NO Re-Zoning for Condos on Ocean St. Extension
ACT NOW! Sign Our Petition & Come to the City Council Meeting
Tuesday, 9/25 7pm at Santa Cruz City Hall, 809 Center St, Santa Cruz
Support affordable, work-force housing, not expensive condos.
Support a working community, not a bedroom community.
No public pain for private gain.
The projected 40-unit condo project next to Santa Cruz Memorial Park on a rural, dead-end street far from bus lines (Ocean Street extension) goes against the city General Plan to concentrate housing near essential services & transportation to reduce car traffic and encourage walking and biking. The problem is at crisis point already. Especially critical is the Ocean St./Graham Hill Rd/Hwy 1&17 bottleneck. An “override of significant traffic impacts” for this development sets a dangerous precedent: any neighborhood could be next.
Relevant Facts About This Project
1. No Change to the 2030 General Plan and Zoning
This parcel is zoned R-1-10 which would allow approximately 9-single family units on this steeply sloped site. The City would be required to amend the 2030 General Plan adopted in 2012 in order to allow 10 three-story apartment buildings in this rural agricultural neighborhood. To rezone this parcel by quadrupling the density in a location without services or infrastructure contravenes all the principles of the General Plan and Corridor Plan and should stand as a warning to all neighborhoods in Santa Cruz that higher density is coming, regardless of your location and the prior commitments made by our City government.
If the City really intends to preserve family neighborhoods and increase density only along the transportation corridors, then this parcel should not be rezoned to allow a 40-unit development on a rural road.
2. Variances should not be granted through a Planned Development Permit
Due to its overwhelming mass and density, this project seeks variances through a Planned Development permit. Variances include:
- Tandem parking: Back-to-back parking will significantly clog OSX, because the number of on-street parking spaces will be reduced from 22 to 8.
- Building on a steep slope: This project seeks to build within 10 feet of a 30% slope. In the winter of 2017, extensive landslides occurred less than 200 yards up the hill from this project, closing Graham Hill Road twice. The slope behind Claremont Court off Jewell Street also experienced a significant slide due to a similar development.
Traffic is already a disaster in Santa Cruz because of years of failing to mitigate the impact of development. This project adds at least 80 cars and 320 daily trips, which will bottleneck the treacherous intersection of OSX and Graham Hill Road. The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) proposes to continue this unsustainable pattern by overriding the significant environmental impact created by the project, and this traffic impact cannot be mitigated. Building at current zoning (for 9 units, not 40) should be pursued since it would result in a lesser environmental impact.
Other issues include:
- Elimination of the bike path along OSX as a result of the proposed street and sidewalk redesign.
- Increased risk of accidents at the steeply curved intersection of Graham Hill Rd/ OSX. Dangers due to excess speed of downhill cars, impaired line of sight going both north and south on Graham Hill Rd, and a poorly designed turn lane.
- Further degradation of the level of service at the already dysfunctional intersections of Highway 1 and Highway 17 and the Hwy 1 off ramps onto OSX.
- Increased danger to pedestrians & cyclists on OSX and at the intersection with Graham Hill Rd, where utility boxes prevent coordination with the sidewalk and bike lane along Graham Hill Rd.
- Increased problems with emergency vehicle access and evacuation bottlenecks out of OSX and the Paradise Park neighborhoods. OSX serves as the emergency exit for all 391 residences in Paradise Park when Hwy 9 is closed due to natural disaster. Twice in the winter of 2017 OSX was the only access for these residences.
- Increased problems with neighborhood access, particularly during peak commutes, summer traffic, and funerals/processions. In the summer it can take 20 minutes to drive half a mile from OSX intersection to the Hwy17/1 intersection.
Tandem parking is impractical for day-to-day use, increasing street parking problems and rendering OSX, the only exit for the neighborhood, impassible. The project’s use of the public right-of-way for drainage bio-swales reduces the current on-street parking from 22 to 8 spaces.
5. No Public Benefit
The city requires a public benefit in order to approve a “Planned Development.” The public benefit proposed is to install sidewalks on OSX to Graham Hill Road. This is not a benefit: the existing dirt shoulder currently serves as both parking and a bike/pedestrian path. Providing a public benefit should be something like a park, a traffic overpass, or a general improvement to the city. No such significant improvement is offered or proposed.
6. No Affordable Housing
Developers report that, under current rents, a two-bedroom unit would cost $2700/mo. For the developers to get a General Plan Amendment and rezone for 40 units, the City should insist on more affordable housing.
The developer’s drainage analysis does not adequately reflect that the drainage system downhill from this project is currently inadequate and has caused flooding. In the winter of 2017, there were multiple instances of culverts and drains at over 100% capacity and street flooding on both OSX and Crossing St., requiring repeated sandbagging of the Memorial Park entrance and residences on Crossing St. and OSX. This project would exacerbate the situation. Even building for a 25-year storm, the on-site retention is currently insufficient. Contaminant runoff from the parking areas of this project could affect river wildlife habitat (including the endangered steelhead and Coho salmon), and the City’s drinking-water intake at the end of Crossing St.
8. Ugly and Inconsistent Use
The proposed project is ten three-story buildings crammed on a steep lot without outdoor recreational spaces, finished in some of the cheapest construction materials available, with a design that is inconsistent with the adjacent historically designated Cemetery. With no recreational outdoor spaces planned, the Memorial Park legitimately fears it will be misused by future residents as a park.
9. No Community Input
This project was originally submitted to City Planning in 2010. The developers refused to respond to neighbors’ requests for input at that time. Eight years later, on 3 days’ notice, the developers hosted a sham meeting to “sell” the project, with unprepared “experts” who spoke in generalities. When the 2030 General Plan was adopted, the City obtained community input from multiple working groups, public meetings and Council hearings. . To quadruple the density of parcel for a project that was pending when the General Plan was being updated ignores all the planning work and community input that went into creating what the City represents as the blueprint for future development. To ignore the General Plan and approve the addition of ten towering buildings to a rural street zoned for single-family homes and commercial agriculture is poor urban planning.
OSENA is open to the development of this parcel within the existing zoning regulations and requests that the City Council follow its 2030 General Plan and deny this quadrupling of density.