Pablita Lazo (left) and Maria Rodriguez.
(Hillary Ojeda / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Unsung Santa Cruz continues, plus rail trail and 831 Water St.

G’day, folks! Wednesday, Dec. 15, is here, and it’s going to bring Santa Cruz County another round of rain later in the day, with high temperatures barely in the 50s.

We have another installment of our Unsung Santa Cruz series this morning, with Lookout’s Hillary Ojeda introducing us to a pair of women who have been a calming and energetic presence at Amesti Elementary School in Watsonville.

There’s also another chapter in the saga of a controversial development proposal in Santa Cruz, Lookout’s Grace Stetson reports, with the city council reversing course and approving the 831 Water Street project.

It was another step forward for the so-called Greenway Plan, Grace reports, with the group favoring a park-like bicycle and pedestrian path along Santa Cruz Branch Line submitting signatures in hopes of putting the issue on the ballot in June.

On the COVID front, meanwhile, we looked at vaccination rates, shot availability and more in a weekly update.

And Lookout’s Wallace Baine caught up with Grammy-winning Santa Cruz guitarist William Coulter, who is returning from a period of loss and transition to perform at the Rio Theatre this week with “A Celtic Christmas.”

That’s a full plate of headlines, so let’s dig in:

Unsung Santa Cruz: Cafeteria assistants Pablita and Maria bring a feeling of familia to Amesti Elementary

Pablita Lazo (left) and Maria Rodriguez.
(Hillary Ojeda / Lookout Santa Cruz)

At Amesti Elementary School in Watsonville, the calming and energetic presence of Pablita Lazo and Maria Rodriguez has served everyone well, especially during the pandemic. Hillary Ojeda has today’s installment of Lookout’s Unsung Santa Cruz series.

READ THE FULL SERIES HERE: All of our Unsung Santa Cruz stories in one place

Santa Cruz reverses course on 831 Water Street project

The decision helped the city avoid what could’ve been costly litigation from the developer or others around the project that would include affordable housing units. Lookout’s Grace Stetson details the latest chapter.

PREVIOUSLY: ‘A costly mistake’ or still moving forward? After council rejection, future of 831 Water St. remains in flux (Lookout)

Greenway submits signatures for proposed initiative on use of rail line

The defunct Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The proposal, which still must have its signatures verified before qualifying for the June 2022 ballot, would potentially force county leaders to use the Santa Cruz Branch Line for a park-like bicycle and pedestrian path. Grace maps out the latest here.

FROM JULY: Greenway announces plans to gather signatures, put interim trail-only game plan to vote on next June’s ballot (Lookout)

Santa Cruz County vaccine update

Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services holds an evening COVID-19 vaccination clinic
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Our weekly update looks at local vaccination rates and where to find a COVID shot or test, plus wait, cost and turnaround times. Get the latest numbers here.

MORE ON COVID: California revives mask mandate as hospitals fear hard winter wave of COVID-19 cases (Los Angeles Times)

After loss and transition, Santa Cruz’s William Coulter returns to celebrate ‘A Celtic Christmas’

Santa Cruz guitarist William Coulter
(Via William Coulter)

Grammy-winning guitarist William Coulter lost his Bonny Doon home and just about everything in it in the 2020 CZU fire, and it’s been a winding path back to the stage since. Lookout’s Wallace Baine has the story.

MORE FROM WALLACE: Forget about keeping Santa Cruz weird; have we lost our once-notorious edge entirely?

Presented by Kaiser Permanente

While the holidays can be a cheerful time for many, they can also be some of the most difficult times for others. Kaiser...

Fewer people moving to California, more leaving during the pandemic, study shows

File image of people in an airport
(Via Pixabay)

New entrances to the state have dropped in every California county since the end of March 2020, according to the nonpartisan California Policy Lab. Our partners at the Los Angeles Times run the numbers.

Around the county ...

Measure U extension will likely go to Watsonville voters in 2022 (The Pajaronian)
A new Boulder Creek Brewery: Beloved community hub to be rebuilt (San Lorenzo Valley Post)
With weapons and depth, UCSC women’s basketball is off to hot start (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

I hope that warms everyone up on another chilly morning. Lookout has plenty more in store today, so bookmark our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And visit our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center to sign up for all the newsletters and alerts we offer.

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 most excellent Wednesday — I’ll see you again tomorrow morning!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz

Presented by UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz has expanded its annual Second Harvest Holiday Food and Fund Drive to help boost donations—needed now more...