Rendering of Pacific Station North and the newly reimagined Metro station, looking from Front Street toward Pacific Avenue.
Artist’s rendering of Pacific Station North and the newly reimagined Metro station, looking from Front Street toward Pacific Avenue.
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Morning Lookout: Downtown’s transformational development, money for Metro & affordable housing focus

Hiya, folks. It’s Tuesday, April 25, and it’ll be a day of 70s and sunshine around Santa Cruz County, give or take some marine layer, as a warming trend that could bring some spots into the upper 80s later in the week continues.

There is lots to explore on Lookout, so I won’t be too offended if you want to skip the tour and cannonball right in.
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It’s just about impossible to avoid all the construction going on in downtown Santa Cruz these days, and Wallace Baine is here with a one-two punch to catch us all up on the transformation. Read on for his overview and update of last fall’s Six Blocks kickoff, with a companion guide to where individual projects stand and when new residents will start moving in.

One piece of that puzzle is the redevelopment of the downtown Metro transit hub, and as Christopher Neely reports, those efforts got a big boost Monday in the form of state grant money.

And in keeping with the housing theme, Pete Kennedy and Michael Polhamus have an op-ed in our Community Voices opinion section, taking issue with the contention by some fellow city planning commissioners that Santa Cruz isn’t producing enough affordable housing.

To the headlines ...

For 2024, downtown Santa Cruz’s changes will be nothing less than transformational

New residents will start moving into at least three new downtown Santa Cruz apartment buildings in 2024, and the crack of demolition of what’s next will be in the air. First, there’s the new Anton Pacific, Pacific Station South, Pacific Station North, the Cedar/Center project — and then there’s the Riverfront, Five 30 Front, the Cruz Hotel and a riverwalk all in the planning. Wallace Baine has a view of what’s going way up.

PROJECT BY PROJECT: A field guide to downtown Santa Cruz’s many in-progress housing developments

Setting the record straight: It’s time to debunk false affordable housing narratives in Santa Cruz

The downtown Pacific Station South project (right side of photo) includes 70 units of affordable rental housing.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz city planning commissioners Pete Kennedy and Michael Polhamus respond to their colleagues Cyndi Dawson and Sean Maxwell’s contention that the city is not producing enough affordable housing. Kennedy and Polhamus believe demanding unrealistic affordable housing percentages and conditions of approval makes projects infeasible to build. This does not help alleviate the housing affordability crisis, they argue — and it is also against state law. Providing housing for all through the city’s inclusionary zoning and building 100% affordable projects yields the highest proportions of affordable housing possible and helps alleviate pressures in the market, they say. Read their Community Voices opinion piece.

THE OTHER VIEW: We are planning commissioners: Santa Cruz can and should do better on affordable housing


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(Santa Cruz Works)

Yowza, that’s a full plate. Take your time to digest it all, of course, but know that Lookout has more coming. One of those things is the latest Santa Cruz County food and drink newsletter from Jessica M. Pasko, pinch-hitting for Lily Belli while Lily is on maternity leave. Sign up for here for that and all of our newsletters, not to mention breaking news alerts via email and text. Oh, and don’t forget to follow Lookout on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Our content isn’t possible without community support, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

A Tuesday full of possibility awaits, so get out there and grab it by the scruff.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz