NO on Prop 10: Repeal of Costa Hawkins is a Disaster for Affordable Housing

Disclaimer: For the last 42 years, I have lived through all of this, and understand the reasons WHY Costa Hawkins happened—to enable construction and the supply of housing. If Costa Hawkins is repealed, many of us, including our grandchildren will not be living in California.

In the late 1970s, San Francisco and Santa Monica—among others, adopted rent control, which seriously depleted construction of new units, because financing was nearly impossible.  Builders needed to obtain financing, but banks were reluctant to provide money as rental pricing was not easily evident, in order to establish a capitalization rate, or in simple terms—a rate of return on the investment.  Without that, developers were leaving rent control jurisdictions, and even the State of California. Developers said, “Why attempt to build, where we are met with ongoing obstacles, and are unable to obtain financing to build anything, including apartments, and all housing in general.” Thus, SUPPLY of Housing diminished and by 1995, the Costa Hawkins Act came into being.  The law was a bi-partisan bill that exempted single family homes, condos and townhouses, and properties built after 1995 from rent control.  The law also allowed property owners whose tenants had vacated voluntarily, i.e., were not evicted, to rent the units at market rate.

Historically, wherever price controls on housing exist, housing becomes scarce, and with high demand, supply will forever be constrained.

So, many ask, why didn’t housing get built when Costa Hawkins was passed?  It did, at first, but gradually, those opposed to growth, the “NIMBYs”—Not in My BackYard, and others who wanted status quo, were concerned about the environment, transportation, and they fought construction tooth and nail.

If Proposition 10 is passed, rent control will permeate every city in California, and a very few number will experience low rents, but not for long, and the worst part is that rent control does NOT create housing, it disincentives any possibility of rental or owner occupied housing from happening! 

Keep in mind: the most high priced areas in the United States have rent control, which becomes an underground economy, whereby even income taxes are thwarted due to clandestine subletting!  Lawsuits will prevail when property owners realize property rights are meaningless and their property becomes a “piggy bank” to feed the huge bureaucracy of multi-million dollar rent boards, who have no accountability to their city government, their community or to the people they purport to serve.

Prop 10 makes our Affordable housing problem worse

Meanwhile, be aware that the Rent Boards are funded by the property owners—many of whom are low to moderate income owners themselves who rely on income from their rents to subsidize their small social security incomes. Units in San Francisco and Santa Monica are falling into disrepair, because of negative cash flows due to lower rents, and inability to retain maintenance of their units.  Keep in mind, when a heating unit fails—it costs thousands of dollars!  Not to mention the fact that roofs, water heaters, appliances, landscaping must be maintained.  Property Owners and Landlords are leaders in a community effort; they support other small business owners, such as plumbers, electricians, handymen, etc.  It is important to recognize that an owner doesn’t “pocket all the rent”…that owner must pay taxes, maintenance, replacement of appliances, and mortgages, etc.

Please—from a person “in the trenches”, vote NO on Proposition 10.

Tenants AND Landlords need Costa Hawkins!

Santa Cruz Legislative Watch: October, 2001 – Affordable Housing

OCTOBER, 2001

COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ

September 25, Public Hearing Establishes the Year 2002 Growth Goal

Each year, the County is required, through implementation of the Growth Management System, to set an annual growth goal for the upcoming year. As part of that process, staff prepares a Growth Goal Report for consideration by the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. The Year 2002 Growth Goals Report includes the following findings:

  1. Population Trends – During 2000, the County’s unincorporated population grew at a rate of 0.8 percent which is higher than the 2000 adopted percent growth goal of 0.5 percent. The County, as a whole, grew at 0.7 percent. The entire State of California grew at a rate of 1. 7 percent.
  2. Growth Impacts – The most significant development impact on resources in the County consists of the potential and actual water supply shortfalls countywide. Water agencies countywide are discussing these issues.
  3. Housing Goals – Over the last 22 years, 14. 9 percent of the new residential development in the unincorporated area has been constructed as affordable housing.

Affordable Housing production as a percentage of total housing production in the first eight months of 2001 is 15 percent. The Year 2002 Growth Goal Report recommends a continuance of the .50 percent growth goal established for 2001.

Current status of the 2001 building permit allocation shows, as of September 1, 2001, the 2001 allocation set by the Board of Supervisors for Urban 1-4 bedrooms is 76, for Urban 5+ bedrooms is 76 and for Rural is 75. Actual committed allocation for Urban 1-4 bedrooms is 31, for Urban 5+ bedrooms is 50 and for Rural is 59. The balance available for allocations for Urban 1-4 bedrooms is 4, for Urban 5+ bedrooms is 26 and for Rural is 16. The Board of Supervisors agreed to the Planning Department’s recommendation for a .50 percent growth goal for 2002 carryover, but not utilization of unused 2001 market rate housing allocations at this time, and a distribution of housing allocations by project location, type and size as distributed in previous years. This matter will be referred to the Planning Commission for consideration and recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. The public hearing will be continued to December 4, 2001, with direction to staff to return to the Board of Supervisors with the Planning Department’s recommendation and a resolution for action. An additional directive with regard to 2001 permits states if they utilize any of the prior year’s reserves as a part of this year’s requirement, staff would return to the Board with a report on potentially increasing the affordable requirement as it relates to the use of those reserved permits, provided that it’s more than one unit. “Watch”!

Board of Supervisors approves the Planning Department Advanced Planning Work Program 2001/2002.

On September 25, the Board of Supervisors reviewed and approved a work program for the Advanced Planning Section of the Planning Department. The purpose of this program is to establish priorities and provide direction for land use policies and regulations, various planning studies and special projects. To date, this special department has developed an Urban Services Limit Line along the Watsonville City Limits consistent with a Memorandum of Understanding between the County, City and Coastal Commission, has amended the Ben Lomond Town Plan regarding septic system requirements and a specific park site and roadway alignment; has amended and rezoned the General Plan/Local Coastal Plan (GP/LCP) to designate two properties (McGregor and Moran Lake) as future park sites, has completed a draft of the Seacliff Village Plan, has completed the first phase of the update to the County’s Historic Resource Inventory and has cleaned-up amendments to the General Plan/Local Coastal Program (GP/LCP) regarding geologic hazard definitions.

Projects that are currently in progress include Timber Ordinance amendments pending resolution of litigation, “Early Notification” to the public for discretionary projects, ongoing advanced planning tasks involving the development of the GP/LCP, LAFCO annexation reviews preparation of Historic Resource Commission materials’ Inter-agency Technical Advisory Committee participatio􀀵 in the Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission, Census preparation, growth goals and monitoring of the environmental goals as stated in Chapter 16.92 of County Code. Ongoing housing tasks include all work associated with the Housing Advisory Commission (HAC), the Measure “J” Program oversight, preparation of the Housing Element and Second Unit monitoring.

First Priority Projects are General Plan Update timeline; Housing Element preparation and completion by December 2002; HAC changes to the “in lieu” fee program and affordable housing calculation method to increase the production of affordable housing; amendments to the Design Review Ordinance; local version of the State Right-to-Farm law; Rezoning/Land Use Designation Amendments to provide “clean up” actions on specific properties in Aptos and Carbonera; Rural Density Matrix Amendments to address the procedure for reviewing technical documents related to groundwater recharge areas.

