Quick Take:

As offices re-open and traffic worsens, an innovative program called GO Santa Cruz offers a more sustainable way to...

Hey, everyone! It’s Mark filling in for Tulsi on this beautiful Tuesday, May 18th morning. We’re looking at weather perfection today with mostly sunny skies and a high right around 72 degrees. (A nice little run of south swell continues too, I must add!)

A look around the nation shows the topic of masking guidance continuing to heat up. While California bought some extra time on the topic Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci was telling the country Tuesday morning that it’s reasonable for U.S. businesses to keep mask mandates in some cases.

Meanwhile, another topic — this one international — was also simmering: The fate of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which are set to begin in just 65 days. Our content partner the LA Times was reporting on the variant flare-ups around Asia in countries that had seemingly beaten the virus, and examining how a global event such as the Summer Games could still possibly have the green light.

Locally, we’re taking a closer look at two major topics that strike at the nerve of Santa Cruz County life: Affordability and neighborhood distinction. Lookout contributor Maria Gaura reports that April home sales took the county to another all-time high: $1.26 million. In the midst of a development boom that is underway, Patrick Riley tells us about a new survey the city of Santa Cruz is rolling out in an effort to gauge the community’s feelings about neighborhood characteristics. And speaking of distinctive characteristics, the old S.S. Palo Alto can be seen up-close-ish again now that the Seacliff pier has been mostly reopened after a year.

More on those headlines…

Santa Cruz County housing market hits another all-time high

Santa Cruz County prices continue to go up and up and up.
Santa Cruz County prices continue to go up and up and up. Credit: Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz

April prices remained stable in the city of Santa Cruz, at $1.34 million, but rose everywhere else in the county. Aptos recorded the highest median price of $1,555,000, while homes in Watsonville went for a median of $795,000. More details from Maria here.


Not bid-ness as usual: Current climate for home-buying in Santa Cruz County ‘hard to wrap your head around’

Home prices in county rise significantly amid pandemic, with Santa Cruz median price topping $1 million

The ADU equation: Are relaxed ‘granny unit’ rules helping solve Santa Cruz County’s housing crisis?

The ADU, tiny home push: Concept of pre-approved plans, ’30-minute’ permit process move forward unanimously

What makes neighborhoods ‘distinctively Santa Cruz’? City solicits input

An apartment building on Water Street in Santa Cruz
The city of Santa Cruz is seeking input on standards for new housing. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

California law requires cities and counties to use only development standards that can be objectively defined and measured when reviewing applications for new housing projects — building heights or types of building materials, for example, versus a subjective statement like “development must be compatible with the character of the neighborhood,” to use the city’s example. The city of Santa Cruz is surveying its people. More from Pat Riley on that here.

What we know about the return of the Cement Ship’s weather-worn pier

Pier access suddenly reemerged this past weekend at Seacliff.
Pier access suddenly reemerged this past weekend at Seacliff. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Closed for about a year while state parks assessed storm damage, the pier leading to the SS Palo Alto at Seacliff State Beach in Aptos has been deemed safe and is once again accessible to pleased locals. Mallory Pickett has more on what that means moving ahead.

Around the state and nation…

How unprepared is California for 2021’s drought?

A pregnant cow named Cherry Pie stands in the dry grass at Megan Brown’s Oroville ranch in late April. Brown sold off much of her herd last spring after the dry 2020 winter. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

With most of the state gripped by extreme dryness, some conditions are better, some worse, than the last record-breaking drought. Over-pumping of wells hasn’t stopped. But urban residents haven’t lapsed back into water-wasting lifestyles. Much more from this deep dive by CalMatters here.


Drought explainer: Why isn’t Santa Cruz included in the state’s newly released emergency plan?

Santa Cruz drought intensifies from ‘severe’ to ‘extreme’

New report: Drought to hit rural Latino communities hardest

COVID 2021 Updates

LA family
Alex Brideau, his wife, Ginny, and daughter, Iolani, 12, on the rooftop of their apartment building in downtown Los Angeles. The Brideaus have secured an appointment for their daughter to be vaccinated Monday. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

For teenagers, vaccinations are a ticket to freedom. Some parents still not sure: Nearly every phase of California’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been met with a mixture of enthusiasm and angst. But few groups have been as eager — or as concerned — as the latest to wrestle with the availability of vaccines: parents. More from the LA Times on that here.

ALSO: How do you persuade someone to get vaccinated? Tips for a productive conversation (Times)

Around the county…

Swimmer killed, two children rescued in Santa Cruz (Sentinel)

Aptos farm wins Best of Show at regional olive oil competition (Pajaronian)

Santa Cruz Muslims shed light on crisis in Palestine (Sentinel)

That’s it for today. If you want to stay abreast of all the big goings-on as they’re happening, I suggest you sign up for our free Breaking News Text Alerts here or text the word BREAKING to (831) 387-7662.

You can also keep tabs on everything we’re publishing through the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Have a great day and thanks for letting me stand in. Tulsi should be back in action tomorrow!

Mark Conley
Deputy Managing Editor

Follow Mark Conley on: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Mark joins Lookout after 14 years at the Mercury News and Bay Area News Group, where he served as Deputy Sports Editor on a staff that covered three...