Santa Cruz County 2023: Inside Wallace Baine’s crystal ball of predictions and prophecies

A collage of 2023 predictions

With a new year upon us, Wallace turns to his favorite drag-queen psychic, the Fabulous Ms. Claire Voyant, to peer into the unknown ... and goodness, did Ms. Claire have some visions about name-change fervor across the county, the new downtown library, fashion plate Fred Keeley and plenty more.

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Wallace

Here we are, taking off the gift wrap off another new year. And the sense of hope and possibility is palpable. Can you feel it?

Of course, no one knows what’s going to happen in 2023 — no one, that is, except the Fabulous Ms. Claire Voyant, my favorite drag-queen psychic who operates out of a rented room in the Beach Flats, just across the street from the Giant Dipper, open for business on the third Wednesday of every month. When it came to predicting the big events of 2022, Ms. Claire was uncannily accurate — or at least she says she was, and I certainly have no reason to doubt her.

So, if for no other reason than vacation planning, I contacted Ms. Claire and drew from her the following prophecies for the upcoming year in Santa Cruz County. Remember you heard it here first:

  • After months of stalemated votes, social-media pressures, and unproductive, circus-like public meetings, the committee charged with changing the name of Cabrillo College surrenders and adopts “College” as the institution’s new name. Sales of the sweatshirt John Belushi wore in “Animal House” soar across Santa Cruz County.
  • A countywide survey finds that 55% of registered voters can’t remember what 2022’s divisive Measure D county ballot measure was about. More than 20% say it was “something about sports betting at dialysis clinics?”
  • The Santa Cruz City Council gets caught up in the name-changing moment, seeking to separate the city from the Spanish term for “Holy Cross,” citing the “18th-century Catholic Church’s genocidal legacy.” Big-money real-estate developers — hailing from a certain citylike mass of suburban sprawl over the hill — suggest “Santa Zé.” The council, not wanting to stray too far from the city’s original name, adopts the new name — without saying it out loud.
  • A severe winter storm sends the only house on the ocean side of West Cliff Drive crashing into the sea. Despite the fact that his house is three-quarters submerged in the surf, the property owner puts it on the market anyway. It sells for $3.75 million.
  • It is revealed that a secret plan for the new downtown Santa Cruz library includes not only a parking garage and affordable housing units, but also a rooftop ice-skating rink, a podcasting studio, a virtual-reality “playland” and a larger-than-life statue of Kamala Harris reading “Brave New World.”
  • Former 3rd District County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty is discovered at It’s Beach with a full beard and dressed in a bathrobe, composing an ode to the ocean on the bongos. Asked about the board of supervisors vote to convert the Benchlands into a “natural human preserve,” his response is, “Whatevs, brah. I’m just livin’ the dream.”
  • As renaming fever sweeps the county, Watsonville mayor Eduardo Montesino, in a quixotic effort to avoid the expensive and disruptive process of renaming the city, is caught editing the city’s Wikipedia page to claim that Watsonville was actually named for “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson, who was born in 1990.

  • In the frenzy of construction in downtown Santa Cruz, a new ballpark for the Oakland A’s is accidentally built behind the Foster’s Freeze on Laurel Street and completed before anyone realizes what it is.
  • Newly elected Santa Cruz Mayor Fred Keeley becomes a fashion trend-setter first locally, then nationally when his egghead-and-fabulous-eyewear image becomes the go-to look for prominent middle-aged men in business and politics. At Halloween, Gov. Gavin Newsom surprises Keeley by showing up in Santa Cruz with a shaved head, a graying goatee and purple-framed Warby Parkers. After Halloween, Newsom keeps the look, telling reporters “it was time for a change. The ‘American Psycho’ look wasn’t working for me anymore.”
  • The December rains will stop abruptly and the first drought-is-coming stories will surface in the media before the Super Bowl. Some things never change.


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