Recreational campsites could expand in Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County Supervisor Justin Cummings has questioned a proposal to streamline approval of small campsites in some unincorporated county areas. (Marcello Hutchinson-Trujillo — Santa Cruz Local)

1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 25 / Online and at 701 Ocean St., top floor

Santa Cruz County Supervisors are set to consider a plan to allow small campgrounds in rural areas.

The proposal intends to “increase access to outdoor activities to residents of all income levels, expand opportunities for land preservation and stewardship, and provide additional transient occupancy tax,” county staff wrote. 

The proposed “low-impact camping areas” could be established on rural properties five acres or larger outside the county’s boundary for urban or rural services. Campgrounds wouldn’t be allowed in sensitive habitats or areas at high risk of flood or fire, according to a county staff report.

  • The campgrounds could host one campsite with up to four guests. If a bill under consideration in the state legislature becomes law, they could host nine campsites with up to four guests each.
  • Each camper would be allowed up to 14 consecutive nights, and up to 28 nights in a year.
  • The campground could be approved by staff without a public hearing.

At a May Santa Cruz County Planning Commission meeting, commissioners and residents requested changes to the proposed rules. The commission did not recommend the board to approve the law in its current form. In written comments to the supervisors, many county residents urged the board to allow the campsites on properties larger than three acres.

In an email newsletter to constituents, Supervisor Justin Cummings questioned the environmental impact of the campgrounds and the cost of enforcing the rules. “Since the ordinance does not require an on-site manager at these campgrounds, there is a lack of accountability built into the ordinance that is problematic,” he wrote.

—Jesse Kathan

To participate: Join on Zoom or call 669-900-6833, meeting ID 817 3220 2363. To comment ahead of the meeting, email [email protected] by 5 p.m. Monday. The meeting will be streamed on Facebook.

Stay informed on Santa Cruz County’s biggest issues.

Santa Cruz Local’s newsletter breaks down complex local topics and shows residents how to get involved.


Soda tax floated for Santa Cruz voters

Santa Cruz City Councilmembers Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, Sonja Brunner and Martine Watkins have suggested a soda tax for the Nov. 5 ballot. (Marcello Hutchinson-Trujillo — Santa Cruz Local)

12:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 25 / Online and at 809 Center St., Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz city voters this November may consider a sweetened-beverage tax to help fund parks and public health efforts. The measure would charge a tax of two cents per fluid ounce on sellers of sugar-sweetened beverages.

City leaders previously considered placing a sweetened beverage tax on the November 2018 ballot. The proposal was stymied by a 2018 state law which has since been overturned in court. 

—Jesse Kathan

To participate: Join on Zoom or call 833-548-0276, meeting ID 946 8440 1344 . To comment ahead of the meeting, email [email protected] by 5:00 p.m. Monday. The meeting will be streamed on Community TV.


Capitola Wharf reopening, sales tax hike

The Capitola Wharf in 2021. (Stephen Baxter — Santa Cruz Local file)

5 p.m. Thursday, June 27 / Online and at 420 Capitola Ave., Capitola

The Capitola City Council plans to consider a sales tax hike for the Nov. 5 ballot. At its June 27 meeting, council members will consider a ballot measure for a half cent sales tax hike that would replace a quarter-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in 2016. The tax increase would generate about $2.2 million annually and expire in 10 years, city staff wrote in a report.

Separately, the council is expected to approve a celebration to reopen the Capitola Wharf on Sept. 25. The 2-6 p.m. event would include food trucks, live music and a pop-up beer garden. The wharf was damaged in storms in 2023 and this year. Two buildings on the wharf were demolished and 150 piles are being replaced. State and federal grants and a sales tax extension approved by Capitola voters in 2016 have paid for the work.

—Nik Altenberg

To participate: Join on Zoom or call 669-900-6833, meeting ID 833 2817 3113. To comment ahead of the meeting, email [email protected]. The meeting will be streamed on YouTube.


Residents weigh downtown expansion

A permanent arena for the Santa Cruz Warriors could be built and expanded at the same location, or built across Front Street as part of a Downtown Santa Cruz expansion plan. (Stephen Baxter — Santa Cruz Local file) 

A plan to bring 1,600 new homes and a new stadium to the area south of Laurel Street could also bring gentrification and gridlock,  residents said at a June 18 Santa Cruz City Council meeting. 

“This is scary for us. It’s hard to imagine us fitting into this new vision of the downtown,” said Kelly Archer, who works at the Bike Church repair shop on Spruce Street. The Bike Church, the Tenant Sanctuary and other groups work out of the Hub for Sustainable Living, which rents the building at the corner of Spruce Street and Pacific Avenue.

“None of us can leave our homes on Saturdays or Sundays to go to Shoppers Corner or San Lorenzo Lumber after 10 a.m. because it literally takes an hour to get home,” said Beach Hill resident Jim Sandoval. The plan needs to include strategies to relieve local traffic, he said.

Multiple council members said they were concerned that the plan doesn’t mandate any parking as part of new development. State law restricts cities from enforcing such mandates. The council did not take a vote at the meeting.

The plan aims to create new housing and public spaces, spur economic growth and entice the Santa Cruz Warriors basketball team to stay in Santa Cruz with a larger, permanent arena. The plan is a blueprint for future development and does not guarantee new buildings. 

City staff want residents’ feedback through July 10 as part of a yearlong approval process. 

—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.

Questions or comments? Email [email protected]. Santa Cruz Local is supported by members, major donors, sponsors and grants for the general support of our newsroom. Our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support. Learn more about Santa Cruz Local and how we are funded.

Learn about membership
Santa Cruz Local’s news is free. We believe that high-quality local news is crucial to democracy. We depend on locals like you to make a meaningful contribution so everyone can access our news.
Learn about membership
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.

 | Website

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.