A preliminary rendering of a 50-unit affordable housing development proposed for 314 Jessie St. in Santa Cruz.
(Courtesy city of Santa Cruz)
Development

50-unit apartment complex for low-income renters proposed in Santa Cruz’s Lower Ocean neighborhood

Under developer MidPen’s proposal, existing buildings at 314 Jessie St. would be demolished and replaced with a five-story apartment complex that includes parking underneath it, as well as leasing offices and a community room on the two bottom floors.

An affordable housing developer is proposing a 50-unit project near the intersection of Ocean Street and Broadway in Santa Cruz.

The development at 314 Jessie St. would contain studio and one-bedroom apartments for low-income renters, according to preliminary documents submitted to the city. The project is still in the pre-application stage, meaning MidPen Housing Corporation has not yet submitted a formal application.

Besides housing, MidPen would provide support services to potential tenants by partnering with health care providers, career coaches, case managers and other groups.

The nearly half-acre site (18,677 square feet) in the Lower Ocean neighborhood currently has 14 multi-family units on it, as well as an accessory building. It was built in the 1940s as a motel. MidPen bought the property in 2003.

Under the developer’s proposal, the existing buildings would be demolished and replaced with a five-story apartment complex that includes parking underneath it, as well as leasing offices and a community room on the two bottom floors.

Project specifics

In all, the project would include 40 studios and 10 one-bedrooms, according to the plans. Apartment sizes would range from 316 square feet for the studios to 459 square feet for the one-bedrooms. Two units will be set aside for MidPen staff, one for a property manager and one for a resident services staffer.

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Residents currently living at 314 Jessie would be temporarily relocated and then offered housing in the new development, MidPen Project Manager Diana Alfaro said Wednesday in a community meeting.

The apartments would house the 13 households who currently live at the Jessie site, as well as homeless individuals with mental illness and veterans experiencing homelessness, Alfaro said.

Rent prices would be set at a level that is affordable for tenants making between 20% and 50% of Area Median Income, and rents would be subsidized through vouchers and Section 8 programs.

20-50% AMI for Jessie Street project
(MidPen Housing Corporation)

MidPen, a nonprofit developer, has completed 13 projects in Santa Cruz County over several decades and is working on three more, Alfaro said.

Affordability standards could enable building to be taller

Because the Jessie development would create affordable housing in Santa Cruz, state law would let the developer make the project larger than would typically be permitted. In this case, MidPen’s plan calls for a building that has dozens of units and is 56 feet tall — nearly 30 feet taller with a higher concentration of units than is usually allowed in the low-density zone where the property is located.

Preliminary renderings of a residential development at 314 Jessie St.
Preliminary renderings of a residential development at 314 Jessie St. MidPen Housing Corporation submitted a pre-application for the project in October 2020.
(Courtesy city of Santa Cruz)

One state law in particular, AB 1763, dictates that projects situated “within a half mile of a major transit stop are not subject to maximum density controls and are allowed a height increase of up to three stories or thirty-three feet,” Associate Planner Bryanna Sherman told Lookout in an email. “This project is located within a half mile of a major transit stop.”

MidPen also hopes to cite another state law, AB 2162, which streamlines the approval process for some supportive housing developments by eliminating the need for certain environmental paperwork and waiving the city’s minimum parking requirements.

Once it moves into the formal application stage, the Jessie project is likely to require a Coastal Permit and design permit, according to city staff. Community members can email the city or write to the Santa Cruz Planning Commission about the proposed development. For details about how to do that, click here.