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By Eric Johnson
Published May 28, 2024

If you really look, you will find some good things are happening in California. If you really look, you will find some good things are happening in California. Image credit: Michael Carni, Shutterstock

We Have Some Real Good News

You probably haven't spent much of every workday for the past 27 years paying attention to local culture and politics in some part of California. I have. I'm not bragging, I'm just saying, that is what I do, and it is a pretty satisfying endeavor. It surprises many people when I share my opinion that for the most part, this state is in much better shape than it was when I started working here.

In our new book, How California Works: Building Democracy in the Golden State, we have collected 47 Explainers that author Jonathan Vankin wrote for California Local over the past three years (updated for the book) that entertainingly detail the nuts-and-bolts story of how our state functions. Together, they tell a tale that might surprise you in a good way.


Our Brand New Book Tells Some Good, True Stories

After many months of preparation, our new book, by the award-winning journalist and author Jonathan Vankin, is finally available. Get your copy today and discover how, just as California leads the world in technology via Silicon Valley, and in popular culture via Hollywood, etc., the Golden State leads the world in public policy. Way less sexy for sure, but possibly way more important.

Buy it on Amazon today!


How California Works: an Editors' Note


True stories about how, at its best, California has resisted and pushed back against anti-democratic forces. The histories and policies, deeply human characters, and controversies that have led us to where we are today.

If You're Not in Awe, You're Not Paying Attention

In his first blog post for this project, Chris Neklason, our CEO and product dude, described how building California Local's underlying technology and database turned him into a local-politics optimimist. “The genius of democracy is that it's a political system well suited for people to collectively make things better. Yeah, it's messy, it's imperfect, it's clunky. But it works.” 

This week,  having spent a couple months paying close attention to news from around the state, Chris returns to the subject.


Things Are Getting Better

New garbage and recycling receptacles! A new raised path through the rainy-season swamp!
All across California, municipalities and nonprofits are making their communities better.

Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.

See more recipes in their Taste Spring! cookbook.


Double up on cherries in these tender muffins

Cherry season is worth celebrating with these tender, not-too-sweet muffins.
New! Ricotta the secret ingredient to these baked treats


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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 https://santacruz.californialocal.com/ 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 County Youth Symphony logo Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony

Santa Cruz Youth Symphony is a classical music performance and education program for young people living in the Santa Cruz region.

→ Learn more

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From Our Media Allies

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KSQD logo Student Protestor Voices on Israel-Gaza-Palestine

In this field-produced, bonus episode, the Moment of Truth team interviews pro-Palestinian, student protestors and campers at university and college encampments.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Calforests Applauds Funding for Wildfire Prevention, Preparedness in Governor Newsom’s May Revision

On May 14, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the May Revision includes a proposed budget allocation to assist the State in achieving its fire prevention and fire suppression goals.

Press Banner logo Residents Face Uncertainty as Home Insurance Options Dwindle Amid Fire Risks

There was a moment, about an hour and a half into City of Scotts Valley’s wildfire preparedness meeting May 14, when the stark reality of the current home insurance landscape in California came into focus.

Press Banner logo Big Basin Redwoods State Park Launches Summer Shuttle Service for Weekends, Holidays

Just in time for the busy Memorial Day holiday weekend, California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks have announced that access to Big Basin Redwoods State Park will increase this summer with the addition of a free …

The Pajaronian logo A Call to End Homelessness

Nearly 300 people marched the streets of downtown Santa Cruz May 18 to help end homelessness.

The Pajaronian logo Group Calls on Driscoll’s, Reiter, Others to Cease Pesticide Use Near Schools

Several community leaders and community members gathered at MacQuiddy Elementary School Tuesday evening to call on Driscoll’s, Reiter and other companies to stop using toxic pesticides around schools.

San Jose Inside logo California Climate Programs Would Lose Billions in Newsom’s Budget

As funds for climate change programs are cut, Democrats and environmentalists are pushing for a bond measure on the ballot to restore some funding.

The Pajaronian logo PVUSD Trustees Approve $315M Bond for November Election

If Pajaro Valley Unified School District performed all the upgrades, repairs and construction projects that are needed at its 33 schools, it would cost more than $1.2 billion.

