Roberto Sanchez in his flooded Soquel mobile home
Roberto Sanchez points out mold that has destroyed his belongings after the Soquel mobile home park where he lives flooded on New Year’s Eve.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Getting mobile home park out of harm’s way, Pajaro flood control & ‘Save West Cliff’

Greetings, Lookout friends! It’s Monday, Feb. 6, and with a rainy weekend behind us, Santa Cruz County has a mostly sunny week ahead, with temps warming into the mid- to upper 60s by midweek.

Lots new on Lookout, so if you’re raring to go, get after it.
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The Old Mill Estates mobile home park in Soquel Village was hit hard when Soquel Creek flooded amid January’s storms — but a 1990 plan calling for Santa Cruz County to buy the property and get residents out the flood plain was never implemented. Christopher Neely reports on the history and why recent events might have given that plan new momentum.

Farther south, plans to upgrade levees along the Pajaro River are moving along, but after areas of Watsonville also flooded during last month’s deluge, it’s going to be tense wait for local residents. Mark Conley talks to Mark Strudley, who as head of the new Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency has plenty on his plate.

And in Santa Cruz, residents and city officials are mobilizing to plot out what’s next along iconic West Cliff Drive, which took a beating in January. Wallace Baine talks to the folks behind the “Save West Cliff” effort in his latest column.

There’s much to keep track of around Santa Cruz County in the aftermath of those atmospheric rivers, and you can find all of Lookout’s coverage in our Storms 2023: Road to Recovery section.

We’ve also got an op-ed in our Community Voices opinion section about why a pair of county projects will mean Highway 1 users will be spending more, not less, time in traffic, so please, read along for all of that.

Storm damage at Soquel mobile home park unearths decades-old county plan to remove it from flood plain

Alex Ortiz in his flooded Soquel mobile home
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz County was so worried about damaging floods harming the Old Mill Estates mobile home park that a 1990 master plan called for the government to buy the property and turn it into a flood buffer for Soquel Village. Why didn’t that happen? Christopher Neely reports.

MORE: With FEMA back, Santa Cruz County asks: Where is the $68M reimbursement for pandemic, CZU fire expenses?

Three tense years lie ahead as Watsonville residents await the Pajaro levee project’s fixes

Argos Circle in The Villages neighborhood isn't far from the Pajaro River and its tributary, Corralitos Creek.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Mark Strudley of the new Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency hasn’t been on the job for long and hasn’t even had time yet to build a staff or find an office in Watsonville. The longtime Boulder Creek resident lays out the race against time to build the levee project before the next devastating storms. There are many hurdles, including agency coordination. Mark Conley has this Q&A with Strudley.

MORE LOOKOUT Q&As: Hear from Santa Cruz County newsmakers in their own words

Housing Matters PROMOTED CONTENT ROADBLOCK (Strength in numbers: How data is helping solve homelessness)


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Here’s to avoiding a dreaded case of the Mondays, and I’ll see you back here Tuesday.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz