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Santa Cruz Boardwalk Workers Laid Off As Pandemic's Financial Impact Takes Its Toll On County

SANTA CRUZ (KPIX 5) -- The Santa Cruz Seaside Company, which runs the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, has announced it has laid off about a third of its full-time workers because of financial impacts from the pandemic.

The Boardwalk is still open, and still an attraction for thousands of people. But with the brakes put on rides, most attractions and many food choices, people aren't spending money like they used to.

"I think it's kind of boring and not worth it to go anymore," said Brooke Harris, who came over from Sacramento and was glad to pick up
a corn dog, garlic fries and cotton candy but she missed everything else.

"It's not the same without the rides, like the energy is not the same," Harris said.

After a limited reopening in June, there were more cutbacks when the state ordered arcades and miniature golf closures. On Monday, the Seaside company which also runs several hotels in Santa Cruz, announced it laid off 106 full-time employees.

The company issued a statement saying, "As time progressed and the severity of this pandemic has come into sharper focus, so too have the impacts to our business."

Many businesses in Santa Cruz are also hitting tough times.

"The restaurants keep opening and then closing, and then opening and reclosing," said Sierra Hostetler who was laid off from her restaurant job near the Boardwalk in March.

Tourism and hospitality are in a state of flux in Santa Cruz which is hard on people like her.

"I don't want to keep getting hired and then losing jobs over and over again you know?" Hostetler said.

With Santa Cruz County now added to the state's coronavirus watch list, local business leaders are asking visitors to take a pledge to wear face coverings, keep their flip flops 6 feet apart, and be flexible so businesses can stay open.

"We are looking at the concept of responsible tourism, and responsible tourism changing in light of the pandemic," said Christina Glynn of Visit Santa Cruz County.

The Boardwalk so far isn't saying how much business is off. But Visit Santa Cruz County says hotel stays are off by 50 percent, during a time when they would normally be full.

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