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Morning Lookout: Packed city council agenda, outdated radio system sparks concerns of danger and more

Good Morning! It’s Monday, April 12 and it will be mostly cloudy today with a high of 66.

Things came to a head in Minneapolis this weekend after another young, Black man was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop just blocks away from where George Floyd was killed last year. A curfew was ordered in the city through this morning because of the protests, which are also coming during the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Floyd’s death. Meanwhile, here in California, the “Other Surf City,” Huntington Beach, was the scene of a dozen arrests this weekend, as White Lives Matters demonstrators gathered at the town’s pier but were met by a large group of counter-protesters.

California hit a new grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic: 60,000 deaths. Despite that, only two counties are left in the most-restrictive purple tier this morning as more counties in the state move towards reopening and recovery.

With normalcy on the horizon, the Quarry at UC Santa Cruz — which only just reopened in 2017 after years of disrepair — is now looking to become a premier concert venue in post-pandemic times. Meanwhile, easing COVID-19 restrictions are a shot in the arm for the massive tourism industry that is a huge driver of the Santa Cruz County economy. This week, Wallace Baine and I will be talking to an all-star team of local business owners in the tourism and hospitality industry and we invite you to join us for the free Zoom conversation.

If you’re in the market for a car so you can get back to that daily commute, our Mallory Pickett has some advice on some huge incentives to go electric depending on your income.

But first, let’s start with Santa Cruz City Council’s busy week ahead:

Parking rate hikes, London Nelson sites and water woes all on tap for Santa Cruz council ... and TOLO, too

Archival image of London Nelson
(Images via City of Santa Cruz)

This week, the Santa Cruz City Council will forge ahead on multiple key issues:

  • Proposed changes to the recently passed and highly contentious “temporary outdoor living ordinance,” which limits where homeless people can camp to a handful of places in the city.
  • The renaming of the Louden Nelson Community Center and other landmarks that carry Nelson’s nickname — instead of his given name: London.
  • Increasing parking meter rates in the Main Beach area, and adding two new sets of “impact fees” for developers.
  • Water conservation plans and several large infrastructure projects to improve water facilities.
  • Creating an option for employer-sponsored affordable housing in the city.

Read more about what’s on the agenda and learn about how you can get involved in this story by our Isabella Cueto here.

Firefighting and the Flintstones

A city of Santa Cruz fire engine.
A city of Santa Cruz fire engine.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

Outdated ‘Flintstone’ radio system sounds alarm for Santa Cruz-area fire officials, sparks push for overhaul: Santa Cruz County municipal firefighters are relying on what they say is an outdated radio system — with some officials calling it “Flintstone” technology — raising concerns about reliability during emergencies and sparking a push for an overhaul. Though parts have been replaced over the years, the system remains “very fragile” and “could be easily overwhelmed,” especially during a disaster like an earthquake where large groups of people are affected at once, said Felton Fire Chief Robert Gray. Read more about the antiquated system and the dangers it poses to first responders from our Patrick Riley here.

Wildfires
(Via Pixabay)

A megafire could happen again this year — CZU Unit Chief Ian Larkin looks ahead: There’s no reason a fire of similar proportions to last year’s devastating CZU Lightning Complex fires couldn’t happen again this year, according to Cal Fire CZU unit chief Ian Larkin — the result of environmental changes that make low-growing vegetation and brush drier than in years past. Read more about the fire season forecast — and how many blazes have happened already — from our Mallory Pickett here.

Extremist ‘Grizzly Scouts’ indicted for blocking federal probe into killings of Oakland fed, Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller

Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller
(Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office)

We learned late Friday that four members of a Northern California militia were indicted for allegedly obstructing justice and destroying records related to the May 2020 shooting death of a federal officer in Oakland and the killing of Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller days later. The federal indictment revealed that the shooting suspect, Steven Carrillo, told fellow members of the militia via Whatsapp that he killed a federal officer, and warned that he was about to engage Santa Cruz sheriff’s deputies in a gun battle. Read more about what federal prosecutors say Carillo’s fellow Grizzly Scouts did in the days leading up to and after the shootings in this story from the LA Times.

White Lives Matter rally ends with large counterprotest, 12 arrests in Southern California

A Huntington Beach police officer arrests a man carrying a Gadsden flag at Sunday's dual rallies
A Huntington Beach police officer arrests a man carrying a Gadsden flag at Sunday’s dual rallies. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Several hundred White Lives Matter protesters and antiracism counterprotesters filled the streets near the Huntington Beach pier on Sunday amid increasingly hostile clashes between Donald Trump supporters, those displaying allegiance to white supremacist groups and their opponents. Police arrested 12 people during the rally — two of whom were accused of using amplified sound and one accused of obstructing law enforcement. See photos and read more about what happened in this story by the LA Times.

Approximately 16 percent of hospitality and tourism workers lost their job in 2020 due to a permanent closure or layoff....

Want a free electric car? You just might qualify, Santa Cruzans

An electric car charging in Santa Cruz
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

Certain Santa Cruz County residents can now enlist a personal advocate to help them apply for electric car purchasing incentives that can total as much as $14,000. If they choose to lease instead of buy, that same car just might be free. With California’s lofty goal to get five million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, several state agencies and local entities have set up grants and other incentives to encourage drivers to make the switch to electric. Read more about how you could benefit from these programs and grants here.

Red Rocks in the Redwoods? Exploring the Quarry Amphitheatre’s potential to become an elite concert venue

The view from above the Quarry shows its magical potential.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

Newly renovated and reopened in 2017, the Quarry at UC Santa Cruz was shut down for a year due to the pandemic. With more than a year inactive, whatever momentum the Quarry had in its effort to grow into the status of a major concert venue has evaporated. There are currently no plans to stage anything at the Quarry in 2021. But, in future years, is it possible we could see big-name headliners at the Quarry? “That’s the vision,” says site manager Jose Reyes-Olivas. Read more about the future of the Quarry from our Wallace Baine here.

JOIN US ON WEDNESDAY FOR ANOTHER FREE EVENT: ‘Santa Cruz is Open!’

Event flyer
(Event Santa Cruz)

Between its beaches, the Boardwalk, museums, recreation, live music and more, tourism typically is a $1 billion a year industry in Santa Cruz County and the No. 1 driver of the city of Santa Cruz’s economy. Now, after a year that saw the industry’s decline, it’s about to open up again. So what does that mean for jobs and the economy, not to mention the fun that’s in store for you, your family and tourists alike? Wallace and I will be talking to an all-star panel about those questions and more. Read more about the panelists here.

When: Wednesday, April 14
Where: Zoom
To register, click here.

MISSED OUR LAST ONE? Read and Watch — Rep. Jimmy Panetta talks wildfires, Capitol attack, immigration and more: On Friday evening, Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) sat down with our Wallace for a lively discussion about everything from wildfire mitigation to the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol to whether his father, the legendary Leon Panetta, could do his job today. On fire seasons Panetta said “it’s not a season ... it’s constant.” Read more about what transpired and watch the event here.

Around the county…

Santa Cruz man convicted of hate crime for knife attack in Downtown crosswalk last summer (Lookout Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz City Schools begin use of electric bus (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Discussions between Watsonville city, Fox theater owner on city council agenda (The Pajaronian)

GET OUR ALERTS: By the way, if you’re not already signed up for Lookout’s Breaking News Text Alerts, I highly recommend you do. When major news happens, we deliver those headlines right to your phone, so you can be in the know all the time. You can sign up for the free text alerts here or just text the word BREAKING to (831) 265-0158.

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Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor

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