The Weekly Dump – 4.5.24

Snow Blankets Bonny Doon and the Santa Cruz Mountains

Photo: CHP Santa Cruz

No that’s not an April Fools joke. This week, a freak late winter storm moved through the area with cold temperatures and a mix of rain with some snow in the higher elevations above 2000 feet. It’s probably melted off by the time you read this, but it made for some nice images! Probably the last blast of winter for the season. Bring on Spring! 

Developers Propose Giant Dumpster Behind Clocktower

Preliminary proposed “Clocktower Center”

It does kind of look like a giant dumpster. A new mixed-use development being proposed for downtown Santa Cruz is raising concerns and the ire of local residents, as the plans for the project show it to be 16 stories tall, by far taller than anything currently in the city or county. Concerns are the size, traffic, and how it will forever alter the downtown skyline. Dubbed the “Clocktower Center”, the 16-story project consisting of apartments and retail space is being proposed for the entrance to downtown Santa Cruz adjacent to the Clocktower. The project would provide 260 residential units, 20 percent of them “affordable”, helping Santa Cruz meet its state-required housing goals. The height limit for that zoned area is 6 stories. City planners say the developer plans to apply for a state waiver. So far, only a pre-application has been submitted for the development. The developer also submitted an alternative proposal, with only 8 stories and 174 apartment units. So far no formal plans have been submitted to the Santa Cruz city council for approval.

Visualizing a New Community Hub in Downtown Santa Cruz

It’s time to visualize a new, walkable downtown Santa Cruz. What is its real value to the community? 

I want to look at 2 other cities for a comparison of what’s possible. Both cities have very successful walking mall districts that are loved and supported strongly by the communities. Both cities also have large state universities to support these shopping and retail districts (the Universities of Virginia and Colorado). Just like Santa Cruz. Estimated populations for each city:

  • Charlottesville, VA: 45K
  • Boulder, CO: 105K
  • Santa Cruz (city): About 65K

So the city of Charlottesville has the Historic Downtown Mall. The city of Boulder has the Pearl Street Mall. “Beloved” Pearl Street Mall. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone call Pacific Avenue “beloved”. You know what else they call it? A “hub”. And that’s what Pacific Avenue needs to become. The community hub. And you turn it into a hub by encouraging people to walk, stroll, sit, meander, converse, have lunch or coffee. Not drive by or through it. Both of these malls are pedestrian only malls. No vehicles. 

Pearl Street Mall – Boulder, Colorado
Historic Downtown Mall – Charlottesville, Virginia. 

So here’s how I would propose changing downtown into a new, walkable, pedestrian friendly, community hub. First, I wouldn’t just shut down all of Pacific Avenue to traffic. That’s just not gonna work for everyone. There needs to be ways for traffic to cross from Front Street to Center Street, preferably multiple points of ingress and egress. My plan has that. Think of the plan as three phases, each phase consisting of closing a section of Pacific Avenue to traffic. 

  • Pilot Program/Phase I: Cathcart to Lincoln (Highlighted in red)
  • Phase II: Soquel to Cooper (Highlighted in green)
  • Phase III: Locust to Mission/Water (Highlighted in blue)

Points of Ingress/Egress from Front to Center (the gaps between the highlighted sections)

  • Front to Cooper to Pacific to Locust to Center
  • Front to Soquel to Pacific to Lincoln to Center

I believe all the blocks I’ve proposed have alleys or actual parking lots behind the buildings where trucks can make deliveries (and do make deliveries now). Removable bollards can be installed at key spots on Pacific preventing traffic, but could also be removed for emergency vehicles if necessary. 

For the Phase I “Pilot Program”, we’ve already done it. We did it when Covid forced restaurants to close their indoor seating to diners, and the city said ok, let’s figure out a way to keep the businesses open by letting people eat outside. And people loved the idea. They still do! Walk by Hulas and Lupelo on almost any night and the outdoor tables are all taken. And they aren’t even on Pacific. Places like Kianti’s and PMH already have outdoor table seating set up. The sidewalks get crowded. It’s time to shut down the street in that block and instead of filling the street with cars, fill it with a mix of booths from craft vendors and food vendors, and include table seating in the street itself. I for one would rather have the street full of people than full of traffic, and parked cars. If you can objectively show the success of the Phase I (KPIs, foot traffic, etc.), you try Phase II. Of course, all of this needs buy in from the merchants and the Downtown Association. But with literally thousands of new people getting ready to move into the new downtown housing, it’s time to make downtown the community hub again, as it was when it was called the Pacific Garden Mall. To the downtown merchants, do you want these new residents to leave downtown and shop elsewhere? I don’t think so. You need to be the driving force to convert downtown into a more pedestrian friendly destination. That said, I’m happy to help promote the idea!

