An apartment building on Water Street in Santa Cruz
The city of Santa Cruz is seeking input on standards for new housing.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Housing

What makes neighborhoods ‘distinctively Santa Cruz’? City solicits input on new development standards

The city of Santa Cruz is asking residents to weigh in on specific standards and scope for new housing developments — and is dangling gift cards for those who respond to a survey.

Santa Cruz officials want to hear from residents about how new housing in the city should look and feel. And they’re offering a shot at a prize for those who voice their opinions.

California law requires cities and counties to use only development standards that can be objectively defined and measured when reviewing applications for new housing projects — building heights or types of building materials, for example, versus a subjective statement like “development must be compatible with the character of the neighborhood,” to use the city’s example.

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Because Santa Cruz’s code currently has only a few development regulations that are objective and measurable, the city needs to write more specific standards for new multifamily housing and mixed-use projects.

To find out what objective standards mean the most to Santa Cruz residents and workers, city officials debuted an online survey Monday, to run through June 1.

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They want to know what makes places feel distinctly Santa Cruz, what features make a building fit in or stand out as different, and what respondents see as similarities and differences between one neighborhood and another.

To sweeten the pot, each respondent can enter their email address for two chances to win a $50 gift card to New Leaf Community Markets, per a news release.

A screenshot from the city's survey on standards for new housing.
(City of Santa Cruz)

The survey asks participants about their priorities, concerns and preferences related to the design of multifamily buildings along commercial thoroughfares such as Water and Ocean Streets or Soquel Avenue, as well as in residential neighborhoods. Objective standards could include building heights; required setbacks from abutting property; requirements for the number, size and placement of windows; and standards for landscaping and lighting.

Late summer or early fall is the target for presenting a draft of the new standards to the public, the introduction to the survey says, with the goal of getting them before City Council for approval in winter 2021.

Where to find the survey

Access the survey here: www.surveymonkey.com/r/DefineSC

For more information on the city’s Objective Zoning Standards project, visit http://cityofsantacruz.com/obj