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April 23, 2012 | By Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times
Up, up and not quite away. That's the frustrating story of human-powered helicopters and the prize coveted by virtually everyone who has designed the cumbersome beasts and tried to get them aloft. So far, nobody has come up with a muscle-driven machine capable of hovering for 1 minute and rising 3 meters - requirements for the Igor I. Sikorsky Prize, an honor the helicopter industry has dangled before aeronautics buffs for 32 years. The prize has been offered so long that the booty, initially $10,000, became embarrassingly small.
April 14, 2012 | By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
A spectacular stretch of Northern California coastline that includes ocean-side bluffs, beaches, rolling hills and redwood groves will be permanently protected from development under a landmark deal approved by the state Coastal Commission. Nearly 10 square miles of untouched shoreline, wooded glens, streams and farmland in northern Santa Cruz County, extending several miles inland, will be transferred to the state and federal governments, which will operate it as open space and preserve portions for agriculture.
March 12, 2012 | By Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times
The Coast Guard recovered the bodies of three men whose 24-foot recreational boat was found capsized near Santa Cruz Island after a family member reported it missing Sunday morning, officials said. Searchers spotted the body of a fourth man who was on the boat but were unable to recover it, Petty Officer Adam Eggers said Sunday night. None of the men was wearing a life jacket. Eggers said he was prohibited by Coast Guard policy from releasing the victims' names. No one answered the phone at the Santa Barbara County coroner's office, which is involved in the case.
January 15, 2012 | By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
This place used to sell itself. The sun-kissed coastline, the glassy waves and the tens of millions of visitors who descended onto the spacious sand like clockwork. They were the magical ingredients that beach cities in California could bank on to bring in a steady stream of corporate dollars. For exclusive rights to put company logos on lifeguard towers, trash cans, warning signs, vending machines and volleyball nets up and down the Los Angeles County coast, the bidding would start at $700,000.
November 3, 2011 | Tony Barboza
The humpback whales on an extended pit stop off Santa Cruz may be just too popular for their own good. As the marine giants have steered unusually close to shore to feed, locals and visitors alike have paddled, sailed and motored out in a frenzied flotilla to greet them up close. So close, authorities say, that the sightseers are putting themselves at risk of being seriously injured or even killed. Already, kayaks have been flipped over and a sailboat's mast was snapped when a whale blasted up from below.
October 28, 2011 | By Cathrine Hamm, Los Angeles Times Travel editor
Sure, the Santa Cruz County Conference & Visitors Council is in the business of promoting its wonders to visitors through words and pictures, but even the most brilliant spin doctor couldn't have arranged the photo above. On Tuesday, during a photo assignment for the council on Monterey Bay, photographer Paul Schraub captured this photo of a couple of humpback whales spy hopping (whale lingo for coming out of the water vertically and checking out the surroundings) next to a kayaker.
October 15, 2011 | By Diana Marcum, Los Angeles Times
A gang sweep dubbed Operation Garlic Press this week struck another blow at an intricate crime network that stretches along Interstate 5 and small-town back roads from the Mexican border to the Bay Area. At a Friday news conference in the farming community of Gilroy, known for its annual garlic festival, Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris announced that agents had made more than 100 arrests after an 18-month operation. This sweep — which covered Alameda, Santa Clara, San Benito, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties — comes on the heels of a Central Valley sweep in June in which authorities said they arrested high-ranking gang leaders living in tiny farm towns, directing a web of human, gun and drug trafficking.
September 28, 2011 | By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
A major restoration project could bring back a long-degraded wetland to one of the remote islands off the Southern California coast. Workers have broken ground on a $1-million project that will cut down 1,800 nonnative eucalyptus trees and scoop out tons of dirt and gravel to restore a coastal wetland on Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park officials announced Monday. In the coming months, crews will work to return some 60 acres of habitat on the rugged island to its native state, before it was degraded by ranching and farming activity more than a century ago. Crews have started using heavy equipment to reshape the mouth of the island's largest stream so it will flow freely onto four acres of restored wetland at Prisoners Harbor.
September 15, 2011 | By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from San Diego -- San Diego State University's newest academic research center has a decidedly laid-back vibe. The inaugural symposium is titled "The Audacity of Stoke," and the first field research mission will take academics to the beaches and surf resorts of Peru. The Center for Surf Research bills itself as the first academic institution devoted to surfing. San Diego State officials are prepared for the jokes. But they insist their center is a serious attempt to understand the culture and economic power of what has become a $7-billion global industry.
August 28, 2011 | By Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times
Over the years, the city of Santa Cruz has called for a presidential impeachment, termination of a war and an end to nuclear weapons. But allowing people to walk their dogs downtown? Never! Until now, that is. At the urging of businesses that felt they were losing customers to more dog-friendly communities, the city has lifted a 35-year ban aimed at keeping dogs — even leashed, licensed dogs — from setting paw on Pacific Avenue, downtown's main commercial thoroughfare.
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