New projects that are of secondary pnonty include Davenport Town Plan; Aptos Village design Framework Revision; Family Daycare Center Ordinance amendments· non-conforming non-residential uses ordinance; amendments; Agricultural Preserve/Open Space Easement combining zone clean-up; Congregate Care/ Assisted Care Facilities policies and ordinance amendments. *NOTE: Public Hearing at Planning Commission meeting on October 10. “Watch”!

Combined Affordable Housing Meeting

The County Board of Supervisors will host City Council members of the Cities of Santa Cruz, Capitola, Scotts Valley and Watsonville at 1:30 pm on October 2, at 701 Ocean Street, Supervisor’s Chambers. “Watch”!

CITY OF WATSONVILLE

City Council Adopts Resolution For the 2001 Housing “In Lieu” Fee on 9/25

The new Affordable Housing Ordinance specifies that the City Council establish the affordable housing in-lieu fee by resolution. Thereafter, the in-lieu fee is to be adjusted annually by fifty percent of the annual percentage increase in the Housing Price Index (published from time to time by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight). Throughout discussions with both the Housing Safety Committee and the Housing Task Force, formed specifically to review the original Affordable Housing Ordinance, the sentiment was expressed that the existing affordable housing in-lieu fee was not sufficient to encourage developers to build affordable units rather than pay an in-lieu fee. For this reason, the ability for developers to pay an in-lieu fee was eliminated from the new Affordable Housing Ordinance with the exception of residential development projects or land divisions that include six or fewer new units or lots, commercial and industrial development projects exceeding one thousand square feet of gross floor area or condominium conversions.

The City first imposed an Affordable Housing in-lieu fee in 1991 with the adoption of the first Affordable Housing Ordinance. At that time, a fee schedule was adopted for land divisions, residential developments and commercial/industrial projects. The fees, which have since been adjusted annually pursuant to the Consumer Price Index are; Original Land Division fees – $.80 for the first 20,000 sq. ft. ofland, $1.00 per square foot thereafter; Original Residential development fees – single family detached $2.50 per sq. ft., townhome/condo $4,000 per unit for the first four units, $5,000 per unit thereafter; Original Commercial/Industrial fees – $.25 per sq. ft. up to 10,000 sq. ft, $.50 per square foot thereafter.

For comparison, the minimum required per unit in-lieu fee charged by the City of Santa Cruz is $25,000, while Santa Cruz County charges $160,000. In an effort to encourage in-fill, considering the severe housing shortage, the Housing Task Force requested that in-lieu fees not be increased to such an extent as to discourage residential development. The Housing Task Force and the planning staff generally endorsed and recommended establishing the 2001 Affordable Housing in-lieu fees in the amounts of; Residential Development or Land Divisions including six or fewer new units or lots – Single Family Detached – $10,000 per unit, . Multi-family (includes apartments, townhouses, cooperatives and condominiums) – $5,000 per unit; Commercial and Industrial Developments – 0-1, 000 gross sq. ft of floor area – $0.00 per sq. ft., 1,001 and more gross sq ft. – $0.35 per sq. ft.; Condominium Conversions – $5000 per unit for those projects that did not pay an in-lieu fee when initially constructed.

The in-lieu fees are to be adjusted annually equivalent to 5 0 percent of the annual percentage change in the House Price Index. In-lieu fee proceeds are restricted to projects that increase or improve the affordable housing stock, which is a specific goal of the City Council. While the inlieu fees are substantially less than the actual cost of producing the affordable housing unit, the in-lieu fees will generate revenue for the City’s Affordable Housing Fund. “Watch to see if this generates more affordable units!”

CITY OF SCOTTS VALLEY

Skypark Town Center

Developers George Ow, Jr. and Barry Swenson attempted a retail project on property with frontage on Mount Herman Road and Kings Village Road, but could not proceed, partly due to two propane companies who refused to move their businesses. Bill Brooks is now stepping into the ring to take on the challenge with New Leaf Market as the anchor tenant. Because Mr. Brooks is doing a smaller project than the Ow/Swenson proposal, the propane businesses are not an issue. However, the existing specific plan and environmental framework reqmre modification to implement the most recent version of the master plan. Existing mitigation and traffic measures need to be updated. The project has been designated as a part of the Critical Habitat Zone for the zayante bandwinged grasshopper and new environmental analyses will be needed. This will be one to “Watch”!

Glenwood Update

Keenan Land Company, owner of the Glenwood property, in a letter to the Friends of Glenwood, states, “Now that the Glenwood residential project has been approved by the Scotts Valley City Council, we are in a position to offer the property for sale to those interested in preserving the land for open space. In anticipation of this possible sale, and following the council’s decision on August 15, we immediately began discussions with the Santa Cruz County Land Trust and the State Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB). These parties have expressed interest in purchasing the property in the past and have indicated a desire to pursue an acquisition at this time.” The owner is getting the property appraised and has offered the Land Trust, WCB and the Friends of Glenwood, an exclusive right to negotiate to purchase the land for open space until January 1, 2002. “Watch” this one!

CITY OF CAPITOLA

Miscellaneous Housing Contracts Approved by RDA Board of Directors

Carolyn Flynn has been contracted since September 1997 and will continue to assist in the coordination and management of Community Development Block Grant funds (CDBG). These funds are used for various housing programs such as Habitat for Humanity, Loma Vista Mobile Home Park Resident Acquisition, First Time Homebuyer Program, Housing Rehabilitation Program, Security Deposit/Last Month’s Rent Assistance Program and the Emergency Housing Assistance Program.

The 2001/2002 Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Housing Set-Aside Fund activity and budget was also approved for an amount exceeding $1.4 million. The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz was approved to continue to provide professional technical services on RDA and Statefunded programs and projects . ·

The Community Action Board (CAB) will also continue to be funded by the RDA to implement the Emergency Housing Assistance Program within the City of Capitola. The Emergency Housing Program is a “homelessness prevention” program that assists both renter and homeowner households in avoiding eviction due to unemployment, sickness, accident or similar emergency through no fault of their own. Assistance is available for up to two months rent or mortgage payments, paid directly to landlord or lending institution. The criteria for emergency housing assistance includes an income qualification of less than 130 percent of poverty level for the Santa Cruz area, that children are members of the assisted household or that the qualifying household member has a temporary or permanent disability. During FY 00/01, CAB assisted 17 households to avoid eviction in the City of Capitola. In total, those households included 35 individuals, including six individuals with disabilities. Of the 17 households served, 11 of the households had children. For the first time since the program began in 1997, CAB reported a dramatic increase in the request for these services from qualified households and a large increase in the amount requested to fund this program over the next fiscal year compared to last fiscal year.

CITY OF SANTA CRUZ

West Cliff Drive Widening

West Cliff Drive Owner’s Association protested the widening of the bike/pedestrian path, to no avail. City Council voted to approve the plan despite a petition from the Owner’s Association with over 500 signatures. Between Bay Street and Swanton Boulevard, the path will be widened to 14 feet which will narrow the road to 22 feet. The Regional Transportation Committee is providing $1 million and supports the plan. Meanwhile, the West Cliff Drive Owner’s Association plans to continue their protest by filing an appeal to the Coastal Commission. “Watch”!

Proposed Affordable Housing Preservation Ordinance

With the continuing housing crisis, the City presented a draft “Housing Preservation Ordinance”. Upon testimony from various property owners of affordable units, the public hearing resulted in referring the ordinance to a “closed session”. For the time being, this ordinance has been shelved.

Several owners felt the proposed ordinance was a violation of their property rights and a restraint of trade. The staff report that describes the draft ordinance, says that even though 11 percent (2200) of the city’s housing stock now has income and/or rent restrictions, 27 percent (600) of these units are located in multi-family housing projects that have various types of affordability agreements or assistance programs that are set to expire in the near future . Of these units, 25 percent (150) are at risk of experiencing a dramatic escalation of rents to market rate when the loan agreements, contracts or covenants protecting their affordability are fulfilled or expire. According to the staff report, market rents are averaging $1,122 for a one bedroom and $1,709 for a two-bedroom apartment. The loss of these at-risk units could force residents to either leave the community or allocate an increasingly disproportional percentage of their income to housing.

The proposed ordinance was modeled after an ordinance used in the City of San Francisco and covers any multifamily rental housing comprised of four or more rental units receiving any public subsidy or any such units that have received a similar subsidy for which affordability covenants remain in place.

One of the provisions that owners opposed was the need for submitting a Notice of Intent to the Planning Director 18 months prior to taking any action to terminate the affordable status of the project . Then, within 21 days of sending the Notice of Intent, the owner would have been required to provide information to the City to allow it to evaluate the status of the tenants, assess the fair market value of the property and conduct other analyses of the project, with owner’s consent to reasonable inspection of the property and review of financial records pertaining to the development. This would be followed by required public hearings and forwarding of findings to the City.

October, 2001 

Think ‘Housing Metamorphosis’

housing

I signed up as a faithful community member, to do the right thing, to speak up, to brain-storm and to find answers to what government calls the Housing Elements of our local jurisdictions. I’ve signed up for years and watched the same game, from the same playbook.

Government seeks to meet numbers which are created and derived from regional associations such as AMBAG, i.e., Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments and many with similar handles throughout the State of California that do a numbers crunch and announce that each city and county meet specific numbers and guidelines, all of this done with the ‘best of intentions.’

Those numbers are sometimes astonishingly and seemingly huge and the public outcry often scrubs the numbers down, but not too much because money would be withheld by the State if cities and counties do not comply with those numbers.

Yet, very little housing gets built, so the supply continues to be sparse, especially to those who need it most.

In fact, sometimes the numbers are ‘met’ by using existing housing that is transformed by simply changing the zoning from other uses only to bear a new zoning for housing.

Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul? Double speak? It happens all the time.

We really need to concentrate on building homes/housing that meet all sizes and incomes as a result of careful planning for balanced supply/demand.

Somehow we have created a term called ‘Affordable Housing.’   For years, that term has bothered me because ‘affordable’ is really ‘subsidized’. It is housing that government or developers pay for, with stringent regulations tied to income and price controls—those regulations oft so complex that the rules that govern theiraffordability are like secret, unsolvable cypher.  In my opinion,  we should no longer call these types of programs affordable because they are NOT.

Let’s get real and call it Subsidized Housing, once and for all.

The Housing Elements I signed up, again—to brain-storm about/with, always contain the same critical path, with Associations of Government, and State Housing and Community Development and nothing will change.   It will not change until we recognize the need to alter the old paradigm of using bureaucracies to govern supply. There’s the word: Supply!   That’s what we don’t have.

It will not change until we recognize the need to alter the old paradigm of using bureaucracies to govern supply.

Our zoning refers to multi-residential, but our high density zoning is really very low, compared to other States and (I know I will not be very popular saying this), but some places have created lovely ‘density’ that works! We are terrified of any structure that exceeds three stories. Supply+Density needs to be part of our vocabulary.

What about water? Or, the other argument: We don’t have enough land! I know the arguments, but other places in the world seem to figure it out. We have some of the most brilliant minds in the world living in our area, but somehow it doesn’t matter. Over and over, we keep doing the same thing. We all must be willing to look at other ways of fixing this issue. I’m suggesting that we embrace the idea of creating supply+density, taking into consideration our so-called lack of land, and drought. How long do we continue to ignore saving the rainwater that races to the ocean and considering a better use of the land that helps a community live and thrive? Let’s stop being very much like the famed ostrich whose head is in the sand. Let’s think outside the same, restrictive box! Let’s not keep doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result—oh yes, we know that definition.

 

Rose Marie McNair is a licensed real estate broker in northern California with over 35 years experience in residential/commercial sales as well as Government Affairs and land use oversight. She has held numerous leadership and legislative roles during her career for local and state organizations including theSanta Cruz Association of Realtors, Pajaro Valley Association of Realtors and the California Association of Realtors (CAR).

Investment property too complex? No, just Duplex.

Don’t get in hot water with your ‘duplex’.

LOCAL laws are created with the stroke of a pen and they impact the property you own or property you might want to purchase in the County of Santa Cruz, the City of Santa Cruz, and the City of Capitola. (City of Scotts Valley does not have this law, and I need to check on the City of Watsonville).

Did you know that a house in the County of Santa Cruz, the City of Santa Cruz, or the City of Capitola which includes what is called an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), aka Second Unit or Granny Unit, is not a duplex? A further complication: An ADU should not be confused with a guest house or guest accommodation and cannot be rented for periodic tenancies—it’s only for short guest visits, and must not include cooking facilities, etc. (I am not going to muddy the waters and talk about vacation rentals in this discussion—I’ll leave that for another time!)

So…if you understand these jurisdictions; a parcel with a home MAY allow an ADU, Second Unit, or Granny unit, but with explicit criteria on size of lot, setbacks, floor area ratio, etc. with an approved permit. The most recent properties that have a home and an ADU also have deed restrictions that say:

Subject property owner MUST reside in the main house, or the ADU.

Investors don’t want to move into their investments—they want income on both, but because of the law, they cannot. Also, just because somebody else is doing it, i.e., renting both units does not mean they might not be caught and face red tags, fines and a lot of grief.

Simply put, it means that NO investor can purchase a property with a home and an ADU and rent both units.   They must reside in one or the other. And that means, it is not a duplex! And what if an owner has to leave for a year and go back East to care for a family member and would like to rent out their home? The City of Santa Cruz will allow a 2 year dispensation to an owner who provides this hardship. After that time, they may need to move back in, discontinue the use of the ADU or sell. Santa Cruz County is continuing the Owner Occupancy, as is Capitola for now.

Finally, what if the investor thinks it’s a duplex, because that’s how it’s being used now, or how it was listed for sale. How will the investor know when they buy it?  If they don’t know, I hope they read this blog! Because, what can happen, if discovered, is a jurisdiction may require the investor to do one of the following:

  1. Move in and be an owner-occupant, and rent out only one of the units
  2. Evict a tenant from one of the units and leave said unit vacant, or remove it all together
  3. Sell the property.   That would NOT be a happy investor.

 How can you tell the difference between a home with an ADU?

  1. Call the jurisdiction responsible for the property
  2. Check the zoning! Home and ADU=Residential zoning, which is NOT multi-residential. Make sure you check, because, as I say, with the stroke of the pen, in the ordinance, what use you think you have may be entirely different. Check with the jurisdiction for answers.

I spoke to the City of Capitola about the owner occupancy issue, and they are considering removing this owner occupant mandate, because of the difficulties that arise, and with the shortage of housing, we don’t want to lose units because of the stroke of the pen.

 

Rose Marie McNair is a licensed real estate broker in northern California with over 35 years experience in residential/commercial sales as well as Government Affairs and land use oversight. She has held numerous leadership and legislative roles during her career for local and state organizations including theSanta Cruz Association of Realtors, Pajaro Valley Association of Realtors and the California Association of Realtors (CAR).

Santa Cruz Legislative Watch: November 2001 – Housing Affordability Collaboration Continues

NOVEMBER 2001

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY

On October 2, the Board of Supervisors hosted a Housing workshop and invited the City of Capitola, City of Santa Cruz, and City of Watsonville, to discuss their input on the current housing shortage. The staff report reiterated the deficit in supply as compared to demand, the housing affordability gap and the fact that fewer and fewer can afford property in Santa Cruz County. The goal of the meeting was to make the presentation a “study session” so that each entity could gather information to take back to their communities. Members of the community spoke regarding the housing crisis, as well. After the presentations, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to return on November 6, 2001 with a report that includes, but is not limited to, a report on the ramifications of raising the percentage of redevelopment funds available for affordable housing, the issue of linkage with the City of Watsonville, providing information on the possibilities of second units on agricultural land, a report from County Counsel on University of California status in relation to local ordinances, analysis of “in lieu fee” recommendations from the Housing Advisory Commission, re-zoning of multi-residential parcels and history and potential of Planned Unit Developments, impact of changing floor area ratios from 50% to 40%, legal information on how many may reside in a unit, statistical information about the number and needs of renters, identification of high density parcels and provide information on numbers of vacation rentals versus permanent housing units.

Meanwhile, the Clusters/Creative Solutions Team, which is a collaboration of community members who are meeting to develop a Housing Criteria to endorse housing projects that match these same criteria. Frank Morris, our Association President, Trevor Thorpe and Michael Lussier, Co-Chairs of the Local Governmental Relations Committee and the Legislative Monitor, Rose Marie McNair have been attending these “stakeholder” meetings and have been providing a REALTOR®’s perspective to the housing needs of Santa Cruz County. One of the speakers on October 26, was Chris Block, Executive Director of the Housing Trust of Santa Clara County. The development of the $20 million trust fund in remarkably short order during last years fantastic economy is now becoming a model for other housing collaborative efforts throughout the state. Mr. Block pointed out that because they designed the fund, they are not under the same constraints as Federal and State housing funds. Another speaker was Janet Falk, Executive Director of the California Housing Partnership . She informed us that the State is looking for ways to preserve existing affordable affordable units and currently 600 of them are at risk of losing affordable status. Many subsidized housing projects sunset after a period of years. Section 8 units are done on 20-year contracts and owners can choose NOT to renew. These started in the late ’70s and once expired, they are subject to renewal by congress and can be renewed year to year. “Watch” for the report on the Housing Options Feasibility Study at the City of Santa Cruz Council Chambers, November 8 at 7:00 p.m. The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the City of Santa Cruz has been studying a lot of creative ideas for affordable housing, as well. Tapes of a very fascinating TAC workshop are available for check-out from the Association Library. The speakers were experts in various affordable housing venues and came from all parts of the state. The workshop will also be shown on local Cable TV-dates not known yet! Meanwhile, our Association Housing Task Force will be meeting to begin developing further studies for collaboration with the community on housing Creative Solutions. “Watch”!

COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ

Changes coming in Code Violations Ordinance. In response to the County Grand Jury report in June, Planning Director Alvin James, presented a report regarding the County’s Code Compliance system and the areas that would best meet the County’s goals of making illegal units legal and safe. Over 51 % of the investigations opened resulted in resolution of the violation in less than the time frame goal of 120 days. However, obtaining compliance for the remaining 49% required longer than the 120-day goal. Compliance is a process in which the status of an investigation progresses from a complaint received through investigation, administrative actions, and ultimately referral for legal action through administrative or legal action. The first category entitled “Investigations in Progress” includes those investigations in which the property has been inspected, but a Notice of Violation has not been issued. The reason no violation is posted is to provide time for the property owner to complete repairs/corrections or to provide time for other inspectors such as county geologists or building inspectors. A Notice of Violation (Red Tag) moves the investigation into the next category. It is important to distinguish between minor violations and more serious land use violations. The enforcement clock should not start until the violation has been confirmed and posted by code compliance staff. Once confirmed, the violation is posted and recorded. Recordation automatically follows posting after a 20-day appeal period has ended. Recording violations notices protect future purchasers from unknowingly acquiring a property on which a violation exists. Supervisor Almquist raised the issue of complaints that come from hostile neighbors for a relatively minor infraction. Once on site, the inspectors tend to look for additional violations and the property owner is often stuck with a long list of code violations that are relatively minor, but continue to drag on and on. Almquist pointed out that unless the violations are so severe as to create a health and safety hazard, the inspector should look only at the violation they are called to inspect, and should try to look for a timely resolution. He was actually looking for enforcement of the 120-day maximum time frame for resolution. Mr. James said that sometimes it is not possible to resolve the complaints that quickly. Supervisor Pirie was concerned about allowing “any code violations”, regardless of how minor they might be, to be overlooked. Perhaps, mediation and conflict resolution between neighbors may resolve some of the issues. “Watch” as the code compliance procedures are redesigned to streamline and make the process more effective. This is expected on the agenda in early 2002, perhaps by February.

Revised Rural Road Standards Proposed

A Public Hearing will be held before the Board of Supervisors on November 6, 2001, at 9:30 a.m. to consider amendments to the Grading Ordinance regarding revised design standards for private roads, driveways and bridges to ensure that firefighting trucks/equipment can safely and effectively use the County’s rural private roads, and to make the standards consistent with the County General Plan/Local Coastal Program. The changes to Section 16.20.180 would include the following:

  1. standard allweather surface increases
  2. road dimensions-width would increase
  3. Bridges width increases from 16 to 20 feet,

but may be reduced by the · Fire Chief and other changes include standards for bridge construction and a requirement for permanent maintenance of the roadways and bridges under the Grading Permit. For more information, contact the Planning Department at 555-5555 or the Clerk for the Board of Supervisors at 555-5555.
“Watch”!

