Public Correspondence: Amendments to County Housing Policy

 The following is letter written in part by Business Council staff, in concert with other housing and community leaders, regarding the County’s proposed amendments to it Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. The current list of signatories may not reflect the final number of people who have signed in support of the letter.

[Proposed Amendments Under Item 59 for Reference]

RE: Proposed Amendments to Santa Cruz County Code Chapter 17.10 – Affordable Housing

Dear Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors,

We are a consortium of housing advocates, business and development industry representatives, and community leaders that together represent more than 40 individuals, companies, and organizations that do work in Santa Cruz County (attached is our list of signers). Together we have a shared interest in the creation of more housing units, of all types, to address the housing affordability gap and supply shortfall that our community currently faces.

Given this goal, we would like to request that the Board continue this item to ensure a more robust community discussion before the adoption of the policy changes being put before your Board under Item 59 – 4585 Amendments to Santa Cruz County Code Chapter 17.10.  We believe such changes would be premature, given the ongoing work on the Sustainable Santa Cruz County Plan, the potential passage of a 2018 Countywide Housing Funding Measure, and the Vision Santa Cruz County Strategic Planning Process. Specifically, we feel the policy approach being considered needs greater assessment within the context of a more robust and transparent community input process–which has not taken place thus far; and that any new policy changes must work in concert with the principles and values being considered in the above mentioned planning processes already underway.

Our perspective has been greatly informed by our formal discussions with members of your Board and County Staff. Our concerns have less to do with the objective efficacy of policies themselves, and more to do with the context that surrounds their implementation–namely the dysfunctional marketplace that exists in the unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County.

Under normal market conditions the costs of having strong inclusionary requirements can be incorporated into projects that work for both the developer and the community. Our championing of a stronger density bonus ordinance in our conversations with you is a prime example of how these costs could be offset through incentives. However, given the exceptionally high cost of land in Santa Cruz County, and the lack of appropriately zoned sites for density, as well as the absence of a balanced mixed use zoning designation, the added burden of having to meet these restrictions can prove financially insurmountable where very little to no housing gets built.

The ultimate result of these policies, which have been born out over the decades long lifespan of Measure J, is that too few housing units are built overall, which means that the total number of deed restricted affordable units is also insufficient to meet the needs of our community.

We respectfully request that you continue this item at this time so the community can participate in a more thorough, open, and holistic discussion about our policy goals, which will include a solutions oriented affordable housing program that balances outcomes with potential impacts on the development process.


Robert Singleton, Executive Director, Santa Cruz County Business Council

Sibley Simon, President, New Way Homes

Casey Beyer, CEO, Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce

Santa Cruz County Business Executive Committee

Owen Lawlor, Principal, Lawlor Land Use

Bud Colligan, CEO, South Swell Ventures

Kate Roberts, President, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership

John Swift, Principal, Swift Consulting Services, Inc.

Jon Lee, Senior Development Project Manager, Swenson

Beth Monthaven, Development Manager

Tom Honig, Santa Cruz County Housing Advisory Commission

Fred Antaki, Broker, Main Street Realtors

Rick Moe, Santa Cruz County Resident