The True Horror of Sunny Santa Cruz

The City’s Residents Feel Powerless Over Their Future—From Housing to Climate Change

Is Santa Cruz the scariest place in California?

For sure, this state’s 21st-century reality is frightening: from the persecution of immigrants to the droughts and wildfires made worse by climate change. But there is simply no place in our state scarier than this coastal county of 275,000 tortured souls.

Santa Cruz is not our most dangerous or damaged place, but it comes very close to embodying the greatest fears of Californians, which are all about our powerlessness: that our coastal beauty is collapsing underneath us, that we’ve lost control over …

More In: Connecting California

California Isn’t the Center of the World—and That’s a Good Thing | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

California Isn’t the Center of the World—and That’s a Good Thing

For Centuries, the State’s Distance From Traditional Seats of Power Has Forced It to Innovate

The Center of the World is in California. But California isn’t the center of the world.

This seeming paradox goes a long way towards explaining how California became so central to …

Why California Should Close Failing School Districts | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why California Should Close Failing School Districts

Southern San Diego County's Sweetwater District Cannot Escape Mismanagement and Corruption on Its Own

School has begun again for the 40,000-plus students of Sweetwater Union High School District. But the district’s governance crisis never seems to end.

Sweetwater rarely makes the statewide news, but …

In Fighting the Imperial Presidency, California Is Creating a Monster | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

In Fighting the Imperial Presidency, California Is Creating a Monster

As It Battles the Federal Government, Sacramento Has Gained Power at the Expense of Local Communities

As California builds its capacity to fight the Leviathan that is the Trump administration, does it risk turning our state government into a Leviathan of our own?

This unhappy question—about …