The Perfect Place For a New Downtown Parking Garage

I think I found the perfect place to build a new downtown parking garage! On top of the old downtown parking garage! I mean, how lame is a 3 story parking garage? I’m completely serious. They could add another 5-6 floors of parking, hundreds of new parking spots, without impacting a single other parcel of land in the city of Santa Cruz. Build up! We talk about density. Put our parking where our mouth is.

I mentioned this on my Facebook page and it seemed to garner overwhelming support for the idea. Has anyone actually proposed this location? I mean besides me!

What’s Up With the Nickelodeon?

It’s been shuttered now for years. It’s such a shame. I tried to find some information on it and haven’t found anything. Last I heard, it was in need of some possibly expensive structural repairs, stuff related to ADA compliance, a leaky roof, and apparently some mold issues (leaky roofs do that). It would be sad to see it flattened. But that might be its inevitable fate. 

Trash Talking With Ron

Ron is The Hardest Working Man in Santa Cruz (a title bestowed on him by yours truly). Ron has arguably picked up more trash in Santa Cruz than any single human being ever has. He’s worked for both the city and county, contracting out to clean up homeless camps and other dump sites. He’s the Godfather of Garbage. The King of Crap. The Michael Jordan of Mierda. And he does it all with a big smile and a positive attitude. – BD

Let me put this out there, see trash and debris in a waterway near you, or see it where it’s hidden from plain sight perhaps threatening a creek or stream? As we have talked about before, all this debris eventually washes through our waterways, along with our storm drains into the ocean. Its’ never a good result for our aquatic life, and one that can be averted if we catch the debris before it travels off. If you know of such a trashed site, Please post it right below in the comments, I will do my very best, either to contact the appropriate party, or we’ll saddle up and take care of it ourselves.

I would also like to give a shout out to the City, County of Santa Cruz, both of their public works departments, these public agencies are trying to step up their street and gutter sweeping. It’s an extremely important job that once again is critical to our marine life. The sweepers are not boring, they trap and collect animal wastes, brake dust from vehicles, heavy metals, things that pollute water, and I know we all want clean water! Thank you for reading ! Ron

The City Wants Your Opinion on Homelessness

The city ofn Santa Cruz is conducting an online survey to see what the community thinks of how they are handling the homeless situation in the city of Santa Cruz. Let me remind everyone: homeless services is a COUNTY not a city responsibility, falling under “County Health Services” and their multi-million dollar annual budget. It’s not the city’s problem but since the city makes it their problem, it’s a city problem. Leave them your vibrant opinions here. Taking feedback until April 10th. 

The Community Speaks

Question of the Week: Trail with train or just trail?

No “money pit” train. Don’t let the romance of a train fool you into thinking it will be anything more than a commodity that our community will end up throwing never ending amounts of money at.
– Paul

Just a trail. All of us and our grandchildren will have all died of old age before a train will ever be funded and built.
– Dennis

I love trains but….. trail only
– Stacy

Trail with train
– Penny

Trail only will provide a safer option for both walkers and bike riders to use the space because there will be more space available for both.
– Susanne

I vote trail. The train has to honk at every intersection. It’s very hard to sleep through that. I love Santa Mierda ‘s idea to have a BART system along the highway as I agree, we need more public transportation. For the trail to be safe it should have a separate walking and biking lane.
– Valerie

If I thought we could pull off an actual efficient and viable rail project that would be great, but I don’t think we can so a trail will be far better utilized.
– Nichole

I am very suspicious of “just trail” situation because I see it as potential land grab by adjacent property owners
– Dave

Both but a trail through Santa Cruz will be full of stops because of the cross streets every block. Especially on the west side. Not exactly the so called World Class trail some want and are advocating for in a trail only scenario. It is what it is.
– Monty

Rail is nonsense. We don’t have the ancillary infrastructure to support it. Trail only.
– Nick

See all responses here.

Personally, I think any train idea is folly. Not enough people would ride it to make it viable. 

The Weekly Stroll

Each week, I’ll take you on a little virtual stroll through Santa Cruz (or the surrounding areas). I’ll keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself since I want to try to capture what I’m seeing and hearing myself.

A short stroll to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf

You’re Making Me Hungry

Last week, I tried something new for my weekly downtown lunch date with the better half. Mad Yolks! I walk by it all the time and I’ve never been. So we decided to give it a shot. I gotta say when I got there, the place was packed (it was a little after noon). We got take out and brought it over to our favorite outdoor dining spot – Abbott Square.


We both got the same thing, basically a breakfast sandwich called the “b.a.e”, which I’m guessing stood for bacon, avocado, and egg. It also had a slice of cheddar, caramelized onions, and a nice aioli. And the brioche bun was incredible. The one big drawback to the meal was it was really messy! I failed to procure a fork so I had to steal one from a different vendor at Abbott Square. So I’ll say the food itself is delicious, but be warned – it’s messy!

