Santa Cruz County Local News: Local Governments

All Local Local Governments News articles contributed by our local media allies and other local newsrooms.

Image caption: The California mental health crisis is tied to both homelessness and rising crime.
UPDATE: California’s Mental Health Crisis: How We Got Here

How the California mental health crisis emerged out of the state’s history of deinstitutionalization and laws designed to protect the mentally ill, as well as the communities around them.

Image caption: California has a goal of 6 million heat pumps cooling and heating buildings by 2030.
6 Million New Heat Pumps: Essential to California's Climate Future

Heat pumps, an energy-efficient way to both heat and cool homes, are a necessary element of California's climate goal of net zero carbon emissions. Here's what they are, how they work, and how to get one.

Image caption: The 1965 law known as the Williamson Act has been responsible for keeping about half of California's farmland out of the hands of developers.
The Williamson Act: How the Law That Protects California’s Farmland Works

The Williamson Act, passed in 1965, now keeps more than 16 million acres of farmland out of the hands of developers. Here's how the law puts the brakes on the development of California agricultural properties.

Image caption: Does California’s signature environmental law protect the state’s scenic beauty, or cause more problems than it solves?
CEQA: The Surprising Story of CA’s Key Environmental Law

The California Environmental Quality Act, CEQA, is both the state’s signature environmental legislation, and is also often named as the villain in the state’s housing shortage. But the story may not be that simple.

Image caption: The Baldwin Hills area in South Los Angeles is one region where a state conservancy would keep open land accessible to the public.
California’s 10 State Conservancies: How They Protect Parks and Open Land

How California’s 10 state conservancies buy up open land and shield it from developers to preserve the natural environment for public use.

Image caption: Long-duration energy storage, such as this thermal energy storage facility, allows renewable energy sources to operate at full capacity without overloading the power grid.
How California Leads the Race For Long Duration Energy Storage

Long-duration energy storage is essential if renewables are to become the basis for a future, carbon-neutral power grid. Here's how California is leading the race to store energy from solar, wind, and other clean sources for use whenever it's needed.

Image caption: Translated from the Greek, “Democracy” means “people power.” How much power do the people have in California?
People Power! What Is Democracy, and How Does It Work in California?

Democracy is a 2,500-year-old system of government still looked on today as the best system, because under a democratic system, the people govern themselves. But is that all there is to it? What is democracy? And how does it work …

Image caption: Since 1972, the California Coastal Commission has ruled over the state’s shoreline.
California Coastal Commission: Where It Comes From, What It Does

What is the California Coastal Commission? How one of the state’s most powerful agency protects public access to the state’s scenic coast from Mexico to Oregon.

Image caption: The Pajaro River levee broke during the 2023 atmospheric river storms, flooding the town of Pajaro.
Is California Ready for More Extreme Weather Driven by Climate Change?

This year, a series of extreme events in California and around the country have wreaked havoc, driven by climate change. How prepared are we for things to get worse?

Image caption: Since the Gold Rush era, land reclamation has cost California 90 percent of its wetlands.
How Land Reclamation Hurts California’s Environment

Since the Gold Rush era, land reclamation projects have helped to build California, but they are also damaging the state’s environment for people, plants and animals by eliminating essential wetlands.

Image caption: How California reclamation districts turned millions of acres of wetlands into fertile agricultural land, starting in the earliest days of the Gold Rush.
Reclamation Districts: Turning ‘Swamps’ Into Farmland

California has used reclamation districts to turn millions of acres of unusable swamps into fertile agricultural land, starting in the earliest days of the Gold Rush. Here’s how it happened.

Image caption: Zoning laws tell you what you can and can't build on the property you own. How does government get away with that?
How Zoning Laws Shape California and Society

Zoning laws determine what can be built and where. These laws have shaped California, but are they really just tools for social engineering? The history of zoning is closely tied to racial segregation, as well as the state's shortage of …

Image caption: The California Supreme Court has defined the state’s legal and political agenda for more than 170 years.
How the California Supreme Court Blazes Legal Trails

The California Supreme Court has kept the state at the forefront of legal issues surrounding abortion, the death penalty and same-sex marriage, starting in its earliest days in the Gold Rush era.

Image caption: Owning homes is the primary way the middle class builds wealth, and an option no longer available to most Californians.
Is California’s Housing Crisis Making Inequality Worse?

California has some of the worst economic inequality in the United States. Is the housing crisis a cause?

Image caption: Moss Landing in Monterey Bay is the world’s largest battery storage facility for solar and other renewable energy.
Solar Power and California’s Clean Energy Goals

Solar power, and a network of giant battery storage facilities, are playing an essential role in moving California toward its goal of exclusive reliance on renewable energy sources.

Image caption: A city-sanctioned homeless encampment directly adjacent to county government offices and across the San Lorenzo River from the heart of downtown Santa Cruz.
How the City and County Work on the Homelessness Crisis

As the population of unhoused individuals and families in Santa Cruz has exploded, officials from the City of Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz County tackle the issue.

Image caption: California transportation history runs from railroads to today’s car culture.
California’s History of Transportation: From Railroads to Highways

The history of transportation in California has shaped the state, from the railroads to today’s highways, making the need for planning increasingly urgent. Here’s how it all happened, and where we stand today.

Image caption: Over two weekends last October, residents of Santa Cruz and Watsonville  participated in demonstration rides aboard an electric streetcar on rails.
The ‘Rail Trail’ Movement, Explained

Thousands of miles of railroad track, including some in Santa Cruz County, now sit idle. The fate of those largely abandoned tracks has become a burning controversy.

Image caption: California continues to work on legislation that would make voting easier.
Voting Rites

California keeps on taking legislative steps that will keep it ranked in the top 10 of voter-friendly states.

Image caption: There are more than 300 community service districts in California.
Community Services Districts, Explained

Community service districts can do most anything a city government can do. Here’s how they work and how to start one.

Image caption: Mosquitos kill about 725,000 people every year, worldwide.
Taking a Bite Out of the Mosquito Population

The pesky mosquito can be deadly as well as annoying. Here’s how local governments in California have been waging war on mosquitoes for more than a century.

Image caption: RCDs look after the land, whether it’s used for grazing, growing, or getting out into nature.
California Dirt

What do resource conservation districts protect? Pretty much everything that’s worth saving.

Image caption: Water is a human right under California law, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
Agriculture and Water Shortages in the State’s Breadbasket, Explained

Residential wells are drying up in the state’s main agricultural region at the same time that agricultural businesses consume almost 90 percent of the water there.

Image caption: States have expansive powers to protect the health of the general public.
The State’s Broad Power to Protect Public Health, Explained

Since long before the COVID-19 pandemic, states have possessed broad authority to protect public health, even to suspend laws and commandeer private property. Here’s why, and how it works.

Image caption: In Santa Cruz County, 10 separate entities manage the water supply.
Santa Cruz County Water, Explained

Santa Cruz County's water system is run by a decentralized collection of entities.

Image caption: California's sprawling public education system encompasses approximately 10,500 schools.
California’s Education System: How the Bureaucracy Works

How California's extensive public school system is organized and managed, explained.

Image caption: With just two courthouses, Santa Cruz County has one of the smaller court systems in the Bay Area.
The Superior Court—Explained

One of 58 superior court systems in the state, here's how the Santa Cruz County courts work.

Image caption: The Santa Cruz civil grand jury meets in County Government Center
The Grand Jury—Explained

Santa Cruz’s civil grand jury promotes accountability in local government.

Image caption: Lighthouse Field in Santa Cruz, which might be a huge resort if not for the Coastal Commission.
The Public Shore Protectors

The future of 1,100 miles of spectacular coastline is in the hands of the California Coastal Commission, which is beloved by coastal environmentalists, notorious among those who favor development, and little-known in the inland parts of the state.

Press Banner logo From Press Banner...

Image for display with article titled Scotts Valley Makes Progress on Parks Plan

Scotts Valley City Council held a special joint study session with the Parks and Recreation Commission on May 1 to envision the full scope of recreation options for the city.

California Local Pin Marker From Santa Cruz Sentinel...

In its May 15 meeting, the City of Santa Cruz Planning Commission considered changes made to the five-story project and recommended approval by the City Council.

California Local Pin Marker From Lookout Local...

Group behind Water and Wildfire Protection Act, which would add a $87 annual parcel tax in Santa Cruz County, has submitted signatures to the county clerk for certification.

