Community Health Starts From The Heart - Our Downtown
Our Downtown, Our Future is a grass roots organization formed to bring community-based improvements to the heart of our community - our downtown.
Our founding members come from organizations such as Downtown Commons Advocates, the Campaign For Sustainable Transportation, Santa Cruz Climate Action Network, reImagine Santa Cruz, and Don't Bury The Library.
We envision a sustainable, equitable, engaging and community-forward downtown that creates and maintains a level of affordability for our diverse society. We hope you too value these goals and will join our movement to put the Our Downtown - Our Future ballot measure up for a vote in the November 2022 election.
Take part in shaping the future of our Downtown. Sign this petition to put a measure on the ballot mandating the City to:
To create the City’s first dedicated funding stream for affordable housing by using parking revenue saved from not building an unnecessary garage. Parking revenue would also supplement Measure S funds for Library renovation and Lot 4 improvements for the Farmers’ Market and community space.
To preserve the large, sunny and centrally located Lot 4 parcel as a public space that provides a permanent location for the Farmers’ Market, saving 10 Heritage trees, and creating the future potential for a green community space – a Downtown Commons.
To renovate the City’s Public Library at its historic Civic Center location.
The History - What Initiated This Initiative
Members from many community organizations realize that though our focuses may be different, one thing shared is a desire for a sustainable future - a future that more directly includes our community in the decision making that shapes our City.
Specifically considering the City's proposed "Mixed-Use Project", the City did not accommodate the concerns of the hundreds of citizens who contacted the City Council over a four year period regarding the proposed project. The main objections were the construction of an unnecessary parking structure, the destruction of the Downtown Library, and the relocation of the Downtown Farmers Market.
General housing and land use concerns are also one of the top categories of community concern documented by City Council correspondence.
The City's Mixed-Use Project includes 3 elements - building a new library, a 600 car parking garage, and an affordable housing project.
We agree on 2 of the elements - the need for a "renovated" library and more affordable housing.
Timeline Breakdown On Mixed-Use Project Elements
The City has proposed building a parking garage on Lot 4 since the early 2000s.
In June 2016 the Measure S Library bond funding passed overwhelmingly.
The campaign for Measure S emphasized renovation of the existing Downtown Library.
In December 2016, the City proposed spending Downtown Library money instead on building a new library on the ground level of a parking garage.
In 2018 City staff proposed to reduce the parking spaces from 640 to 600 to create space for affordable housing
In November, 2019, the City received Jayson Architecture’s plan for renovation of the existing library at its current location.
2016-present: The Campaign for Sustainable Transportation (CFST) advocates that the City follow the recommendations in the Nelson\Nygaard City of Santa Cruz Strategic Parking Plan, rather than building an unnecessary and expensive parking garage.
2019, Downtown Commons Advocates forms to promote a permanent location for the Farmers’ Market on Lot 4, as part of a Downtown Commons.
In December 2019, the Santa Cruz Sentinel editorialized that a citizen advisory ballot should be held concerning the location of the Library.
June, 2020, the City Council votes 4-2 to continue planning the Garage-Library-Mixed Use project.
We believe there is a better way to involve the community in deciding how we shape our City, and a better way to implement shared goals - by way of a citizen's initiative that gives us an avenue to concretely vote on the details.
Good City planning should look at the current needs of a community and then look at the current land use mapping of the City and carefully decide where each element should go to best serve those needs.
Our Downtown, Our Future was formed to allow us to vote on specific elements of our downtown that the City is currently taking steps to change. We present a community-driven proposal for why affordable housing would better serve those who need it in a different location, how we can generate funds to build more affordable housing instead of a parking garage, why the Farmer's Market and community space serves our residents and businesses best in its current location, and why our library should be renovated where it is.
This measure also directs City officials to make any further conforming changes to the General Plan, Downtown Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and Local Coastal Program that are necessary to comply with this Measure and State law.
Read the full ballot initiative here.
To view a plan for a thoughtful and inclusive development for downtown, please click here.