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We have businesses in downtown Santa Cruz and we support Measure O

By Patrice Boyle, Curt Simmons, Paul Cocking, Alexis Carr, Dede Eckhardt and Enda Brennan Source: Lookout Santa Cruz

We are owners of small businesses who have had many decades living and working in downtown Santa Cruz; we are people who believe downtown is a place worthy of our concern and our efforts.

Here are our five reasons for voting yes on Measure O:

The commons

One thing is certain: We need a public plaza and a walkable downtown. Outdoor public space is in harmony with the need for housing that is affordable to the people who work downtown and in Santa Cruz. The people of Santa Cruz have overwhelmingly supported additional outdoor public space. Lot 4 (the farmers market lot) is the best chance for sunny, publicly owned commons that welcomes everyone and encourages the community to gather, including the hundreds of new residents who will be living downtown.

We need a place for outdoor movie night, dance week, the farmers market, the antique fair, a place for families to finish their ice cream cones, and more.

Yes on O will keep the farmers market lot as a gathering place. The city and the market have agreed that the city will spend $1.775 million on bathrooms and an all-weather structure likely on Lot 4 if Measure O passes.


Measure O designates eight city-owned parking lots for development of affordable housing. On some of these lots, it makes sense to keep parking on ground level to serve the immediate area.

Measure O prioritizes spending the savings from not building a garage on affordable housing, improvements to the library and farmers market lot and benefits for workers downtown who use alternative commute modes.

Votes matter: Measure S was passed by the community to remodel the library

Voters were not aware when we approved a tax increase for libraries in 2016 that the city would propose to put the library in a parking structure. The Santa Cruz County Civil Grand Jury reports:

The Santa Cruz Public Libraries website states that Measure S funds would be used to address the “most urgent needs” identified in the Facilities Master Plan, which stated no new library branches were needed and focused only on the needs of the existing 10 library branches — likely misleading voters.”

As business owners, we have paid attention to the expert consultants who recommend better management of city parking rather than building a garage. The garage is a dead weight on the city’s proposed project. The city cannot bankroll a garage with interest rates up and parking revenues remaining below pre-COVID-19 income.

Small business owners have paid into the parking district for decades. We’re the ones who will experience the consequences of higher parking rates if future parking revenue can’t keep up with debt payments.

Now developers are bankrolling the opposition to Measure O, hoping to shift their parking costs onto the city. The opposition contributions match the developers of new projects underway or in the pipeline: $5,000 from Devcon, developer of the big project on Laurel Street; $10,000 from Swenson Builders, applicant for a project on Front Street; $10,000 from two LLCs organized by Owen Lawlor, applicant for a hotel and condo projects on Front Street; and $12,500 from the Seaside Company (Boardwalk), which has over 200 spaces reserved in the Front Street garage in a deal with the city and Warriors.

Yes on O will return trust in the democratic process to the voters of Santa Cruz.

The farmers market

Why should the farmers market move to noisy, traffic-congested Front Street? Front Street has the highest traffic count of any street in downtown, with many headed to the Boardwalk. With the arrival of five large projects and a new Metro center, it will become even busier. The traffic plan is for four lanes, no on-street parking, and for all buses to enter and exit the Metro center on Front Street.

Are we in for road dirt and rubber dust on our strawberries? Let’s hope not.

Fortunately, the farmers market board has recognized the very problematic nature of this location and has reserved the option of staying on Lot 4 in its recent memorandum of understanding with the city, should Measure O pass.

Yes on O will honor the farmers market with a permanent home.

The environment

Only 56 years ago, we demolished the Carnegie library and built a new library. Some people in this community talk about a “real, 21st-century library.” We recognize the real, 21st-century exigencies of climate collapse and endeavor to stop tearing down buildings with many more years of useful life.

Just three materials: concrete, steel, and aluminum, are responsible for 23% of total global emissions. We need to reuse our buildings. Carbon emissions avoided are carbon emissions abated.

Yes on O will keep the library where it is and protect the environment

Parking and traffic

We need to fulfill the community’s desire for a walkable downtown. Locating a massive garage on the current farmers market Lot 4 will draw thousands of cars across and down Pacific Avenue from the new developments on Front Street.

Yes on O will result in a more walkable, sustainable downtown.

Yes: to more housing, to a public plaza, to a walkable downtown, to a renewed civic enter, a permanent farmer’s market, to trust in our democracy.

Patrice Boyle opened Soif Wine Bar on Walnut Avenue in 2002 and continues to operate Soif Wine Bar & Merchants.

Curt Simmons is an optometrist who practices at Plaza Lane Optometry.

Paul Cocking is the owner of Gabriella Cafe.

Alexis Carr will be talking over Soif Wine Bar / Pearl Alley Wine Co in 2023.

Dede Eckhardt will be taking over Soif Wine Bar / Pearl Alley Wine Co in 2023.

Enda Brennan is a member City of Santa Cruz Downtown Commission.

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