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Morning Lookout: Heatwave, possible blackouts and planning for the Juneteenth weekend

Good Morning! It’s Thursday, June 17 and it’s going to be a hot, hot day with forecasted highs in the 90s.

Weather is going to be top of mind today as we see the peak of a heatwave currently sweeping across the West Coast. More on that lower down. The high temperatures in the midst of wildfire season may also contribute to drying out the fuels in the forest — which officials found yesterday were already at historic lows in terms of moisture content.

Meanwhile, this weekend’s Juneteenth celebrations will be all about liberation and culture in Santa Cruz County. Lookout contributor Liza Monroy put together a great list of events you can attend and fellow contributor Grace Stetson profiled some Black-owned businesses in town that you can patronize. Meanwhile, our partners at the LA Times created an amazing Juneteenth resource guide featuring Black artists, podcasters, authors, and filmmakers whose work you should check out.

Let’s get to it:

High temps in the 90s expected; possible blackouts

HIGH TEMPS: If you felt yesterday was terribly hot, today is expected to be much worse as the heatwave peaks. If you plan on spending time outdoors, stay hydrated and wear your sunscreen. If you’re taking your pets out for a walk, be mindful of the heat of the pavement as it might hurt their paws.

POSSIBLE BLACKOUTS: The California Independent System Operator issued a statewide Flex Alert, asking people to conserve energy and warning that you might experience rolling blackouts between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. tonight. “The public’s help is essential when extreme weather or other factors beyond our control put undue stress on the electric grid,” said the president and chief executive officer of the ISO.

Before the Flex Alert is in place, you can:

  • Pre-cool your home by lowering the thermostat
  • Use major appliances, like your dishwasher, and clothes washer and dryer
  • Close window coverings to keep your home or apartment cool
  • Charge electronic devices and vehicles

When the statewide Flex Alert is in effect this evening, you can:

  • Set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher, if health permits
  • Avoid the use of major appliances
  • Turn off all unnecessary lights
  • Use fans for cooling
  • Unplug unused items
A Cal Fire crew member clears out brush, branches and other dead fuels.
A Cal Fire crew member clears out brush, branches and other dead fuels.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

LOW FUEL MOISTURE: Cal Fire CZU reported Wednesday that live fuel moisture levels — a measure of how susceptible living vegetation is to burning — remain at or near a record low. Read more here.

Open Studios is back with dates (and look out for an announcement of the 2021 Open Studio Artists!) Despite the...

Don’t panic, Santa Cruz: Ticks aren’t crawling our beaches looking for blood

Garrapata (tick) state park in Big Sur.
(Daniel J. Salkeld)

The scientist behind a recent study that found, to the alarm of many Lookout readers, that ticks — some carrying Lyme disease — were prevalent in California’s “coastal areas” would like to set some things straight. For starters, ticks do not hang out in the sand. Read more from our Mallory Pickett here.

Celebrating liberation on Juneteenth

“Each birth I attend is life-changing for the people who are experiencing it and the doula who’s attending it."
(Courtesy Brie Buxton)

From doulas to video stores, no shortage of Black-owned businesses in Santa Cruz: Graphic designer Troy Chasey set out to build community among Santa Cruz County’s Black business owners in the wake of George Floyd’s murder last year, and the Black Owned Santa Cruz directory has helped do just that. Read more from Grace Stetson here.

Sunday's Juneteenth events will focus around repainting the Black Lives Matter mural in front of Santa Cruz City Hall.
Sunday’s Juneteenth events will focus around repainting the Black Lives Matter mural on Center Street in front of Santa Cruz City Hall.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

With ‘new voices’ front and center, Santa Cruz Juneteenth plots out celebratory weekend: With a Saturday gathering next door to the newly-renamed London Nelson Community Center, a Sunday event centered on repainting the Black Lives Matter mural in front of Santa Cruz City Hall and COVID restrictions mostly lifted, organizers have a full slate for the holiday commemorating the end of slavery. Here’s a roster of Juneteenth celebration events in Santa Cruz County here.

group of illustrated people on a red, yellow and green gradient backdrop
(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times)

A resource guide for Black liberation, just in time for Juneteenth: To help get in the spirit of Juneteenth — celebrating Black liberation, culture and equity — the LA Times has created a Juneteenth cultural resource guide. If you’re in search of cultural content that will shake up your Juneteenth in the best way, with narratives and portraits of Black joy, Black love and Black freedom, find it all here.

Housing and affordability

Q&A: Is California still facing an eviction tsunami when the moratorium ends? California’s eviction moratorium is coming to an end on June 30. Since the earliest days of the pandemic, housing analysts have worried about a tsunami of evictions when the state lifts protections. Will there be an eviction tsunami when the moratorium ends? Our partners at CalMatters talked to an associate professor of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley. Read the Q&A here.

Apprenticeship instructor Mike Miller, center, demonstrates how to set up a theodolite

Is union labor requirement in the way of easing California’s affordable housing crisis? California lawmakers introduced several bills this year that would allow for new housing development without undergoing lengthy and costly local approvals. Two are sailing through the Legislature. The other died early on. A key difference? The successful bills had the support of the State Building and Construction Trades Council. Read more about this powerful union and its influence here.

Around the county...

Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council to hold two-day fire safety training (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

UCSC to require everyone to have COVID-19 vaccine for fall session (KSBW-TV)

Watsonville will fine property owners, tenants for illegal fireworks (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