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Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to fill the Senate seat that was held by Dianne Feinstein, who died Friday....

Good morning and welcome to a new month. It is Monday, Oct. 2, and the Santa Cruz County forecast has us down for a mostly sunny day, with temps in the 70s and 80s, with a warmup coming as the week goes on.

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Ahead of his weekly newsletter, In the Public Interest, Christopher Neely leads us off this Monday with a look at Santa Cruz County going all-in on hydrogen to power public transit. Yes, electric is all the rage, but proponents say our county’s topography makes hydrogen fuel the better bet for buses.

With winter ever closer and El Niño in effect, crews in the city of Santa Cruz are stepping up repair efforts on portions of West Cliff Drive damaged by last winter’s storms, Max Chun reports. There’s also maintenance along the San Lorenzo River to be done, so read on for details on all that.

The Monday headlines also include a look at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pick to fill the remainder of Dianne Feinstein’s U.S. Senate term, plus Wallace Baine on an upcoming festival that fits right into spooky season. First, though, this dispatch from Lookout photojournalist Kevin Painchaud.

Photo of the day

James Durbin and his band, the Lost Boys, perform at the last Midtown Friday block party of the year in Santa Cruz
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

On Friday, the Lost Boys featuring James Durbin played during the last Midtown Fridays summer block party for 2023, with an estimated 1,700 people on hand to partake in the music, food and good times. During the event, Event Santa Cruz founder and the event’s creator, Matthew Swinnerton, was presented with a certificate of appreciation by the City of Santa Cruz and a proclamation of Sept. 29, 2023, being James Durban and the Lost Boys Day.

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Why is Santa Cruz County so bullish on hydrogen-powered public transit?

A Santa Cruz Metro bus picks up students at UC Santa Cruz.
A Santa Cruz Metro bus picks up students at UC Santa Cruz. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Metro recently made the largest single purchase of hydrogen buses in the country. Electric battery power dominates the zero-emission transportation sector, but the county opted for hydrogen in part to tackle the challenges posed by the region’s hilly terrain. The decision comes with its fair share of risks and barriers, most significantly the high cost of hydrogen. Christopher Neely scopes it out.

COMING LATER MONDAY: Sign up here for In the Public Interest, Christopher’s weekly newsletter covering Santa Cruz County politics and policy

Riding the electric wave: Navigating the road to e-bike safety in Santa Cruz

With El Niño looming, Santa Cruz city crews rush to tackle West Cliff repairs ahead of coming winter

the damaged section of West Cliff Drive just west of Woodrow Avenue on Santa Cruz's Westside
Credit: Will McCahill / Lookout Santa Cruz

The City of Santa Cruz Public Works Department is preparing for the winter by prioritizing West Cliff Drive repairs and performing maintenance on the San Lorenzo River levee to ensure its capacity is sufficient to handle increased water flow in the event of a rainy winter. That could come true, with an El Niño pattern looming in the Pacific Ocean. More here from Max Chun.

MORE: With some West Cliff-area repairs still a year out, Westside residents push for better traffic safety measures

Decades of dedication: Lisa Berkowitz’s lifelong commitment to Meals on Wheels PC roadblock

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That’s how things are shaping up as we charge into the first workweek of October. There is, as I wrote earlier, more coming from Lookout — In the Public Interest, Christopher Neely’s coverage of Santa Cruz County politics and policy, will be hitting inboxes later Monday in newsletter form; we’ll also have this week’s high school sports roundup. To sign up for those, plus breaking news alerts via email and text, click here. Social media is another good way to stay current, and you can find Lookout on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Threads.

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Courage, friends — Monday is no match for what you’ve got in store for it.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz

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...