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SANTA CRUZ >> The Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a microloan program meant to help small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown.

The $500,000 program would offer three-month no-interest loans of $5,000 to $10,000. Money would come from the city’s economic development trust fund. Repayments would go back into that fund. 

The idea is to help small businesses that perhaps don’t qualify for federal Small Business Administration loans or won’t receive that funding fast enough to pay their bills, according to the staff report.

“It is incredibly important for our community to have access to economic stimulus and stability, in particular right now,” Vice Mayor Donna Meyers said.

Many businesses have struggled to keep afloat since Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel ordered all non-essential business to stop effective March 17. Newel’s order has kept the county’s hospital system from being overwhelmed with coronavirus hospitalizations, but businesses have suffered.

Most Santa Cruz City Council members dialed in from home for Tuesday’s meeting. (Zoom screenshot)

City staff have directed local business owners to the Santa Cruz County Economic Development website for information about aid and loans.

Tuesday’s meeting was conducted over Zoom, with Mayor Justin Cummings in the council chambers and the rest of the council calling in remotely, to abide by social distancing guidelines.

The council discussed the expected reopening of beaches and parks in Santa Cruz County Thursday morning.

Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Director Tony Elliot said that while beaches, parks and trails will open, some amenities like basketball courts, skate parks and beach parking lots will remain closed.

“As parks and beaches reopen, the Parks and Rec department is advising community members to avoid crowded areas, make sure to adhere to social distancing requirements and continue efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Elliot said. 

Santa Cruz Mayor Justin Cummings presided over the nearly empty city council chambers Tuesday. The other council members called in remotely, due to social distancing guidelines, to limit the spread of the coronavirus. (Zoom screenshot)

In other news

A proposal to build homes where the Circle Church now stands will come before the Santa Cruz Planning Commission 7 p.m. Thursday, April 16.

The owners want to pursue one of two options:

  • 12 single-family homes
  • Or 10 single-family homes, six condominiums and four accessory dwelling units.

Both options would require the demolition of the church.

The meeting will be closed to the public to limit the spread of the coronavirus. However, the public is invited to give comment by email or phone. Instructions on how to comment are on the city’s website.

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