Volume 2 Issue 31, Jan. 20, 2022 View as Webpage
Photo Courtesy of ROARING CAMP
Roaring Camp Rejects RTC's Plan to Force Abandonment of Rail Line

Regional Transportation Commission to consider plan that threatens Roaring Camp rail line, as well as future of rail transportation in Santa Cruz County.
FELTON – Roaring Camp, Inc., operator of the Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific Railway, Wednesday called upon the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) to reject at its Feb. 3, 2022 meeting, the hostile attempt proposed by RTC staff to initiate a process that aims to force abandonment of the Felton Branch Rail Line.

Forced abandonment of the line, which is wholly owned by Roaring Camp, would remove Roaring Camp’s right to utilize the rail line for freight use. Loss of the right to freight use would have a highly negative impact on Roaring Camp’s business and would represent the first step in a larger, special interests-fueled effort to end rail service in Santa Cruz County. 
Roaring Camp released the following statement from CEO Melani Clark:

“Roaring Camp is strongly opposed to the RTC’s proposed action to pursue forced abandonment of the rail line we’ve owned and operated since 1984 because doing so will seriously harm our local, family-run, women-owned business, and our local economy. The RTC’s proposal represents an aggressive attack on our railroad and rail transportation in our county, fueled by special interests that are lobbying hard to end rail in Santa Cruz County. We encourage our community to join Roaring Camp in standing up against this poorly conceived, shortsighted move.
Roaring Camp’s diversified business operates in both North County and South County, and includes freight and tourist trains. Forced abandonment of the Felton Branch Rail Line will cause multiple adverse impacts for Roaring Camp, beginning with a permanent end to freight operations, which removes rail service as an option for local businesses. 
Roaring Camp is under contract to provide freight service on the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line through an agreement reached with the freight operator in 2021, including in South County where we are currently seeing growth in our services for multiple local industries. However, due to inaction by the RTC to repair two bridges, currently freight service is prevented from running the full distance between Santa Cruz and Watsonville (and beyond). Responsibility for the lack of access to freight services for local businesses north of Watsonville rests with the RTC under its agreement with the freight operator. This unfortunate circumstance is holding back our community in terms of economic development that supports job and income growth, and as an important strategy in the fight against climate change – freight-by-rail accounts for only 2% of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 24% coming from trucks on roadways, according to the U.S. EPA. 
In North County, the threatened loss of Roaring Camp’s right to freight service is especially alarming as we look ahead to the rebuilding process in the wake of the CZU Lightning Complex fire that destroyed approximately 900 homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Rail presents a critical advantage as we confront rising materials prices and trucking shortages, with freight rail serving as a dependable, cost-effective and greener alternative. Freight rail also represents a potential tool for our community as we consider how to prepare for future climate-related disasters that may require the need to deliver emergency water and emergency fire-fighting assets to the region.
Roaring Camp’s tourist train operations are also threatened by the RTC’s forced abandonment plans. Our tourist trains carry approximately 200,000 - 250,000 guests per year (pre-pandemic), with a very large portion of those guests staying in area hotels, contributing to the local economy and tax base. Our beach train operations that run from Felton to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk remove approximately 9,000 cars off the road during busy summer months. Forced abandonment represents a serious overreach of local government and is a clear threat to our business including the more than 60 permanent employees who work for Roaring Camp, as well as many more seasonal employees.
But make no mistake, the RTC’s proposal goes well beyond impacting Roaring Camp; the proposal is clearly part of a larger scheme that will have permanent and deeply negative impacts for our entire county. Should the Felton Line be declared abandoned, Roaring Camp’s rail line will be the first domino to fall in a series of moves that would conclude with abandonment of the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line (SCBRL) that runs the length of Santa Cruz County. Abandonment of the SCBRL will result in the permanent end to any possibility of passenger rail service for Santa Cruz County. The RTC’s potential aggressive action against Roaring Camp should serve as a major wake-up call for anyone who is interested in a future that includes both a rail and a trail system for our county. This isn’t just about Roaring Camp. It’s about our entire community and our future.
The RTC’s forced abandonment of the Felton Branch Rail Line also represents a breach of trust and a betrayal of a commitment. Roaring Camp was urged by local elected officials to give up its right of first refusal to purchase the Santa Cruz Branch Rail line from Union Pacific. My family was assured the rail line was an extremely important asset to the county, that the RTC had worked hard to line up funding from the state and that the sale to the RTC was for the benefit of the entire community. Roaring Camp was assured the line would be used for rail, thanks to funding from Proposition 116, which specifically calls for a commitment to rail service. In response, Roaring Camp cleared the way for the RTC to purchase the line. Now, the RTC is targeting Roaring Camp’s Felton Branch Rail Line as the first step toward forced abandonment of the full Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line and a betrayal of a commitment made to future rail that was made to Roaring Camp, the people of Santa Cruz County and the State of California. 
Roaring Camp has decades of history providing rail service in Santa Cruz County and we continue to be devoted to delivering quality transportation and recreation opportunities for local residents and businesses, as well as visitors. We look forward to engaging with our community in the fight to stop the RTC’s attempt to force abandonment of the Felton Branch Rail Line.”
ABOUT ROARING CAMP, INC. - Incorporated in 1958, privately held Roaring Camp, Inc. (Roaring Camp) operates two railroads, including the Redwood Forest Steam Train and the Santa Cruz Big Trees & Pacific Railway. Roaring Camp also owns the historic Felton Branch Rail Line, which is eight miles long and runs across a 1909 steel truss bridge and passes through a tunnel in Santa Cruz that was built in 1875. Norman Clark founded Roaring Camp and ran the business until his passing in 1985, after which his wife, Georgiana assumed ownership and management responsibilities. She was succeeded as CEO by Georgiana and Norman’s daughter, Melani Clark. Roaring Camp is a woman-owned business, with majority shareholders that include Melani Clark and her two sisters. Visit www.roaringcamp.com for more information.

