The pictured home is NOT located in Santa Cruz, my home town. It's in Palo Alto (my former home town). This listing, however, spells bad news for Santa Cruz, as was made evident in an August 11, 2016 news article in the San Jose Mercury News. The Mercury News article documented the woes of Kate Downing, who has just resigned from the Palo Alto Planning Commission. Downing, I gather, is a tech lawyer. Her husband is a software engineer. In her resignation letter, Downing says that even this family, comprised of two highly-paid professionals, can't find a way to buy a home in Palo Alto. Therefore, Downing and her husband are moving....
And they're moving to Santa Cruz.
I say that this is "bad news" for Santa Cruz, not because it won't be great to welcome this attractive young family to the community, but because this phenomenon - Silicon Valley exporting its housing demand to the Santa Cruz County side of the hill - is driving out current members of our own community. Most people currently living in Santa Cruz are finding it ever more difficult to find housing they can afford, and they just can't win the competition for housing when they are pitted against families who have two high-paying, high-tech jobs to support their own need to find a place to live.
The only actual solution to unaffordable housing prices in a place like Santa Cruz County is price control. Those who think that the community can somehow "build its way out" of the current situation, and that lots of small, high-density units will somehow lower the price of housing to affordable levels (by increasing the supply of housing) are not calculating correctly. The "demand" for housing in Santa Cruz County (witness the example of the Palo Alto Planning Commissioner and her husband) is not limited to those who live here already. If nobody new showed up, then increasing supply should, of course, lower prices. But the "market" for Santa Cruz real estate not only includes high-tech lawyers and software engineers from the Silicon Valley; it includes people with money from all over the world.
Since there's a City Council election in Santa Cruz this November, and affordable housing is undoubtedly going to be mentioned frequently by the candidates, I suggest that voters heavily discount any inclination to support candidates who suggest that just building more units will do anything more than overcommit our very tenuous water supply and continue to discharge more traffic into our inadequate street system.
The solution for affordable housing, ultimately, has to be provided with more money from the federal level, tied to permanent price controls, to take housing out of the speculative market. At the local level, rent control and a very large requirement for permanently price controlled inclusionary units (say something like 50% of all new units approved) is the only way to make any progress.