The Weekly Dump – 2.23.24

The Downtown Renaissance is Coming

There’s just so much new housing being built downtown right now, more than I’ve ever seen in all the 20+ years I’ve lived here combined. We’ve got the new “Anton Pacific”, taking up the gateway block between Pacific and Front streets on Laurel. It will feature 205 units, with a rooftop deck and spa, with nearly 12K feet of ground floor retail available. Beats the hell out of Bonesio Liquors and a shitty old Taco Bell where local drug dealers and junkies hung out. I’ll bet that Ace Hardware across the street is salivating at the thought of that place open and full of residents. 

The new “Pacific Station South” project features a seven-story, mixed-use building with 70 affordable residential apartments, and more than 15K square feet of ground floor commercial and residential amenity space. This is going up near Maple Street and will border both Pacific and Front streets in the heart of downtown. Then we’ve got the new project going up along Front Street and Laurel along the levee side of Front Street. A seven-story, mixed-use project with 175 residential condos and almost 12K square feet of ground floor and levee front commercial space with elevated patio dining and retail units. There’s the 530 Front Street project at Front and Soquel, slated to bring 276 market rate and 37 affordable housing units, with direct access to the San Lorenzo River bike path and Riverwalk.

You think I’m done? Think again! We’ve got the “Calypso” project slated to go in at 130 Center Street across from SCPD main station. 233 market rate and 35 affordable housing units will sit atop street level food and retail, with a podium deck offering recreational space and 6th floor views. We’ve also got “Pacific Station North”, which will include the new METRO station and offer 125 units of affordable housing. And the “Red Church” housing project in the old city parking lot seems almost complete, and will offer 65 affordable housing units and retail space on the ground floor. Finally, we’ve got the new Cruz Hotel, a luxury six-story, 228-room hotel with almost 12K square feet of ground floor retail, banquet and conference facilities, restaurant and bar space, as well as a pedestrian paseo providing a walkway from Downtown Santa Cruz to the San Lorenzo River. This is the first new downtown hotel development in over 90 years.

And it’s not just downtown. We’ve got the new La Bahia Hotel taking shape, which will transform Beach Street from a tacky, dated, cluster of crappy restaurants into hopefully something better! The new 165 room, 4 star hotel will include conference and banquet space, restaurant and retail space, and spa facilities. Should make the Dream Inn nervous.

Yeah, I’m betting on the downtown renaissance. I’m not the only one. There’s a lot of money going into downtown right now. Gentrification? Meh. I call it cleaning up a sad, dated, seedy part of downtown. The future foot traffic is going to be off the charts. And I predict all those vacant storefronts along Pacific Avenue won’t be so vacant once these new housing projects open. Leave it to the developers to improve public safety downtown. The city has long failed us. The new voters are coming to downtown and guess what? They aren’t a bunch of dirt poor progressive students moving in. As I always used to say, we get what we are willing to tolerate, and the people moving into all this new housing are not going to tolerate an unsafe downtown. 

The Stuff I Missed While I Was on Sabbatical!

So last week, I got what I thought was a “hot tip” from a reader. I got all excited at getting a hot tip, so I mentioned it to my anonymous new editor, they told me my hot tip was old news. Crushed! But they were right. Nonetheless, it was news to me! So the “hot tip” was the fact that the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s office was now issuing Carry Concealed Weapons (CCW) permits. I was shocked, since the long time (politically motivated) policy here was to basically never issue CCW permits to anyone. Then I learned about a 2022 Federal court case which basically invalidated the county’s political excuses, so the county was forced to begin issuing the permits. It’s still a process to actually get one, but at least it’s no longer a hopeless process that ends with a political decision made by the politically compromised Sheriff. You can find more information about how to get a CCW permit in Santa Cruz county here

The City Tries Some Creative Solutions For a Change

I’m not sure who at the city came up with the idea of stepping up parking enforcement rules around a regular, recurring, street cleaning schedule. It’s kind of brilliant in a subtle yet not so subtle way. One of our biggest challenges (that we never seem to have an answer for) is dealing with a large influx of transients, the majority coming from outside of Santa Cruz, who live in their vehicles, RVs, and even detached campers while parked along city streets. Some of these vehicles are not only inoperable, some of them (like detached campers) can’t move at all on their own. Take a drive along Delaware out by Natural Bridges and the Mission Street extension area on the west side of town, and it’s lined with countless examples of this. Or drive around Harvey West Park and you’ll see the same thing. When the city tries to do something about it (like ban RV parking on city streets), we get stuck in an endless cycle of bureaucratic narcissism and bullshit from the California Coastal Commission. We constantly spin our wheels and never go anywhere. So we gotta get creative here. Try lots of different things. Keep trying and adding more things. Be the nuisance instead of tolerating the nuisance. Flip the narrative.

