The Santa Cruz City Council will vote on Feb. 13 on an appeal challenging a proposed 40-unit housing project at 900 High Street, behind the Peace United Church on the way to UCSC. The Santa Cruz Planning Commission approved the project unanimously in December, but the apartment complex has drawn criticism from neighbors.
The project includes nine affordable units, which comes out to 22.5% affordable. Under state housing law, the project qualifies for increased density of up to 44 units because of its affordability.
A local developer, Workbench, which is also developing the 59-unit Food Bin project, is developing the property on behalf of the Peace United Church.
The plans for the hillside development call for the splitting of the Peace United Church parcel into lower and upper lots.
Norman Tardif of Springtree HOA and Westlake Neighbors Association appealed the commission’s decision. In a letter to the city council, Tardif asked that the city stipulate further geological review of the building site and questioned the legality of the upper lot’s housing density since it was calculated from the original parcel. The Springtree HOA also seeks an agreement that the heritage trees along the quarry will not be cut down in the future.
The city recommends denying the appeal. According to the city’s report, the developer picked the building’s location with the hillside’s unique geology in mind.
In response to the appellant’s lot-splitting claim, the city says it doesn’t matter that the lots are split for the sake of development if they are “a contiguous group of lots” and share ownership. Also the General Plan allows for the clustering of units in a parcel if there are topographical concerns or “environmental constraints.”
The developer has voluntarily agreed to “more stringent tree protection,” according to the city. This includes periodic inspections from an arborist and work-stoppage if any trees are damaged in the construction.
If you go: The city council begins at 12:30 pm, Tuesday, Feb. 13.