In “Rental Vehement” (GT, 8/10), writer Todd Guild recognizes our housing affordability crisis, and cites Jessica De Witt, Santa Cruz housing and development manager, in her assessment that 730 units of housing are in the pipeline for downtown Santa Cruz. Part of this total includes the eight-story mixed-use project slated for Lot 4. That project’s design, unfortunately, actually limits the number of affordable units on the lot, because the largest footprint in the project belongs to a parking garage; a new library is glommed onto the garage like an appendage.
This mix is mixed up: it doesn’t maximize housing potential. Instead, build housing on Lot 7 on Front Street, the lot where the city plans to move the Farmers Market. Lot 7 can accommodate more units of housing on six floors than the mixed-use project’s eight because it doesn’t get mixed-up with other project elements.
Guild also cites housing activists Don Lane and Rafa Sonennfeld. They patiently ask folks in neighborhoods to grow accustomed to new multi-story housing near their homes. The lack of housing is “hurting families,” Lane says. Tragically true. So while neighborhoods adjust to their new reality, the city proposes an unpopular mixed-use project, moving the library away from Civic Center, moving the Farmer’s Market from its 20-year home to Lot 7 and building a parking garage that its own parking census data confirms isn’t necessary—all to build less affordable housing than the city could on Lot 7. What’s wrong with this picture? Doing none of that, and building housing on Lot 7, achieves more housing. That’s a better idea, one that voters can weigh in on November 8th.
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