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Morning Lookout: CZU, one year later; recall campaigning heats up; Lambda variant in CA

Good Morning, y’all! It’s Monday, August 16 and you can expect some patchy fog before 9 a.m. with a mostly cloudy morning before it gradually clears up to a high of 79.

One year ago today, an awe-inspiring lightning strike lit up the sky, becoming the catalyst that changed thousands of lives forever in Santa Cruz County. Over the weekend, we launched our CZU, One Year Later coverage, during which we will examine ongoing recovery efforts and tell the stories of our resilient community.

And, an offer for you: For a limited time, if you sign up for an annual Lookout membership using this link and the code 2020HINDSIGHT we will throw in a signed copy of an incredible photo book that chronicles how Santa Cruzans got through the traumatic year that was — co-produced by Shmuel Thaler and Lookout’s Kevin Painchaud and Wallace Baine.

There’s a lot to cover this morning, so let’s get to it:

CZU, One Year Later

The only recovery consistency lies in a community’s selfless nature: Last year, our Mark Conley and his teen daughter Ava, tried hard to find a way to pitch in and help the displaced families and fire crews as the CZU Lightning Complex fires ravaged the area. It was difficult, but that’s because everyone wanted to help. As he launches our CZU, One Year Later coverage, Mark writes, in part:

Most of us couldn’t believe what was unfurling in our county amidst an already hellish pandemic moment, but we weren’t really living it like others. We could have no idea what it was like to grab whatever belongings were in reach and jump in the car as flames approached — or to not have time to grab anything.

Read his full column here.

Preston Boomer with his pipe organ at Boomeria, his Bonny Doon fairyland
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

‘Hero of the neighborhood’: How a Bonny Doon neighbor’s resolve helped save a Santa Cruz musical treasure: The name Boomeria comes not from the dramatic churchy sounds that emanate from the pipe-organ, but from the man, Preston Boomer, who built not only the organ but the bizarro playland that surrounds it. It was the 90-year-old’s neighbor who took it upon herself to save “the Chapel” she grew up next to. Read more from our Wallace Baine here.

‘A clear testament to the caliber of the community’: Boulder Creek launches free tool library: How could residents rebuilding from the CZU fire share tools? The answer is the Community Tool Shed, which opened over the weekend in Boulder Creek after an overwhelming response from local volunteers, businesses and organizations. Read more from our Kevin Painchaud here.

CZU aftermath
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Democrats demand Pentagon renew wildfire monitoring program: Seven weeks before an important wildfire monitoring program is slated to lose access to Pentagon satellite data, 31 Democrats from California demanded today that the Defense Department commit to continuing the access that firefighters have come to rely on. Read more here.

'2020 Hindsight' a photo and essay book edited by Shmuel Thaler
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

AN OFFER FOR YOU: Earlier this year, news photographers Shmuel Thaler and Lookout’s Kevin Painchaud published a comprehensive keepsake photo book that chronicles how Santa Cruz County survived a traumatic year. For a limited time, if you sign up for an annual Lookout membership, we will throw in a signed copy of ‘2020 Hindsight.’ If you’d like to take this offer, use the promo code 2020HINDSIGHT entered here.

Tyler makes history!

Tyler Gilbert, the San Lorenzo High School phenom, dusted off the history books Saturday, becoming the first pitcher in nearly seven decades to throw a no-hitter in his first major league start. Throwing for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Gilbert, 27, dispatched the San Diego Padres 7-0, giving up three walks and throwing 102 pitches in Phoenix. He becomes only the fourth person in baseball history to complete the feat, the last one coming from Bobo Holloman of the St. Louis Browns in 1953. Check out the videos above of his and his family’s reaction to the no-hitter historic moment.

‘It’s just too big’: 831 Water Street development draws massive amount of public comment

Unsung Santa Cruz

It’s not every day a community meeting elicits more than 400 questions and comments. But the future of the 831 Water Street development in Santa Cruz isn’t just any other topic — and the public came out in virtual force last week. “We were frankly shocked that anyone would consider putting a 60-foot building within 20-feet of single-story homes,” one person said. Read more of what transpired from our Grace Stetson here.

When this was ‘The Murder Capital of the World’: Local author explores Santa Cruz’s nightmarish moment

John Linley Frazier
(Via Wikipedia)

Fifty years ago, Santa Cruz was living through a nightmare. A tidal wave of horrifying murders, each one seemingly more senseless and/or grisly than the last, turned the early 1970s into an unprecedented period of madness. A new book by a San Lorenzo Valley author Emerson Murray is a thorough, unflinching, and deeply frightening oral-history-style account of the times and its crimes. Read more from our Wallace Baine here.

Recall Newsom updates

Netflix chief and Santa Cruz resident Reed Hastings
(re:publica from Germany, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

Recall gives Netflix’s Reed Hastings a chance to mend fences with Newsom: In the jockeying among California political donors to support Gov. Gavin Newsom’s fight against the recall, Netflix co-Chief Executive and Santa Cruz resident Reed Hastings is near the top of the leader board — with one expensive mea culpa: $3.1 million in contributions. Read more about the fallout here.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom makes a statement against his recall while meeting with Latino leaders
(Los Angeles Times)

California recall campaign hits high gear as Newsom tries to rally Democratic base: With voters beginning to receive ballots and election day less than a month away, California’s historic recall campaign kicked into high gear with Gov. Gavin Newsom rallying the crucial labor and Latino vote and his Republican challengers stepping up their attacks. Over the next few days, all of California’s 22 million voters will receive a ballot for the month-long election. Read more about campaign efforts here.

COVID 2021

Lambda variant

The Lambda COVID variant is in California: 5 things to know: A new COVID-19 variant — named Lambda — has arrived in California. Experts think it is more infectious than the original coronavirus behind COVID-19 but less infectious than the Delta variant that’s raging across the state and country. There are also signs it could be more resistant to vaccines. Read the five things you should know about this variant here.

Zach Friend and Gail Newel.

Here’s how Gail Newel deals with indoor masking: That and other takeaways from her chat with Zach Friend: To mask or not to mask? What about our kids? How can I feel safe throughout the county? To help answer some of those questions, county health officer Gail Newel joined Supervisor Zach Friend for a lunchtime virtual town hall Friday. Our Grace Stetson breaks down what she learned from the town hall here.

Around the county...

Mount Madonna School students earn EPA award (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Kitayama Brothers adapts as flower market continues to shift (The Pajaronian)

Scotts Valley tech start-up aims to shake up global biz payments industry (Good Times)

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