Next steps after a disappointment

As you no doubt have heard by now, the Santa Cruz City Council voted 4 to 3 on Dec.14 that the monstrous Novin Development proposal at 831 Water St. meets the City’s objective standards and now moves to the Planning Department for ministerial processing and permitting under SB35.

A huge thank you to Council Members Justin Cummings, Sandy Brown, and Martine Watkins for standing behind their community and voting against approving this flawed and dangerous development. In the face of YIMBY-threatened litigation, this was without a doubt a difficult vote for each Councilmember.

We know you must be as disappointed as we are, not only by the outcome but by the dysfunctional process of last week’s Council meeting itself. We won’t dwell on that here.

We expected a vigorous pushback from the developer and his allies after the council’s previous denial, and it came. Threats of budget-busting lawsuits were enough to get four Councilmembers to vote to move the project forward.

We believe it is the wrong decision and will continue in our efforts to persuade the developer and city planning to modify this massive overreach that raises serious threats to public health and safety. It ain’t over.

In particular, we will be vigilant in monitoring the Conditions of Approval that planning will require of the developer and will demand that the process be open and transparent.

But first we want to thank all of you who have joined the efforts of 831 Responsible Development to ensure that affordable housing — which we agree our town needs — is created on this site in a reasonable, responsible, and respectful manner.

Your letters, your attendance and testimony at the many council meetings, as well as your financial support helped this effort. You spread the word and engaged neighborhoods across Santa Cruz.

Nearly 600 local residents signed our petition; more than 100 contributed financially — many multiple times. It really does take a village … to make a village we can be proud to live in.

We’d also like to acknowledge the time that all Councilmembers and staff put into this first SB35 application for Santa Cruz. It wasn’t easy, and they took it seriously.

As we move forward, we will keep in touch with you through our web site. We are still in this fight and ask that you all stay engaged too.

Many thanks to you all again for your support to date. There really is strength in numbers.