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MORNING LOOKOUT: Pajaro Valley fire updates; Quake anniversary; COVID vaccines for the homeless

Good Morning! We at Lookout hope you had a lovely and restful weekend, and hopefully you had a chance to check out Open Studios. Artists are part of what makes Santa Cruz the amazing place that it is, and they need our support.

This is Dan filling in for Tulsi, who is taking a well-deserved breather.

Santa Cruz County — and the Central Coast and Northern California generally — look to be getting some much needed rain this week. Though there’s only a slight chance of the wet stuff today, that increases markedly later on in the week. Today will see a high of 64 and a fall-chilly low of 48.

Even a slight amount of moisture, however, will help fully put out the flames of the Pajaro Valley fire that sparked on Friday. More details on that below, as well as recap of the controversy surrounding the Coast Futura demonstration in Watsonville.

Here are your headlines:

What would Santa Cruz be like if THE QUAKE never happened?

On the 32nd anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake, Wallace Baine considers what Santa Cruz might have been if it had not happened. Would we be better off? Maybe, but maybe not. Read his thoughts here.

The rubble across from the Cooper House.
(Courtesy of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH))

Timing of prescribed fire that got out of hand questioned

The fire line for the Estrada Fire in south Santa Cruz County on Oct. 15, 2021.
The fire line for the Estrada Fire in south Santa Cruz County on Oct. 15, 2021.
(Mike Gagarin)

It’s a dilemma we face: The Estrada Fire in south Santa Cruz County grew from a 20-acre burn to clear bush to nearly 150 acres. One firefighter received minor injuries, and 76 homes were evacuated. As of the latest reports, the fire is now 60% contained.

Asked whether the burn should have taken place on a dry and relatively hot day, Cal Fire Division Chief Angela Bernheisel said it speaks to a common conundrum. Friday afternoon temperatures were in the low-to-mid 70s with 32% humidity.

“We have an objective and when the conditions are right to achieve our goal, the conditions are also ripe for a fire,” she said.

Ironically enough, the fire occurred on the property of a retired firefighter. Read more from contributor Cathy Kelly here.

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

What will it take to get more people living on the street to get the COVID vaccine?

A man winces as he gets his COVID shot.
Zack Gustine gets a COVID shot from registered nurse Leah Edoloverio. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

People experiencing homelessness are far less likely to be vaccinated against COVID than the general population. But one group in Los Angeles County thinks it has the answer. Read more from our partners at the Los Angeles Times here.


Supervisor Manu Koenig rides an electric streetcar as part of the Coast Futura demonstration on Oct. 16, 2021.
Supervisor Manu Koenig rides an electric streetcar as part of the Coast Futura demonstration on Oct. 16, 2021.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

A zero-emission streetcar demonstration debuted over the weekend in Watsonville. Its arrival was immediately decried by Supervisor Manu Koenig, who called the event put on by Coast Futura a publicity stunt. The issue highlights the tension between those that want a public transit option on the 32-mile Santa Cruz Branch Line and those who would prefer the area be fully reserved for greenspace. Read more on the controversy here.

Around the state and county...

California records driest year in a century (LA Times)

Santa Cruz County schools preparing for increased vaccine eligibility (Sentinel)

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!

Dan Evans