Trees at Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: ‘Catalyst’ for Big Basin reopening and downtown development

Greetings, Santa Cruz County! It’s Thursday, Jan. 27, and we’re looking at another beautiful day, with plentiful sunshine and highs between 60 and 70.

It’s not just the sun that’s warming us up today, either — we’ve got news on an impending land purchase that could be a “catalyst” to reopening Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

In downtown Santa Cruz, meanwhile, affordable housing is getting a boost after the city council approved a new development project at 130 Center St.

And we’ve got our weekly update on where to get a COVID vaccine, booster or test, with wait times and more.

Before we hit the headlines, we need your help: We’re restarting our “Unsung Santa Cruz” series, which struck a chord with so many last month. We know there are many, more deserving people out there, and we need your help in identifying these folks. Please send your nominations — with as many details as possible — to

Now, about those headlines:

Why a Boulder Creek land purchase has conservationists so excited

Charred trees in Big Basin Redwoods State Park
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The Sempervirens Fund is closing in on a purchase of a 153-acre property near Big Basin Redwoods State Park — a development that could reopen at least part of the region devastated by the CZU Lightning Complex fire in 2020. Lookout contributor Jacob Pierce has the story.

MORE ON BIG BASIN: Big Basin before and after CZU, through one local filmmaker’s eyes (Lookout)

Presented by Sol Property Advisors

As legislation surrounding single-family home zoning in Santa Cruz is constantly changing, read up on everything you...

A downtown win for student advocates

A rendering of the proposed 233-unit development, with up to 35 affordable units.
(Via Swenson Builders)

The Santa Cruz City Council unanimously approved a delayed development at 130 Center Street slated to include affordable housing units. Lookout’s Grace Stetson traces the process and what’s ahead.

HOUSING ACTIVISM: How two new UCSC student-led groups are trying to tackle the housing crisis (Lookout)


Santa Cruz County vaccine update

Nicolas Angulo, 14, gets his first vaccine at San Pedro Senior High
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

We have a weekly look at vaccination rates, where to find a COVID shot or test, plus wait, cost and turnaround times. Get it all here.

PANDEMIC ROADMAP: Will another devastating variant follow Omicron? Experts debate COVID-19 future, ‘endgame’ (Los Angeles Times)

As student activists fight for COVID safety measures at schools, some face criticism

A student outside Redondo Union High School
(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

California high school students are among those organizing to increase coronavirus safety measures during the Omicron surge. Our partners at the Los Angeles Times look at their efforts.

COVID AND THE CLASSROOM: How Santa Cruz County’s public schools have avoided the higher absence rates, sickouts seen elsewhere (Lookout)

Presented by Brezsny Associates

2021 has brought forth another year of crazy activity and record high prices as the paradox of the pandemic continues to...

Cannabis social equity programs leave many California entrepreneurs demoralized, depleted

Ingrid Von Archie is photographed at A New Way of Life Reentry Project in Los Angeles
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The promise of “social equity” has been a key narrative tied to California’s legalized pot industry. So far, efforts have been mired by costly delays. The Times takes a deep dive into the issue.

THE GROWING PROCESS: ‘Nature is like a slow-cooked meal’: Regenerative farming brings cannabis, food crops into soil harmony (Lookout)


Around the county ...

Central Valley man facing attempted murder charges after Scotts Valley shootout (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Watsonville council sides with restaurant owner in dispute with airport management (The Pajaronian)
Highway 1 reopens after Colorado Fire evacuations are lifted in Big Sur (KION-TV)

Good food for thought this Thursday morning, I’d say — and we’ve got plenty more coming today, including recommendations for things to do this weekend and beyond in the form of Best Bets from Wallace Baine and Lookout’s Team BOLO. You can get that and more delivered right to your phone and inbox at our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center, or keep tabs throughout the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

And if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member. Our content isn’t possible without community support.

Be safe, be smart and have an excellent Thursday!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz

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