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Morning Lookout: PG&E questioned on outages; Student-athletes face COVID challenges for third academic year

Good Morning! It’s Friday, September 24 and it will be sunny with a high of 74.

After months of planned and unplanned outages, PG&E held two community meetings yesterday to answer questions and concerns from customers. Meanwhile, Farmers Market executive Nesh Dhillon weighed in on a hot-button issue — saying that Our Downtown never reached out to the market, despite claiming it is an advocate.

High School sports have returned to Santa Cruz County but student-athletes across the county still face a whole of challenges as restrictions are in place for the third academic year in a row.

Let’s dive in:

‘We’re here to talk about it’: PG&E addresses community concerns over increased, prolonged outages across county

PG&E power lines are photographed in Fremont

After an increasing number of both unplanned and planned outages countywide over the last couple months, PG&E representatives hosted two virtual community forums yesterday to address customer concerns. The utility said with a new “fast trip” setting, some outages have been sparked by birds, squirrels and vegetation, leading to hours of no power and no explanation for customers. Read more about what transpired from our Grace Stetson and Max Chun here.

Learn more about the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) and how to support and connect with this center for...

Farmers market exec: Downtown redevelopment ballot initiative doesn’t represent our interests

READ THE STORY: Farmers market exec: Downtown redevelopment ballot initiative doesn’t represent our interests
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Following last week’s announcement from Our Downtown on a proposed ballot initiative for the hot button Santa Cruz library renovation plan, downtown farmers market director Nesh Dhillon told Lookout in an exclusive interview that the group — which purports to be an advocate for the market — has never reached out. Read more from our Grace Stetson here.

Housing at the forefront: UC regents to consider plan for a 44% increase in UCSC enrollment by 2040

The plaza in front of the Bay Tree Bookstore at UCSC was a busy on Sept. 23, 2021, the first day of classes.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The university’s governing board is expected to vote on plan next week that would increase enrollment at UC Santa Cruz from about 19,000 to 28,000 — a 44% increase — by 2040. Opponents say UCSC’s commitment to house considerably more students, staff and faculty is unrealistic and will only make the region’s housing crunch worse. Read more from Lookout contributor Haneen Zain here.

New generation of disabled UC students revives activism

Quinn O'Conner at the Janss Steps on the UCLA campus

A coalition is calling for the University of California to give disabled students more support and a say in pandemic-era learning plans. COVID-19 has sparked conversations about ableism and best practices for accommodating students, especially as campuses return to in-person classes. Read more here.

‘Have to get a little lucky’: High school athletes play through the pandemic

Members of the Santa Cruz High football team practice on Sept. 21, 2021.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

After having to deal with a shortened or eliminated calendar for the third academic year in a row, high school sports are back. But Santa Cruz County coaches and athletes face challenges as the pandemic continues this fall — vaccinations, testing and truncated schedules. Read more from Lookout contributor Max Chun here.

READ ALSO: California plans dramatic push of COVID-19 booster shots, vaccinations (LA Times)

The pandemic in metal: Pajaro Valley Arts exhibits ‘memories of a time like no other’

Margery Moran's "Men Are Chefs, Women Are Cooks."
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

In the ongoing “Reflections” exhibition at the Watsonville gallery, 29 members of the Monterey Bay Metal Arts Guild answered the call for works about their journey through COVID-19 and other upheavals of recent years. The artists are bringing a range of techniques and inventive interpretations of the theme. Read more from Lookout contributor Laurel Bushman and see photos here.

‘Art and science’: In aftermath of the CZU fire, restoring our beloved trail systems is no easy task

Nicole Welsh of California State Parks
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Of the 175 miles of trails in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties affected by last summer’s blaze, only 7.5 miles have reopened so far. As the public anxiously waits to regain access to places like Big Basin and parts of Henry Cowell, crews from around the state and county are hard at work removing hazards and making trails safe for use. Read more from our Hanna Merzbach here.

As fires threaten the Ancient Ones, sequoia lovers wonder what else will no longer endure

Roots jut out from a giant sequoia in Stump Grove
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

California’s wildfires have claimed lives, homes and cherished summer destinations now scarred by flame or spoiled by smoke. But the giant sequoias, called the Ancient Ones by Native Americans, have stood in some cases for millennia and are one of the largest living things on Earth. Until very recently, many thought of them as nearly immortal. Something that would endure. Read more here.

BOLO Best Bets: Sea Dubs fan fest, Boardwalk campout and Jake Shimabukuro ring in changing seasons

Ukelele master Jake Shimabukuro

Looking for fun things to do this weekend and in the coming week? In this week’s Best Bets newsletter, Lookout’s Team BOLO have details about the Sea Dubs Fan Fest at the Kaiser Permanente Arena, the Beach Boardwalk’s Fall Campout and The Downtown Association’s Downtown Day welcoming UCSC students. Read this week’s full Best Bets newsletter here and sign up to get the weekly recommendations here.

Around the county...

Major FBI Northern California prison gang bust reached Watsonville (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Complaints about homelessness mount in Watsonville (The Pajaronian)

Cal Fire CZU reports 3 deaths in 8 days near Davenport (KION-TV)

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
Lookout Santa Cruz

Recent UCSC graduate and Bay Federal Credit Union’s Certified Financial Educator, Tiffany Zachmeier, looks back at her...