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By Eric Johnson
Published Apr 08, 2024

The Douglas iris is a wildflower native to central and northern California and parts of southern Oregon. The Douglas iris is a wildflower native to central and northern California and parts of southern Oregon. Image credit: Traci Hukill

Greetings & Spring Things from Santa Cruz

(Blogpost extra: In a last-minute addition to this edition of The Newsletter, I share some thoughts on today's eclipse. See below.)

The first time I recall encountering a field of Douglas irises, which may have been at Wilder Ranch State Park just north of Santa Cruz, I looked around for the ruins of a homestead. It didn't occur to me that these could be wildflowers—I figured they had to be remnants of some long-ago-planted garden.

I grew up ten miles from Manhattan in New Jersey, which is known as the Garden State, and deserves that nickname outside the brutalized swath that is the Turnpike. But the woods that flanked the Hackensack River and surrounded the Oradell Reservoir, my childhood nature refuges, had nothing to compare with the Douglas iris. Or the California poppy. Or, to my knowledge, the Calochortus lily (see below). All of California is special in my eyes, and Santa Cruz maybe especially so.

I write as always from my beloved home in the urban forest that is Midtown Sacramento, and take you today to another of my hometowns. 

A Spring Guide, a Garden, and a Bunch of Pretty Murals

Even if you aren't planning to visit Santa Cruz this spring, you might enjoy this virtual visit. 

Natural Wonders of Santa Cruz ... Spring Renewal

When walking around this spring, keep an eye out for the stunning Calochortus lily.
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History has some tips on what to see in the blossoming new season, from wildflowers to migrating shorebirds to humpback whales.

A Native-Plant Garden Helps Transform a Neighborhood

Felicia Van Stolk in her museum's front-yard garden.
On Hilltromper, a conversation with Felicia Van Stolk of the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History about her Garden Learning Center.

Santa Cruz Murals

An online gallery of the murals of Santa Cruz County.
Santa Cruz County is home to amazing murals. One amazing person is working to document them in one place.

Eclipse 2024: Coincidence or Miracle?

Three pieces in the nation's two biggest newspapers on Sunday investigated the eclipse, the emotion we call "awe," and the meaning of the universe.

The Universe Winks

A  total solar eclipse can offer a rare opportunity to see stars and planets during the day.
There is no scientific explanation for the conditions that make an eclipse inevitable. It’s a coincidence. Or a miracle.

Impact Report Image for decorative use

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Monterey County's Homepage

Our overview page for Monterey County is updated daily with the latest state and local news, weather alerts, local government announcements and local blog posts and news snippets from community groups and individuals.
Direct your browser to to catch up on the latest news in California and Monterey County. Bookmark the link and visit often, there's a lot happening in your community!

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Arts Council of Monterey County logo Arts Council of Monterey County

Arts Council of Monterey County firmly believes that exposure to the arts improves the lives of all of us.

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From Our Media Allies

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KSQD logo California’s Insurance Crisis Hits Homeowners Hard

In this program, State Senator John Laird and Executive Director of Consumer Watchdog, Carmen Balber discuss California's homeowner's insurance crisis and whether Commissioner Ricardo Lara's proposed fixes will actually help the flight of insurance companies from the state or make …

Monterey County Weekly logo Highway 1 Closure Could Jeopardize the Big Sur Marathon.

The closure of Highway 1 in Big Sur north of the Rocky Creek Bridge has thrown the Big Sur International Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, April 28, into jeopardy.

Salinas Valley Tribune logo Salinas Valley Recycles Unveils Education Center and Garden Near Gonzales

Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority, aka Salinas Valley Recycles (SVR), will celebrate the grand opening of its new Education Center and Garden near Gonzales this Saturday in conjunction with the Youth Council’s year-end community project — a Sustainability Fair.

King City Rustler logo Mee Memorial Healthcare System Reveals Vibrant Mural in King City

Mee Memorial Healthcare System (MMHS) has announced a new mural in King City with artists Paul Richmond and Brenda Scettrini-Saglio, who designed the scene located at 809 Broadway St., facing Canal Street.

Salinas Valley Tribune logo County of Monterey and Friends of Laguna Seca Reach Settlement for Laguna Seca Recreation Area

The County of Monterey Department of Public Works, Facilities and Parks and Friends of Laguna Seca (FLS) have announced the execution of a comprehensive settlement that ends the Laguna Seca Raceway lawsuit, “Highway 68 Coalition vs. County of Monterey.”

