Jackie Vasquez.
(Via Jackie Vazquez)
Latest News

Morning Lookout: Missing Soquel teen found safe; taking care of local farmworkers

A good morning to you, Santa Cruz County! It’s Thursday, Dec. 23, and we’ve got another wet day ahead, with rain likely throughout and temperatures in the mid- to upper 50s.

Some good news this morning from Soquel, where local authorities had spent much of the previous day searching for a missing teenager:

Also new this morning is the latest chapter in Lookout’s Unsung Santa Cruz series, with Lily Belli profiling an agriculture executive who’s been key in connecting farmworkers to health services, food, school supplies and more amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Lookout’s Grace Stetson examined one approach to helping Santa Cruz’s unhoused population: micro tiny homes as emergency shelters. And Lookout’s Kevin Painchaud was on hand as community members memorialized homeless people who died on local streets and in shelters in the past year.

So let’s check out those headlines and more:

She helps take care of the farmworkers who help put food on our tables

Jackie Vasquez
(Via Jackie Vasquez)

Jackie Vasquez’s work has involved everything from providing food and school supplies to families in need to bringing health services and vaccination clinics right to the fields. Lily Belli has the latest profile in our Unsung Santa Cruz series.

GET ALL THE STORIES HERE: Unsung Santa Cruz: Lookout highlights regular folks doing great things

Supporting local Santa Cruz businesses continues to be more important than ever. When it comes to buying gifts this...

An unusual take on emergency shelter potentially on its way to Santa Cruz

One of the two micro tiny homes Alekz Londos has distributed in Santa Cruz over the past year.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Alekz Londos created a small number of microshelters for the unhoused last year and is working to dramatically increase that in 2022. Lookout’s Grace Stetson digs in.

WINTER CHALLENGES: Atmospheric river takes aim at Santa Cruz (Lookout)

‘No one in town cares about these deaths’

A man covers his face as names of unhoused individuals who died in 2021 is read
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Community members and advocates gathered at Front and Laurel streets Tuesday to honor 151 unhoused people who died in 2021 on the streets of Santa Cruz and in shelters. Here’s what Lookout’s Kevin Painchaud saw and heard.

PREVIOUSLY: ‘We need more safe spaces’: As more weather approaches, city, homelessness advocates seek solutions (Lookout)

Omicron sweeping through California with staggering speed, raising alarm and questions

People receive free COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

California’s winter COVID-19 surge is intensifying, with new overall coronavirus cases likely tied to holiday gatherings spiking up, along with confirmed cases of the Omicron strain. Our partners at the Los Angeles Times map out the situation.

LOCALLY: Omicron in Santa Cruz: First two cases of variant identified in residents in their mid-20s (Lookout)

California to expand COVID testing, give kits to students as part of Omicron response

A first grader holds hands with his mother as he walks to be tested for the coronavirus
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The state will furnish every public elementary, middle and high school student with one or two rapid tests as they come back from winter break. The Times details the plan here.

AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL: Are 500 million at-home COVID test kits enough? Four things to know about Biden’s Omicron strategy (Los Angeles Times)

Whether it’s helping members get a new home or combating predatory lending with short-term, lost-cost loan options,...

California redistricting: What to know about the final maps and what it means for Santa Cruz County

An election and redistricting illustration
(Via CalMatters)

Some changes are coming for local voters, with Santa Cruz County Clerk Tricia Webber saying the most notable will involve State Assembly districts. Get the analysis from our partners at CalMatters.

PREVIOUSLY: Whose line is it anyway? A closer look at redistricting proposals and their impacts on Santa Cruz County (Lookout)

Around the county ...

Monterey Bay FC makes SC native Walmer Martinez first signing in club history (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Watsonville’s Bridge Street homeless encampment will close Jan. 3 (The Pajaronian)
Santa Cruz Mountain Health Center to open in Ben Lomond in January (San Lorenzo Valley Post)

That’s what I know for now — but keep it tuned to Lookout throughout Thursday for all we have in store, including Best Bets for things to do this weekend and beyond from Wallace Baine and Lookout’s Team BOLO. How, you ask? 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 (or giving a membership as a gift!). Our content isn’t possible without community support.

Morning Lookout is taking tomorrow off, so stay safe out there, be good, and the merriest of Christmases to all celebrating. I’ll see you back here Monday morning.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz

Presented by Housing Matters

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our collective health depends on each other. The same is true when it...