Quick Take:

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors approved a policy on artificial intelligence...

Morning Lookout is sponsored by UC Santa Cruz

Another day, another opportunity. It’s Wednesday, Sept. 20, and Santa Cruz County will see a mix of clouds, sun and smoke from wildfires in far northern California, near the Oregon border. (As local agencies remind, don’t call 911 unless you see flames or the source of smoke.)

I’ve got a pretty varied Lookout slate to guide you through, but if you don’t want to take my word for it, poke around for yourself.
JUMP TO Latest News | Opinion | Events | Guides | Puzzles

Max Chun and Christopher Neely doubled-teamed Tuesday’s county supervisors meeting to bring us a pair of stories. Max reports that revenues from the first-in-the-nation disposable-cup tax are coming in at less than half of projections, in part because the county lacks the tools to track businesses using such cups. Christopher, meanwhile, lays out the county’s new policy on the use of artificial intelligence, which, among other things, reserves decision-making for the humans and aims for transparency on how employees are using AI.

Ahead of her weekly roundup of Santa Cruz County business news and notes, Jessica M. Pasko has word on a move to increase the fees businesses pay to the Downtown Association of Santa Cruz — it’s up for public comment later this month, and the nearly 15% boost would be the first in 30 years.

We’re uncorking a new feature this Wednesday, so read on to meet Laurie Love, Lookout’s new wine correspondent. Her inaugural column has news on the grape harvest, a rundown of area wine events, her wine of the week and plenty more. She got a big assist from Lookout photojournalist Kevin Painchaud:

Photo of the day

workers pick grapes at Mountain Winery in Saratoga.
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Workers were busy out in the vineyards before sunrise earlier this week in the Santa Cruz Mountains, picking grapes for the Mountain Winery’s chardonnay. The start of the 2023 harvest is two to three weeks behind as a very wet, cool and long spring, along with a cooler summer, delayed the harvest. Read all about it, and more Santa Cruz County wine news, in wine expert Laurie Love’s new regular column.

That’s plenty, but the day’s headlines also include the latest in Santa Cruz County food & drink tidbits from Lily Belli — saddle up!

Membership offer $99

Revenue from county’s disposable cup tax falls short as officials struggle with tracking and compliance

A barista at a Starbucks kiosk in Aptos holds disposable plastic cups.
A barista at a Starbucks kiosk in Aptos holds disposable plastic cups. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz was the first county in the U.S. to tax single-use cups. At the time, it estimated the tax would raise $700,000 a year. But staff now say the tax will likely bring in just $280,000 a year, or about 40% of originally projected revenue, in part because the county has no central way to track the number of businesses giving out disposable cups, nor how many are complying with the program. Max Chun has details.

FROM 2022: County disposable-cup tax explained

How construction skills, sustainability, and local housing needs collide at Cabrillo College’s CEM department PC roadblock

Introducing Lookout wine correspondent Laurie Love: Fall harvest, Bargetto turns 90, nebbiolo in Santa Cruz

workers pick grapes at Mountain Winery in Saratoga.
A worker picks grapes at Mountain Winery in Saratoga. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

In the launch of Laurie Love on Wine, meet Lookout’s new wine correspondent, get an update on harvest and vineyard conditions, find upcoming Santa Cruz County wine events, check out her wine of the week and brush up with Wine 101. Raise a glass here.

LOOKOUT GUIDES: Explore the Corralitos Wine Trail, the Westside’s walkable wine scene and more

Your modern oasis awaits, rent this immaculate Scotts Valley townhome

Grazing on the green newsletter ad
Click for the full event calendar

click to play our puzzle of the day

Plenty to imbibe, as promised. I’ve also promised you this week’s Santa Cruz County business roundup, which is among what’s coming later Wednesday from Lookout. Stay current on all of our local news and views by following us on social media — Lookout is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Threads. We also offer a host of other newsletters, plus breaking news alerts via email and text, and you can sign up for all that here.

Our content isn’t possible without community support, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

Until next time, friends and neighbors.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz

Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

FRIDAY 10/20
The Mountain Affair @Ristorante Casa Nostra
Beers, Bikes and Bon Bons @Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
Vine to View Dinner @Chaminade Resort & Spa
10 O’Clock Lunch Band @Mid-County Senior Center
“The Thin Place” by Lucas Hnath @Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre

Wonderland – The Gala @Hotel Paradox
Pickleball Tournament @Cabrillo College
20th Annual Bonny Doon Art, Wine & Brew Festival @Crest Ranch
The 7th Annual Floating Pumpkin Patch @Simpkins Family Swim Center
Pleasure Point Sip & Stroll @Pleasure Point
Symphony Concert: Operas Of Seville @Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
Uncork Corralitos @Alladin Nursery

SUNDAY 10/22
Symphony Concert: Operas Of Seville @Henry J. Mello Center for the Performing Arts
Lydia Pense & Cold Blood @Moe’s Alley
Gaby Castro @Chaminade Resort & Spa
Solidarity Records: The Fully Baked Tour @Shanty Shack Brewing
An Evening With Patty Griffin & Todd Snider @Rio Theatre

Click for the full event calendar

A veteran jack-of-all-trades journalist who is Lookout’s copy editor, writes and compiles Morning Lookout newsletter and produces Lookout’s other editorial newsletters and helps run Lookout’s social...