In my opinion, voters should vote "NO," and reject the recalls. Despite the claims of recall proponents, I do not actually see this recall as a response to the personal failings of the two members of the Council now facing a recall election. Personal failings there may be, of course, but this recall is not about malfeasance in office. No claims of dishonesty or illegal behavior have ever been advanced as a reason for the recalls. The recalls are not about a city version of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The charges of misconduct made against the two Council Members now facing recall were found to be without significant substance, after an outside (and very costly) investigation.
PROVIDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING
The previous City Council had REDUCED requirements that developers provide dedicated affordable housing when new housing developments are built. That was, of course, good for the developers, but not good for our community. Thanks to the votes of the two Council Members now facing a recall, the current City Council has reversed this policy, and has RESTORED and INCREASED AFFORDABLE HOUSING REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL NEW DEVELOPMENTS. The people funding the recall effort (and they have funded it with a LOT of money) appear to care more about developers making a profit than they do about providing more affordable housing for working families in our city. If the recall is successful, these positive changes can be reversed.
STOPPING HIGH DENSITY EVERYWHERE
The previous City Council was trying to put high-density development along all of the City’s main transportation corridors – with particular impacts on the City’s East Side. This plan would have had very significant adverse impacts on local neighborhoods and on local small businesses. It was, for that reason, hugely unpopular. Prior to the last election, the Council then in power put that proposal on “the back burner,” planning to put it right back on the front burner when another pro-development Council was elected. The actual election results were a big surprise. Thanks to the votes of the two Council Members now facing a recall, the Council has reversed the earlier policy and has directed its staff to develop a plan that will “preserve and protect residential neighborhood areas and existing City businesses, as the City’s highest-level policy priority.” The Council has also demanded that the new plan “encourage appropriate new residential mixed-use development, specifically including enhanced affordable housing opportunities, at appropriate locations along the City’s main transportation corridors.” Once again, the two Council Members facing recall have voted for the community, not for the developers. If the recall is successful, that priority will be reversed.
A LIBRARY, NOT A PARKING GARAGE
The previous City Council was planning to build a massive parking garage on the parking lot where the Farmers’ Market is held. Such a garage, if constructed, would essentially be a subsidy to downtown developers, who would then not have to provide their own parking as they build new developments. The previous Council wanted to use bond funding approved to restore and rebuild our downtown library to help make that massive garage project economically possible. Thanks to the votes of the two Council Members facing a recall, the Council is now exploring different options. If the recall is successful, you can count on that garage/library project coming right back.
In 1978, the big money campaign that qualified and drove the recall elections was successful, and the two supervisors who faced recall were, in fact, recalled. One of the most pro-development Board of Supervisors in Santa Cruz County history was the result - not actually what the public wanted! I hope voters in the City of Santa Cruz won't make a similar mistake!
Gary Patton personal photo