John Dietz of Housing Matters
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Unsung Santa Cruz returns, keeping desalination on table & Weekender

Good morning! It’s Friday, Dec. 23, and a mix of sun and clouds is the forecast for Santa Cruz County, with highs in the 50s and 60s.

If you’re raring to hit the day’s news solo, have at it.
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Our Unsung Santa Cruz series — Lookout profiles of ordinary Santa Cruzans doing extraordinary things — returns, with Mark Conley introducing us to John Dietz, a former Silicon Valley exec who now heads up a team of volunteers who help those experiencing homelessness navigate the tricky path to finding, and keeping, housing.

Water supply is a pressing issue throughout parched California, and Santa Cruz is no exception. As Christopher Neely reports, the city council will move in 2023 to vet options, and though it has a fraught history in the city, desalination is among them.

Before we get to the headlines, some housekeeping: Friday typically brings us a slice of Eaters Digest from Lily Belli, but you’ll have to tide yourself over with previous editions here until Lily returns next week. And I regret to inform that there’ll be no newsletter from me Monday, but back at it bright and early Tuesday.

Also: Lookout is working on an ongoing series exploring working life and we’d love your input. How did you get your job? What do you love most about it? What are the biggest challenges? What do students and recent graduates need to know about how to get into your industry? Share your stories and career advice with us — email us at and put “career advice” in the subject line.

Now, let’s get the sleigh in gear for those headlines, which also feature Wallace Baine’s Weekender, including a review of the circus astonishing folks under the big top at the Capitola Mall.

As the navigator in chief, he’s helping steer county’s most vulnerable into housing

John Dietz of Housing Matters fist-bumps a client
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

John Dietz is not your average 85-year-old riding out his golden years. He and his team at the downtown Santa Cruz library work diligently to help house folks who might otherwise be deemed off-limits by landlords. They help find important paperwork, fill out forms and prepare for housing interviews. Once those clients are in, the team helps them remain stable. If and when they lose that roof overhead, Dietz and his team try, try again. Mark Conley has Friday’s chapter of Unsung Santa Cruz.

THE WHOLE SERIES: Lookout profiles regular Santa Cruz County residents making a difference in our community

As desalination gains traction in parts of California, Santa Cruz weighs future of its water supply

Additional water storage options are needed to endure more-extreme weather conditions.
(Via City of Santa Cruz Water Department)

Santa Cruz needs more water if it is going to comfortably grow as planned. A new policy aimed at future water-supply projects keeps a desalination plant on the table, a controversial strategy with a long history in Santa Cruz. Christopher Neely maps it out.

PREVIOUSLY: Santa Cruz needs more water; city’s new policy keeps desalination, recycled wastewater on the table


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Santa Cruz County Job Board

And that’s what I know this here Friday. Follow Lookout on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with that’s happening around Santa Cruz County — and while this newsletter is off until Tuesday, make sure you’re signed up for our Sunday Reads newsletter for some specially curated content, including more from our Unsung Santa Cruz series. Click here to get that and all of our newsletters, not to mention breaking news alerts.

If you’re still on the hunt for gift ideas, why not treat that special someone, or yourself, to a Lookout membership? Our content isn’t possible without community support, and I know you know someone who appreciates trustworthy local journalism.

Here’s to tidings of comfort and joy, be safe if you’re traveling, and I’ll see you Tuesday.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz