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Morning Lookout: Reopening day tales, skyrocketing home prices and a heatwave

Good Morning! It’s Wednesday, June 16 and this is your reminder to fill up your water bottles and lather on the sunscreen before heading out the door. It’ll be mostly sunny with a high of 89!

The heatwave moving across much of the West will peak tomorrow bringing Santa Cruz a forecasted high temperature in the 90s. And while it may feel like “it’s BEEN in the 90s since Saturday,” like one reader wrote to me, I checked past high temperatures recorded by the National Weather Service and we have yet to crack the 90s. But, what you’re likely experiencing is the “feels like” temperature, explained in a blog post by a climate agency in the UK.

Small businesses were among the casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic, so to mark the historic day that was June 15, 2021, we set out across the county to talk to small business owners about the path forward. Across the state, the LA Times photo team captured the exuberant scenes in a beautiful photo essay.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, UC Santa Cruz graduates from both 2020 and 2021 received their diplomas in still-not-quite-normal ceremonies. For one graduate who also happens to be an intern at Lookout (congratulations, Haneen), it was the opportunity for closure after a year like none other.

Here are your headlines:

The Great Santa Cruz Reopening: Business owners welcome new reality — even if that’s still being figured out

Mission West co-owner Max Turigliatto
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

MAPPED: After more than a year of waiting, June 15 finally arrived and brought with it a general feeling of cautious freedom. We dispatched our whole editorial staff across the county to talk to local business owners about (re)Opening Day. What we came back with was a hodgepodge of differing, developing, still-in-the-works ideas about what they will do going forward. I highly recommend checking out the cool story map we built with stories from about two dozen businesses here.

A woman has her picture taken in a train station
A maskless Saphhira has her photo taken by an Amtrak employee Tuesday after arriving from San Diego to Union Station on the first day that California is fully reopened. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Photos capture California as the state fully reopens: The scenes around California were equally joyous and yesterday the photo team at the LA Times captured the historic day. From celebrations at bars to hugs between strangers, they saw it all and put together a beautiful reopening day photo essay you can see here.

READ ALSO: California reopens to joy, tinged with sorrow over 63,000 dead (LA Times)

Gov. Gavin Newsom juggles numbered balls used in a lottery-style give away, following the conclusion of a press conference

Newsom sees his political fortunes rise as California reopens: With reopening implemented, Gov. Gavin Newsom has new cause to celebrate. Given California’s low infection rates and high vaccination levels, Newsom’s move to rescind restrictions will likely ensure that the lockdowns and political missteps that helped fuel dissension fade into memories by the time voters head to the polls, political observers say. Read more from the LA Times here.

Another month, another all-time high: Home prices in Santa Cruz County hit $1.3 million in May

.House for sale

Home prices in Santa Cruz County continued an exuberant trend in May, with more broken sales records and more sellers putting homes on the market. The median sale price for a single-family home rose to a record $1.3 million countywide in May — more than 50% higher than in May 2020. Read more about this skyrocketing trend here.

Watsonville Film Festival’s Juneteenth celebration program makes murals the centerpiece

Murals are the focus of a Watsonville Film Festival virtual event.
(Watsonville Film Festival)

The Watsonville Film Festival is set for a program of art and activism in mid-June in solidarity with Juneteenth. For four days this week, the WFF will offer up a free virtual screening of documentary films featuring Watsonville-based muralist Guillermo Aranda, and a four-story mural painted in downtown Oakland. Read more from our Wallace Baine here.

Simple graduation mirrored a new, simpler existence: One UCSC grad’s newfound perspective

Graduation walk.
(Haneen Zain)

UC Santa Cruz Political Science major, former City on the Hill Press co-executive editor and Lookout Santa Cruz intern Haneen Zain took the stage this weekend with her classmates in a milestone typically celebrated on a much larger scale. She wrote of the experience, in part:

I didn’t think slug-crossing was going to be anything more than something I felt obligated to do after four years at UC Santa Cruz. But considering the only other indicator that the school year was over had been the end of a Zoom meeting at 4:07 p.m. on a Friday, walking the stage gave me the closure I didn’t know I needed.

Read her full personal essay here.

Around the county...

Santa Cruz’s steelhead numbers low in midst of drought, but endangered coho spotted (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

3 girls named honorary Santa Cruz police chiefs for a day (KSBW-TV)

Kmart in Watsonville is closing its doors in August (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