THE LIBRARY: If you would like to have a newly-renovated Main Library located where our current Main Library is located, across the street from City Hall, and kitty-corner from the Civic Auditorium, in what is our current "Civic Center," then you should vote "Yes" on Measure O. This is, incidentally, what voters said they wanted when they voted in 2016 to approve Measure S, a bond measure to renovate and upgrade libraries, throughout the county. That bond measure provided money to renovate our current Main Library, in its current location - the place where our Main Library has been for the last 100 years or so. The funds authorized by that bond measure, to renovate our existing Main Library right where it is, are now being deployed to carry out a new plan, with the current Library abandoned, and a new library being added on to a Parking Garage on "Parking Lot 4." No vote of the people authorized that!
THE PARKING GARAGE: If you don't think the city should be borrowing money for a new parking garage to provide parking spaces for the developers of a proposed luxury hotel on Front Street (largely without any parking at all), or to provide public parking to serve the massive new residential buildings either approved or in the wings that the City is allowing to move ahead without having to provide adequate parking (and in some cases "any" parking) then you should vote "Yes" on Measure O.
THE FARMER'S MARKET / A PUBLIC PLAZA: If you don't want the City to move the existing Farmer's Market from "Parking Lot 4," which is a sunny, south-facing, congenial and successful spot for the Farmer's Market, in order to place the Farmer's Market in a north-facing parking lot on Front Street, which has lots of traffic and access issues, not found at the current location, AND if you would like to have south-facing "Parking Lot 4" officially designated for future public uses, then you should vote "Yes" on Measure O.
FUTURE USE OF THE CURRENT LIBRARY SITE: If you are concerned that the city wants to move the Main Library to "Parking Lot 4," with no plan whatsoever (or no plan that has been disclosed to city residents, at least) about what will happen to that key site, right in the heart of the city's "Civic Center," then you will want to vote "Yes" on Measure O.
FUTURE USE OF OTHER CITY PARKING LOTS: If you want to make sure that the city will be required to use other city parking lots for affordable housing (not luxury hotels or residential towers for mostly wealthy investors) then you should vote "Yes" on Measure O.
SAVING HERITAGE TREES: Of course, if you don't want those heritage trees cut down, you are definitely going to want to vote "Yes" on Measure O.
#1 - The public voted to renovate the existing library. That was a VOTE, and we put ourselves in debt to raise the money to do the renovations. Suddenly, that money is now proposed to be diverted to a whole new idea, discarding the current library, which has been in the same spot for something like 100 years. But WHY is this suddenly being proposed? It certainly wasn't mentioned when Measure S was passed.
#2 - WHY? Because the City Manager and the Planning Director and the Economic Development Director want a big, new parking structure. Before there was any talk of moving the Main Library, the City Manager had proposed a huge (and perhaps unnecessary) PARKING GARAGE on our "Parking Lot 4" site. THE PARKING GARAGE IS WHERE THIS ALL STARTS. The original proposal was to convert "Parking Lot 4" into a large parking structure, which would allow developers to omit any parking in the buildings they are proposing on our downtown area. BUT... the city needed money to do that, so the City Manager came up with the idea to move the Main Library to "Parking Lot 4," to help build the parking garage for the developers. The PEOPLE voted to renovate the existing library. The city staff came up with the Parking Garage-Library plan. What happened then?
#3 - The public did not much like this Parking Garage - Library plan. So, the city retreated into "study mode," and the City insiders then suddenly decided that adding on an affordable housing proposal might be able to put this Parking Garage, then Library, then Affordable Housing combination over the hump, in terms of political acceptability. That's when the affordable housing got added.
#4 - However, lots of members of the public still didn't like this plan and began work on an initiative measure (the initiative being the way the public could express its own views of what it wants for the future of development downtown). The initiative is not called the "Our Downtown/Our Future" initiative for nothing. That is really what this is all about, in the end - who makes the big decisions about the future of our city.
#5 - The clear signs that city residents were not sold on this Parking Garage + amenities plan did not cause the City Manager, Planning Director, and Economic Development Director to take a pause. Instead, they spent lots of money to do a near final design on the library, as a way of showing those members of the public who don't like the plan that the city bureaucrats are unwilling to wait to hear from the voters. City officials added in a childcare center, too, since both affordable housing and a childcare center are wonderful. Wonderful - but they don't, of course, have to be placed on "Parking Lot 4,"and the Main Library can stay right where it is!
#6 - Let's get back to those signs about the tree removals. Our elected officials did not vote to have the city issue those permits. The city officials who issued those permits, and directed that they be posted, were essentially telling the residents of the city, and specifically city voters, who are right now in the process of deciding whether or not they want this Parking Garage-Library-Affordable Housing conglomeration, that they weren't going to wait for the vote, they were going to allow the developers who are part of the plan to chop down those trees right now. [They won't get to, prior to the vote on Measure O, only because an appeal has or will be filed]. This tells me that what this whole project is ultimately about is who runs this city. Is it the public, the voters, or it is the city bureaucrats, who are responding, as is ever more clear, to the desires of the developers (with the current City Council - Council Members Cummings and Brown excepted - going along for the ride).
#7 - Check out who is funding the "NO" on Measure O campaign. The "NO" campaign is massively funded by wealthy property owners and developers, including the Seaside Company, Barry Swenson Builder, Devcon, the Dream Inn, and Owen Lawlor - the developer of the massive new residential project under construction at the corner of Front and Laurel.
Excellent post, Gary! Thanks for supporting Measure O!ReplyDelete
Also note that the City of Santa Cruz is the lead agency for the RTC Rail Trail Segments 8 & 9 Draft Environmental Impact Report that proposes to cut down and remove 381 to 404 trees along 1.6 miles of the rail corridor! This abominable document is deficient in many respects and needs comments from everyone in the county, not just the City.
Save the trees!