Rio Del Mar resident Eric Stark
Eric Stark (left) surveys the damage to his “dream home,” which he purchased in 2018, after storms pummeled the coast overnight on January 5, 2023.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Local)
Latest News

Morning Lookout: Storm aftermath, West Cliff’s future, Unsung restaurant workers, and a new Member Center

Good morning! It’s Friday, Jan. 6. We have made it through the first bomb cyclone of 2023, which caused widespread damage and flooding to low-lying coastal areas of the county. And the rain isn’t done with us yet. We’ll get a reprieve from heavy storms today, but more rain is in the forecast for Saturday and another intense storm is set to arrive late Sunday into Monday.

Time to dig out from the storm and dig into the news. There’s plenty of it, as we continue to bring you the latest on the storm and its after-effects.

JUMP TO ... Latest News | Opinion | Events | Guides | Puzzles | Obituaries

County residents woke up to the aftermath of a major winter storm that damaged homes in Rio Del Mar and collapsed sections of wharfs in Capitola and Aptos. In Santa Cruz, portions of West Cliff Drive were closed and the Santa Cruz Wharf was evacuated.

Read the latest news on our Santa Cruz County Storm Central.

Hillary Ojeda spent the day exploring the damage to West Cliff Drive —
and its implications. Experts in coastal erosion say the storm’s destruction to West Cliff means tough decisions are likely in store for local governments weighing how best to protect this fragile section of coastline. Read her story here.

Also, check out the stunning video captured by Lookout photojournalist Kevin Painchaud of the historic Cement Ship near Seacliff Village.

And if you want to take your mind off the ceaseless rain, Lily Belli has plenty of food news for you. This week, she’s got the goods on breakfast sandwiches, a celebration of mushrooms, and a chowder cookoff. Plus, she brings you another installment of our Unsung Santa Cruz series, with inspiring stories of two back-of-house restaurant workers. Read about them here.

‘I have never seen anything this dramatic’: Santa Cruz’s most-tenured ocean observer in awe of storm damage

Santa Cruz beaches were busy with people parsing through the debris left behind by heavy storms.
(Hillary Ojeda / Lookout Santa Cruz )

“This storm is going to show we need to make decisions,” said UC Santa Cruz scientist Gary Griggs, who has observed the coast for more than 50 years. The storm caused parts of West Cliff Drive to completely collapse onto the shore. It left gaping holes — in one spot up to 20 feet long — where people walked just a day before and sparked tough questions about the future of the iconic West Cliff. Read Hillary Ojeda’s story here.

MORE STORM COVERAGE: Capitola Wharf taking a beating, Esplanade taking on water

‘It’s crazy’: Massive flooding strikes the Rio Del Mar flats

Eaters Digest: Egg-cellent breakfast sandwiches at Mad Yolks, Mushroom Month downtown and a chowder call-out

Mad Yolks in downtown Santa Cruz specializes in breakfast sandwiches on fluffy homemade brioche buns.
Mad Yolks in downtown Santa Cruz specializes in breakfast sandwiches on fluffy homemade brioche buns.
(Via Facebook)

Last Friday, Lily found cozy, satisfying breakfast sandwiches and tropical fruit teas at Mad Yolks, a new egg-themed café in downtown Santa Cruz. On Thursday, her family picked ups shumai bento boxes and tonjiru, a pork soup with miso and vegetables, from Yakitori Toriman. There’s also Mushroom Month in downtown Santa Cruz all January during Mushroom Month and a special truffle-themed evening at Mentone. Get all the delicious details here.

Unsung Santa Cruz: Restaurant workers share stories from the back-of-house and thrive in a difficult industry

Michael Hanson, purchasing manager at Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria.
As the purchasing manager at Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria, Michael Hanson manages all of the raw ingredients for the thriving Capitola business.
(Kevin Painchaud // Lookout Santa Cruz)

Post-pandemic, the restaurant industry is more challenging than ever, but within it are stories of hardworking employees that keep these businesses open despite the odds. Here, we celebrate two back-of-house workers doing just that.

Michael Hanson started working at Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria in Capitola as a teenager. More than 20 years later, he’s the production manager for the entire bakery. Cesar Chagolla is a model employee who works six days a week at Achilles Restaurant in Santa Cruz. The new responsibilities he has been entrusted with at the restaurant reflect how far he has come from his troubled past, and continue to inspire him to improve his life. Read their stories.

UNSUNG SANTA CRUZ: Lookout highlights regular folks doing great things.


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ICYMI: Santa Cruz County 2023: Inside Wallace Baine’s crystal ball of predictions and prophecies

A collage of 2023 predictions

We expect Wallace’s prophecy is about to come true: “The December rains will stop abruptly and the first drought-is-coming stories will surface in the media before the Super Bowl. Some things never change.” Well, the rains have stretched into this week, and we forecast “persistent drought” stories to rear their dry heads soon.

In the New Year’s rush, you may have missed his Santa Cruz County 2023: Inside Wallace Baine’s crystal ball of predictions and prophecies. With the respite from the rainwaters and the weekend approaching, it’s a great read.

Santa Cruz County Job Board

Announcing the Lookout Member Center

member center graphic

At Lookout, we prize our members. We’ve celebrated our first two years together and met many of you as we’ve increasingly come out of the pandemic shadows. Now, we’ve launched a new place just for our members: Announcing the Lookout Member Center.

It’s a one-stop place for us to do two things. First, something all of us love: deals! We call them member perks and we’re lining up a number of them. Many come from our Marketing Partners — those Santa Cruz County businesses who find Lookout an effective marketing platform.

First perks: Some gratis tickets to the Santa Cruz Symphony (already snapped up by members who quickly responded to our email last evening) and an invitation to join us for Lookout night at the Santa Cruz Warriors, next Thursday, with discounted seats — in the Lookout rooting section. That’s the thank-you part of the Member Center.

The Member Center also features all of the events that we’re involved in, the list growing as Jamie Garfield, our Student & Community Engagement Director fully embraces the possibilities of 2023. (Hint: Here come the Nexties). And you’ll find new ways to speak your mind about what’s important for Lookout to cover.

Not yet a member!? Join the more than 8,500 who are here. Check it all out here.

One last thing: 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.

There’s more to come from Lookout this week. Stay current by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and by signing up here for breaking news alerts and for our other newsletters, including the specially curated Sunday Reads.

Once again, our content isn’t possible without community support, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

Happy Friday! Stay safe and dry this weekend.

Tamsin McMahon
Lookout Santa Cruz