Santa Cruz Local logo From Santa Cruz Local...

Image for display with article titled How to Get Involved in Budget Hearings in Santa Cruz, Capitola, Scotts Valley, Watsonville

Local governments across Santa Cruz County are crafting their budgets for the coming fiscal year, with some due at the end of June.

California Local Pin Marker From Santa Cruz Sentinel...

A case study of the impact of the California Housing and Community Development's pandemic Project Roomkey program in Santa Cruz County was released.

California Local Pin Marker From California Local...

Image for display with article titled Newsom Releases Billions for Mental Health Housing Ahead of Schedule: ‘Time to Deliver’

California voters narrowly passed Proposition 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s measure to fund mental health housing. He’s prodding counties to use the money quickly.

Santa Cruz Local logo From Santa Cruz Local...

Image for display with article titled Cannabis Dispensary Approved at Former Emily’s Bakery in Santa Cruz

A proposed cannabis dispensary at the former Emily’s Bakery on Mission Street was approved by the Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday despite school administrators’ arguments that it was too close to a high school and a middle school. 

Good Times logo From Good Times...

Image for display with article titled River Rescuers

On the asphalt levee of the San Lorenzo River, a half mile from where the river mouth spills into the ocean, a huddle of mustard yellow shirts awaits instructions.

California Local Pin Marker From Lookout Local...

In its May 13 meeting, the Santa Cruz City Council voted 6-1 to approve a controversial medical marijuana dispensary on Mission and Laurel Streets.

California Local Pin Marker From Lookout Local...

In the May 14 City Council meeting, the economic development department shared updated renderings of the library/housing/parking project at Cedar and Lincoln Streets, with construction to begin in early 2025.

California Local Pin Marker From Santa Cruz Sentinel...

In advance of the opening of the new Santa Cruz County government center on Westridge Drive in a few weeks, the Human Services Department announced it was moved in and ready to provide services.

California Local Pin Marker From Lookout Local...

The Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission has informed some residents of two mobile home parks in Live Oak of a need to move their units 1 to 4 feet due to encroachment over lot boundaries.

The Pajaronian logo From The Pajaronian...

Image for display with article titled Watsonville Kicks Off Ramsay Park Renaissance Project

Watsonville city officials gathered Friday to break ground on a major renovation and upgrade for Ramsay Park.

Press Banner logo From Press Banner...

Image for display with article titled Longtime Rec Manager Sues City of Scotts Valley for Disability Discrimination

Kristin Ard, a longtime municipal worker who’s been battling cancer, is suing the City of Scotts Valley for disability discrimination.

Hilltromper Santa Cruz logo From Hilltromper Santa Cruz...

Image for display with article titled Inaugural Santa Cruz County Wildfire Resilience Summit - June 6, 2024

Learn about wildfire resilience projects and resources for landowners at the inaugural Santa Cruz County Wildfire Resilience Summit.

Santa Cruz Local logo From Santa Cruz Local...

Image for display with article titled Second Apartment Complex Proposed on Almar Avenue in Santa Cruz

At a community meeting Tuesday, developers unveiled plans for a three-story building that could bring 38 affordable homes to the Westside.

California Local Pin Marker From Lookout Local...

The California Coastal Commission granted a two-year extension to the controversial City of Santa Cruz ban on overnight RV street parking.

Santa Cruz Local logo From Santa Cruz Local...

Image for display with article titled Teacher Housing Plan Detailed on Swift Street in Santa Cruz

After years of losing teachers to areas with lower housing costs, leaders of Santa Cruz City Schools are trying to keep staff by offering less expensive homes. 

The Pajaronian logo From The Pajaronian...

Image for display with article titled Sheriff’s Fentanyl Crisis Response Team Uses Education, Enforcement

After 133 people died in Santa Cruz County in 2023 after overdosing on Fentanyl, the Sheriff’s Office has launched a new way to address the problem, with a special focus on the people who deal the dangerous drug.

The Pajaronian logo From The Pajaronian...

Image for display with article titled The Future of the Rail-Trail: Montesino and McPherson Share Their Thoughts

As long-time elected representatives for the northernmost and southernmost reaches of Santa Cruz County, we believe the community conversation over the Rail Trail should be thoughtful, respectful, and inclusive.

Join Us Today!