Gov. Gavin Newsom touring flooded Pajaro with local officials
Gov. Gavin Newsom toured flooded Pajaro with Monterey and Santa Cruz County officials Wednesday.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Downtown library OK, Newsom visit, Laird Q&A and public defender’s role

Greetings, folks. It is Thursday, March 16, and another sunny, clear day awaits Santa Cruz County, with temperatures cresting in the low to mid 60s.

Sometimes you want to get right to it, I hear ya.
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I’ve got a packed slate for you on this Thursday, with local politics in focus. Christopher Neely has a pair of those stories: There’s a Q&A with state Sen. John Laird, who talks about the failure of the Pajaro River levee and efforts to fix it, dealing with development and our local housing crisis, and California’s budget issues; Christopher also delivers an update on the Santa Cruz City Council approving permits for the mixed-use library/housing project that will change the face of downtown.

Isabel Swafford pitches in on the politics beat, too, with news from the county’s board of supervisors, who in addition to filling a role on the planning commission passed an ordinance prohibiting use of force in the transport of children, a reaction to recent outcry over court-ordered family reunification.

Highway 1, flooded after last weekend’s Pajaro levee breach, is back open after a lengthy closure south of Watsonville — just one bit of news in our regularly updated Storm Central, where we also cover another visit to the region by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

And in our Community Voices opinion section, Santa Cruz County’s first public defender, Heather Rogers, notes a key date in the fight for fair trials, explains the work her fledgling office has been doing and looks at challenges ahead.

The packed Thursday headlines also include news of damage to a key piece of the city of Santa Cruz’s water supply ... onward!

State Sen. John Laird on Pajaro levee, affordable housing crisis and California’s budget deficit

State Sen. John Laird
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

State Sen. John Laird announced last week that he plans to seek reelection in 2024. A second four-year term in the California Senate would put Laird at the end of his term limits, marking the finale of his time as an elected state legislator. Laird hopped on the phone for a Q&A with Christopher Neely.

MORE LOOKOUT Q&As: Hear from local newsmakers in their own words

Santa Cruz’s downtown library mixed-use project gets final green light from city council

An approved design for the downtown mixed-use facility.
(Via City of Santa Cruz)

The long-debated downtown library mixed-use project got its day in front of the Santa Cruz City Council and will move forward following overwhelming support from the dais. Christopher Neely was on hand.

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: Check out Christopher’s politics and policy newsletter and subscribe here


That there is about 10 pounds of news and views in a 5-pound bag. But that doesn’t mean Lookout is done for the day, and Wallace Baine will be along later with his latest Weekender, with plenty of recommendations for things to do all over Santa Cruz County. Sign up here for that and all of our other newsletters, plus breaking news alerts — and don’t forget to follow Lookout on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date.

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Have a great Thursday!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz