Plans for a Downtown Expansion in Santa Cruz

Plans for a Downtown Expansion in Santa CruzThe city of Santa Cruz has plans for expanding the downtown area of Santa Cruz and is beginning its planning by seeking input from those who live in Santa Cruz. They have begun their efforts by conducting an online survey and study to ask people in Santa Cruz what they think of the proposed plans for expanding the downtown area.

This initial downtown expansion project has plans of taking 29 acres south of Laurel Street and restructuring to make room for a 4-acre sports arena and an unspecified number of high-rise apartment buildings. This would displace the current businesses and homes that are already in the area. Without the projected revenue from the proposed new residential high-rise apartments building a new arena would not be economically feasible. The city is asking for insight from community members and is asking for opinions about the redevelopment of this area of downtown Santa Cruz.

Currently, the survey is only open until September 1 and is available in English and Spanish taking about 15 minutes to complete. The city says it plans to take the input gathered from this survey as well as hold a public community meeting about project plans later in September or October. They will use these insights as they make their decisions for restructuring this area of Santa Cruz.

Last year there was a proposal for the construction of 175-foot-high residential buildings which would be roughly 16 stories. When this plan was originally proposed there was pushback from the public which has led to the city Council attempting to scale back the original plans to include residential buildings with a height of 12 stories. These plans were amended and reconfigured at the beginning of 2023. The reconsideration of new plans was largely an effort of the Santa Cruz mayor Fred Keeley as well as efforts brought by councilmember Scott Newsom.

If you would like to see every detail of the projected plans for this project you can look at the city's project website for the downtown expansion plan. The thought process behind this reconstruction of the area south of Laurel Street is to provide more housing units within the downtown area. These housing units would help to create revenue that would create more opportunities for public amenities such as parks and help to connect the downtown area with the river and the beach. There are also hopes of being able to improve the walkability of Santa Cruz. It is to establish design standards and have the ability to accommodate a potential permanent arena where the Warriors would be able to play. This also brings hopes of more economic flow and opportunity for other local businesses as well as to help create tax revenue for the city.

This recently proposed change in the structure of Santa Cruz inspired some community members to lead an initiative entitled Housing for People. The people behind the initiative are gathering signatures in hopes of getting a measure on the March ballot that would require more affordable housing to be built in the city of Santa Cruz. The measure is proposing affordable housing inclusionary rates of 25%. This would also include that building height and any density increase in housing to the city's existing plan could only be changed by a vote through the citizens and not by measures enacted by the Santa Cruz City Council alone.

A further look at housing for people in Santa Cruz

Taking a trip to housing for people.org will bring you to the website about this initiative. On the homepage of the website, it talks about taking back the right of the citizens to vote on height and affordable housing before the city is "Upzoned." This initiative was begun by Santa Cruz community members of all ages and backgrounds who have taken concern with the development all around Santa Cruz County and the planned high-rise apartment towers that they described as mega-development.

The website talks about the initiative having two main goals the first of which is to increase the affordable housing ratio to 25% as described above. They talk about how this has been something the city planning commission has recommended for years. They would like to see this enacted to maintain diversity and to help increase the availability of low-income housing to help provide housing for all types of Santa Cruz residents.

The second goal is to direct democracy. The initiative would help to bring the vote back to the citizens and give them a right to choose if they would like to see high-rise buildings in downtown Santa Cruz that could exceed the current height limits of the building code within the city. These citizens would like to see environmentally sensitive building designs for the downtown area of Santa Cruz.

In addition to stating their plans and goals for their initiative, there are some frequently asked questions that are answered on the website. If you would like to learn more about the viewpoints of this initiative you can check them out yourself at housingforpeople.org. There's also the ability to sign the initiative to bring it to a ballot as well as help donate money to support the initiative.

No matter your viewpoint on the expansion of the city and the plans that the current government of Santa Cruz has is it always good to be aware of what is going on. It directly impacts the quality of life when living in Santa Cruz and can also have an impact on the value of properties in the area.

For more information on living in Santa Cruz County including Santa Cruz County real estate please contact me. I am happy to help you gain insight into purchasing real estate in Santa Cruz County or selling your Santa Cruz home. I am dedicated to making the buying or selling process as stress-free as possible for my clients and working in their best interest.

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