Salinas Valley Tribune logo 8th Grader Wins Monterey County Spelling Bee

After 18 rounds and numerous words, Monterey County has a new spelling champion.

KSQD logo The TRUE Story of Santa Cruz Rail & Trail

For over 6 months, KSQD volunteer Christine Barrington worked on answering a simple question: What's the truth behind the story of rail and trail in Santa Cruz County?

Monterey County Weekly logo Toro Park, a Gem of the County Parks System, Finally Has a Place for a Pooch to Run Free.

In order to become an Eagle Scout, one of the last things a scout must do is a community service project, and what exactly that may be is largely up to the scout himself.

Monterey County Weekly logo Horse Lovers Ask Pebble Beach Company to Compromise in Lieu of Closing Its Equestrian Center.

The Pebble Beach Company plans to close the 100-year-old Equestrian Center by June.

Monterey County Weekly logo Highway 1 Slides and Slip-Outs Have Again Closed Off Public Access to Big Sur From All Sides.

A summary of the history and reasons behind closures of Highway 1 which regularly impact and isolate the Big Sur region.

Monterey County Weekly logo Los Coches Animal Hospital Closes in Soledad, Leaving Fewer Health Options for Pet Owners.

After 90 years of operation, Los Coches Animal Hospital in Soledad closed effective Monday, April 1. Services for its customers and pet patients are continuing at its sister location, Romie Lane Pet Hospital, in Salinas.

Monterey County Weekly logo A Contentious P.G. Luxury Hotel Proposal Goes to the Coastal Commission With Changes.

For years, opponents of a proposed luxury resort hotel to replace the American Tin Cannery contended the project was too large and not properly vetted by the City of Pacific Grove.

Salinas Valley Tribune logo City of Soledad Buys 4.61 Acres for Construction of Affordable Rental Units

Soledad City Council has authorized the purchase of 4.61 acres of property located at 540 Gabilan Drive to facilitate the construction of about 100 affordable rental units.

Salinas Valley Tribune logo Monterey County Business Council Secures Contract to Manage SBA’s Small Business Development Centers

Monterey County Business Council (MCBC) has been awarded the contract to manage the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Monterey and San Benito counties.

Monterey County Weekly logo Highway 1 Convoys to Continue for Residential Access to Big Sur, Depending on the Weather.

After calls came in from passing motorists, Caltrans officials arrived on Saturday afternoon, March 30, to find a chunk of Highway 1 missing from the road just south of Rocky Creek Bridge. They implemented a hard closure of the highway…

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Recent Local News

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• Caltrans Rocky Creek update, 4/7/24

The daily convoys on Highway 1 through the site of the Rocky Creek Slip Out will continue daily at 8 am and 4 pm following assessments by Caltrans engineers this weekend. These convoys are primarily intended for residents and essential employees. Convoys are expected to occur all this week due to favorable weather conditions.

(See full update)

(04/07/2024) → Big Sur Kate

• Monterey Street Resurfacing Resumes

Phase 4 of the Measure S Citywide Road Resurfacing has restarted after a pause and is expected to finish by late May.

(04/04/2024) → Monterey Herald

• Western Flyer Artifacts to be Sold

Original parts from the storied Western Flyer still held by the previous owner are to be sold.

(04/01/2024) → Monterey Herald
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Recent Statewide News

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• California Fails to Adequately Help Blind and Deaf Prisoners, US Judge Rules

Thirty years after prisoners with disabilities sued the state of California and 25 years after a federal court first ordered accommodations, a judge found that state prison and parole officials still are not doing enough to help deaf and blind prisoners.

(04/08/2024) → California Healthline

• Business Groups and Lawmakers Battle Over Ballot Measure to Limit California Tax Increases

Anti-tax groups in California have qualified a measure for the November ballot that would make raising state and local taxes much more difficult. It’s a showdown that’s been building for nearly five decades.

(04/08/2024) → CalMatters

• Opinion: I've Covered California's Homeless Since Before the Word Was Used. This Is What I Learned

I thought my journalism and others’ could change policy, perhaps even inspire a New Deal-style response equal to the challenge. Such was my naiveté.

(04/06/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• These Californians Just Got Protection From Big Rent Hikes

Tenants in many new privately owned, low-income units will be protected from double-digit increases. So will some in existing units, after a state committee on affordable housing imposed a rent cap.