Good Times logo Land of Medicine Buddha Hike

As a student at UCSC I got into reincarnation. The most fun I had with reincarnation is when I gave a cop someone else’s license.

Good Times logo Dispensary Approved With Conditions

The contentious debate over whether city leaders should approve a dispensary operating near Santa Cruz High School has come to a close. The Santa Cruz City Council voted 6-1 on May 13 to greenlight The Hook Outlet, a dispensary at …

Good Times logo Southern Visions

In addition to its productive agricultural fields, Watsonville is also fertile ground for public art, from the murals of historic produce labels to the annual outdoor sculpture exhibits at Sierra Azul Nursery & Gardens.

The Pajaronian logo County Supervisors Begin Budget Hearings

When voters approved Measure K during the March election, they expected the half-cent sales tax to fund several areas of services in both the cities and the unincorporated parts of Santa Cruz County, as promised by its backers.

Hilltromper Santa Cruz logo Wildlife Crossing to Safety

The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County helps mountain lions, badgers and other critters who risk death on highways that bisect their habitats.

Monterey County Weekly logo Santa Cruz County Bank and 1st Capital Bank Agree to Merge.

Salinas-based 1st Capital Bank is merging with Santa Cruz County Bank, the institutions announced on Monday, May 20.

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Recent Local News

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• Food Bin Project Approved

In its May 28 meeting the Santa Cruz City Council approved plans to build a 5 story housing project on Mission Street, with a slight modification.

(05/28/2024) → Lookout Local

• Otter 841 is Back

Monterey Bay's favorite otter is back and ready to steal more surfboards.

(05/28/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Santa Cruz Metro Ridership Increases

Santa Cruz Metro has observed a 23% increase in ridership following service changes in late 2023.

(05/28/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Watsonville Drafting Public Art Master Plan

Watsonville is seeking proposals from qualified consultants by June 14 as it begins drafting its first Public Art Master Plan.

(05/28/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Santa Cruz County Water and Wildfire Protection Act Advances to November Ballot

After collecting more than the required signatures, on May 22, the Board of Supervisors approved the Santa Cruz County Water and Wildfire Protection Act go to county voters on the November 2024 ballot.

(05/23/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Del Mar Elementary School Developing 1.1 Acre On-Site Farm

A plan is underway and funding sought to convert an unused 1.1 acre sports field at Del Mar Elementary School into a productive on-site farm.

(05/23/2024) → Lookout Local

• UC Santa Cruz To Develop Housing on Delaware Avenue

UC Santa Cruz is developing housing for upper division undergraduate students and staff in the Delaware Addition on the Santa Cruz Westside.

(05/22/2024) → Lookout Local
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Recent Statewide News

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• Planets on Parade in June

An alignment known as a “planetary parade” will march across night skies starting June 3.

(05/28/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• As Key Deadlines Loom, Newsom and California Lawmakers Have Dozens of Deals to Make

It’s time for the folks in California’s Capitol to play let’s-make-a-deal – or actually, many deals.

(05/28/2024) → CalMatters

• UC Student Workers Expand Strike to Two More Campuses as They Demand Amnesty for Protestors

After University of California students were arrested or suspended for protests, student workers are striking at three campuses. The Office of President says the strike violates the union contract.

(05/28/2024) → CalMatters

• ‘We Have to Do Less With Less’: Cal State Faces Extra $500 Million Budget Gap

Two major forces are at play: Gov. Gavin Newsom scaled back his promise of increased financial support for Cal State, while university officials agreed to 5% salary increases earlier this year.

(05/27/2024) → CalMatters

• California Wants to Be Carbon-Neutral by 2045. What Does That Mean for Its Big Economic Drivers?

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, flew more 6,000 miles to Rome this month to deliver a brief speech on climate change at a Vatican-sponsored conference.

(05/27/2024) → CalMatters

• Apology for Slavery, Funding Frameworks for Reparations Advance

California lawmakers voted to offer an official apology for the state’s role in supporting slavery and moved several reparations bills but let others die.

