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Graphic which spells out The Newsletter.

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.

The Rail Trail: Updated

Following the recent deadlocked vote on approving Segments 10 and 11, we've updated our Santa Cruz Rail Trail tracker.

The Santa Cruz Rail Trail

A map of the Santa Cruz County stretch of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail, known commonly as the Coastal Rail Trail, or the Santa Cruz Rail Trail.
Updated information, including news and Explainers, about progress in building the 32-mile stretch of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail in Santa Cruz County.

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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Santa Cruz County's Homepage

Our overview page for Santa Cruz 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 Santa Cruz County. Bookmark the link and visit often, there's a lot happening in your community!

Get to Know a Group

Santa Cruz Permaculture logo Santa Cruz Permaculture

Permaculture can be described as “An ethically based whole-systems design approach that uses concepts, principles, and methods derived from ecosystems, nature connected communities, and other time-tested systems to create human settlements and institutions." Santa Cruz Permaculture puts it more succinctly, saying it's like "saving the planet while throwing a better party"

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From Our Media Allies

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The Pajaronian logo Carmageddon: Highway 1 Closed for 24 Hours

The California Highway Patrol closed north and southbound lanes of Highway 1 in Soquel Saturday at 7pm to make way for Granite Construction crews to demolish the 1948 Capitola Avenue bridge above the highway.

Press Banner logo Igniting Connections: The Resurgence of Networking in the SLV Business Community

A quiet revolution is underway in Santa Cruz Mountains’ lush valleys amidst the towering redwoods and winding creeks. It’s a tale of resilience, community and the enduring power of connections—the resurgence of networking in the San Lorenzo Valley (SLV).

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 …

The Pajaronian logo Highlighting Student Talent

Art instructors from 16 schools in Pajaro Valley Unified School District hung more than 400 pieces of student artwork in the Civic Plaza Building March 28 as part of the Annual PVUSD Student Art Exhibit.

The Pajaronian logo Protesters Demand Rail-Trail Project Move Forward

Several dozen protesters descended on the Santa Cruz County Government Center on Wednesday to speak out against a decision by the Board of Supervisors a week earlier not to move forward on a key portion of the Coastal Rail Trail …

The Pajaronian logo Exploring Directions for Watsonville’s Homeless Population

A special joint council meeting Saturday brought together Watsonville City Council, City Manager Rene Mendez, other city and county leaders and the public for a discussion of the swelling homeless problem.

Press Banner logo TEDxSantaCruz Announces Performers and Vendors for April Event

As TEDxSantaCruz 2024 gets closer, the team has announced the performers and vendors who will be rounding out the daylong event on Saturday, April 13, at the Crocker Theater on the Cabrillo College campus.

Press Banner logo Downtown Streets Team Joins Efforts for Cleaner Roads in Boulder Creek

Twice each year, in spring and fall, residents of Boulder Creek head downtown to participate in the Town Sweep. Weeds are pulled, sidewalks are swept and the stretch of Highway 9 that turns into Central Avenue is perfectly polished by …

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?

Press Banner logo HCD Certifies Scotts Valley’s Housing Element

During a report at Council today, Scotts Valley City Manager Mali LaGoe announced the California Department of Housing and Community Development had certified its Housing Element—on its first try.

Good Times logo Capitola on the Mend

The Wharf House Restaurant and the Boat and Bait Shop on the Capitola Wharf were torn down and toted away over the past few weeks as part of major repair and rebuilding of the historic landmark.

Hilltromper Santa Cruz logo The Wildflowers of Seabright & the Garden Learning Center

Felicia Van Stolk of the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History explains how a California native-plant garden benefits wildlife in the neighborhood and beyond.

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Recent Local News

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• Sempervirens Fund Welcomes New Members to Board

Marimo Berk and Brad Lewis joined the Board of Directors of Sempervirens Fund, the oldest land trust in California.

(04/07/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Community Health Trust of Pajaro Valley Awarded Grant

Community Health Trust of Pajaro Valley was awarded a $2M by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

(04/07/2024) → Times Publishing Group

• Sowing Seeds: Filipino American Stories from the Pajaro Valley

A new exhibit opening April 12 at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History tells the story of Filipino migration and labor in Watsonville and the greater Pajaro Valley from the 1930s to the present.

(04/06/2024) → Times Publishing Group

• Santa Cruz County Budget Hearings Scheduled

Public hearings for the recently released $1.1B annual budget have been scheduled for May and June by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors.

(04/05/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Rail Trail Advocates Rally

Supporters of the rail trail rallied in front of the Santa Cruz County building on April 3 to advocate for approval of segments 10 and 11.

(04/04/2024) → Lookout Local

• Santa Cruz County Election Results Certified

The Santa Cruz County clerk officially certified the March 5 election vote count on April 2.

(04/04/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Permanent Location for Sought for Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers Market

Feedback is being solicited by the City of Santa Cruz for a new location for the downtown farmers market, which will be displaced when the library/parking garage project begins.

(04/04/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• 18 Story Building Proposed for Downtown Santa Cruz

Plans for an 18 story building 192 feet tall were submitted to the City of Santa Cruz planning department.

(04/03/2024) → Lookout Local

• Santa Cruz Parking Ban Renewal Challenged

Local homeless and housing rights activist Reggie Meisler filed a challenge to the renewal of the City of Santa Cruz large-vehicle parking ban.

(04/03/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Measure N Passes and is Certified

The official vote count for Measure N in support of Watsonville Community Hospital passed and was certified on April 4 by the Santa Cruz and Monterey county elections departments.

(04/03/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Mile Buoy to Remain

Following an outpouring of support, the United States Coast Guard announced it is no longer considering the removal of the Mile Buoy.

(04/02/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• New Skypark Playground Opens

In the planning stages since 2021, a new inclusive and accessible playground opened at Skypark.

(04/02/2024) → Times Publishing Group

• Proposition 1 Passed. Now What?

The passage of California Proposition 1 is leaving local mental health and homeless service providers with questions as to the impact in the count.

(04/02/2024) → Lookout Local

• Fundraiser for Pajaro Valley Education Foundation Set for April 18

A dinner and silent auction fundraiser for the Pajaro Valley Education Foundation is set to take place on Aril 18 at Jalisco's, 618 Main Street in Watsonville.

(04/02/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• State Grant Funding Threatened After Rail Trail Vote

A recent split vote by Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors stalling approval of two rail trail segments is jeopardizing future state funding for the project.

(04/01/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• SeeClickFix Comes to Watsonville

The City of Watsonville announced a partnership with a Connecticut based software company to utilize the SeeClickFix mobile app for citizens to report non-emergency issues.

(04/01/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel
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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 City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (04/05/2024)

Watsonville Assistant City Manager selected as 2023 recipient of John H. Hail Memorial Award

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

Say no to distracted driving, keep yourself and others safe

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 Capitola seal. City of Capitola   (04/05/2024)

Capitola Police Department Business/Records Office Hours on April 10th, 2024

The Capitola Police Department Business Office/Records Division Will Be Closed on Wednesday, April 10th for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training. We will open for regular business on Thursday, April 11th. We apologize for any inconvenience Regular Business/Records Office Hours: Phone #: (831) 475-4242 (Hours: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.) The business office is closed on Saturdays, Sundays, …
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 County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (04/04/2024)

4/4/2024 - County Releases 2024-25 Proposed Budget

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 County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (04/03/2024)

4/3/2024 - Poetry & Music in the Park

Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (04/03/2024)

4/3/2024 - March 5 Presidential Primary Election Results Certified