I got a tip this week about a new city of Santa Cruz street cleaning “pilot program”, that now uses stricter enforcement, including “No Parking Tow Away Zones”. Interesting that the pilot program is focused strictly on commercial streets and areas to start. The 3 “zones of enforcement” are the Ocean Street corridor, streets around Harvey West Park, and along Delaware Avenue on the west side. You know, those areas where we see lines of broken down RVs and campers that never seem to move and pollute the area with trash and HAZMAT. Imagine that! The City doing something right for a change! It helps keep our streets cleaner (literally!) and addresses the out of control Breaking Badmobile situations in areas where it has negatively impacted residents and the community. More details on the city website.

Pinole Murder Suspect Arrested in Santa Cruz

Friday night around 11:30PM, California Highway Patrol officers arrested a man near Seabright Avenue at Murray Street who was wanted in connection with the murder of his ex-girlfriend in Pinole. The man had been wanted by police after a woman, with whom he shared a child, was shot and killed in her home on Friday morning. Police said the suspected killer broke into the woman’s home and attacked her. She was found dead of a gunshot wound. Pinole police have taken over the case and said they found a gun inside the car he was driving when arrested. He was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on charges of homicide and domestic violence and is being held on $1.1 million bail.

Why the hell did he come here? Pinole is about 90 miles away, almost a 2 hour drive from Santa Cruz. Makes no sense but trying to make sense of criminal behavior in Santa Cruz is folly.

Gettin Shiggy Wit It

A recent article in the Senile caught my eye (thanks to my intrepid tipsters!) that talked about a recent outbreak of Shigellosis, a highly infectious bacterial infection, where typical symptoms last 5 to 7 days and include watery or bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and malaise. Infections can be quite severe in young children, the elderly and the immunocompromised. Severe symptoms can include dehydration and seizures. According to a public health alert issued by the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, since late January, at least four confirmed Shigellosis cases have been identified among homeless individuals in Santa Cruz County. A recent report by the city of Santa Cruz detailed a highly infectious Shigella bacteria outbreak within Harvey West Park, attributed to the homeless encampments. Leave it to the city of Santa Cruz to turn Harvey West Park, a recreational jewel of Santa Cruz, into a homeless toilet. 

The Community Speaks

Each week I ask a question on my Facebook page and I get community feedback on that question. I share some of the responses here. Here’s what they said.

You can see all the responses here.

QOTW: “Should the Santa Cruz city council make statements regarding national or international affairs representing the citizens of Santa Cruz?”

“It’s a No for me, City council’s priority is Santa Cruz. That more attention has been paid to “A Statement “ than to issues of homelessness, drugs and blight, is telling.”
– Tonia

“Take care of home first! Stop stepping over the mess on you door-step to in-effectively holler about somebody elses’ mess!”
– Damon

“No. It’s time wasted that can be better spent addressing the issues affecting us locally. If everything was going great here, so be it, but it isn’t. Spend the time and do the work to address and fix things locally before wasting time writing up a statement about national or international affairs that they have no impact on.”
– Morgan

“They are overstepping thier purview when they claim to represent us on any issue that is not strictly local.”
– Graydon

“Absolutely no. There is no way they can represent all the citizens of Santa Cruz in such statements, and it is not what they were elected to do. There’s a lot more benefit to them staying in their own lane”
– Fritz

“Firmly no. Our city council has plenty to do that actually affects the lives and welfare of Santa Cruz residents, property owners, and businesses without wasting time with virtue signal statements and resolutions. We pay the city council to run the city, solve problems, and improve our city and environs, not make vain displays of sound and fury signifying nothing.”
– Kevin

“Strong no. City council should focus on issues that are in their purview and that they can directly address. Taking on issues outside their scope just wastes time and money, delays actual city business being conducted, and as we saw with the ceasefire issue, just increases divisiveness in our city with zero effect on the outcome.”
– Carol

“100% no. The only reason for grandstanding like that is to virtue signal to polish your own crown. The Universe is much more impressed if you do the job you are elected to do and do it well.”
– Robin

“It’s easier for them to focus their attention on something they can’t be blamed for than to say anything about the current shape of our town which they have a direct hand in. It’s honestly quite ridiculous.”
– Jaime

