Morning Lookout: High winds, more rain; UC buying UCSC chancellor’s residence; affordable housing fail
Good morning, folks. It’s Tuesday, March 21, and it’s going to be a windy, rainy one for Santa Cruz County, so please be careful when you venture out.
Want to get right to Lookout’s latest? Here ya go.
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The weather picture has changed rapidly over the past day, and where on Monday it looked as though Santa Cruz County would get off relatively easily with this latest system, overnight updates put winds up to 75 mph and as much as 5 inches of rain into the forecast. Lookout will be keeping an eye on it all, so sign up here for our breaking news text and email alerts to stay current.
From campus, meanwhile, Hillary Ojeda has news that the University of California regents have approved a plan for the UC Office of the President to buy the Westside home where UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Cynthia Larive lives as the school’s chancellor’s residence. Officials didn’t disclose the purchase price or other details, though Lookout confirmed through public records that it most recently sold for $1.8 million in 2018.
And in our Community Voices opinion section, planning commissioners Cyndi Dawson and Sean Maxwell outline their frustrations with the Santa Cruz City Council, which they say often aligns with developers and misses chances to boost local affordable housing.
Before we get to the Tuesday headlines, I’ve got an update from Christopher Neely from a Monday meeting he previewed in his latest In the Public Interest newsletter:
The Santa Cruz City Council approved the environmental report and design permits for Segments 8 and 9 of the Coastal Rail Trail, a 2.2-mile stretch between the roundabout at Pacific Avenue/Beach Street and the eastern side of 17th Avenue. The vote was unanimous among the councilmembers present (Councilmember Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson was absent). Segment 8 focused on upgrades to existing bike and pedestrian infrastructure, while Segment 9 proposes a new 12-foot-wide bike/pedestrian trail to run parallel to the existing trail line. Some community members, concerned with the level of tree removal proposed, sought an alternative to Segment 9 that would have required removal and eventual rebuilding of the existing rail line. However, Councilmember Sonja Brunner said the segments were one project and could not be separated. A coastal development permit is still required from the California Coastal Commission before the project can break ground.
OK, time for the headlines, including news on fireballs some Santa Cruzans saw last week.
University of California to purchase Westside house for UCSC chancellors
The UC Office of the President is purchasing the Westside home in which Chancellor Cynthia Larive and her husband have lived since 2019, to be used as UCSC’s official chancellor’s residence. Officials didn’t confirm the purchase price for the home, which most recently sold for $1.8 million in 2018. For decades, UCSC chancellors lived in University House, which was built on campus in 1967. That house, which was a source of protest and tragedy, was deemed uninhabitable in 2015, and estimates to repair the home reached $10 million in 2019. Details here from Hillary Ojeda.
➤ MORE FROM LAST WEEK’S MEETINGS: UC regents approve budget for UCSC’s long-delayed Student Housing West project
We are planning commissioners: Santa Cruz can and should do better on affordable housing
Two veteran planning commissioners want Santa Cruz decision-makers to require more affordable housing. The city council, Cyndi Dawson and Sean Maxwell write, is too often more aligned with developers. Read their Community Voices opinion piece here.
➤ MORE FROM CITY COUNCIL: Santa Cruz’s downtown library mixed-use project gets final green light from city council
Santa Cruz County Job Board
You’re up to date as we head into another unpredictable day around Santa Cruz County. As I mentioned earlier, Lookout offers breaking news text and email alerts, so sign up here to stay on top of it all. That link will also get you our other newsletters — including the latest from the local food and drink scene, coming in mere hours from Jessica M. Pasko. Lookout is on the socials, too — follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Give yourself some extra time and turn on those headlights if you’re driving in the rain, and please be careful as you navigate this Tuesday. I’ll see you next time.
Lookout Santa Cruz
FOR THE RECORD
An earlier version of this newsletter incorrectly attributed comments from Second Harvest Food Bank Chair, Michele Bassi. When asked about a vote on Second Harvest Food Bank’s relationship with Food Not Bombs, Bassi cited compliance with federal regulations related to the USDA’s The Emergency Food Assistance Program, not local food handling permits. Lookout regrets the error.