Monday, September 4, 2023

#247 / Sign That Petition!

Today's blog posting is specifically addressed to residents of the City of Santa Cruz. Currently, volunteer signature gatherers are attempting to qualify an initiative measure for the City election to be held in March of next year. Supporters are calling the proposed initiative measure, "Housing For People." Click that link to find out more about it. You can click the following link, too, to read coverage in the Santa Cruz Sentinel

In essence, the proposed initiative measure would do two things, presuming that the measure qualifies for the ballot and is then enacted by the voters:

First, the initiative would increase the City's so-called "inclusionary percentage" from 20% to 25%. When developers build new housing units, the City currently requires that 20% of these new units be reserved for persons with average or below average incomes. Given the housing prices that are set by the private market, this inclusionary requirement is one of the only ways that the City can insure that new development actually opens up new housing opportunities for ordinary, working people and their kids

Unfortunately, the State Legislature is doing everything it can to reduce the ability of local inclusionary ordinances to make sure that at least some significant share of the new development occurring will benefit average and below average income people. Recent state laws essentially reduce the impact of the inclusionary percentages set by the local City Council, or the voters. That is one reason that the initiative measure now in circulation is so important. It is a way to make sure that we get the maximum amount of affordable housing possible, as new development occurs - even as recent state laws act to reduce, not increase, the mandated affordable housing percentatge. Upping the local inclusionary percentage works against these state law efforts to reduce local requirements to benefit the developers.

Second - and I personally think that this is also important - the initiative measure, if ultimately enacted, will require the voters to approve any increase to the height limits currently set in the City's General Plan and Zoning Ordinance. 

The City's Planning Director was proposing new developments in the "South of Laurel" area that would be on the order of twenty-one (21) stories high - more than twice the height of the Dream Inn. Right after his election last year, Mayor Fred Keeley suggested that the Council reduce this to twelve (12) stories, maximum, and the Council backed up that idea. However, no final decision on height limits in the so-called "South of Laurel" neighborhood has yet been established, and it is worth noting that twelve stories (while much less than twenty-one stories) is still about TWICE the height of the new development at the corner of Laurel and Pacific, as pictured in that Sentinel article.

The proposed initiative measure is being promoted on the following basis:

Secure Your Right To Vote On Height

When the Save Lighthouse Point Association took action to "Save Lighthouse Field," back in the early 1970's - an effort in which I was personally involved - one of the key ways that voters headed off planning policies that really didn't take account of what City residents wanted was by passing an initiative measure that was placed on the June 1974 ballot

Some have told me that our local community is no longer all that concerned about giving voters real power over the future development of the City. I hope that's not true. In our system of self-government, City voters ARE the City.

So, let's up that inclusionary percentage! Let's "Secure Our Right To Vote on Height!"

Sign that petition!

Even better, get a copy of the petition measure, by clicking this link, and get your friends and neighbors involved, too. 

Time is short and the stakes are very high!

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