Watsonville Community Hospital.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Latest News

Morning Lookout: ‘Good trouble’ on affordable housing; Watsonville hospital deadline looms

Good morning, Santa Cruz County! It’s Tuesday, May 24, and a sunny day is ahead — and it will be a sweltering one the farther inland you go, with highs in just the 70s near the coast but approaching 100 in our mountain communities.

As part of Lookout’s spring membership drive, this week we’re highlighting all the reasons you should become a Lookout member; today, the spotlight is on our Civic Partner Program. When you become a member, Lookout donates 10% of your payment to the local nonprofit of your choice. Lookout has given more than $15,000 to these community groups, and we add to that total every day. Become a member today and get 20% off membership with offer code spring, or click the image below.

Community issues are front and center in our coverage this morning, too. In our Community Voices opinion section, former Santa Cruz mayor Don Lane writes about how his thinking has changed on affordable housing: He believed he was doing enough, he writes, but he wasn’t.

Meanwhile, the fate of Watsonville Community Hospital is of concern far beyond South County — and as Hillary Ojeda reports, a nonprofit health care district aiming take over operations still needs to raise $16 million before the end of August.

And the surge in local COVID-19 cases continues, health officials tell Max Chun; they continue to recommend masking indoors and vaccination even as signs point to the curve flattening out again.

Lots of headlines, so let’s get to it.

I believed I was doing enough to address our housing affordability challenges. I wasn’t.

Don Lane, chair for Housing Santa Cruz County
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz needs to break old habits when it comes to affordable housing. That means local elected officials have to approve projects — even ones their constituents oppose, Don Lane, former Santa Cruz mayor and an affordable housing advocate, writes in a Community Voices opinion piece. Lane says he has revised his own thinking on affordable housing and aims to push others to do the same. The consequences of not building, he says, are catastrophic for our community. Read his full op-ed here.

MORE COMMUNITY VOICES: Explore Santa Cruz’s new opinion forum here

$16 million in 90 days: What’s needed to close public purchase of Watsonville Community Hospital

Watsonville Community Hospital.
(Hillary Ojeda / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Watsonville Community Hospital — which declared bankruptcy in December — is at risk of closure. To save the hospital, a local nonprofit is scrambling to raise money to purchase it. With more than $25 million raised so far and a commitment of $20 million from the state, the Pajaro Valley Healthcare District Project is making a wide appeal to help bring in the final $16 million needed by Aug. 31. Hillary Ojeda has the update.

BACKGROUND: Santa Cruz County, health officials confident a district will save Watsonville Community Hospital (Lookout)


Call it a ‘swell,’ not a ‘surge’

A nurse prepares to give a patient a shot
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Though hospitalizations and deaths remain relatively low in Santa Cruz County, the recent rise in COVID cases has health officials stressing the importance of masking and vaccinations once again — even if the official guidelines won’t change anytime soon. Max Chun reports.

LOCAL DATA: COVID Dashboard: County health says cases are plateauing, but diligence still necessary (Lookout)

Money wars: Special interests spend big in California primary

An illustration of money floating down on the California State Capitol
(CalMatters illustration)

Independent expenditure committees funded by special interest groups are spending millions of dollars to make their picks in the California primary. In some races, they are clearly supporting or opposing candidates. In others, the strategy is more complicated. Our partners at CalMatters dig in.

MUCH MORE ON ELECTION 2022: From Santa Cruz County candidates and ballot measures to statewide offices, Lookout and our partners have it covered

Newsom urges aggressive water conservation and warns of statewide restrictions

Alicia De Mello waters her front yard in in South Pasadena
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has voiced concerns that the state’s approach toward drought conservation needs to be more aggressive. Get the details from our partners at the Los Angeles Times.

MORE DROUGHT WOES: It’s not even summer, and California’s two largest reservoirs are at ‘critically low’ levels (Los Angeles Times)

Inside Lookout: Events! Elections! ICYMI ... and the NEXTies

Lookout logo at event
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Behind-the-scenes dish and a sneak peek at what’s ahead at Lookout from our founder and CEO, Ken Doctor. Read his latest newsletter here.

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Around the county ...

Driscoll’s to build first commercial vertical strawberry farm (The Pajaronian)
Man found guilty of kidnapping and shooting victim in the genitals in Santa Cruz County (KION-TV)
Cal swimmers allege coach Teri McKeever bullied and verbally abused them for years (San Jose Mercury News)

A solid amuse-bouche for a Tuesday, I’d say. If your appetite is whetted for more, Lookout has you covered: Another Lily Belli on Food newsletter is just hours away from hitting inboxes, and one of those inboxes could be yours if you head over to our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center. You can also keep tabs throughout the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This vital local journalism isn’t possible without community support, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

Enjoy your Tuesday, stay hydrated, and I’ll catch you all back here tomorrow morning.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz