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!

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