Watsonville's City Plaza is aglow with Christmas Lights as part of the city's celebration of the holidays. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Dec. 9, 2019

Watsonville taking applications for public art projects

Tony Nuñez: The City of Watsonville is taking applications for four public art projects that will be located on publicly or nonprofit owned property.

The winning applications will receive a $1,000 grant from the city for their project.

The deadline for applications is Jan. 31. 

For information click here.

The grants come courtesy of the city’s Social and Community Service Grants program, a yearly fund for nonprofit organizations that serve the community. More specifically, it was taken from the Special Events Sponsorships portion of the fund, which helps yearly events not organized by the City run smoothly by paying for various costs.


Porter Building RFP deadline pushed back

Tony Nuñez: The deadline to submit a purchase or long-term lease proposal for the Porter Building has been pushed to Jan. 22, 2020 at 3 p.m.

The city sent out requests for proposals on Nov. 12 for the two-story, 15,000-square-foot building at the corner of Main and Maple streets adjacent to the Civic Plaza. 

The city is hoping to find a buyer that can maximize its potential by bringing an entertainment or retail-related business to the first floor.

For information on the Porter Building or to submit a proposal click here.


Watsonville looks for feedback on Vision Zero plan

Tony Nuñez: The city wants feedback on its Vision Zero Action Plan.

Now called Safe Street Save Lives, the plan acknowledges that traffic fatalities are preventable and aims to come up with solutions to achieve a zero death goal by 2030.

To view the plan click here

Comments will be received until Dec. 20 and then an updated plan will be submitted to and reviewed by the city council early next year.

The plan, approved by the council in January 2018 and in the works since then, looks to boost Watsonville’s ongoing fight to make its streets safer for pedestrians in multiple ways. Along with education and enforcement, the plan also hopes to improve the safety of the city’s streets by prioritizing the development of safe roadways in areas identified most “at-risk.”


Walking through Watsonville’s City Plaza

Tarmo Hannula: I walked through Watsonville’s City Plaza the other evening as darkness fell and a light rain dampened the area. The abundance of Christmas lights and decorations pulled people in from all directions. People took photos and kids darted in and out. It felt like the lit up plaza had a widespread effect on the community as cars slowed and people gawked at the display.


A break in the Central Coast rain

Tarmo Hannula: It looks like we’ll get a little dry spell in our weather, a time to dry things out and clear the gutters. The weather folks are saying we’ll mostly be getting cloudy days, with some sunshine through the week with the next chance of rain coming Saturday.


Michael Escobar trial wrapping up

Tarmo Hannula: I started my workday in Superior Court in Santa Cruz today to cover closing arguments in the trial case of Michael Escobar, the defendant in a high-profile Watsonville murder case from October 2014 that left a young girl and a man dead by gunfire outside the Valley Inn on Main Street.

Assistant District Attorney Johanna Schonfield used a series of clips recorded that night to draw a picture for the jury of the evening of Oct. 10, 2014 when Escobar, now 36, and a group of fellow Norteño gang members came to the Fish House restaurant on the 900 block of Main Street. Schonfield explained how Escobar and his group worked on a plan to confront and ultimately gun down Ramon Rendon, 33, a known Sureño gang member who had been living and working at the Valley Inn.

Escobar is accused of shooting Rendon several times. A stray bullet pierced the rear of the Fish House and struck Jaelyn Zavala, 4, who later died. Escobar has been held in Santa Cruz County Jail without bail since his arrest the same day. Schonfield and defense attorney Jay Rorty were aiming to wrap up their arguments Monday.


A train ride to SantaCon

Tarmo Hannula: On Saturday I took the bus and train up to San Francisco to visit a friend I’ve known for 40 years. Tom now lives in Boston and was out west for work stuff. I’ll write about my trip in a future edition of the Pajaronian. On the Caltrain out of San Jose, I grabbed a seat on the upper deck and had it to myself. But at the Santa Clara stop the entire train filled with hundreds of folks dressed as Santa, Santa’s elves, toy soldiers, nutcrackers and anything Christmas. In no time the beer, alcoholic seltzers and large bottles of vodka came out and the party began—big time. There I was planted right in the center of the annual and nationwide SantaCon. Shot glasses were spread around and the vodka shots flowed the entire one-hour trip. I had to turn down at least a dozen offers of shots; the friendly crowd was even trying to “top off” my coffee thermos with hard booze as we rumbled north. It was before 10 a.m., mind you. While I stuck with my hot coffee, the Santa gang went at it strong, singing “Happy Birthday” for anyone with a birthday at any time of the year. As we glided into the city these folks were sloshed. Singing, holding each other up, roaring with laughter and clanging down the metal stairwells onto the station platform, they gathered into groups and then hit the streets for—you’re right—more drinking. My friend Tom and I crossed paths with them around North Beach scores of times as the evening came on and they spilled out of bars and pubs, many with drinks in hand, cheering, high-fiving, singing and hollering. We noticed several bars had handmade signs, “No Santas!” plastered in their windows. The city was painted red with drunken Santa and his helpers that day and well into the night.

This woman joins scores of other people dressed for Christmas as part of the annual SantaCon in San Francisco Saturday. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian
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