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Facts are important and there is a lot of misinformation about Measure O.
To check the facts, jump to our Housing Fact Check Page.
The cost of living in Santa Cruz is becoming burdensome for a large portion of our community.
To achieve social equity and sustainability, our City needs to ensure that a larger overall percentage of the units/homes that are built are truly affordable. If the percentage of what is built doesn't match the percentage of those who need it, we build too many market rate units proportionally and end up with a raising AMI (Area Median Income). When the AMI is raised, what is officially deemed "affordable" raises in price as well.
One of the big hurtles for building enough affordable housing is the cost of building that housing. And one of the large costs to that development is the cost of land.
For this reason, community land, or "publicly owned parcels", make the perfect locations for the development of affordable housing. We have identified a number of public parking lots in our downtown that could be used to help make affordable housing, actually affordable to build because the community already owns the land.
Prioritizing Affordable Housing On City-Owned Lots
Measure O reserves publicly owned lots downtown for 100% affordable housing above the ground floor.
Fundamentally, it also restricts these lots from being developed for other uses, like hotels, luxury housing, parking garages, or more retail above the ground floor.
This ensures that they will not be developed for commercial or for-profit use above the ground floor, and will be held for our needed community housing.
Big Development and current City Hall do not want these to be restricted to only affordable housing. They currently plan on selling 2 of them for a luxury hotel.
The ground floor may be used for any other community need, including parking, public space, daycare, or commercial space.
Affordable Housing Fund
Though City ownership of land dramatically reduces the cost of building affordable housing, the actual development costs are still quite high.
This Measure would also establish the City’s first dedicated revenue stream for affordable housing, from the savings on not paying a 30 year debt on a garage of $2.9 million per year (City estimate in 2018). Our more conservative estimate is $1.5 million per year in surplus parking revenue devoted to affordable housing, once Downtown economic life rebounds to 2019 levels.
Learn the details here.
More Affordable Units W/ Measure O
Our citizen's initiative provides for a greater number of affordable units than the current proposal for the City's massive Mixed-Use Project that includes the building of a new parking garage, commercial space and library. A conservative estimate is 340+ units on the specified lots, versus the 100-125 units in the Mixed-Use Project.
Housing On Lot 4 Still Possible W/ Measure O
We would prefer Lot 4 (where the City's Mixed-Use Project is proposed) to become an open town square or commons for our rapidly densifying downtown, and propose that the City build its planned affordable housing project on Lot 7; however, it's important to point out that Section 4 C (LU 1.1.6) of our initiative specifically allows for housing to also be built on Lot 4. It is the only part of their proposal that would be allowed under our initiative.
The larger heritage trees could remain, and the space under the potential housing could become sheltered infrastructure for the Farmers' Market and downtown commons/square.
The Lot 7 Plan
Another very important consideration is where affordable housing should go in relationship to the needs of those living in that housing, as well as the needs of the rest of the community. Our City's Downtown Plan states that “[r]esidents need access to parks, open space, and other places where they can relax and socialize,” and we agree.
Lot 7, on Front Street, would be an idea location for this next affordable housing project the City can build. The residents of that project would be adjacent to the San Lorenzo River, the park, its trail that leads out to the beach, as well as close to groceries and public transit. We feel that this would be a better place to live than at a massive parking structure that is not as close to accessible open space and nature.
The immediate feasibility of our proposal for affordable housing on Lot 7 (instead of Lot 4) is demonstrated by a University of San Francisco architecture studio. We could have more than 125 affordable units on Lot 7 with a density bonus, and by not including 3 levels of parking garage (which takes up vertical space in the City's proposal for lot 4).
This proposal includes 4 floors of housing. If the development were as high as nearby planned projects, it could include 144 or 168 affordable housing units.
Confused about the information coming from the City and opposition?
Have questions about the affordable housing component of this initiative?
Jump to Affordable Housing FAQ
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