away the
limbs that fall onto the fence.
The trees are a mix of mostly box elders, with a few cottonwoods
and willows, and even fewer alders, with one deteriorating old
bigleaf maple. They concern me. Box elders, cottonwoods and willows
are innately unstable. All but bigleaf maple are innately
structurally deficient. Although bigleaf maple should innately be
both stable and structurally sound, the particular specimen in this
situation is in the process of rotting and collapsing.
I really do not mind if limbs or entire trees fall into the
forested riparian zone. If they fall outward, they do not damage the
dumpsters. Only the fence needs to be repaired. What worries me are
the potential residents of the campground. Part of my work is to
inspect trees for health, stability and structural integrity, and if
necessary, prescribe arboricultural procedures to make them safe. I
just can not do that here.
UPDATE: Just after this article posted at midnight, a very big box
elder off to the right of those in the picture fell with a loud but
quick crash. It was probably the biggest and most deteriorated of the
box elders in this area, and pulled completely out of the ground to
reveal that the roots were so decayed, that none stayed attached to
the stump. Seriously, you should see the pictures when they get
posted next Sunday.
Information regarding the main causes of homelessness is always confusing. There are too many dynamic variables to limit the precision of data, even within a specific region and time range. Nonetheless, unemployment is consistently one of the most common causes of initial homelessness. Most studies rank it at the main cause. Others rank it as the second most common cause.
While so many were unable to work during the ‘Stay At Home’ order, the Eviction Moratorium was enacted to temporarily prevent evictions of the unemployed who were unable to pay their rent or mortgages. Otherwise, more of us could have become homeless by now. Unfortunately, it is not a perfect solution, and temporarily deprives landlords of their needed rental revenue.
Now that so many are able to return to work and earn revenue again, the past due accounts of rents and mortgages will continue to be a major expense for those who do not earn much more than a modest cost of living. Some could still become homeless. Some might need to relocate. Because some businesses will not recover, some of us will likely need to seek other employment.
Unpleasant predictions of increasing homelessness during the next few months might not be totally inaccurate, but mostly seem to be exaggerated. Most landlords and mortgage holders are likely to be more willing to negotiate reimbursements of delinquencies in order to avoid foreclosures and vacancies. It might be difficult to replace tenants while so many can not afford rents.
It seems that most within our Community who are still unable to work have already procured alternative employment. For some, such alternative employment is only temporary until they can resume their normal employment. Although no one should have become homeless because of unemployment during the eviction moratorium, a few are planning to relocate.