Contact the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission to tell them to save the Felton Branch Rail Line and the future of rail travel in our county here.
Watsonville Urban Limit Line will be on Nov. 2022 Ballot

The City of Watsonville informed the Committee for Planned Growth and Farmland Protection that we have indeed submitted the required number (and more) of valid signatures of registered Watsonville voters, to qualify to place on the November 2022 ballot the petition to renew the Watsonville Urban Limit Line until the year 2040. This will enable the city to focus on infill development on vacant and under-utilized sites, thus protecting our unique and valuable farmlands and wetlands. The citizens we spoke to over the last six months were not interested in seeing Watsonville sprawl out onto our world-class agricultural lands. People can help with the campaign by contacting us through our website www.watsonvilleplannedgrowth.org
Rail Trail is Coming to Life

Earlier this year, the Westside Rail Trail, Segment 7a, opened for use. Car-free walking and rolling is now possible from Natural Bridges Drive to Bay and California Streets. The neighborhood is in love and we can't wait to see this trail come to life in every part of the county. 

The second half of Segment 7 just received a $9M grant from the California Transportation Commission, so construction can begin soon to connect the trail from Bay and California streets to Beach Street. Learn more from the City of Santa Cruz press release here. 

Next up, the first part of Segment 18 in Watsonville is now open!
The Pajaro Valley High School pedestrian bridge has been funded! Another win for creating walkable, bike-able neighborhoods, the PVHS bridge spans highway 1 allowing students the ability to walk or bike between school, the Watsonville city center, and neighborhoods. Click this link to learn more: 

In total, 18 miles of the Coastal Rail Trail is currently in some phase of construction. Want to learn more? Check-out the RTC website to get updates on each of the segments and where they are in the phases of design, funding and construction.
Food Not Bombs Evicted Again

The Food Not Bombs meal must relocate by Jan. 26.

In March 2020, Santa Cruz Mayor Justin Cummings came to the Food Not Bombs meal at the Clock Tower and asked us to lure the unhoused into the city’s Triage Cages that they had erected in several parking lots downtown. Assistant City Manager Susie O’Hara was quoted as saying people would be held in these cages for at least 72 hours and that no medical support would be provided.

I encouraged Justin to take some measures to build trust with the homeless before we would support the city. They need to rebuild trust after the city told Federal Judge Davila that they would be providing accommodations to the 300 or more people they wished to evict from Ross Camp. About 20 people received hotel vouchers for two nights at the Santa Cruz Motel and the rest were sent to the doorways, roadsides and the Pogonip where Santa Cruz Homeless Union officer and named plaintiff in the Ross Camp case, Desi Quintero, was killed by a fallen tree.

I also suggested they take the some of the millions promised by Gov. Gavin Newsom to rent or buy the empty building at 1549 Pacific Ave. or some of the vacant hotels on Ocean Street. Also, were they willing to take positive steps to build trust by making a public statement that they had lied before the court about providing safe places for those evicted from Ross Camp and would promise not to do so in the future?

The city did nether and evicted the Santa Cruz Homeless COVID-19 Relief Center a week later claiming that our hotel voucher distribution violated the CDC rules, rules they themselves had violated by sweeping our friends from the post office. The city abandoned their concentration camp like program after placing the post office camp in their cage behind Wheelworks at Laurel Street where no food was provided. Since they were our friends, we delivered meals and coffee to the site before it was closed before lunch of the first day. Those people got a week at the Santa Cruz Motel before they were forced back onto the streets.

The COVID-19 Relief Center was evicted several more times and driven down to the Benchlands where the annual floods washed away our equipment and the several feet of standing water made it impossible to provide meals to the hungry.

After the last eviction into Lot 27 at Laurel and Front Streets, our volunteers set out to find a place away from the dirt and noise of the luxury condo construction site across the street.

We had bought our second shipping container and had placed it at our meal site so we would not burn out our volunteers by having to truck our tables, canopies and other equipment to the site every day.

We spoke with the county about setting up on a paved area near the county building. County official Carol Johnson was very helpful touring the property to discuss potential locations. We are continuing that dialog. We investigated renting sites at Ocean and Soquel, Water and Market, Front and Soquel and several other possible locations that would meet our requirements.

We negotiated an extenuation of our meal at 440 Front St. with property developer Owen Lawlor, and have promised him and his partners that we will remove our shipping container and meal by Jan.26. While the city is not willing to be honest, Food Not Bombs always keeps it word and will move.

In the worst case for us, we will have to move the container to a church parking lot some place in town and return to the stressful days of shlepping our equipment to the Town Clock every day.

But this story is more than a story about a corrupt city government and the sterilization of our community by property speculators. At the core of these events is the fact that the government refuses to feed and house its people, and would rather facilitate the local vision of a corporate dystopia of “stakeholder capitalism” and the global transition to the totalitarian state. Santa Cruz is at the core of this frightening rush to digitize humanity into a slavery to the profits of Vanguard, State Street, BlackRock, their friends at organizations like the World Economic Forum. Software is the warfare of today and this is ground zero for billions in military and surveillance control.

The stakes could not be higher and this is why Food Not Bombs continues to maintain its autonomy from the state.

We sure could use more volunteers. Contact us at menu@foodnotbombs.net or call our toll free number 1-800-884-1136

Let the City of Santa Cruz know how you feel about their hostility towards Food Not Bombs:

"Abolish money. When bacteria enter a person’s bloodstream, so that person’s health is gradually undermined.
It is the same with money as with bacteria. Since money has unlimited power in the world, the ways of the world are bound to be increasingly debased. Step by step, morality is bound to be ruined and human nature faced with corruption. In the end, society is driven to destruction"

Denjiro Shusui Kotoku - Japanese labor journalist hanged Jan. 24, 1911.

A great egret scours the waters at Twin Lakes State Beach.
Santa Cruz County Covid-19 Report - Get your free tests here

The Santa Cruz County Health Department regularly releases data on the current status of Covid-19 in the county. Total known cases as of Jan. 20 were 29,470, up 15% from last week's 25,651. This is the highest since last Dec. 2020. Deaths rose 2% to 237 from 232.

Because of all the home tests currently available, these numbers are underestimates according to Corinne Hyland, County Health Services Agency spokesperson. She recommends people with minor symptoms stay home, isolate and rest.

Confused about testing? Lisa Krieger's Jan. 13 front page article in the San Jose Mercury News has comprehensive information gleaned from various sources on how to make some sense of the various tests, incubation periods, contagion, viral levels, etc.

Hospitalizations barely increased from last week. Click to view a graph of hospitalizations here.

There have been some changes in the last week. Active cases in south county rose by 3%. Mid county dropped by 1% and and north county decreased to 1%. See details in the chart below.

On the county's vaccination webpage, as of Jan. 10, 78% of the county has had at least one dose and 72% has had two doses. That is a one percent increase in each category since Jan. 2. Here are more details on the county's vaccination data

This webpage also has a link where you can get a digital copy and scannable QR code of your vaccination record. Keep track of your four digit code because that is your access to the site.

The county's Effective Reproductive Number is now above one. See chart below. Numbers above one show the spread of the virus is increasing. Below one means the spread is decreasing.

To get information of COVID-19 testing locations around the county visit this site. Click here to make an appointment to get tested.

