Santa Cruz City Hall
Santa Cruz City Hall
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Big day for local governments, stay-home order talks expected and more

Good Morning!

It’s Tuesday, Dec. 8, and it’s going to be another sunny, warmer day with a high of 76. Another typical day in December? Far from it: The normal high is supposed to be around 60 degrees — and a dozen years ago on this same day, we experienced a record low wind chill of 24.

There’s a ton to dive into today, from more COVID-19 related developments to a changing of the guard on the Santa Cruz City Council to a small fire that broke out in the wake of the red-flag warning yesterday.

As we publish stories throughout the day, along with bookmarking, one of the easiest ways to stay on top of the latest news is to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you like what you see, we encourage you to become a founding member, a Lookout Leader, so we can keep the quality journalism coming.

With that, let’s dive into the headlines:

Stay-home order coming?

Santa Cruz County is considering joining several Bay Area counties in enacting a stay-at-home order earlier than Gov. Gavin Newsom is requiring — with discussion possible at today’s county Board of Supervisors meeting.

For purposes of the order, we’re lumped in with other Bay Area counties. As of yesterday, the Bay Area regional ICU capacity is at 25.7%. The state stay-at-home order will be enacted automatically when that value drops to 15%.

County communications manager Jason Hoppin said local health officials are still considering joining the likes of Santa Clara and San Francisco counties, which enacted the order this week. Read more here as we update COVID-19 news throughout the day.

Big day for local governments . . .

A new City Council will be seated in Santa Cruz today, with six of the seven members being women and a majority of council members being people of color. Our Isabella Cueto will have more on what that means for the city in a report later today at

Meanwhile, here’s a preview of another council-related event: outgoing Mayor Justin Cummings will be handing out “keys to the city” to athletes, scientists, community activists and public servants. Who are the luminaries and unsung heroes? Read our Mark Conley’s story to find out.

Besides those happenings, government officials countywide will be tackling a ton of issues today. Among things we’re keeping watch for, based on their meeting agendas:

Santa Cruz City Council (1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.)

  • Extending the use of streets and outdoor areas for business purposes until October 2021 because of COVID-19.
  • Removal of the “mission bell” near Dakota and Soquel avenues (like a lot of monuments, Native Americans and others view it as a symbol of racism and terror), and discussion of ways to make the site historically relevant.
  • Extending two “emergency declarations” related to the coronavirus and CZU fires for 60 days.

County Board of Supervisors (9 a.m.)

  • Whether to take action against PG&E over tree-cutting complaints in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the wake of the CZU fires.
  • Potential discussion of cannabis business tax rates.
  • COVID-19 stay-at-home order.

Watsonville City Council (4:30 p.m.)

  • Ordinance allowing for parklets (outdoor dining areas in parking spaces) during COVID-19.
  • Approval of a community garden at 100 E. Front St.

End of an era

Cynthia Mathews
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

After serving six terms on the Santa Cruz City Council, dating back almost 30 years, our Wallace Baine profiles Cynthia Mathews as she reflects on the long-term changes that she helped bring about.

“I’m ready,” said Mathews, 78. “I have worked hard for a lot of years. I have been very much rewarded by much of what I’ve done. But I’m also ready to switch gears and let others step into that role.” Read the whole thing here.

First dose of vaccine administered

A pivotal point in the pandemic has finally happened. Britain became the first Western country to start inoculating its residents today, embarking on a mass vaccination campaign that other countries will watch closely. Read the full story from our content partner the LA Times here.

Meanwhile, in other vaccine-related news, NBC News reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released documents that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate offers a degree of protection after the first dose, with full protection after two doses.

Holiday traditions change track

But even as a vaccine gets off the ground in the UK, the pandemic is still putting a serious damper on holiday tradition for Santa Cruzans, most notably the postponement of this year’s Light Boat Parade at the Santa Cruz Harbor until 2021. But tradition dies hard, and some of the annual Christmas-season events in the region have found a way to live online.

Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre, for example, has been thrilling holiday audiences for two decades with a live rendering of The Nutcracker at the Santa Cruz Civic. As with countless other traditions, 2020 has put a halt to that. But SCBT is not giving up. Read how you can still experience some Christmas magic through SCBT here.

Holiday gift guide

With everything that’s happened this year, we have more of an excuse to pamper our loved ones this holiday season. Perhaps even more importantly, given the return to retail restrictiveness, is that we finish “The Year of Supporting the Local Businesses We Love” strong. To that end, we’ve put together a holiday gift guide, broken down by price point and interests, showcasing the awesome presents you can buy from Santa Cruz businesses.

For the outdoor-lover in your life, for example, you could buy a $50-80 gift card for a Cycle Works tune-up or a $79 tour of Santa Cruz’s iconic redwoods via Mount Hermon Adventures. Check out our full holiday guide here.

Around the county…

In the wake of a red flag-warning, there were no major fires in Santa Cruz County yesterday. Cal Fire, with help from the Scotts Valley Fire Department, did extinguish one small fire north of Scotts Valley.

Pedestrian injured in Aptos DUI crash (The Pajaronian)

New bookstore Two Birds Books to open in Pleasure Point (Good Times)

Scientists with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography deploy wave buoy off Westcliff (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

That’s it for today. Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor