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Morning Lookout: Bike-share, Rail Trail and saying goodbye to a familiar voice

Good Morning! It’s Thursday, May 6, and expect some intermittent clouds and a high of 72.

We’ve got two transportation stories for you this morning: First, a beloved e-bike share program that was a constant in the city of Santa Cruz until March of last year may soon come back — and include more of the county. Meanwhile, the Regional Transportation Commission will be meeting again later this morning about the contentious Rail Trail project.

You, like Lookout reader Mark Shwartz, might find a seal or sea lion pup stranded on a beach without its mother — a common occurrence this time of year. When Mark let us know about a northern elephant seal pup stranded on the beach, our Cypress Hansen sought out do’s and don’ts in case you stumble across one.

There’s also some sad news to report: A Bay Area radio fixture and program director at KPIG, Laurie Roberts, has died, the station announced.

Here are your headlines:

Santa Cruz explores new bike share program, with plans for countywide coverage

JUMP bikes in Santa Cruz.
(Claire Gallogly/City of Santa Cruz)

The bright red electric JUMP bikes that were once omnipresent on Santa Cruz streets are gone forever — but the city is now exploring vendors for a new bike-share program. The new project is being scoped out as a potential regional partnership with UC Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Capitola and Watsonville — a significant change from the previous program, which restricted the bikes to Santa Cruz city limits. Read more from our Mallory Pickett here.

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Rail Trail to be discussed again today. Here’s what might — or might not — happen

The defunct Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz County’s Regional Transportation Commission last month failed to approve a plan that would have moved forward a proposed coastal passenger rail line connecting Santa Cruz to Watsonville. But more discussion of the issue could bubble up during today’s RTC meeting — even as no formal vote on the topic is scheduled and the project’s future remains in doubt. Our Patrick Riley has a look at recent developments and what might be ahead.

MORE MOBILITY NEWS | Does California bullet train have ‘5,000 workers’? No, but jobs are the grease for these big projects: As the State Legislature girds for a battle over a $4.2-billion appropriation needed this year for the bullet train, the jobs issue and the crucial political support of labor unions will play an outsized role in keeping the project rolling along. Read more from the LA Times here.

Laurie Roberts, longtime Bay Area radio personality and KPIG’s ‘midday music therapist,’ dies

Laurie Roberts
(KPIG)

Laurie Roberts — a Bay Area radio mainstay who most recently worked as “midday music therapist” and program director at KPIG 107.5-FM in Freedom — died this week. “If you grew up anywhere within earshot of Bay Area radio the last 30-plus years, you knew it was her as soon as you turned on the radio or shyly walked up to her in person and asked, ‘Are you Laurie Roberts?’ (It happened a lot!),” the station posted on its website. “We’re beyond devastated to say goodbye ...” Read more here.

50-unit apartment complex for low-income renters proposed in Santa Cruz’s Lower Ocean neighborhood

A preliminary rendering of a 50-unit affordable housing development proposed for 314 Jessie St. in Santa Cruz.
(Courtesy city of Santa Cruz)

MidPen, an affordable housing developer, is proposing a 50-unit project at 314 Jessie Street which would contain studio and one-bedroom apartments for low-income renters, according to preliminary documents. Under MidPen’s proposal, the existing buildings would be demolished and replaced with a five-story building. Read more from our Isabella Cueto, including what’s planned for existing tenants, here.

’Tis the season for stranded seal pups. Here’s what to do if you see one

Force, a 2- to 3-month-old elephant seal pup
Force, a 3- to 4-month-old northern elephant seal pup was found on the beach at 26th Ave. in Live Oak. He is being nursed back to health at The Marine Mammal Center.
(Top photo courtesy of Mark Shwartz. Bottom photo courtesy of The Marine Mammal Center)

Seals and sea lions along the Santa Cruz coast are birthing and raising their pups this time of year. When pups get separated from mom, they often wash up on beaches where humans and their dogs play. “We have been rescuing up to five elephant seal pups a day,” says a spokesperson for The Marine Mammal Center. Cypress Hansen has a happy tale about a little pup named ‘Force” and what to do if you find a marine mammal in distress. And thanks to Lookout reader Mark Shwartz for alerting us to this story!

Flower power: Santa Cruz’s newest café is part coffee shop, part chocolatier, part boutique florist

Flower Bar
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

Flower Bar is not your (sorry) garden-variety flower shop. Yes it is a top-drawer boutique florist offering a full range of floral services for events or special occasions (or just because). But it’s also a café, with curated coffee, a lunch menu, and a front-and-center selection of boldly colored chocolate truffles that look more like art than food. It also has a paint job that can be trumped only by its intriguing business plan. Read more from our Wallace Baine here.

COVID 2021

Woman wipes door handle

A judge vacated the CDC eviction moratorium. What you need to know: A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that the CDC overstepped its authority when it issued a nationwide eviction moratorium intended to help millions of Americans unable to pay rent due to the pandemic. As of March, 15% of adult renters have yet to catch up on payments with renters of color facing even greater hardship. Read everything you need to know from the LA Times here.

In dramatic shift, California COVID-19 hospitalizations are lowest since pandemic’s start: In a dramatic sign of how rapidly California is recovering from COVID-19, the state recorded its lowest hospitalization rate since the first few weeks of the pandemic. The number of COVID-19 patients reported statewide this week was 1,608. That’s lower than the lowest number in The Times’ record of hospitalizations since March 30, 2020. Read more from the LA Times here.

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

Around the area …

Home of San Francisco’s 1st same-sex spouses now a landmark (Associated Press)

Pond drained in search of former Santa Cruz man who disappeared (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

New book takes a look at the rise and fall of Ska Bands (The Good Times)

Watsonville Airport’s organic farm an ‘uncut diamond’ (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.

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Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor

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