Any Californian age 12 or up can get vaccinated for free. For information on getting vaccinated, click here.
% deaths by ethnicity:
White - 56% 
Latinx - 36%
Black - 0% 
Asian - 7%
American Native - 0%
Unknown - 0%

% deaths by gender/% of population:
Female - 49%/50% 
Male - 51%/50% 

Deaths by age/228:
25-34 - 2%
35-44 - 3%
45-54 - 4%
55-59 - 1%
60-64 - 6%
65-74 - 18%
75-84 - 22%
85+ - 42%

% active cases testing positive by region/% of population:
Mid-county - 13%/12% 
North county - 61%/56% 
South county - 24%/32% 
Under investigation - 2%
Weekly increases in positive tests: 
June 12-19 - 7% 
June 19-26 - 23%
June 26 to July 3 - 22%
July 3-9 - 23%
July 9-16 - 40%
July 16-23 - 20%
July 23-30 - 27%
July 30-Aug. 6 - 13%
Aug. 6-13- 12%
Aug.14-20 - 16%
Aug.20-28 - 10%
Aug. 28-Sept. 3 - 10%
Sept. 3-10 - 6%
Sept. 10-17- 8% 
Sept. 17-24 - 7%
Sept. 25- Oct.1 - 5%
Oct. 1 - 9 - 4%
Oct. 9-15 - 4%
Oct. 15-22 - 5%
Oct. 23-29 - 4%
Oct. 30-Nov. 5 - 6%
Nov. 5-12 - 10%
Nov. 12-19 - 11%
Nov. 19-26 - holiday
Nov. 19-Dec. 3 - 29% 2 weeks of data for this week only
Dec. 3-10 - 16%
Dec. 10-17 - 17%
Dec. 17-24 - 14%
Dec. 24-31 - 19%
Jan. 1-7 - 13%
Jan. 7-14 - 14%
Jan. 15-21 - 11%
Jan. 21-28 - 5%
Jan. 28-Feb. 4 - 5%
Feb. 5-11 - 2%
Feb. 11-18 - 2%
Feb. 18-25 - 1%
Feb. 25-March 5 - 1%
March 5-11 - 1%
March 11-18 - 2%
March 18-25 - .5%
March 25 - Apr. 1 - .7%
Apr. 1-8 - 0.1%
Apr. 9-15 - 1%
Apr. 16-22 - 2%
Apr. 22-30 - 2%
Apr. 30 - May 6 - .3%
May 6-13 - 2%
May 13-20 - 0%
May 24 - Data readjustment by county means percentages cannot be calculated this week.
May 27 - June 3 - 0%
June 3-10 - 0%
June 11-17 - .25%
June 18-24 - 0%
June 25-July 1 - 0%
July 2-8 - .3%
July 9-15 - .2%
July 16-22 - .5%
July 23-29 - 1.2%
July 30-Aug. 5 - 2%
Aug. 6-12 - .7%
Aug.13-19 - 4%
Aug. 20-26 - .7%
Aug. 26-Sept. 2 - 3%
Sept. 2-9 - 2%
Sept. 10-16 - 1%
Sept. 17-22 - 1%
Sept. 23-30 - 2%
Oct. 1-7 - 0%
Oct. 8-14 - 1%
Oct. 15-21 - 1%
Oct. 22-28 - 1%
Oct. 29-Nov. 4 - 1%
Nov. 5-11 - 1%
Nov. 12-18 - 2%
Nov. 19 - Dec. 2 - 2 weeks 2%
Dec. 2-9 - 2%
Dec. 9-16 - 1%
Dec. 16-23 - 1%
Dec. 24-30 - 2%
Dec. 31 - Jan. 6 - 5% Growth of home tests underestimates cases-see above
Jan. 7-13 - 9%
Jan. 14-20 - 15%
Fashion Street - This Watsonville man has an admirable sense of organization despite living out of a shopping cart.
Labor History Calendar for Jan. 21-27, 2022

Jan. 21, 1946: 750,000 steel workers walk out nation wide - largest strike in US history up to this time.
Jan. 21, 1999: Romanian miners protesting austerity battle the police, 130 injured.
Jan. 21, 2017: More than 1 million join marches against Trump agenda.
Jan. 22, 1849: Birth of Terrence Powderly, leader of the Knights of Labor.
Jan. 22, 1905: Czarist troops kill 500, wound 3,000 in St. Petersburg Bloody Sunday.
Jan. 23, 1960: 5-week general agiasnt austerity ends in defeat, Belgium.
Jan. 24, 1911: Labor journalist Shusui Denjiro Kotoku and 11 other anarchists hanged in Japan. See quote above.
Jan. 25, 1851: Sojourner Truth addresses first Black Women's Rights convention in Akron, Ohio.
Jan. 25, 1926: 16,000 textile workers strike in Passaic, New Jersey.
Jan. 26, 1990: S. African railroad workers win 12-week strike, 30 killed.
Jan. 27, 1920: Kansas miners strike against compulsory arbitration.
Jan. 27, 1986: 500 Hormel workers locked out for honoring picket line in Ottumwa, Iowa.
Jan. 27, 1994: Spanish general strike against labor "reforms."

