Lot 4 - Farmer's Market & Commons
“Open spaces within downtown Santa Cruz should have value and meaning; they should be carefully located where people want to be and in locations that take advantage of the unique resources, heritage, and traditions of the community.” - City of Santa Cruz Downtown Plan, 2030
It has been the city’s goal to provide common spaces for the community downtown, with open green areas, safe streets, and fresh air. The Santa Cruz 2030 Downtown Plan lists the need for “A strong
network of public and private open spaces (streets, sidewalks, public parks, plazas, passageways and courtyards) that creates a socially active and pedestrian-oriented downtown.”
Then why build a tall, enclosed mixed-use building with a parking garage on the last of the city’s larger lots, when we have plenty of parking already? We are all craving fewer cars, fresher air, places for walking, and green space to spend time in outside.
The Farmers' Market
Lot 4 has been hosting the downtown Farmers' Market that our community has known and loved since the 90's. Much of our town has a relationship with this tradition. We have met there, supporting our local farmers and vendors. We can count on it - rain or shine.. or smoke in the air. It provides a value beyond our shopping; it provides a sense of place.
This initiative would provide a permanent facility for this market at the location where we have all enjoyed it for decades, providing security for the market and retaining a sense of place for our community.
A Downtown Commons or Town Square
We believe that this is the place where we should create our town square - our downtown commons.
It is the most sunny and central location where this can happen that could serve as the closest open green space for our ever increasing population downtown. We need to ensure we provide a healthy living environment for both our existing and future residents.
This includes physical health and mental health. Accessible space to move and air to breathe are important for the densest area of our community. We need this public space for the good times so we may gather for mingling and celebration with music and events.
We also need this for the bad times, during pandemics, when it is so important to be able to access the outdoors with enough open space to be safe.
Keeping the Market at Lot 4 would also save 10 beautiful heritage trees, integral air-scrubbers and the perfect established roots for a community green space.
City capital improvement funds can be used to create a permanent facility, improving the space toward a commons.
We can help to build with foresight for a healthy community while we build to accommodate the future density coming to our city. Together, we can help shape our future downtown to retain sense of place, enrich that sense of place, and make our space a healthy one for both our current and future neighbors.
Planning the Commons should include widespread community involvement to create a flexible
space serving multiple purposes – every day and evening, and on Farmers’ Market days. It should be an attractive and safe place for meeting with friends, reading under the trees, and taking part in activities such as yoga, dance and group exercise. Thousands of cities throughout the world have a central town square where people meet and, until 1989, Santa Cruz enjoyed a wonderful downtown on Pacific Avenue. The street was lined with beautiful trees and there were many places where one could sit and enjoy the scene, the people, and the music.
In spite of the City’s decision to launch planning for a mixed-use project on Lot 4, it is not too late to let your voice be heard. If the Our Downtown, Our Future initiative is placed on the ballot and approved by the voters in November 2022, this space will become the Farmers’ Market's permanent spot and our chance for a downtown community green space - with trees and pathways - will become possible.
Although the City Council has approved planning for a mixed-use project on this site, construction will not start at the very earliest until 2023. The City Council can stop this project at any time and the City’s Director of Economic Development, Bonnie Lipscomb, has publicly acknowledged the possibility that the project could not move forward (SC Sentinel 9/16/21).