(04/05/2024) → CalMatters

• CA Budget Deal Gets Early Start on Deficit

Not filling open positions in state government, cutting a school facilities program and several climate initiatives, delaying funding for public transit — these are some of the first steps that California officials plan to take to deal with a looming multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

(04/05/2024) → CalMatters

• Bill to Mandate ‘Science of Reading’ in California Schools Faces Teachers Union Opposition

The move puts the fate of AB 2222 in question, but supporters insist that there is room to negotiate changes that can help tackle the state's literacy crisis.

(04/04/2024) → EdSource

• Photographers Capture Spectacular Streaking Lights of Southern California

It quickly became clear that Elon Musk’s SpaceX was responsible for the show. The lights were a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 22 new Starlink satellites into orbit. The rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base at 7:30 p.m., and it’s trail was visible from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park.

(04/02/2024) → SF Gate
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Government Announcements

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Image of United States seal. United States   (04/05/2024)

Global Mix, Inc Recalls Tejocote Products Because of Possible Health Risk

Global Mix, Inc. of New York, is recalling tejocote products to include the following brands: Eva Nutrition, Science of Alpha, Niwali, NWL Nutra. The recalled products are labeled as tejocote root but are toxic yellow oleander. Ingestion of yellow oleander can cause neurologic, gastrointestinal, an
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (04/05/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Bill on Ratepayer Transparency Passes First Committee

Addis Bill on Ratepayer Transparency Passes First Committee sanchema Fri, 04/05/2024 - 09:22 Wednesday, April 3, 2024 SACRAMENTOA new bill by Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) to address soaring utility rates by increasing transparency to consumers successfully passed its first committee today. The legislation, Assembly Bill 2847, passed out of the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee with bipartisan support. "It's …
Image of City of Monterey seal. City of Monterey   (04/05/2024)

Peeping and Trespassing Arrest

Image of City of Monterey seal. City of Monterey   (04/05/2024)

Hate Crimes

Image of State of California seal. State of California   (04/04/2024)

Robert Rivas CA Assembly 29:
Speaker Robert Rivas Announces Gavilan College Board of Trustees Vice President Rachel Perez as Assembly District 29’s Woman of the Year

Speaker Robert Rivas Announces Gavilan College Board of Trustees Vice President Rachel Perez as Assembly District 29s Woman of the Year hagamasc Thu, 04/04/2024 - 10:14 Title Press Secretary Email Phone 916-319-2029 Wednesday, April 3, 2024 SACRAMENTO, CA In honor of celebrating women leaders in the community, Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) and the California State Assembly have recognized Rachel …
Image of City of Marina seal. City of Marina   (04/03/2024)

2024 Comprehensive LCP Update Info Page!

The City has been awarded a grant from the California Coastal Commission for a comprehensive update to our 1982 Local Coastal Program (LCP). The LCP consists of a Land Use Plan (LUP) and an Implementation Plan (IP).
Image of City of Marina seal. City of Marina   (04/03/2024)

Keep up to date on the Imjin Parkway Widening and Roundabout Project!

The Imjin Parkway Widening Project is 1.7 miles of roadway including 4 roundabouts and will be the first regional Measure X roadway project to be built. Weekly updates on the project are available on the projects website. Find out the latest!
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (04/03/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Tackles Gender Violence with Legislation for Survivors

Addis Tackles Gender Violence with Legislation for Survivors sanchema Wed, 04/03/2024 - 11:19 Tuesday, April 2, 2024 SACRAMENTOAssemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) joined elected officials, including Assemblymember Mike Fong, Chair of Assembly Higher Education Committee, and Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis to announce their legislative package that tackles sex discrimination and harassment in California's higher education institutions. Assembly Bill (AB) 1905, introduced …
Image of United States seal. United States   (04/02/2024)

World Green Nutrition, Inc. Announces Expansion of Recall of Tejocote Products Due to the Presence of Yellow Oleander

World Green Nutrition, Inc is announcing the expansion of their January 12, 2024 recall to include GREEN ELV NUTRITION brand Elv Control Herbal Supplement 90 capsules, due to the presence of yellow oleander. These additional products have been found via random FDA testing to contain yellow oleander,
Image of United States seal. United States   (04/02/2024)

Abdallah Candies Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Almond in Abdallahs 8 oz. Sea Salt Almond Alligators

Abdallah Candies of Apple Valley, MN is voluntarily recalling a limited quantity of Abdallah Candies 8 oz. sea salt almond alligators. The products have a chocolate covered cherries label with code 0315 on the bottom of the box. The boxes do contain sea salt almond alligators but have an incorrect i