Morning Lookout: UC regents committee approves housing development, racism allegations against SCPD officers
Good Morning! It’s Thursday, March 18. Don’t forget your umbrellas today because rain is in the forecast with a high of 56.
We’re waking up to the news that UC regents approved a controversial student housing development plan at UC Santa Cruz for the second time after litigation upended a previous approval. We’ve also learned that the Santa Cruz Police Department is doing an internal investigation after a woman made allegations of racism against officers during an incident at the Catalyst nightclub in 2019. Also new this morning: the city of Scotts Valley adopted a long-range plan to improve the city’s bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
Meanwhile, a federal judge is considering a new proposal from the city of Santa Cruz to move the large homeless encampment in San Lorenzo Park to a different site within the park.
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We also have two dates you should mark on your calendar. But first, your news:
UC regents approve UCSC’s Student Housing West, moving controversial development forward a second time
University of California regents late yesterday afternoon re-approved Student Housing West, the massive UC Santa Cruz student housing development that has been tied up for years amid litigation and intense opposition. The development is planned across two on-campus sites and would include more than 3,000 student beds. Read more about the regents’ decision and the contentious development from our Nick Ibarra here.
Racism allegation spurs Santa Cruz police to investigate officers’ response in Catalyst nightclub incident
The Santa Cruz Police Department is investigating some of its officers after a recent blog post accused them of being “rude, callous, patronizing and racist” following an incident at the Catalyst nightclub in late 2019. A post on the website Medium.com this week details a violent attack that Kulwa Apara, a Black Muslim woman, said she experienced at the hands of security guards during a concert at the club. Read more about Apara’s allegations and what Santa Cruz police and Chief Andy Mills told our Patrick Riley about the incident.
Scotts Valley adopts long-range plan to improve city’s pedestrian and bike infrastructure: The Scotts Valley City Council adopted a plan last night that outlines a total of 70 improvements to the city’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in coming years. The Active Transportation Plan updates a similar roadmap the city finalized in 2012 and is meant to help the city in future priority-setting and decision-making. Read more from our Isabella Cueto here.
Could San Lorenzo Park homeless encampment move back to the Benchlands? Judge set to decide soon: The homeless encampment in Santa Cruz’s San Lorenzo Park can stay put for the time being, but it could be moved soon, per a city proposal, to the Benchlands near the San Lorenzo River that was previously cleared of another encampment. Earlier this year, a judge granted a temporary injunction preventing Santa Cruz City from clearing out the encampment due to the widespread cases of COVID-19 in the community at the time. Read more about the proposal and what comes next in this battle between the city and the homeless residents of the encampment from Isa here.
Rep. Jimmy Panetta, other lawmakers aim to free up $120M-plus to protect monarch butterfly
Trying to stave off extinction of the western monarch butterfly, U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta and another Democratic lawmaker took steps yesterday to free up $120 million-plus to protect the struggling species. Yesterday’s announcement comes on the heels of federal officials deciding in December that the monarch, despite a plummeting population, will not be considered for endangered species protection until possibly as late as 2024. Read more about how the lawmakers want to funnel millions towards conservation of the insects here.
COVID 2021 Updates
Kaiser Permanente and Warriors to host vaccination hub at Kaiser Permanente Arena beginning today: Later this morning, Kaiser Permanente will open a new vaccination hub in the Kaiser Permanente Arena, in partnership with the Santa Cruz Warriors. The site will serve eligible Kaiser patients and others in the community, according to a statement released by the health provider.
Sutter/PAMF opens up limited first shot sign-ups: After weeks of not accepting new first-dose vaccine appointments and even being forced to cancel tens of thousands of second-dose appointments across Northern California, Sutter Health says its vaccine supply has improved. As a result, the health system is accepting limited new first-dose appointments.
PHOTOS: Santa Cruz County begins vaccinating its homeless residents: As attorneys argue the fate of some of the county’s homeless residents in court, public health officials have begun vaccinating the vulnerable group after the state expanded eligibility criteria this week. Lookout’s contributing photographer Kevin Painchaud captured the scene Housing Matters where some unhoused individuals lined up to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine Tuesday. See his photos here.
Most middle school children in Watsonville have benefited from a visit to the Watsonville Wetlands. It’s a non-profit...
Mark your calendars
Boardwalk to host open-air market, tease reopening plan reveal: The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk open-air market later this month is yet another indicator of the improving situation in Santa Cruz County. The market will feature about 30 local artisans selling jewelry, art, gifts, health and beauty products, and more. Read more about the market and what the boardwalk says of reopening plans here.
The IRS just extended this year’s tax deadline after a chaotic year: For the second year in a row, the IRS announced that it is extending the tax deadline from the traditional April 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The IRS announced the decision yesterday providing more breathing room for taxpayers and the IRS alike to cope with changes brought on by the pandemic. Read more about the extension here.
Around the county . . .
Santa Cruz police investigate separate stabbings (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Potential Porter building sale halted by state land use law (The Pajaronian)
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Have a great day!