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Morning Lookout: Watsonville grad’s big dreams, downtown development woes and more

Good Morning! It’s Tuesday, July 6 and I hope you all had the best Fourth of July weekend filled with good food and good company.

Over the weekend, the Delta variant became the dominant strain of the virus in California. The highly contagious variant has sparked mixed messages from doctors and public health officials about whether people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will need an additional booster shot.

Meanwhile, the road to recovery will involve a lot of building and reimagining of Downtown Santa Cruz — which will look different soon with seven new “high rises” slated for construction soon. Meanwhile, one potential change at the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union’s downtown location has been met with pushback from some credit union members.

It’s back to the grind today so let’s start your week with top headlines:

Watsonville High grad chases dream of return to hometown as an immigration attorney

Consuelo Vidal-Perez graduated from Watsonville High as the school's student of the year.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Consuelo Vidal-Perez experienced the callousness of immigration law firsthand when her grandparents were barred from visiting her dying mother. Now she’s heading to USC to chase her dream of returning to Watsonville as an immigration attorney to help families like hers. Read more about Vidal-Perez here.

Centered on creating beautiful, meaningful experiences out of flea market finds, Lori Powell’s thriving Santa Cruz...

Members petition against development of Cruz Hotel at Santa Cruz Community Credit Union site

Outside the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union at 324 Front Street in Santa Cruz.
Outside the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union at 324 Front Street in Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz )

The Santa Cruz Community Credit Union’s downtown location is still positioned to be sold, though its future as a new hotel might be in doubt. On Friday afternoon, credit union members dropped off a petition with 636 signatures, asking for a public meeting with the financial institution’s board of directors on the topic. Lookout could not immediately reach the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union Supervisory Committee for comment Friday but will continue efforts this week. Read more here.

Building boom will super-size downtown Santa Cruz — but will affordability follow?

Downtown Santa Cruz, looking toward Monterey Bay
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Decades of restrictive building rules have kept Santa Cruz a low-rise city, with the seven-story Palomar Inn on Pacific Avenue currently the tallest building downtown. But the century-old Palomar might soon be sharing the skyline with seven new six- and seven-story buildings currently planned for the downtown area. Read more here.

Wealth, class and remote work reshape California’s new boomtowns as people flee big cities

Brian and Rebecca Luke their with son Bennett, 1, in the kitchen of their new home in El Dorado Hills, Calif.
Brian and Rebecca Luke their with son Bennett, 1, in the kitchen of their new home in El Dorado Hills, Calif. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Most Californians who moved in 2020 stayed in-state, many trading city life in the Bay Area or Los Angeles for suburban or rural communities. A growing number of families have moved inland over the last few years, data show, fueled by the hunt for more open space, a sense of community and affordable housing. Read more here.

He had 10 minutes to flee the Salt fire. Now his home is gone

Firefighters battle the Hennessy fire
Firefighters battle the Hennessy fire in Vacaville, Calif., in August. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

When Ethan Junkersfeld evacuated his Lakehead home Wednesday afternoon, he never thought it would be the last time he saw it intact. A friend called and woke Junkersfeld from a nap, warning that the Salt Fire in Shasta County, that had ignited along Interstate 5, was bearing down on their Cascade Cove neighborhood. Read his full story here.

Health & Wellness

Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, gets a one-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine
Donations at a blood drive in downtown Los Angeles in 2020. (Gabriella Angotti-Jones / Los Angeles Times)

Do people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine need a booster?
Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, there is little data available about the efficacy of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine against the Delta variant. As a result, some doctors and public health officials have speculated about the need for a “booster” shot for those who received the one-dose inoculation. But last week, the company released new data. Read more of what that means for you here.

A technician scans vials and bags of donated blood.
Donations at a blood drive in downtown Los Angeles in 2020. (Gabriella Angotti-Jones / Los Angeles Times)

Giving blood has been off-limits for many gay men. A new study could help change that: Men who have sex with men have long faced restrictions on giving blood in the United States. Decades ago, as AIDS began devastating gay communities, the FDA advised blood centers to prohibit any man who had had sex with another man since 1977 — even once — from donating. A new study could lead to changes. Read more from the LA Times here.

Around the county...

Three abandoned dogs rescued near Davenport (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Santa Cruz street vendors cited for camping (KION-TV)

PVUSD deals with ramifications of distance learning (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

Presented by UC Santa Cruz

In recognition of UC Santa Cruz’s 2021 commencement, we present a few of our amazing grads. These scholars represent the...