“No. I see this as a way they deflect from issues at home. Easy to burn time on global issues…see the last mess that lasted until 3am and would have made no impact, vs solving local issues which continue to fester. Like the homeless crisis in town..which is more visible every day.”
– Tom

Well, I’ve gotta agree with the overall sentiment here. Not a single comment supported the obvious grandstanding and virtue signaling we see when our city council sticks their noses in places they don’t belong, where they have no influence or effect on the outcome. Just recently, a city council meeting lasted until 3am as they debated ad nauseum drafting a “cease fire” statement about the war in Gaza. Nobody gives a shit what the Santa Cruz city council thinks of the war on Gaza more than than the Santa Cruz city council does. These statements don’t represent the opinions of the majority of the people that live here. They represent the opinions of 7 unqualified public servants who should be spending their time focused on the issues in their own back yard, issues they were hired to fix. Enough already. Just stop with the city sponsored grandstanding and virtue signaling. Do your job already. 

You’re Making Me Hungry

The ubiquitous local taqueria. One of the finer things about living in Santa Cruz, and California in general, is having a neighborhood taqueria seemingly within walking distance of anywhere you live. My all time favorite taqueria is Tacos El Grullense in Redwood City. Back in the 90s, I could go in there and they sold tacos for a buck, sodas for a buck, and I could get 4 killer street tacos and a Coke for $5. I’m salivating thinking about those tacos. Here in Santa Cruz, we’ve got some great options, including the always stellar Tacos Moreno. And Taqueria Vallarta, a local chain with shops in Soquel, Capitola, and on Mission Street in Santa Cruz.

I used to frequent the Taqueria Vallarta downtown, where the 5 Guys is now. I miss that place but I still enjoy their Mission Street location. The place is clean, the service is quick, and the food is good. On a recent visit this week, I had my usual meal staple (Carne Asada taco plate), and it was delicious. For $12, it didn’t hurt my wallet either. And they give you free chips! And they have a salsa bar!

When I’m in the mood for nice, sit down Mexican food, you can’t beat Palomar downtown. But when I want something quick, fresh, and made to order, Vallarta is a great option. 

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  1. Parking apocalypse.

    What few people are talking about is how little, if any, parking is being created for all these new buildings. When the new residents take all the parking structure spaces, where are customers going to park downtown? Those empty store fronts? There will be more. The resulting lack of shoppers will mean lower sales tax revenue and fewer funds for city services.

    Beware. It is coming. It’s going to be bad!

    • Nah. I’ve been hearing about downtown’s doom since I moved here more than 20 years ago. Even now, it’s still fine. Parking is not going to derail anything. Not everyone needs to own a car anymore. And many people moving down there will come to that conclusion.

  2. For your next “You’re Making Me Hungry”, go check out Tampa Brazilian Kitchen on the corner of N. Branciforte and Water. ( Old Joe’s Pizza and Subs ). Excellent food, Extremely clean, great service, inside and outside seating, great parking. Check it out!

  3. Ben I’m happy to see you online again. aren’t you worried about gentrification of SC?

  4. Terrific coverage of construction! I am tired of negative opinions – much of what I read is very one-sided! Pleasing to read a positive and informative opinion. Thanks!!!

  5. Harvey West Park…
    I did research on the title for the Park in late ’80’s-early 90’s, for one of the local non-profit youth leagues.
    The site of Harvey West Park was originally where the Harvey West Water Company was located. The Park site was deeded to the City, under the stipulation that it be used for youth sports, by recorded deed. Period. The City of SC signed on to be the caretaker of that property. The original Ranger program was agreed to, by the youth sports groups, to maintain the integrity and safety of that area. In your prior carnation, as Santa Mierda, you remember how the fight over the funding for that program, paid for through the parking meter system, was taken over by the Santa Cruz City Police Chief, for the additional income who has now left after destroying this community.
    If the City of Santa Cruz is now reneging on its’ past promises, AGAIN, HWP should be turned over to the youth recreational leagues to form their own security groups to protect the children of this community, and fulfill the thrust of Harvey Wests’ wishes, as expressed in his will.
    The agreement with the City of Santa Cruz has been a disaster for the youth leagues, almost since it started. It is viewed by the City as little more than a source of income from the metered parking at the youth events.

    • It’s shameful how badly the city has allowed HWP to fall into disrepair. It’s shameful what has happened with Evergreen Cemetery, allowing it to get trashed with homeless camping.

  6. Yay! add Shigella to the Hep A and B, MRSA, lice, and scabies. Anyone for a camp clean-up?

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