Unfortunately these days, groups like ours that have an opinion about proposed developments are tagged with labels that suggest we are either 100 percent for a project (YIMBYs — “Yes In My Backyard”) or 100 percent against a project (NIMBYs — “Not In My Backyard”). We are neither with respect to the proposed project at 831 Water Street.
In fact, one of our members surveyed several dozen others in an effort to determine if there is consensus in our group about the need for new housing and the scale of development the survey participants would support at 831 Water Street. As this summary of the answers that participants gave makes clear, we are absolutely in favor of a reasonably sized housing project on this particular site.
Unfortunately, what the developer has proposed is anything but reasonable in scale. Just considered individually, any number of factors should disqualify this development proposal as currently proposed: density, traffic, parking, and shadow-casting, among others.
Please take a few minutes to learn why residents throughout the city are concerned about this project:
- Size and Scale — To a person, members of our citizens group support the development of new housing at 831 Water Street. But we can’t support a project that, a currently proposed, is completely out of scale for its location. Read more.
- Transportation — This project, as currently described, proposes a massive number of residential units, retail, and a bar that would completely overwhelm an intersection that for years has operated at near “failing” levels. Read more.
- Hydrology & Geology — This project, proposed at such an over-the-top scale, has the potential to exacerbate water drainage issues already present on the site, on Water Street hill, and in surrounding neighborhoods. Read more.
- Casting a Shadow — The project height, 6 stories with the top-floor bar level included, would literally place many existing homes on its closest street, Belvedere Terrace, in a project shadow for many months of each year. Read more.
- Parking Problems — The project would have a tremendous impact on available parking on any street or side street in the project’s vicinity. Read more.
- Noise Nuisance — The noise from a project of this size, especially with a rooftop bar overlooking entire neighborhoods, would be completely unacceptable as an environment impact. Read more.
- Segregated Housing — The current design, which proposes one building with all market rate units and a second with only “affordable” units is at odds with two separate city ordinances that require affordable units to be “dispersed throughout the development.” Read more.
- History, Archaeology, Architecture — The proposed architectural design for this project could not be less compatible with a neighborhood that sits at the gateway to the historic Villa de Branciforte area of Santa Cruz. More.
- Rooftop Bar — As if the 5-story towers that the developer is proposing aren’t already very oversized for that parcel, for that area of our city, and for the neighbors who would have to (literally) live in their shadow, the proposal also includes the equivalent of a 6th floor to accommodate a rooftop bar. Read more.
- Fire Easement — It appears that the project is proposed for a portion of the site that includes a fire easement that was established at the time the units were built at the end of Belvedere Terrace. This would put the occupants of a number of homes at the end of Belvedere Terrace at a significant health and safety risk. Read more.
- Rooftop HVAC — Many projects of this kind design the buildings so that HVAC and other utility equipment are unfortunately located near, at, or above the roofline. This project is no exception, with substantial mechanical equipment shown on the roof (along with the elevator to the bar). Read more.