The third meeting of Santa Cruz residents working to formulate a housing measure to bring to voters in 2024
A May meeting of Santa Cruz residents working to formulate a housing measure to bring to voters in 2024.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Civic Life

Questions still swirl around the city of Santa Cruz’s housing bond

It’s still not clear what form an effort to put Santa Cruzans’ dollars toward affordable housing will take, but that and other details could be resolved in the coming months as a citizens group irons things out.

Santa Cruz Mayor Fred Keeley promised to raise tax dollars to put toward affordable housing development and addressing homelessness. Earlier this year, he put that responsibility inthe community’s hands. At the city council’s direction, city staff set up a trio of public meetings to not only gauge community appetite for an affordable housing tax measure but to develop the details of the tax measure from scratch.

Those meetings closed with more questions than answers. How much money would residents be asked to pay? What kind of tax would be levied — an annual fee on every property in the city, or an additional tax on real estate sales? Who would lead the campaign to get the tax measure on the ballot? What month would the city hold the 2024 tax measure election?

Some of those questions have been resolved, and the rest of them might be figured out in the coming weeks and months, Housing Santa Cruz County executive director Elaine Johnson told Lookout.

Johnson, former mayor Don Lane and chair of the local Democratic Central Committee Andrew Goldenkranz have been leading a small community group of about 25-30 people to iron out the details of the tax measure, Johnson said. The group is studying how much revenue the city could derive from an annual fee versus from a real estate transfer tax, and is planning to host broad community meetings in the next few weeks.

“We didn’t want people to think we just dropped the ball, we wanted to keep things moving,” Johnson said. “We’ve met at least three times as a larger group, and will meet again [this week]. We don’t have too much more work to do.”

Johnson said the group is aiming to petition the community to put the new tax on the November 2024 ballot.

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