Quick Take:

School Resource Officer Patrick Ahrens works in Scotts Valley with a job he never thought he would take on. He found...

Maybe it’s our own version of “High Anxiety” As the tall buildings rise up along Front Street, in what we’ve dubbed the “Six Blocks” area, the sense of something fundamental changing in Santa Cruz is palpable. We’ve devoted ourselves to exploring every aspect of the change we can in our ongoing Changing Santa Cruz series. Yes, there are the affordability challenges and their attendant homelessness impacts. Those must be met, spurred both by our sense of what’s right – and by new state mandates. And yet, in the midst of all of that, the question of what kind of city Santa Cruz is becoming has been one that is hiding in plain sight.

That’s why we’ve seen such a large response to Wallace Baine’s Monday piece, “Nightmare or riverfront nirvana — or somewhere in between? What’s the next Santa Cruz going to feel like?” Wallace and I have been talking about doing that piece for awhile, and he, of course, unearthed lots of intriguing comments on what Santa Cruz is, what it used to be and what it should be. That’s not a one-story issue. We’ll return to it – and will solicit your sense of what the next Santa Cruz should include, and maybe exclude. These new paseos sound cool; how do we make them only-in-Santa Cruz-like, for instance?

It is housing that now drives so much of our politics and even our school board meetings. Hillary Ojeda has ably covered the big push for “workforce housing,” especially as enrollment declines complicate budgets. That, too, is a topic we’ll stay on. Christopher Neely, both in his new In the Public Interest newsletter on Mondays (sign up here, if you haven’t) and in stories, has tackled the knotty question of whether UCSC’s intended housing should count toward the city’s mandated number and the movement toward a March city housing bond.

Writing about these issues is a major work of Lookout, but we always look for ways to get you, our members, and the greater public, involved.

That’s why we’re proud of the Housing Squeeze forum we did on May 18, In partnership with Housing Santa Cruz County for Affordable Housing Month.

The session was highly informative, chaired by Don Lane, a longtime stalwart in the local housing field, and deepened by the questions asked of each of the panelists by Christopher Neely. Thanks to the participants – Watsonville Mayor Eduardo Montesino, Santa Cruz City Councilmember Sonja Brunner, Scotts Valley Mayor Jack Dilles, Capitola Mayor Margaux Keiser and County Board of Supervisors Vice-chair Justin Cummings – and Housing Santa Cruz County and its executive director, Elaine Johnson. You can catch the session here.

Hillary Ojeda and Max Chun have also taken on the important work of representing your right to know. As they covered the aftermath of antisemitic incidents on campus, they detailed what law enforcement agencies throughout the county know – and, most importantly, might not know – about the nature, number and severity of – and the difficult line between – hate crime and hate incidents. How can this community come to grips with the rising tide of intolerance and hate we see locally, unfortunately mirroring the nation, if we don’t know enough facts about it? We know that’s a hugely important role for Lookout to play – advocating for public and media access to facts that we need in order to figure out how to respond.

As we plumb the problems without end, we try never to use sight of the fact that life, especially in Santa Cruz County, is more than problems. Ashley Spencer’s “A day away in Pescadero” guide is the kind of easy-going local guide that now will populate our summer. Check out all our guides here; we’ll be updating and adding to them throughout the season. And we’ve revved up our BOLO events calendar, newly chockful of what’s happening throughout the county.

Member Event Recap: River Health Day with Coastal Watershed Council

Two weekends ago, Lookout joined river ecologist Kaiya Giuliano-Monroy to learn more about the San Lorenzo River and help maintain the native ecosystem along the river banks. Before the event, Lookout members met with Wallace Baine at Cat & Cloud in Abbott Square for a complimentary coffee and a stroll along the riverwalk, discussing the upcoming changes and construction projects coming downtown as they made their way to the restoration site.

And now we’re on to the next member events, coming in mid-June. All members are invited; here’s a handy way (below) to get signed up.

Membership offer on Lookout

Upcoming Event: Little Shop of Horticutlure

We all can probably name someone in town who took their passion and turned it into a small business. We want to celebrate the entrepreneurial nature of Santa Cruz County and invite a limited number of our members to join us for a behind-the-scenes tour and hands-on workshop with the Little Shop of Horticulture on June 15. Founder Kristin Michal took her love of plants and turned it into team-building workshops for Silicon Valley tech teams, wedding floral design and a hands-on crafting event studio.

