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Last month's Women's March resulted in the largest demonstration in modern Santa Cruz history. It was a great sign that Santa Cruz is stronger when we are working together. I am approached regularly about the impacts from the new Federal Administration on our local residents. In January the Board re-affirmed its commitment to not use County Funds to do the immigration work of the federal government. We have set aside funds to help deal with emerging issues, whether they be support for those affected by the changing federal polices on immigration or taking care of people who may be left out by changes in health care policy. The new administration has been big on Executive Orders but fairly quiet on actual policy guidance so we will wait and prepare ourselves. I encourage everyone who is fearful to remember that this is a long haul and that we need to do work at the local level to support our community. A new group, Santa Cruz Indivisible, has been formed and will holding a meeting on February 13th at the Santa Cruz Civic. Please join others in the community who care about immigration, health care, civil rights, economic justice, and the environment as we plan our local response. There are also ways to get involved with our local ACLU chapter, Planned Parenthood, the Economic Justice Alliance, and the Santa Cruz County Immigration Project. Meet your neighbors and strengthen our community by working together on the issues we care deeply about.  

As always, I will continue to work for you and all members of our Community as changes from the federal level unfold.  See you in the streets!
State Makes Big Changes to ADU Laws
The state of California is facing a major housing crisis with many reports articulating the need for hundreds of thousands of new units to meet the demand of the future. Here in Santa Cruz County we too face housing challenges, particularly in providing affordable housing for our residents. The State Legislature made significant changes to state law regarding accessory dwelling units (ADUs) or granny units during their last session in an effort to increase the availability of ADUs throughout the state. The law went into effect January 1st so the County has been working to make reasonable modifications to reflect our local conditions.
The new State law allows an ADU on any lot where there is a single-family home or a multi-unit residential building and allows for reduced setbacks, particularly for the conversions of existing structures.  The law allows for ADU permits to be issued in a ministerial manner which means without requiring a public hearing or County discretionary review.  They are not required to have additional parking if the location is within a half mile of public transit.
Our Board has been interested in looking at ways to encourage ADU construction in the County. Last year only 18 permits were issued for ADUs in the unincorporated area. The County is further defining some of these new regulations including setting height restrictions that average 14 feet for an ADU and 19 feet for an ADU over a garage. Since any permitted structure can now become an ADU, we have added some new definitions for a "Conversion ADU" and we are looking at some specific sizes based on the size of lot and the amount of coverage of the lot that already exists. This Tuesday, February 7th our Board will be reviewing and adopting many of these new rules. You can read all the proposed changes by clicking here
Our recently adopted Housing Element looks to encourage the development of 30-40 ADUs each year.  The Board will be revisiting this issue in early June to look at the fees associated with development of ADUs. These fees for water and sewer hookups and other pieces can work as a disincentive to the construction of this new housing stock. I will share these updates as they are developed.
  The Status of Soquel Village Parking Lots is Changing
In the late 1980's there were no parking lots in Soquel as we experience them today.  Merchants and others asked for help and one of the first acts of the Redevelopment Agency was to purchase the land for the parking lots.  At the time merchants agreed to create a parking district and tax themselves to pay for the upkeep of the lots.  Fees were developed based on the size of the business and the type of activity involved at each location and business parking deficits from County requirements. 

In the 1990's, voters passed Prop. 218, which required a vote by the merchants to continue charging them for the upkeep of the lots.  The election did not receive the necessary two-thirds. Following that failed vote, the County Redevelopment Agency found creative ways to fund the basic maintenance of the lots. In 2011, the legislature eliminated the Redevelopment Agency and by 2015, the County had spent whatever reserves were left to maintain the lots and needed additional revenue to maintain these public parking resources. The County advertised a meeting to talk with merchants and property owners to discuss developing a parking district where they would assess themselves (similar to what has been done in the past), but few showed up. I then worked with a Soquel merchant to hold a breakfast meeting and he contacted many of his colleagues. Again the turnout was low, but we relayed the basics of re-forming the district and for a relatively modest amount of money for each property owner, we could maintain the lots. An election was called, but again the vote failed to receive the two-thirds necessary from the property owners. At the request of constituents and merchants, we held another community meeting with staff to find a way to secure the funding necessary for the lots. Several merchants agreed to take a leadership role to see if they could garner the support from property owners and I asked our Public Works Department to hold off from starting the placement of meters.  After several months, those leaders found that there was not enough support and there wasn't interest in having the County assess property owners to maintain the lots. After these failed attempts, we are moving forward with a modest paid parking program.

I hosted a well-attended meeting last week and I shared with everyone what was coming.  The lots and Soquel Drive parking spots will cost 50 cents/hr. (that is less than downtown Santa Cruz [$2/hr] or Capitola [$1.50/hr.]); the parking will be enforced weekdays only and then only from 9 am to 6 pm. Having parking meters does generate more expenses through capital purchase and enforcement costs but we have done a parking study and feel confident that this program will generate enough funds to cover the costs of the program and for the maintenance of the lots. Any revenue generated greater than those costs can only be used in the Soquel Village area for neighborhood and business improvements.  We will be appointing an advisory board to help designate that funding. While this will be a change of practice, it is common most everywhere that users of the lots, pay for the maintenance of the lots. 
The Board will hear a complete plan at our March 7th meeting and I expect that the meters and kiosks will be installed and effective by July 1st.
Wednesday, Feb 8
5:30-6:30 p.m.
People's Coffee
1200 17th Ave 
Live Oak
Wednesday, Feb 15
5:30-6:30 p.m.
Loma Prieta School
23800 Summit Rd. 
Summit Area
Wednesday, Mar 1
5:30-6:30 p.m.
Porter Memorial Library
3050 Porter St. 


Capitola Soquel 
Chamber of Commerce
Sup. Leopold Guest Speaker
Wednesday, Feb 8
11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Bargetto Winery
3535 N. Main Street
For more information click  here
Santa Cruz Indivisible
Event #2
Monday, February 13
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
307 Church Street
Santa Cruz
For more information click here.
Cabrillo College 
Community Forum
For Live Oak, Capitola, and Soquel community
February 22 7-9 pm
6500 Soquel Drive

Not paid for with County Funds