CITY OF SANTA CRUZ

Sewer Connection Fees to be Increased. When a building connects to the sewer system a fee is paid to the City for the right to connect. That fee is considered the cost to buy-in to the sewer system that has been built and maintained through monthly user fees over the last 80 years. In a report prepared by Steve Wolfinan, Associate City Engineer, the existing connection fees were adopted by resolution in 1986 and have not been adjusted for inflation. Since that time the City has made major investments in the Wastewater Treatment Facility and sewer collection system. The following proposed· fees were calculated using the equity the City has in the sewer system and the required capacity associated with a new connection. For a Single Family connection water meter, 5/8 inch or 3/4 inch, the existing fee is $720. The proposed fee of $1200 is a 67% increase. For a MultiFamily connection (per unit), the existing fee is $720. The proposed $900 fee is a 25% increase. For a NonResidential connection the fees vary according to the size of the water meter in a range of 5/8 inch to 6 inches. Existing fees range from $720 to $20,000. Proposed fees range from $1200 to $31,800. The percentages of increases are not the same for all connections because the existing rate may not have been based on the required capacity associated with each connection. The existing rates also used the same rate for all residential units whether it was a multi-family or single-family unit. The proposed rates recognize that on the average, one multifamily unit produces less sewage than one single-family unit. Therefore, the percentage of increase for multiresidential units is lower than other connections. To compare costs for Single Family connections in other areas, the City of Santa Cruz’s existing fee is $720 and proposed fee will be $1200. The City of Watsonville currently charges $1250, Santa Cruz County Urban charges $3000 and the City of Scotts Valley charges $4,801.
The Public Works Commission recommended approval of the proposed rates at its July 16, 2001 meeting. The revenue generated through connection fees can change dramatically every year based on the amount of new construction. On the average the increased fees should increase revenue for the Wastewater Fund by $30,000 to $70,000 annually. Check with the various localities for increased sewer fees for new connections.

Zoning Ordinance Update Regulating Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Units and Other Related Issues.

The City Planning and Community Development Department will present revisions to the high density SRO ordinance as the City of Santa Cruz continues to face a severe housing shortage which the report indicates is exacerbated by increasing enrollments at UCSC and continuing pentup housing demand throughout the Santa Cruz area. Although SRO developments can represent a viable and less expensive housing option for the City, the Department believes these units should be developed in areas that provide appropriate amenities and should not be encouraged over other forms of multi-family housing. In the last five years, 102 SRO units were built in Santa Cruz versus 73 units of other types of multi-family housing. Currently four more projects, representing 226 SRO units, are being proposed, and one project with 11 SRO units is under construction. SRO units are attractive to developers  because of reduced parking requirements and lack of density restrictions. Existing zoning standards and guidelines do not appear to fully address impacts such as density, neighborhood compatibility and project livability. At the request of the City Council, the Planning Commission has reviewed the ordinance and is recommending that the minimum SRO development standards and guidelines be revised. Some of the proposed revisions include amending the definition of SRO units to indicate that SRO units are smaller size units without going into unnecessary detail of actual unit sizes, increasing the maximum size allowed from the current maximum of 325 square feet up to 400 square feet, changing the optional use of kitchens under 220 square feet and addressing common bathrooms. Also, common facilities would clarify outdoor and indoor open space, laundry facilities would be required, additional storage space and bike storage would be added, on-site management would begin with 12 rather than 16 units with a recommended management plan, parking requirements for units under 220 square feet would require .75 space per unit and units over 220 square feet would require I space per unit and SROs would continue to be allowed with a Use or Special Use Permit in the downtown and along major arterials that have significant commercial development in the Community Commercial (C-C), Central Business (CBD), and R-T(C) Beach Commercial Districts. The Planning Commission recommends that SROs not be allowed in the General Industrial Districts (I-G, Multi-Residence-High Density (R-H), Motel Residential R-T(B) or in Beach Commercial Districts (B-C) . These areas do not provide easy access to a core shopping area such as a full service grocery store that normally has associated ancillary uses such as coffee shops, pharmacies and other smaller shops. “Watch” as this ordinance will be on the agenda as we go to press!

CITY OF SCOTTS VALLEY

Mt. Hermon June Beetle and Joint Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) with the County of Santa Cruz. The City of Scotts Valley has been notified by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), that certain projects being contemplated by private property owners are located in areas where the Mt. Hermon June Beetle has been found to be present. The Mt. Hermon June Beetle is a listed species protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) . Since the issues have been identified, several property owners, real estate agents and developers have contacted staff with concerns about permit processing for future room additions, swimming pools, subdivisions, etc. In January 1997, the Mt. Hermon June Beetle and the Zayante Bandwinged Grasshopper were listed as endangered species protected by the ESA. In 1998, a Recovery Plan was published by the USFWS. This plan includes information on the life cycle of the beetle. The city requested a map from USFWS to depict the habitat areas so that it could be used to assist in development project review. A map showing the “Zayante Soils” was provided by USFWS earlier this year showing the Zayante Soil type generally thought to be the primary habitat indicator of the species. Additional factors such as the Ponderosa Pine and Manzanita brush are also known habitat characteristics . The locations of the Zayante Soils within Scotts Valley are predominantly developed and located in the southern portions of the City. According to the County of Santa Cruz, approximately 1,000 parcels contain Zayante Soils. These properties range from commercial land, streets and roads, residences and city owned parcels. To date, only a limited number of new developments have occurred in this area. From May through July this year, several private property owners who were proposing or considering future development in the City and the County area conducted Mt. Hermon June beetle surveys. These surveys were finding that the beetle is present in several parcels both within and near the mapped Zayante Soil zone. Therefore development or grading would disturb the beetle’s habitat and any ground disturbance activities could result in a “take” of an endangered species. Unauthorized “take” is a violation of the Endangered Species Act. In order to allow ground disturbance act1V1tles, a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is required. USFWS has been discussing and encouraging the City of Scotts Valley and the County to do a regional HCP to allow individual property owners to proceed with their projects as well as address any City or County project which may be affected. The City evaluates development applications as being either “ministerial” or “discretionary”. For example, building permits for homes on existing lots, swimming pools, room additions and permits for previously approved development projects are “ministerial”. If a project requires a public hearing with review to the Planning Commission and/or City Council, it is considered “discretionary” and is subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which requires review of endangered species impacts. The City Council authorized staff to continue working with the County and the USFWS on the preliminary stages of an HCP. Meanwhile, private property owners (and the City who owns property in the Zayante Soil zone) must await completion of the Habitat Conservation Plan . Please contact Laura Kuhn Community Development Director at (831) 555-5555 for a copy of the map or any questions you may have. “Watch”!

PLEASE NOTE : The Real Estate Watch is prepared by Rose Marie McNair, Legislative Monitor, and is only a summary not intended to provide legal advice, and should always be verified for accuracy.

NOVEMBER 2001

Santa Cruz Legislative Watch: June 2001 – Affordable Housing Project Postponed

JUNE 2001

TOM BURNS, COUNTY REDEVELOPMENT, LGR SPEAKER FOR MAY 2001

Image result for tom burns santa cruzTom Burns from the County’s Redevelopment Agency (RDA) was hired by the County to be the County Geologist in 1977. Then, for a while, he was the head of Resource Planning and dealt with long range and permit issues. Later, he was Assistant Planning Director for many years. And today, he is Director of the County’s Redevelopment Agency. Tom explained that State Redevelopment law is a tool for local cities and counties who may decide to consider setting up Redevelopment areas. In Soquel and Live Oak, the County set one up in 1987. The plan included parks, drainage, streets, infrastructure, etc. Tom mentioned that the Live Oak area prior to RDA, over the years had urbanized without benefit of urban services and RD funds were used to help put them in place. Once a Redevelopment area is set up, the RDA gets part of the growth from property taxes and 20% of the monies received have to be used for affordable housing. Current projects underway by the County RDA are the Soquel Bridge, which will begin construction in June and Capitola Road from the City of Santa Cruz to the City of Capitola. (Sometimes, various RDAs must work in conjunction with other City RDAs such as the Capitola Road project which traverses through the County and the Cities of Santa Cruz and Capitola.)

Tom estimated that the County RDA has funded about 50 or so projects including the affordable housing project on Cunnison Lane in Soquel, the Live Oak Library expansion, work on Schwan Lake, and the one way section of East Cliff Drive with the bikeway and walking pathway. A question was asked regarding the involvement of the RDA in the O’Neill Ranch property, currently the new Anna Jean Cummings Park, on Old San Jose Road, near Soquel High School. Over 20 years ago, this 95 acre parcel was slated for several hundred units of housing. After many failed attempts at market rate housing, the County purchased the property for $6 million by using $2 million of RDA funds and$~ million out of the County’s capital fund with a goal to build affordable housing and a park. Many years later, the Board of Supervisors voted not to build housing, and 1~stea~ made plans for the park. Because the property had nsen m value, capital funds from the County in the amount of approximately $3 .1 million was used to “buy back” the RDA’s original portion of $2 million. State Housing and Community Development Department (HC~), who oversees certification of the County’s Housing Element, saw the Board’s action as an act of bad faith toward providing housing in the County, and this was one of many reasons HCD was not willing to provide State certification for the Housing Element at that time. To complete construction of the Anna Jean Cummings Park, RDA funded an additional $3.5 million. Total park cost: Approximately $10.5 million. Tom noted that RDA funds cannot be utilized for maintenance of completed projects. Currently, some of the property owned by the County RDA are:

  1. land/buildings at the corner of 17th and Felt
  2. a Chanticleer parcel
  3. corner of Capitola and 17th
  4. the Anna Jean Cummings Park; various parking lots in Soquel
  5. a mobile home park in Soquel in the flood plain behind the Soquel Post Office

State RDA law has been revised and major changes were made in 1994 such as:

  • Tightening the definition of “blight” to require both substantial physical and economic conditions as a precondition to RDA plan approval
  • Requiring that agencies adopt implementation plans that ensure that projects pursued by the agency are directly related to remedying the blighted conditions that justified creation of the project area
  • Eliminating the fiscal review and negotiation process with taxing entities and replacing it with a statutory three-tier pass-through formula
  • Establishing time limits for project areas for issuing debt, plan implementation, and repayment of debt
Image result for anna jean cummings construction images
Anna Jean Cummings Park, Soquel California

RDA must go through the same planning process as a private citizen. Thus far, County RDA, in the housing arena, has leveraged approximately $13 million for property valued at about $80 million. For more information on County RDA projects, public hearings or other questions: the RDA email address is http://www.rda@co.santa-cruz.ca.us and phone number (831) 454-2280.

COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ

Public Hearing for Pajaro Lane Affordable Housing Project Postponed to June 5, 2001

In order to accommodate proper notice to the public, the public hearing scheduled for May 22 was postponed to June 5. The application for 99 affordable housing units was submitted in December, 2000 and is located on property on the east and west sides of Pajaro Lane to the southeast of Airport Boulevard at the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Pajaro Lane about one-quarter mile south of Airport Boulevard and Green Valley Road. Consistent with the Affordable Housing Ordinance requirement for priority processing, priority processing has been granted based on the fact that 100% of the units are affordable and the project includes a “Density Bonus Credit.”

The application for 99 affordable housing units was submitted in December 2000

The Agricultural Policy Advisory Commission (APAC) reviewed and conditionally approved the proposed reduction of the 200 foot agricultural buffer setback to an average 175 foot agricultural buffer setback, consistent with the County’s Agricultural Land Preservation and Protection Ordinance. The 175 foot setback is contiguous with the General Plan’s required 10 foot setback from the dripline of the Corralitos Creek’s riparian vegetation. Conditional approval requires the applicant to construct a 6 foot high chain link fence along the agricultural setback line in order to prevent trespass into the agricultural land and to allow visibility into the riparian corridor. Priority funding is necessary in order to receive construction funding to occur this year with approval by the Board of Supervisors for the deadline in mid June. The approval of the application includes a Minor Land Division (MLD) for the proposed apartments to be situated on a separate parcel at the time of the tax credit application and must record the early part of June in order for the applicant to receive this year’s tax credit funding for construction to begin in 2002. Phase I consists of the required MLD. Phase II includes the Residential Development for the proposed apartments, community building and the necessary road, drainage and utility improvements. Complexities for approval include, but are not limited to, the 28 foot height limit, density bonus credits, roadway, roadside and riparian exceptions, etc. Permits must be granted prior to February 15, 2002 with Board approval in order to obtain the necessary funding. Phase ill includes the further subdivision of the land for 35 townhomes. This is one to “WATCH”!

Exploration of New Redevelopment Area in the San Lorenzo and Pajaro Valley Area

County RDA, in a letter dated May 10, 2001 to the Board of Supervisors, stated that as part of this past year’s budget actions, funds were appropriated to study the possibility of forming new redevelopment project areas in the San Lorenzo Valley and Pajaro Valley. While work is still underway to determine initial feasibility of pursuing a project in the Pajaro Valley area, discussions regarding the San Lorenzo Valley (SLV) have progressed to the point where the Board of Supervisors may take initial steps to formally initiate the plan development state of the project. The letter further said that the San Lorenzo Valley area, while not having experienced the same dramatic growth in new development that has occurred in mid-county, the SL V has it’s own unique set of issues due to infrastructure limitations. Most prominently, as the housing in the SL V has changed from predominantly seasonal summer cabins to year-round occupancy, septic system problems have become a high cost maintenance item for homeowners and an impediment to business area vitality. Other infrastructure needs have been identified over the past decade that directly affect the economic viability of the core business areas and the surrounding residential neighborhoods. Village plans were completed for Felton in 1987, Ben Lomond in 1990, and Boulder Creek in 1992, but little implementation of these plans has occurred due to a lack of adequate financial resources. Initial public input has been obtained indicating the following concerns:

  • RDA’s use of eminent domain authority and RDA’s ability to assemble sites for commercial development; thus RDA will recommend that the RDA plan not include eminent domain authority
  • Financial impact on the local special districts in the Valley as the result of the redistribution of property tax growth which impact the four fire districts in the Valley and if not properly addressed the community will likely not support creating a project area
  • Potential revenue must meet project needs
  • Housing assistance needs should be specifically addressed in the SL V area
  • Concerns addressed by citizens that the SL V project area should require a vote

RDA letter was unable to address the voting issue and said that the Board of Supervisors could conduct an advisory election on this issue, but that “it is premature at this time to assess the need or mechanism to address this issue.” After discussion by community members, the Board of Supervisors voted to proceed with the study to determine the feasibility of an RDA in the SLV. “Watch”!

