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Morning Lookout: A step forward for recovery, a step back for rail trail

Good Morning! It’s Friday, April 2. After two days of heat, it’s back to chillier weather today with a partly sunny forecast and a high of 67.

If all trends continue, this summer could be — as the kids say — lit. With loosened restrictions, we’re already seeing more people milling about town. Yesterday, the iconic Boardwalk reopened after months and the air was once again filled with whoops of joy. Today, the first Food Truck Friday event of the year will pop up on West Cliff Drive, followed by the West Cliff Outdoor Market on Saturday, giving shoppers a chance to sample the wares of local artisans. And Felton Music Hall announced a series of summer concerts at Roaring Camp Railroads starting in the coming weeks. And just in to our newsroom this morning, Westside staple Humble Sea Brewing announced a new operation opening next month in Pacifica and plans for an expansion to Felton.

But, in order for all plans to stay on track, vaccine rollout needs to continue smoothly. Exclusive data obtained by Lookout reveals that there is some vaccine hesitancy in Santa Cruz County, even among healthcare workers and first responders. The same goes at the state level, too.

Before we get to that, the latest vote by the Regional Transportation Commission last night threw a wrench in the plans of Rail-Trail proponents. And, after dozens of outraged letters and comments from Seabright residents over a “temporary outdoor living ordinance,” Santa Cruz Mayor Donna Meyers is responding to angry residents.

There’s a lot to cover so let’s get to it:

DERAIL TRAIL: Biz plan for passenger train next to bike path falls short, putting project’s future in doubt

Satellite view of the rail corridor in Santa Cruz County.
Satellite view of the rail corridor that will be the site of a trail and, possibly, a future passenger train.
(Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission )

A vision of passenger trains running along Santa Cruz County’s coastal corridor was dealt a blow Thursday when a tie vote by the Regional Transportation Commission means that staff — at least for now — won’t be directed to seek federal or state funding for electric passenger rail along the coastal corridor. While this bolsters trail-only proponents, the issue is expected to resurface next month.

How did they vote?

Read more about what’s next from our Patrick Riley here.

Presented by UC Santa Cruz

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

‘We have to provide solutions’: Santa Cruz mayor responds to Seabright residents’ outrage over ‘outdoor living ordinance’

The Seabright neighborhood's industrial zone.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

It’s an issue that’s been simmering for days. Word that Santa Cruz’s Downtown homeless population might soon be displaced and end up in one of several designated locations across the city — the Seabright neighborhood among them — is stirring a strong reaction among Seabright residents. After a flood of letters and comments to Lookout and on social media about this story, Mayor Donna Meyers is responding to angry residents. Read her response and along with the comments of Lookout’s Seabright readers here.

EXCLUSIVE | Vaccine hesitancy in Santa Cruz County: By the numbers

A member of the Santa Cruz Fire Department signs up to get a COVID-19 vaccine in January 2021.
A member of the Santa Cruz Fire Department signs up to get a COVID-19 vaccine in January 2021.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Yesterday, tens of thousands of Santa Cruzans aged 50 and over became newly eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and, in a couple weeks, that will expand to include all people over the age of 16. You’d think everyone would be clamoring for an appointment, right? Not quite. Data obtained by Lookout Santa Cruz from local education, health care, law enforcement and firefighting agencies shows there are varying degrees of vaccine hesitancy among people of different professions. Some of the key findings:

  • Educators are more likely to accept the vaccine than workers in law enforcement
  • Those who live in Santa Cruz are much more likely to want to be vaccinated than those in Watsonville
  • Not all healthcare workers have been vaccinated

Read more about these findings and see vaccine acceptance rates for these groups from Lookout contributor Robin Estrin here.

MORE: Meanwhile, at the statewide level, a survey released this week found that 14% of adult respondents said they would “definitely not get the vaccine.” Another 7% said they “probably” wouldn’t. That suggests that one in five Californians will need, at the very least, some extra convincing. The question then remains, how will California win over skeptics? Read more about those statewide efforts from our partners at CalMatters here.

Another vaccine read: 30% of Californians have received COVID-19 vaccine dose. ‘It transforms everything’ (LA Times)

Tapped for California fish and game commission, UCSC ecologist wants to invite more voices to the table

UC Santa Cruz Professor Erika Zavaleta
UC Santa Cruz Professor Erika Zavaleta
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

UC Santa Cruz Ecology Professor Erika Zavaleta has worn many hats in her career — journalist, wilderness ranger, professor, and now possibly a member of the California Fish and Game Commission. Tapped by Gov. Gavin Newsom for the five-member panel earlier this month, Zavaleta hopes to draw on her broad background in her new role — overseeing wildlife conservation across the state. Her appointment, which requires approval from the state Senate, would make her the only UCSC faculty member actively serving on a state commission. Read more about Zavaleta from our Nick Ibarra here.

FREE EVENT: A Fireside Zoom with Congressman Jimmy Panetta

U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta ad podium
U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, whose district includes a large portion of Santa Cruz County.
(Congressional website)

It’s been a year of transition in Washington, D.C. So what does that mean for residents and businesses in the Monterey Bay area? Our Wallace Baine will sit down with U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta to explore that and a litany of other subjects during an hourlong virtual conversation — and you’re invited! Between health care, immigration, and the latest on how the latest COVID-19 federal aid package impacts the region, this is a Zoom event you won’t want to miss.

When: 5 p.m., April 9 (Next Friday)
Where: Zoom
Cost: FREE
To register, click here.

Buying locally produced food and goods benefits you and your community in more ways than you think.

A little Lookout fun (The Wallace Baine edition)

The West Cliff Outdoor Market.
(Provided)

Food Truck Friday and West Cliff Outdoor Market to debut this weekend: Santa Cruz’s breathtaking West Cliff Drive is not a commercial zone but this year, the area will have a bit of a transactional presence — a pair of monthly events that are designed to be as social as commercial. Read more details about tonight’s debut and the rest of the season from Wallace here.

Riders enjoy the Double Shot ride at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

QUIZ: What’s your Santa Cruz Boardwalk history IQ? How well do you know the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s illustrious century-plus-long history? In honor of the Boardwalk’s grand reopening yesterday, Wallace consulted with Boardwalk history expert Ted Whiting III to put together a tough trivia quiz, drawn from his research and personal recollections. Test your memory and mettle here. (It’s really hard!)

Felton Music Hall’s new outdoor live-music summer series at Roaring Camp a step toward ‘normal’: Santa Cruz County’s second most famous theme park will be the setting for a live music series that starts next month. Felton Music Hall, an ambitious new music venue that opened just eight months before the shutdown, is staging a series of shows at Felton’s Roaring Camp Railroads. The first dates are a three-night run by one of the West Coast’s premier Grateful Dead cover bands (and a pre-pandemic Santa Cruz fave) Dark Star Orchestra. Read more about the lineup and concert calendar from Wallace here.

MORE FUN: The Giant Dipper rides again, with Santa Cruz County’s health officer in the first car (Max Chun / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Around the county…

Watsonville police Chief David Honda retiring, will leave top cop job July 1 (Lookout Santa Cruz)

Suspected shooters arrested in Watsonville attempted murder case (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Man killed in reported family disturbance (The Pajaronian)

Boothby sisters blaze past competition at SCCAL championships (Good Times)

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.

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Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor

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