Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaks to a room full of supporters at Jalisco Restaurant in Watsonville on Monday night.
Rep. Barbara Lee speaks to supporters at Jalisco Restaurant in Watsonville on Monday night; Santa Cruz County Supervisor Felipe Hernandez stands behind her.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Caring for unhoused pets, pickleball brouhaha and Barbara Lee visits Watsonville

Hiya, folks. It’s Tuesday, Aug. 29, and it’s another clouds-to-sun kind of day around Santa Cruz County, with highs approaching 90 in the hills and getting cooler the closer one gets to Monterey Bay.

I’d love to give you the tour of all that’s new on Lookout (and trust me, there’s a lot), but if you’d rather find it all at your own pace, get after it.
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Max Chun brings us the story of the volunteers of Project Street Vet, a nonprofit providing free veterinary care to the pets of Santa Cruz County’s unhoused community. “Access to full care is often not feasible for any pet owner, much less those experiencing homelessness,” says Dr. Vanessa Padilla, who helped launch Project Street Vet’s local team early this year.

The popularity of pickleball is evident in Santa Cruz County and beyond, and that has led the county parks department to launch a program that allows players to reserve courts via an app. That has prompted an outcry among longtime players and some run-ins at local courts, Jean Yi reports.

With the Hawaiian island of Maui still reeling from the wildfire that destroyed the town of Lahaina earlier this month, a pair of local island-themed restaurants are pitching in on relief efforts. Read along for more from Lily Belli on fundraisers at Hula’s Island Grill and from Pono Hawaiian Grill — and let us know of other local food-focused events.

The Tuesday headlines also include a thought exercise about what super-intelligent AI might look like from Santa Cruz Works founder Doug Erickson in our Community Voices opinion section, plus Lookout’s latest high school sports roundup. We’ll head there after this dispatch from Lookout’s Christopher Neely:

Rep. Barbara Lee, a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Dianne Feinstein, in Watsonville on Monday night.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

As the dozens of people gathered on the tented patio behind Jalisco Restaurant in Watsonville on Monday began cheering “Barbara, Barbara, Barbara!”, Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee appeared from the parking lot with a knowing smile and already shaking hands of the people lined up to meet her on her Senate campaign stop in Santa Cruz County.

The veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives has earned a big reputation during her quarter-century in Congress. In Santa Cruz County, the word tossed around frequently is “hero” for her stand in 2001 as the only member of either house of Congress to vote against authorizing President George W. Bush to use U.S. resources to launch a war against Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

However, that’s not all she’s known for, and on Monday night Lee made her pitch to the crowd in South County for why she should replace Dianne Feinstein as the next U.S. senator from California. Lee’s visit followed appearances last week by her main opponents, Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff. Check back on Wednesday for a report on the event, and what Santa Cruz County heard from one of the Senate race’s marquee candidates.

Project Street Vet’s mobile veterinary office brings free care to pets of Santa Cruz’s unhoused

Brian Denson holds his dog, Betty, as she is examined by Dr. Vanessa Padilla.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Although the Santa Cruz County branch of Project Street Vet has been operating for only about eight months, veterinarian Vanessa Padilla and her team of volunteers have provided care and essential medicine to nearly 80 pets of the unhoused community in the county. Max Chun has more.

MORE: Santa Cruz County’s animal shelter grapples with post-COVID economic and social changes

Uproar over ‘pickleball tax’: Players aren’t game for new app to reserve courts at Santa Cruz County parks

A QR code on the fence outside Brommer Street County Park's tennis/pickleball courts
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz County says that encouraging people to pay for and reserve time at pickleball courts through a new app will improve efficiency and access amid the sport’s booming popularity. Avid pickleballers aren’t convinced, saying that the old system worked fine. Details here from Jean Yi.

LOOKOUT’S GUIDE: Will pickleball take over the planet? We investigate this ‘fastest-growing sport’; laughter, trash talk ensue


Santa Cruz County Job Board

A varied menu this Tuesday morning — and among what’s still to come from Lookout is the latest slice of Santa Cruz County food and drink news from Lily Belli. Sign up here to get Lily Belli on Food delivered right to you, and while you’re there be sure to treat yourself to Lookout’s other newsletters and our breaking news alerts via text and email. Social media is also a great way to stay current on local news and views, so give us a follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Threads.

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Have an excellent Tuesday, all — and if you’re looking for some after-work fun, head to Abbott Square downtown for another Lookout trivia night hosted by Wallace Baine. Click here and we’ll save you a spot.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz