Morning Lookout: West Cliff next steps, Mak Nova’s story & a downtown coffee conspirator
Hiya, folks. It’s Wednesday, March 29, and the rain is forecast to linger around Santa Cruz County much of the day, heavy at times and with the chance of a thunderstorm; temps will barely break 50 in many spots.
Aiming to explore Lookout’s latest on your own? This way.
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It’s an evolving traffic situation for the neighborhood around the section of West Cliff Drive battered by storm surge in January, and, Max Chun reports, the City of Santa Cruz has a virtual meeting set for Thursday to update residents on plans for one-way traffic flow and for turning Oxford Way into a cul-de-sac.
Ahead of Friday’s NEXTies awards show, meanwhile, Wallace Baine has the story of Mak Nova — newly minted Musician of the Year and the stage persona of small-town transplant Makana Curtiss.
I’ve also got an update from Christopher Neely from Tuesday’s meeting of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors:
Without a public hospital system, the county relies on private, not-for-profit or nonprofit providers such as Sutter Health, Dominican Hospital and Watsonville Community Hospital to serve low-income, uninsured or government-insured (Medicare, Medi-Cal) patients. Kaiser Permanente has recently entered the game with its model of offering low-cost health plans that restrict patients to using only Kaiser doctors and facilities. That has raised some concerns among the other health care providers that people will ditch their private insurance for Kaiser’s low-cost plan — the same people other hospital systems depend on to subsidize the price of helping low-income or uninsured patients.
On Tuesday, the board of supervisors unanimously approved an agreement with Kaiser to invest 2% of its health care plan revenue, or about $4.5 million per year, into — among other things — serving low-income or uninsured patients. Although the intention is positive, whether the agreement actually expands health care access will remain unknown until the county decides to require Kaiser to report on the number of uninsured or low-income patients it serves. Supervisors attempted to amend the contract to include this requirement, but balked after county staff said the change would force them back to the negotiating table with Kaiser, a delay they wanted to avoid.
For more on Santa Cruz County politics and policy, check out and subscribe to Christopher’s In the Public Interest newsletter, hitting inboxes Mondays.
Wednesday’s headlines also deliver the latest in Santa Cruz County food and drink news, including a pop-up fave going the brick-and-mortar route downtown and a fundraiser for Pajaro farmworkers — let’s head that way now.
Santa Cruz to provide update Thursday on West Cliff one-way pilot project, traffic plan
A stretch of West Cliff Drive between Woodrow Avenue and Columbia Street was converted to one-way in January. Since then, traffic on Oxford Way, just off of Woodrow, has increased noticeably. Residents have raised concerns with city staff, prompting discussions about turning Oxford Way into a cul-de-sac ahead of a plan to extend the one-way section of West Cliff to roughly a mile. Get the details from Max Chun.
➤ PREVIOUSLY: ‘Managed retreat is on the table’: City discusses West Cliff’s future, will explore expanding one-way
The story of Mak Nova: How a small-town girl transformed into a fearless free-spirit performer
Mak Nova, the stage persona of 31-year-old Makana Curtiss, will be honored as Santa Cruz’s Musician of the Year on Friday at the NEXTies. “I don’t want to leave any rock unturned,” she says of her path forward. “So that’s gonna get weird sometimes, for sure.” Wallace Baine checks in.
➤ MORE: New life for the NEXTies: Santa Cruz awards show gets new partner, new post-shutdown lease on life
And that, friends and neighbors, is what I know as we arrive at hump day. There’s always something new in the Lookout pipeline, so you’ll want to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Another great way to keep up with Santa Cruz County goings-on is to sign up for breaking news email and text alerts and for all of Lookout’s newsletters — click right here to get that in motion.
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Be safe out there, and have an excellent Wednesday.
Lookout Santa Cruz