Latest News

Morning Lookout | ‘Sound of explosions’: CZU trauma one year later; Afghani refugees in California

Good Morning! It’s Thursday, August 26 and it will be a lovely, mostly sunny day with a high of 72.

Yesterday, Santa Cruz County officials announced a third person had died from COVID-19 complications earlier this month after a streak of no deaths since June 1. And I asked y’all yesterday what you thought about the county’s vaccine/test mandate for employees. Here’s what your neighbors say. Meanwhile, here’s what a new U.S. intelligence report says about the origins of the COVID-19 virus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and abortion-rights groups are claiming that abortion rights are on the line in the September recall election — a message that some Republicans say is meant to fire up left-leaning voters. And later today, more than half of California’s Congressional delegation will be sending a letter to President Joe Biden to say the state is ready and eager to take in refugees from Afghanistan. What do you think about this? Send us a note at

All that in a moment but our lead story this morning is a tear-jerker by Wallace Baine and I highly recommend you don’t skip it:

‘The sound of explosions’: One year after CZU, the echoes of loss reverberate for the many still recovering

John Haskey of Bonny Doon hangs up a steel chain to his driveway along 300 block of Braemoor Drive in Bonny Doon.
(Neil Strebig / Lookout Santa Cruz)

On the first night after the lightning storm last year, the Haskeys could make out the red glow along the ridge above Boulder Creek. At the time, they knew of no evacuation order, but once they heard the explosions, they knew it was time to flee. They never saw their home again. Their story may not be unique but it’s a sobering reminder of the post-traumatic anguish that so many who lost their home are still experiencing a year later. Read more about learning of their loss on social media and their question about whether or not to rebuild here.

READ ALSO: Caldor fire approaches Lake Tahoe; residents brace for the worst (LA Times)

AND AN OFFER FOR YOU: As we continue our CZU, One Year Later project, Lookout is offering a free signed copy of the ‘2020 Hindsight’ photo essay book — produced by local news photographers Shmuel Thaler and our Kevin Painchaud, with contributions from our Wallace Baine — to those who sign up for an annual Lookout membership. To take this offer, click on this link and use the code 2020HINDSIGHT at check out.

Presented by Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente Family Medicine Physician Dr. Jack Watson, MD, is passionate about getting more young people in Santa...

Santa Cruz City Council OKs outdoor dining extension, weighs in on ADUs & CZU grand jury report

Outdoor dining has resumed in Santa Cruz County, and a move to the red tier would allow for limited indoor seating, too.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Earlier this week, the Santa Cruz City Council approved an extension for temporary outdoor dining and the relocation of the Homeless Garden Project’s farm. Council members also responded to the CZU Fire report from the Santa Cruz Civil County grand jury, saying it was impractical to create fire safety community groups throughout the city. Read more about what transpired at the meeting from our Neil Strebig here.

COVID 2021 updates

Nurse Cherry Costales prepares a dose of COVID-19 vacciner.

After third COVID-19 death in August, health officials point to combination of Delta, vaccination: Santa Cruz County officials announced yesterday that another unvaccinated resident died earlier this month due to COVID-19. This is the third COVID-19 related death in the county since June 1. Read more from our Grace Stetson here.

READERS SOUND OFF: What your neighbors think about county’s vaccination/testing mandate: In yesterday’s newsletter, I asked y’all what you think about the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors mandate that county workers either be vaccinated or get tested weekly. Thankfully, y’all aren’t shy with their opinions. Here’s what your neighbors had to say.

A transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles that were isolated from a patient.

Here’s what the latest U.S. intelligence report says on the origins of the COVID-19 virus: A new U.S. intelligence report investigated the origins of COVID-19 after widespread questions about whether the virus originated from an animal in Wuhan or was deliberately or accidentally leaked from a lab. Here’s what the investigation found.

ANOTHER COVID READ: Quarantined: A new law is disrupting California school reopenings (CalMatters)

Santa Cruz Shakespeare announces big new season, change in leadership

Santa Cruz Shakespeare artistic director Mike Ryan at right
(Via Santa Cruz Shakespeare)

Before the 2021 season has even ended, Santa Cruz Shakespeare has already announced plans for 2022, as well as a vision for 2023 and beyond. The Bard’s “Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest” are on the schedule next season. And in 2023, artistic director Mike Ryan will step down. Read more from our Wallace Baine here.

Recall Newsom Updates

File image of a woman in a hospital bed
(via Pixabay)

Newsom says abortion is on the line in recall. But rolling back rights wouldn’t be easy: As the election to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom approaches, abortion-rights groups are warning that Californians’ right to an abortion is on the ballot. Newsom, a Democrat, himself tweeted that “abortion access” is at stake. But this message is more about firing up left-leaning voters than it is about policy, said a Republican political strategist. Read more here.

A Democrat takes the stage to clash with Republicans in California recall debate: YouTube star and Democratic political newcomer Kevin Paffrath yesterday injected a dose of partisan heat and a few offbeat ideas into the latest debate among candidates hoping to replace Newsom, telling viewers that backing any of his Republican rivals would be a “wasted vote” in left-leaning California. Read more about what transpired here.

A number of Santa Cruz County nonprofits are teaching kids how to grow and cook food, and develop stronger connections...

Around the state...

Afghan men gather in prayer at a park

HAPPENING TODAY: California Democrats urge Biden: Send us Afghan evacuees: More than half of the Democrats in California’s 53-member congressional delegation will send a letter to President Biden today saying that California is ready and eager to house Afghan refugees and special immigrant visa applicants. The letter stresses that the country has a moral obligation to help. Read more here. What do you think should be done? Send us a note at

Rideshare drivers yell out to the drivers to turn off their apps and join the strike.

Prop 22 was ruled unconstitutional. What will the final outcome be for gig work in California? A move by a California judge to invalidate Proposition 22 was a bold rebuff of an aggressive effort by companies such as Uber and Lyft to rewrite the rules of gig work. But it’s unlikely to change how the companies treat their drivers while the ruling snakes through courts. Read more here.

Around the county...

Santa Cruz County Coroner identifies man found dead in Zayante Creek (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Friends and family mourn the loss of talented musician and dear friend in Capitola murder (KSBW-TV)

Watsonville City Council trades barbs over mayor’s proposed conference attendance (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
Lookout Santa Cruz

Presented by Housing Matters

The social and economic health of Santa Cruz County depends on the empowerment that comes when everyone has a place to...