This is Santa Cruz Local’s newsletter issue for Sunday, Oct. 3. Every Sunday, Santa Cruz Local’s AgendaWatch newsletter lets you know what’s going on in local government meetings in the week ahead. We also provide summaries of Santa Cruz Local news stories that you can’t get anywhere else.

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In this issue:

  1. Santa Cruz Local launches Guide to Local Government
  2. Why Matthew Hendrix seeks stability and housing
  3. Santa Cruz County rules could streamline new in-law units
  4. Land trust could maintain Glenwood preserve in Scotts Valley
  5. Website tracks COVID-19 at Santa Cruz County schools
  6. Hospitality job fair Tuesday at Hotel Paradox
  7. Your thoughts: What upcoming local event are you looking forward to? Why?


Guide to Local Government launches

Santa Cruz City Council chambers are packed for a meeting on homelessness

Residents pack a meeting in the Santa Cruz City Council chamber in 2019. (Kara Meyberg GuzmanSanta Cruz Local file)

Santa Cruz Local has a new resource page called the Guide to Local Government

It describes the nuts and bolts of how local government works — how city laws are made, when and where city councils meet, and how you can make your voice heard. It also provides some history and context that is the basis of today’s news in housing and development. 

The guide is the culmination of interviews with former city and county elected leaders, county administrators, state representatives and ordinary residents who have advocated for change in Santa Cruz County. 

The series started as a separate email series this summer. Read Santa Cruz Local’s expanded and updated Guide to Local Government.

—Stephen Baxter


Why Matthew Hendrix seeks stability and housing

Matthew Hendrix at the Benchlands homeless camp in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz resident Matthew Hendrix said his dream is to regain stability in his life by finding housing. (Natalya Dreszer—Santa Cruz Local) 

Santa Cruz resident Matthew Hendrix’s immediate goal is to find housing. It could be a room or a shared room, he said.

“All I really need is that stability,” Hendrix said last month. “Stability, a job, and then progress from there.”

Until this summer he worked two jobs: at a Burger King in Santa Cruz and the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Capitola. Before that, he said he worked in construction and retail.

Hendrix, 32, has lived in Santa Cruz County his whole life. He said he has been homeless since he was 16, except for a four-year break when he had a two-bedroom apartment in Aptos with his wife and two sons. 

The rent was $2,700. He had rental assistance of about $1,700 a month. When that help ended this summer, he and his family became homeless. His wife, who is pregnant with their third son, moved into a shelter in Watsonville, he said. His sons now live with their grandparents. Hendrix moved to the Benchlands homeless camp by the county government building in Santa Cruz. He stopped working because he got depressed, he said, partly due to family issues in court.

“I really couldn’t think past what was going on in my head, let alone to get up and just go throughout my day, especially after losing the place” to live, Hendrix said. “You don’t have anywhere to wash your clothes. You just feel awkward and dirty. But if I still had my place, it’d be a totally different story.”

Hendrix is one of dozens of homeless residents Santa Cruz Local has interviewed in recent weeks as part of a project on solutions to homelessness in Santa Cruz County. Interviews and surveys from Santa Cruz County residents will help guide Santa Cruz Local’s focus of reporting.

Hendrix said rent help was the key for him to stay housed. He wants local leaders to provide more rent help. He said he only qualified for long-term rent assistance because of his children.

“What about people who don’t have kids, or their kids are all grown up and gone? What are they supposed to do? How are they gonna get help and funding?” Hendrix said.

We want to hear from you. What information or resources do you need related to homelessness in Santa Cruz County? How are you impacted by homelessness?

Your feedback will help guide our reporting.

—Kara Meyberg Guzman

Guide our homelessness coverage 

Encuesta sobre personas sin hogar 

This series is made possible by the support of more than 100 Santa Cruz Local readers. Santa Cruz Local readers gave more than $20,000 in July and August to support this series. Thank you!


New rules could facilitate construction of in-law units

9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m,. Tuesday Oct. 5 / Online, by phone or in person at 701 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, top floor

Santa Cruz County supervisors plan to continue work to try to streamline the construction of new in-law units, also known as accessory dwelling units. Tuesday, the board will consider in-law unit permitting changes. 

Some of the staff-proposed changes include:

  • Objective design standards for in-law units
  • An owner-occupancy requirement on the property for new in-law units
  • A definition of in-law unit “conversions” versus new units
  • Adding Opal Cliff Drive to the list of coastal areas where special parking regulations apply for in-law units

Supervisors are expected to approve the changes and direct county staff to submit the new law to the Coastal Commission for certification, according to a county staff report.

County employee vaccinations

Supervisors are expected to defer a report on county employee COVID-19 vaccination rates to their Oct. 19 meeting. A report at that meeting also is expected to explore testing costs. 

 —Stephen Baxter

To participate: Join on Zoom or dial 1-669-900-6833, meeting ID  840 7832 7816. To comment ahead of time, email [email protected] or visit the agenda and click the speech bubble icon next to the agenda item. The meeting will also be broadcast on Facebook with no login required.


Land trust could maintain Glenwood preserve in Scotts Valley

6 p.m. Wednesday Oct. 6 / Online and by phone

Wednesday, the Scotts Valley City Council will discuss a proposal to pay a local land trust $20,000 annually to take on maintenance duties of the Glenwood Open Space Preserve. 

The preserve is a 170-acre wildland area with trails on two properties near Scotts Valley High School. The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, a nonprofit conservation group, partnered with the City of Scotts Valley to buy the land for conservation. 

“Due to staffing resources and the time commitment necessary to perform maintenance activities with the two preserves, the city has not been able to perform the duties” outlined in the plan, wrote Scotts Valley Public Works Director Chris Lamm, in a staff report.

The City of Scotts Valley’s long-term management plan for the preserve calls for city leaders to maintain the preserve’s facilities for public access:

  • Trails 
  • Repair of signs, gates, fences, bridges and other infrastructure
  • Graffiti removal

To participate: Join on Zoom or call 1-669-900-9128, meeting ID 869 8434 1712. To comment in advance, email [email protected] by 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The meeting will also be broadcast on Comcast channel 25. 


Website tracks COVID-19 at Santa Cruz County schools

Leaders from the Santa Cruz County Office of Education recently launched a COVID-19 online dashboard that compiles data from 10 school districts and 103 schools. The dashboard also includes data from some charter and private schools, wrote Office of Education representative Nick Ibarra, in a statement. 

  • There were 48 active COVID cases as of Friday, Oct. 1, according to the site. 
  • From Aug. 29 to Sept. 28, there were 102 positive COVID tests from 18,656 tests that the Office of Education tracks, Ibarra wrote. The COVID positivity rate was at least 0.5% in the participating schools compared with at least a 1.4% COVID positivity across Santa Cruz County.

COVID tests for Santa Cruz County students, staff and their families are available at:

  • Santa Cruz County Office of Education Annex parking lot, 399 Encinal St., Santa Cruz. 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
  • Cabrillo College parking lot K, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos. 2-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
  • Pajaro Valley Unified School District parking lot, 294 Green Valley Road, Watsonville. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 
  • School sites by registration.


Hospitality job fair Tuesday

A hospitality industry job fair sponsored by the Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce will take place 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5 at Hotel Paradox, 611 Ocean St., Santa Cruz. 

Some of the employers include

  • Hotel Paradox
  • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs
  • Seascape Beach Resort
  • Mount Hermon Camp & Conference Center
  • Makai Island Kitchen & Groggery
  • Hilton Hotels
  • Riva Fish House


Today’s question: What upcoming local event are you looking forward to? Why?

Share your thoughts in Santa Cruz Local’s quick survey

We’ll share responses in a future issue.

Note from staff

We’ve collected more than 100 survey responses and interviews to help guide our series on homelessness. This week Kara, Stephen and Natalya started analyzing your feedback to find themes. 

We read through personal accounts of fear and sadness from housed and unhoused people in Santa Cruz. Some people told stories. Some people shared ideas. 

We’re working hard to produce news that is valuable to you. Support our work with a Santa Cruz Local membership today.


Kara Meyberg Guzman, Stephen Baxter and Natalya Dreszer
Santa Cruz Local