Seacliff Village Plan

On May 22, the Board of Supervisors approved the plan in concept only and acknowledged that the moratorium on new development in the Seacliff Village expires on June 30, 2001. The moratorium cannot legally be extended. Issues that will need to be addressed in further detail are the re-zoning of the Adobe Hacienda, which is a 14 unit low income, longterm residential property, and was originally constructed as a motel back in 1946 with additions and alterations. The Housing Advisory Commission (HAC) recommended that the Board authorize the continued use of the property as affordable housing-and under the current C-1 zoning, a use permit would not be allowed-therefore they are recommending re-zoning to a higher density RMl.5 (Multi-Family Residential 1500 square feet per dwelling unit and change the land use designation from Neighborhood Commercial to Urban High Density residential. The Seacliff Center Trailer Park site is currently used for approximately 23 semi-permanent travel trailer/RV housing units and a manager’s quarters. Permits issued in 1963 and 1964 respectively allowed 28 transient travel trailer spaces. These permits also required a 15-foot landscaped buffer along State Park Drive, a 6-foot buffer along the railroad right of way, landscaping along Broadway, and an on-site play/recreational areaconditions which have not been met. Now, the transient trailer use has evolved into a semi-permanent housing use for lower income residents. HAC recommended that the Board of Supervisors continue the current enforcement policies relative to the occupancy limits contained in the use permits for the site so as not to displace the residents and ensure, also, that the owner does not displace tenants involuntarily. HAC also recommended that the owner be required to complete the various physical improvements required by the permits and adequately maintain the property. HAC is asking the Board to require the identification of new sites and projects for 31 affordable housing units within the Seacliff area and/or Aptos Planning Area for very low income households to be developed within the three years following the adoption of the replacement housing plan for the trailer park residents. The Board approved the above with the exception of this latter recommendation from HAC. Other considerations for parking, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center/Museum and Drainage, trails connecting Aptos Village, State Park and Seacliff Village. Design requirements were also included. Additionally, HAC recommended that the 2.9 acre McGregor parcel presently designated Community Commercial shall be designated as a potential Park site and that the Board seek funding for the purchase of the McGregor property. “Watch” as the process continues.

CITY OF CAPITOLA

Rispin Mansion Hotel Proposal Continues

Image result for rispin mansion capitolaTwo developers, Beardslee and Floyd continue their inquiry to develop the historic 10,000 square feet Rispin Mansion on the comer of Wharf Road and Clares Street in Capitola. In the third year since their initial proposal back in 1998, the project number of hotel units has decreased from 49 to 24. Faced with the intricacies of historical preservation, so that the original architecture remains in tact, they must forge ahead with a design that meets the historical guidelines. They must also take the cautious approach to the Soquel Creek riparian corridor and the protection of the Monarch butterflies in the Eucalyptus grove. Meanwhile, the Coastal Commission has indicated that the location of the property in the riparian corridor and the endangered Monarch butterflies in the Coastal Zone present further obstacles to approval. With what many call a flawed EIR, answers to all of the aforementioned problems must be resolved in order for the hotel renovation to be approved. And the question, yet unanswered: When? “Watch”!

CITY OF SCOTTS VALLEY

Blue Bonnet Lane Condo Project Postponed

A public hearing was held on May 16 to review an application for a 34 unit condo project on a 2.34 acre site located on Blue Bonnet Lane. The Planning Commission’s hearing on April 26 concluded that the project had been designed in conformance with the height regulations and asked that the architect provide additional exhibits for the City Council hearing. The Planning Commission, in its report, addressed its concerns about fence and lighting details and recommended that the City Council approve the application with modifications to conditions. Citing the following considerations for approval of the project: a) the project will serve the City’s goal of adding to the supply of housing units in the City in order to accommodate regional population needs and employment growth in the City; b) the project will help address the shortfall of housing required to meet the city’s fair share allocation of regional housing needs—in particular, the project will provide 5.1 affordable units to be used to offset the fair share housing demand; c) the project will directly contribute to the tax base of the City through increases in the assessed value of the project property and increased tax increment revenue because the site is located in the Scotts Valley Redevelopment Plan area; and d) indirect tax contributions through sales tax revenues would be generated through local businesses by occupants of the new dwellings and a larger population will also help support existing retail businesses. In spite of the list of recommendations from the Planning Commission, nearby neighbors voiced their concerns about the three-story development -some claiming that their privacy would be invaded by the tall structures looming over their homes in the Montevalle Mobile Home Park. The developer, Bill Brooks, asked for postponement in order to address neighborhood concerns. “Watch”!

CITY OF SANTA CRUZ

City Redevelopment Agency to Enter into Affordable Housing Agreement with Pacific Union Apartments

Pacific Union Apartments is a major residential developer in Northern California. They have acquired one property and has acquired options on two other properties with the Merged Earthquake Redevelopment Project Area on which to develop mixed income residential rental projects each containing 40% low and very low income units. The developer proposes that by applying the tax increment and some City fees generated by the projects to the affordable units, could make these mixed-income projects financially feasible. The developer is proposing to construct approximately 100 mixed income rental units at the comer of Pacific Avenue and Cathcart Street, known as 1010 Pacific Avenue, with ground floor retail on both Pacific and Cathcart Street, with subterranean parking. The developer is requesting the new tax increment and approximately $630,000 of the $1.3 million in fees to be paid by the project, to be used to provide the 40% affordability-or 40 units for low and very low income households. The developer is also requesting other fees to be deferred until issuance of the occupancy permit. Even with this assistance, the 1010 Pacific Avenue project will not be feasible without financial support from a second project consisting of 200 mixed income rental units on an 11-acre site on Shaffer Road.

Santa Cruz Legislative Watch: January 2001 – Logging, Jade Street, Affordable Housing

COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ

Logging Ordinance in Court

Big Creek Lumber Company filed suit two years ago against County logging ordinances which Big Creek claimed contained more restrictions than State Law. The County had created regulations to restrict helicopter logging in certain areas as well as restricting logging around waterways. Judge Yonts overturned the County restrictions ruling them illegal and pre-empted by State logging law. Supervisors had hoped that by imposing stricter zoning criteria in residential areas, the zoning powers would prevail. Central Coast Foresters Association and the California Department of Forestry took the same position as Big Creek against the County. “Watch” for the changes in the logging ordinance as reflected by the recent court decision.

Interest on Security Deposits

Effective January 1, 2001, County of Santa Cruz has set the rate at 2% per annum for tenant’s residential security deposits. Please contact the Cities of Watsonville, Capitola and Santa Cruz-which have placed the rate of 2% for 2001 on their consent agendas. These cities will probably stay at 2%, but verify with each jurisdiction. (Scotts Valley does not have an ordinance requiring interest on Security deposits.) The rate for the year 2000 was set at 2% for the County, Watsonville, Capitola, and Santa Cruz.

Amesti Road Repair

In 1995, a landslide closed the northern end of Amesti Road. Residents in the area have been working diligently for five years to get the road repaired, but have encountered miles of red tape. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has pledged $500,000 to repair the road, but requires that the slide be repaired before the money can be released. The State Office of Emergency Service has allocated money, but it needs well over one million dollars to stabilize it. Now, Amesti Road may get repairs made because funds allocated for truck-passing lanes on Highway 17 have been scrapped and the $2 million allocated for the Highway 17 work could be spent on the Amesti repairs. Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission came back on January 4, 2001 and unanimously voted to allocate $1.5 million on repairing Amesti Road, even though the Executive Director of the R TC stated that it bypasses regular procedure. After hearing from the Amesti Road residents present their case for repairs, all members of the Commission were inclined to vote in favor of the Amesti Road repair. “Watch” now to see when actual construction begins.

Soquel Village Bridge Replacement

County Redevelopment Agency tentatively set a hearing for January 10, 2001 at the Congregational Church of Soquel to prepare neighbors for the expected traffic snarl that will ensue due to removal and reconstruction of the Soquel Bargetto Bridge which is over fifty years old. The $2.3 million project must be done between June and October 2001 because of environmental laws involving work in and around a stream. During a tremendous rainstorm in 1982, logjams accumulated at the bridge and flooded the Soquel Village. The new bridge is expected to reduce flooding by increasing stream flow although it won’t completely prevent flooding. The Redevelopment Agency is also planning to start an $800,000 beautification project between Daubenbiss and Main Street in the Spring; sidewalks, trees, landscaping, bike lanes and repaving are expected to spruce up the Village. “Watch” for the finalized meeting date!

CITY OF SCOTTS VALLEY

School Facilities – Needs Analysis

Since November 10, 2000, the City has been analyzing a copy of the Scotts Valley Unified School District report entitled “School Facility Analysis”. Copies of the report were distributed to the Planning Commission and City Council for review. The focus of the report is to establish the need for new school facility construction based upon growth projections to establish the amount of school impact fees, and to demonstrate that such fees are roughly proportional and reasonably related to the cost of school facilities within the District. Fees are currently charged at a rate of $2.05 per square foot of habitable residential building area, and $.33 per square foot of commercial building area. This amount is established by the State Allocation Board. However, if a District meets certain eligibility requirements established in State Law, they may conduct a School Facilities Needs Analysis to charge higher level fees for residential construction. In the event that the State Allocation Board does not provide allocated funds from State sources, an eligible School District may then charge even higher fees. Only two other school districts in the County have adopted higher-level fees (Pajaro and Live Oak School Districts) . The Scotts Valley District has been pre-qualified as an eligible District by the Office of Public School Construction on March 26, 1999. The bottom line in this complex process is that these higherlevel Fees/Affordable housing fees, if implemented, would increase the school impact fees paid by developers in Scotts Valley for a 2,500 square foot home from $6,675 to $13,350-double the amount of the Level 2 fees. “Watch” as the City analyzes the needs for new school facilities and also balance the effects on the cost of housing.

CITY OF CAPITOLA

Jade Street Site – School or Park?

The City of Capitola has been leasing the site of the Jade Street Park for $ 1. 00 a year from the Soquel Union School District. They had planned one day to build an elementary school on the site, but the community has become attached to the amenities of the Jade Street Park. The City’s lease expires in July of this year. The City Council has now voted unanimously to buy the property and work with the district to pass a bond that would upgrade and expand New Brighton Middle School adjacent to the Capitola Elementary School into the nearby four acre Monterey Park. Residents of the Soquel Elementary Union School District and interested parties may wish to attend public hearings regarding plans to change school attendance boundaries, school bond passage, and the many strategies involved. All hearings will begin at 6:30 pm. Meetings on January 17, Main Street Elementary Auditorium, Soquel; February 7, Soquel Elementary multipurpose room, Soquel; February 21, Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary Library, Santa Cruz; March 7, Capitola Elementary multipurpose room, Capitola; and March 14, Main Street Elementary auditorium, Soquel. “Watch”!

Rispin Plans

Developers Ron Beardslee and Dan Floyd’s proposal to tum the historic Rispin Mansion into a Bed and Breakfast Inn still has many hurdles to cross before gaining approval. Owned by the City of Capitola, the old mansion located on Wharf Road on over six acres over Soquel Creek, has received heavy environmental scrutiny now because of the monarch butterflies who flock to the eucalyptus trees on the site. Denise Duffy and Associates has produced a new Environmental Impact Report which is available to the public at the Capitola Library at 2005 Wharf Road and at City Hall at 420 Capitola Avenue. Deadline for public comment is January 31. “Watch”!

CITY OF SANTA CRUZ

December 12 Public Hearing for West Cliff Drive Catholic Church Expansion

About a year ago, the Catholic Church applied with the City of Santa Cruz to expand the size of the Church sanctuary to seat four hundred people. In order to accommodate that number, the parking lot would have to be expanded. Located in a residential district on West Cliff Drive with some of the best ocean views in Santa Cruz county, the Church owns seven acres of land which houses the Church, parking and Gateway School. The Zoning Board first reviewed the application at a public hearing on November 18, 1999. The project was continued indefinitely to allow for completion of environmental documentation. After more public hearings and revisions to the plan, the Zoning Board voted to approve the project. At the December 12 hearing, neighbors and community members continued to express concerns that traffic will mcrease, that environmental issues will be violated and that a monarch butterfly habitat will be disturbed. In response to those concerns, church officials said they would support a lefttum only sign and other traffic mitigations. The Church said they hope to serve more people and provide more parking for the students and do not have ulterior motives. In addition, three wildlife experts testified that the development would not endanger the butterfly habitats. Meanwhile, the next public hearing will be held January 9. “Watch”’

CITY OF WATSONVILLE

Affordable Housing Ordinance

The City of Watsonville Affordable Housing Ordinance currently requires developments of more than eight units make 25% of the units affordable to median and low income residents. Although well intentioned since 1991, only five affordable housing units have been built under the ordinance. A Housing Task Force made recommendations to address the ordinance and create incentives to developers that might generate more housing. These recommendations were discussed on December 12 at a City Council meeting and continued to a later unspecified date. In addition, Watsonville Planning Commission had the item on the end of their agenda and prior items did not allow enough time to thoroughly discuss the recommendations. Some of the proposed changes to the affordable housing ordinance, which will be addressed by the Planning Commission and the City Council in the next few weeks, are:

  1. Changing the affordability income scale to qualify for affordable housing to $43,190 instead of using $61,700 – Santa Cruz County’s median income rate
  2. Allowing affordability requirements to expire after 40 years; currently they continue for the life of the project
  3. Requiring dedication of affordable units when seven or more units are built
  4. Only Units with less than seven units would be required to pay in-lieu fees, e.g., single family dwellings could pay $10,000 and multi-residential units $5,000
  5. Reduce the percentage of required affordable units from 25% to 15% as an incentive to developers.

“Watch” as this ordinance is developed!