Motorists lined up at a COVID-19 testing site at the Long Beach airport.
(Pablo Unzueta for CalMatters)
Lookout PM Archive

LOOKOUT PM: Carrillo plea; Valentine’s Day ideas; Icons

Happy Friday evening, everybody. Congratulations! You’ve made it through another week. The weather looks to remain beautiful and warm through the weekend and into Valentine’s Day Monday. Get out there and enjoy what our beautiful county has to offer.

First, though, I want to alert you to a vitally important story and series we have brewing...

An image of a homeless man

COMING SUNDAY: We live in paradise and yet so many in our midst live a chaotic existence we strain to comprehend. Why are so many people living on the streets? Why can’t a smart, compassionate community like this agree on solutions? How can the system be so seemingly broken? Lookout talks to those whose job it is to solve the unhoused crisis and examines the myriad reasons we haven’t gotten further on what many believe to be the most intractable issue of our generation.

CZU DASHBOARD: Santa Cruz County officials unveiled a new dashboard Friday to update residents and all interested parties about how far along the rebuilding process is going up in the areas scorched by the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. Stay tuned next week for a closer analysis of the progress and what it all means.

With all that, let’s get to your headlines...

Steven Carrillo pleads guilty to murder of federal officer in Oakland

Steven Carrillo is charged with murdering a Santa Cruz County deputy sheriff and a security officer
Steven Carrillo is charged with murdering a Santa Cruz County deputy sheriff and a security officer guarding Oakland’s federal courthouse.
(FRONTLINE via ProPublica)

Avoids death penalty: A Ben Lomond man — currently awaiting trial for the murder of a Santa Cruz Sheriff’s deputy — pleaded guilty Friday to the 2020 murder of Federal Protective Service Ofc. Pat Underwood, a killing that occurred days prior to the one in the Santa Cruz Mountains. See more details here.

EATERS DIGEST: Valentine’s Day dinners, drinks and events

Drag queens DM Tina and Cherry Cola
Drag queens DMTina and Cherry Cola will perform with others at a broken hearts-themed drag show and art market at the Slough Brewing Collective this Saturday.
(Via Michael Hanson)

Idea factory: With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Lily Belli has some ideas for you — both traditional and more alternative. Additionally, she has a rundown of the local events surrounding SF Beer Week and a rundown of events and specials happening around town. Check them out here.

More food & drink: All of Lily’s columns in one place

LOCAL JOBS YOU’LL LOVE: See the current listings

COVID-19 updates in Santa Cruz County: Infections, hospitalizations, deaths and demographic data

Registered nurse Michelle Goldson works with a COVID-19 patient in the ICU
Registered nurse Michelle Goldson works with a COVID-19 patient in the ICU at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Some good(ish) news: While Santa Cruz County’s COVID-19 rate is still high, the rate has somewhat slowed. As of this week, the 14-day average was -8%, the first time that cases have trended down since the beginning of the Omicron wave. See more details on trends and other data points here.

Icons of Santa Cruz: The centurion of West Cliff Drive

The surfer statue on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

New series: Who are the people and what are the places or things that are immediately identifiable with Santa Cruz County? Our county’s longest-serving journalist, Wallace Baine, launches Lookout’s new series with a deep dive on the history of our most recognizable icon: the surfer statue. Check it out here.


Cabrillo terminates embattled VP, with pay continuing through June 30

Other shoe drops: The Cabrillo College governing board has terminated Paul De La Cerda, its vice president of instruction, who faces embezzlement charges in Los Angeles. As the college appoints an interim successor, it will pay De La Cerda’s salary of $203,000 through June in what is being called “non-reemployment.” Lookout’s Hillary Ojeda has the details here.

PREVIOUSLY: Cabrillo vice president placed on leave following felony charges related to previous job

ICYMI: Appellate court ruling a victory for UCSC in Student Housing West project, but two lawsuits ongoing

The southern corner of the East Meadow.
The southern corner of the East Meadow at UC Santa Cruz is one of two sites proposed for development as part of Student Housing West.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Not done yet: This latest decision, while a win for UC Santa Cruz, doesn’t mean the university can move forward with a large on-campus housing project known as Student Housing West. Two lawsuits pending against the project mean it’s still on hold. Lookout’s Hillary Ojeda dives into the details.

Presented by Sol Property Advisors

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak unprecedented impacts on the housing market, there are several indications...

‘Morale killer’: California scientists battle over pay disparities

Christina Toms, an Ecological Engineer and Senior Scientist
Christina Toms, an ecological engineer and senior scientist with the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (center in light blue jacket) checks up on a new wetland restoration project she has been overseeing for the last year in partnership with the Army Corp of Engineers and the National Park Service at Drake’s Beach in Point Reyes.
(Nina Riggio for CalMatters)

Unequal pay: State scientists, who make on average 27% less than state engineers, are trying to negotiate a better deal. “I’m freaking terrified that all of these awesome people that I work with … are going to leave,” one environmental scientist said. Our partners at the Los Angeles Times look into things here.

More from here & elsewhere

FDA postpones decision on vaccine for babies and young children, citing need for more data (San Francisco Chronicle)
Former A’s outfielder Jeremy Giambi’s cause of death determined (The Mercury News)
A bird considered a ‘mega-rarity’ spotted in the Bay Area (SF Gate)
Warm weather has Central Coast lifeguards on alert (KSBW)
Determined to say “I do,” Salinas couple fights marriage penalties (KAZU)

And that’s the way it was on this Friday. Have a good weekend all!

Dan Evans
Executive Editor

In true sustainable fashion, Bay Federal Credit Union partnered with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary...