.Workbench Makes Its Case

‘Once in a hundred year’ tower planned for downtown Santa Cruz

Almost 200 people attended an online community meeting on the proposed 260-unit Clocktower Center last Wednesday night.

The building at 2020 North Pacific Avenue has attracted considerable attention from the media and galvanized pro and anti housing advocates in the community.

The developer, Workbench, took the opportunity to present its case for why the housing crisis comes from a lack of supply. Most of the presentation was a quiz of the online audience. The audience was polled on their age, income, dwelling status and the cause of the homelessness crisis before Omar Hason, architect at Workbench, described the project itself. However, the project has not been officially submitted to the city.

The Clocktower Center is now projected to be 16 stories, instead of 18 stories as previously reported. Financing is not fully secured, according to Jamileh Cannon of Workbench. The funding that has come through is from small local investors according to Clay Toombs, senior development manager.

Multiple people in the online chat asked if the project could be stopped.

“No,” Cannon wrote.

The project has not been reviewed by the City of Santa Cruz’s planning department, which has discretion to deny the project if it doesn’t meet the city’s objective standards.

There is one standard in the city’s Downtown Plan which could offer a glimmer of hope for those who seek to deny the application.

“The visual impact analysis must consider the views from the midpoint of the Water Street Bridge looking toward the Mission Hill,” according to the Visual Analysis and Criteria for Exceeding Base Height in the North Pacific Area.

City planner Timothy Maier said this standard would be reviewed by the city.

Some questioners were concerned about what would happen to the Rush Inn. Toombs said, “we’d love to see the Rush Inn and its employees stay in Santa Cruz.”

Not everyone was against the project. Many wrote comments in favor.

“This is what Santa Cruz needs, growth and density is the future of Santa Cruz. Not everyone was able to buy a home in the ’70s for $50k. Us youngins need affordable housing too,” wrote one anonymous attendee.

Vice Mayor Renee Golder said that she first heard of the project from her mother, who lives in Colorado.

“I felt it was disrespectful that we wouldn’t get heads up on projects. Other developers reach out to us years in advance,” Golder said in an interview. “Wouldn’t you want to have people in the community like you and respect you if you are running an organization? It’s not about me as a council member.”


  1. Build AFFORDABLE housing. Workbench just wants money and doesn’t care who or what they sacrifice to get it. Where is the approval process?? Where is community input? Oh so Workbench can just dream this up and do it and that’s it?? If ANYONE in city council wants to keep their job and get re-elected you better stop this. You’ve ALL lost my vote. Because city council has proven itself utterly incapable of saying NO to developers that beat a tin drum of ohhhh Santa Cruz needs housing, you know, for homelessness. Give me a break. I work and there’s no way I can afford to live in that ugly thing. City council do your job and protect our city from these scumbags. There’s loads of places with nothing on it to put AFFORDABLE housing. Jeez but why there?? Yuppie condos 16 stories tall?? What!! Just like on Broadway, that big ugly hotel smack in the middle of what WAS a residential neighborhood. Now a huge ugly hotel. The powers that be wanted the money so bad they re-zoned the neighborhood so they could put their precious hotel on it. Stupidest thing ever. Why the hell didn’t that lot get turned into affordable housing??? Because affordable housing doesn’t make developers money. Want to address crime, drugs and homelessness? Build AFFORDABLE housing, put funds into community health services, rehab and outreach programs. Give people jobs cleaning up our streets. Help make this a place to be proud of, a model of the future. And help Santa Cruz have some dignity. This is spiraling towards making Santa Cruz the Little Aspen By The Sea. Soon everyone working service jobs will have to be bussed in from 100 miles away because nobody working those jobs could ever afford to live here.

    Just like Aspen, Colorado.

    One Carmel is enough.

    Workbench go away.

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  2. This will include huge amounts of affordable housing, so it’s really funny to see hypocritical complaints about not having affordable housing. It’s the law: inclusionary zoning means that a percentage of the apartments are income restricted, with affordable rents. This is paid for by the rest of the units, which cross-subsidize the affordable housing.

    All those single family homes bought cheap by boomers are no longer affordable, and never will be. Those single family homes won’t fund new affordable housing, like the new apartments buildings do.

    The future of affordable housing in Santa Cruz is all in dense apartments. Anybody who opposes apartments like this is opposing affordable housing.

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  3. What’s the funniest thing about ever-worsening…
    — (alleged) anthropocentric global warming
    — housing “shortage”
    — traffic congestion
    — stress
    — and the biggest ecological catastrophe in 65,000,000 years?

    Some people know what it is, but they’re afraid to say it:

    Extreme & ever worsening human over-population.

    Ignoring it is the one thing everyone agrees on!

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