John's Journal January 2024

sd17_image01Hello Friends and Neighbors,

We have bid farewell to the holidays and have embraced the fresh start of 2024! I extend my wishes for you and your family to have a year brimming with prosperity and fulfillment. January has not only brought the promise of a new year, but it also commemorates the extraordinary life and enduring legacy of the great Martin Luther King Jr. On January 15th, as we honored his contributions to justice and equality, I had the opportunity to reflect on the significance of his life at the “March for the Dream” event hosted by NAACP of Santa Cruz County. The work of civil right leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr, Ella Baker, and Bayard Rustin continue to chart a path forward for us all to work to achieve a more equitable and just society. 

I have been reconnecting with my colleagues in the legislature over the past month working to solve California’s pressing concerns while also looking at introducing fresh legislation to address the evolving needs of the 17th District, including my recent proposal to create an independent redistricting commission in San Luis Obispo County – more on that below. As we progress through the budgetary process, the Senate remains steadfast in its commitment to delivering a budget that prioritizes the well-being and prosperity of all Californians. Please read below for more updates from Sacramento and the District. As always, please reach out if my office and staff can be of assistance. 

Warm Regards,

Senator, 17th District


Capitol Update

I'm honored to collaborate with the County of San Luis Obispo on introducing SB 977, which seeks to establish an independent redistricting commission for the county. This commission, comprising nonpartisan citizens selected through a transparent public process, would assure fair representation and democratic integrity. If enacted, San Luis Obispo County would join seven other California counties with independent redistricting commissions enacted through state legislation. As we move through the legislative process, I look forward to refining the details of this proposal and working tirelessly to promote the interests of our communities.

On another note, in California, certain creatures evoke a sense of iconic belonging, from the majestic gray whale, to the elusive leatherback sea turtle, and the charming California quail. However, amidst these well-known symbols, the dungeness crab and banana slug often go unnoticed. That's why I'm thrilled to support AB 1797, championed by Assemblymember Jim Woods (D-Healdsburg), which proposes designating the dungeness crab as the state's official crustacean. Additionally, I proudly co-sponsor AB 1850, led by Assemblymember Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz), advocating for the banana slug to be recognized as the state's official slug.

These designations are not merely symbolic; they serve to highlight the significance of these species to residents here in California. The dungeness crab industry faces challenges which require attention to safeguard both the livelihoods of those dependent on it and the health of our oceans. And as a former banana slug at UCSC, I wholeheartedly support Asm. Pellerin's efforts to elevate the banana slug's visibility and importance for Californians to see their quirky slimy allure.

I'm excited to keep you updated as my legislative package continues to develop over the next few months.



One of the highlights of my week, second only to the joy of reuniting with my beloved spouse, is the opportunity to engage with our vibrant community. Returning from Sacramento and making my way back home, I often find myself reflecting on the immense privilege of representing a portion of the state renowned for its unparalleled beauty. From the breathtaking coastline to the fertile farmlands, from the rich diversity of our communities to the idyllic landscapes that grace the 17th District, each encounter serves as a reminder of the boundless opportunity that is California. Here's a brief glimpse into my eventful month, filled with engaging meetings and enlightening tours. For a more comprehensive view of my activities, I invite you to follow me on my social media platforms.sd17_image02

Learning more about the Tally Ho Creek restoration and flood control project site in Arroyo Grande with key leaders from the San Luis Coastal Resource Conservation District, Creek Lands Conservation, and the City of Arroyo Grande was enlightening. Our excursion marked the one-year anniversary of devastating atmospheric storm-related creek flooding, which led to the red tagging of several local homes and the displacement of residents.


Honored to have administered the official Oath of Office for the 2024 Rural County Representatives of California Board Officers. Congrats to County of Monterey Supervisor Chris Lopez for his selection as RCRC Chair!


Life Lab has been a pioneer in garden-based learning for 40 years with centers in Santa Cruz & Watsonville. Through teacher workshops and field trips, their Garden Classrooms promote experiential learning for all ages. Kudos to them for their terrific work connecting CA students to nature!


What a privilege to have known and befriended Gary Karnes, a stalwart labor activist and esteemed community leader in the Monterey Bay region. I spoke at his celebration of life at the UFW Hall in Salinas earlier this month where I shared how his enduring legacy, shaped by his dedicated efforts with organizations like the UFW, will undoubtedly resonate for generations to come.


Chris Devers has been the CEO of Rancho Cielo during a time of great innovation. An organization with proven results – their high school construction team recently won 1st place at the Orange County Sustainability Decathlon, beating universities like UC Irvine, Virginia Tech, and BYU! I look forward to seeing more of their work helping residents in our community succeed.


Exploring the transformative Cabins for Change housing project in Grover Beach alongside Janna Nichols, Executive Director of the Five Cities Homeless Coalition, was truly inspiring. It is the first of its kind in South SLO County and operates 24 hours a day using a non-congregate housing model to uplift unhoused residents.