The Weekly Seen

Pour one out for the Circle Church. Make it a Greater Purpose Brewing Company Grifty Stout! What a crazy backstory this has been for the Circle Church. It’s got all the greasy stuff about Santa Cruz rolled up in one place. Grifter progressive carpetbagger preacher, tried to turn Circle Church into a brewery!, failed and burned through all the money the church had for his dumb vanity project. I’ve already forgotten his name (I remember he changed it a few times so he’s probably got a new name again). Soon to be a new co-op housing project. 

Highway 1 Shutdown Actually Happens This Weekend

A section of Highway 1 in Capitola will close for 24 hours this weekend as crews demolish the Capitola Avenue overpass. Highway 1 will be completely shut down in both directions between Porter Street and Park Avenue. The closure begins on Saturday at 7PM and lasts until Sunday at 7PM. Detours will be set up at each exit to direct traffic to Soquel Drive. The shutdown was originally scheduled for March 23rd, but was delayed because of rainy weather. Saturday’s shutdown will also depend on the weather.

New Santa Mierda YouTube Channel!

I started a new YouTube channel for the Weekly Dump. It will host all my videos going forward. I’ll also put the podcast over there too if I can ever get that going. Go check out some videos if you haven’t seen them yet, and thank you to all the subscribers! (you can subscribe over there)

Check Out Our Twitter Feed for More Mierda!

Be sure to check out and follow our Twitter feed for even more mierda! Even though the Dump only comes your way once a week, I try to post breaking news and updates on other days as well. So check us out and follow us on Twitter for even more updates about real time news in Santa Cruz you might not otherwise hear about.

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  1. Great post! Thanks for the good solid information about what’s a-happenin’ in downtown River City.
    Love your plane for reviving the Pacific Garden Mall, for real this time.

  2. That “Clocktower Center” is a f***ing abomination. It makes the 5-story Embarcadero wanna-be that’s across the street from the Cooper House look like a charming two-story Victorian.

    If Godzilla ate 3 Home Depots, he would shit out that building. That architect should be disbarred, or whatever it is that they do to make sure an architect who designs a building that looks like a Godzilla turd will never work in architecture again.

    Did I mention that it’s ugly and it sucks?

    On the positive side, I agree 100% with your Community Hub idea. Very compelling! Thanks.

  3. Measure D should not have been put to the general vote. County Supervisors, the RTC, Roaring Camp and other interested and educated stakeholders should have handled this on their own. It’s far too complicated a topic for nearly all registered voters to understand, and the way it was promoted or dissented by groups leading up to the ballot made it impossible for nearly everyone to understand what they were voting for, or against. A random survey today about what measure D was about would draw a lot of blank stares, and having any random resident explain any part of it even after reading the synopsis of the measure would be a tragic comedy.

  4. You should try Sampa Brazilian Kitchen on the corner of Water St and N.Branciforte Ave. (The old Joe’s Pizza and Sub’s). Generous portions, excellent food, good prices, ample parking and all around great vibe!

  5. Deb Finfer

    I’m so glad you’re back, BD! I’ve really missed your take on all the things that need knowing here in our lil pocket of the world.

    As for you, Ron, THANK YOU again and again for being such an incredibly positive force in Santa Cruz. If you haven’t met Ron personally, I can tell that his commitment to the care and keeping of Santa Cruz is unrivaled. And his smile is as big as his heart. Bless you, Ron. This city is lucky to have you!

  6. Since 7-7-19 I’ve been commenting on Santa Meirda so that’s save me tons of time and keeps my rant to a minimum. But it’s been going on so long I highly recommend people letting people know about the original Dump when the introduce them to the new Dump.

    I discovered The Weekly Dump when I googled why is Santa Cruz so overrun with criminals and drug addicts. So besides sharing my nightly experience I shared my hopes that Ben’s efforts would actually wake up SC and be the thing that got the citizens together to effect change from the ground up. Unfortunately I found to many people were just focusing on polishing a turd and lightning a scented candle. Unless SC’s homeless by choice coddling is put to a complete stop what’s the point in development. I’m wondering if the guy who has been living in front of the 3 story parking garage is still there cause he was in the same spot since before I had the post at the galleria about 4 years ago….

    And one of my many ideas was an ordnance that allows police to stop anyone on a bicycle at night especially when the person is carrying bolt cutters.
    I’m glad Ben has come back my wife and I really prefer the old down to the facts gritty way he did if before we have yet to check out the YouTube version. I finally ended up reading all the previous dumps and like I’ve always said nothing has changed in SC except the date. But now SC wants to develop. I just read a small article that’s stated CALIFORNIA spent 24 billion dollars in 5 years to Tackle the homeless problem but didn’t keep track of the effectiveness of the programs funded. Ya 24 BILLION!… I wonder how much of that got pocketed like a bad welfare mother would do

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