John's Journal October 2023

Dear Friends,

The legislative session is over for the year, and I am so honored to have had all 17 bills signed by Governor Newsom. It has been a joy to return home full-time as fall hits the central coast – one of the best times of the year to be here. In the weeks since I’ve been home I have been crisscrossing the Central Coast Counties – you’ll see many of the places I’ve been below.

It’s been great to see the fruits of my work this year – from visiting places where the atmospheric rivers took their toll earlier this year, and the effect of budget appropriations that help the rebuilding process – from the Arroyo Grande Creek to Capitola, West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, planning for flood control in the Carmel Valley, helping with storm drain repair in Morro Bay, and help with those displaced by the Pajaro River Levee Break.  Some of the projects from past budget help are finally coming together – from the opening on the Schuman Heart House in Monterey to help the unhoused, the construction of the bridges to the Point Sur Lighthouse which will restore access to that State Park, to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History LGBTQ+ Archives project.

We are also experiencing a generational change in our Washington representation – with the loss of trailblazing Senator Dianne Feinstein, the longest serving woman in the history of the U. S. Senate and the appointment of her successor, Senator Laphonza Butler, a trailblazer in her own right, as the first African-American LGBTQ+ Senator in our nation’s history.

We will miss Senator Feinstein, who was dogged in her support for California – and on issues of gun violence, women’s rights, and environmental protections. I had the opportunity to work closely with Senator Feinstein during my time as Secretary for the CA Natural Resources Agency, joining her at community meetings for long-term desert protection, to keep Lake Tahoe Blue, and watching up close her advocacy for firefighting aircrafts. Her legacy will continue to live on and inspire future generations in the pursuit of public service. 

Please continue reading for more updates about my recent community visits in the district. While we won’t chat again before Halloween, I want to wish you and your friends/families a spooky night filled with ghouls, goblins, candy, and so much more!

Warm Regards,

Senator, 17th District


Oaxaca by the Sea

During my visit to Oaxaca earlier this year as part of a Senate delegation, I made a promise to Mayor Francisco Martinez Neri: I would proudly wear the beautiful shirt he had gifted me the next time we met. It turned out to be a delightful coincidence that our reunion occurred at the Oaxaca by the Sea Festival in Seaside, where both constituencies are proudly linked as sister cities. It was an honor for me to extend a warm welcome to the Mayor here in the 17th Senate District.

One of the key aspects of Oaxaca by the Sea are beautiful and eclectic performances by Palenke Arts. Palenke Arts serves as a vibrant hub where families and young individuals can immerse themselves in diverse forms of global art and music. That’s why I was proud to present a symbolic check to Palenke Arts for $1 million. This funding will play a pivotal role in the realization of Palenke Art’s vision: the creation of a LEED-certified multicultural arts center, catering to numerous families across the Monterey Bay area.





The Central Coast is beautiful this time of year and it continues to be my honor to represent you in Sacramento. As I travel the district from Santa Clara County down to San Luis Obispo County, I am still astonished on a daily basis by the passion, determination, and good natured spirit of the residents here. Great work is being done and I love that I have an opportunity to highlight this strong work below.


Dr. TJ Owens Early College Academy in Gilroy is ranked the 4th best high school in California. Students graduate with an AA and often finish their college degrees in 2-3 years, saving themselves and their families thousands of dollars. Wonderful to take a tour with GUSD Superintendent Munshi and Principal Benich (also a UCSC Banana Slug!)


Fabulous 1yr celebration of the rebirth of the Watsonville Community Hospital joined by Councilmember Ari Parker and members of the Watsonville Community Hospital Foundation Board. I often tell folks that helping save this hospital for my community has been one of my proudest achievements as your State Senator.


Mel Mason has been an enduring force for the region’s Black and POC residents for decades. With his recent retirement from The Village Project, I thought it was fitting to surprise him with a Senate resolution at the Monterey County NAACP’s 51st Annual Freedom Fund Banquet. Congrats Mel for a lifetime of service.


My good friend Lisa Berkowitz has spent over four decades with Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County. Her leadership has ensured Santa Cruz County’s aging population can live with dignity, respect, and independence. Grateful to be in good company to present her with a Senate resolution for her tireless work tackling this issue.


I think it goes without saying that if you live in the 17th District you have definitely heard of Phil’s Fish Market. They’ve been open for 40+ years and have been featured in numerous cooking and travel shows. Congratulations to owner Phil DiGirolamo for a successful business that embodies the California spirit of tenacity, community, and kindness.


Being at the center of Silicon Valley and the Salad Bowl of the World means the intersection of agriculture and technology should only come natural to us. Here I am learning from UCSC Center for Agroecology students who attended the 2023 FIRA Conference to show off their innovative robotic designs!


The Alliance on Aging is the County of Monterey’s largest non-profit provider for senior services. The work Executive Director John McPherson and his team accomplish on a daily basis should be admired by all. Great talking with their staff about CA’s Master Plan For Aging and how we can help the incoming ‘silver tsunami’.


OTTER 841+1


Photo Cred: Mark Woodward, @NativeSantaCruz

Otter 841 has captured the hearts of millions across the world. Given this celebrity-status attention, we must be sure to follow all rules put forward to ensure otter 841 and her pup remain safe.

Please take a quick look at the following guidelines recently provided by U.S Fish & Wildlife Services:

  • Be alert: Be aware of your surroundings and alert to nearby wildlife when recreating.
  • Maintain a safe distance: If a sea otter notices you, you are likely too close and should back away.
  • Keep at least 60 ft. (or five kayak lengths) away, passing by parallel rather than pointing directly at any animals and moving slowly but steadily past rather than stopping.
  • Slow down: Take caution in areas where sea otters are known to be present. Watercraft should slow down around kelp forests, where sea otters often rest but can be difficult to see. Be aware that a sea otter may come up from underwater unexpectedly.
  • Keep pets leashed: Keep pets on a leash on and around docks and harbors, and never allow interactions, even if the animals appear to be playing. Look for a designated pet beach as an alternative.
  • Never feed sea otters: Feeding otters can cause them to become aggressive which could result in their removal from the population and placement in an animal care facility.