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Morning Lookout: ‘Concerning’ fire season, Cabrillo expands in-person return amid enrollment drop

Good Morning! It’s Wednesday, June 9 and it’ll be another cool but mostly sunny day with a high of 65 and some breezy afternoon winds.

A local Cal Fire chief is sounding the alarm amid historically low moisture levels and staffing shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes even as crews continue to actively mop up the 12-acre Sandy Fire that flared up in the CZU Lightning Complex burn scar in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

But first, another pandemic impact:

As registration lags further behind, Cabrillo College pivots to a mostly in-person fall class schedule

Cabrillo College will move back toward in-person learning in the fall.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

Cabrillo College is accelerating its path back to mostly in-person classes as registration numbers for the fall reveal an alarming trend — lagging even further behind than a year ago when enrollment fell at an unprecedented rate. With the hope that more in-person courses could help bridge the enrollment gap, Cabrillo announced expanded return plans yesterday. Read more from our Nick Ibarra here.

Dry fuels, drought and slashed inmate crews: ‘Concerning’ picture for fire season in Santa Cruz County

Inmate firefighters work in Boulder Creek on Jan. 20, 2021 after more than a dozen fires broke out in Santa Cruz County.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

With inmate crews that supplement other agencies’ firefighting units cut drastically and fuel moisture levels at the lowest they’ve ever been at some sampling sites, Cal Fire CZU Unit Chief Ian Larkin warned yesterday about the elevated potential for more fires this year locally and statewide amid drought conditions. Read more from our Mallory Pickett here.

Larkin’s warning came as Cal Fire crews continue mopping up the nearly 12-acre Sandy Fire that flared up in the CZU Lightning Complex burn scar in Big Basin Redwoods State Park earlier this week. They will continue to work at the scene until at least this afternoon, officials said on Twitter last night.

BE PREPARED: Use our Wildfire Resource Center to ensure you and your loved ones are ready for the worst

Santa Cruz County COVID vaccine updates: At least one shot for 73.5% of eligible residents

Vaccination progress data for Santa Cruz County.
(Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency.)

Some 73.5% of all eligible Santa Cruz County residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, per new data released this week — putting the county in the middle of the pack compared to neighbors. Santa Cruz County released a new public dashboard of vaccination progress data Monday. Read more insights about the data from our Mallory Pickett here.

They kept on climbing: Agility Boulders embraced the COVID challenge, found footing in Capitola

Daniel Hutton, 13, reaches for a hold during a session at Agility Boulders in Capitola.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

When John Hester and Shirley Yang first met through the San Francisco climbing community, the couple was excited by all of the opportunities available through gyms like Dogpatch Boulders and Mission Cliffs. Yet as they continued to travel for their passion, they asked: Can we create our own space here and bring bouldering to this area? Read more from Lookout contributor Grace Stetson here.

SC Insiders: An exclusive tour of Ventana Surfboards & Supplies workshop

Surfer carries Ventana surfboard
(Ventana Surfboards & Supplies)

Last month, we launched our Lookout membership perk, SC Insiders — a host of carefully curated experiences that you can only get through a Lookout membership. If you missed last month’s private concert by Santa Cruz’s own Taylor Rae, you can watch it here.

The next event, a tour of the Ventana Surfboard and Supplies workshop, will be held on Wednesday, June 16 at noon. We are reserving some seats for new members who sign up using the code VENTANA entered here. If you’re already a Lookout member and would like to join us for the event, you can email our Head of Events, Matthew Swinnerton at

Around the state...

The potential dates are narrowing for the Gavin Newsom recall election.

When is the Newsom recall election? Maybe sooner than you think: Californians will almost certainly vote this year whether to throw Gov. Gavin Newsom out of office. But when? There’s surprisingly little certainty about the date of an election that has the potential to upend the leadership of the world’s fifth-largest economy and disrupt the lock Democrats have had on the state Capitol for the last 11 years. Voters may decide the governor’s fate closer to Labor Day than November. Read more from our partners at CalMatters here.

Russell Jeung, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, near the office of Chinese for Affirmative Action in San Francisco Chinatown
Russell Jeung, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, near the office of Chinese for Affirmative Action in San Francisco Chinatown on May 7, 2021. Jeung is an Asian American Studies professor at San Francisco State University. Photo by Harika Maddala

Inside the California organization tracking anti-Asian hate incidents: Stop AAPI Hate, a California-based coalition, has recorded nearly 7,000 hate incidents involving Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders nationwide since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s become a key source of information for the media and for advocates looking to stop the surge of racist attacks. Read more from CalMatters here.

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Around the county...

Woman found dead near San Lorenzo River (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Santa Cruz fire warns against use of sky lanterns on beaches (KION-TV)

County will purchase West Marine building, consolidate Watsonville services (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.

To ensure you’re staying informed about all the goings-on in Santa Cruz, consider becoming a Lookout member. Our content isn’t possible without community support.

Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor