The Anton Pacific Apartments emerging at Laurel and Front streets in downtown Santa Cruz
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Downtown’s changing face, UCSC cave off limits & PVUSD’s strong start

Howdy, all. It’s Wednesday, Aug. 23, and another warm one is on tap for Santa Cruz County, with temperatures nearing triple digits in the mountains and into the 80s even close to the bay.

If you’d rather go à la carte with Lookout’s latest than take the tour, right this way.
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Wallace Baine checks in on the progress of downtown Santa Cruz development, where new housing is on the horizon inside those shiny new buildings taking shape. The latest in our Changing Santa Cruz series details where things stand.

Enrollment is up in Santa Cruz County’s largest school district, Hillary Ojeda reports, with Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s interim superintendent also touting a teaching force nearly fully staffed — though absenteeism is still an area of concern, Murry Schekman says.

And a cave that’s been a destination for UC Santa Cruz students for years is now off-limits to most human activity, with UCSC officials telling Max Chun that the closure of Empire Cave is an effort to protect and study the 76 species found there.

Wednesday’s menu also includes the latest in Santa Cruz County food and drink news from Lily Belli, and we’ll head that way after this dispatch from Lookout’s Christopher Neely.

U.S. Senate candidate Adam Schiff speaking in Santa Cruz on Tuesday.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

As the sun set on the tree-lined backyard of Santa Cruz power couple George Ow and Gail Michaelis-Ow, Rep. Adam Schiff took the microphone from former congressman Sam Farr and made his pitch to a crowd of local Democratic Central Committee donors on why they should choose him to replace retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein as the next U.S. senator from California.

Schiff’s visit came only two days after his most popular opponent, Rep. Katie Porter, appealed to an auditorium of 175 people in downtown Santa Cruz. The crowd Tuesday night, which was a who’s-who of local electeds, hopeful candidates and behind-the-scenes politicos, listened as the congressman from Burbank talked about his plans for the economy, protecting democracy and the importance of the forthcoming trials of former President Donald Trump. Check back Thursday for full coverage of the event.

Shiny facades herald emergence of new-look downtown Santa Cruz, with housing coming in 2024

The new housing development on Cedar Street near the Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Santa Cruz
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Now built out and putting on their public faces, the Anton Pacific Apartments and Center/Cedar developments are approaching their final shapes. New housing units will be available next year as other projects — including the new downtown library — aim for 2025. Update here from Wallace Baine.

CHANGING SANTA CRUZ: Find all of Lookout’s coverage of downtown development in one spot

‘An incredibly important site’: UCSC closes access to biodiversity-rich Empire Cave

The wildlife-friendly cage over the Empire Cave entrance.
(Via Alex Jones)

Empire Cave, the popular caving attraction between Empire Grade and the west side of UC Santa Cruz’s campus, has been closed to the general public in an effort to conserve the rare species residing in its depths. Students might still be able to access the cave through school programs. Max Chun has details.

MORE FROM CAMPUS: Record admissions but just a slight enrollment increase: How to read UCSC’s ‘perfect storm’ of numbers


Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

Midtown Fridays @1111 Soquel Ave.
Embroidery Workshop @Wallflower Santa Cruz
Zayante Fire Fundraiser @Felton Music Hall
Stephen Marley @The Catalyst Club
Bodhi Mojo @Woodhouse Blending & Brewing
Frequency Festival @Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Santa Cruz Elks Oktoberfest @Santa Cruz Elks Lodge
Foodie Fruity Wreath Making Extravaganza @Scotts Valley farmers market
Vegan Italian Cooking & Wine Pairing Class @Flipjack Ranch
Teen Kitchen Project Everett Farm Dinner @Everett Family Farm
Echos Of Empire @Civic Auditorium

For the love of dogs @Chaminade Resort & Spa
41st Santa Cruz Triathlon @Depot Park
Music at the park @Skypark
Jean Dawson @The Catalyst

A busy start to this hump day, and there’s more to come from Lookout, so keep up with Santa Cruz County news and views by following along on social media — we’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Threads. We also offer breaking news alerts via text and email and a host of other newsletters (coming Thursday, for instance, is Wallace Baine’s Weekender), and you can sign up for those by clicking right here.

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

Stay cool, friends, and I’ll see you next time.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz