Last Thursday Supervisor Bruce McPherson and his Chief of Staff Gine Johnson visited with the Business Council Board about his agenda for 2015. Of key importance were the recent passage of both the Economic Vitality Study and Sustainable Santa Cruz County Plan, both of which will serve as valuable policy frameworks for future projects and specific changes. Board members expressed support for these items, but were also quick to point out that they would like to see swift progress made toward implementation. Specifically, some Board members requested a list be drafted of potential opportunity sites for the types of mixed use, transit oriented development outlined in the sustainable plan, as well as a prioritized list of Economic Development items that could be funded before the start of the next fiscal year. Supervisor McPherson, being one of the most receptive and supportive members on the Board of Supervisors, expressed his optimism that 2015 would be landmark year in making progress toward changing the attitude of the County, and that he expected other Supervisors to be sympathetic.
The discussion also focused on the Business Council’s continued involvement in amending the County’s Affordable Housing regulations, which are coming up for approval in late January (expect a voter voice alert as we approach the date). As one of the most pressing issues identified by our members, Business Council staff have been meeting with Supervisor McPherson and his staff on multiple occasions to help provide insight on this issue. The result has been a series of proposed changes that reflect the interests of local business, while also being likely to be adopted, having passed through both the Housing Advisory Commission and Planning Commission unanimously.
The final item that discussed was the successful fundraising of over $400,000 to fund a study to determine the feasibility of a tri-county Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program. If created, a CCA would form a regional power authority for Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey Counties that would act as a public distributor of energy. CCAs have been successfully created in both Sonoma and Marin Counties, and have proven cost effective tools to collectively purchase energy from more sustainable sources, while also providing more local control and accountability. Gine Johnson led the fundraising effort, having secured the larger of two state grants to fund the study.
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