Labor History Calendar has been published yearly by the Hungarian Literature Fund since 1985.

Popcorn is Funny
By SARAH RINGLER                            
Popcorn is funny. Its unique look comes from the hard shell that when exposed to high heat causes the moisture and starch inside to build up and explode. It is a good time food that is healthy; it is low in fat, sugar, sodium and high in fiber. 

However plain popcorn is bland and the health benefits can quickly be destroyed by what you put on it. For instance, a typical medium buttered popcorn at a movie theater that has been popped in coconut oil, according to DietFacts.com, contains the same calories as three Big Macs. For another example, note the high amounts of sugar and butter in the Caramel Corn recipe below. This is a treat, not a snack. 

Popcorn is native to North America and archeologists have found samples of it in New Mexico from 5,600 years ago. English settlers learned about it from the Native Americans and brought it back to Europe. In the United States it grew in popularity during the Great Depression because it was cheap. Sugar rations during World War II made it a substitute snack. It is still a popular snack and has its own unique niche as a movie snack, diet food and candy. It even has its own day, Jan. 19, Popcorn Day

Oven Caramel Corn

5 quarts of popped popcorn – about 1 2/3 cups unpopped popping corn and 10
 tablespoons high heat cooking oil – peanut or sunflower oil
1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon soda
Nuts – optional

You will need a large pan like a turkey roasting pan to hold all the popcorn. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Make 5 quarts of popcorn. If you don't have an air-popper or a popcorn machine, you can use a heavy bottomed 2½ quart saucepan with a lid. Put on the burner on nearly high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of oil and 3 kernels of corn. Watch carefully and never leave the stove. When the test kernels pop, add about 1/3 cup of popping corn. Cover the pan and shake occasionally. When the corn begins to pop enthusiastically, shake the pan holding the lid with a potholder. When the popping begins to cease remove from the stove. When the popping stops pour the popcorn into a large roasting pan. Keep warm in oven. Repeat 4 more times. Each saucepan load makes about 1 quart popcorn. 

Measure out the baking soda and put aside. Combine butter, sugar, corn syrup and salt in the same 21/2 quart saucepan you used to pop the corn. Cook over medium heat stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil for about five minutes until it is at the firm-ball stage. This means that when you drop some of the mixture into a small cup of cold water, the mixture turns into a firm mass when you mold it between your fingers. You do not want to overcook this mixture. 

Remove from the heat and stir in the soda. It will foam. Quickly remove the popped corn from the oven. Pour the sugar and butter mixture over the corn tossing it to coat the corn. After you have mixed the corn well, put in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes stirring every 15 minutes to keep the kernels separated. Stores well in metal cookie tins. 

Hippy popcorn

1/3 cup popping corn kernels
1 1/2 tablespoons high heat oil like peanut or sunflower oil
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
2 tablespoons edible Brewer’s yeast
2 teaspoons Spike
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Use a heavy bottomed 2½ quart saucepan with a lid. Put on the burner on nearly high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of oil and 3 kernels of corn. Watch carefully and never leave the stove. When the test kernels pop, add the sugar. Let it just begin to melt, about 5 seconds, and then add 1/3 cup of popping corn. Cover the pan and shake occasionally. When the corn begins to pop enthusiastically, shake the pan holding the lid with a potholder. When the popping begins to cease remove from the stove and put into a large bowl. 

Melt the butter in the saucepan and pour over the corn. Add the Spike and the brewer’s yeast. Take the bowl in both hands and making small up and down circular motions with your hands mix the corn. Put on the movie “Up In Smoke” and serve.
Send your story, poetry or art here: Please submit a story, poem or photo of your art that you think would be of interest to the people of Santa Cruz County. Try and keep the word count to around 400. Also, there should be suggested actions if this is a political issue. Submit to coluyaki@gmail.com

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Thanks, Sarah Ringler
Welcome to Serf City Times Over time, our county has grown more stratified and divided with many people feeling left out. Housing affordability, racism and low wages are the most obvious factors. However, many groups and individuals in Santa Cruz County work tirelessly to make our county a better place for everyone. These people work on the environment, housing, economic justice, health, criminal justice, disability rights, immigrant rights, racial justice, transportation, workers’ rights, education reform, gender issues, equity issues, electoral politics and more. Often, one group doesn’t know what another is doing. The Serf City Times is dedicated to serving as a clearinghouse for those issues by letting you know what is going on, what actions you can take and how you can support these groups.This is a self-funded enterprise and all work is volunteer. 
Copyright © 2022 Sarah Ringler - All rights reserved