Join the Lookout staff for a terrarium planting workshop and tour at Little Shop of Horticulture, located at 228 Fern St., near Costco and the new Joby campus. Nonmembers are invited to sign up for free to come craft a custom terrarium using colorful sands, rocks, and air plants. Tickets will become available to nonmembers on June 1st, register here.

Lookout awards high school students scholarships for saluting more of the unsung

You told us how much you liked our year-end Unsung Heroes series, and we invited high school students to join in the saluting fun. Dozens did, as Jamie Garfield, our director of student and community engagement, set up Lookout’s first countywide high school journalism challenge. We invited students to write a profile of a local unsung hero who is making a positive difference in our community. Our team read and reviewed the submissions, publishing the top 10 stories and awarding $500 scholarships to the top three profiles.

We congratulate the three winners, each receiving $500 toward an educational purchase. And you can read their pieces here.

Madelyne Rutherford, freshman at Scotts Valley High School

Officer never imagined working in law enforcement but knew he wanted to make a difference

Orion Duran, junior at Diamond Technology Institute

D.J. Nolten and his drive to teach

Alexa Aguilar, junior at Diamond Technology Institute

Giving back through teaching and soccer

As the school year draws to a close, we thank all of the students, teachers and administrators who have worked with Lookout, in this, the first full year of the Lookout’s high school engagement program. More than 5,000 students and 50 teachers have been part of the work and we look forward to an even more robust year of engagement next year. For more details and to get involved in the program, check out our page for students and educators.

Santa Cruz Launchpad 2023

This month marks one year of our Santa Cruz County Job Board. It’s Lookout’s local hub for job-seekers looking to find opportunities in and around Santa Cruz County – and one used by many local employers to find the right hires. We’ve been publishing our “10 Hot Jobs” feature every week to help get the word out about unique, local positions. Read the latest roundup here.

In conjunction with this growing resource, Lookout is co-hosting Santa Cruz Launchpad 2023 alongside Santa Cruz Works, City of Santa Cruz Economic Development, UC Santa Cruz Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development (CIED), UC Santa Cruz Innovation and Business Engagement Hub, UC Santa Cruz Career Success, Cabrillo College, and Blackstone LaunchPad a free, public job fair. In its sixth year, this job fair at the Cocoanut Grove welcomes job seekers from all industries to browse hundreds of jobs, ranging from internships to entry-level positions to those for seasoned professionals.

Everyone is welcome to register for the Thursday event – simply bring your résumé and come learn about a variety of companies and their career opportunities.

Leadership Santa Cruz County, Lookout sponsor Art & Culture Day

We were proud to sponsor Leadership Santa Cruz County’s Art & Culture Day last week. Leadership Santa Cruz County is a yearlong program serving to educate and connect local leaders across industries to the issues, practices and needs throughout Santa Cruz County. The program sports a theme – education, tourism, social justice, and more – each month. With Wallace Baine ably leading our arts coverage, we’re able to keep our fingers on the pulse on all things art and culture. Last week, we helped Class 36 (see them all here, and check out the program) connect to downtown through a team public art scavenger hunt.

Ashley Harmon, our senior director of partnerships and audience, is graduating from this program in mid-June, and managing editor Tamsin McMahon is set to take the course for the next session.

Please consider becoming a Lookout member and joining us for our upcoming member events this summer. Plus, read our articles with unlimited access. (How good of a news reader are you? Catch up on our weekly local news quiz each Friday.) This month, Lookout turned 2 1/2, and we’re glad you’ve been along for the early ride. As always, please send story ideas to news@lookoutlocal.com and let me know thoughts about Lookout, ken@lookoutlocal.com.

Ken Doctor, CEO & Founder
Lookout Local | Lookout Santa Cruz

Ken Doctor first discovered Santa Cruz as a 17-year-old coming to UCSC in the school’s third year of existence. In founding Lookout Santa Cruz in 2020, Ken completes a long arc from those student days. Along...