.Santa Cruz District 3 City Council Candidate: Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson

Candidates make their case to Santa Cruz voters

Santa Cruz’s District 3 city council seat is being contested for the March 5 election in a race between incumbent Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson and her challenger, Joy Schendledecker.

Kalantari-Johnson was first elected to the Santa Cruz City Council in 2020 and, while still serving on the council, launched an unsuccessful bid for District 3 Santa Cruz County Supervisor in 2022.

A small business owner and private consultant in the social services realm, Kalantari-Johnson serves on multiple boards, including as chair of the Santa Cruz METRO’s board of directors. She has been involved in efforts to restore West Cliff Drive, supported the overnight parking ban and supports the growth of the local economy.

GT sent questions to the candidates to get their takes on some of the city’s most pressing issues. Read Kalantari-Johnson’s responses below.

Why are you running again?

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I care deeply about our community’s well-being. Over the last two decades, as a public health professional and council member, I have produced results on critical issues that I have heard from our community are important. Progress is accomplished through caring, listening, building consensus and being in action. I have been effective, I have the experience and I am energized to continue to serve our city. 

What do you think will be the most pressing needs for Santa Cruz over the next four years, and how would you address these needs as a council member?

Housing, city infrastructure, homelessness, climate response/coastal erosion, youth investments, and fiscal sustainability are some of the top needs for the City of Santa Cruz. We have already made progress.  I will continue to forge multi-stakeholder partnerships that generate innovative strategies. These approaches have helped us become a pro-housing designated city, decrease homelessness by 29% in a year and increase youth investment -all over the last three years since I have served on council.

What are your thoughts on how the city should address the increasing demand for affordable housing? Any ideas on how to keep public services adequate to accommodate potential new growth? 

There is a need to ensure effective and adequate infrastructure-water, transportation- while we build affordable and workforce housing. We have turned the curve on building housing-being among the 6% of jurisdictions that have met their State housing goals. But we must continue on this path-generating more units will decrease costs. We need to be thoughtful about how and where we build so that we maintain the integrity of our city.

Do you think raising the city’ s sales tax to help fund assistance programs for the unhoused is a good idea?  What else do you think could be done to address the issue?

Raising the sales tax will help generate over $8M to support programs and address critical issues such as wildfire mitigation and protection of open space. We have made great strides on homelessness with the implementation of our Homeless Action Plan-which I helped shape-including a 29% decrease in unsheltered. But we must continue to invest in programs such as safe parking, shelter and case management. The city does not have the capacity or resources to accomplish all of this. It’s important to leverage resources and partner with the county and other jurisdictions so that we may continue this progress.

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