Community Strategic Planning Meeting: November 30
Santa Cruz County is developing a Strategic Plan. We need your input! It is a valuable way for residents to help determine an overall plan for the community. Join your neighbors for refreshments and learn about what is happening with the County’s Strategic Plan at this upcoming meeting:
Strategic Planning Meeting
Thursday, November 30th
6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.
Pacific Elementary School, 50 Ocean Street, Davenport
Additional meetings are happening throughout the County. You can also directly submit comments here and sign up for the email list here. I encourage all County residents to participate!
CEMEX Reuse Community Workshop: December 5
Come help plan the future reuse of the Davenport Cement Plant. RRM Design Group, the consultant team hired to develop reuse alternatives for the Cement Plant, is ready to present the alternatives to the public. Please come see the alternatives and give your feedback!
Tuesday, December 5th
6:00 P.M to 8:00 P.M.
Pacific Elementary School, 50 Ocean Street, Davenport
Thrive by Three: Helping our Youngest Residents Succeed
Scientists and economists agree that investing in high-quality early childhood programs produces the greatest benefits to children, families and society, yet public investment in very young children has been low. Santa Cruz County is changing that. I’ve been proud to work with Supervisor Friend and amazing child advocates to secure county funding for a Thrive by Three Fund which will help our most vulnerable babies, toddlers and their families.
Our community is obviously struggling with the very difficult issue of homelessness. The challenges around homelessness are complex and there are no easy solutions, but we must do better. For months I’ve been meeting with key County, City, and non-profit partners, forming a multi-disciplinary team to intervene in difficult cases and to try to secure housing or other treatment services for vulnerable individuals who are from our area. Between monthly meetings, I’ve asked for weekly progress reports. I’ve offered to help the City of Santa Cruz in any way I can. The North County Emergency Winter Shelter will begin operating this month, which will address some of the immediate need for nightly shelter. I continue to believe that for homeless individuals who have ties to other communities, the best approach is to help them get back home via the Homeward Bound program. Given how difficult it is to secure housing in our community – even for families with two incomes and no substance abuse or mental health issues- this is the most humane and effective approach.
UC Santa Cruz has begun the planning process for their next Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). It will set limits on future campus growth and identify the facilities and policies to support this growth. Although UCSC provides many benefits to our community, particularly in the cultural and economic areas, it also has significant impacts in terms of housing, traffic, and water demand.
In my view, given the relatively small size of Santa Cruz, the capacity of the community to absorb campus growth has been reached and, ideally, there should be no further increase beyond the 2020 LRDP projections in student population. However, if the University, which is not regulated by local government, determines that additional growth should be allowed, the amount should be as low as possible and all increases, including students, faculty and staff, should be housed on campus.
I also think that, as a minimum, it is important to continue the existing agreement that was agreed to by the parties involved in the 2020 LRDP lawsuit. It has reduced the University’s traffic and water impacts, increased the number of students housed on-campus, and has facilitated a cooperative problem-solving approach between UCSC, the County, and the City.
To read the letter I brought to the Board of Supervisors on the topic of University growth back in April, unanimously approved by the Board and requesting no additional enrollment growth beyond that allowed by the existing LRDP, click here.
I have been appointed to serve on the UC Santa Cruz LRDP Community Advisory Group, which has its first meeting this month, and I will be speaking up in an effort to assure that the community’s concerns are adequately incorporated in UCSC’s final plan.
Santa Cruz is in a critical housing crisis. I have taken a multi-pronged approach to this complex issue by supporting sensible regulations on vacation rentals, opposing unmitigated University growth, and instituting a fee on market-rate development to support new affordable units. The County has also taken steps to make it easier to build accessory dwelling units.
I strongly supported the St. Stephen’s Senior Housing project, which was recently completed and provides 40 affordable, beautiful apartments for local low-income seniors. I’m also strongly supporting a Habitat for Humanity project that will provide homes for up to 12 local low-income working families. The need for affordable housing is huge and I’m glad to support great projects that will help meet the need.
Supporting the Holiday Food Drive
The holidays are the perfect time to come together and help community members in need. Every $1 donated to Second Harvest Food Bank provides 4 healthy meals and 100% of the food and funds raised will enable the Food Bank to provide healthy food to kids, the working poor, people with disabilities, and seniors. Let’s give them all the support we can! Click here to donate.