May 20 meeting on Ocean Street housing proposal in Santa Cruz

Nearly 200 homes have been proposed on the 500 block of Ocean Street in Santa Cruz. (Workbench)

6 p.m. Monday, May 20 / Online

Santa Cruz city planners plan to hold an online meeting May 20 about a six-story housing proposal at 530, 542 and 548 Ocean St. 

The project could include 199 homes and shops, according to city documents. The developer, Santa Cruz-based Workbench, submitted a pre-application for a 77-foot building with:

  • 30 deed-restricted affordable homes, including 15 homes for very low-income renters, five homes for low-income renters, and 10 homes for moderate-income renters. Income limits are set yearly by the state.
  • 135 studios and 64 two-bedroom apartments. All homes would be flexible density units, which are smaller than other apartments.
  • Stores and offices on the ground floor.
  • 139 parking spaces.

Project details may change before the community meeting. Find more details about the proposal or submit a comment on the city’s website.

—Jesse Kathan

To participate: Join on Zoom or call 669-444-9171, meeting ID  825 0071 9155. The meeting will be streamed on YouTube.

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Food Bin housing proposal returns to Santa Cruz City Council May 28

A rendering shows four floors of homes above a revamped Food Bin and Herb Room at 1130 Mission St. in Santa Cruz. (Workbench)

The Santa Cruz City Council is expected to consider the Food Bin housing proposal at its May 28 meeting.

The Santa Cruz Planning Commission on May 16 recommended approval of permits that included demolition, design and special use. 

The project is expected to include 59 units that include 11 accessory dwelling units, said Santa Cruz Planning Director Lee Butler at the May 16 meeting. State law and case law mean 48 units are “by right” and the 11 ADUs “are something they will be entitled to down the line,” Butler said.

The city council had planned to consider the permits for the project at its April 30 meeting, but the developer made several changes that prompted it to be sent to the planning commission. 

—Stephen Baxter

Read Santa Cruz Local’s Housing and Construction page on 1130 Mission St.


New county building to open in Watsonville

A rendering shows a 121,000-square-foot building at 500 Westridge Drive set to open as a new South County hub for county social services. (County of Santa Cruz)

A new county building in Watsonville is expected to open its doors May 20 as the new home of the county’s Human Services Department. It administers programs like Medi-Cal, food stamps, cash aid and employment assistance.

The South County Government Services Center at 500 Westridge Drive will also house several other county departments, including the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office and the Probation Department. Some departments are expected to move from 1430 Freedom Blvd. to make way for that site to become a South County hub for county health services

The County of Santa Cruz purchased the Westridge Drive building in 2021 for $16.4 million. The intent was to create a hub for county departments that are spread across multiple locations. It is also expected to reduce commute times for county employees who live in South County. 

—Nik Altenberg


Affordable Housing Month includes events on water, wildfire

Pedestrians cross Big Basin Highway at Highway 9 in Boulder Creek

Researchers on May 29 will discuss housing in the wildland urban interface, which includes places like Boulder Creek. (Kara Meyberg Guzman — Santa Cruz Local file)

Housing Santa Cruz County and other groups are putting on several events in May as part of Affordable Housing Month. Check the group’s calendar for more events.

Water Supply and Scotts Valley’s Housing Needs

6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21 / On Zoom. RSVP here.

Affordable Housing Now is set to host a panel on how Scotts Valley Water District is planning for the water needs of future residents. Panelists will include:

  • Scotts Valley Mayor Randy Johnson.
  • Scotts Valley City Councilmember Jack Dilles.
  • Scotts Valley Water District General Manager David McNair.
  • Developer and Scotts Valley Water District Board Member Chris Perri.

WUI Research for Resilience: Exploring Socio-Environmental Impacts of the Housing Crisis

12 p.m. Wednesday, May 29 / Namaste Lounge at College Nine and John R. Lewis College, 1156 High St., UC Santa Cruz

UCSC faculty and students are expected to discuss the relationship between the local affordable housing crisis and growth of the Wildland-Urban Interface, or WUI, in Santa Cruz County. The WUI includes areas like San Lorenzo Valley and South County where development adjoins wild areas like forest and grassland. People living in the WUI face greater risk of fires, floods and slides.

—Jesse Kathan

Santa Cruz Local journalists wrote these briefs and previews for our weekly newsletter. Want to receive these local updates, a preview of recent articles and more in your inbox each Sunday? Sign up for our free newsletter.

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Reporter / California Local News Fellow

Jesse Kathan is a staff reporter for Santa Cruz Local through the California Local News Fellowship. They hold a master's degree in science communications from UC Santa Cruz.

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Stephen Baxter is a co-founder and editor of Santa Cruz Local. He covers Santa Cruz County government.

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Nik Altenberg is a copy editor and fact checker for Santa Cruz Local. Altenberg has a bachelor’s in Latin American and Latinx Studies from UC Santa Cruz.