Keisha Browder celebrates her exit from the ocean last June.
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Morning Lookout: Downtown skyscrapers, toward a more inclusive outdoors + Juneteenth celebrations

Well hello there, Santa Cruz County! It is Thursday, June 16, and we’ve got another sunny day ahead, with temperatures in the 70s for most of us.

Temperatures are certain to go up amid the latest news from the Santa Cruz City Council, which has given the go-ahead for next steps in development plans that could put 15- and 17-story buildings downtown — as much as twice the height of the Palomar building that has long been downtown’s tallest, Max Chun reports.

Meanwhile, with Santa Cruz gearing up for Juneteenth celebrations, Mark Conley spoke with local United Way exec Keisha Browder about how she has gradually become more comfortable in the very outdoor spaces most Santa Cruzans use to justify the astronomical cost of housing. The paddle-out she plans to attend Sunday is just one of many area Juneteenth events, and Hillary Ojeda has a preview as organizers mark 30 years of celebrations.

On the politics front, we got another update from the county clerk’s office Wednesday, with 3,000 more votes counted and some small changes in county supervisors races and on a sales tax increase in Santa Cruz. In a Community Voices op-ed, former mayor Mike Rotkin maps out what he sees as the post-Measure D steps for the Regional Transportation Commission, including pursuing federal and state funding for rail-trail development.

And today marks the final installment in our series of stories written by students at Diamond Technology Institute, with Brandon Castillo introducing us to a pair of Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies.

To the headlines we go ...

‘Skyscrapers’ in Santa Cruz?

The Palomar Building is the tallest in downtown Santa Cruz
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The historic Palomar building has long towered over downtown Santa Cruz, at almost 90 feet — and set a precedent for height. Now, in the massive Lower Pacific and Lower Front redevelopment plans, the city council is moving ahead with plans for four buildings twice as tall, in order to help build 1,600 units of housing quickly. How will the idea play in changing Santa Cruz? Max Chun digs in.

MORE ON DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT: Finding a home for the home team: Four things to know about a new Santa Cruz Warriors permanent arena (Lookout)

‘I do belong here’

Says local United Way head Keisha Browder: “We went to Natural Bridges and then to Henry Cowell. And it was like, ‘Wow.’ So beautiful. And I’m saying, ‘I do belong here.’” She is participating Sunday in the second annual Liberation Paddle Out, part of Santa Cruz’s celebration of Juneteenth. Read her Q&A with Mark Conley here.

FROM LAST YEAR: Sunday’s Liberation Paddle Out: ‘There are Black people in this town — and they’d like to be part of this’ (Lookout)


Santa Cruz Juneteenth celebrates 30 years — and a new national holiday

juneteenth sc
(Via London Nelson Community Center)

Santa Cruz Juneteenth organizers are feeling the momentum of the historic Juneteenth last year — when it was declared a national holiday — and are looking forward to another milestone: 30 years celebrating it in Santa Cruz. Get a preview here from Hillary Ojeda.

MORE JUNETEENTH: Find a full rundown on this weekend’s celebrations

Measure D is over. The RTC needs to go after federal and state money.

Santa Cruz voters have spoken. Now what? In a Community Voices op-ed, Mike Rotkin, former five-time Santa Cruz mayor and member of the Regional Transportation Commission, writes about next steps for the RTC and explains how we can get past the logjam and move toward action. That will take federal and/or state funds, some local funding commitment, patience, and a desire to work together. Read his full Community Voices opinion piece.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: A NuBo neighbor fires back, says brewery “never belonged in that space”
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: How to contribute to Community Voices

Downtown library vote moves toward November ballot

One of the latest renderings of the downtown mixed-use library project
(Via City of Santa Cruz)

With the validity of their petition’s signatures confirmed, critics of Santa Cruz’s mixed-use downtown library project can now plan on taking their issues with the development to the city’s voters. Grace Stetson delivers the latest update.

PREVIOUSLY: A new challenge to Santa Cruz’s downtown mixed-use library building (Lookout)

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Santa Cruz County’s finest

A Sheriff car parked in front of Aptos High.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Diamond Technology Institute student Brandon Castillo talked to Javier Gonzalez and German Fernandez about the journey to becoming Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies. Here’s what he found out.

MORE STORIES FROM STUDENTS: Read the whole series from Diamond Technology Institute here


Around the county ...

Local musician brings classical music to Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Impacts of DACA still felt on the Central Coast 10 years later (KSBW-TV)
“Smart” water meters coming to San Jose, other Bay Area cities in latest effort to boost conservation (San Jose Mercury News)

How’s that for a wee bit of local news on a Thursday? And stop me if you’ve heard this one, but Lookout has more up our sleeve. Mere hours from now we’ll have Weekender, Wallace Baine’s newsletter with news and notes from the local arts and entertainment scene, including B9, his recommendations for all the good stuff on tap around Santa Cruz County. Sign up for that and all of our newsletters, plus breaking news alerts, by visiting 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.

To ensure you’re staying informed about all the goings-on in Santa Cruz, please consider becoming a Lookout member if you’re not already. Our content isn’t possible without community support.

Have a great Thursday — the weekend is in sight!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz