Please act now, as Council to consider troubling ‘Objective Standards’ proposal

As we noted in a late-June post on the 831 Responsible Development web site, the city has been proceeding with drafting so-called Objective Standards that would — in theory — give Santa Cruz better ability to review the specifics of large housing projects like the one proposed for 831 Water Street.

Well, that matter finally goes before the City Council this Tuesday (August 23), and we need your quick re-engagement with respect to what appears to be a very troubling proposal (and process).

Sorry for the last-minute call to action.

First, here is a link to the City Council agenda for Tuesday (scroll down to Item 21):

We think this letter to the council from the “Save Santa Cruz” citizens group makes a number of important points. Chief among them are these two things:

  • The way in which the draft “standards” could pave the way for insanely tall buildings.
  • The way in which the proposal would further curtail public comment and input on such large-scale projects. (Remember when the council suggested that their hands were tied by the state with respect to an 831 Water Street project that most people — including many of them — thought was ridiculously out of scale because of its proximity to existing neighborhoods?)

We would also like to add a brief comment about the process for considering such a potentially impactful proposal. Staff seems to acknowledge that they have made changes to a proposal last considered by the Planning Commission; yet they are proposing this be approved quickly: No  focused meeting that provides the public with a meaningful overview of this work (and an honest assessment of its impacts). Just one public hearing (on Tuesday), to be followed by approval and immediate implementation at the following council meeting. This is almost as disrespectful as the proposal itself.

Oh yeah, and here’s the kicker: Staff proposes a General Plan Amendment as part of the implementation process. (Didn’t we hear that it would be “too much work” and “would require a General Plan Amendment” to move density to parcels on the west side to offset any implied density reductions associated with moderated zoning on the east side?)

In short, we ask you to consider doing two things with respect to this City Council item:

  • Send an email to council members right away, expressing your outrage at this proposal. In order to have your email message included in the council packet, send it to no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, August 22. (Check out the Save Santa Cruz letter if you need help with this.)
  • If you can, please also participate in the public hearing on this matter on Tuesday. The Zoom information can be found at the top of the agenda for this meeting (see link, above).

Thank you very, very much!