Tuesday, August 8, 2023

#220 / Secure Your Right


My first involvement in politics, in Santa Cruz, came from working with the Save Lighthouse Point Association. I wrote a City initiative measure that we qualified for the June 1974 ballot. That measure, which was adopted by the voters, prohibited the City of Santa Cruz from using its land or resources to advance a proposed project that would have developed Lighthouse Field with a high-rise hotel, a convention center, a large shopping center, and upscale condominiums (not to mention seven acres of blacktopped parking lots).

The brand-new State Coastal Commission turned down the proposed Lighthouse Field development shortly after the passage of the initiative, and the state ultimately purchased the property, so it is highly unlikely that any such development will ever be carried out on our iconic Lighthouse Field. 

Later on, I was involved in other land use measures that let voters have a direct say about future development. Measure O, in the City of Santa Cruz, preserved open space and parklands - and included a requirement for "inclusionary housing" in new developments. Measure J, a county measure, protected and preserved commercially productive agricultural lands, directed new development to locate inside existing urban areas, and instituted a program to require that all new housing developments reserve at least 15% of the new units to be constructed to housing that could be purchased or rented by persons with average or below average incomes. That Meaure J "inclusionary ordinance" was one of the very first in the state.

As should be clear from this description of my past involvement with land use politics in Santa Cruz, I believe, strongly, in the voters' right to "initiate" measures that will carry out and mandate the voters' land use and development preferences. 

Right now, as the Santa Cruz City Council seems bent on new developments near our current downtown that could turn the neighborhood south of Laurel Street into an area dominated by 12-story (or perhaps even higher) developments, dwarfing the existing neighborhood, city residents are attempting, once again, to use the initiative process to set some limits - and to increase the amount of "inclusionary housing" that must be provided by any new development. 

The initiative measure I am talking about is called the "Housing For People" initiative. Click the link below for more information (and to contribute and to get personally involved). The proposed initiative measure would mandate more inclusionary housing - requiring that 25% of new developments be affordable. The initiative would also "Secure Your Right To Vote On Height," as the tee-shirt depicted above proclaims. 

If you want to help, you can buy a tee-shirt, but even more important, you can contact the campaign, obtain a petition, and then get your friends, family, and neighbors to sign. Lots of signatures are needed in order to put this "peoples' proposal" onto the Santa Cruz City ballot, and ....... 

I encourage your involvement!

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