.40 Unit Housing Project Near UCSC Passes

Appeal to stop project withdrawn

The Santa Cruz City Council voted to allow a large apartment building on the Peace United Church land on the upper West Side, near the UCSC campus,  denying an appeal to shut it down.  The 40-unit apartment building has nine affordable units and two co-living units. The vote was 6-0 with council member Scott Newsome recusing himself because he owns property nearby.

The housing complex built on a slope below UCSC was appealed after approval by the Planning Commission. The appellant Norman Tardiff of the Springtree HOA and Westlake Neighbors Association was satisfied by conditions added to the approval of the project, according to Senior Planner Brittany Whitehill. 

These conditions are arborist inspections of heritage trees on the property, doubling the number of mitigation trees planted if more heritage trees are removed, and a geo-technical engineer to sign-off on the building permits. 

The project has been a longtime coming for the parish of Peace United Church. Planning on the housing started 10 years ago by members of the parish who view it as essential to continuing the church’s mission.

“It’s most exciting as a vision of our future, a place to live, and learn and play, with the church at the heart of it all,” said Pastor David Pattee.

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The approval comes after the 59-unit Food Bin project was approved by the planning commission last month from the same developer, Workbench. However, the Food Bin project has been appealed and will head to the city council in March. 

The building is built into a slope so while it has six levels it is only four stories, according to Workbench founder Sibley Simon. All of the units will have views according to Simon.

Both the Food Bin and the Peace United Church projects are examples of transit oriented development that Workbench wants to build, according to Simon. Only twenty spaces in the Peace United Church parking lot will be reserved for residents of the complex, which will be charged for. There will also be “one or more shared vehicles” at the property.

The housing complex will be co-owned by the Peace United Church and Workbench under a new 501(c)(3). While it is a church affiliated project, “it is not restricted to anyone associated with the Peace United Church,” said Diana Alfaro of Workbench.


  1. A 40 unit apartment complex with a mere 20 paid parking spots availablity sounds underwhelming and problematic to me. How big are these apartments and what will be the rental costs? Are apartment dwellers expected to be bicyclists in these extreme rainy windy winters. There could be an income stream for the church. Is the church paying for this development?

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  2. It will be a mix of sizes for the apartments: 11 studios, 15 two-bedrooms, 3 one-bedroom units, 4 three-bedroom units, 6 four-bedroom co-living units, and 1 five-bedroom co-living unit. The housing will be jointly managed by the church and New Way Homes (the non-profit arm of Workbench), which is putting up the money for the project. In return, Peace United will get a portion of the cash flow.

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