(05/24/2024) → CalMatters

• Decadeslong Delta Tunnel Water Project May Finally Be Nearing a Historic Decision

It’s been almost a half-century since I first heard the term “peripheral canal” uttered by William Gianelli, who was then-Gov. Ronald Reagan’s top water official. The project, in one form or another, had already been kicking around for decades.

(05/23/2024) → CalMatters

• California Climate Programs Would Lose Billions in Newsom’s Budget

As funds for climate change programs are cut, Democrats and environmentalists are pushing for a bond measure on the ballot to restore some funding.

(05/22/2024) → CalMatters
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Government Announcements

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Image of City of Capitola seal. City of Capitola   (05/25/2024)

Wharf Long Term Use and Development plan

The Community Development Department for the City of Capitola is advertising for proposals for the following project: Capitola Wharf Long-Term Use and Development Plan This Request for Proposals (RFP), issued by the City of Capitola (City), invites responses from qualified, innovative, experienced, professional planning and design consultants (Consultant) to develop the planning and design for the long-term use of the …
Image of Santa Cruz County Office of Education seal. Santa Cruz County Office of Education   (05/24/2024)

Congratulations, Class of 2024!

Dear community member, It has been my distinct privilege to speak at commencement ceremonies this week as we celebrate the Class of 2024. Graduations are not just the culmination of the school year, theyre a direct result of years of perseverance and dedication. This is especially true for the Class of 2024. In the spring [...] The post Congratulations, Class …
Image of Santa Cruz County Office of Education seal. Santa Cruz County Office of Education   (05/24/2024)

Robotics Team Fundraising for Worlds

Nonprofit X Academy is raising funds to send the Hephaestus Robotics team of high school students to the MATE ROV World Championship in Kingsport, Tennessee, next month! On May 4, despite the rain and wind, the Hephaestus Robotics team secured an invitation to the World Championship following a standout performance at the Monterey Bay Regional [...] The post Robotics Team …
Image of Santa Cruz County Office of Education seal. Santa Cruz County Office of Education   (05/24/2024)

Summer Arts Education Institute

Educators are invited to join an in-depth learning experience in the arts to promote equity, social-emotional learning, and academic achievement at the 2024 Summer Arts Education Institute. Connect and explore at this 4-day virtual gathering of TK- 12 teachers, pre-service teachers, teaching artists, and administrators. Whatever your grade level, content area, or arts discipline, we [...] The post Summer Arts …
Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (05/24/2024)

Join WPD for our AB 481 annual meeting

Image of United States seal. United States   (05/23/2024)

Dairy Manufacturers Inc. Issues Voluntary Recall of Products Due to Non-Compliance with Requirements Under the 21 CFR 106.110 New Infant Formula Registration

Dairy Manufacturers Inc., of Prosper, TX - 5/24/24, is voluntarily recalling all lot codes for infant formulas available in the US: Crecelac Infant 0-12, Farmalac 0-12 and Farmalac 0-12 Low lactose to the retail and wholesale level. The products have been found in non-compliance with the requirement
Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (05/23/2024)

5/23/2024 - County to Host Annual Career Fair

Image of United States seal. United States   (05/22/2024)

AMB Food Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Wheat in Product

AMB Food Inc. in Brooklyn NY is recalling 8 oz bags of Pop a Nosh Mix Munch Regular and Honey BBQ snacks because it contains pretzels, but does not list Wheat as an allergen. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to wheat run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if th
Image of Santa Cruz County Office of Education seal. Santa Cruz County Office of Education   (05/22/2024)

Join the 2024-25 Teacher Leadership Institute for Sustainability (TLIS)

We're excited to announce that the application for the 2024-25 Teacher Leadership Institute for Sustainability (TLIS) is now open! If you're passionate about environmental literacy and eager to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards, this is an opportunity you don't want to miss. About TLIS The Teacher Leadership Institute for Sustainability (TLIS) is designed [...] The post Join the …
Image of City of Scotts Valley seal. City of Scotts Valley   (05/22/2024)

Like a Good Neighbor...Not!

In the newest edition of the Mayor's Column, Mayor Johnson writes about the recent Wildfire Preparedness event.