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Morning Lookout: Big day for local, state governments with homelessness, utility rates on agenda

Good Morning! It’s Tuesday, March 9. This is Chris Fusco filling in one more day for Tulsi Kamath.

There’s rain, including isolated thunderstorms, in the forecast. We’ve got the latest on the weather here.

Super Tuesday is, of course, a term used widely in primary election season, but we figure we can adapt it for use in Santa Cruz County today. There’s a lot brewing at both the local and state levels. The summary:

  • 9 a.m.: County Board of Supervisors meets, with discussion of homeless shelter beds and tiny homes planned.
  • 1:30 p.m.: Santa Cruz City Council meets, with discussion of the city’s controversial “temporary outdoor living ordinance” set to begin around 6:30 p.m.
  • 5:30 p.m.: Watsonville City Council meets, with discussion of citywide utility rate hikes in the mix.
  • 6 p.m.: Gov. Gavin Newsom gives his “State of the State” address.

Amid all that, there’s a cool event involving two Lookout journalists, too. Let’s start there:

Meet the local photographers who chronicled the traumas of 2020

'2020 Hindsight' a photo and essay book edited by Shmuel Thaler
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

FREE EVENT: The photojournalists behind the new book ‘2020 Hindsight’ — the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s Shmuel Thaler and Lookout’s Kevin Painchaud — talk about their experiences in a free virtual event at 7 p.m. today. Our Wallace Baine, who wrote the foreword to the book, will join them. Read more and register here.

A GREAT DEAL FROM LOOKOUT: From wildfires to civil unrest to pandemic, 2020 was painful, but memorable. Lookout, born on Nov. 20, 2020, was there for the tail end of it, but here’s our chance to help you catch up on the entire year. Become an annual Lookout member and get a free, signed copy of “2020 Hindsight.” Click here and use the code HINDSIGHT2020 to get in on the offer, which ends Wednesday night. NOTE: This offer applies to new memberships only.

Someone walks through the homeless encampment at San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz on Dec. 18, 2020.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

This morning, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors is set to begin plotting plans designed to vastly increase the number of shelter beds countywide while, this evening, the Santa Cruz City Council will consider a second reading of the city’s proposed “outdoor living ordinance” that would place sweeping restrictions on where unsheltered people could camp and live within the city limits. Our Isabella Cueto and Patrick Riley have provided the most comprehensive coverage of any journalists countywide on both issues, and we invite you to peruse some of their work:

Major Santa Cruz proposal affecting homeless up for final vote Tuesday. Will recent changes help it pass? (Isa)

Widening inequity or major problem? The deeply divided public opinions on Santa Cruz’s homelessness ordinance (Isa)

Huge development on homelessness: Santa Cruz plan to restrict camping gets initial nod, with some key changes (Isa)

Everything to know about Santa Cruz’s proposed ‘outdoor living’ ordinance (Isa)

Santa Cruz proposes law to end camping in parks, beaches and downtown areas inhabited by homeless people (Isa)

At pivotal time in homelessness crisis, Santa Cruz County supervisors pitch major shelter expansion plan (Pat)

As officials seek public input on tiny home expansion, a question: How to differentiate them from RVs? (Pat)

‘Moral imperative’: Santa Cruz County sets goal of getting all homeless families sheltered by end of year (Pat)

With ‘no relief in sight,’ Santa Cruz leaders seek Newsom’s help on homelessness amid Highway 1 snafu (Isa)

Newsom continues to get earful, this time from county leaders, on what to do with Highway 1 homeless camp (Pat)

TALK TO LOOKOUT: Homelessness is an extremely complicated issue, affecting the people experiencing it, the neighborhoods in which they’re living and the advocates and public officials tasked with finding solutions. See something missing in our work? Write us at news@lookoutlocal.com.

Watsonville eyes utility rate hikes that would raise a typical family’s bills 22% over five years

The Watsonville Wastewater Treatment Plant serves about 55,000 residents in the city and surrounding areas.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The Watsonville City Council on Tuesday is set to consider rate increases for water, sewage and solid waste. If moved forward by the council, the rate increases would undergo a 45-day public notice period leading to a May 25 hearing and final vote. What’s behind the proposed double-digit rate hikes? Nick Ibarra dives into all the specifics here.

Newsom in campaign mode as he delivers pivotal ‘State of the State’ speech this evening

California Governor Gavin Newson, left, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, right

The state of the state in January, when California governors normally make speeches on that theme, was dreadful. The pandemic was raging. Businesses closed. Hospitals filled. Evictions loomed. And California was among the slowest states in the nation to deploy vaccines that should help end the devastating pandemic. Little wonder that Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom delayed delivering a “State of the State” speech. Now, though, Newsom is preparing to deliver the speech tonight — a sign he believes the worst of the pandemic has passed, and that he’s turning his attention toward the political campaign to keep his job. Our partner CalMatters previews Newsom’s big speech — and what’s at stake for the governor — here.

ANOTHER NEWSOM READ: Gov waxes wonky but can get lost in translation (CalMatters)

Yesterday, I mistakenly gave the wrong day in the email version of this newsletter for when the Pajaro Valley Unified School District meeting will be occurring this week. To be clear, on Wednesday, school board members will be discussing whether former president Georgia Acosta, who remains on the board as a trustee, might have violated policy by tallying up more than $16,000 in legal fees relating to the brief dismissal of district superintendent Michelle Rodriguez. Nick Ibarra has all the details here.

Presented by UC Santa Cruz

Student Housing West offers the best route to creating more affordable housing for students and reducing housing...

Around the county . . .

Santa Cruz Public Library branch projects are happening everywhere — here’s what we know about their statuses (Lookout Santa Cruz)

PVUSD downsizing special education program at Ohlone Elementary School (The Pajaronian)

That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying our coverage, please tell your family and friends about our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center, where they can sign up for all the newsletters and alerts we offer. 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!

Chris Fusco
Executive Editor

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